Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eyes As Deep As The Sea, Where Are You?!

Back home. Another day is over. Time for the ritual: switching on the computer, and while the screen comes fully alive, pouring a drink and choosing the book I would read in bed. Somewhere between now and then, dinner has to be cooked. Maybe I will make some rice and dal. Or sambhar. But right now it is time to click on one of the Winamp playlists. Today I choose 'Hindi'. The first song on the list is Tujhse naaraaz nahin zindagi, Lata's version of the Masoom hit: perfect accompaniment for the first drink.

The mind is already stirring. When you listen to a song as sublime as this, who do you credit its beauty to? The lyricist? The composer? The singer? The arguments can be many: If the lyricist writes a bad song, it cannot be salvaged even by the best of composers and singers. Even if the lyrics and the singer's voice is good, a bad tune can put listeners off. And even if the lyrics and the music are good, a bad singer can make both ineffective.

So at the end of the day, I guess, it is teamwork. But usually, it is teamwork between the lyricist and the composer. At the end of the day, however, it is the singer who steals the show. The composer comes no.2, and finally, the lyricist -- nobody even cares to remember him. Like I can't recall now whether the lyricist of Khel Khel Mein was Gulshan Bawra or Anand Bakshi. I think it was Gulshan Bawra. And you know how the famous song, Ek main aur ek tu was made?

RD was sitting at his home with Bawra, agonising over what tune to make. It was getting late and Bawra had to leave. As he waited for the lift, Bawra told RD, something to this effect: "Ek main hoon aur ek tum ho, agar dono mil jaayen, to gana kyon nahi banega? (If you and I come together, there is no way we can't make the song)." RD got a brainwave and instantly spat out the opening line: "Ek main aur ek too, dono milen is tarah..." The rest, as they say, is history. The 1975 song today is a classic, and is easily available, but you will find it in the albums of Kishore-Asha duets. Yes, at the end of the day, it became a Kishore song. It became an RD song. It became a Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh song. But have you even heard of Gulshan Bawra?

Lyricists always get a raw deal. I don't know how much they get paid -- or used to get paid -- for a song. They are the ones who sow the seed, painstakingly, on their writing desk. And I am not sure if many had even a writing desk. Naqsh Lyallpuri wrote very few songs for Hindi movies but all his songs were good, especially Yeh wohi geet hai jisko mainey, dhadkan mein basaya hai, composed by Jaidev (yet another music director who did not get his due) for a film called Maan Jaiye. When he first accepted to write lyrics for a film, he was paid a token advance of Rs 101. His wife, who was strongly against his writing songs for films, was hardly amused when he came home with the money. Go, return it right now, she said. Naqsh saab gave in and got up to leave for the producer's house. Just then their infant child began to cry. But there was no money for his milk: they were broke. So he decided to keep just one rupee for the milk and return the remaining hundred rupees to the producer. That the producer declined to take the money and persuaded him to write the songs is another story.

The point is, the lay listener never cares about the lyricist. Have you heard of Neeraj, or Yogesh? But I can be pretty sure you all have heard the songs of Anand and Chhoti Si Baat. Jaaneman jaaneman tere do nayan, Kahin door jab din dhal jaye, Zindagi kaise hai paheli... these are landmark songs of the Hindi film industry, but where is Yogesh, the man who wrote them all? Who remembers Neeraj, a Hindi professor from Aligarh, who wrote Phoolon ke rang se and Kaarwaan guzar gaya -- immortal songs?

Whatever I have written so far is not the result of any research or Google search, but straight out of my memory. These people have been on radio at some point or the other, be it anchoring the once-popular Jaimala programme (for fauji bhais, or soldiers) on AIR or giving interviews on 102.6 FM, the channel I was addicted to when I lived in Delhi.

But there are lyricists who have always extracted their share of recognition. And that is because they are -- or they have been -- engaged in things bigger than songwriting. Gulzar was an apprentice of Bimal Roy and he went on to direct big-time movies. Javed Akhtar wrote, rather co-wrote, movies that became very big time. Their persona was no less than that of the hero starring in those movies. So when they wrote songs, they were noticed. Having said that, none of this takes away from the beauty of the poetry written by Gulzar and Javed Akhtar. After all, each of them is a poet first: Gulzar, the celebral; and Javed, the rebel.

