Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tribute to Naushad

One of the greatest composers in Hindi film music just passed away. Naushad Ali was just phenomenal, and as with most of his contemporaries, his songs still have a wide following. Naushad had a special touch. Most of his songs were based on Hindustani classical music; he could compose songs in Hindustani raags without losing their essence so that it appealed to the listener who had no classical background. It is no easy job this. And IMHO, this is what distinguished him from, say, a Madan Mohan or a Shankar-Jaikishan. An equally important contribution of Naushad to film music was the way he handled Mohammad Rafi by tempering his voice, giving us the Rafi who is so irresistable today, and (to a lesser extent) helping Lata Mangeshkar with her Urdu diction, so that she sounds totally authentic. Some might argue that Naushad under-utilized Asha Bhosale, but for hardcore Lata fans like me, that is irrelevant :) When you have Lata, who needs Asha? Naushad is also famous for being in the triad of Naushad (music), Shakeel Badayuni (lyrics) and Rafi (singer), who together have given us many unforgettable songs.

I could go on about Naushad's music, but rather than that, I will pick 10 songs composed by Naushad that are among my favourites, and showcase Naushad's capabilities. Not an easy task at all, considering that huge number of his songs were hits. Bear in mind this is not a top 10, just a set of 10 that I like most, in alphabetical order! (The columns are read as song, film, singer(s), raag)

1) Bekas pe karam kijiye sarkar-e-madina, Mughal-e-Azam, Lata Mangeshkar, Kedara

A wonderful tune that beautifully captures the feeling of Anarkali being imprisoned. Lata's voice is apt here.

2) Ek shahenshah ne banvake haseen Taj Mahal, Leader, Lata/Rafi, Lalit

The tune in this song brilliantly complements the poetic beauty of the Taj. If at all a tune can describe poetry by itself, this has to be it.

3) Guzren hain aaj ishq mein, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Mohd. Rafi, Darvari Kanada

This one ranks in my top three Naushad songs (and top ten of all time). The song is deceptively difficult to sing, mastering all the nuances takes quite some effort. I wonder if anyone other than Rafi could have done justice to this song.

4) Insaaf ka mandir hai yeh, Amar, Mohd. Rafi, Bhairavi

Another Rafi special (as most in this list are). A brilliant example of a Naushad composition, a tune that can appeal to the layman, yet Bhairavi through and through.

5) Madhuban mein radhika nache re, Kohinoor, Mohd. Rafi, Hamir

One of Naushad's most dificult compositions to sing. Yet Rafi manages this effortlessly, and the rest, as they say, is history. Notice how the lyrics mimic the beats of a tabla (or dhol). The best part is, of course, the sitar rendition at the end of the song.

6) Man tarpat hari darshan, Baiju Bawara, Mohd. Rafi, Malkauns

This is the movie that made Rafi a hit among masses. This song gives a clue why.

7) O duniya ke rakhwale, Baiju Bawara, Mohd. Rafi, Darvari Kanada

One of the more obvious compositions in Darvari Kanada, Rafi's entire range was called into play while rendering this song. He goes into a very high pitch at the end of each mukhda, and even higher at the end, making you wonder how he does it.

8) Saawan aaye ya na aaye, Dil Diya Dard Liya, Rafi/Asha, Saarang

Naushad made good use of the contrast between voices of Rafi and Asha in this song. Together they create magic.

9) Yaad mein teri jaag jaag ke hum, Mere Mehboob, Lata/Rafi, Darvari Kanada

Words cannot do justice to the feeling this song gives you. So none are given, just listen to it and you will know.

10) Zindaabaad zindaabad aye mohabbat zindaabaad, Mughal-e-Azam, Mohd. Rafi, Kirvani

One amazing song, as it required Rafi to stretch his vocal cords even more than he did for O duniya ke rakhwale. He starts off at a very high pitch, maintains it, and then goes even higher, so much so that even his voice begins to crack. Naushad probably used his full repertoire of musical tricks in composing this song. Sheer genius.

The sheer beatuty of all these songs comes not only from Naushad's wonderful compositions, but also in the excellence of the singers, who make them seem ridiculously easy to sing. There are many other songs that deserve mention, but I'll stick to this list for now.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Card Trick

Any guesses how he does this?