ARTS TRIBUNE Friday, October 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India
 

 Asha Bhonsle
Asha Bhonsle last Thursday won the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2000.

That mischief in Asha’s voice
Devinder Bir Kaur

Bhanwara bada nadaan hai..., Thodi der ke liye, mere ho jaao..., Sach hue sapne mere, jhoom le o man mere..., Tum jeeyo hazaron saal saal ke din hon pachaas hazar..., Aaiye meharban, teheriye jaan-e-jaan... — the list is endless. What is common among these songs of Asha Bhonsle and those I’m going to mention hereon? Why, it’s the zing of a bubbly youngster, that particular quality of mischief in her voice which she has retained over the years. Who can forget the delightful laughter in Jaanu, jaanu re, kahe khanke mora kangna...? And years later when the laughter turned seductive in Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera, na ghabraiye...?

AUDIOSCAN
The coming together of two legends
ASC
VISAAL (HMV):
For best describing the coming together of Ghulam Ali and Gulzar, one cannot help taking recourse to a Hindi expression: "sone pe suhaga". Which one is "sona" and which one is "suhaga" is for listeners to decide, but what is absolutely beyond doubt is that the effect of this "visaal" is absolutely enchanting. The convergence has resulted in eight songs, which can be safely placed among the best of the year.

SIGHT & SOUND

At last DD, AIR are public service broadcasters
Amita Malik

A
S a columnist shouting one’s head off down the years about AIR and DD’s obligations as public service broadcasters, it is a pleasure to record that both DD and AIR have this year won international recognition, DD from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, for social service broadcasting.

 

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That mischief in Asha’s voice
Devinder Bir Kaur

Bhanwara bada nadaan hai..., Thodi der ke liye, mere ho jaao..., Sach hue sapne mere, jhoom le o man mere..., Tum jeeyo hazaron saal saal ke din hon pachaas hazar..., Aaiye meharban, teheriye jaan-e-jaan... — the list is endless. What is common among these songs of Asha Bhonsle and those I’m going to mention hereon? Why, it’s the zing of a bubbly youngster, that particular quality of mischief in her voice which she has retained over the years. Who can forget the delightful laughter in Jaanu, jaanu re, kahe khanke mora kangna...? And years later when the laughter turned seductive in Yeh hai reshmi zulfon ka andhera, na ghabraiye...?

That was ‘chulbuli’ Asha Bhonsle at her best. She belted out numbers from the sensuous to the soothing, from the comic to the devotional. But the dominant note in her songs has always been that of seductiveness. Being the younger sister of the legendary Lata Mangeshkar, she idolised "didi", but very wisely developed her own distinct style. She changed her style of singing to suit the breezy, romantic numbers of that period.

In fact, the Asha magic constitutes having her fingers on the pulse of the people. She herself says that she has always tried to mould herself according to what is popular.

From the very beginning she has willingly sung Westernised numbers. S.D. Burman started the trend. He gave her Haal kaisa hai janab ka..., Achcha ji main haari chalo maan jaao na ..., and years later Raat akeli hai, bujh gaye diye..., Kar le pyar kar le ke din hain yehi..., Reshmi ujala hai, makhmali andhera ... .

However, it was O. P. Nayyar who taught Asha how to use the bass in her voice. It is said Hindi film music has had two really great singer-music director combinations: Lata-Madan Mohan and Asha- O. P. Nayyar. Nayyar has himself conceded that Asha sang all his songs with her heart and soul. The list of their songs is endless, and almost all of them became popular. Aaiye meherbaan..., Maang ke saath tumhara maine, maang liya sansaar..., Piya, piya, na laage mora jiya, aaja chori chori..., Jaiye aap kahan jaayenge..., Yeh hai reshmi ..., Bahut shukriya, badi meherbani..., Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein tasveer hai ik anjaane ki..., Isharon, isharon mein dil lene wale, bata ye hunar tune seekha kahan se..., Hai re hai, ke mere haath mein tera haath rehe din raat, meri jaan balle balle..., Aaj koi pyar se, dil ke baatein keh gaya..., Ik tu hai piya, jispe dil aa gaya..., Aao huzoor tumko, sitaron mein le chaloon..., Kajra mohabbat wala, ankhiyon mein aisa dala... and so on.

