Monday, December 28, 2009

Professor M.P. Sreedharan-A Great Teacher

The Centenary Celebrations of Malabar Christian College, Calicut, my Alma Mater, had started this year. A meeting of the old students of the college convened by the Old Students' Association (O.S.A) was fixed to be held on the 27Th December. Though I had decided to attend the meeting, I was, on that morning, hesitating to travel the distance of about 75 reach Calicut. It was then that my wife showed me an article, in the Mathrubhumi Sunday supplement, on Prof. M.P. Sreedharan, former professor of History and Political Science at Malabar Christian College, on his 10th death anniversary which fell on the 27th December. The article was by Dr. M.G. S. Narayanan, the well known historian and a friend of Prof. Sreedharan.
Memories of my days at Malabar Christian College(1956-60) and memories about Prof.Sreedharan came flashing and flooded my mind. Keeping everything aside and shaking off my hesitation, I rushed to Calicut to see my old college and friends as I thought that the best way to offer my tributes to this great teacher on his death anniversary was to visit the institution he served with eminence where I also had the good fortune of being his student.
Even before joining the college in the academic year1956-57, as a student of M.C.C.High school, I had seen Prof.Sreedharan(just Sreedharan master for his innumerable students ,friends and colleagues), during the various activities of the college and the combined anniversary day of the college and the high school. We also used to see him playing tennis at the college tennis court.He used to be active on the college foot ball and the hockey grounds also. He was a hero to all of us.
When I joined the degree class in 1957 I became his student. Sreedharan Master, fair, handsome, not very tall but well built, always well dressed in a suit or with the shirt neatly tucked in and sporting a tie, with a smiling quizzical face and with thick black hair on the head neatly combed was an epitome of vigour, action and health. For the students he was not only a teacher of high calibre but also a true sportsman and a friend who always played with them and led them in the various sports and games activities for which the college gave a lot of importance. Whenever difficult problems cropped up, the management, staff community and the students looked to Sreedharan master as the trouble shooter for Sreedharan master's intervention always resulted in the problem getting solved to the satisfaction of all. Such was his reputation and standing among all in the college. Hailing from Mahe, a former French colony in India, he was well versed in French. It was he who took efforts and formed the N.C.C. wing at the college and he was in charge of the NCC wing for some time.
He was a strict disciplinarian and a 'no nonsense' teacher when once he entered the class room. We, the students of the Economics group,used to look forward to his classes in political science, a subsidiary subject for us. His rich sonorous voice, commanding personality, firm delivery of English,and the conviction with which he talked to us about Plato, Aristotle, Marx, Engels and on political theories made his classes profound and interesting. His lectures on Rights, Liberty, Sovereignty and Democracy and the Utilitarian Theory of Jeremy Bentham still echo in my memory.It was from Sreedharan Master that I first heard the famous quotation, "your liberty ends where my nose begins". When once he came out of the class room he became the usual friendly affectionate self ,mingling freely with us. In the evenings he joined with the students on the football ground for a serious and robust session of foot ball. In short all that a student longed to see in a teacher was there in abundance in Sreedharan Master, a gentleman to the core.
I left Christian College in 1960 and joined another local college for my post graduation but I used to meet Sreedharan Master often and visited his house on the 'Cannannore road' a couple of times. He always used to enquire about my job and my family etc. I left Calicut in 1970 and after about two decades came back at the local branch of S.B.I. A few days after my arrival I was delightfully surprised to see Sreedharan master entering my cabin with his usual smile and extended hand. I stood up, gripped his hand and offered him a chair. Even after he was seated I continued to stand in reverence ,unable to sit in front of him, till he waved me to sit just as he did in the class room long back.We talked for a few minutes about the college, former teachers and students of my days. Before he left I politely asked him as to what I could do for him at the bank. He said he had already finished his transactions and was on his way out. Of course, I should have known that there was no need for me to help as all the staff members were either his students or their relatives and whenever he visited the branch they vied with each other to expedite his banking transactions. He used to come to my cabin to shake hands with me whenever he visited the branch.
I left Calicut again in 1992 and did not meet him thereafter. I came to know about his demise days later after the event in 1999 when the Mathrubhumi daily reached me by post at Vijayawada (A.P.)
The O.S.A.'s get together went off well. The college is celebrating its centenary. The campus has retained the old grandeur. But more buildings have come up cramping the campus area. The football ground and the hockey ground are still there; so too the tennis court which lacks maintenance.Our old ball badminton court is now tiled and kept in good condition but used for conducting events. Several changes have come about in the layout; departments have changed locations. Sitting in the Main Hall(now named Dr.Muller's hall) , where the meeting was held, I read the inscription, 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom' which is still there on the wall behind the stage. To me everything seemed to be the same as of old. I went around the buildings and to the classroom where Prof Sreedharan used to take classes for us. The same old tables are still there in fairly good condition. I met a number of old college mates sharing memories. Before leaving I stood in the front portico for sometime gazing at the football ground. The gentle old campus breeze caressed me to a trance. I left with a heart full of gratitude for the institution and its old teachers to whom I am indebted to for whatever I could achieve in life.

