|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, August 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India|
The selling of Michael Jackson ?
THIS column will appear a few days after Independence Day and, as is customary, we tend to take stock of all things the nation is expected to be proud of (DD’s commentators really go to town from the Red Fort), do a little grumbling about the many chronic ills that dog this nation and then sit back and carry on with the media.
Exponents of ghazal gayaki
POPULAR singing duo, Bhupinder and Mitali Singh have carved a niche for themselves in the music world with their inimitable rendering of ghazals.
"Its the rich poetry in ghazals that has attracted us. A sher (couplet) is equivalent to a thousand words. It has its unique appeal. That is what made us choose it, says Mitali. Bhupinder couldn’t agree more.
Analysing how ghazal came out of the collections of a handful of connoisseurs’ collection and grew popular among the masses, Bhupinder says, "earlier, because of the classic Urdu used in ghazals, it was very hard for the common man to comprehend its deeper meaning. But today, with the use of simple lyrics, in Hindustani, as we call it, the common man finds it easy to understand and appreciate the beautiful poetry in it."
Bhupinder, who sang into limelight the superhit number of the film "Haqeekat", Hoke mazboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga..., never looked back.
His other ever popular songs include, "Dil dhundata hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din.... ("Mausam"), Beeti na bitaye raina.... ("Parichay"), Ek akela is shehar mein... ("Gharonda").
Born at Amritsar and brought up in Delhi, Bhupinder was very familiar with music since his childhood though he was not much into it during the early years.
"But I had it in me and my father knew it well", he says.
His formal training in music started under the tutelage of K.L. Tahim. Bhupinder worked as a casual artiste for Doordarshan and AIR in school days and also played the Hawaian guitar during college days.
Inspired by his father, he was always a great fan of Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar. And fortunately, for the very first song he sang, Madan Mohan’s Hoke mazboor..., he got a chance to sing with those very people. When it comes to classical music, it’s Bade Gulam Ali who endears him.
He also worked as a studio musician with R.D. Burman for nearly 15 years. He cut his first EP in 1965.
Mitali was born and brought up in Bangladesh. She comes from a family where art and music is a way of life, where everybody is associated with some form of music, be it vocal or instrumental. She has been learning classical music since childhood under her guru Mithun Dey.
She used to sing for Bangladeshi TV and radio and also has a few popular numbers of Bangladeshi films to her credit. Mitali was honoured with the country’s national award.
Later, on a Government of India scholarship, she came to Baroda to do her masters in music. She also did M.Phil from SNDT, Mumbai.
Speaking about her inspiration in her field, Mitali says, "I have been listening to Lataji and Ashaji since my childhood. Bengali singers Sandhya Mukherjee and Aarti Mukherjee are also my favourites."
It is Pt. D.V. Paluskar and Bade Gulam Ali Khan who she admires the most in the classical category.
The singers got married in 1983 and since then, it has been a journey together to explore the various facets of music and singing. "Sahil" was the album where they worked together for the first time.
The ghazal came with "Aap ke Naam", "Sharmate Sharmate", "Tauba Tauba", "Aapas ki Baat", "Ek Haseen Sham" to name a few older ones and "Nasheman", "Tu Saath Chal" being the more recent ones.
Their latest album "Kuchh Intezaar Hai" includes the duo’s favourite Saeed Rahee-penned Shamma jalaye rakhana.... Another unique feature of the album is the Apna koi mil gaya... rendition which follows the "sawaal jawaab" pattern, with Bhupinder asking the questions and Mitali answering.
"This album is not just an offer to the traditional connoisseurs of ghazals, but a gift for them in the new millennium", they say.
Though the singers believe in "listening" to enjoy ghazals, they have brought this album on the video format too.
"Visual medium has its own impact, we will agree. And it was necessary from the marketing point of view. But more than anything else, through videos, one can popularise the treasures of ghazals among the MTV generation", says Mitali.
Bhupinder says, "It’s important that the storyline matches the mood of the ghazals. If that is taken care of, then there is no harm in going for the audio-visual combination. Basically, the visuals should be complimentary to the poetry".
Mitali loves to watch romantic movies and also movies with dominant drama element while it is the English action movies that captivate Bhupinder. They also love to read poetry apart from listening to all kinds of songs in various languages. Bhupinder, incidentally, does not listen to other ghazal singers to retain his individuality.
He has also composed music for a few songs. But then, what is more challenging for them — composing or singing to other’s tune?.
"When I am composing, I naturally have a lot of freedom, whereas singing other’s composition is a greater challenge", Bhupinder says.
And, what do they prefer — singing live to the audience at the concerts or recording in the studio? the duo’s reply is unanimous — live performances. While it’s the immediate response of the listeners which gives inspiration to Mitali, it the freedom at such renditions which is more satisfying to Bhupinder.
TEJASWANI Kolhapure, the youngest sister of Padmini, is all set to make her film debut in her brother-in-law Tutu Sharma’s production "Paanch".
A rather attractive cross between sisters Shivangi and Padmini, it was just a matter of time before Tejaswani came under the arc lights.
Having a producer at home, was it not a foregone conclusion for Tejaswani that she would be launched by her brother-in-law?
"When I decided I’d like to act, I told Tutu. At around the same time Satish Kaushik was making this serial ‘Mujhe chand chahiye’ and he spoke to Tutu, who in turn told me and I did the role.
"But TV becomes tedious after a time and I knew I did not want to take it as a career," says Tejaswani.
"And Tejaswani cannot be made to do anything she doesn’t want to," grins her sister Padmini.
