Friday, October 12, 2012

Chitra Singh - Safar me dhoop to hogi

Chitra Shome was born in Calcutta in a musical family. She had no formal training in music, but had a lovely voice.  Very early in her life (I could not find dates for her birthday or any important events on the internet) she married Dutta and moved to Bombay.  Her husband ran a sound recording studio and recorded jingles.  Chitra was a popular voice on these jingles and was soon joined by Jagjit Singh who was looking to make money.

Her marriage was on the rocks by the time they met, and soon she was divorced from Dutta and married to Jagjit Singh.  They tried to get into singing for movies, but the talented Jagjit Singh brought out The Unforgettables, a collection of ghazals that catapulted them into instant fame.  Soon ghazals were all over the place and Jagjit and Chitra ruled the scene like a king and his queen.

Slim, beautiful and sophisticated Chitra, with her high cheekbones looked gorgeous beside the handsome Jagjit.  Jagjit's deep voice and Chitra's light flutey voice complemented each other perfectly.

Although Chitra was overshadowed by the massively talented Jagjit, she held her own and is appreciated and her ghazals and songs sought after even now.

I am always on the look out for Chitra solos, sung emotionally yet with a light touch.  Her songs bring out the lyrics, but rarely make you feel depressed. Just thoughtful.

Here is an early ghazal of hers, written by Nida Fazli, composed by (I am guessing here) Jagjit Singh

Kisi ke vaste rahen kahan badalti hain
tum apne aap to khud hi badal sako to chalo


safar me.n dhuup to hogii, jo chal sako to chalo
sabhii hain birrD me, tum bhii nikal sako to chalo

kisii ke vaasate raahe.n kahaa.N badalatii hai.n
tum apane aap ko Kud hii badal sako to chalo

yahaan kisii ko koii raasataa nahii.n detaa
mujhe Giraake agar tum sambhal sako to chalo

yahii hai zi.ndagii, kuchh Khawab chand ummiiden
inhii khilauno se tum bhii bahal sako to chalo

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reshma Aur Shera

Friday the 27th September was difficult for me because I was feeling depressed and down.  On top of that the internet was playing hookey.  I was in the process of changing my connection and fell between two stools of the old connection which I scrapped and the new connection which was having teething troubles.

I decided to bring out a DVD from my pile of 'to-be-watched'.  I picked 'Reshma aur Shera'.

I picked 'Reshma aur Shera'.

I have heard only good things about this movie, I loved the music, I love Sunil Dutt and Waheeda.  I was eager to see for myself if the movie lived up to my expectation.

It did.

The movie is set in the magnificent, stark sand dunes of Rajasthan.  Reshma (Waheeda Rehman) is the beautiful daughter of the Chief of Pochina and Shera (Sunil Dutt) is the son of the chief Sagat.  The two clans do not get along and their rivalry has claimed a good number of lives.  Shera is visiting a fair which culminates in ritual sacrifice of a goat for the Devi Ma.  This year he has the honor of wielding the sacrificial sword.

Reshma and Shera run into each other at the fair.  Shera is captivated by the girl and kind of stalks her.  She is curious about him, attracted too, but hesitant.  A little later Shera's younger brothers Vijay (Vinod Khanna) and Jagat (Naval Kumar) get into a scuffle with the Pochina crowd and are on the point of killing their Chief's son Gopal (Ranjeet) when Shera steps in and saves him.  He thrashes his brothers for creating ruckus at Devi Ma's door and sends them back home.

This act of his endears him to Reshma.  She loves her brother and her one wish is to see him unharmed.  Shera wants to end the enmity between their clans and wants to marry Reshma. For the moment they have to be content with a little courting and meeting secretly at nights in the sand dunes.

Shera's pacifist ways are not met with any enthusiasm by his bloodthirsty brothers and father, the Chief Sagat (Jayant).  Shera has one more sibling, the youngest, Chotu (Amitabh Bachchan).  Chotu is a crack shot and dumb. He loves his eldest brother Shera and follows him around.  He is a bit cowardly and weak too.  But a good person.