Asha also sang memorable numbers with Roshan — Nigahen milane ko ji chahta hai..., a qawwali which is her favourite; Jaidev — Abhi na jaao, chhod kar, ke dil abhi bhara nahin; Shankar-Jaikishan — Ang lag ja balma...; Ravi — Chehre pe khushi chha jaati hai, aankhon mein saroor aa jaata hai...; Hemant Kumar — Saakiya aaj mujhe neend nahin aayegi... Madan Mohan — Shokh nazar ki bijliyan, dil pe mere giraye ja..., Jhumka gira re, Bareily ke bazar mein..., Laxmikant- Pyarelal — Dushman-e-jaan, chal diya kahan...., Khat likh de sanwariya ke naam babu..., Koi shehri babu, dil lehri babu, hai re...; and Khayyam — Dil cheez kya hai, aap meri jaan leejiye....

However, after O.P. Nayyar it was R.D. Burman who brought out Asha’s full potential and gave her the most memorable numbers. Her hit songs with him included Aaja aaja, main hoon pyar tera ..., O haseena zulfon wali jaane-e-jahan..., O mere Sona re Sona re Sona re, de doongi jaan khafa mat hona re..., Mera naam hai Shabnam, pyar se log mujhe Shabbo kehte hain...., Dum maro dam, mit jaayen gham..., Piya tu ab to aaja..., Duniya mein , logon ko, dhokha kabhi ho jaata hai..., Aao na, gale lagao na, lagi bujhao na, o jaan-e-jaan..., Jaane-e-jaan, dhoondta phir raha , hoon tumhein raat din, main yahan se wahan..., and Yeh ladka, hai Allah kaisa hai deewana..., Mera kuchh samaan...

And now with the new crop of music directors Asha is still giving hits: A.R. Rehman — Hoja rangeela..., Tanha, tanha sa jeena, yeh koi baat hai...; Jatin-Lalit — Main chali, bhage bahar...

The new rash of Hindi pop singers are no threat to Asha. She was some years ago in London cutting an album with Boy George. Instead of cringing at the remixes that were pouring into the market, she did the next best thing — she joined the bandwagon and brought out the remixed variety of own old numbers. She also came out with a video cassette entitled "Janam Samjha Karo". Then there is the new album "Rahul and I". Asha never ceases to amaze. She is constantly repackaging herself. And so the Asha magic continues to enthral.
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AUDIOSCAN
The coming together of two legends
ASC

VISAAL (HMV): For best describing the coming together of Ghulam Ali and Gulzar, one cannot help taking recourse to a Hindi expression: "sone pe suhaga". Which one is "sona" and which one is "suhaga" is for listeners to decide, but what is absolutely beyond doubt is that the effect of this "visaal" is absolutely enchanting. The convergence has resulted in eight songs, which can be safely placed among the best of the year.

Ghulam Ali is known for elevating even ordinary lyrics to a sublime plane. When he gets to work his magic on poetry, which is mesmerising in the first place, the outcome is simply electrifying.

What is remarkable is that all eight ghazals evoke different emotions. Shaam se aaj saans bhari… manifests the pain and melancholy of love. On the other hand, Hum to kitnon ko mehjabeen kehte… focuses on the ecstasy and pleasure of the same emotion.

Sehma sehma dara sa… expresses the feeling of hurt in romance. Perhaps the finest ghazal of the album is Khushboo jaise log mile…, which is about nostalgia and the drawing of a finer-than-life picture of the beloved. Your choice may fall on some other ghazal, but at least the makers of the album seem to agree with this reviewer, considering that it is this particular ghazal on which a music video has been picturised.

Music is contemporary and yet conservative.

OH KEHRI (TIPS): The punk hairstyle and the name Jazzy B that Jaswinder Singh Bains has adopted after moving from "apna" Punjab to Canada makes you believe that he will be singing the bhangra songs with western accent. But the belief proves wrong. All songs that he renders here have a distinct rural feel to them. Yes, the musical instruments that accompany him are Western, but overall the songs are no different from those one hears in village fairs in the interior.

