About Me

My photo
If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Music and I

People who know me a bit know that one of the most irritating things about me is that, at any given point in time the chance that they will catch me in singing mode is, unfortunately for them, very high. :-)

I say “unfortunately” because I have absolutely no illusions about my capability in this arena. Which, you will admit, makes me still one notch better than the singer who inflicts himself on you under the misguided impression that the only thing that prevented him from achieving singing fame was his lack of ambition or opportunity to thrust himself on a bigger stage. :-)

No, I have no illusions whatsoever that anything even remotely or passably melodious results from the exercising of my vocal chords, infinitely sad though such a realization is to me. And, while retaining the highest regard for classical music and ragas, I have no pretensions to possessing any knowledge of either of these.

Added to this lack of knowledge and skill is the problem that I am usually completely oblivious of the fact that I am actually singing. So much so that I was once rudely reminded by the invigilator during a very important exam that I was disturbing the entire room with my singing. It was a long time ago and I cannot recall with any certainty what particular song was causing such a stir but I think it was “ye duniya ye mehfil mere kaam ki nahin”. Which, I will admit, would have been entirely appropriate for the occasion given my state of mind while answering that paper. :-) I was completely unaware of my singing – and it was only in a low voice - but it did get the invigilator quickly onto my case. I was extremely embarrassed and had to apologize profusely. If, at a later stage during the test I broke out again into song I do not know (for I do not have control over my singing impulses) but for the rest of the session I passed through unscathed. That is, if you do not count the damage done by the test itself. :-)

There have been many more occasions when I have suddenly got out of my trance and realized that I have been singing – often only because of staring eyes, disapproval written large in them, making me squirm uncomfortably. I distinctly remember the occasion at Mumbai airport, not so long ago, waiting to board the Finnair flight and suddenly realizing that I was singing, rather audibly, “chhoo lene do naazuk honthon ko” and having a young Finnish lady sitting next to me. Boy, was I thankful that she did not understand Hindi !

Enough – I am not going to embarrass myself any further with a narration of my singing experiences. The point is that I do sing a lot to myself, usually being blissfully unaware of it – and so anybody who is in the vicinity at that time is likely to have to bear the brunt of the shelling. And it is not as if it is an iPod or some such gadget causing this - I need no such trigger to burst into song. :-)

So, WHAT do I sing ?

It is almost always a Hindi song. And almost always an old one at that. Old, meaning pre-1980. Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, Talat Mahmood, Mahendra Kapoor. All of them. Sometimes even Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum. It all depends on my mood and what is on my mind at that time.

Occasionally – very occasionally – it may be an English number. But then I know very few English songs (and even fewer songs if I need to go beyond four words) so at least I don’t often mess with this, even in my sub-conscious. Not that I do not like English songs – I really do – but I just do not know many of them. When I was growing up all I knew were a few songs of the Beatles, ABBA, Boney M (I said I knew, I did not say I liked), the Carpenters, Police, Queen, Pink Floyd and the like. Just a few songs – that too a few lines of each song. Compare that with the number of Hindi songs I picked up from all around me – “full” songs, first word to last – and there is no contest.

Any specific songs ?

Hmm…to be honest, it is a very wide variety of songs.

I will be humble in stating that there are thousands of songs out there that I am sure I still do not know (and am learning about every day, mainly on the net and following wonderful sites like http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com/).

At the same time there are still very many old songs that I do know – and my pick at any given moment could be any of these.

I do seem to realize though that there are a few “favourites” that I end up falling back on every now and then. One common thread in almost all of them is that they are soft melodies, the type that reside somewhere in your sub-consious quite easily. The music is often subdued, effectively accentuating the voice of the singer. Many of them have excellent lyrics too. A sample of them :
- tumhari zulf ke saaye mein (Rafi saab – Naunihaal)
- itni haseen itni jawaan raat (Rafi saab – Aaj Aur Kal)
- suhani raat dhal chuki (Rafi saab – Dulari)
- ye reshmi zulfen (Rafi saab – Do Raaste)
- jaane kya dhoondhti rehti hain (Rafi saab – Shola Aur Shabnam)
- teri duniya se hoke majboor chala (Kishore – Pavitra Papi)
- jeevan se bhari teri aankhen (Kishore – Safar)
- khizan ke phool se (Kishore – Do Raaste)
- wo shaam kuchh ajeeb thi (Kishore – Khamoshi)
- pal pal dil ke paas (Kishore - Blackmail)
- tum agar saath dene ka vaada karo (Mahendra Kapoor – Humraaz)
- hum chhod chale hain mehfil ko (Mukesh – Jee Chahta Hai)
- zubaan pe dard bhari dastaan (Mukesh – Maryada)
- jo tum ko ho pasand (Mukesh – Safar)
- laaga chunri mein daag (Manna Dey – Dil Hi To Hai)
- ya dil ki suno duniya waalon (Hemant Kumar – Anupama)
- ye hawa ye raat ye chandni (Talat Mehmood – Sangdil)
- nainon mein badra chhaye (Lata Mangeshkar – Mere Saaya)
- in aankhon ki masti ke (Asha Bhonsle - Umrao Jaan)
- jab koi baat bigad jaaye (Kumar Sanu & Sadhana Sargam – Jurm)

Of course this is just a sample of the songs that I am aware that I end up singing quite often – to myself. Often I pick up the song somewhere in the middle. For example, “ye phool chaman mein kaisa khila” (ya dil ki suno duniya waalon) or “jeevan ke safar mein tanhai” (hum chhod chale hain) or “tujhe kya khabar hai o bekhabar” (ye hawa ye raat ye chandni).

Anyway, whatever it is, I am convinced that my madness for old Hindi songs keeps me going to a large extent. I can listen to them any time of day or night. There are songs for every mood and I never ever get bored of them. Like my other passion, cricket, I can discuss old Hindi songs (and films) for hours together.

But old Hindi songs easily beat even cricket - there is something magical about them. When I think about the impact they have had and continue to have in my life, I cannot thank enough those who have played their part in bringing this music to me. The singers, the composers, the lyricists and all those arrangers and musicians (who nobody knows about) who have over the years enriched the lives of millions with their contribution to music. Long after they are gone (and many of the oldtimers are now gone), their music will live on. It is their legacy for future generations to enjoy. I do consider myself fortunate to be in a position to enjoy their music.

I plan to discuss more about my musical interests in future posts – I cannot have enough of it – but if anybody wants to check out old Hindi songs (including many obscure ones) , he could do worse than visit the site of my friend Atul at http://atulsongaday.wordpress.com/. Like me, he shares a passion for old songs and has painstakingly built up his site, song by song, over the last 14 months or so to now have a library of almost 2000 songs (and continuing to add as many songs as possible every day). Complete with an often-interesting intro, a video of the song and full lyrics. It is a labour of love for him - he is doing his bit to preserve songs for posterity. We need more of this and I am thankful to him too for unearthing many gems for me that I would never have heard if it had not been for him.