Friday, December 11, 2009


In my collection of gramophone records, there are several records of Hindustani ghazals. One among them is a record specially released by 'The Gramophone Company of India' in connection with the Ghalib Centenary Celebrations in 1969. This is a record containing 11 songs from Minerva Movieton's film Mirza Ghalib(1954). Mirza Azadullah Beg Khan,whose pen name was Mirza Ghalib,was a legendary Urdu-Persian poet who lived in India(1797-1869) and his beautiful ghazals of love and philosophy have lived and flourished through generations and continue to be loved even today. According to knowledgeable ghazal lovers, no better poetry and ghazals had happened prior to Ghalib or after.

His ghazals were used in Hindi films and popularised by music directors like Khayyam and sung by great singers, especially Talat Mahmood in albums like "Ghazals to remember' and 'Memorable ghazals of Talat Mahmood' in his silken voice which make them a treat to the ears.

The film Mirza Ghalib, starring Bharat Bhushan as Ghalib and and Suraiya as his lover Chaudvin, contains eight popular ghazals of Ghalib tuned by music director Ghulam Mohammed sung mainly by Talat Mahmood and Suraiya. 'Phir mujhe deda-i-tar' and 'Wahshat sahi' by Talat Mahmood are soul stirring and has Talat at his best. 'Nukta cheen hai' and 'Aah ko chahiye ek umar 'are by Suraiya. There is also the most popular Ghalib ghazal, 'Yeh na thi hamari kismat' by Suraiya. A Rafi number, 'Hai baski har ek unke' embellishes this record, a great collectors' item.

Efforts to bring this great branch of music to Malayalam have been on since the days of music director M.S.Baburaj and P.Bhaskaran and are even now continued by Ramesh Narayanan,Umbayi, Shahbaz Aman etc. The limitations of the language and the initial reluctance ( as revealed by Umbayi in his interviews) of top Malayalam poets to allow their poems to be tuned as ghazals made Malayalam ghazals not reaching beyond the peripherals of Malayalam music.Who can forget Baburaj's ' Orupushpam mathram', 'Suruma Ezhuthiya mizhikale', and 'Pranasakhi' and several other songs?

Fortunately, things are changing for the better. Umbayi, Ramesh Narayan and Shahbaz Aman have come out with several albums of ghazals penned by Malayalam poets like O.N.V.Kurup,Yousufali Kechery, Sachithanandan, Pradeep Ashtamichira, Kamala Das,Vinayachandran, Kadammanita, Rafeeq Ahmed and others. Ghazal albums of Umbayi (songs sung by Umbayi himself and other singers) like Ghazalmala(Yousufali Kechery).Akale Mounampol(Sachidanandan), Ithuvare Sakhi ninne kathirunnu(Pradeep Ashtamichira) contain pleasing melodious ghazals. In association with O.N.V.Kurup Umbayi has brought out two albums,"Paaduka Saigal Paadoo' and 'Nandi Priyasakhi Nandi'. With the song 'Orunaru pushpamay' and his ghazals in films like RaathriMazha, Ramesh Narayan has given a new stimulus to ghazals in Malayalam. With his album 'Alakalkku', singer and composer Shahbaz Aman along with singer Gayathri has taken ghazals to a different plane in Malayalam by tuning the poetry of Kamala Das, Sachidanandan,Kadammanitta, D.Vinayachandran etc. His earlier album,'Neeyum Nilavum' with the poetry of Poovachal Khader and a few others also was a worthwhile effort.

No doubt the music lovers in Kerala are pleased with their efforts and the fact that more and more established and upcoming singers are taking up Hindustani music and ghazals very seriously. But, at the risk being accused of thinking backwards , I would have been happier if gramophone records of these ghazals are also made available. May be a futile wish.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mont Blanc Pens. Mahatma Gandhi Series.

For pen lovers with bulging wallets and fat bank balances, Mont Blanc has recently come out with two limited series pens on Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation.

Mahatma Gandhi Limited Series 241 comes with a gold wire entwined around the middle of each pen symbolic of the yarn and spindle of Gandhi. It costs only Rs.14 lakhs! Hurry! Only 241 pieces are available for sale!

Mahatma Gandhi Limited Series 3000 available both as a fountain pen and roller ball pen cost Rs. 1.7 lakhs for the pen and R.
1.5 lakhs for roller ball pen. Only 3000 pieces each are available world wide.