Shera wants to start the peace talks between the families by a visit to the Chief of Pochina (K N Singh) on the occasion of Gopal's marriage.  His father disowns him for wanting to do this.  There is a very touching scene as Shera is driven away without taking the bundle of food that his mother had packed for him.  Chotu picks up the food and runs after Shera to give it to him, but is dragged back, weeping and helpless by his brothers.

Shera's families now hatch an evil plan to making Chotu shoot the Chief of Pochina and Gopal dead.  Just as Shera manages to win over the Chief of Pochina too.  Now the heart-rending scene at the site as the newly wed bride (Rakhee) finds she is now a widow, makes Shera swear vengeance.

A bloodbath is unleashed as Shera tries to find the person who pulled the trigger.  Where will this vengeance end?  What will happen to Reshma and Shera?

The story is told in a taut manner, there are no unnecessary scenes and no diverting into CSP, which was the bane of many movies of the time.  The starkness of the tale is complemented by the starkness of the desert landscape.  The homes of the people are in mud-huts with thatched roofs, not some fancy havelis, as the movies these days often have.  

The characters are quickly delineated by deft dialogues and actions.  Hence we know early on that Shera is a pacifist, and so is Reshma. Shera's mother (Sulochana) wants peace too.  Shera's brothers and father are bloodthirsty. Chotu is simple soul who would not willingly hurt a sparrow.  The story moves along at an even pace.

The songs by Jaidev are sublime.  Ek thandi si agan, shot brilliantly in Hawa Mahal is gorgeous.  Tu Chanda Main Chandni, shot in the shifting sand dunes is captivating.  There is a qawwali at the start Zalim meri Sharab me where a very young Sanjay Dutt also performs along with Sudhir.   Ek to yeh bharpoor jawani is a mujra performed by Padma Khanna to celebrate the killing of the enemy.

All the actors have put in a wonderful performance.  Waheeda stands out as a young girl in love at the start and later as a troubled young woman who must make some tough choices.  She deserved the national award she got that year.  Another standout performance in the film was from Amitabh Bachchan who was magnificent as Chotu who is brings out the nuances of his character to perfection.

The movie gets a little too melodramatic at times, but in face of such brilliance elsewhere, I am willing to let it pass.  This is one movie every film lover should see.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


For quite some time now we have not seen a movie that the public was unanimous in endorsing.  Barfi is a movie all are raving about at the moment.  A friend tweeted "
Barfii is cute, funny, high on emotions. Every frame is brilliant. Classic."

This tweet made me want to see the movie, and I blocked out all reviews and opinions on the film from my reading list. I like to see a film without knowing anything about it at all.  All you could hear on the ticket window was 'Barfi'. "Do barfi dena" said the girl standing the row next to mine. I almost said "Yeh koi halwai ki dukan hai?".

I opted for the earliest show, the 9.15 one.  This is my favorite show timing.  You are done with the movie before midday and have the rest of the day free for other activities. Usually this time slot is not popular with people because no one likes being out of their beds so early on a Sunday.  Yet I was surprised to see the hall fill up in no time.

Most people know what the movie is about.  Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) is a deaf mute boy living in Darjeeling.  His story is told in flashbacks by a girl who loves him Shruti (Ileana D'Cruz).  Shruti makes friends with Barfi when her father is transferred to Darjeeling.  She has a lot of fun running around with him.  Maybe for the first time in her life, she is truly emancipated, because the deaf-mute does not expect her to behave in a particular fashion.  Despite feeling connected to him, she has to give him up and marry the guy her parents approve of.

Barfi is heartbroken when he sees that he cannot be with her.  His life takes an unforeseen turn when he runs into Jhilmil, an autistic girl imprisoned in her home by her insensitive but rich parents. Jhilmil is kidnapped, and Barfi is suspected of kidnapping and later, murdering her.

The story of Barfi is engrossing, to be sure.  There is something happening all through the film to keep you occupied.  However it is the treatment of the film that is the king, nay, the emperor here.

