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.

Monday, June 11, 2012


 I was listening to those evergreen Shankar Jaikishan songs on my record player the other day.  The songs from film Barsat and Anari, especially the title songs ( I mean songs with the title of the film in the lyrics)  ‘Barsat men ham…’and ‘woh chaand khila……na samajhe oh anari hai’  took 
me to a different and nostalgic world bringing back memories of seeing these films in  the theatre, 
listening to the songs on the radio and reading  news and reviews about them, the performance of 
Raj Kapur and so on. It also made me think about several beautiful title songs which were 
integral to the films and  one could not think of the film without thinking of the song.

 The trend of having a title song in the film  continued  strongly till the middle of the 70s. Probably  it was the combination of Raj kapur,Shailendra/Hasrat and Shankar Jaikishen who started the trend in a big way. For Raj Kapur  Shankar Jaikishen was the music director  till he switched over to LaxmikantPyarelal with film Bobby. There used to be a title song in all RK films  be it  the Mukesh number ‘Awaara hoon’ from film Awara  or the Barsat and Anari numbers mentioned earlier. This continued with the  Mukesh number in Jis Desh mein Ganga Bahti Hai and the ‘Bol Radha bol sangam hoga ki nahin’ number, again by Mukesh,  in film Sangam. In between there were several title songs by Shankar Jaikishen for Raj kapur films. The ‘Ashique hoon baharaon ka’ from film Ashique,  the racy number (Mukesh-Sharda)from film Around the World, ‘Duniya ke sair karlo……Insaf ke dost ban kar, Insaf ke pyar kar lo, Around the world in 8Dollars’ and the title song by Rafi in that musical hit, Love in Tokyo, come to mind. ( The song ‘Sayanora sayanora’ from the film Love in Tokyo was  very popular in the campus and an emotion filled, romantic  word for the inevitable  year end autographs!!). There are a few other title songs also from the fold of Raj Kapur –Shankar Jaikishen which come to  mind readily. The  ‘Oh Kanhaiya oh kanhaiya’ (Lata) number from film Kanhaiya,  ‘Ek dil aur sau afsane’(Lata) from the film  with the same title,  ‘Mujhko yaro maaf karna, mein nashen mein hoon’( Mukesh) from film Mein Nashe mein hoon, and ‘Diwana mujhko log kahen, mein samajhoom jag hain deiwana’(Mukesh) from film Diwana  are some of them. These are typical Mukesh numbers for Raj Kapur by Shankar Jaikishen though a similar  number, ‘Chhalia mera naam, chalna mera kaam’ by Mukesh  for Raj Kapur was composed by Kalyanji-Anandji for film Chhalia.

