Saturday, June 13, 2009

If Only...

In this universe there are two kinds of people - those who are music lovers and those who are not. The second lot are more or less off our radar. They are after all deprived souls who have missed being tuned into most vital frequency of all and we will let them be (after expressing our gloating sympathy ofcourse). It is the second category of homo sapiens, the music lovers, that are of interest on MPA.

Music aficionados of this world come in various sizes and packaging - from Kumar Sanu to KL Saigal, from Adnan Sami to Asha Bhosle, they all have their admirers. But in essence all music lovers can be safely categorized into two broad bands - the listener and the critic. The first is the fellow who will listen to a song, relish it and then move on. He is person who is wholly and solely satisfied by mere activity of listening to the song. The who/what/wheres of the song hold no interest for him, only the song does. Now isn't that boring? But as the old proverb cheerfully reminds us God's abode might harbour delay but no darkness (der hai andher nahin...duh!). And so to brighten up the world, he created a second category of 'sangeet premis'- the critic. The critic is a music lover who does all that the first type does but, in addition, he has a parallel track running in the mind that provides constant annotation to his basic experience. Eg..'Note Rafi took three breaths in this line whereas Asha took only one', 'Lata's voice is thins out just between 2:34 and 2:36 portions of the song', 'did you know Kishore sang this song on June 12 1952 at 2:00 AM ?' and so on and so forth. For this creature, the music experience is never complete without being tuned into every little detail and nuance of the object of his fancy. He simply has to focus in on every electron, proton and neutron that comes within his aural space.

A favourite pastime of this microscope friendly tribe is the 'If Only..' activity. The 'If Only...' activity is nothing but an exercise in fantasy, where a music lover tries to sneak in his own sense of aesthetics into any musical piece that catches his fancy. 'If Only, SJ used a modest orchestra', 'If Only Lata sang this in a lower scale', 'If only RDB used less Lata instead of Asha', 'If Only Kishore...' , 'If Only Rafi...', 'If Only.....'

The 'If Only...' activity is the Viagra for a dreamer of any hue. Nothing is more stimulating than dreaming up the most perfect... well anything - perfect vacation, perfect song, perfect relationship, perfect anything. So what if it will never happen. It has already happened in your fantasy. I indulge in this activity quite often, esp. musically. Most of the time the thought is fleeting and disappears before I am even finished with the song. But many a time it persists and becomes wishlist. Here is a collection of some of my pet 'If Onlys'.

Cick on links against the song to view it in youTube.

1. Jab naam-e-mohabbat (Kala Pani, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Geeta Dutt sang the mellow part.
This thought crept into my mind when we were discussing this Kala Pani beauty sometime back and now it refuses to leave my head. Asha Bhosle admittedly does a fine job at alternating between the mellow and exuberant moods of the song. But the thought of Geeta Dutt singing the melancholic part is irresistible. It is a tune composed for her voice and she has many such scintillating songs in her kitty. This would have been a prized jewel, if only she had sung it...

2. Sanjh dhali dil ki lagi (Kala Bazaar, Shailendra, Manna Dey & Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Mohd Rafi (and Geeta Dutt - optional) sang the song
Whenever I hear this song, I feel Manna Da is so not with it. Manna Dey was a great singer, but summoning flamboyance was not one of his strong points, which is the primary reason he did not get to sing for the hero that often. He was fine singing for the hero when he was mellow and romantic, but a chhed chhaad song? Nah! Whenever I hear him sing aa jaa aa jaa aa bhi jaa to Asha Bhosle, I think of the neighbourhood uncle taking a chance with the local pataka. It is impossible to imagine Dev Anand with Waheeda. Let me then suggest that Rafi be used in this song (since the composition is in that mould). I don't have a problem with Asha Bhosle. She is more than adequate. But since she is in her 'imitate Geeta' phase in this film, why not just Geeta? So a Rafi-Geeta duet it should have been...I am swooning already!

3. Teri dhoom har kahin (Kala Bazaar, Shailendra, Mohd Rafi)
If Only: Sahir Ludhianvi wrote the song
This song somehow falls through the sieve whenever one thinks of the legendary songs in this great soundtrack. A pleasant tune, smooth singing by Rafi and a deft picturization by Vijay Anand, yet it did not make it. One then realises that the lyrics in this song fall flat. The song was meant to be a witty social comment on the love humankind harbours for vitamin M, but it turned out to be regular and run of mill song. Shailendra is clearly not in regular form here. However, this is just the kind of song that Sahir could take up and sear with his characteristic straight-talk. I would have so liked to hear what Sahir had to say on the topic. If only this song was written by Sahir Ludhianvi...

