The songs you cherish the most are the ones that you grow up listening to. You grow out of many other childhood fixations -- such as the fascination for an actor or a sport -- but music is something you become more possessive about the older you grow. There are times when you wish you could've put all those songs that appealed to you in a bag and carried the bag along across the years.
I would classify the growing-up years as between the ages of five and 20. Before the age of five, you are too young to be a discerning listener, and after you are 20, life throws up other fascinations and pressures for any new kind of music to get into your blood stream. After 20, you mostly like stuff that resembles what you've grown up listening to. The degree of resemblance may vary, though.
Here, let me make it clear that I am speaking for myself. Music, even though it is created for the masses, is a highly personal, rather personalised, matter.
During the years when I was growing up, that is between the mid-seventies and the late eighties, we were totally at the mercy of the radio and Doordarshan. If they played a rare song that you happened to like, you had no choice but to wait until they played it again. If you were lucky and thoughtful enough, you get to record the song on a blank cassette, but that would have meant sitting by the radio all the time.
I was 14 or 15 by the time I developed the strong urge to possess my kind of music, and by then we had a Sony music system at home that let me record songs from the radio. However, for every song I managed to record, from start to finish, there were two others I could not, for the simple reason that they rarely came on radio. Their cassettes weren't available either, and even if they were, the song(s) I was looking weren't contained in those cassettes. As far as music is concerned, I grew up in a strange era -- LP records were almost dead and CDs were yet to be born (the concept of iPod or internet downloads still qualified for science fiction).
I still remember very clearly, none of the Hum Kisise Kum Nahin cassettes had the four-song medley I was so desperately looking for. None, I tell you, and I had no idea why. Perhaps because we weren't a consumer-oriented country then and had to suffice with whatever shit was being served to us. I started hunting for the medley since 1985, and it was only in 1995, in Delhi, when I found a shop in Connaught Place that recorded songs on a blank cassette straight from an LP player. Oh, I still possess the cassette, with the shopkeeper's slip inside the cover bearing my name, "V. Ghosh". But look at this: for 10 whole years I was deprived of a set of songs my ears had been yearning for. What for?
Let me give you a brief list of songs which I wanted to possess from the age of 14 or 15 -- songs that I wanted to hear again and again and again -- but which I could rediscover only 10 or 15 or -- even -- 25 years later! Just a song, and yet so long!
1. The Hum Kisise Kum Nahin medley, starting with Chaand mera dil: a wait of 10 years.
2. Heeralal Pannalal songs, especially the Hemant Kumar-sung Aaja mere pyaar aaja (which every father should sing for his kid daughter): a wait of 20 years. Apart from this song, other songs from the movie are still not available in the shops. Find me a CD if you can, but no internet downloads please.
3. Mehmaan nazar ki ban jaa (what a Kishore song!) from Pataal Bhairavi: the wait still continues!
4. Raat banoon main aur chaand banon tum from Mangalsutra: 25 years! What a song, what a search! Aao baahon mein aao!
5. Main tere liye, tu mere liye from a Dev Anand film called Main Tere Liye. I am not sure if Dev Anand himself acted in the film because it never got released at the time when its songs hit the radio. All I know is that the hero was Dev saab's son Suneil and the director his brother Vijay Anand, a gem of a director. Anyway, this Bappi Lahiri song was very, very close to my heart when I was a 15-year-old and it still remains so. Only that I can't find the song anywhere else except on You Tube even after a search for 25 years! I did buy a cassette of the songs of this film, in 1987, for Rs 17! -- and listened to the song so often that the tape got demagnetised within a year or two.
Many people dismiss Bappi Lahiri as the disco king who made it big by plagiarising popular Western numbers, but he is a great composer. He was, in fact, a prodigy -- as at least one elderly person who knew him from his younger days testifies. Bappi's melody numbers are real gems, and even though I might be the craziest fan R.D. Burman ever had, there are several Bappi Lahiri numbers that give me the goosebumps. All his detractors must watch this film called Apne Paraaye -- you will end up with tears in your eyes. Heard Yesudas's Shyam rang ranga re, har pal mera re...?
Bappi Lahiri never failed to entertain you (entertainment being the operative part): on one hand he gave you a 'cheap' song like Jee lele jee lele (perhaps the only song to be sung on screen by the elderly and venerable Om Shiv Puri), and on the other gave you gems like Chalte chalte, mere yeh geet and Pyaar maanga hai tumhi se...
I don't know how many of you have heard of Anup Ghoshal. Well, he is the guy who sung Tujhse naaraaz nahin for R.D. Burman in Masoom, and I really can't think of anyone, not at least in my midly drunken state at this hour, who might not have heard that song.
Anup Ghoshal is an acclaimed Bengali singer: he sang for many Bengali films of Satyajit Ray, but his first brush with national fame was with Masoom. Oh what a song -- or so I thought, till I heard Anup Ghoshal sing this beautiful, beautiful number for Bappi Lahiri that I am presenting now. I found this song, finally, on You Tube -- 25 years after I listened to it for the first time and got mesmerised by it!
Back then I was an adolescent, today I qualify to be a middle-aged man. During the interim decades, the song was only a memory. But it has come back to me now and still gives me goosebumps. Please click on 'play' and listen to the song carefully. The lyrics are thought-provoking, the voice mind-blowing, and the music -- ah, vintage Bappi Lahiri!