The film is short almost like a silent movie for the first part. Apt. The movie is about a deaf-mute who has no sound in his life.  There are times when the silences actually nearly unnerve you, but also grip you in a way no film has done in recent time.

The movie is beautiful as well.  Shot in scenic Darjeeling, the frequent use of the toy train reminds you so much of "Mere sapno ki raani".

Anurag Basu OWNS the film along with Ranbir Kapoor.  He invokes memories of Life in a Metro with the use of musicians that pop up to play a mournful accordian every time something emotional happens.  Also the skillful touches and scenes that are likely to linger in your memory for a long long time.

Ileana D'Cruz is simply beautiful.  Her large eyes are used to full effect by the director to convey emotions.  She looks lovely in her 70s get-up, hoops and turtleneck sweaters in the first half and bengali sarees that show off her lovely slim waist in the second half.

Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) is helped in her acting by her curly hair, her prosthetic teeth and camera angles.  I do feel Anurag Basu must get the major chunk of kudos for her performance.

On the other hand, Ranbir Kapoor is absolutely perfect.  His lithe body helps in the chaplinesque moves he has to make as the slippery Barfi.  Seeing that he gets only one line to speak "Barfi", he could have gone OTT with the expressions, but he never does!  He is perfect.

I did not quite like the last couple of scenes.  I wish the movie had ended when the mystery around Jhilmil was cleared.  A little ambiguity does not hurt. :)  Even so! Barfi is the most unusual movie to have hit the movie screens in recent times.  It is quirky, funny, emotional, thrilling, moving. 

To Rome with Love and Arbitrage

I ended my hiatus of a few months and went to a theatre to watch To Rome With Love last week.  A Woody Allen movie is a guarantee of entertainment and some mental stimulation which the recent crop of 'disaster' or 'superhero' flicks can not provide.

To Rome with Love was a funny film, filled with absurd situations that can happen only in a Woody Allen film.  I loved it.  I loved the characters, the story, the acting.  Judy Davis looked super-hot despite her years.  It is nice to see a hollywood actress not afraid of showing her wrinkles.  Here is Richard Brody's review of the movie printed in The New Yorker.

I watched the trailer of a new film Arbitrage directed by Nicholas Jarecki starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon that looked pretty good during the screening of To Rome With Love.  This friday when I was looking at the new movie listings in the paper, I saw that this movie was playing in PVR.

I was caught between wanting to see Barfi and this movie, Arbitrage.  Arbitrage won because I knew I could not just walk to the box office window and get current show bookings for Barfi.  So I opted to watch Arbitrage first, and book my ticket for Barfi for Sunday.

A funny thing happened at the ticket window.  A lady had sent her mother to book a couple of tickets for Arbitrage.  The girl manning the window misheard the woman and booked two tickets for Raaz.  The miffed younger woman yelled at the box-office girl "Arbitraajz" not "Raaz", "English Movie".  I felt sorry for the ticket window girl.  These people are paid a pittance for sitting all day at the counters, dealing with a jostling crowd.  On top of that it is hard for a desi girl to understand poncy pronunciations, so it is better to be clear and simple while talking to people.  And keep your accents and airs limited to your own ilk.

The movie stars Richard Gere as a man of suspect character, who is on the verge of selling his business.  Robert Miller (Gere) has been cooking the books to facilitate the sale.  He is also having an affair with an artist on the side.  He has apparently promised the girl that he would soon leave his wife for her. Beset with troubles over the delays in the sale of his company which is costing him a great deal of stress and financial loss, he decides to run away with his mistress.  His eyes close for a second when he is at the wheel and the car crashes.  The girl dies and Miller leaves the car just before it blows up.

Miller is tempted to distance himself from this accident and return to his old life, to his wife and children, his business interests.  He calls a young man Jimmy Grant (Nat Parker) who is indebted to him, to come and pick him up.  He has left the site clear of any evidence of his presence, or so he thinks.

The police detective (Tim Roth) is soon on his trail, and Miller finds himself getting more and more stuck in the web of his lies.  Jimmy is picked up by the detective and pressured to give evidence against Miller. Miller is again torn between letting Jimmy get jailed for obstructing evidence and seeing himself in the dock for a crime. His lawyer advises him to make a clean breast of it to stop implicating innocent people.

