Wednesday, January 27, 2010


The nation celebrated yet another Republic Day on the 26th instant with the usual pomp and pageantry at the national capital and state capitals .On this year's Republic Day I was on a long drive in a car and nowhere I could see any sign of celebration or active involvement of common people in the celebrations. I could not even see many national flags flying on buildings, shops,etc. No loudspeaker was heard blaring out patriotic songs. It looked as if it was just another day.A holiday!

While travelling nostalgic memories about the In
dependent Days and Republic Days started filling my mind.As students in our school and college days we used to look forward to these important days of the nation and preparations for the celebrations used to start well in advance. The buildings used to get a face lift, often, with a new coat of paint and white wash and decorated with locally available tender coconut palm leaves and coconut bunches. Banana plants with big raw banana bunches used to adorn the entrances. Shops and establishments and houses also actively participated with decorations and hoisted national flags. Streets and surroundings were swept and cleaned.In the schools and colleges there used to be parades by ACC and NCC cadets, flag hoisting ceremonies, march pasts, singing of the National Anthem, patriotic speeches by eminent personalities, distribution of sweets, sports competitions and variety entertainments. We all wore our best clothes, mostly white, with the national flag smartly pinned on them!! Well, it was celebration in letter and spirit.

On reaching back home I wanted to hear some of the old records containing patriotic songs of those days.The famous marching song of Indian National Army(now the quick march song of the Indian Army),viz., "Kadam badaye ja"(a song composed by Ram Singh Thakur and released in 1942), which used to be heard everywhere in those days, was the one I wanted to hear first. But alas!The 78 rpm record, which was with me all these years,was
found missing from my shelf ! But the record of film 'Saheed' containing the equally famous song,viz., Watan ke raah mein watan ki naujawan" sung by Muhammed Rafi, Khan Mastan and chorus and composed by Ghulam Hyder, was there. So also the record of film 'Jagriti" (Music by Hemant Kumar)containing the song ' Hum Laye hai Toofan se' sung by Rafi was there. The record has also the haunting song "Sabarmati ke sant toone kar diya kamal"sung by Asha Bhosle . I listened to these songs to my heart's content.I also took out the record of the National Anthem released by the All India Radio with the AIR orchestra and choral group playing the song. I also listened to the mother of all patriotic songs,viz. 'Aye Mere Watan ke logo'(1963)penned by poet Pradeep, composed by C. Ramachandra and sung by none other than Lata Mangeshkar accompanied by Cine Musicians' Orchestra.The royalties from the sale of this record was for the benefit of the soldiers who lost their lives on the Northern borders.It is part of history that Jawaharlal Nehru admitted that the song brought tears in his eyes!

Yet another record I heard that day was the 78 rpm record brought out by Columbia titled " Gandhi-His Spiritual Message" in Gandhi's own voice and with his signature printed on it, a proud possession in my collection.
Tail piece:-(Overheard the other day) Oh! Republic day! What is the special blockbuster film in

P.S. Please click on the photos to see them clearly.

Monday, January 4, 2010


For the lovers of ghazal, pop,fusion and disco music there is good news. The famous Bangaladesi singer, Runa Laila, after about two decades, is making a comeback in the Indian music scene with an album being released by Music Today. The album 'The Great Big Punjabi Wedding"contains 8 tracks of Punjabi songs sung by Runa Laila.
Music lovers will remember the successful and very popular presence of Runa Laila in the 60s and 70s in Indian music as a wonderful singer, stage performer and playback artist.She burst into the scene with her super hit song,'Dama dum Mast Qalandhar'[lyrics- Purnam Allahabadi. Music: Nisar Basmi) followed by the song 'Mere Babu Chhail Chhabila' from film Har jeet. She sang for several great music directors like Jaidev, Kalyanji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and Bappi Lahiri for films like Ek se badkar ek, Gharonda, Agnipath, Sapnom ka soudagar etc.,The songs 'Do Deewane shahar mein [Gharonda ] and 'Main kali anaarki' [Sapnom ka soudaaghar ]were super hits. In those days of her success and fame she got big press coverage and rave reviews in film publications.What made her stage programs a great hit was her sexy voice, personal charm,glamorous presence on stage and her capacity to shape the mood of the audience and to gel with it. Her stage shows were visual treats. She did several stage programs with Muhammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Kalyanji Anandji and Laxmikant Pyarelal.
But from the early 80s she started fading away and by the end of the 80s she disappeared from the Indian music scene inspite of her huge talent and success.The 'polytricks' of the industry was then cited as the reason for her return to Bangladesh eventhough she had denied this in one of her recent interviews.
Among my collection of gramophone records I have two of her successful discs. One is the ,'Superuna, Bappilahari Presents RunaLaila'. It contains ten disco songs tuned by Bappi Lahari and recorded in 24 track stereo at the EMI's London studio. The album has in it 'Disco Premi,' 'Suno Suno', and the most popular 'De De Pyar De'. Another disc with me is 'Great Ghazals'- RunaLaila- Style' containing ten ghazals which bring out the subtle nuances of her voice. Yet another disc is 'Sincerely Yours- RunaLaila' containig ten ghazals penned by Surayya Tabassum, Ghulam Quadir and Sheba Akhtar. Perhaps the best ever album of RunaLaila is 'O P Nayyar Presents- The Loves of RunaLaila' containing ten semiclassical songs composd by the great O.P. Nayyar. The album also contains the song Dama Dum Mast Khalandar and Mera Babu Chhail Chhabile. The fact that Runa Laila could successfully cope with Nayyar's musical magic spoke volumes about her talent. No wonder Nayyar had to admit that after Asha Bhosle it was RunaLaila who understood his compositions best. Runa Laila also has the distinction of earning an entry in Guinnes Book recording 30 semiclassical songs in 3days.

Hoping that her second coming to Indian music world will be a greater success than her first.