Saturday, June 30, 2012

.H I N D I   F I L M S -N O S T A L G I C   Q U A W A L I S . 

In the golden era of Hindii film songs, i.e., the 50s, 60s, and the 70s, one of the  very popular forms of filmy music was the Quawali which had its origin in the Persian countries. In India  it was very  popular among the masses during the years of Mughal rule.  In  our younger days we used to hear  Urdu traditional quawalis on the radio frequently and  in the commercial services of the Radio Ceylon  there used to be special slots for quawalis especially filmy quawalis. In the early decade of the Doordarshan again Urdu quawalis were frequently seen on the screen.  The names of prominent Quwals like Habib Painter,Yousuf Azad Quawal, Rani Ruplata, Razia Banu, the Sabri brothers( Karachi), Aziz Mian Quawal and so on were familiar among lovers of Hindi music. . The simpler and melodious quawalis of popular Quawals like Jani Babu Quawal and Shankar Shambhu Quawal who had sung in films were more popular  among listeners.

While the appeal of quawalis to the masses is essentially its rare lilt and rhythm imparting a large  measure of vitality and vigour to the songs its visual entertainment value revolved around the singers . The traditional quawali group consisted  of  a lead singer assisted by one or two side singers  and the chorus including the instrumentalists playing mainly the harmonium and the  tabla. The all- male participants in their traditional attire squatting on the stage singing , clapping and gesturing with infectious enthusiasm and happiness  with the appreciating and knowledgeable audience in the front complete a normal quawali scene. Successful quawali groups all had  great ability to carry the listeners along with them throughout the program.

While the traditional Urdu quawalis appealed more to lovers of Hindustani classical music the quawalis of Hindi films had wider appeal to the filmgoers as film  quawalis were more melodious and the lyrics contained less Urdu words. Besides, the quawalis rendered  in the sweet voice of their favourite play back singers like Rafi, Manna Dey, Mahendra Kapur, Lata, Asha, Shanshad Begum  and so on and the scenes picturised on their favourite lead artistes and comedians easily gelled with the film enthusiasts.  In film quawalis the female characters not only sang and played instruments  but also danced on the stage adding to the entertainment value. The usual alaap in the beginning of the song followed  by rendering of lines without background music and followed by bold, rhythmic beats and claps so special to quawalis, variations in the tempo of the song, repetition of lines/key words are all characteristics of quawalis.The beats and, to a large extent the tunes, are common to all quawalis. But what makes each quawali stand apart is the way the singers delivered the lyrics, the subtlity with which the nuances are expressed, variations introduced and the participants performed. In fact a filmy quawali is more an audio visual entertainment than a pure audio delight.

One of the early film quawwalis coming to mind is the one from film Zeenat(1945) composed by Meer Saheb,viz., ‘Aahen na bharain shikve na kiya’ rendered by Noor Jahan, Zohra Bai, Kalyani and chorus .Strong shades of this song can be felt in the  quawali composed by Naushad  for  film Mughal-e-Azam, ‘Teri mehfil, meri kismet asmakar ham bhi dekhenge’( Lata-Shamshad Begum). There is another old quawali of Naushad in Naghma(1953), an Ashok Kumar-Nadira(Fearless)film,’Badi mushkil se dilki bekharari ko farar aayi’ by Shanshad Begum in her voice best suited for similar songs. Again in the Rajinder Kumar-Wahida Rehman film Palki,  Naushad had tuned a beautiful quawali, ‘Main idhar jaaoon ya oodhar jaaoon’ rendered by Manna Dey, Rafi and Lata with Manna Dey outstanding with pleasing voice modulation for which he was famous.

Another famous quawali of the 50s is the one composed by Bulo C.Rani for the Mahipal-Shakeela film Al-Hilal(1958),viz., Hame to loot liya mil ke husne walon ne, kale kale balon mein gore gore galon mein’ by Ismail Azad Quawal and party.This was frequently aired on the Radio. Eventhough the lyrics  consisted mainly of these lines the spontaneous gestures and spirit  on view  of the singers in the scene made it very popular.

Another very popular quawali heard repeatedly on Radio Ceylon is the one from Kala Samundar(1962),’Tum meri tasveer laykar kya karoge, kya karoge’, composed by the talented, but highly underrated, composer N.Dutta who had given several unforgettable songs in films like  Sadhana and Dhool ka phool. The quawali was rendered by Rafi,Asha, Balbir and chorus.Agian for film Dahrm Putra ( Shashi Kapur-Mala Sinha) N. Dutta had composed a flowing quawali,’ Chaahe yeh mano chaahe woh mano’ with Mahendra Kapur, Balbir and chorus .