Again, like To Rome With Love, Arbitrage is a movie different from the usual (recent) hollywood offerings of superhero or disaster flicks.  It shows us how a business magnate becomes corrupt to stay ahead of his game, in life and in business.  It tries to get inside his head and gives us an intimate look at the inner workings of his mind.

Gere performs admirably, Susan Sarandon as his wife performs even better! She has a role that is short but meaty.  She plays a woman who does not hesitate to kick her man in the balls, just when he is at his most vulnerable.

It is a very good film worth watching.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rishi Kapoor - Kuch Chocolatey ho jai

In the year 1973 I was living in Bangalore.  There was a huge house right next my friend Aruna's house that belonged to a film distributor.  He had put up a large poster of a young teenage couple in a clinch with the name of the film 'Bobby' written across.

Shortly after, Aruna and I went to see the movie first day first show.  Needless to say, I fell in love with the movie and the lead couple, Dimple and Rishi.  In those days, if you liked a movie well enough, you just went and saw it again.  I think I saw the movie 2 more times right then.  I knew the scenes by heart, and wrote down the lyrics of all its songs in a notebook.

Dimple went and married Rajesh Khanna and left movies and Rishi high and dry.  For a while poor Rishi tried to find his feet until he hit jackpot with Rafoo Chakker.  Believe it or not I did not see Rafoo Chakkar and Khel Khel Mein, the movies that established his lifelong jodi with Neetu Singh.  I did see Laila Majnu and loved the movie, the songs, Rishi and Ranjeeta.

I saw Ham Kisi se Kam Nahi, Kabhi Kabhie and Doosra Admi.  All wonderful movies with loads of romance, songs and dances.  I liked Doosra Aadmi for its bold theme and simply great acting by Rishi, Rakhee and Neetu.

He was stylish in Karz, rustic in Sargam, and back with Dimple in Saagar.

Ek Chadar Maili Si saw him paired with Poonam Dhillon and Hema.  It was based on the custom in Punjab of marrying off a widowed daughter-in-law with the younger son to make sure that she was looked after well.  It was a difficult role but Rishi and Hema did full justice to it.

Shriman Ashique was a sort of a remake of Shagird, a fun filled film starring Rishi and Urmila Matondkar. Henna was another beautiful film, with a plausible story on Indo-Pak love story.

With Deewana Rishi handed over the baton of the young romantic lead to Shahrukh Khan.  He lingered in the hero mode for a while after this, but things were ending for him soon.

 Not being the first lead has actually improved Rishi's performances.  He works excellently in character roles.  He has been lucky to get some really meaty roles in movies like Chintuji, Do Dooni Chaar, Fanaa, Hum tum, and my favorite - Luck by Chance.

I have picked some random movies from his vast repertoire.  There are several songs and films of his that are more famous or perhaps more worthy of mention, but I have picked the ones that struck me at the particular time.  These are the movies I have seen and liked.

September 4 is Rishi Kapoor's birthday.  Happy birthday Rishi!  You have been a part of my growing up years. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A site for Punjabi folk songs

Apropos of nothing, a few days back, I was reminded of a beautiful song sung by Surinder Kaur and went to the mecca of music lovers, the YouTube in search of it. "Ehna akhiyan ch pawan kiven kajla ve". The beautiful words of the song seared my heart.  Now I wanted to read the lyrics too, to get a better feel of the song.  

This time round, Google baba came to my help.  It led me to this beautiful site which has lyrics of most of the classic Indian and Pakistani Punjabi songs.

The index lists writers like Baba Farid to Shiv Kumar Batalvi, a veritable bouquet of singers like Alam Lohar, Farida Khanum, Bhupinder to Surinder Shinda.  If you are an afficionado of Punjabi songs, this is your go-to site.

Back to the song I loved so much.  The soulful lyrics are by Shiv Kumar Batalvi, and the song is sung by Surinder Kaur.  There can be no words to describe Surinder Kaur, this singer has brought to life so many folk songs of Punjab, and also created new ones.  Her beautiful voice is always a pleasure to listen to.

