I feel duty-bound to write this post. It’s going to be one of those rare posts that don’t have Kasi/Varanasi/Banaras as their site of origin. I love watching movies and listening to their songs. Among the male playback singers of Hindi film industry, I love the voices of Rafi Saab, Kishoreda and, some times, Mukeshji. I love Hemantada’s voice from his Bangla film songs. Among the females, there’s Lataji. Always. So, I am biased. Yes I am totally biased towards a certain range and type of human singing voices. Moreover, I have been socioculturally programmed to like a certain variety of music too. But that does not disqualify me from comparing the recent renderings of the classics of Hindi film songs with their originals, does it?
My first serious experience of old-converted-to-new songs was with Nitin Bali’s “Neele Neele Ambar Pe”. Then came many versions of “Gulabi Ankhen” by Raghav Sachar (versatile musician/singer), Atif Aslam (great voice quality), and by so many lesser and better known names. One catchy attempt was made in Student of the Year too. The most recent remixes I studied were Susheela Raman’s “Ye Mera Deewanapan Hai” and Suman Sridhar’s “Hawa Hawai” and “Khoya Khoya Chand” (differently accented than the originals and with a tangy accompanying music). There are many other remixes etc. but their ephemeral nature forces me not to consider them here.
I start with “Ye Mera Deewanapan” because in its newer version it transforms the original at two levels, despite having used the same lyrics. The background music is definitely and refreshingly original, and the way the words are pronounced, with a definite, natural and conspicuous accent, make the song totally new. It’s good to listen to. I should not compare it with the 1958 one. No, they oughtn’t be compared at all. Why do I keep replaying the song anyway? The novelty in accent and music may be one reason. How long will I listen to it? Now, that’s another question.
I had thought to skip talking about the original, but my mind, fingers and music conscience won’t allow me to. So, the Mukesh-Shankar Jaikishan-Shailendra original from Yahudi must be mentioned here. My first encounter with the song that had happened a long time ago had left me baffled. The central problem to me was: How does one manage the transition of notes from the first two lines to the main song (similar to the mid-way technical transition in Rafi saab’s “Chand Mera Dil”, or Kishoreda’s yodeling in “Thandi Hawa Ye Chandni Suhani”)? The great Shailendraji’s lyrics, the original composer duo of Hindi films: Shankar-Jaikishan, and the delicious feel of Mukeshji’s voice going down the ears: an exquisite experience it is, listening to the original.
Sridhar has definitely sung “Hawa Hawai” in a more interesting manner than Krishnamurthy in the original score, and I like the music in the new score better too. The problem to the objectivity of my critical analysis is her “Khoya Khoya Chand”. Before we launch into the details, it must be mentioned here that Sridhar has sung the song well. My one thought was: “Ah, had there been no predecessors!” after listening to the song. I love Rafi Saab’s voice, remember? Add my favourite composer Shri S. D. Burman to the list of the creators of song-magic. What else can one ask for? Interestingly enough, and coincidentally, in Kala Bazar, too,just like in Yahudi,Shailendraji was the lyricist.
The new “Khoya Khoya Chand” from the movie Shaitan has the same lyrics, but a different background music and a decidedly and definitely different voice singing it. The two later changes change the overall psychological and musicological impact of the song. When I replay the Rafi Saab classic, there’s nothing left of that being-the-Devil’s-Advocate strain in me. Why did they have to even touch that song? Can’t they leave some of the good old things untouched and unsoiled? The soothing, mellifluous voice of Rafi Saab in the song, juxtaposed with the way Sridhar has sung it, provides a study in contrast.
R.D. Burman had composed the songs of The Train that was released in 1970. “Gulabi Ankhen”, its song we are interested in, was sung by none other than Rafi Saab. It’s one of his later years songs. Burman’s music, timeless and with strong guitar and drum elements, is just as popular today as it was then. So, another remix of a Burman song is not at all surprising. There are around ten available versions of this song on youtube. Atif Aslam’s rendering of the song has given birth to the question: “How can a singer with such a beautiful voice, sing a classic song so badly that one is forced to stop listening and start wondering”? Raghav Sachar has done justice to the song. What’s more he’s even embellished the song. His harmonica touch at the end is highly creative and positive, and his voice suits the song.
Nitin Bali had re-done Kalyanji-Anandji-Kishore Kumar’s “Neele Neele Ambar Pe” from Kalakar.I won’t make any attempt at comparing the voices or the music. The new song had some good music I must say.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.