"Even as a child she was so stubborn that we had to make her do things by telling her not to do them. If we wanted her to eat we’d say don’t eat food today and she’d scream I will eat.
"So we had to manipulate her all the time — we’d say don’t take bath today and she’d run and take a bath out of sheer fury," Padmini recalls.
There is a large age gap between Tejaswani and elder sisters Shivangi and Padmini, who treated her like a toy. One of their favourite pastimes was to put her in the lift of their building with Shivangi on the upper floor and Padmini on the ground one. They would keep pressing the lift button both ways so that she would be going up and down without being able to get out.
"She’d holler and then we’d take her out and pacify her," Padmini says, adding "I don’t know why we did it, but she was so stubborn that her stubbornness used to get to us."
Teju, as she is called by friends, laughs "Padmini is like a worried mother... Shivangi on the other hand empathises much more with my desires. So if it’s advice I want to hear, I go to Shivangi, but if it’s advice that is going to do me good I go to Pandi."
Both sisters treat Tejaswani as a daughter because of a huge age gap and she does not even remember Padmini’s peak period as an actress. "All I do recall is that I shared a room with her which she didn’t like at all. She used to be mean to me and pinch me and never tell me anything," grumbles Tejaswani but good-naturedly.
She recalls that once she insisted on going with Padmini to a film party and a howling Teju had her way with her mother intervening.
Midway through the party at Searock Hotel, Padmini slipped away and met Tutu.
"I didn’t know who this guy was and the two of them were talking nineteen to the dozen. They bought me a hamburger and ignored me — and a very bad hamburger too. And I decided that it was Tutu’s fault that it was so bad. It was after a long time that I figured out that they were meeting secretly," says Tejaswani. PTI
The selling of Michael Jackson ?
DOES Michael Jackson still have it? The company behind a new push to sell the self-styled “King of Pop” is betting fans will ignore the lurid headlines of the past decade and flock to buy his new album and all kinds of things imprinted with Jackson’s name and image. But some in the licensing and music industries think it will be a struggle for “Michael” to regain the lustre that had him towering over teen stardom during the Reagan years.
In the short-lived world of pop, you are either hot or not, and insiders say backing Jackson to make a big US chart comeback is a gamble — though the payoff could be megabucks.
Health of the nation
THIS column will appear a few days after Independence Day and, as is customary, we tend to take stock of all things the nation is expected to be proud of (DD’s commentators really go to town from the Red Fort), do a little grumbling about the many chronic ills that dog this nation and then sit back and carry on with the media. To be quite truthful, there is very little innovative or new that has excited us on the media, except a little upsurge on the part of radio (FM channels looking up), KBC and its not-so-successful copy-cats ( which is now old hat), "saas-bahu" soaps interspersed with modern women straining at the leash over marital problems, the controversies over coverage of the Agra summit, and what else is there to write about?
Well, I intend to go off-beat and write about something which has been bothering very much TV watchers who have seen some very disturbing visuals and such Indians as have access to news from anywhere., which one can roughly describe as the way we treat our fellow citizens who are ill or in need of food.
There was the horrifying story of starving villagers in Orissa eating a paste made from mango seed and dying as a result of poisoning. The officials who were asked why people should die of starvation when there was so much surplus wheat in our godowns, really had no answers except bureaucratic and political waffling. And the Chief Minister of Orissa is my author friend Navin Patnaik, who has written, ironically, a book on "The Healing Plants of India" under the publishing inspiration of Jacqueline Kennedy. He should send some vital foodgrains as well as healing plants to the starving poor of Orissa, reduced to eating inedible seeds and dying as a result. This is what the immediacy of public service TV is about, the right to information and public exposure of callous officialdom.
Then, the horrifying visuals of mentally ill people discarded by their families and chained by their hands and feet by so-called people of faith. The cruel end of those who were charred to death alive as they were chained and could not free themselves. What worse comment could there be on the conscience of a nation that allows such things to happen and what a blot on our society!
The TV exposes were the most graphic of all and if they lead to any drastic remedies, TV, radio and the press would have performed a vital public duty. But one remains pessimistic - the way exposes take place in full public view, outrage is expressed by all concerned, the authorities promise to do something about it, and after a time all is forgotten.
Then there was Rajdeep Sardesai’s "The Big Fight" week-end programme about the cancer patient experiments scandal in Kerala, which has assumed international dimensions. This was one of the finest programmes I have seen in a long while, because the quality of the panel raised the quality of the debate Dr C.P. Thakur, Minister of Health, unlike most politicians, seemed to respond first as a professional doctor and then as a politician, his exchanges with gastroenterelogist Dr Samiran Nundy were as between colleagues who know each other’s work and respect each other, Dr C.N. Gulati of the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities was armed with formidable facts and figures, while Dr. C.R. Soman, Chairman of the NGO, Health Action by People, from Kerala where the controversy originated, added his first-hand knowledge and expertise to those of the others.
The discussion was conducted on a highly responsible and documented level, while searching and equally well-informed questions from participants like correspondent Pallava Bagla of Science, USA added to the practical and moral issues raised by the debate. This, again, is what TV debates are about, discussing public issues threadbare and enlightening citizens about their rights and the ethics involved in medical treatment.
In the context, it is pleasing to find the little snippets about health in the "Aaj Tak" programme "Health Aaj Tak." They consist of brief items on health following the news in which everything is discussed from health food shops to how to take care of various health problems and how to go about it. Very useful for the lay person and going along with the news assured them of a proper look and hearing. Another example of public service broadcasting.