Pen lovers would have heard about this. Still a paper cutting is shown here.

Tail piece:-About two decades back I had collected a souvenir from Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. It is a ball point pen costing Rs.5/- To me its sentimental value is far beyond the price quoted by Mont Blanc for its pen!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

kerala cafe--a new experiment in Malayalam cinema

It was after a long time that we, myself and wife, overlooking several inhibiting factors, decided to see the Malayalam movie 'Kerala Cafe' at the local theatre for a morning show(the film now available only as morning show here) The film was described as a new experiment in Malayalam cinema as it was a combination of 10 different films of about15 minutes each and we thought it would be a different cinematic experience.

Our hopes were not belied. It is a film different from the ordinary. Of course, we had seen films in two or three parts like for eg.,' Mera Nam Joker'. But the difference here is that the 10 different stories are told by 10 different directors including a newcomer, award winners, women directors and directors of proven ability. These 10 films are beautifully presented by director Ranjith making us feel that it is a wholesome single film. It is like reading a book of 10 short stories and in the end feeling like having read a novel.

The stories dealt with contemporary Malayalee life . The pravasi [non resident]experience ,recession, middle class worries, hardship faced by women, child trafficking, problems of the aged, fascination for the supernatural etc., have all been dealt subtly and with telling effect.

Padmakumar's 'Nattu vazhikal' depicts the true life and,often acquired, character of a Malayalee non resident played effectively by Dileep in a fast paced movie. In 'Mrithyunjaya', it was good to see the director [Udaya Anandan] not tempted to take the trouble of solving the mystery of the unnatural but the story , with a beautiful tinge of love at first sight ,kept open ,leaving the audience sure that it will be solved by Anup Menon and his friend.
The heroine of 'Happy Journey', a modern, bold, self reliant girl[a human bomb!],is a great relief for parents and grandparents who wait for their arrival. Anjali Menon's deft handling of the theme and the casting of Jagathy as the girl's middle-aged tormentor are excellent. The ill-equipped Portuguese couple in film 'Off Season' [director Syam Prasad] visiting India searching for a job, in the wake of global recession, the millionaire doing 'sheershasana' on the sand and the stray[slum?] dog sniffing at his face to his great discomfort and the group dance of the characters at the end with one of them carrying the dog in his hands all showed humour at its best. The fast paced film has Suraj Venjaramood cut out for the role of the unemployed tout.

Revathy's 'Makal' dealing with child trafficking is very touching with beautiful locations and picturisation though familiar cliche like the 'peacock feather' could have been avoided.'The Bridge' directed by Anwar Rasheed and 'Lalitha Hiranmayam' of Shaji Kailas were also soul stirring. These films showed that we have two highly talented actors in Salim Kumar [The Bridge] and Jyothir mayi[Lalitha Hiran mayam]. Infact the talents of Salim Kumar for serious roles, proved in film 'Achanurangatha Veedu' has once again come to the fore in 'The Bridge'. Jyothirmayi is great in her short role as the jilted wife. Pity that we see her only rarely in Malayalam films.

The last film of Kerala cafe, 'Veritta Kashchakal', showing the journey of a bus and its passengers all of whom except one were in a relaxed fun loving mood . The one tense looking traveller, played by a deglamourized Mammootty whose entire dialogue consisted of shouting thrice , one to start the bus, then at the delay at a stop and finally to stop the bus at a 'turning' of his convenience , though an exception in the crowd becomes a part of it when the poignancy of his impatience became evident after he got down from the bus.

We were hoping for more but the movie was over and the titles started rolling on the screen and we were back in the reality of the surroundings. All, except the two of us ,had left the hall. We wanted to read the titles. But fearing that the door man may, by mistake, lock us in we also walked out; the first to enter and the last to exit but pleased and full of hope for the future of Malayalam cinema.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Indian music world in recent weeks saw the honouring of the 90 year old singer, Manna Dey, with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award [2007], the highest honour in Indian cinema. Padma Booshan Manna Dey who ruled Hindi Film Music world in the 50s ,60s, and 70s along with Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore, Talat, Mahendra Kapoor and Hemant Kumar is the last of these legends still living and is the last link[male] that connects the present with that golden era of film music. It is heartening that this living legend continues to be active in music and stage programmes as seen from reports that he was in USA in connection with a cultural programme when the award was announced.

The news about the award made me refresh my memories of those excellent Manna Dey songs we grew up listening to and a few stage programmes of his in the 60s which I was fortunate to watch.The image of Manna Dey singing and playing the harmonium is still in my memory. Lovers of Hindi film music are fully aware of those immortal songs of Manna Dey and a lot has already been written about them. Let me confine myself to a few aspects /features of his music which come to my mind readily.

