It is S.D.Burman’s birth centenary this year. And www.sdburman.net compiled an awesome evening today, here in Delhi at Sri Sathya Sai Auditorium, Lodhi Road.
Personally, I have attended very few musical shows, primarily because the music that I like is seldom a crowd-puller, and hence commercial organizations avoid it. However, this was a treat compiled by a select group of connoisseurs, and all of it – as Ritu Chandra, one of the co-hosts and co-owner of the site mentioned – voluntary and for immense love for Burmanda’s music. Due to this I was eagerly awaiting the show. And I wasnt disappointed. A labor of love has a fragrance that is as natural and pure as a rose in the garden – with thorns, et al; something that is not found in the ornate bouquets wrapped in plastic films in decorative shops. So was the show fragrant, byouant and vibrant, despite a few hiccups and snags. It was all for the love of music, by lovers of music, for the lovers of music.
On my part I am not a Burmanda fanatic, but I like many of his songs and and can quietly place myself in the ranks of those who respect him a lot. Some of them, especially ones sung by Lataji, are extraordinary.
The chief guest for the evening was famous poet Padmashri Gopal Das Neeraj. Apart from his poems, Neerajji is a reknowned lyricists with hits like ‘Likhe jo khat tujhe’ (Kanyadan/SJ), ‘ Caravan guzar gaya‘ (Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal / Roshan)and ‘Ae bhai zaraa dekh ke chalo’ (Mera Naam Joker/ SJ). With Burmanda, his association is particularly productive and right up there in lyricist-music director associations.
The second guest of honor was Meena Kapur, wife of legendary composer Anil Biswas; but also a singer in her own right. From her ouvre, I am particularly fond of ‘Meri atariya pe kaaga bole‘ from the oldest Aankhen (Madan Mohan’s debut film). Other luminaries included Mrs Basanti Dutta (grand-niece of Burmanda) and Mr. KC Khurana (an elderly emcee who has done several shows with legends like Manna De, etc).
As Sajid, the emcee for the evening, began his narration (using a mix of shudhh Hindi and chaste Urdu) with a famous quote ‘Nashili ki raat hai, saare chiraag gul kardo, khushi ki raat mein kya kaam hai jalnewalon ka’ (incidentally, immortalised as the prelude in Shankar Jaikishan’s breathtaking number ‘Lo aai milan ki raat’ from Aashiq), I settled cozily into my seat to enjoy the evening.
After the lamp-lighting ceremony by Neerajji and an audio-visual documentary on the life of Burmanda, Indraneel Mukherjee’s musical troupe took over the proceedings and unleashed a spew of immortal Burmanda hits. As if to invite the soul of Burmanda, Indraneel began with ‘O Jaane waale ho sake toh laut ke aana’ (Bandini). Indraneel’s voice had a strong Hemant Kumar tinge, and after listening to the number one could imagine how it would have sounded if the said number was sung by him rather than Mukesh, the original singer.
Some songs in this section included: the swaying ‘Yeh raat yeh chandni phir kahan’, the mesmerizing ‘Ab toh hai tumse har khushi apni’, the mischevious ‘Ab ke sajan saawan mein aag lagegi badan mein‘, the romantic ‘Tere mere sapne ab ek rang hai’, the deeply resonating ‘Jalte hai jiske liye teri aankhon ke diye’ and the coy ‘Jaane kya toone kahi’.
[Due to the time constraints, the troupe mix-and-matched full songs and mukhda-one-antara combination]
The evening’s theme was to capture the ‘Navrasas’ in Burmanda’s music. The second section focused on that and began with ‘Shaantras’. Songs in these had the breezy ‘Thandi hawaayen lahrake aayen’ (one of the most copied songs in Bollywood) and my ultimate favorite, Latadi’s ‘Phaili hui hai sapnon ki raahein’.
For ‘Vatsalyaras’ a talented young girl Arundhati Prasad (all of 10 years) danced merrily to Asha Bhonsle’s ‘Chanda mama mere dwaar aana re’.
‘Vibhatsaras’ and ‘Raudraras’ were combined in two back-to-back rousing Sahir numbers from Pyasa – ‘Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahan hai’ and ‘Yeh mehlon yeh taajon yeh takhton ki duniya’.
All this while Sajid interspersed his commentary with anecdotes from Burmanda’s life, either himself or through audio clips of various artistes like Lataji, Ashaji and Hrishida(Mukherjee). For example, Sajid told us how Sahirsaab had written this motivational ghazal full of ‘Veerras’…and what did Burmanda do? He gave it to a club-dancer situation, and the bumper hit innovative number ‘Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le‘ was born.
