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'.