Sunday, March 10, 2013


It’s a Truism, that Hindi Film Music has contributed much to ‘National Integration’. viz. while you may not follow the spoken part of a Hindi movie, Music supposedly has no language. Even Yuri Gagarin sang Mera Joota hai Japani….IK agrees and cites another observation in support of the integrative accolade, that much of the serious analysis of Hindi Film Music comes from Tamilians or Malayalis: aadi purush Raju Bharatan, then Ganesh Anantharaman, Raghava R. Menon, Kamini Mathai, Narayana Jayaram, Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti (Andhra?), also some Bengalis like Madhuja Mukherjee…Carl von ‘Bailiff…

Somehow reviewing film music seriously has not been considered very very -mince ‘elite’…or maybe academically fructuous… considered akin, perhaps, to writing reviews for WWF matches. May we aks, why then is writing about Cricket still considered sexy? In fact, the Hindu concept of karma has much to do with Cricket as she is played today- whatever is going to happen tomorrow is already ordained and written….by bookies..ya…One recalls the preface of Raju Bharatan's Journey Down Melody Lane....where he makes the following observation (on how he got the film music beat):

"...cinema coverage got to be contemptuously assigned to me – after all those intellectual heavyweights (manning The Illustrated Weekly of India in The Times of India Building at Bombay’s Bori Bunder) considered it beneath their dignity to handle something so demeaning as ‘films’!"

And pray what did Ustad Amir Khan feel about the best film music directors such as Naushad and C. Ramchandra? He asks Bharatan: ‘..what have these names you’re flaunting to do with music as an art form?’ 

(Bharatan, Raju (2010-09-01). A Journey Down Melody Lane (Kindle Locations 147-148). Hay House. Kindle Edition. )

Bhaiyya...!  You have gone on record saying Narayana can show up as a bhikshu, or ahem...Allahtala as a fakir....we are mere insaan... how can you say the classical God is disdainful of the sugam....?

IK is un-pretentious- a Witch’s Brew which welcomes, with open arms, all elements- the Damask Rose Fragrance, the Lorentz Transformation, Tuka’s Abhangas, Chabiwala Bank, Panditji’s taans, Meera’s simplicity, the Shillong weather, Madras Torture Commission…wagairah…wagairah…IK considers itself the spooky spokesman, he, he, he…of the lost tribe of Ustad Nizamuddin Khan, Pt. Khaprumama Parvatkar and Sebastian d’Souza . And Ashok Razdan. People who did not leave their visiting cards behind- they never thought of getting printed one. Watching their foot-prints is itself as delicious a game as Cloud Watching, the game that our friend Abhinav Gupt moots.

The blog’s eccentric eclecticism owes to the Delhi air of the 50s and 60s, when the Lahore westerly wind was allowed un-fettered access to Mera Bharat Mahan…punjabiyat hor wargi hundi si oas vele… you could see old school Arya Samaj ‘morality’  of the ‘Buniyaad’ variety, actually practiced, Aromas of India- roasted coffee beans, sambar powder, maach, rajma-chawal, alfonso, coconut oil, शेवंतीचे गजरे..had a free run of the criss-cross lanes and parks of Karol Bagh, New Delhi-5. We relish being in cultural cauldrons, as we have been saying. That’s why we are in the North East, I sayyyy…!

IK is certainly about meaningless diversions, granted, but meaningful interjections are also tolerated, ha, ha, ha…!

Let’s put the record straight insofar as the scholarship brought to bear upon Hindi Movies is concerned. What has taken one seventh of humanity by the scruff of its neck has to be a subject of serious socio-research is it not?…Gregory Booth (Peck illa…),for one, the NZ anthropo-sociologist has delved deep into the subject of Hindi Film Music. Just regard this passage from a paper “Pandits in the Movies: Contesting the Identity of Hindustani Classical Music and Musicians In the Hindi Popular Cinema” published on the Auckland University portal:

Ustad Halim Jaffar Khan, who worked on Kohinoor, and other films with Naushad, explains that the singing in the scene was undertaken by Ustad Neyaz Ahmad “Naushad spoke to him about this scene. He said, “Please forgive me Khan-saheb, but for this scene please sing some taans and things, but in a comic way, a foolish way” (performed on screen by Mukri). Neyaz Ahmad agreed to do that”…in the same way that ‘blackface minstrels’ in the US epitomized and concentrated the thrust of white racism. Supposedly comic representation of Muslim classical musicians generates a subtle spotlight on  attitudes towards both classical musicians and Muslim Classical Musicians”.