Lyrics have been penned by Satinder Kala, Pinda and Jasvir Gunachauria and Dev Raj Jassal Bains. They too are living abroad and yet have evoked pure Punjabi imagery. Perhaps those settled in countries like Canada and the UK are nostalgic about the music that they heard and adored here way back in the ’60s and ’70s. It is another matter that the tastes of those living in Punjab itself have gone a sea change since then. Jazzy B knows his target audience and does everything to appease it. The rest can easily look elsewhere.

KHUSHIYAN (Ninaad): There was a time when no occasion of celebration and happiness was complete without a shehnai recital. This album transports one to that music-filled era.

It has been rendered by Shailesh Bhagwat, a disciple of the legendary Ustad Bismillah Khan. He displays an amazing breath control while singing kajri, chaiti, thumri, bhairavi and even a Punjabi folk tune. His technical knowledge is immaculate. At the same time he also displays the emotional aspects of melody.

Shailsh Bhagwat had his initial training under Pt Aurangabadkar at the holy shrine of Shri Kotineshwar Temple. Later, he also trained under Pt Maruti Lal. The keen sense of aesthetics that he has acquired through this early grounding and then under the tutelage of Bismillah Khan makes one optimistic about the bright future of Indian classical music in general.

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SIGHT & SOUND
At last DD, AIR are public service broadcasters
Amita Malik

AS a columnist shouting one’s head off down the years about AIR and DD’s obligations as public service broadcasters, it is a pleasure to record that both DD and AIR have this year won international recognition, DD from the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, for social service broadcasting.

Doordarshan won the Miller Award for Social Action Programmes, which "honours a radio or TV programme geared towards the benefit of the community". The award for 2001 went to DD for its Leprosy Awareness and Prevention Campaign. The other two awards in this category went to two other organisations, but for radio. DD’s leprosy TV programme arose from a unique one-year partnership between Doordarshan and the BBC World Service Trust, the BBC having set up a special office in Defence Colony in Delhi, chipping in with some funds from the trust and advice about organisation and administration. Doordarshan produced and aired the actual programmes.

India with 60 per cent of the world’s leprosy cases, badly needed an awareness campaign. So DD started with 24 advertising spots in the areas most affected, encouraging viewers to recognise and report leprosy cases. In the second phase, 12 short films and five talk shows were produced by DD kendras in the focus states, making use of folk music and other local traditions. Some of the story ideas came from real-life situations and dramatically aroused hope in sufferers. In one instance, a spoken word script in Bhubaneshwar Kendra had such possibilities as a musical, that overnight an enterprising assistant producer transferred it to music form, and it was a huge success. Film stars Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala also lent popular interest to the programmes when they were telecast on the national network. Earlier, the World Health Organisation had said: "The results of the leprosy campaign rate as one of the most successful health campaigns to have taken place anywhere in the world. This is a tremendous tribute to the outstanding work of the DD and AIR producers on the project."

Highly commended in the category of the Rolls Royce Award for Innovation in Management, was All India Radio Warangal for an" Intensive Listener Promotion Campaign". Congratulations DD and AIR. Please remain firmly in our roots and never forget you are public service broadcasters.

The ourburst by the Shahi Imam in last Sunday’s ‘We the People’ holds two important lessons. One, Shabana Azmi challenging the Imam to go to the front was asking for trouble, knowing the crudeness of the man. But while no words can be strong enough for condemning it, surely it would have been better to get some Muslim scholar, such as Maulana Wahiduddin, a respected and dignified Islamic scholar, to argue with the Imam on a different level. Increasingly, the programme is becoming "We the Celebrities", rather than "We the People". Always there are thoughtful and articulate People (I use the capital letter deliberately) in the audience who are treated like second-class citizens as against the celebrities and are hardly allowed to have a full say, while the celebrities hog the mike.

Quotes of the week

CNN: Pakistan has 20,000 Madrasi (sic) religious schools.

DD NEWS: The woman newscaster with the nasal voice and peculiar staccato style of reading in the midnight bulletin on Tuesday last: "The Prime Minister was addressing a gathering of Sex (sic). "(Actually our PM was addressing a gathering of Sikhs).
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