‘Karunaras’ is a major force in Bollywood cinema. Hence some time was spent on it. Songs included ‘Hum bekhudi mein tujhko pukare chale gaye’ (which was rendered by a 16-year old youngster), one Bengali song and that tearful Ashaji’s minimal-orchestrated number from Bandini – ‘Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya ko babul’
I am sure it will not be very difficult to guess the song that would be an obvious choice for ‘Haasyaras’. But it was singer Sonu’s rendition of ‘Paanch rupayya baarah aana’ which brought in the maximum applause. His yodelling and vocal twists matched Kishore Kumar’s impossibly difficult one. It wasn’t a surprise that the audience greedily demanded for an encore, which the singer obliged by doing another perfect rendition of ‘Haal kaisa hai janaab ka’. This ‘ras’ was rounded off with ‘Achhaji main haari ab maan jaao na’
Since Neerajji was not feeling too bright, his felicitation was pre-poned. This section had four of my most favorite songs – Rangeela re , Phoolon ke rang se , Shokhiyon mein ghola jaaye and Jaise Radha ne maala japi shaam ki … for the last, the audience was so much involved that they requested for the full song to be sung.
Neerajji came to stage amidst thundering claps. He spoke eloquently and said that ‘sam-gat ka matlab sangeet hai‘ – and gave examples of how everything is in harmony in nature itself. He averred ‘Geet hi aadi, geet hi ant, bin geet jeevan marghat samaan’. He also narrated his poem written on the importance of music and song. He also released a commemorative compilation that has articles, filmography and biography of Burmanda.
After the fecilitations, there was a small break for tea (during which Neerajji left) followed by another round of music from Indraneel’s troupe. Some Meena Kapur numbers were the highlight of this section – and these were ones unknown to me as well. A point to note – Meenaji got her break with SD Burman.
More SDB songs followed – the heart-wrenching ‘Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam’, the chirrupy ‘Ae maine kasam lee’ and the soaring ‘Kaali ghata chhaye’. Chaitali Haldar came on stage to dance on Lataji’s classic ‘Piya tose naina laage re’ (original soundtrack played, and my heart swelled with joy). The dance was good, and the song captures ‘Shringarras’ effectively. Another audio-visual on some famous songs and films of SDB followed next.
The grand finale was of course reserved for that song on which the show was named – Lataji’s ‘Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai’ – an ultimate song that manifests feelings of freedom, joy and breaking of shackles! The music of Guide is a remarkable feat, emblazoned boldly in glittering gold in the film music annals – no wonder three songs from this film featured in the show!
During the evening I got acquainted to some numbers I hadnt heard of – Kisi se meri preet lagiyo (Aath Din), Pyara pyara hai sama my dear come to me (Kamal) [both Meena Kapoor numbers], Ae kaash chalte milke (Manzil), Apni toh har aah ek toofan hai (Kala Bazar) and Prem ke pujari hum ke ras ke bhikhari hum (Prem Pujari) – not tough to decipher why I dont know them – none are Latadi numbers!
The auditorium was not large, and hence gave the effect of a quaint sangeet-mehfil. Thankfully, the audience was very receptive and even clapped along in few songs – though, as expected, there were a few rotten apples. For example, the three heavily decked up ladies in the row before me were more interested in waving at one of the singers, who was ostensibly their friend, than in really listening to the music. Their non-stop chatter was off-putting.
This was offset by some such deeply loving fans who had come all the way from Mysore and Bombay to attend the show. I was impressed by Mr Srinivas from Mysore, who was sitting next to me. His knowledge was immense, and he carried a neatly packaged scrap-book on SDB’s life (articles, photos etc). Music is a great unifier indeed…and what better example, than this that the site’s co-owners are gentlemen from Bangladesh and Pakistan!
Alongwith the audience, the troupe was enjoying every minute of the program. And it was clearly visible. The rapport amongst them was great, and Rupendra Shridhar – on keyboard and the conductor as well – could be seen beaming, or playfully reprimanding if something went wrong (e.g. in the number ‘Ab ke sajan saawan mein’ just before the antaras begin, there is a sharp flourish of violins, which the synthesizer player forgot to simulate in time). His entire body-language, as he timed the various artistes/singers, was one who is completely soaked into the proceedings. And the drummer gave some stirring crescendos to a few songs.
There were a few negatives – it started very late, the number of felicitations, bouquet-distribution in the second half were too elongated which unnecessary lengthened the duration, the lady doing Lataji’s song was shrill, a few technical snags in the audio-visual sections, a power cut in between and worse, wrong credits in the audio visual (how could they list ‘Jogi jab se tu aaya mere dwaare’ as Asha’s song!!!!). Also, I wish they had some more real instruments esp. flute (since it was an integral part of Burmanda’s music). As of now, there were three synthesizers, two guitars, saxophone, drums and dholak alongwith a few other percussions.
But then, this was not a professionally organized show. For an amateur and voluntary project, the entire package was slick, sleek and superb!
In all, an evening well spent – and a standing ovation to the organizers. Whereever SDB is today, he would be exceedingly proud to see such fans who compiled and conducted this sort of a magnificent programme, without any greed or ulterior motive…just for the love of his music. That spirit and intent in itself is laudable, and I salute it with my full heart and soul! A tip of the hat to them!