Booth has a lot to say about the Indian brand of Secularism patented by Hindi Movies. For ethnomusicology and anthropological studies, Anna Moran is another name to reckon with. We however must live with Rajan Parrikar's take on the discipline of éthnomusicology: '..the racist term- when did you last hear the music of Beethoven studied under éthnomusicology..'- Well, well Rajanbua, Bruno Netti's wrote one such book, inter alia on the ethnomusicology of the European Composers called 'Thirty-one Issues and Concepts'. Moreover, the original sanskrit texts on 'Hindu' music were basically rescued by the Europeans, and our music subjected to systematic compilation. For instance the Chapter XXVIII on music in the seminal work on Indian arts, Bharat's Natyasashtra was first translated from the sanskrit by Frenchman J. Grosset. Captain Willard, himself a practitioner, wrote his seminal book on the music of 'Hindoostan' in 1834...! If you have to hear Parrikar's rare collection, you have to put up with some highly 'opinionated' opinions also, he, he, he,... The one we really loved was 'National A****M' or 'National Disgrace'? Those stars are important- they stand between us and Liberty, for while Parrikar can take potshots at this holy symbol from the safety of California, we can't, for we are no longer at Shillong. Just read this:   

 "I recall the trauma of my young days, forced to stand to attention to this unworthy, uninspiring, and above all, unmusical rubbish. Pakistan has a tuneful national a****m. (And they deserved to beat India in the recent Cricket World Cup solely on this account – that and the fact that their players looked like real athletes.) As does Sri Lanka. Even the tiny Kingdom of Tonga can claim a more evocative a****m."

That's what we call a real ''opinionated" opinion. It comes from Rajan Parrikar, the self--styled ambassador of the Grand-dad of Cultural Cauldrons! Amgele mogaacho Goa…!

Albert Einstein, when ‘forced’ to describe the Theory of Relativity in one sentence, had famously said: “Time, Space and Gravitation have no separate existence from Matter.” Elsewhere also Einstein had once posed the question to his audience- what would happen to Space if all matter was removed- Space itself would disappear, he proposed. What Matter is to Space, Goa is to Indian Music yes, G -O -A Goa. Count on what we say: aside of Caranatic, all performed music- Marathi Natyageet, Classical, Jazz, most of- all Hindi Film Music will disappear -wooossshhhh…..if Goa is taken away from our Music Universe….! Auchit podlom tujea mogan (Suddenly did I fall in love) is a line from the Konkani song Kedinch Chintunk Naslem (Never did I Think).

Suddenly it may have happened, but every ghati is expected to have his/her share of Goan Cousins. If you think marathis are dull muggles, not zindadil like say Punjabis, we'd say we have passed the taks of jiving and boozing to our Goan cousins! Our own cousins are in a sense opinion leaders of the family,  and we are really clued on to their psyche, or rather, we are one with them on many issues-‘ social justice’ issues for one. In general, Amgele boys, God bless them, will be quite mercurial- some will be mainstream guys like Dr. Vivek Monteiro or our Poona friend Joe Pinto, feisty Super Cop Julio Ribeiro, Mario Miranda, DD Kosambi, Emergency fixer Hiranmay Karlekar, Brothers Moraes, Prakash Shirodkar, Brothers O’Brien,..George Fernandes (he, he, he, he’s a Mangalorean), some will be insular like fictional Albert Pinto’s Australian Cousins, people perpetually planning emigration to Canada or Australia, some will be snooty, classifying their brethren at the Church Congregation into Original-Converts; Original-Converts- something which the Lord forbids.

Many have created institutions, but preferred to stay in the shadows- Da Cunha brothers ? Sylvester, father of the great female Indian Idol- noooo, not Madhubala or Indira or Katrina…we mean the Amul moppet- Utterly Butterly delicious- Bharat Dabholkar never tires of talking about the greatness of his Utterly Butterly predecessor …then there is RCVP Noronha, the native ICS topper, like they don’t make anymore, author of the racy “Tale Told by an Idiot”- who did so much for the tribals of Madhya Pradesh….they were all latent…avoiding public gaze…stepping aside for the scoundrels…he, he, he…! ‘Dogged’ Eunice De Souza, from whom we learnt about the real Jim Corbett…! The list is endless…then…contradictions abound…everybody in Goa knows true blue Goan Christian friends whose prized possessions are photo albums dating to their Gaud Saraswat Brahmin days…and finally we come to the subject of today’s entry…matter and music…just hold your breath: Mangeshkars, beginning Pt. Dinanath, Asha, Lata, Hridaynath- Anthony Gonzalves, Sebastian D’Silva, Kesarbai Kerkar, Kishori Amonkar, Prabhakar Karekar, Pt. Abhisheki, Pt. Khapru Parvatkar, Remo Fernandes, Chris Perry… the heart that beats in India’s breast is Goa…

The mysterious tabla wizard mentioned in the post ‘Parvati Che Pt. Khapruji’, whose photograph was displayed, was none else than Khaprumama Parvatkar of Goa, and the person who started perspiring when he saw Mama sit in the front row was none else than yugpurush of sitar Bharat Ratna Pt. Ravi Shankar,. We have to believe the story for it is in his own voice on Parrikar’s site…


As promised, we now touch upon the institution of ‘Arrangers’ in Indian Film Music. Merriam-Webster defines ‘Arranger’ thus: .

(music) a person who adapts a piece so that it can be played on different instruments, or sung by different voices .