Shiv Kumar Batalvi has given us so many lovely songs and poems full of mighty metaphors.  He usually speaks of love, longing and separation, and how!

Here I have attempted to translate the song for the benefit of non-Punjabis.

Listen to the song on YouTube, or better, on the link given above.

Ehna akhiyan ch pavaN kiveN kajla
AkhiaN ch tooN wasda

How can I line my eyes with kohl,
when you live in my eyes

Har vele channa mera tere wall munh ve
BulliaN ch naaN tera, akhiaN ch toon ve
JadoN hassdi bhuleka menoN painda ve
HasiaN ch tooN hassda

I look at you all the time
your name is always on my lips, you live in my eyes
when I laugh, I feel as if
you smile through my laughter

Ehna akhiyan ch pavaN kiveN kajla
AkhiaN ch tooN wasda…

How can I line my eyes with kohl,
when you live in my eyes

LammiN si wataN channa, neede neede aaya tooN
Akhian de raheeN aa ke, dil ch samaya tooN
JadoN puchni aaN pyar diaN gallaN ve
Holi holi tooN dassda

You were far away, yet you came close to me
through my eyes, you came into my heart
when I ask you tell me of love
you speak to me softly

Ehna akhiyan ch pavaN kiveN kajla
AkhiaN ch tooN wasda…

How can I line my eyes with kohl,
when you live in my eyes

MassaN massaN jindadi main pyar vich rangi ve
Ajj menoN japda main tere naal mangi ve
Ajj khushiN da ho gaya savera ve
Ghum saathoN door nassda

I have barely now managed to color my life with love
Today I feel as if I was made for you
my happiness has seen its dawn today
sorrows run far from me today

Ehna akhiyan ch pavaN kiveN kajla
AkhiaN ch tooN wasda… 

How can I line my eyes with kohl,
when you live in my eyes

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bawarchi -

“Squabbling Sharma family has a dubious reputation of not having any cook last there for more than a few months. Word spreads out about this family to such an extent that no person wants to be employed as a cook in this household, ironically named Shanti Nivas. Then one day a young man named Raghu offers to work as a cook, and he is hired. Raghu quickly gets a grip on his job and on each of the family members, and soon the squabbles and arguments come to an end. And then the Sharmas find the family jewels and Raghu missing. Written by rAjOo (   “

This is how the plot of the 1972 film Bawarchi is described on IMDB.  

The recent death of Rajesh Khanna has people talking about many of his films, Aradhana, Namak Haram, Anand, Do Raste and many others.  Everyone wanted to point out how well he managed his emotional and romantic scenes, how well he performed while ‘singing’ songs on screen, how great his dialogue delivery was.  All course, these are all the superlative qualities of the much loved superstar, and deserve to be highlighted.

I felt a little sad about the unwitting neglect of a lovely movie that Rajesh Khanna starred in, at the height of his stardom.  This is the kind of a movie a superstar would usually hesitate to do.  He is the central character in the movie, to be sure.  In fact he is almost ‘god-like’ here, a perfect man who has a solution to every problem.  The problem is, he is not ‘star-like’; that is to say,  he gets no girl, sings no romantic songs and fights no villains.  Yet the movie is a beautiful gem.

Rajesh Khanna as Raghu the bawarchi, fixes all that needs to be fixed in a joint family that is beset with jealousies, quarrels, selfishness and NEGLECT. The people who live in the house neglect the old and the helpless, the old man Shivnath (Harindranath Chattopadhyay) and the young orphan Krishna (Jaya Bhaduri).  They neglect their own duties, simple tasks like cleaning and cooking.  They neglect to respect each other.  Their neglect is turning ‘Shanti Niwas’ into ‘Ashanti Niwas’.  Raghu knows each member of the family very well, and seems to know exactly how to deal with them.

