|ARTS TRIBUNE||Friday, January 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Milan to focus on Punjabi pop
When pop meets classical music
Milan to focus on Punjabi pop
Milan Singh, the versatile and inimitable female singer who can imitate the voice of about 12 major male playback singers of India, feels that though she was not inspired by anybody to jump into the music scene, she believes she was chosen to play the role of a singer by none other than God.
After her long and mysterious hibernation, she is back with a bang.
Recalling her initial foray, she remembers the influence of immortals like Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar that goaded her to taking up singing as a profession. Except my mother, nobody encouraged me to join this male-dominated field or the film industry , which is dominated by politics and nepotism. What inspired me were immortals like Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar and their golden voices," observes Milan Singh.
Soon, the talented girl rose from the small city of Ettawah in Uttar Pradesh to become a national-level celebrity. Today, she is the only singer in India to have the honour of having a road named after her in Ettawah by the UP Government. She has also been conferred the Yash Bharti Award-1994-95.
"Actually, no one had encouraged me to become a singer. It is the sheer blessings of the Almighty that cut a definite role for me in the field of music. And it is He who has been pushing me ahead and bestowing power on me to face numerous problems. Without His help, nobody can be a singer," observed an emotional Milan Singh, in an exclusive interview with this correspondent.
She has great love for Punjab and its people and says, "They are great people and have always showered love on me. They have been coming to see my shows in great strengths. She remembers her show in Jalandhar when people even stood along the road to enjoy her show. Expressing regards for Deepak Jalandhari, a Jalandhar-based publisher-cum-lyricist, who has penned a number of her popular songs , she gushes, "It is due to people like him who have been always encouraging me even when I was in the midst of controversies," said Milan Singh.
She had to remain away from show business for a while following a mobike accident, which had disfigured her face. "But after plastic surgery, I am back, with the same confidence and zeal," asserted the brave Milan Singh.
Nostalgically remembering her mentor Mohammed Rafi , she recalls , "He was always very supportive and it was evident from his wide smiles," said Milan Singh, preferring to talk in Punjabi. "I love singing Punjabi songs. And I always enjoy visiting the Ettawah-based Punjabi family to learn what my fans from Punjab have written for me," she informs. But she has a request to her Punjabi fans: "Write to me in English or Hindi so that I can read myself and replay."
Oozing self-respect and a strict refusal to make compromises, she gives vent to her anger about the music scenarios in the politics-ridden film industry. "People feel that I should beg them. But I will not do that at any cost. It is against my temperament. They have formed many camps and I cannot accept that," she reveals. She , however, derives satisfaction from her belief that her devotion and dedication of music will please God, who would have definitely designed a bigger role for her. "I believe in God and my guruji Ustad Sarvar Hussain and their blessings," said Milan Singh, adding that she would now focus more on the Punjabi pop. "I like it and the people of Punjab."
I must make it clear at the start that I am an absolute dunderhead about economics, business and allied subjects. It is true that it was one of my subjects at the university, but not much seemed to have rubbed off on me afterwards. Which is why I live in absolute awe of Sucheta Dalal, Sunil Jain and to a lesser extent Jairam Ramesh, because Jairam and his wife treated me to a delectable South Indian high tea when he was less famous and they were celebrating something, I hope not his entry into politics. So if I am daring to write about economic and business programmes this week, it is not an assessment of their economic finesse, but of their presentation, anchoring and general professionalism as TV programmes in their own right.
Every channel has strictly business programmes, from durations of half an hour (including advertisements) to 4-5 minute slots in their news bulletins. So anyone who channel surfs is bound to come across them in the process, which is one reason even a non-economic person like me sometimes watches them for the sheer pleasure of their professional presentation.
Let me start with anchors. Top of my list are Chetan Sharma of Star News and Manvi Sinha of the BBC. I can never make up my mind which is better, Sharma’s Hindi or English. He has a very good, deep, soothing voice; he is always relaxed, obviously knows his subject, is known and respected by his interviewees, his language is elegant and he holds your attention without any effort. I had panicked when Manvi vanished off the Star News screen for some time, and relieved when she bobbed up in the BBC’s Business India programme a few days ago, still produced by NDTV. Manvi has the good looks of her grandmother, Tarakeshwari Sinha, one of the first politicians I interviewed as a cub reporter. One of India’s first women ministers in the Central Government Ms Sinha was as well known for her beauty as for her parliamentary appearances. Manvi also radiates charm, but not at the expense of her obvious expertise and she is totally at ease on the screen, does not talk too much, but puts across her views and questions and follow-ups with the economy of words required in a good anchor. Sharma and Manvi are role models for their peers and let me thank them for providing so much viewing pleasure with their programmes and for their sheer professionalism even if their contents are usually above my head.
If I were to be asked to give the booby prize to my worst anchor, it undoubtedly goes to Mr Ranjan (or is it Rajan?) Guha in the programmes produced by him on DD Metro, Business Midweek and Business Week-End. I once described his English accent in this column, when he used to be solo anchor, as Mohan Bagan trying hard to sound like Harvard. Perhaps it was an injustice to Mohan Bagan, which prefers to swear in Bengali even on the football field. I have avoided the programme like the plague since, as it ruins my day, but am told it now has two more anchors. Let us hope they do better.