In fact one of the less noticed features of Shankar Jaikishen’s  work is that they had composed more number of title songs than any other composers of the past and present.Many such songs were on Shammi Kapur  when the trio of he, Shankar Jaikishen and  Rafi  formed a highly successful team with several hit songs. The title songs in film, An Evening in Paris, Pagla Kahin Ka( Log kahein mujhe pahla kahinka), Dil Tera Deewana( Dil tera deewana hai sanam), Raaj Kumar(Mein hoon Raj kumar) and so on come to mind instantly.And who can forget the famous lung bursting ‘yahoooo....’ song, ‘Chaahe koi mujhe junglee kahein’ from film Junglee? By the way, there is another typical song on Shammi Kapur, ‘Dil dekhe dekho, dil dekhe dekho, dil delkhe delkho jee, dil denewalon ko .....’; but this is by debutant music director Usha khanna for Ash Parekh’s debut film Dil Dekhe Dekho.
There are several other outstanding title songs  of Shankar Jaikishen like the sweet melodious,’Dil mera ek aas ka panchi’(Subir Sen)from film Aas ka Panchi, , ‘Aayi Milan ki bela mein to aayi’(Rafi) from film Aayi Milan ki bela, ‘April fool banaya”(Rafi) from  film April Fool,’Mujhko apne gale lagalo, yeh mere hamrahi’(Rafi-Mubarak Begum)from Hamrahi, ‘Dil Ek Mandir hai’(Rafi- Suman Kalyanpur)) from film Dil Ek Mandir and so on. In film Rangoli there is this soft melody of Kishor kumar,’Rangoli sajao re’and in Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja, there is the rare happy song of Talat Mahmmod with Lata , ‘Tu roop ki rani , mein choroon ka raja, yeh tera mera pyar nirala’and so on. There is the popular hit, Jab pyar kisi se hota hai (Rafi) and the ‘Lakh chupao chupna........dil ki baath bada detha hai Asli Naqli chehra’ from film Asli Naqli. In film Hariyali aur Raasta,the speciality is that  there are two title songs, one byLata,’Yeh hariali aur raasta’ and the other by Mukesh-Lata ‘ Bol meri taqdeer men kya hai................jeevan ki do pahloon mein, hariyali aur raasta’’ In fact Lata has also sung this song solo and the LP album with a distinctly designed jacket becomes a rare title songs’ album. Yes,  Shankar Jaikishen were the most sought after composers of title songs.
Eventhough Naushad had composed music for a large number of films, the number of title songs by him is less. One of his much acclaimed title songs is ‘’Mere mehboob tujhe meri muhabath ki kasam’(Lata as well as Rafi)from film Mere Mehboob, a Rajindra kumar Sadhana starrer.The soulfully rendered song ‘ Dil diya dard liya,dilruba maine tere pyar ne kya kya na diya, dil diya....’(Rafi)  of film Dil Diya Dard Liya and the  song, ‘Mere ghar se pyar ki palki chali gai’ (Manna Dey)from film Palki   which as a chorus by Rafi, Manna Dey and Lata is  also there.
Music Director R.D.Burman  had tuned a few beautiful title songs for films. One  is from the Super hit  Rajesh Khanna film Kati Patang ,’Na koi umang kati patang hai’.There is another super hit song ‘Yadon ki baraat nikli hai’ from the Dharmendra-Zeenat Aman  starrer Yadon ki Barat and the famous ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ from the Dev Anand film with the same title.
Turning to  music directors Laxmikant-Pyarelal the first song coming to mind is ‘Suno Sajana .........Aaye din bahar ke’ from the Asha Parekh starrer Aaye din Bahar ke.There is also the song ‘ Satyam Shivam Sundaram’  from the film with the same title and the song ‘Hum bane tum bane ek dhuje ke liye’ from the Kamal Hasan-Rati Agnihotri starrer Ek Dhuke ke Liye to mention a few.
There are several other title songs in films, viz., Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje (Music: Vasant Desai), Bin Badal Barsat(Music: Hemant kumar), Dil hi To hai (Music: Roshan) Noorie( Music :Khayyam) Jeene ki Raah(Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal)and so on. From music Director S.D.Burman there is the song ‘Tere ghar ke Saamne ek ghar banaoonga(Rafi) for film Tere Ghar ke Saaamne and a title song in film Tere mere sapne(Kishor). The  song beautifully rendered by Mukesh  in a grief striken voice for film Saaranga, viz., ‘Saaranga teri yaad mein’ composed by Sardar Malik is another memorable title song. How can we forget the award winning song by Mubarak Begum, ‘Kabhi tanhayiyon mei yun, hamari yaad aayegi’ from director Kidar Sharma’s film Hamari Yaad Aayegi? The music by the veteran Snehal Bhatkar was the highlight of the film.Three title songs composed by O.P.Nayyar are coming readily to mind. Rafi’s Tum sa nahin dekha and Phir wohi dil laaya hoon and Mahendra Kapur’s  Baharen phir bhi ayengi, all three standing examples of O.P’s  famous rhythm.
In film Kora Kagaz (Vijay Aanand-Jaya Bhaduri) Kalyanji Aanandji has given the melodious song ‘Mera jeevan kora kagaz kora bhi rehgaya’(Kishor) and in film Mere Humsafar there is the song ‘Kisi raha mein kisi mode par mere humsafar mere humsafar(Lata-Mukesh)..
 There are a few title songs in the ‘pyar’ series. The romantic melody, ‘Dekha hai kisi ke chanchal nainon men, pyar ka sagar’(Mukesh-film:Pyar ka sagar. Music :Ravi)) is one song which even now keeps one glued to the radio/tv when heard.  In film  Pyar hi pyar,  there  is this pleasant song, ‘Dekha hai teri ankhon me  pyar hi pyar beshumar’(Rafi-Shankar Jaikishen).In that highly successful remake of Tamil film Kathalikka neramillai , in Hindi, Pyar kiye jaa’, ther is the song,’Din jawani ko char vyar pyar kiye jaa’ with kishor kumar at his hilarious best. There is a similar song by Rafi in film Pyar Muhabath with music by ShankarJaikishen.
Let me end  this by listing ( not a ranking list)four title songs, which according to me are a few of the best ever in Hindi films in this category.
1.      Film : Kabhi Kabhi . Singers: Lata- Mukesh:Music: Khayyam.
Song: Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein khayal aata hai.
2.      Film: Choudwin ka chand. Singer: Rafi  Music: Ravi.
Song: Chaudwin ka chaand ho.
3.      Film: Barsat ki raat. Singer : Rafi .Music: Roshan.
Song: Zindagi bhar nahin  bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat.
4.      Film: Dil apna aur preet parai. Singer: Lata Music: Shankar jaikishen.
Song:Dil apna aur preet parai
It is a pity that by the beginning of the 80s title songs began losing its space probably with the eclipse of Shankar Jaikishen and the reluctance/lack of taste of the makers in giving meaningful names to films. There was a sort of revival for title songs by  A.R.Rahman in films like Taal, Dil Se etc. and the box-office success of films like Dil to pagal hai (Music: Uttam Singh) and Dilwale dulhaniya le jayengi(Music:Jatin-Lalit)and so on. But the revival was temporary. It now appears that film titles are no longer inspired by poetry,traditional romantic feelings, sentiments associated with long cherished values etc. thus limiting the scope for sweet, melodious, inspiring and meaningful title songs.With titles like Dirty Picture, Jab we met, Pyar ka side effects, Pyar mein twist,and numbered titles like  Dhoom 1,2, 3, 3 Idiots etc, I am afraid, it will be idiotic to expect a title song like ‘Dil ne phir yaad kiya dard ki lahar aayi hai.(Rafi-music: Sonik-Omi. Film. Dil ne phir yaad kiya).

Tail piece:-The rains are here again. While typing this, rain drops are falling on dry leaves outside and my gramophone is playing the sweet song from film Barsat, ‘Than thi na thim, barsat men, ham se mile tum sajan.....Than thi na  thim.”