1. Brought to Bombay's film world from Calcutta by his uncle, the famous music director and singer K.C.Dey, Manna Dey's first song was for the film Tamanna( Music by K.C.Dey), a duet with Suraiya. But it was his song 'Upar Gagan Vishal' from film 'Mashal'(1980-S.D.Burman) that got him the first real break in Hindi films.

2. While Manna Dey is at his best while rendering classical and semi-classical songs, it will be unfair to type him as such.He is a versatile singer who is at ease with any song, be it qwawali,bhajan,chorus, fast numbers, hilarious numbers or romantic songs. The sweetness of his voice is, in fact, suited more for melodies especially romantic melodies. Songs like ,'Yeh raat bheegi bheegi'(Chori Chori), 'Quasme wade pyar wafa'(Uphar), 'Chale Jaa Rahe hain(Kinare Kinare-Music Jaidev),' Kaun aaya mere man ke dware'(Dekh Kabira Roya-Madan Mohan),'Aye mere pyare watan'(Kabuliwallah-Salil Choudhury),'Ek Samay par do barsaati'(Jhoola-Salil Choudhury) are a few examples. In fact the song 'Ek Samay' is so soft and sweet that one may doubt it as a song of Talat!

3. While his romantic solo songs are very popular, there are several outstanding duets like 'Aaja sanam madhur chaandni', with Lata (Chori Chori), 'Mere dil mei hai ek baat' with Lata(Post Box .999), 'Zulfon ki khada lekar' with Asha(Reshmi our Rumal-music Babul), 'Tum gagan ke chandma'with Lata(Sati Savitri), "Jhoomta mausam mast mahina' with Lata(Ujala)etc.There are two other beautiful duets of his with Suman Kalyanpur, known as poor man's Lata. One is ,'Najane kaha tum se'(film zindagi aur Khwab-Music Duttaram) and the other , the romantic,'Tum jo aao to pyaar aa jaye' (Sakhi Robin Music Robin Banerje).

4. Another noteworthy contribution of Manna Dey is the numerous chorus songs he had sung with all the great singers. It even appeared that there cannot be a hit chorus without Manna Dey singing in it. " Hariyala sawan dhol bhajata aaya'(Do Bhiga Zameen)with Lata and chorus, Mud mudke na dekh mud mud ke' with Asha(Shree 420),'Tu pyar ka sagar hai(Seema),'Chad gayo papi bichhua'(Madhumati),and the two beautiful quawalis from film Barsat ki Raat,viz., 'To Karavan ke talash hai' and 'Yeh hai ishq ishq' and 'Ek Chatur Nar' with Kishore Kumar and Mahmood in film Padosan are a few examples.

5.Manna Dey's strength and range in singing classical and semiclassical songs are well known.The first song coming to my mind is the song 'Sur na saje kya ' (Basant Bahar) one of the best in this genre. 'Laga chunari' from film Dil Hi To Hai (Music-Roshan),'Tu Pyar ka Sagar hai'(Seema), a beautiful bhajan, 'Chum chum bhaje re payaliya'(Film Jane Anjane-Music Shankar Jaikishan)Poochona kaise maine'(Film Meri Surat Teri Ankhen-S.D.Burman) etc. all show Manna Dey's prowess. Though Manna Dey had sung for all the leading Music Directors of that era, it was Shankar Jaikishan who could bring out the best from Manna Dey. Films like Seema,Shree 420, Chori Chori,Ujala,Tesri Kasam,Boot Polish,Choti Bahen and Basant Bahar are a few examples.Writer Ravi Menon in his article on the late maestro, Pt.Bhimsen Joshi, had written how Manna Dey was selected for singing the song, "Chetaki Gulab juhi', in film Basant Bahar, with Pt.Bhimsen Joshi. I wonder how the great singer could have agreed to sing it with Manna Dey, how a diffident Manna Dey was persuaded to shake off his fear to sing with the maestro and how Pt. Bhimsen Joshi praised Manna Dey for his excellent rendering after recording the song!! Of course, this song remains as one of the best classical duets of all time.

6. Manna Dey has a special place in the hearts of Keralites for two reasons. One, his wife ,Smt. Sulochana is from Kerala. Two, his song, Maanasa Maine Varoo'from the President's Gold Medal winning Malayalam film,'Chemmeen'(Music: Salil Choudhury)is a favourite film of all Keralites.
Manna Dey faded from Hindi film music scene in the 80s and started concentrating on Bengali songs and stage programmes. In a few interviews he had mentioned about his inability to gel with the changing trends in Hindi film music and his desire to be away from the scene. A big loss for Hindi film music and its followers.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Malayalam Film Gulmohar-A different Experience.

