11 February, 2007

An enchanting evening of Old hindi film songs

It was probably the most enchanting and nostalgic evening that I must have spent in the last 5 - 6 years. The occassion was "Sur Singaar" an evening of a trip down the memory lane of the golden era of hindi film music viz, 1950s and 1960s. It couldn't have been better for me as some of my most favourite numbers belong to this era, the era of singers like Rafi, Kishore, Manna Dey, Mukesh, Lata , Asha and composres like S D Burman, Shanker Jaikishen, Naushad, Roshan Madan Mohan et al.

The evening began with an instrumental peice played on Hawaian guitar. The numbers were "Man re tu..... " from Chitralekha, followed by a a 3 peice duet of O P Nayyar - Zara hole hole, Balma khuli hawa mai and Deewana hua badal. Then the evening took off as it were with one hit after the other. There was one singer in particular Mr Anil Vajpayee, mechanical engineer by profession, who brought alive the memories of Rafisab. I think he just made a wrong decision to enter a tinkerer's profession ! Probab;ly he's right in his own way - he DID tinker with our souls by his flawless and excellant rendering.

What these songs reiterated was that there's just no comparison with the past masters. Where can you bring the magic of Mere mehboob tujhe meri..., Zindagi bhar nahin bhoolegi woh barsaat...., Tumne mujhe dekha ho kar meherbaan, Parde main rehane do etc? I think the credit must go to the composers who fused folk melodies, Indian classical and western music harmoniously to leave an indelible mark on history. Also the singers were thoroughly trained in clasical music (except the maverick genius - Kishore!), who could understand the mood of the scene and sing accroding to the actor / actress. Thus you have Rafi bringing out different quality of voice for Shammi, Shashi, Dileep kumar, Rajendr kumar, or a KK for Rajesh Khanna, Sanjeev kumar or Amitabh! Now we have the same Reshammiya for himself or everyone else, or Kumar Sanu, Babul supriyo, Sonu Nigam for everyone ! No difference at all sir !Even Rehman's orchestration appears same now days. These days you can spot any composer by listening once to his orchestration. All Himesh songs sound same, all Rehman songs the same. Where's the variety? Gone with the past masters I will say !!!

03 February, 2007

Kishoritai Amonkar - A larger than life ego

The signs were unmistabale as we approached the gates of Bharat Bhavan in Bhopal. The security cordon was befitting a VVIP or a bollywood star rather than a classical musician. As I presented my invitation card to the volunteers with my daughter in tow, I was issued a warning that children may not be allowed inside the hall. Finally, at the entrance door of the concert hall, security persons almost seized my cellphone as I was slow in switching it off! All this was now adding up to whatever I had heard about the reclusive Diva - Kishori Amonkar. She's the highest paid classical musician in India and is reported to have stopped her recital midway after she spotted a certain Farooq Abdullah chatting in the front row.
Before the start of performance, there were innumerable instructions regarding cell phone, photography, videography etc. The seating arrangement was of the "Baithak" type in Indian fashion. At last the Diva arrived and after sundry intro's the performance began. She commenced with a Vilambit Khayal in Raag Bhoopali and culimnated it with a taraana in drut teental. She then continued with a "Sahela" in the same Raag. Now I must admit to my ignorance about Sahela. I have heard Thumris, Daadras, Chaitis, Kajris and Tappas, but never Sahela. Neverthless it was enchantable. After taking a break of 15 minutes, the Diva then sang a Khayal in Raag Kedaar and ended the evening (nay night !) with a bhajan.
As far as the performance was concerned, let me confess that I am not too fond of the Jaipur - Atrauli Gharaana "Shaili". Niether was I too fond of Pt Mallikarjun Mansoor, nor am I much appreciative of this lady. Since I'm not trained in Classical music, I may not be able to express my point eloquently. I feel that its precisely for this reason that Jaipur-Atrauli gharaana doesn't appeal to people like us. I feel there's too much of "Vyakarana" or grammar and too little of "Shringaar" or adornings, which makes a recital technically flawless, but less beautiful. Its somewhat like the difference between the batting of Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Vishvanath !
But that's not he point. What I am about to write is about the massive ego of a person. I sincerely feel that that a "Kalakaar" must be humble above all. Just last month I had attended the concert of Parveen Sultana. What a difference between the attitudes of both exalted personages ! I had blogged about her performance and narrated her humility. Sadly tht's lacking totally in this Diva. At the outset itself she'd said that "Mere paas sirf shaastreeya sangeet ke sur hain, aur aakhir main academic minded persons ke liye bhajan shayad gaoon." To me it means that only her music is music, rest all is hogwash ! I'm sorry madame, I don't agree with you at all. While I too do not consider today's film music as something to cherish, but I dont find anything degrading in Thumris, tappas or Bhajans. Anyways its a democratic country and she'sentitled to her views as I am to mine ! In total contrast, in Parveen Sultana's concert none of such "Nautanki" was evident anywhere. No one was forced to switch off their mobiles. yet, the moment recital commenced, there was pin drop silence. To summarize in th end, I found the atmosphere too "Natkiya" and artificial. I did enjoy the concert despite my misgivings about the gharana, but I came away a disenchanted soul !