Yes They Do!

That’s what I would tell anyone who says “They don’t make songs like these anymore!” 

I encourage all fans of golden oldies to listen to some of the great musical numbers from 90’s, and later.  Unfortunately, the “time filter” that makes good numbers survive (and leave mediocre ones forgotten) hasn’t done it’s part yet.  But some good news –  very soon, Gaana Pehchaana will make its ratings available to you to help you with this filtering!!   In the meanime, you will have to sort through a lot of mediocre numbers to find the good ones, but make no mistake, there are many, many beautiful numbers. 

I am going to try to make this case that they in my own small way with two short playlists, one rooted in traditional melodies and the other more influenced by rock and jazz.  Choosing these songs from so many good numbers was not an easy task, so I tried to pick less well known songs that have earned Gaana Pehchaaana’s highest rating.

Melody Lives On …

(Song / Movie / Singer / Lyricist / Composer / Year)

Saiba / Guzarish / Vibhavari Joshi / Vibhu Puri / Sanjay Leela Bhansali / 2010

Masha Allah / Saawariya / Kunal Ganjawala, Shreya Goshal / Sameer / Monty Sharma / 2007

Javeda Zindagi / Anwar / Kshitij, Shilpa Rao / Hasan Kamal / Mithoon / 2006

Chupke Se / Saathiya / Sadhana Sargam, Murtuza, Qadir/Gulzar / A. R. Rahman / 2002

Surmai Shaam / Lekin / Suresh Wadkar / Gulzar / Hridaynath Mangeshkar / 1990

.. Made more Melodious by Rock and Jazz

Song / Movie / Singer / Lyricist / Composer / Year)

Wake Up Sid! / Wake Up Sid / Shankar M., Loy M. / Javed Akhtar / Shankar Ehsaan Loy / 2009

Aye Udi Udi Udi / Saathiya / Adnan Sami / Gulzaar / A. R. Rahman / 2008

Bheegi Bheegi / Gangster / James / Mayur / Pritam / 2006

Kaisi Paheli Zindagani / Parineeta / Sunidhi Chauhan / Swanand Kirkire / Shantanu Moitra / 2005

Dil Ko Hazar Baar / Murder / Alisha Chinai / Rahat Indori / Anu Malik / 2004

Interestingly enough, I saw a post the other day about a song from the 90’s, with the question “Why don’t they make songs like these anymore?”  Maybe it’s a personal emotional attachment to a certain period that can’t be shaken, but Gaana Pehchaana firmly believes all 7 decades of HFM are equally good (OK, maybe with the exception of the 80’s)!  Happy Listening!

… Ram Seetharam ([email protected])

Hindustani Raagas – A Foundation of Hindi Film Music

Simultaneously providing structure and texture to the music, raagas have been the life thread running through the rich tradition of Hindustani and other classical Indian music.  Not surprisingly, these same raagas have been the foundation of Hindi Film Music, especially in the early decades through the 60’s.  Some were formally based on the raag, such as Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re from Kohinoor, based on Raag Hamir, or Kahan Se Aaye Badra from Chashme Buddoor, based on Raag Megh.  Others are more loosely based, and don’t strictly adhere to the guidelines imposed by the raag (aaroh, avroh, strict use or non-use of swars etc.).  Regardless, I often find myself awarding four or five GP stars to songs based on raags on Gaana Pehchaana’s rating scale.  Here is a small sample of HFM based on classical Hindustani Raagas.

Raj Kapoor was reportedly fond of Shivranjani and often asked Shankar-Jaikishen to compose songs based on this raag.  Jaane Kahan Gaye Woh Din from Mera Naam Joker, O Mere Sanam, O Mere Sanam from Sangam, and O Basanti Pawan Pagal from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai are all good examples of songs based on Shivranjani from Raj Kapoor/Shankar Jaikishen movies.  Other Shivranjani examples include Tere Mere Beech Mein from Ek Dujhe Ke Liye and Mere Nainon Sawan Baadon from Mehbooba. 

Pahadi is another very commonly used raag in HFM.  S. D. Burman in particular often used it in his compositions: Dil Pukare Aa Re Aa Re from Jewel Thief; Kora Kagaz Tha from Aradhana; Phoolon Ke Rang Se from Prem Pujari; Raat Ka Sama from Ziddi; Rula Ke Gaya Sapna Mera from Jewel thief; Vahan Kaun Hai Tera from Guide … the list goes on!