My favourite Gulzar song is Ek hi khwaab dekha hai kai baar maine (from Kinara), beautifully sung by Bhupinder and, in bits, by Hema Malini. 'Sung' is not quite the right word to use here, for it isn't a song: just a humming recitation of the lyrics. The credit, according to me, should go to the composer, Gulzar's dearest friend RD Burman, who left the poetry alone. And what poetry! I am not going to bother to reproduce the lyrics, but will sum up a bit of it in English: "Over the game of cards, when she fights, she seems playful. And when she is playful, she seems to be fighting." You have to listen to the song to understand what I am saying, or what I am trying to say. And then there is: Bechaara dil kya kare, and Ek baat kahoon par maano tum, and Tere bina jiya jaye na, and Aanewala pal jane wala hai and..., well, I can go on and on. Yes, I know I did not include Ijaazat, but according to me, its songs pale before the simplicity of Gol Maal or Khushboo.

And Javed saab, well. I met him recently in Chennai. As in, I happened to attend a function where he was the chief guest and where he read out some of his poems. He read out his poems in Hindi/Urdu, and they were translated simultaneously into English. The Chennai Page 3 crowd nodded in appreciation. The reading got over and Javed saab was free to mingle with the audience. I sat at a distance, nursing my drink, till my office photographer came to me and said: "Sir, why don't you get a picture taken with him? He is a VIP." VIP or not, I thought, but this is the man who wrote, rather co-wrote, Sholay. Yes, why not!

I found myself walking up to Javed saab and shaking his tender hand. "Javed saab, you should have recited Main aur meri aawaragi," I told him. "Thank you, thank you," he said, sqeezing my hand, and added, "Kya hai, yahaan par thodi language problem hai (you know what, there is a bit of a language problem here)." My day was made. The photographer took pictures, which I can't reproduce here because Javed saab looks so good and I look so horrible.

Main aur meri aawaragi -- that's my favourite Javed Akhtar song, first sung by Kishore Kumar and then by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. But I also like (who doesn't) Saagar jaise aankhon waali. Chennai has the saagar, and I am sure there are a number of saagar jaise aankhon waalis too. But no one has come my way yet.


Akruti said...

Thankyou,First thing i read when i wake up is about Gulzar and Javedji:) and i guess today i will stick to the songs from kushbu and yes,i know aboyt lyricists,all of them you mentioned here.Want to write alot,But i am getting late for my class {no,i am not a student:) i am a lecturer}.
But i will comeback to spam your comments with many more comments on this post.
Oh,by the way i noticed that in last two posts you ended the post with a note that you are waiting for someone to come into your life,Goodluck,who knows shayad koi jaldi hi miljaye:)

Anonymous said...

Great! yeh dil mange more.

Usha said...

wow. You have thoroughly researched this - haven't you? Very interesting read.
I think sometimes a great tune and a talented singer can give life to bad lyrics but the best of lyrics can be lost in a bad tune. So it is ultimately the music that breathes life into the lyrics for its song value. As poetry of course lyrics can stand on their own two feet far higher than the music and the singer.
Sagar jaise aankhonwalee hmmmm the only one I can think of is Dimple herself - do you think she might read this blog?

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Akruti: People walk in and out of your life but 'that one' always remains elusive. Hence the wait. Your enthusiasm for Hindi songs is infectious. Thanks. Have you heard Aawaz di hai aaj ek nazar ne (sung by Bhupinder and Asha) from Aitbaar?

Usha: Hey, thanks. Wish I could research but I wrote this entirely out of memory, from various radio interviews I have heard over the years. And I am not sure if Javed Akhtar had Dimple in mind when he wrote Sagar Jaise Aankhon Wali. He might have thought of Shabana, or maybe one of his childhood sweethearts.

Laxmi: Thanks. There is more to come.

Akruti said...

