For Indians worldwide ,musical stalwarts Rafi,Lata Asha ,Yesudas
and other iconic muscians are our proud possessions,the pride of India, singing to us day in and day out, thanks to the numerous radio channels and other sources. From the days when gramaphones and records were luxuries to the new hiphop generation ,Indians are all ardent fans of film music.The older generation would remeber that melodious hindi film songs were the rage of college students and youngsters in their era..
In fact Hindi film songs dominated the programmes of the fine arts societies in colleges and in the musical events outside. Radio Ceylon and the golden voice of Amin Sayani resonating with his characteristic “ bhaiyon or behano ” had taken listeners by storm from 1953. He brought in and revolutionized the concept of count down musical shows through his program “Binaca geetmala”, reproductions of which are available in compiled editions now. It is said that there used to be traffic jams in several parts of Bombay city on Wednesday nights at 9pm as people used to throng the roads and public parks to listen to the programme. It was a time when Mohammed Rafi ruled the roost. Songs like ‘chaudavin ka chand
” and “Jo wada Kiya wo nibhana padega
” still remain fresh and green in our memories. Who can forget the immortal song "Madhuban me Radhika
.." sung by Rafi for the film Kohinoor under the baton of Noushad? Dilip Kumar , on whom the song was picturised had actually learned to play sitar to make the scene realistic and do justice to the singer!! Background music Itself gave a visual impact as in the song, "Maang ke saath tumhara
” from Naya daur which has Dilip kumar and Vaijayanthi Mala riding a tonga and singing the song accompanied by the hoof beats of the horses. One can visualize the scene with closed eyes if just that hoof beat is listened to. The background scores in those times were kept simple, still it could give the desired effect. Just a single sound or the just the rhythm was worth more than thousand words.
Talk of yodeling and the ever smiling face of the musical genius Kishore Kumar comes to the mind. With songs like Zindagi ek safar’
‘chahe koi mujhe jangle kahe’
, and ‘mere sapnon ki rani
‘ he had yodeled and hummed into the hearts of young and old.
Till the late 70s gramophones and music records(discs) were the main means of storing and listening to music. A wide variety of stereo systems were also available. Though with the advent of music cassettes and cds , gramophones and records were pushed into the background there are still a large number of old timers as well as new entrants who love the gramophones and collecting old records is pursued as an enjoyable hobby. Today’s generation has widened their musical horizon with a wide array of genres in music and the ever improving technologies. .
Ghazals which were thought of as Urdu poems, patronized by native rulers and performed by courtesans gained popularity and mass appeal after singers like Begum Akthar and Mehdi Hassan came into the scene. Begum Akhtar immortalized as the ‘queen of ghazals’ gave ghazal gayaki a certain respectability and finesse. She has unforgettable ghazals like .”ai ishq mujhe aur to kuchh yaad nahii.n hai
( DAANA PAANI -1953 )and – “hame.n dil me.n basaa bhi lo
”. (EHSAAN -1954 ) to her credit. . Singers like Pankaj Udhas ,Anoop Jalota ,Bhupinder and Mitalee has proven to the music world that ghazals still charms music lovers amidst the cacophony of pop and rap.
In June last year OUTLOOK magazine conducted a survey and came out with a list of 20 songs which in their opinion were the best so far. Songs like “ MAN RE TO KAAHE NA DHEER DHARE” .(Film Chithraleha (1964)Music roshan Lyrics Sahir Ludhianvi Singer Rafi) “ TERE MERE SAPNE AB EK RANG HAI..” ( singer Rafi,Fim Guide, 1965 Music R.D BUrman, lyrics Shylendra ) ,” DIN DHAL JAYE HAI RAAT NA JAAYE”.(.Singer Rafi Film Guide Music SDBurman ) ,” KUCH TO LOG KAHENGE, LOGON KA KAAM HAI KAHNA”..(singer Kishore Kumar, film Amar Prem(1971)Music R.DBurman , lyrics Anand Bakshi ) topped the chart. At the same time it is disheartening to see that the quality of duet songs have gone down in recent years. Fast paced chorus songs have replaced the good old duets. Paradoxically, as Asha Bhonsle remarked recently, "now duets are sung alone” . Singers come separately and record their lines to the music. They may not even meet each other. In olden days singers, artistes, lyricists and composers sat together along with the background musicians and used to discuss the songs.Music was like an exquisitely carved sculpture born out of collective creative effort. Such combined efforts are lacking, with the result, to quote Ashaji again, ”the soul of music has shrunk”. She also remarked that now the singer has to sing to the wall ,were as she earlier had enjoyed singing in front of the composer and orchestra.
Music is an endless ocean which has no language barriers, be it Indian or Western , Hindusthani or Carnatic, film or light music .It can ease our minds and provide a soothing balm to our myriad troubles in this fast life.