One scene in the movie stands out in my mind, the only one that I am going to discuss here.  On the first day of Raghu's employment, he finds that the floor outside the kitchen is slippery.  All morning the members of the family have been slipping on it, and cursing loudly every time they do.  Raghu asks for a scrubber and some other thing that he claims will be enough to clean it for good. The people of the family are aghast when he offers to clean the floor.  For them cleaning is to be done by minions, not by ‘Kings’ or ‘Queens’ of the household, not even by the high caste bawarchies.  But Raghu says ‘This is my house, why should I be ashamed of cleaning it’  He gets a scraper, and cleans the slippery floor in no time.  This was the best lesson of all in this movie replete with allegorical allusions and homilies.  If there is something that can be fixed with a quick action by you, just do it.

In playing out the floor scrubbing scene, in a way, Rajesh Khanna also displayed his own attitude to acting.  “If there a role that is worth doing, I don't mind stripping myself of my starry trappings to do it”, this is what he seems to be saying.

Rajesh Khanna played Raghu with the same dedication with which he played Flt Lt. Arun and Suraj that brought him such fame.  In this movie he wears a pair of brown shorts and a shirt, like a simple bawarchi, yet his wonderful acting makes him look just as lovable as Arun in his dapper pilot’s uniform.  It is laudable that Rajesh chose to act in this ‘un-star’ like movie at the peak of his career.
The movie is a subtle indictment of people who are willing to carp about issues, but not lend a hand, or do anything constructive for the state that their own homes, their community, their city, and their nation is in.  They would rather 'slip' repeatedly in muck and loudly blame others than clean it up themselves. The movie deserves to be seen again and again, and understood fully, and its simple lessons followed.

Here is a song full of pathos sung by Manna Dey and lip-synched to by Rajesh to such great effect in this movie.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Men Singing Praises of their beloved

When I was very little, it was hard to escape the radio.  If we did not have the radio on, some obliging neighbour always had theirs on, and at a volume high enough for the whole mohalla to hear.  AIR started at 6 AM with this tune and Vande Mataram

The first song of the day was invariably by KL Saigal, as a tribute to that matchless singer.  Hence I will also start my list of (mostly) solo songs by men praising the beauty of their beloved with a song by K L Saigal.

1. Your two naughty eyes are wrecking havoc on me

If men don't know this already, they might as well commit harakiri.  The way to unlock the door to a girl's heart is flattery.  Why do women dress well?  Why does the cosmetics industry thrive? Why are the papers full of adverts for anything from losing pounds to losing wrinkles?  Take some tips from the following (and one preceeding) songs and learn how to  praise your lady love.

2. How can I find a similie for your beauty?

Yummy yummy Dev and Asha lavish praises on each other.  This is the only duet I have on my list, but I HAD to sneak Dev in.  He's my favorite.
3. These Eyes! Uff yumma

This song was such a rage at one time.  The simple and direct lyrics are very effective.

4. May no one cast an evil eye on your pretty face

Sadhna was so beautiful, so comely, so elegant.  No wonder Rajendra Kumar was all over her... in this song.

5. Oh queen of flowers, Oh empress of spring!

The next two songs have the best serenader in the history of Indian Cinema, Shammi Kapoor.  Like an aasman se bheja hua farishta, he lavishes praise on Kashmir ki Kali Sharmila in the next two songs.  I could not possibly have left either of these out of this list.

6. By God, your pretty face.

7. Your face is bright like the moon:

My favorite glamour girl - Babita - preens while Bishwajeet prances all around her singing this divine song.  It seems like he is praising her make-up more than the girl's beauty, maybe he was trying to pick up tips.  Ankhon me qayamat ke kajal, hoton pe ghazab ki laali hai. (your kohl is deadly, your lipstick is awesome red).  The song is from the movie Kismet.

8. Your kohl is deadly, your lipstick is awesome red.

In Dharti, Rajendra Kumar again tries to cosy up with his girl (Waheeda) by saying she is prettier than an angel and even God is awestruck by her beauty.  (Thanks Raja for correcting me on this)

9. Even God wonders who created my beloved when he peeps down from the skies:

Oh I love this song, and always found Rajshree very sexy.  Biswajeet singing for a dripping Rajshree in Shehnai.