4. Dil ki umangen hain jawan : (Munimji, Shailendra, Hemant Kumar, Thakur & Geeta Dutt)
If Only : Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle sung this song
This song brims over with the masti quotient. However, Hemantda by nature is a little sombre for the mood of the song. He makes a gallant attempt but just does not get there. I remember a music lover once slyly commenting, 'the only attempt Hemantda makes at some masti is to sing 'jeet liyaaa' in a slightly affected style'. Geeta Dutt is in far better form, but she too does notflow into the dialogues part effortlessly. Her Bengali accent is too heavy. Thakur (who gossip mills say was Pran himself incognito!) does the finest job here. A song like this begs for Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle, the emperor and empress of the whackiland. Infact if Kishore was around Dada Burman could have dispensed with Thakur's services too. It would have been a real blast. If only....

5. Chanda re chhupe rehna (Lajwanti , Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)

If Only : Geeta Dutt sang the sad version.
Another song that I am convinced was created for Geeta. Asha is wonderful in the happy portion, but cannot summon enough pathos in the sad version. Also she sings it in a fake affected style that takes away from the song. Geeta was the natural choice for this lori. If only Dada gave her this song, it had a good chance to surpass the 'Nanhi kali sone chali' legend.

6. Dhalki jaaye chundariya hamari : (Nau Do Gyarah, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Asha Bhosle)
If Only : Lata Mangeshkar sang this song
At the outset let me say that this is a sparkler of a song. Asha Bhosle does a fine job with delivering it to near perfection. Yet, it is near perfection and still not perfect. Let's play with the thought of introducing Lata to this song. What would we lose by letting Asha go? The emotion with which she sings the song is it's selling point and then there us the wonderful modulation that only Asha could do. What do we gain? We let go of an Asha whose voice is still a little shrieky in higher octaves and we get a Lata in her finest form. This is 1957 and her voice is beautifully nuanced and pristine as the snow. The emotions would be restrained, delicate and fragile. I am beginning to imagine something to rival 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen' or 'Saiyan kaise dharun dheer'. I wish Dada should have given Lata this song or in the least got her to do a tandem version. Who knows, we would have another 'Phaili hui hain sapno ki baahen'?

7. O mere Bairagi Bhanwara : (Ishq Par Zor Nahin, Anand Bakshi, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Asha Bhosle sang this song
One has been snatching one legendary song after the other from Asha Bhosle's kitty and doling it around, it is time to give her some stuff back. This is one song that would have sprung to life in Asha's voice. Lata, even though she tries her best, does end up sounding a little like a school teacher dispensing a biology lesson on pollination. Asha would have given this song the subtle sensuality that it begs for. And some of the legendary OP Style voice modulation? Sone pe suhaaga

8. Rehte the kabhi jinke dil mein (Mamta, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Asha Bhosle sang this song.
This is one song that I love to hum and always remember it fondly. Yet everytime I listen to it I am left dissatisfied. I finally figured out that Lata's voice quality at that point in time that does not let the tune flower. I wish that a throaty singer had sung this - someone like Laxmi Shankar or Shobha Gurtu, but they might have taken away from the accessibility level of the song. I would then settle with Asha singing in a lower octave a la 'Umrao Jaan'. This song would have hit the moon if that happened.
(Note: I am not very familiar with Runa Laila's range but from a voice quality perspective, her voice could have given the song an interesting dimension)

9. Neend churaaye chain churaaye (Anuraag, Anand Bakshi, Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only: Suraiya
Anyone who has heard Dada's own Bengali version of this song, will find it near impossible to take to Lata's version. In comparison it seems sterile - too clinical and studied. This song requires a spontaneity to live up to if not rival Sachin Dev Burman. A tall order. Given the Bengali roots of this song, Geeta Dutt would be the natural choice. But, Suraiya's voice could pick this song from the realm of the humdrum and give it a flavour that would be quite exotic. Yes, we all know Suraiya was not singing at this time in history, but as if fantasy cares.

10. Loote koi man ka nagar : (Abhimaan, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Manhar & Lata Mangeshkar)
If Only : Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle sang this song
This song is sung with so much of disinterest that if I did not understand Hindi I would have thought they are singing about bus timetables. Manhar got his big break with this duet. But I do think he tamed it down a bit too much. It is supposed to be a song where a couple are playfully teasing each other. It requires some attitude, some pizaaz to sound real. Yes, Kishore and Asha are the candidates of choice. As a soundtrack too Abhimaan would have benefited with Asha's presence. If only Dada was not such a Lata-bhakt in his autumn years.