It is a fact that, for various reasons, going to a theatre to see a movie is becoming something to be better avoided.People in general and old generation in particular prefer to see a film in the comforts of their living room. It appears that, these days, films are seen more on laptops than on the wide screen .No wonder that recent statistics show a dwindling number of cinema theatres in state.
But in spite of the enforced reluctance to visit a theatre, sometimes, there comes a compelling urge to see a film on the wide screen. After all, one has to admit, that movies are made for seeing on the wide screen and there is no substitute yet for that experience. One such film I wanted to see was the Malayalam film 'Gulmohar' directed by Jayaraj. Its pre-release publicity and write-ups in film magazines and the fact that music director Johnson was composing music for the lyrics of Sri O.N.V.Kurup might have been the factors behind my desire. But, unfortunately, the film, to my disappointment, vanished from the local theatre with in a day or two before I could watch it.

Happily for me the film 'Gulmohar' was recently telecast by one of the regional channels. Its impact on the serious viewers may not be as strong as that of some of the other films reflecting the failed Naxal movement of the 60s in Kerala like Hariharan's 'Panchagni' and Shaji N.Karun's national award winning film 'Piravi'. But still 'Gulmohar' was a different and refreshing experience reminding me of some of the Shyam Benegal films of the 70sand 80s like Ankur,Nishant, Mandhan, Mandi, Bhoomika etc., What made it different from the run of the mill is the simple, down to earth way of telling the story and the cast of the film, viz., Ranjith[the director who gave us Thirakadha' and Nandanam], Meenu Mathews, Nishant Sagar, Siddique, Jayakrishnan etc who gave the film a refreshingly different look sparing the audience the monotony of seeing familiar faces. While the entire cast has done their job well, the subdued performance of Meenu Mathews, a new comer, as the female interest of the protagonist of the film was very impressive.

But what I liked most about the film was the music of Johnson . The song,' Orunaal SubhaRathri Neerunnu poyi nee'; ithile oru pookinavay vanna nee', penned by Sri O.N.V.Kurup sung by Vijai Yesudas and Swetha Mohan is one of the best songs heard in recent times reminding us the much apreaciated composition of Johnson viz., 'Onnu thoda
n ullil theeramoham' from film Yathrakkarude Sradhakku. The song was sung solo by Jayachandran and Jyotsna. It also reminded me of Johnson's song from the film Photographer,'Kadalolam novukalil' sung by Chitra. When good duets are rare nowadays, the song 'Orunal' with Johnson's class writ all over it, is a beautiful duet. Interestingly a very popular and award winning song , again a duet, ' Kolakuzhal vili Kettu ', from film Nivedhyam [music by M. Jayachandran.] was also sung by Vijay Yesudas and Swetha.This also brings to my mind another soulful duet, 'Bhasuri shruthi' sung by Sujatha and Sreenivas in Lenin Rajendran's 'Rathri Mazha ' with music by Ramesh Narayan.

It is a pity that the film Gulmohar , like many other films of this genre,viz.,Thalappavu, Orekadal, Rathrimazha ,Naithukaran ,Akale, Pulijanmam ,Ente Hridayathinde Udama etc., did not prove popular and commercially successful and abruptly vanished from theatres. The music cassettes /CDs/MP3s of Gulmohar were not available in local music shops at the time of its release even though downloaded /pirated versions were available .The song is also not heard in any of the endless reality music shows on regional channels. Changing times , changing tastes!
Tail piece:- A few endangered/extinct/obsolete/unfashionable names---- Art films, Parallel cinema,New wave cinema,Film society, Children's'film..........

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gramophone Records-Some Musings

