Raju-ji’s views are interesting because it throws open a new debate on comparing the individual styles of the duo, which is not generally done in our group, as frequently as comparing their joint work with that of other composers. Now this is a healthy exercise, as long as the discussion does not tend to diminish one’s greatness in light of the other—which I believe should be an unwritten pledge of any S-J fan!
Now each of S-J fan has an individual pair of ears and everyone may have his own subjective view which is largely dictated by what his ears say to him! So let me also say something about S and J, Mere Kaanon-se jo Utri Hai Dil-mein!
Like any other S-J fan, though one may not admit, since the time I fell into their `musical trap’ many years back, I too had been trying to differentiate and `sort out’ each of S-J song as to whether it is an S composition or a J composition! I had my own litmus test to do this, whether it was right or wrong!
If the song seems to be a bit more intricately tuned and if it rocks me rhythmically with some intoxicating tabla or dholak beats at the back-ground, I tended to conclude it is a J-tune! BTW, One `J-tune’ after dinner is prescribed to all before going to sleep, as Raju-ji has rightly discovered and as I had myself expounded in great detail in one of my earlier posts about the `scalp-massaging’ effect of his songs!
But the question I ask myself is whether do I recognize instantly a `J-tune’ as an `S-J’ song, as easily as I recognize an `S-tune’? Perhaps, with my limited musical knowledge, the answer is `No’. There have been occasions, where I have mixed up a `J-tune’ with other composers’ products and vice-versa. For instance, the same song that Raju-ji refers, `Jeevan-ke do-rahe-pe khade—` is a lovely song, but for the uninitiated, it may even sound like an L-P or any other MD’s song! In the same way, the songs of `Aaye din bahar-ke’, `Mere Humdum, Mere Dost’ etc. could have easily passed off as `J-tunes’, the first time you had heard them! Probably L-P and other composers were inspired and influenced more by Jaikishen and followed his mould. There could have been occasional stray oblique tribute Shankar-ji in some of their songs (as in the interlude of `Chalkaaye jhaam’). But kya abhi tak koi composer paida hua who has ever even dared to copy the uniquely majestic `Shanker-Style’?!!
That brings us to Shankar-ji! A Lone Lion in the jungle, which the lesser creatures kept a safe distance from! When the lion roared, it was always magnificent! Yeh maana ki a typical `S-tune’ was simpler in construction and went mostly `linear’ unlike a more complex `J-tune’. But he ensured that it sounded `larger than life’ through his King-Size Orchestra, thanks to all those multi-layered violins and prancing piano counter-melodies flowing like tumbling waterfalls in the background and joining the stream of singer’s voice in unision! To my ears, even his solo or duet sounded like a magnificent chorus! Some of them sounded as if the violins, the guitars and the accordians have been unleashed and are running together like wild dogs with hectic pace , but reigned firmly with perfect control of a baton wielded by the `Master’ — a stocky no-nonsense maestro, a little impatient with the animals that he himself had unleashed!
For instance, you may take any `rain’ song by Shanker-ji! Now this is a different subject for a thesis, but I believe the quick-tempered maestro sizzled even a little more, like a `hot tava’ splashed with cold water! So when we hear a `rain-song’ made by S, you can almost feel the rains lashing at you and the gusty winds blowing on your face! To me, such mind-blowing effects epitomize the `S-J’ trade-mark! When you hear a `S-tune’, the `S-J Premium Quality Seal is unmistakably all over it!
Talking of curative property of an `S-tune’, the `S-pill’ is recommended for low BP, tiredness, fatigue and to boost your sustained vim and vigour to see you through the day! I would recommend one or two `S’ interludes or preludes after breakfast or lunch! Well, Unlike the `J- pill’ which makes you recline and relax at night, and pacifies you with a scalp-massage putting you in half-bliss, the typical `S-tune’ does the exactly opposite things! It makes you sit up and listen closely, sends a surge of hot blood through your veins, arouses the `Kundalini-Shakti’ up the spine, energizing the hypothalamus, stirring up the passions and blowing the brain with a different kind of ecstasy! I am tempted to sum up their individual styles through a crude doha (or tri-ha!) of my own, (Gustaakhi maaf, the `High-brows’ may please ignore this!) : `Chhote mian sulata toh bade Mian jagaata, Andaz apna apna aur rang hai nirala — Ek hai Valium toh dooja hai Viagra!!’
On a more serious note, it always puzzles me when people talk about Shanker-ji’s `decline’ and it puzzles me more when they attribute the `decline’ to his association with Sharada or dissociation with JK! Tell me, Is there any celebrity who has not declined from his peak?? Every one of them declines! L-P declined, RK declined, Rafi, Lata,Rajesh Khanna,Amitabh Bachhan —they all declined — Sachin Tendulkar is declining, Shah Rukh Khan is declining —, all of them have to decline one day or the other from their peak! Come on now, Shanker-ji was also a mortal!! Rather than the term `decline’, I would like to think that Shanker-ji `faded out’ gracefully with time. Time flows, Generations change, Tastes go topsy-turvy — and takes a toll on the uncompromising artiste! When a genius fades out after sustaining his peak for two or three decades, the `decline’ appears to be all the more abrupt!
Let’s also not confuse popularity with quality. I believe that post-70s the lion became loner after Jai’s departure, but he didn’t stop roaring. I remember 3 of the films that I saw in 1980 – `Qurbani’, `The Burning Train’ and `Garam Khoon’. The first one was immensely popular and its songs were repeatedly played on — even long after their repeat-appeal had worn off, to my ears at least! I hardly remember any song from the second one, though it was made under a big banner and had the most popular composer of that time. The third one, I hardly remember seeing the movie, but the songs instantly stuck on my memory. I still remember sitting up with a sense of thrill at each of the songs that distinctly bore the `S-J’ brand’. Whether others cared to listen or not, `The Lion’ never squeaked!
The decadent `Use-and-Throw’ culture had set in firmly in the 80s. Unfortunately this was not restricted to paper-cups and tissue papers, but also Music! Now how can you expect a master in pottery to deliver dozens of paper-cups?!! Who had time and inclination for some elegant music?! So it was to be, `Ek do teen’— char paanch che baar sun liya — aur phenk diya in the bin— like the tissue paper one is blowing one’s nose with! And once thrown, you don’t have to worry about where you threw it!
And just a word for Sharada’s detractors. To my ears at least, Sharada’s sweet `baby-voice’ was an immaculately perfect selection by Shanker-ji for the songs that he gave her to sing. I doubt whether any other mature singer could have lent the same kind of innocent charm that she did! To my ears, Sharada in `Suraj’ was reminiscent of the same freshness that Lata brought in with `Barsaat’!
Let me end with trying to answer the million-dollar question that Raju-ji had raised! Who was the Genius? Was S in anyway a less `Genius’ than J? No Way, Sir!! To my mind at least, If JK was the `Prince Charming’, then Shanker-ji will remain the un-crowned `King of HFM’ — always!!
Long Live the King and the Prince!
P.S: I realize that my post has become long enough to become an advance review of Raju-ji’s forthcoming book!Wish You all the Best in your endeavour, Raju-ji!This was indeed a stimulating discussion. Maybe I got a little carried away!So pardon the clichés and hyperboles, if you find them not agreeable! No hard feelings! Open to corrections and contradictions!