Everyone has had occasion to muse upon the phenomenon of what can be euphemistically called ‘presence of external elements in Hindi Film Music’ –‘plagiarism’ is the ugly synonym…. Let’s say you are told  ‘Ai dil hai mushkil..’(CID) is a clone of ‘O my darling Clementine…’ ‘What about copyright..?’., and ‘Why are there no protests from the creators…?’ are the usual misgivings…So far as world-wide copyright period for music is concerned, it’s 50-70 years, broadly speaking…one does not bother to sue is another matter…but one can certainly raise a stink I sayyyy…! So why does nobody raise a stink…?

C.Ramchandra was once asked about Western influences on his music…eena meena dika..for example..he said something to the effect that: नाही नाही, उचलतो हा  बरोबर शब्द नव्हे. आता समजा तुम्हाला  मित्राचा सदरा  आवडला आणि तसलाच तुम्ही विकत घेतला- ह्याला काय चोरी म्हणावं….. (you like a friend's shirt, and you acquire a similar that stealing…? Nooo…!)..inspired…yes!

Our Arranger friends played a unique role in the world of Hindi Film Music. The Goans led by Anthony Gonzalves, Sebastian D’Silva, Mark Machado, Chic Chocolate (Antonio Xavier Vaz) , Gomes brothers…also Manohari Singh, who represented the Eastern part of the country, were pioneers in this enterprise….

The ‘counter-melodies’ of Sebastian were to a large extent responsible for the coming of age of Shankar Jaikishan- for example the accordion that fills up the voids in ‘ai mere dil kaheen aur chal…’ of Patita was created by Sebastian (was a harmonium in fact, sounded like an accordion, such was the finesse). The music in ‘Aayega aanewala..’ (Mahal) and ‘Hum aapki aankhon mey…’ (Pyaasa) was created by Anthony Gonsalves.

The Goan musicians were crazy about Jazz and used to be regular players on the Chicago and New York Jazz circuit.  “For a Goan jazzman, the greatest accolade was to be told that he ‘played like a negro’ ”, says Naresh Fernandes writing for the arch-Goan site Goanet. He provides numerous other insights:

“ The pianist Johnny Fernandes, who later married Chic's daughter, Ursula, theorised about Chic : "In Goa, Mahars were grave-diggers. They'd also play snare drums and blow conches in funeral bands. When they came to Bombay, they became good jazz drummers and trumpet players." 

For Hindustani Classical, just replace 'grave-digger' with 'devdasi'...speaks volumes for the dynamic egalitarian culture...

Chic scored music for many movies as full Music Director, for instance Dev Anand starrer ‘Nadaan’ (1951).

The bit parts in which Catholics found themselves cast on screen weren't an accurate portrayal of the vital role Goans played the Hindi film industry. Until the '80s, India had no pop music save  Hindi film songs. Millions memorised and hummed the compositions of C Ramachandra, Shankar-Jaikishan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad and S D Burman, whose names rolled by in large letters at the beginning of the movies. But the Sound of India actually was created by Goan musicians, men whose names flickered by in small type under the designation "arranger". It's clear. The Hindi film classics that resound across the subcontinent and in Indian homes around the world wouldn't have been made without Goans. Their dominance of the Hindi film world is partly a function of the structural differences between Indian and Western music. Indian classical music is melodic. The ragas that form the basis of Indian music are unilinear, each instrument or vocalist exploring an independent line. To move an audience, film scores must be performed by orchestras, with massed instruments playing in harmony….Goans, with their training in Western music, knew how to produce what was required.”

There was also Manohari Singh, responsible for the best in sax in Hindi Film music (‘tere mere sapne ab ek rang..’, ‘bedardi baalama tujhko mera mann…’ etc.)- who hailed from Calcutta.

The Arrangers, apart from being possessors of awesome talent, performed certain important functions. One, they excelled at notation of music, a critical missing element in Hindi Cinema before their advent. But most of all, they were lubricants of sorts- a bridge between Western Jazz, Western Classical, contemporary western popular music of all types- and the world of Hindi Film Music. The Arrangers straddled both worlds, and commanded goodwill in America, having contributed to the music that was home-grown in that part of the globe. That Music was common heritage, and hence the Indian Music Director could just take shelter behind the Arrangers, saying booo to charges of plagiarism. One hastens to add here that the complementarity (?)  between the two classes of musicians was so superb that each Hindi Music Director could retain his individuality while reaping the crop sown by the Arrangers! It took the genius of both the classes to create a remarkable genre of Music.

And it took the gallantry and self-effacement of the Goans to allow all the credits to be laid at the feet of the Filmfare Award Winners.


Stepping aside for scoundrels: Explanation:

Nineteenth century Speaker of the US Senate Henry Clay meets party enemy Senator John Randolph on a narrow sidewalk over a muddy street, refusing to give way. "I never step aside for a scoundrel," Clay says. Randolph tips his hat, steps into the mud and says, "I always do."


Anonymous said...

Great people like Chic, Anthony Gonsalves, Kaprumama and Ravi Shankar will always be humble !

Farooque Shahab said...

In the ultimate analysis, nothing created by men, under this sun, is original. Everyone of us is an Arranger, in one way or the other. So, I too salute the Goan Arrangers, who gave so much to us to enjoy, to relish........