As a person interested in collecting gramophone records, it has been my favourite past time to arrange and rearrange my small collection of records on my shelf -film wise, singer wise, music director wise, theme wise etc. It is also a pleasure to look at the pictures on the jackets of records, read the blurbs and generally to revive the memories of the old films I had seen and the films I could not see then but could see on the small screen later.
It is said that when one grows old his ability to remember events of recent past diminishes but old memories come flashing, at the slightest stimulus , vividly and with minute details. I think there is truth in this. The gramophone records take me back to my younger days when watching films, listening to film music, discussing films and film music with friends and colleagues, going to stage programs of great playback singers[ there used to be number of such programmes] and musical evenings organised by local music clubs offered a wonderful time to many of us.
Apart from rearranging these records there are other connected activities like repairing the torn jackets, putting records in new polythene sleeves, making covers for old 78rpm records whose original paper covers with round holes in the middle are no more, keep the record collector engaged. The original jackets add value to the records and preserving them by pasting the crumbling edges with tracing paper etc., can take a lot of time.To me, knowledge of bookbinding acquired during craft periods in the school stands in good stead, thanks to late Ambadi Master, our crafts teacher. Preoccupation with jackets of records is found to be a common characteristic of record lovers .
Coming back to my collection of records, I find that those purchased by me from music shops as and when they were released are less compared to those collected later from store rooms of music shops, from the pavement vendors in cities like Calcutta, Bombay,Delhi etc.A perusal of the collections makes me wonder who the music lovers who had purchased them first hand were, how many of them are still alive, how many times these records would have changed hands before falling into the hands of pavement vendors etc., and finally reaching my hands. On many of the covers the date of purchase is recorded with or without signatures, some of them legible and others not so. On the cover of the LP record, 'Gulzar-His Songs of Love', there is the signature of Subhas Pal Choudhury.
On the famous album of Jagjit and Chitra Singh's, 'The Unforgettables', there is the signature of 'Rita Mukherjee', dated 6th of August 1981.
The style and flourish of these signatures have always impressed me making me wonder who these lovers of love songs and Gazals are. The record, 'Legendary Melodies-C.H.Atma' the dealers' seal, 'Raja Records' is fixed there on] shows an inscription, probably made by the purchaser, ' Sir with love', but without any indication as to who the disciple and sir are. I wonder about the myriad thoughts that would have passed their minds while holding their gifts ?
In the 60s and 70s people found LP records as an useful,convenient and lasting item to present to their loved ones whatever may be the occasion. The album, 'From Lata With Love', shows that it was originally purchased on the 8Th of June 1977 at Nainital and presented, 'With Love to dear Govind by G.G Mini and Jai'.

On the album,'Haunting Melodies of Lata Mangeshker', there is a writing in red ink, 'With Love to Joe and Giti....Didi 19Th May1974'.
There is one LP record,'Shehnai-Nawaz-BismillaKhan,'containing an inscription in pen on the cover,' 'With best compliments to Babli from Kartikda 26-1-1970'.
On the cover of album,' S.D.Burman-In Memoriam', there is this writing;"Dearest Mammy-Shrelatha-Lots and lots of love -Neethi and Arun- Summer'76. To me, all these show how much that generation loved music and how much it formed part and parcel of life.

My friends and colleagues had presented a few LP records to me without writing any thing on them.The record , 'Golden Non Stop Dancing 10- James Last ,'was presented to me in the early 70s by my friend and colleague Anil [Prabhu]at Bangalore . It was during this period a few of us acquired Stereo systems for the first time. Anil was having a carefully selected and matched Stereo system[ Garrard Player, PanatronicAmplifier and Waco Speakers] with a variety of groovy stickers on them!It was Anil who gave us valuable tips about record players and stereo systems. I used to hang around the music shop, Murphy Radio House on Brigade road Bangalore, to listen to new records and to make occasional purchases . I was filled with nostalgia when I recently got a record of film, 'Paigham', with their label fixed on the cover.

An LP record of Olivia Newton John, 'Dont stop Believing', was presented to me by my colleague , Dhanraj, in the early 70s. After more than 35years I met him the other day at a wedding . Retired and well settled , he was surprised when I told him that I still listened to the record on my gramophone.

Another album of Olivia Newton John shows a typed strip , 'Clement G.Koduvathara-3rd September1985' with a signature above it.
The name R.K Dugar appears on album, 'Suresh Dreams at Dawn - an instrumental tribute to Mukesh'. The names B. L. Chandok and Megraj Motilal appear on the album , 'Musical Heights from Raj Kamal . The name , Mrs .D. Sengupta, appears on the EP Record of film Aandhi. I can go on and on .
I am sure that the first owners of these records are still very much alive. Anyway, I refuse to believe otherwise . They can be assured that the records would remain safe in my hands during my time, and , from the present indications, the next generation also. But I would be a very happy collector of records if any of the persons mentioned earlier or any other reader could recognise the records and make a contact.(Click on the photos to view them clearly)

I am waiting.

Tail piece: Old books purchased by me from Moore Market, Madras, and else where in the 60s and 70s evoked similar sentiments.

