Monday, August 05, 2013

That Night Again

Sixteen minutes to midnight, which means it is still August 4 and I can still pay tribute to Kishore Kumar, who was born on this day and would have turned 84 had he been alive. Though it is impossible to imagine Kishore Kumar living that long.

I have already written so much about him on Ganga Mail by way of tribute, so why again? That's because not writing about him tonight would be like skipping an important ritual; like a Shiva devotee not visiting the temple on Shivratri. Then there is another reason.

But first, about the devotion -- and in my case, it dates back to sometime in 1985 when I bought my first Kishore Kumar cassette. It was an HMV cassette, which cost Rs 18 and was titled Magic Moments. Side A began with Ek ajnabee haseena se (Ajnabee) and Side B ended with Phir wohi raat hai (Ghar). In between there were about 10 other songs -- I still remember them and also the sequence in which they played.

Strangely, the sequence of songs, when you listen to an album in an younger age, usually remains ingrained in your mind all your life. For example, if Saara zamana happened to be followed by Chhu kar mere man ko in the cassette of your younger days, the sequence will stay in your mind even in later years: each time Saara zamana ends, the opening notes of Chhu kar mere man ko will automatically spring in your mind even though this could be an altogether different collection.

Coming back to Magic Moments, the song I came to cherish most in the album was Phir wohi raat hai. The tenderness of the song began to grow on me. I loved many other songs too in the album, such as Pyaar deewana hota hai (Kati Patang), but this Ghar song had the effect that silent people have on you: they always play on the back of your mind and intrigue you with their silent intensity. And thus I became a Kishore Kumar devotee. It didn't matter at the time that the song was written by Gulzar or the music was composed by R.D. Burman. Those days, I even liked Bappi Lahiri -- I still do, actually.

Only much later did I come to realise that I had been hearing a truncated version all along, with the first antara missing.  But it was too late to matter.

Three decades on, Phir wohi raat hai remains a beatiful song, a tender song, a song of dreams -- indeed a night song. You can't relish it in broad daylight, but only after the sun has long set, when you have had two drinks and are mellow, when your gaze is fixed somewhere faraway in the darkness and your mind is reminiscing.

This is not a song I listen to very often; in fact I listen to it only rarely for the fear of wasting it. Phir wohi raat hai is like single malt: you have it when you are in right spirts and in right company -- when the night is just right.

Tonight was one such night, when I was reminded of the song.


Anonymous said...

Back in 1985 u must be only 15 and u cd appreciate this song. Great!

The sequence of the songs does remain with us.:)

Please continue the ritual.It's always a pleasure to swim with the flow of Ganga mail.

commenting was such a pain with ugly captchas

mintu said...

great piece....another masterful gem

Shefali Tripathi Mehta said...

'fear of wasting it' is kind of unusual :) watching it takes away too much -- i kept worrying if Rekha is ill or something. listening on radio/ cassette player with only one's imagination conjuring up images/possibilities was so much nicer. enjoyed the post.

Anubhuti said...

Without Kishore kumar a lot of us would not have known love, longing, joy and romance. What's most outstanding is that in today's age when it's not faishionable to talk of hindi music, there are still some of us who love it !!
Love your writing, it's just like Kishore kumar's voice, unpretentious & from the heart.I should have followed you earlier. :)

Unknown said...

Heartfelt renditions resonate for years - his singing and sometimes, your writing. Thanks for introducing Phir wohi raat - shall remember to listen to it on the next such raat.

Anonymous said...

'but this Ghar song had the effect that silent people have on you: they always play on the back of your mind and intrigue you with their silent intensity.'

Interesting thought :) Great post and a wonderful tribute! Your way of stringing together sentences, ideas is unusual. Loved this! And though I have only heard Phir wohi raat hai in passing over the years, it will now stick :)

Anonymous said...

kanch ke khwab Hain, Aankho mein chubh jayenge.....

Beautifully written, so beautifully sung and it being your choice ... everything as perfect as the perfect night to which the song is dedicated.
Nice post. Thanks for making me revisit good old days.