For me the lyricist comes first,Because he puts his life,his emotions into words,And these words are woven into beautiful compositions with melodious voice.Yes,ultimately it is a teamwork,agreed on that,But what if the lyrics itself dont hold any promise? then would the composition help it? or the voice would? Maybe to an extent,but not fully.
These days songs like "tujko mirchi lagi tho mya karoon" damn,they dont leave vegetables, nani nana.Up,Bihar,and what not./God save the music industry.
Sahir was a magician of words,Remember his song in Pyaasa "Jaane woh kaise log the jinke pyaar ko pyar mila" i know i have tears in my eyes by the end of the song.
Gulzar,oh,i have this one line always with me "Dil mein aise sambaalthe hain gum,jaise zever sambalthe hain koi" His voice booms over all around,and his way of reciting poetry is so beautiful.God,i wish i can meet him once:)Aandhi,Mausam,Anand,safar,
Masoom,Libaas,and yes,how can i forget Sadma "Aie zindagi gale lagaale,humne tho tere har ik ghum ko gale se lagaaya hain hain na"

Akruti said...

Now for Javedji.Ha,the man spells romance,There is this pvt album,a recent one "Tum yaad aye" and his voice there is so spell bound,If Gulzaar is in love with nature,so is javedji,he is in love himself:)
Remember hsi "tumko dekha tho ye khayal aya,zindagi dhoop,tum ghana saya" from saath saath? and how about the movie saaz? and then Sagar,and then silsila? "Ye kahaan agaye hum,tere saath saath chalthe" and then Zubeida.
Aapko shakeel sahab ki woh geet yaad hain? "aaj puraani raahon se koi mujhe awaz na de" from aadmi:)
and his Mughal ye azam.
Hasrat jaipuri,gulshan bawra,Nidha fazli,Neeraj,Shakeel sahab,Naushad,Jaanisar akhtar...Oh,the list seems endless:)

Akruti said...

I am sorry:( Music,specially hindi music is my passion,i just get lost in it when i need to say anything abt it,so i guess i went on and on:( and spammed your comments.
And by the way i am not Akruti,thats my blog name,i am Neelima.
And maybe after all these comments i will write a post about music,its been a long time since i wrote one:)
There is one more blog which i vist regularly for his love for Gulzaar and hindi music,and now it is yours also:)

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Akruti: Thanks, thanks. Your passion for music surpasses mine. Tum Yaad Aye is a lovely album, and my favourites in it are Saare Sapne Kahin Kho Gaye, Zara Zara Si Baatein and Saawnli Si Ek Ladki. The best is Zara Zara Si Bateein, because nothing can be more true. When you truly love a person, you don't love the person as a whole: you love the small, little things about that person -- the mannerism, the eccentricites, the habits...

That's the thing about these lyricists: they embrace you with their words so hard that you feel the embrace even after they have loosened their grip.

But Sahir embraces you like a suicide bomber: you have no other way but to get blown up with him.

Akruti said...

My fav is "zara zare si baatein,teriii yaad aathi hain"
Another one is "tu nahi tho"from the same album,well,instead of spamming the comment box anymore i am rushing off to finish my work for now,I am homealone for another day and enjoying my solitude.
anymore music interests, we will share it over mail, mine is
It was a wonderful post which made me happy,music always makes my day.thankyou once again.

Usha said...

And it isa sad fact about the lack of recognition for the lyricist - isn't it?
I guess, in my post, I was contradicting a comment on your post rather than your own views.
Did i mention that your post was lovely?

Kshiteesh said...

The lyricist surely deserves much more than has been meted out to him so far barring the ones you have mentioned.
But there are some other members of the 'team'that have been meted out far worse treatment and those are the music arrangers.
The Hindi Film Music structure in mostcases follows a structure of the M 0(Intro), MUKHADA, M1(IST Interlude)Antara, M2 Antara and Coda (Assuming that the song has to anataras). It is set to a particular time signature and ahs a rhythm pattern. The music arrangers do phenomenal amount of work into embellishing the song. We remember RD'S songs and the intro guitar solos or violin solos but to most basu, manohari are names that do not ring a bell. Dattaram ,Sebastian or Yogesh- Prakash aren't spoken about.
Musicians also get a raw deal. Some legendary musicians have graced the film industry and have perished without a trace. It took Pyarelal(an accomplished arranger and musician himself)to give a tribute to his guru Anthony Gonsalves in AAA..
The idea is that the song becomes much more lively when you know everyone behind it. the idea for me is not to suggest who is better and all that..the song can be enjoyed even more when you can picture so many people working towards a common objective..

About Medicine Blog said...

At the end of the day, however, it is the singer who steals the show.