Friday, October 16, 2009


LATA MANGESHKAR, the Nightingale of India, turned 80 on the 28th september 2009. Television channels and Radio celebrated the occasion with programs of remembrances and tributes and listeners got a feast of her glorious songs. Music companies have also come out with new albums of her songs.
Volumes have been written ,spoken and aired on Lata. The shelves of music shops continue to be filled with CDs and MP3s in various combinations of her songs, old and new. Listeners of all ages continue to buy them for listening, for presenting to their loved ones and for adding to their collection.
My memory goes back to the 70s when Lata had done a number of grand and successful stage programmes abroad. One such memorable programme was her concert at the famous Royal Albert's Hall, London, then a more than a century old theatre, in March 1974. It was a series of three concerts in aid of Nehru Memorial Project in Britain sponsored by India League. It was Lata's international debut and she was the first Indian to perform at Royal Albert's Hall, London.The hall, with a capacity of 6000 was houseful for all the three concerts.It was reported that, even on the third day, people were ready to pay double the cost of a ticket to enter even during the intermission! I still remember the wide coverage and photographs in film publications like The Screen, Cine Advance, Filmfare, etc., about the programme. In fact the programme was such a huge success and Lata was in such wonderful form that she could"demand and obtain the spontaneous surrender of her 18000 odd listeners and send them home with gladdened hearts and nostalgic memories". Lata was described as the undisputed melody queen of India','the pint-sized bundle of musical genius'.'the singer with moonlight in her throat', ' a legend in her lifetime'.etc.
Lata, the most recorded singer, was presented with a 'gold disc' by EMI, London, the first Indian to receive a gold disc from EMI. Sri VK. Krishna Menon was a prominent guest at the function held at the Selfridge Hotel, London.

HMV had come out with a 2LP Album(In stereo) containing reproductions from Lata's recordings at the concert, stated to be the first ever recording of a live programme offered as an album by HMV. The high quality recording was done by EMI, London , and it included speeches by Dilip Kumar and a few other dignitaries.The songs included the alltime favourites of Lata like 'Ayega Aanewala','Aajaare pardesi', etc., and the patriotic song,' Ae mere watan ke logon'.

Lata Mangeshkar had also performed at the Royal Albert's Hall in concert with the famous Wren Orchestra conducted by Ed Welch. HMV had released a special album of 2LP records (in stereo) containing live recordings at the concert.The album contained speeches by Suil Dutt introducing Lata, a tribute to Lata by Nargis, and a tribute to the Wren Orchestra by Lata. Songs from films like Andaz, Jailor, Chori Chori, Haqueequet, Mughal-e-azam,Junglee etc., sung by Lata at the concert are there in the LPs.
There is yet another album of 2 LP records covering Lata's concert at London Palladium in June 1979. Noted singers, Hemant Kumar, Nitin Mukesh and Usha Mangeshkar also performed along with Lata. Needless to add, the concert was a huge success and the 'Guardian, London', wrote on the 12th June 1979, under the caption, "India's Shy Nightingale"; "The Nightingale of India is an apt sobriquet. For Lata, like the bird ,is a simple creature.Her power and magic lie in her inimitable melting voice".
Perhaps the most memorable and sentimental album of live recording by HMV covering Lata's foreign concerts is the one titled ," A Tribute Mukesh by Lata Mangeshkar.Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar. Live Recordings of Concerts in U.S.A. and Canada", in August 1976. The two LP records are embellished by alltime hits of Lata and Mukesh from films like Sujata, Woh Kaun Thi, Milan, Kabhi Kabhi,Anpadh, Parvarish, Malhar, Aandhi, etc., with introductory comments by the singers and often superimposed with Lata's tributes to Mukesh and nostalgic memories of her association with her "Mukesh Bhaiyya". Aptly, the last song of the album is the one by Mukesh,viz., Dil Jalta hai to jalne do"(Film. Pahli Nazar). It was the first recorded song of Mukesh for a film. It happened to be his last recorded song also,as, soon after rendering this song on the stage, he had a cardiac failure from which he never recovered. The song is presented by Lata with her touching comments on this incident. A truly memorable album for gramophone collectors and a 'must possess' one for Mukesh fans.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Nostalgic memories about several enchanting lullabies and songs for children from Hindi films of yesteryears passed through my mind when I was preparing a post on Preeti Sagar. It prompted me to scan through my collection of gramophone records and listen to those immortal songs once again.

One of the earliest film lullabies was, of course ,K.L.Saigal's 'Soja Rajkumari', from film Zindagi. Though, I understand, not used as a lullaby in the film it is still a great 'lori'. There is also Saigal's song for children, 'Aao bachhe.......Ek Raje ka beta', from film President. It is, in fact, a rare combination of song and dialogue by Saigal. Another early lullaby was the melody from Do Bigha Zameen , viz., 'Aa Ja ri Nindiya too aa', by Lata and composed by Salil Choudhury.