A comforting fact is that even today, with western beats and percussion and dance music dominating HFM, there are occasional gems based on classical raagas: Shikayat Hai from Jism based on Bhairavi, Tose Naina Lage (Javeda Zindagi) from Anwar, based on Raag Kirwani; Aye Ajnabee from Dil Se, based on Raag Bhimpilasi; Dekha Hai Pehli Baar from Saajan, based on Raag Darbari Kanada; Ghar Se Niklate Hi from Paapa Kehte Hain, and Mere Humsafar, Mere Humsfar from Refugee, both based on Raag Yaman Kalyan.

In my humble opinion, today’s music directors should not stray too far from the rich and time tested Indian music traditions.  Don’t get me wrong, HFM has done a wonderful job of melding western, international and Indian music (I love all the songs from Metro, a good example of fusion well done).  But, let’s not let the pendulum swing too far to the west and away from our roots – we have too much to lose.

On occasion, the film music directors were able to persuade the doyens of classical music to render songs for films.  Examples include Pt. Jasraj singing Vaada, Tumse Hai Vada from 1920; Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan singing Shub Din Aayo from Mughal-e-Azam and one of my personal favorites, Ustad Rashid Ali Khan singing Aaoge Jab Tum from Jab We Met.

I would like to acknowledge one of my primary sources – a website set up by David and Chandrakanta Courtney with an extensive list of Hindi Film Songs based on Raagas.  The site includes links to videos of the songs and additional information on taal and lyrics and the degree of adherence to the the raag.  Thank you David-ji!


Madan Mohan & Lata Mangeshkar – Songs with Healing Powers

Did you know that nine out of 10 doctors prescribe listening to songs composed by Madan Mohan and sung by Lata Mangeshkar as the cure for many ills?  And that six of these doctors claim these songs even cure cancer?  Just joking of course, but, please do try a course of these nine prescriptions. And don’t worry, I checked – this is covered by your HMO.  All you need is a 99 cent co-pay to buy these songs at your local iTtunes pharmacy.

For minor ailments, you can start with three over-the-counter drugs – Hai Tere Saath Meri Wafa,  Lag Ja Gale Se and Mera Saya Saath Hoga – with their lilting, uplifting themes.  And, no, the OTC designation is not meant in any way to belittle their curative powers ; these are simple, melodious pieces of genius! The sunshine in Lataji’s voice brings out all of the nuances of Madan Mohanji’s inspired compositions. 

And for those symptoms that continue to persist and require a visit to your friendly physician, there’s the Dastak course of treatment.  Start by listening to Lataji sing Mayiri Mai Kase Kahoon , paying special attention to the Haaan, Mayi ri that Lata ji interjects towards the end of each antara.  And as if one gorgeous song in the movie wasn’t enough, Baiyan Na Daro makes sure you are fully nursed back to health.  Listen closely as Lataji sings the  Mohe Chodo Haye segment.  The full Dastak course of treatment includes Madan Mohanji singing Mayiri in his own haunting raw voice. I admit it – I have OD’d on this last drug many times.

If your symptoms still persist, you have a serious case of HFM immune disorder (HFM: Hindi Film Music).  Time to roll out the serious ghazal-based drugs.  Let’s start with the old time-tested Rasm-e-ulfat ko nibayen  – the quintessential Lata-Madan ghazal.  This is to be followed by the complex flavors of Hai Isi Mein Pyaar Ki AabrooMujhe gham bhi unka azeez hai, ke unhi ki dee huyi cheez hai – high quality curative ingredients provided by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan!

Still not cured? Time for you to listen to the slow, aching rendition of Aaj Socha To Aanso Bar Aaye.  Listen as the haunting Hanste Zakhm signature tunes give way to the soul-satisfying  ghazal-like melodies. Then wait expectantly as Lataji’s gorgeous voice starts with Har Kadam Par and the other antaras. 

Don’t worry about the tears – that’s the sign that you are cured!  All your ailments are now replaced by a long-lasting meeti dard somewhere deep inside you! By the way, several of these drugs are available in a digitally enhanced format at the Classics Revival pharmacy, produced by none other than Madan Mohan’s son, Sanjeev Kohli.  He also maintains a website in honor of his father – be sure to visit and pay homage.