|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, May 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
Play on Sanskrit kavya
From jingle composer
ART & CULTURE
Play on Sanskrit kavya
Kalhan is remembered again. Rajtarangini, the Sanskrit kavya of Kashmir (1079-1081) authored by him, is once again opened in the form of the play “Nagar-Udas” at Taranga (chapter). The Taranga contains 120 shlokas from 233 to 453 describing the King of Kashmir Ananta Deva’s son Kalasha’s misrule.
King Ananta Deva renounced the kingdom in favour of his son Kalasha at the behest of Queen Suryamati. Later he left the capital city, Srinagar, to live in Vijayeshwar (at present known as Bijebehara). The conflict between the father and the son intensified to such an extent that the situation in Kashmir went on worsening day by day as a result of which foreign saboteurs came to Kashmir and paved the way for foreign rule.
The script of “Nagar-Udas” has reconstructed the period that was crucial for Kashmir. The play in Hindi was staged by Shri Ram Centre Repertory Company artistes in Delhi recently. The play was originally written by Moti Lal Kemmu in Kashmiri and also staged in Kashmiri. Translating it into Hindi by reputed translator and playwright Gaurishanker Raina with the close coordination of director Mushtaq Kak took one year.
The style of the presentation of the play has Greek influence because Greek tragedy is as similar to Kashmir tragedy and it is a total classical play, says Mushtaq. The playwright has neither distorted any factual description nor tried to interpret it in any particular context.
But certainly there is a subtle approxism between the events of King Ananta’s time and the present one, says Mushtaq. According to him, the work on the play is stalised, well researched and informative. An attempt has been made to make the play more communicative for a common people to understand the suffering faced by people in that period. The dialogues are in chaste Hindi. “If chaste Hindi is not used, the impact of classical tragedy would not have been there” counters Mushtaq.
The set designed by Mushtaq depicts the ruins of Avantipora and the costumes speak of the traditions of that era. The characters carry a staff in their hands. It has a triangular mark on the top of it which relates to Shaivism in Kashmir. The atmosphere and culture in all respects is created very artistically by the director.
Mushtaq says there is lot of scope of drama in Rajtarangini on the national scene. But neither the Jammu and Kashmir nor the Central Government have ever tried to encourage the stage talent to expose the Kashmiri literature and culture at the national or international fora, he adds.
Forty-year-old Mushtaq has so far directed 57 plays. Of his plays, “Maha Brahmin” and “Alladad” were adjudged the best plays of the year 1999-2000, respectively. Born in Kashmir and brought up in Jammu, Mushtaq is presently at Shri Ram Centre on the Artistic Director’s post. He has also received awards for the best director for “Andha Yug”, “Mallika” and “Pratibimb”.
From jingle composer
From jingle composer to star-maker, Jawahar Wattal has come a long way in a decade or so. Giving hit albums and turning newcomers into stars has become his trademark. He is constantly on the lookout for new talent and has an uncanny ability to sense what will be popular with the masses. With 58 successful albums under his belt already, he is a force to reckon with in the Indi-pop arena.
He is known for his racy, peppy and foot-tapping music which can make anybody, young and old alike, to sway to his tunes. No dance party is complete without some invigorating tunes of his.
He hails from a Kashmiri pandit family and has done graduation in zoology and MBA. Music was his hobby right from his childhood days which later developed into a passion. He attended classes in classical music and also got formal training in Western music.
He started his commercial career as a jingle composer. Soon he earned name in this field and did assignments for Ponds, Pepsi, Hero Honda, KLM, Usha fans, Boost, Horlicks, Lufthansa, Maggi, Nescafe, Dreamflower talc, Tingler and Miranda. Till date he has done more than 3000 jingles.
In 1984, he got his first big break when he was asked by the Indian Airlines to compose inflight music for it. The very next year he established Adcamp, a 24-track digitalised production house, in New Delhi. He composed the title music for a number of tele serials, including “Fauji”, “The World This Week”, “Tol Mol Ke Bol”, “Himalaya Darshan”, “Newsline”, “Sanjha Choolah”, “Ru ba Ru”, “Quiz Time” etc.
He entered the world of Indi-pop in the late 1980s when he was approached by Baba Sehgal who wished to cut an album. Together they did “Dilruba” which established Sehgal as a star in the Indi-pop arena. Daler Mehndi also met him during this period, but it was only in 1994 that they came out with their first album titled Bolo tara ra ra: which was a super-duper hit. It was followed by Dardi Rab Rab kardi... and Ho jayegi balle balle... After these albums there was no looking back either for Daler or Jawahar.
Thereafter he launched Bhupi Chawla (Jogiya khalli balli...) and Shankar Sahni (Yarri yarri...), and the latest additions to this list are the names of Karran Jesbir and Rishi Prasad with albums “Dhai Lakh Di” and “Goriya Mera Dil”, respectively. He has also worked with Hans Raj Hans, Ali Haider, Shweta Shetty, Hema Sardesai, Poornima and Ila Arun.