Coming to later years, there are a few beautiful lullabies composed by Hemant Kumar like, 'Raat hai suhani O nindiya rani' by Lata in film 'Bandish' In film Jagriti, there is that famous song, 'Hum laye hain toofan se ' sung by Hemant Kumar himself and the other penned and sung by poet Pradeep, viz.,"aao bachche tumhe dikhayen ". In fact patriotism was the main theme of many songs for children during the period. In Ganga Jamuna ( Music-Naushad) there is a song ,'Insaf ki dagar pe bachchom ', by Hemant Kumar. If I remember correct the scene from the film was an open class room and the song was enacted by Hemant Kumar himself. In 'Son of India' [Naushad] there is a song by Shanti Mathur , 'Nanha munna rahi hoom .........Jai hind jai hind. No lullaby composed by Naushad is coming to my mind readily but there is yet another children's song of his by Rafi in 'Ram aur Shyam' , viz., Aayi hain baharen.

The combination of Shankar Jai kishan, Rafi, and Shammi Kapoor had given a few outstanding songs in this category. In film Brahmachari there is the hit lullaby, 'Main gaon tum sojao' featuring Shumi Kapoor quite contrary to his established image. There is also the song, 'Chakke main chakka' by Rafi. In film Andaz, the Hema Malini- Shammi Kapoor starrer , there are two very popular songs; 'Re mama re mama re' by Rafi and a chorus, 'Hainnah bolo 'by Rafi , Suman Kalyanpur , Sushma Shreshta and Pratibha. Two more songs of Shankar Jaikishan are , Mukesh's 'Ichak dana ichak dana' [film Shree 420] and the duet by Asha and Rafi, 'Nanhe munne bachche teri' from Boot Polish . But Sankar Jaikishans' versatality and talent also for soft melodies and lullabies are evidenced in their songs in films like Seema , BeteBete and Katputli. In Seema, we have the evergreen lullaby , ' Suno choty se gudiya ke lamby kahani'; in Bete Bete , 'Aaj kal main dhal gaya' and in Katputali , 'Soja re meri raj dulari'; all three songs jems by Lata . The jacket of the L.P. record of 'Seema' was a beautifully designed one by Mohanmurali in predominant blue showing the facial profile of Nutan, the heroine of the film.

Ravi is another music director who has given us a number of popular songs in this category. 'Chandamama door hai (film.vachan), 'Tumhi mere mandir (Khandan), both by Lata, are beautiful lullabies. In 'Ek Phool Do Mali', Manna Dey sang the soulful lullaby, 'Mujhe Sooraj kahe ya Chanda'. In Gharana there is the song,"Dadi amma Dadi amma man Jao', by Asha, featuring children trying to pacify their grandmother. In 'DO kaliyan', there is a duet by Asha and Rafi, 'Bachche man ki sachhe'.

Music director Ilayaraja had exploited the voice of K.J. Yesudas in full in creating an outstanding lullaby in film Sadma, viz., Surmein Akhiyom me Nanna munna......'; indeed one of the best in this genre reminding us of 'Nanhi Pari lori gae [Char Diwari-Salil Choudhury] and 'Dhere Se aajare akhiyan me [Albela-C.Ramachandra]

One of the best in this category of songs is the one composed by S.D.Burman for the film Sujata and sung in the silky soft voice of Geeta Dutt,viz., 'Nanhi kali sone chale hawa dheere aana'. One can go on listening to it any number of times.The song 'Chandare....'[Asha] in film Lajwanti and 'Chanda hai tu mera sooraj hai tu'[Lata] in film Aaradhana are two S. D. Burman songs coming to my mind.

Music director Khayyam has composed a song,' Mera ghar aaye meri nanhi pari' [Kabhi kabhi] and Mere chanda mere nanhe [Akhari khat] both by Lata. Music director Laxmi kantPyarelal composed the song 'Ek do teen char....'in film Sant Gyaneswar and 'Mein ek nanha sa buchcha hum', in film Harischandra Taramati, both by Lata .

There is one LP record in my collection titled,' Songs for Children from Hindi films -Lata Mangeshkar'. It contains 12 songs including a few mentioned earlier . There is also one song ,'Meethi meethi bathom se bachna zara[Quidi No 911] composed by Dutta Ram , one of the most talented but underrated music directors of Hindi films. [Who can forget the pathos filled song ,'Aansoo bhari hain yeh jeevan ki rahein ' from Parvarish?] 'Meethi meethi' was highly popular among college students and youngsters because of its tune, rhythm, simplicity and, above all, 'singability' on a mouth organ which was a common and affordable musical instrument those days.The non availability of the gramophone records of the film makes the album a collectors' item. The name of Dutta Ram also brings to my mind the song in film Ab Dilli Door Nahin, viz.,'Chun Chun Karti[Rafi].

Are we getting such pure and beautiful lullabies and children's songs nowadys?

Tail piece:Which is the best lullaby in Malayalam films? Argueably, 'Pattu Paadi Urakkam njan Thamarapoompaithale' by P.Susheela from film 'Seetha'.