11. Aie mere man mein hoon magan: (Us Paar, Yogesh, Mohd. Rafi)
If Only : Majrooh wrote this
This sountrack has considerable statistical value. It was the last outing of Mohd Rafi with SD Burman, a giant association coming to an end. Alongside it also was the first outing of lyricist Yogesh with the maestro. It is a charming collection with a variety and freshness that was typical to Burmanda. The only song that stands out as a tad ill-fitted is the song in question. If you take a tune that reminds you of the zany 'Chala jaata hoon' and then put lyrics like', 'Aie mere man, main hoon magan', the end result is akin to Bharat Bhushan dancing on 'Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe'. This song cries out for Majrooh Saab. The flamboyance of his quill could have made it the merry bouncer it was meant to be.

12. Mitwa...Piya maine kya kiya : (Us Paar, Yogesh, Manna Dey)
If Only : SD Burman
I can never resist the temptation of dreaming up a new SD Burman song. Given the drought that Hindi Film Music has for songs in his voice, I hope I be forgiven for my over zealousness. This piece is one of Mannada's finer moments. He sings this song with a lot of feeling. Folk has always been his strong point and he's in complete control. Yet, the basic structure of the song is cut in the SDB mould. If Dada had sung this song, he would have given it the heart-breaking intensity that only he could give. What a song it could become. At the risk of being mauled I do wish this song was sung by SD Burman.


For some strange reason all but one song in the list are by SD Burman. It was not by design, but just happened. This could be because I am intimately tuned into his output or it could be that it is possible to imagine Dada Burman's music with a variety of alternatives which sets the mind down the 'If Only' path. Whatever be the reason, bottomline is that may the good Lord and Old Monk in heaven forgive my transgressions..

That ends this edition of the If Only series, another day we shall have another list. Till then keep reading and keep writing!

P.S 'Old Monk' is an affectionate way that some of my music lover friends like to refer to SD Burman. Dada Burman was often mistaken for a Buddhist lama.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Year in Flight - MPA Turns One

On May 30th, the flight of my fancy flew past it's first landmark - one whole year of flapping it's wings in cyberspace.

When I had started blogging last year, it was one of those sudden whims that suddenly consumed me and lo behold a blog was born with just 24 hours of gestation. It was hurriedly (and may I add sloppily) put together. The temporary name was a convoluted one - 'In the footsteps of my wanderlust'. Wanderlust, or the quest for the exotic, the mystic and the unknown has accompanied me ever since I remember. Nature, music, astronomy, religion, history, geology- the topics that I wish to discover this nectar in are diverse. The blog was meant to be a vehicle to explore all those and more. It came at a phase in my life, where I was going through a period of intense introspection and there were a lot of questions, thoughts, emotions and equations circling in my head. I wanted to sort them out using the method that works the wonders for me - putting it down on paper.

But then as our friend Robert Burns had observed a few centuries ago, the best laid plans don't always follow the road map they had set out with. And my blog like my mind just went wandering off its own path. A year later it looks nothing like I had intended it to look. The name is now 'Man Panchhi Albela' and it has been living up to it's new name with vigour. It is airy and flighty and talks about whatever whim has caught my fancy for long enough to generate a post. The equations and questions of last year have resolved themselves and new thoughts buzz in my head now. In some small way all those thoughts have found a place in my writings during the past year though they never managed to corner a complete post as I thought they would.

A one year landmark is a good excuse to indulge in the activity that comes rather naturally to me and I have been doing it consistently on this blog - analysis/paralysis. So then here are some observations and discoveries.

  • 41 posts in a year, 38 of which were in 2008. 2009 has been a fallow year. The main reason is that I am off a job and have been travelling etc. Blogging is a guilty pleasure in the current state of affairs.

  • Much as I would like to believe otherwise, I just have to accept the fact that music is the most motivating of my fancies. Most of my posts are on either music or cinema and it is of little surprise that those are also the posts that attract maximum feedback.

  • The most popular posts, based on the number of hits and comments are
  1. A New 'Bond'
  2. Dev Anand at 85 - Triumphant!
As is apparent, in this universe, there is James Bond and then there is Dev Anand!

  • The posts closest to my heart are on the subjects that I had intended to explore in the first place. Predictably, they haven't got much feedback. That is a woe that is common to most regular bloggers. The writings that attract most attention aren't usually the ones that they value greatly themselves. These are my ignored but cherished droppings.

  • The post where I expected a good discussion, but it did not happen was the series on Guru Dutt. This was probably the most serious, focused and academic writing I did last year. Given the proclivities of the people who visit my blog regularly, that surprised me, albeit only mildly. Remember I told you it was academic? : Guru Dutt: Genius?