According to him the artiste-to-star transformation requires three things. “First, the aspirant should have talent and a desire to do something. Secondly, he should have the requisite personality, meaning thereby that he should be cut out for this type of job. Finally, he should have a dedication and sincerity towards his work.”
Almost all famous Indi-pop artistes have cut albums under his baton. Even the likes of Shubha Mudgal did not mind moving out of her specialised area of classical singing and doing “Ali More Angana” with him. Recently he did “Shai Ra Ri” with Usha Uthup. All this speaks volumes about his talent and inventive nature.
Talking about his formula of hit albums he says, “Good lyrics accompanied by good music can create enigmatic effects. But good music does not mean complex music, rather it comprises simple tunes which even a child can appreciate and enjoy.”
He foresees a bright future for the Indi-pop industry, but sounds apprehensive when he says , “Today virtually everybody is venturing into this field. Probably they find it an easy way to earn name, fame and wealth. These people are churning out albums at an amazing pace and sometimes even in less than a week’s time. Obviously little deliberations go into the making of such albums which is bound to affect the quality of their product. I fear that this might ultimately show its adverse effects on the popularity of Indi-pop.”
His word of advice for the aspiring pop stars: “Come this way only if genuinely interested in doing service to the cause of music. Otherwise, direct your energy to some other useful venture.”
His forthcoming projects include albums with Poornima, Hema Sardesai, Master Salim, Bhupi, Malkiat Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan, which he hopes to complete by July end.
Having made it big in the Indi-pop arena, he now plans to venture into the film industry. “Probably I will take up films after July,” he says. However, he refuses to divulge any further details in this regard. Let us wait and watch what his “music wand” has in store for the film industry.
“Who is interested in elections except the politicians and their chamchas?”. A good question and I am not surprised it was asked by a young student friend. In fact, in spite of the strenuous efforts of all channels (bar DD, which is always unexciting and only irritates serial makers by ditching them.). I do not find people outside the political pale, including voters, half as excited about election specials as the politicians and their chamchas. Personally, I am bored stiff. Much the same sentiments, especially youth’s disappointment and anger about corrupt politicians whom they found alike no matter in which party, was voiced in a panel discussion with a young audience anchored by Karan Thapar on Tuesday evening. This is his programme on DD and I am still wondering first, why it extended beyond midnight, when young people, even if they had not gone to sleep, would watch something entertaining at that hour. And, of course, I came in a few minutes late and to this day do not know who were the political participants or to which party they belonged. DD does not believe in enlightening us with captioned names, as every professional channel does. And there were no names of participants at the end. But I did notice UTV, which is Thapar’s home ground. Time he pulled up the producers. Indeed, this increasing anger of young people with our politicians needs prime time projection and widespread airing. A sort of TV Yuva Vani, although the Yuva Vani of the Arun Jaitley, Rajiv Mehrotra, Ramu Damodaran, Komal G B Singh days has also receded into distant memory. Still, better than nothing.
And while on the subject, can’t channels think of original titles? Since Star News has started a public interest programme called We The People, on Sundays Zee has announced a We The People programme also on Sundays, slightly later in the evening. Come, come Zee. What happened to your think tank?
Nevertheless, the last episode of Pradhan Mantri turned out to be quite enterprising, largely due to the excellent acting of KK Menon. It was aversion of a nuclear strike on India by some hot-headed Pakistani generals on a tip off from the American ambassador since their spy statellites had got wind of it and this being M J Akbar territory a reference to a tapped conversation between two Pakistani generals. With the help of the Iranian Ambassador in Delhi (a woman complete with mini chador) who acts as honest broker to Islamabad the PM of Pakistan nips the plot in the bud in the nick of time and everyone is relieved, not least of all Indian PM’s wife Malavika Tiwari and her two yuppie children. Very melodramatic, but fun. And guess who is the American Ambassador, our very own Tom Alter although his accent could have been a bit more American.
In fact, at election time I far prefer watching Texas Ranger, predatory animals on National Geographic and medical detectives on Discovery, Mastermind India and also welcome the return of Niret Alva to home territory, Wheels on the BBC, with good support from his girl supporters who remind us of the famous 70’s film Girl on a Motor Cycle.
I think for intelligent women viewers (and I think there are quite a few who want to go beyond mothers-in-law and bahus) the next best thing to Saans before it went round the bend and completely out of control is Your Honour by Kavita Choudhry on Sony on Sundays. It has its pardonable little faults, but is at least a brave attempt to probe the pitfalls for a career woman, in this case a novice lawyer. There is some solid research behind it and a good deal of sincerity. And for sports lovers quite a few chat shows on different channels which are a shade better than the filmi chat shows because both the participants and anchors know what they are talking about.
LAGAAN (Sony): A.R.Rahman has legions of admirers. There are detractors too. The latter toss up two charges against the maestro. One, that his creations have a bit of sameness about them; that you can recognise a Rahman tune from a mile away. And two, that he is too “futuristic”. (It is another matter that his fans love him for exactly these qualities.)
As if to silence his critics, he has given an entirely different kind of music in this home production of Aamir Khan. Unless you read the credits, you may not even know that he is the music director. And he has done no experimentation for this period film. Most of the songs remind you of music of the sixties films and even earlier.
