Sunday 8 April 2007

That 50s and 60s show

Ishaaron ishaaron mein dil lene waale… Youtube has loads of old Hindi song videos!!! Wonderful!!! Until now, I had been having amazing aural experiences every day, and now I’m having awesome visual experiences as well!!! Old songs have something that nothing made post-1969 has; I can’t really define it though. Take the above song, as an example. It’s got Shammi Kapoor in his more rotund, double chinned, technicolour avatar wearing saffron and moving around in strange patterns around trees jutting his neck at Sharmila Tagore’s face whenever there’s a two shot of them. Shammi Kapoor looked great in his black and white films like Tumsa Nahin Dekha, but not in Kashmir ki Kali, certainly not in this song. Sharmila Tagore… well, I’m not her biggest fan. But what happens when the above scene is played out with the song in the background? I suddenly want to jut my neck out at Sharmila Tagore, or whoever else is standing there, between tree number 37 and me, and I wouldn’t mind the saffron costume either, although I may shrink away from myself in horror once the song is done.

But while it plays, I will become part of it, and the gloriously silly world of romantic Hindi film (I shall not call it Bollywood) duets.

What makes the era of the 50s and 60s so great?

I guess that era was a freak of nature and the law of averages, when there was great talent in abundance, with geniosical music directors, geniosical (I love that word) lyricists and geniosically geniosical singers coming together in an explosion of beautiful, sweet (dare I say, geniosical?) music; the likes of which hasn’t been heard since, and never will be heard again.

Lording over this kingdom with a smile and a voice to melt hearts with terminally blocked arteries was Mohammad Rafi. It saddens me to think he’s not been posthumously given a Bharat Ratna, because that’s what he was, a jewel in India’s crown. There has been enough written about his songs, his career, the unfortunate period during which Lata Mangeshkar refused to sing duets with him, due to what now appears a silly dispute about royalty payments. Listening to all that glorious music makes me think the world then was filled with peace and harmony, with birds, trees and saffron costumed heroes frolicking in foggy (dry ice vapour, I guess) Kashmir. But that, I guess, wasn’t the case. Guru Dutt died under mysterious circumstances, suicide or an accidental overdose of sleeping pills taken to relieve depression. His wife Geeta Dutt, the voice behind the most wonderful lighthearted songs she’d glide effortlessly through – she died of cirrhosis of the liver, grief and ethanol contributing in equal measure.

Meena Kumari died from precisely the same thing; one would feel that was in tune with the tragic roles she did, but Geeta Dutt – inexplicable.

One hears very little from the people still alive from that era about their contemporaries; Asha Bhosle, who must have had a great time recording ‘ishaaron ishaaron’ with Rafi in OP Nayyar’s studio is still going strong, and has moved seamlessly through the generations. But one would think there could have been a little more credit given to the generation of people who moulded her, people like OP Nayyar, for whom she sang her best songs. There’s a little too much hype around RD Burman, and he was not a tenth as good as his old man. Naushad got spoken about only when Mughal-e-Azam was re-released in colour; and when he died.

But a part of me is thankful for all that, because the masterpieces of that era have generally remained untainted by remixing, which has been mostly focussed on the later, RD Burman dominated era. But I got a shock the other day, when I was in Giordano (getting myself a bag courtesy a gift voucher I won for second place in dumb C) in Ispahani centre, where I heard a remix of that wonderful Geeta Dutt song, Tadbeer se bigdi hui. A couple of songs from CID and Aar Paar have also met a similar fate.

One hopes that there’s a wave, no, a tsunami of nostalgia on the horizon; to bring back some of the glory of that wonderful, sadly bygone age. If not, there’s always youtube…

2 comments:

sparrow said...

seriously Yo to YOUTUBE!!
Check this out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-wHsjKH6Ds

sparrow said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA8wJRGBlDU