  • Search statistics tell me that most people who land on this blog are searching for mp3 of songs or for information on musical personalities - Geeta Dutt and Manna Dey, SD Burman etc. all have fair representation. But the real star of search related hits on MPA has been a candidate who appeared on this blog for her virtue of being a non-entity - Kalpana Kartik. She has grandly proved my notion of her being forgotten by history absolutely wrong. Ever since I did the article on her - there are a minimum of 5 hits a day on her name(with or without Dev Anand). Yesterday an optimistic soul reached my blog searching for 'Kalpana Kartik new film'! I must say Dev Saab has a solid reason to feel kicked with life. Even at 85 years the juicy details of his love life have so many seekers!

  • Two series have been introduced here on MPA. The first is the List series that comprises of lists on a common theme(mainly of songs!) and the other is the Song of the Day series that highlights a song that has caught my fancy.

  • MPA introduced a new feature of creating a reader's community. Please click on the 'Follow' section on the left bar to become a part of the community and recieve notifications.

  • When I started out, I knew who exactly would visit my blog (they were all people known to me). But MPA has been in auto-pilot mode for a while now. Most people who visit the blog are now from places where I have no acquaintences and I am also getting used to the fact that unknown people are actuallly reading my thoughts. I would invite my regular reader to drop me a line so that I can get acquainted with them (and their blogs). Blogging is afterall nothing but connecting with kindred souls all over the world.

As I start Year 2 in flight, I am quite optimistic about continuing this blog, despite the lull in activity. The whole thing was certainly not a passing fancy the urge to write always returns. I thank all my readers and friends who have written in to the blog or to me personally with their valuable suggestions. I continue to look forward to their visits and comments.

As I set my sights on new horizons to span in Year 2, I leave you with another addition to the Song of the Day series. It is the song that inspired the title of this blog - 'Man Panchhi Albela'. The nightingale Lata Mangeshkar does the honours here to a sprighty and flighty tune created by the maestro who was as sprighty as this composition - Sachin Dev Burman. The lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi speak the language of all the dreamers in this world. -Paon mere dharti par meri nazar chaand ko choome (पांव मेरे धरती पर मेरी नज़र चांद कॊ चूमे). For the poetry enthusiasts, I would like to turn your attention towards the meter of the song. It is quite imaginative and unusual.


man panchhi albela taaron ki nagari mein jaaye
mat poocho kisi laaye khabariya
man panchhi albela...

nayi nayi pehechaan hai uska naam na jaana maine
mein kaise kahun mera kaun sanwariya
man panchhi albela...

paanv mere dharti par meri nazar chaand ko chuume
nazar chaand ko chuume
paanv mere dharti par meri nazar chaand ko chuume
mera aancha ude hawaon mein mera tan jhume man jhume
kaisi uljhi najariya
man panchhi albela...

kya jaadu yeh kaisa tona yeh to samajh na aaye
yeh to samajh na aaye
kya jaadu yeh kaisa tona yeh to samajh na aaye
itna jaanu uski dhun par thumke naache gaaye
yeh man pii ki gujariya
man panchhi albela...

man panchhi albela taaron ki nagari mein jaaye
mat poocho kisi laaye khabariya
man panchhi albela...

nayi nayi pehechaan hai uska naam na jaana maine
mein kaise kahun mera kaun sanwariya
man panchhi albela...


मन पंछी अल्बेला तारॊं की नगरी में जाए
मत पूछॊ किसकी लाऎ खबरिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला...

नई नई पहचान है उसका नाम ना जाना मैने
मैं कैसे कहुं मेरा कौन सांवरिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला..

पांव मेरे धरती पर मेरी नज़र चांद को चूमे
नज़र चांद को चूमे
पांव मेरे धरती पर मेरी नज़र चांद को चूमे
मेरा आंचल उड़े हवाऒं मे, मेरा तन झूमे मन झूमे
कैसी उलझी नज़रिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला...

क्या जादू यह कैसा टोना यह तो समझ ना आए
यह तो समझ ना आए
क्या जादू यह कैसा टोना यह तो समझ ना आए
इतना जानू उसकी धुन पर ठुमके नाचे गाये
यह मन पी की गुजरिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला...

मन पंछी अल्बेला तारॊं की नगरी में जाए
मत पूछॊ किसकी लाऎ खबरिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला...

नई नई पहचान है उसका नाम ना जाना मैने
मैं कैसे कहुं मेरा कौन सांवरिया
मन पंछी अल्बेला...

Lyrics courtesy