Confident, but not in the same class on the screen as my two favourite (business) anchors (and I am including Chetan Sharma’s Hindi in case one is accused of a bias for English) are Aaj Tak’s Pranjoy Sharma and Zee’s Kishore Ajwani and Rahul Kanwal. Then there are the economic experts or business wizards, whether in programmes of their own, like Editor T.N. Ninan, who anchors "The Week in Business" on DD on behalf of his company, Business Standard TV, or experts who bob up from time to time like Jairam Ramesh (wish he would revert to a programme of his own and not merely appear in panel discussions) Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, when he is not wearing his several other hats, like his India Talks interview programme on CNBC which ran for something like 1400 episodes.
All channels which are Hong Kong or Singapore-based and not specifically devoted to India used to have mostly Chinese faces with pseudo-American or British accents and just little titbits about India. Now they have learnt their lesson CNBC, which used to be only an elite programme, not only has a programme specifically devoted to India, but actually has a programme in Hindi. So if the Asia business programmes on channels based outside India used to look China-wards and eastwards of India, they have been brought to heel. Because clearly business programmes are big business on TV, including India, and no one can get away with regional bias based on their former imperial preferences.
When pop meets classical music
NACHOON SARI SARI RAAT (Virgin): Shubha Mudgal is creating more waves as a pop diva than she did as a classical singer. Puritans are horrified, but her fans are not. After all, what is wrong if a highly trained and accomplished singer like her indulges in some mainstream crooning?
The important thing to note in this album is that her mastery shines through even in dance numbers like the title song, which has also been made into a video.
Nor is the entire cassette crammed with fast, peppy beats. There are soulful numbers like Tanhaiyee ka safar… which go well past the beaten track. Similarly Soona soona … impresses with its haunting melody.
These eight songs have been composed by Satish Sharma and penned by Dahlia Sen Oberoi and Satish Sharma.
The interesting part is that the "note of thanks" here does not come from Mudgal, but from composer Satish Sharma.
VAASTU (Times Music): Astrology and palmistry have always been in vogue. Suddenly Vaastu has also become a hot seller. This ancient Indian science of architecture or man-made structures claims to be the study of the hidden harmony of nature and environs. It rests on the fundamental premise that the earth is a living organism, out of which other living creatures and organic forms emerge. Vaastu Shastra says that if the structure of your house is so designed that the positive forces override the negative forces, then there is a burst of beneficial release of bio-energy which helps you and your family members to live a happy and healthy life.
This album claims to be for the "samruddhi" and "shanti" of every home. It begins with signature prayer by Pandit Jasraj, followed by Vaastu "stuti" in praise of Vaastu "purush", who was born from the droplets of sweat, which once poured of Lord Shiva.
Ganesh vandana and a shloka are sung in praise of Lord Ganesha before starting the ritual of Vaastu "shuddhi" and "shanti".
The ritual of Vaastu "shuddhi" starts with the "kalash sthapan". Chants are usually recited by a pandit to purify the environment. The instrumentation is kept to the minimum to allow the power of the chants to come through. This is followed by the Shikhyadi-Davata Awahan, which summons all gods to bless the environment.
The ritual proceeds towards conclusion with the Kshama Prarthna, a prayer of forgiveness towards wrongdoing and thereafter asking for Vaastu purush’s blessings. The album ends with the shanti mantra that begins with the sounds of cricket, the ocean and the gong, sounds that are said to be helpful in spreading positive vibrations.
So go ahead and set your dwelling right if you think that is the way to do it.
KYA YEHI PYAAR HAI (Tips): When an audio company produces a film, you can be sure that whatever cinematic merits it may have or not have, music will be the highlight. This endeavour of Tips is bang on target in that field. Sajid Wajid have to their credit some compositions which may not exactly be trendsetters but are packed with vitality.
The album opens with a sweet duet, Meri tarah tum bhi kabhi pyaar kar ke dekho naa…, which will do both Alka Yagnik and Babul Supriyo proud. Dil pe chhane laga hai nasha pyar ka… (Sunidhi Chauhan and KK) has a much faster beat but is not as lively.
Sonu Nigam sings two solos, O mahi ve… and Aashiq hoon… both of which are promising.
Another song that leaves an impression is the qawwali by Iqbal-Afzal, Sabri brothers, Chahaton ki duniya mein dekh aisa hota hai….
Kolkata painters go non-abstract
Artists in Bengal are rediscovering the virtues of being non-abstract, and in their new realisation, they have given rise to a new movement in the Indian art scene called “Figurative Symbolism”. “This is a new development in Bengal art. Artists in Bengal are increasingly becoming more and more non-abstract,” says Arun Ghose, veteran art critic and curator of a recent show of contemporary Bengal art in New Delhi, aptly termed “Figurative Symbolism”. “It is a very ‘Bengali’ phenomenon,” says Ghose. “Seven of the most active painters in Kolkata figure in the exhibition,” he says, adding that it is a big enough number to represent the Kolkata art scene. The seven are Ashok Bhowmick, Kanchan Dasgupta, Biswapti Maiti, Ashoke Mullick, Partha Sarathi, Sekhar Roy and Partha Shaw, with Maiti and Sarathi accompanying the exhibition to the Capital.
“This is a new development in Bengal art. Artists in Bengal are increasingly becoming more and more non-abstract,” says Arun Ghose, veteran art critic and curator of a recent show of contemporary Bengal art in New Delhi, aptly termed “Figurative Symbolism”. “It is a very ‘Bengali’ phenomenon,” says Ghose.
“Seven of the most active painters in Kolkata figure in the exhibition,” he says, adding that it is a big enough number to represent the Kolkata art scene.
The seven are Ashok Bhowmick, Kanchan Dasgupta, Biswapti Maiti, Ashoke Mullick, Partha Sarathi, Sekhar Roy and Partha Shaw, with Maiti and Sarathi accompanying the exhibition to the Capital. PTI