10. Don't let the pearls of water in your hair scatter:

This is the superhit song that made Rajesh and Mumtaz India's sweethearts.

11.  These silken tresses, these syrupy eyes - they are what we all live for.

Back to Babita who soaks in a lotus pond while Jeetendra sings cautiously by the edge.

12. Oh dear, your fair body is like a blooming rose:

Sanjeev Kumar romances Nazima in this uber favorite song of mine.

13.  Oh your smile! Its like a ray of sunshine in the dark:

Shammi again in a b/w song, look at his face when he says 'bemisal'.  He puts so much feeling into this song.

14.  Oh you life of Spring, your beauty is matchless:

Rajesh again, chasing  Nanda all over the park.  I am guessing the children were away at school.  I can listen to this song anytime.

15. When I saw your rosy eyes, my heart was intoxicated

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mela songs - Mere wala favorite

The urban mela (fair) is blatantly commercial and is put up with the intent of the stall-keepers making the maximum profit.  When I was younger, and lived in a small town (Jamnagar) the sole Janmasthami Mela was more for the local craftsmen.  There were food stalls and several small merry-go-rounds and wheels for rides.  We walked about in dust, admiring the show, stopping to buy a bauble or a toy.  The fair ended at the gates of the Krishna Temple.  There were no dacoits or female dancers around, maybe just a few impoverished pickpockets looking for a salary hike.  The only romantic encounter I had was when my heart beat fast as I watched the object of my affection (then) walk by.  But our movies provide a lot of masala in shape of lovely songs and dances in the center of a mela.  Here go some of my favorites.

Bikaner ki chunri odhe - Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye :

Jayashree T dances to this peppy song in a lovely colourful petticoat.  I have not seen the movie, but she is apparently distracting the villagers while her gang members are setting something up while she boasts of wearing the best India has to offer in clothes and accessories.

Pyara hindola mera - Us Paar

Moushami Chatterji sings this cute song as Jalal Agha and Vinod Mehra stand by.  She sings about her lovely 'hindola' a merry-go-round while the two smitten men look on.

Hai sharmaon kis kis ko bataon - Mera Gaon Mera Desh :

Laxmi Chhaya sings this beautiful song,  through which she drops hints to the police (and more importantly - Dharmendra) about the whereabouts of the dreaded dacoit Vinod Khanna.

Le de Saiyyan odhni - Pavitra Paapi

Tanuja, Parikshat Sahni and Neetu Singh watch delightedly as Madhumati dons a red ensemble and dances to this lovely song.  Madhumati begs her beloved to buy her a pretty sparkly odhni while he promises to sell everything he has, just to see dance.

Jhumka Gira Re - Mera Saaya

Sadhna distracts the villagers while her gang-mates go about robbing the crowds transfixed by her jhumka woes. Sadhna apparently has naughty reasons for having lost her earring.

Sajna sajna O sajna -  Ek Phool Do Maali

Sadhna again, this time she sings unabashedly of her love looking pointedly at Sanjay Khan.  There are no pickpocket mates around looting the onlookers.  Just a girl telling a boy she likes him.

Ja re ja o harjai - Kalicharan

Reena Roy makes eyes at an unkempt Shatrughan Sinha in an attempt to let him know that she is 'willing'.  Such a melodious song and Reena looks so lovely!

Tu raat khadi thi chat pe - Himalaya ki God Me

This is one of the two songs on my list where the hero also jumps into the fray.   Manoj Kumar woos the girl, Mala Sinha with fulsome praise while she pretends to rebuff him.

Hai re Hai - Kashmir ki Kali

Shammi rocks a bhangra get up of a shocking pink lungi with a white kurta and sings about his feelings, his lady love Sharmila lets down her guard and lets him know she loves him too.

Ni me yaar manana ni - Daag

Padma Khanna and an unknown dancer do the honors in this scintillating song while Sharmila, Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee watch.  The song is about a woman who wants to wrest her beloved away from her rivals.  I don't know the name of the singer who accompanies Lata in this song - she is so good.