There is one ‘quawali studded’ film with the title, Quawali ki Raat.(1964)starring Kamaljeet, Kum Kum and Mumtaz in which all the songs are quawalis composed by the lesser known music director Iqbal Qureshi who had given a few beautiful songs in films like Love in Simla. The one , ‘Aate jaate ek nazar par dekh lo dekhlo’ and the other ‘Husnewale husn ke anjan dekh’are outstanding quawalis of the film Quawali ki raat. But the pick of the lot is the Rafi, Asha. Manna Dey title song, ‘Kahnewale tu bhi kahde, jo dil ke baat hai,quawali ki raat hai quawali ki raat.’ The song picturised on Kamaljeet and a dancing cum singing  Mumtaz, according to me, is one of the top filmy quawalis of all time but without due popularity as the film was not a box office hit.

Two of the unforgettable quawalis of music director Ravi are from film Chaudvin ka Chand and film Waqt. In the first film, there is this lengthy Asha-Shamshad Begum number in two parts, ‘Sharma ke kyun pardanashi’ with Asha’s solo interludes embellishing the song.. The pace, variations in tempo and the throw of  lyrics all make this a top quawali  reminding us of the Mughal-e-Azam song,’Pyar kiya to darna kya’.In film Waqt, there is one of the  best of Manna Dey,’Eh meri Zohra Jabeen, Tujhe maloom nahi,Tu abhi tak hai hasi aur mein jawan, Tujhpe qurban meri jaan meri jaan’. Picturised in colour on Balraj Sahni the quawali brings out the best in Manna Dey who uses all of his versataliy to make the song a great hit. No wonder Manna Dey was,along with Rafi, the most sought after singer of quawalis. That brings to my mind another of Manna Dey’s super hit quawali, ‘ Yaari hai imaan mera yaar meri zindagi’ composed by Kalyanji Anandji  for Amitab Bachhan’s super hit movie, Zanjeer.

Music directors Sonik Omi had composed an evergreen quawali, for the Pran, Rekha, Navin Nishchal film, Dharma(1973),  the  Rafi-Asha quawali, ‘Raaz ki baaat kah doon to jaane mehfil mein phir kya ho’. The speciality of the song is that it was a rare song picturised on Pran who plays the role with gusto against the dancing female singer artist Bindu both making the scene a huge hit.The voice modulation of Asha and Rafi to suit the artists is the distinctive feature of the song.  Music director Sonik Omi  had another hit in film ‘Dil ne phir yaad kiya’, viz., ‘Hamne jalwa dikhaya to jal jaoge’ rendered by Asha and Manna Dey.

There are many more to mention. But let me stop by mentioning a few of the other best ever  quawalis .The first to mention is Roshan’s , ‘Nato karavan ki talash hai’ made “the quawali” by Manna Dey, Asha, Sudha Malhotra and S.D.Batish from film Barsat ki raat. In fact music Director Roshan’s name is always remembered by the film Barsat ki raat  and the beautiful songs he had tuned for the film. There are three more equally popular quawalis in the film,viz., Yeh hai ishq, (Rafi, Manna Dey, Batish, Sudha Malhotra),’Nigah-a-naaaz ke’(Rafi, Asha, Sudha, Shankar Shambhu)and ‘Ji chhahta hai choom loon(Asha, Sudha Balbir, Bande Hasan). In fact Roshan has a special place in filmy quawalis with such great numbers like ‘Vaqif hun khub Ishqake’(Manna Dey-Rafi, film Bahu Begum), ‘Chaandi ka badan sone ki nazar’(Rafi-Asha-Manna Dey-Meena Kapur. Film TajMahal), the great Manna Dey hit,’ Laaga chunri me daag’ and Asha’s ‘Nigahen milane ko jee chahta hai’ both from the Raj Kapur film Dil hi to hai.

Film Amar Akbar Antony could boast of the sizzling ageless quawali ‘Parda hai parda, parda hai parda, parde ke peeche pardanashin hai, pardanashin ko be parda na kar dun, to to Akbar mera naam nahin hai’ picturised on Rishi Kapur, Neetu singh,Amitab Bachan and others(Music. Laxmikant Pyarelal). It is a wonderful song  scene with Rishi living the role with gusto and Amitab in a lesser role  jumping on to the stage with a garland of currency notes! There is another  equally memorable Rishi Kapur-Zeenat Aman   quawali scene in film Ham kisi se kam nahin’(Music. R.D.Burman), ‘Hai agar dudhman dushman zamana gam nahi.........Ham kisi se kam nahin’.

With the changing times and tastes, eclipse of costume/period films and even top heroines eager to dance and sing in tastelessly revealing attire, it is no surprise that there is no space in films for quawali scenes with female characters clothed from head to toe and sideways almost upto fingertips besides frequently covering the face with a transparent chunri! Yes, Item numbers have taken the place of quawalis.

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