The tunes are routine, but the Rahman mettle shines through. Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Sukhwinder Singh, Shankar Mahadevan, Shaan and Kishori Gowariker have a new lilt to their voices in the opening number, “Ghanan ghanan ….” Javed Akhtar is at his literary best in this as well as all the other numbers. Just sample the imagery in this ode to the rain gods: “Kaale megha kale megha paani to barsao/ bizuri ki talwar nahin boondon ke baan chalao ….”
The film is set in pre-British rural India. The music is woven around that theme. As a result, the album may not prove a chartbuster, but it is a novel experience nevertheless. Under Rahman’s baton, Asha Bhosle has done “Radha kaise na jale …” in a flat manner. Yet, the song is hummable.
Another bhajan, O palanhare … by Lata Mangeshkar is far more accomplished. Rahman himself sings “Chale chalo …” along with Srinivas and chorus.
The Western instruments are in use only in the title music and the Waltz for Romance. Orchestra and Strings ensemble have been conducted by Srinivasa Moorthy.
EK RISHTA (Tips): Despite his incarceration in London following a murder charge, Nadeem continues to be active on the music scene. It is learnt that he sends tunes to his colleague Shravan through the phone or the Internet and the latter does the rest.
The music of this Amitabh Bachchan-Akshay Kumar starrer is not exactly inspired, but it does have considerable verve. There isn’t much of originality, although there isn’t any rehashing either.
The current trend is towards fast-paced numbers. Still, the best results come through slow sensuous ones. Here, the feet may be set tapping by the likes of Dil lagaane ki sazaa to na doge tum … and Mohabbat ne mohabbat ko mohabbat se pukara hai …. Yet, the song to remember is Ek dil hai ... by Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu.
It is high time Sanu confined himself to only such songs. Flippant ones like Dil deewana dhoondta hai, ik haseen ladki … may no longer be stimulating enough for him.
In effect, there are only seven songs. Dil lagaane ki sazaa … figures in an instrumental version also, while Ek raja hai ek rani hai … (Mohammad Aziz, Anuradha Paudwal, Sarika Kapoor and Milind) is later sung by Aziz as a sad solo.
Lyrics are by Sameer.
RAHEEM VANI (Venus): This cassette is part of the Santvani series by Venus. Mahendra Kapoor and Anupama Deshpande recite some of the most popular “dohas” of Sant Raheem.
Music is by Triveni-Bhavani. A booklet of the 85 odd dohas is given with the album.
ART & CULTURE
Webster’s encyclopedic unabridged dictionary defines the term radio as “wireless telegraphy or telephony,” but to 97 per cent of the Indians it has been the most popular means of entertainment and the cheapest too as compared to its counterparts such as television, cinema, theatre and not-to-forget the internet services. As a means of communication widely and primarily used during wartime in the 20th century, the radio evolved with the passage of time to its present day ‘avatar’ of being the soulmate of many a rickshaw-puller, dhobi, chaiwallah and street-dweller of our country. A stereotype image of which was quite naturally caricatured in popular Indian cinema.
The time of arrival for radio in India would be about the late 1930s and its possession then meant a great deal of acquired affluence in the upper echelons of Indian social milieu. A display of an antique specimen of the radio apparatus today, adds a flavour of nostalgia and classic lifestyle in many of the Indian homes. In its legacy of becoming a highly popular means of entertainment, AIR (All India Radio) mesmerised its listeners with film songs and patent programmes aimed at catching a passerby who might be unaware of its existence.
However, during the earlier years of its introduction in many Indian households, especially the educated service class, listening to the radio by the fairer sex was off limits! For instance, in pre-Partition Punjab, in a middle stratum family, the radio was a prohibited object for women and statements like “Change ghar di kuriyan aiho jian cheezan nahin sunndiyan” would emphasise the stigma attached to it.
With the first phase of AIR becoming the “in thing”, names of broadcasters like Melvin Demello, Roshan Menon, Saeed Jaffery and Ameen Sayani became household references in the world of audio entertainment enjoying no less a status than of a 1940s-’50s Indian film celebrity. ‘Hawa Mahal’, ‘Inspector Eagle’, ‘Binaca Geetmala’ etc have been perhaps the memorable growing-up favourites of many of us for whom radio listening was an integral part of the routine. Unlike the present-day younger generation, excitement came in simple packages in the years gone by. One was kept abreast on anything and just about everything through radio transmissions. Not only this, an ideal sample of correct English pronunciation and good diction in the vernacular came via the services of AIR.
The pace of life then surely had an enviable charm of its own that can never be experienced with the best of efforts today. It might be the case that our Naanis and Daadis were singularly fortunate in living in times when small pleasures of human existence mattered to one and all.
The eventful history of radio popularity in India provides interesting socio-cultural linkages that are intrinsic to the milieu of the sub-continent. A case study of mass communication could easily substantiate this fact. In the humdrum experiences of living, developing, growing and changing, has the art of radio listening been drowned? Well, only time with tell!