Monthly Archives: April 2016

SJ visualised the scene and amplified the message conveyed by the words

SJ visualised the scene and amplified the message conveyed by the words, by adding appropriate music pieces.
In ‘Anari’ songs, you can see this clearly. In Sub kuchh seekha, Raj is speaking his heart out at feeling ‘cheated’ by a rich girl pretending to be poor. But he is a civilised man and will not shout. The song is very mild, the notes are limited. But the emotional upheaval is expressed by the violins section and the complex accordion piece, which run across two octaves.
Similarly in Dil ki Nazar se, Raj is too timid to say out his love openly. So while the song is soft, the interludes are quite aggressive, particularly the M2 accordion piece goes against the soft grain, and the following ascending strings further convey what the words left unsaid.

By Chandu Kale

When Lata Mangeshkar saved a song and the day

Still from the movie
Still from the movie
Lekh Tandon’s historical biopic ‘Amrapali’ (1966) was India’s official entry for the 39th Oscars in the Best Foreign Language category. It didn’t go far because, as its 84-year-old director explains, Indian cinema didn’t have any standing in the world arena then. But years later, his costume designer, Bhanu Athaiya, became the first Indian to win an Oscar, sharing the award with John Mollo for another biopic, ‘Gandhi’ (1982).Back in the ’60s, to ensure that Vyjayanthimala looked the part of a royal courtesan from 500 BC who later becomes a disciple of Buddha, Bhanu visited the Ajanta caves to find references in the frescoes. While art director M R Acharekar found his inspiration in a centuries-old stone temple in Mysore.

“Raj Kapoor had planned a film on Ajanta and Achrekar saab had made 125 designs for him. Experts in London agreed they could be replicated and we replicated some of them,” says Tandon who himself took his album of stills to Yogesh Mishra, an authority on Amrapali, who reassured him that this was how Vaishali and its locals would have looked when Magadh Emperor Ajatshatru waged war, first to further his ambitions and then for the woman he loved. “Those war sequences were filmed by Dwarka Divechi at Saharanpur, with the army supplying the horses and soldiers. Many were actually wounded and one horse had to be shot. It frightened me to see jawans and horses tumbling to the ground,” adds Tandon.

He also recalls the first song that almost didn’t happen because when Raj Kapoor learnt on the morning of the recording that Shankar-Jaikishen had given ‘Kaate na kate raina’ to Tandon, he refused to part with it saying he had decided to use it in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ (1972). Cancelling the recording would be an inauspicious start so Lata Mangeshkhar urged the composers for an alternative. They had one mukhda, ‘Jao re jogi tum jao re, yeh hai premiyon ki nagri, yahaan prem hi hai puja’. “Lataji called for a harmonium and sat down with Shankar-Jaikishan to set it to tune while Shailendra was sent off to write the antaras,” says Tandon.

“Shailendra returned to Mahalaxmi Studio after a few hours saying he could come up with just three antaras instead of the usual five. Lataji assured him they were enough and Amrapali got its first song in the shortest time possible,” reveals Tandon.

Courtesy :

Main Piya teri tu maane ya na maane : The magic of flute

Lest my friends accuse me of my obsession about SJ’s Raag Bhairavi, I would like to assure them that my focus in this post is on a different aspect of their musical genius. I do not know how many of us have heard about Pannalal Ghosh who died way back in 1960. Well he was not only the best known flute player of 20th century but someone who is also credited for raising flute to the exalted status of a concert level instrument. Pandit Ghosh moved to Mumbai in 1940 and apart from music direction, he also established a music school for his disciples.

(in photo Shri Pannalal Ghosh with Geeta Dutt)

Back to Shankar Jaikishan. After the duo debuted in 1949, they became hugely popular in early 50s. They were regarded as the leaders in innovative film music. Yet the connoisseurs of music were unwilling to equate them with a Naushad or a Vasant Desai or an Anil Biswas because SJ had not yet scored music in pure classical form with the exception of a few songs here and there. Therefore, in early 1956 when R Chandra announced his next film, he had Naushad in his mind (following his success in Baiju Bawra, Shabab etc). However, the director Raja Nawathe insisted on SJ and assured the producer that the songs will become popular once the movie was released. Nawathe was a hardcore SJ fan having earlier worked as RK’s assistant and later as an independent director of RK movie “Aah” in 1953. Chandra agreed and SJ were signed-up.

This movie was a real challenge to the duo. They worked very hard first in conceptualising the type of classical music which would be compatible with historical novel (of Kannadiga author) on which movie was based. The next big challenge was to sign top level classical vocalist and instrumentalist of national repute. Those days performers of classical art form considered it below their dignity to perform for commercial films. Undaunted, the duo approached Pt. Pannalal Ghosh and Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. There was strong resistance from both the artists but after repeated persuasion and perseverance, SJ succeeded in their effort. I’ll save the story of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi for another post. For this particular post, I have selected one of the best flute recitals in Indian movies, combined with beautiful voice of Lata Mangeshkar in an awe-inspiring musical melody of SJ.

Take a look at this video on YouTube:

Sent from my iPad

Kunal Chatterjee's photo.

The most poignant scene of Awara


Kunal Chatterjee's Profile Photo

Kunal Chatterjee


Awara was released in December 1951 and apart from being a runaway hit, it proved to be a milestone in Indian cinema in many aspects. Members are already aware of its great songs and music and its popularity in socialist countries of Eastern Europe and China. In this regard I would like to share my experience with my friends. I was in Moscow in 1989 and as I was going through an underpass, I heard someone playing Barsaat theme song on violin (it may be recalled that later RK used it as a signature tune for all his movies till the last). I stood there enjoying till he finished and before leaving put a $5 bill in his hat. As I was leaving, he asked me in Russian “Are you an Indian?”. My translator answered on my behalf that I was indeed an Indian. Hearing this, he immediately returned $5 to me and remarked that he couldn’t accept money from an Indian. In his opinion it was a great land of Awara, Shri 420, Raj Kapoor and music directors Shankar Jaikishan. He then played Awara Hoon and after finishing hugged me warmly and asked me to carry his best wishes for all Indians. It was an overwhelming emotional experience and I kept wondering why he singled me out for this special treatment as I was neither from industry nor remotely connected wit those films.

naiya teri1

Coming back to Awara. The most poignant scene was when a pregnant Leela Chitnis is thrown out of the house by husband Prithviraj Kapoor on the basis of suspicion planted by villain played by KN Singh. Dilemma and helplessness of Leela Chitnis found Shailendra’s lyrical expression through “Naiyya Meri Majhdar……”. It was turning point of the movie beautifully conceptualised by Mohd Rafi’s soulful singing, SJ’s melodious music and Raj Kapoor’s perfect direction. Incidentally, RK’s brother-in-law Prem Nath was seen in a cameo in the song as the head boatman.

Take a look at this video on YouTube:

naiya teri2