Notes left unsung
Thursday June 12 2008 12:57 IST Express Features Thiruvananthapuram
Every song has a story behind it. Likewise, every singer, music director and lyricist too has one; some tinged with pain, some eminently joyful.
And many of the tales are quite delectable, but regrettably - and perhaps conveniently - forgotten by the tinselworld.
Meri Aawaz Suno (Lipi Publications - Rs 75) and Engine Naam Marakkum (Olive Publications - Rs 100), two slim volumes in Malayalam by journalist and music critic Ravi Menon is about those stories. The first book deals with Hindi film music, while the other, a slightly larger one, is on its Malayalam cousin.
Christened with the opening line of a Mohammed Rafi song, Meri Aawaz Suno... is not a chronological that’s-what-happened on Hindi film music, but a compilation of musical incidents, events and histories.
It also has some interesting bits on people who almost made it big, but whose stars incredulously waned after that supreme, meteoric, moment of glory.
Ravi starts off with the legendary tiff between O.P.Nayyar and Lata Mangeshkar, sparked off by Lata’s failure to turn up for a rehearsal. It is one of numerous juicy tid-bits in the book. Here are some others.
Did you know that the guitar bits in the cultish number Dam maaro dam... from Hare Rama Hare Krishna was by singer Bhupinder? Or that Malayalam’s own P.Jayachandran got an invite from the blue from Telugu producer Pundareekakshayya to sing five numbers for a film just because he resembled Mohammed Rafi in looks?
Another readable chapter is on the happy rivalry that exists between Rafi and Kishore fans. Both represented diametrically opposite crooning styles, and tastes.
The author quotes poet Javed Akhtar who once attributed Kishore’s sudden rise to the transformation in the average Indian’s perspective, and the change from a rural point-of-view to the urban by the end of the `60s.
The touching episodes in the book are beautifully penned. How singer Shailendra Singh, who immortalised several hit numbers for Bobby never quite made it afterwards.
How ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh started off his career in tinsel world with a jingle, the tragic end of Nazia Hassan, the Pakistani beauty who gave to Indians that chic number Aap jaisa koi mere..., and many more.
You’ve tapped your feet to I’m a disco dancer... from the 1983 Mithun Chakraborthy-starrer Disco Dancer. But the singer never did become another Kishore Kumar, did he? The book also strives to bust some enduring myths.
This is best exemplified by a chapter - in fact the closing one of the book - on the number of songs Rafi sang. Rafi buffs easily roll out a stellar 26,000 songs, but whether that’s a fact is another story.
Meri Aawaz Suno can also leave you with the feeling that a lot has been left unsaid. For one, you read about Rafi (a lot about him, in fact), Kishore and even Manna Dey. But little is said about Mukesh, who made up the triumvirate with Kishore and Rafi in the `50s and `60s, and sang some of the immortal melodies of Hindi filmdom.
On the other hand, this book, as said earlier, is not a year-by-year history of Hindi film music, but a rare attempt to document a few memorable tales. In that, the author has succeeded.
ENGINE NAAM MARAKKUM This book is divided into three sections - Naadam, Gaanam and Eenam. Like Meri Aawaz Suno, this book also delves into the rare moments of Malayalam film music history, but in greater depth.
The first part is about the singers - from K.J.Yesudas to K.S.Chithra to Vani Jayaram and Brahmanandan. The second section, which is mostly about songs, relates some rare stories behind their creation. Like Yusuf Ali Kecheri’s visit to Naushad’s home to get him create music for Dhwani. ‘‘Naushad performed magic,’’ Kecheri remembers.
Most of the names in the book will be familiar to Malayali music afficionados, but one chapter in it is particularly arresting. The story behind the evergreen Ezhilam paala poothu.... It may come as a surprise to many that the music direction for this song was not by a Malayali. Like Meri Aawaz Suno, Engine Naam Marakkum also will prove a collectible for music buffs. You can contact Ravi Menon on 9447385575.