Archive for August, 2017

What was so special about Shankar Jaikishan?

Let us begin with their Barsat. This movie was scored by two composers who were rank newcomers to Hindi Film Music. Moreover they were untrained musicians who’s only aim in life was to score music and compose new songs.

Their contemporaries were great scholars of various schools of music with thorough exposure and training in Indian Classical music. Their music reflected all that they learnt from their masters, with impeccable precision. As most of them came from rich family backgrounds, their exposure to Western Music was also very wide, as such they did use Western Music in their compositions.

Shankar was 24 and came from a very modest background and Jaikishan was 17 with a similar economic background. What brought them together was their burning desire to make a mark as they knew, that what was within them was far superior to what was being heard all around them.

Raj Kapoor gave them a break on the advice of his father the great Prithviraj Kapoor , when he fell out with his Ram Ganguli. This was something destiny had written for them and when such prodigies are given on opportunity, the grab it with all their life.

What kind of music they scored for Barsat, need not be mentioned here. But let us just take a look at the songs, which were lapped up by the audience and listeners all across India. Each song was as fresh as dew drops, as pure as springs flowing down the mountainous forests, and as rich as evergreen rain forests.

Each song has the fragrance of native soil and had the presence of a touch of a new flavour of something unheard earlier. What was this? This was their use of Western orchestration for songs composed with native flavour. They had blended Indian music with Western orchestra which was new.

Having achieved bumper success, they were now fired up to scale new heights and create new music which reaches the listeners heart. Shankar Jaikishan knew that their final judges were the listeners and audience. As they did not have any fixed boundaries for their creativity, which was the case with most of the other scholarly and knowledgeable contemporaries. For Shankar Jaikishan sky was also not a limit.

If their final target judges were the audience , then the story and situations were their real challenge. Shankar Jaikishan were known to create their music strictly as per the requirement of the script, character and the actor on screen. Year after year, movie after movie they scored music which was different from their earlier scores and movies.

Nothing we heard in Barsat was ever heard in any of their latter movies. Awara was different and unique as was Badal, Nagina or Kaali Ghata. Their faith in their creativity was so strong, that they never held back any composition for a latter day. Their early movies were studded with many songs in each movie, and it was a challenge to choose one favourite out of them as each one was different and in style and genre.
In my humble opinion, their secret to success was their ability to think on their feet, and create music as the movie and story demanded. As a sample we shall examine their movies from Barsat to 1954, which means their first 5 years. I am listing them here and the readers can evaluate for themselves .

1949 Barsat 1951: Awara, Badal Kaali Ghata and Nagina

1952: Daag , Parbat , Poonam 1953: Aas, Aah, Aurat, Naya Ghar, Patita and Shikast

1954: Boot Polish, Mayur Pankh and Pooja .

Each of these movies and their music albums was different from the other. Each of these movies had more than 6 songs and had different styles and orchestrations. While Barsat broke all the records in India , Awara shattered all the International barriers and became a timeless classic all over the world.

Variety and innovation with local flavour and popular appeal was the essence of their music and soul of their creativity was 100% commitment to their craft and total honesty to their producers who had placed their faith in their creativity.
They were very simple human beings at heart and genuine craftsmen immensely committed to their craft and profession.

I will continue this series, covering their journey for each 5 year period or may be less, as years passed by, their number of movies in each year kept on increasing.

Hope you like the contents.

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Shankar Jaikishan The best of Friends!

HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY 2017

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Friendship is a relationship which humans create by their choice and build with their emotions, commitment, loyalty and an infinite understanding between two individuals who stand by one another in thick and thin, rain or shine , high or low , rich or poor come what may. It sounds very easy to claim friendship but not an easy task to live up to it.

One rarely finds examples of such friendships in history. Mythology has examples like Krishna –Sudhama , Karna-Duryodhan are two names which come to my mind. My friends and readers may add examples of such friends.

But one name all of us seem to overlook is that of Shankar Jaikishan. There can never be better examples of friendship in the history; neither in the past nor in the present. Shankar was a passionate musician from Hyderabad who reached Bombay in search of opportunities for his talent. He meets Jaikishan in the office of filmmaker , and they click instantly , better than love at first sight.

Shankar takes Jaikishan to Prithvi Theatres where he is employed as a musician and an odd job man. His reputation as a committed and loyal talent, Jaikishan is employed. They work together and begin laying the foundations for what was going to be the biggest brand in Hindi Film Music.

Opportunity arrives in the form of Barsat , when Shankar is offered to score music in place of Ram Ganguli. Shankar insists that he will work with Jaikishan as his partner, and despite some resistance by Raj Kapoor due to Jaikishan’s tender age , they are signed up as “SHANKAR JAIKISHAN” Music Directors for Barsat under RK films.

The rest is history. Years later, Shankar is conferred a high civilian award of Padmashree in recognition of his services to the government in the form of fund raising music concerts to the extent which was beyond imagination . But Shankar insisted that he will accept the award only if Jaikishan was also awarded along with him. His stature was such that Government conceded his suggestion and awarded PADMSHREE to SHANKAR JAIKISHAN.

Shankar thanked Prithviraj Kapoor for his success and Jaikishan thanked Shankar for his success. This was the mettle of these genius composers and their values to friendship and gratitude to the hand that helped them when they needed it the most.

The greatness of their friendship was nearly divine. By nature they were diametrically opposing to one another. Shankar was a serious man, committed to his music, robust in nature , brutally frank in his words and loyal for life to the people who helped him. Jaikishan was fun loving , flamboyant party animal , loved all good things in life. Despite these differences they were connected at heart and soul and they thought and worked at a wavelength which cannot be described in words.

As composers they loved the same ragas, they composed similar songs but each one gave their special touch to each raga, and left the world guessing who created which song. Bhairavi was their favourite raga, and each one gave their interpretation to Bhairavi which only they knew, no one outside their world ever knew. All the so called experts of music speculate in 101 ways to attribute songs to each other, but only Shankar Jaikishan knew the “andar ki baat”

Their working style and pattern was such that, it was nearly impossible for anyone to tell who created what. Incidentally they decided to look after recordings and office alternately right after Kaali Ghata in 1951, as they realized that their work load was increasing and it was scientifically sane for them to distribute their work mutually so that they could optimize their creativity .

Just because one saw Jaikishan in the studios while recording the song, was no guarantee that the song was a propriety of Jaikishan individually . It was always a combined effort and their combined synergy which was at work.

So much so that even after Jaikishan’s death, Shankar said it was their common work as they had created a huge bank of tunes and Shankar knew how and what Jaikishan would have added and created for a certain situation. Such was Shankar’s commitment to Jaikishan , that he continued to pay half of his remuneration to Jaikishan’s family till his death.

Can one find any parallel anywhere in the history of friendship between two unconnected individuals born more than 1000 miles apart , with diametrically different natures working together as friends and dying as inseparable friends. None to my knowledge.

Shankar Jaikishan The best of Friends !

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