Chadh gayo papi bichua - Madhumati

Here is an oldie (thank god there are songs that are older than I).  Vyjayantimala uses the folk euphemism of 'bichua' for love, while Dilip Kumar enjoys her unique way of admitting her love for him.

I am sure there are many more 'Mela' songs out there, but I adore these and can listen to them all the time.  In these songs the women are unabashed about expressing their sexuality and flaunting themselves (except Maushami Chatterji in Us Paar - who is just being cute).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sidey bhi kabhi hero tha

We associate Sujit Kumar more with roles where he was invariably the good friend of the hero, stepping in at right times to push the story forward.  Most notable example, Aradhna.  He was there at the begining of the movie, sitting beside the hero, playing the mouth-organ and driving, while the hero flirts with the girl in the train.  Oh yes, the iconic song, 'Mere sapno ki rani'.  He was there at the end of the story to call out an anguished 'Bhabhi' at the sight of a widowed Sharmila, and help tie the loose ends.

I was song hopping on You Tube an hour ago when I came across a lovely Rafi song, 'Haseen Vadiyon' from Lal Bangla.  I was amused to see our favorite sidekick of the late 60s and 70s Sujit Kumar gamely dancing on the slopes of Kashmir (I am quite sure its Kashmir) with the heroine (Jayanti) simpering beside him.  In fact, he dances more than the girl, and, as the saying goes, dances like no one is watching.  Do click on the link to watch the song on You Tube.  Embedding has been disabled, sigh.

Found an embedable version.  Hope it works.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bhupinder Singh

Bhupinder is a musician and a singer.  He was never top of the heap as a singer, his voice was kind of heavy as if someone was singing though a cold.  Indian voices are preferred sweet, especially for playback singing.  He was the best guitarist in India at one time.  He has provided the guitar sounds for such songs as Dum maro dum and Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko.

According to wikipedia he used to play violin and guitar over Doordarshan.  It was Madan Mohan who heard him and offered him a song in Haqeeqat.  He provided music to some songs and sung some songs for Gulzar's movies.

During the 80s when Jagjit Singh spearheaded a ghazal wave, he also cut a few ghazal albums with his wife Mitali.  He was seen again on Doordarshan in the typical 'ghazal' uniform of kurta pajama with a shawl slung by his side,  his pretty wife beside him, singing ghazals.  We don't see much of him now, but I still have fond memories of the lovely songs he sang.  Here goes my tribute to his unusual singer.

1.  Hoke Majboor Mujhe:   This is the song that started it all.  He even played a small part in this movie, he was slim and handsome then. This lovely Kaifi Azmi/Madan Mohan song has many singers, wait till you get to Bhupinder.

2. Kisi Nazar ko tera :  What a lovely song from the movie Aitbaar.  Also an excuse for looking at the lovely Ms. Dimple Kapadia.

3.  There is nothing like Gulzar's poetry, the images it invokes, the words he uses. Wow.  Bhupinder's voice is as unusual as his poetry, no wonder they produced so many good songs together.  The beautiful music is by Jaidev.

4.  Dil dhoondta hai : Gulzar-Madan Mohan-Bhupinder-Lata.  This song is pure magic.

Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din
Baithe rahe tasavure jaana kiye hue.

Gulzar picked up the lovely sher from Ghalib and added his own lyrics to create this magical song.

5.  Jaane yeh mujhko kya ho raha hai:   Ek baar Phir is not very well known I am afraid, but it was a lovely little movie starring Pradeep Kishan (who?), Deepti Naval and Suersh Oberoi. Music by Raghunath Seth, with lots of guitar, maybe by Bhupinder.   

6. Do diwane shehar me: Runa Laila teams up with Bhupinder for this rollicking song.  It has a sad version too, but I love love love this song.

7.  All these songs are great, amazing, wonderful.  But my most favorite Bhupinder is this.  It is a beautiful nightclub song to die for. Music is by Khayyam. Lyrics by none other than Kaifi Azmi.  Bhupinder plays the guitar and sings for us, onscreen too.  Enjoy!

Rut jawan jawan, raat meherban
chedo koi dastaan