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.


Gypsy said...

oh man!! naushad is gone?? too sad....i love all his songs...

totaramkiaaatma said...


I have nothing to say about Naushad coz I have not heard much beyond some popular numbers. I read ur piece on India and Indian Ocean. Calling Nehru's policy as ill advised and non alignmet as what led to India's weakness is bit flawed. Nehru came up with non alignment cause we were in no position to call the shots. We were weak. We went with the USSR, that proved that non alignment charade was the moral and not real politik stand of India.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have heard the song "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club but have you ever given much thought to its meaning? While on Earth, you are living in a world of reincarnation which is governed by the law of karma. Karma begins to propel you as Soul on a personal journey through the universe. Karma ends when you have reached enlightenment and fully realise that this physical reality and the Universe itself is just an illusion. When you reach a state of knowingness that there is but One all pervading essence and that essence or consciousness is You!
So what is Karma and how does it work? While in the illusion you have a soul. This soul lives past, present, and future lives. To grow in love, joy, and awareness, you reincarnate into a series of physical bodies to experience different existences. This road leads to the experiences of being both sexes, all races, religions, and ethnic types throughout many lifetimes.
Karma in its simplicist terms can be described by the biblical statement "as you sow, so also shall you reap". Karma is the principle of cause and effect, action and reaction, total cosmic justice and personal responsibility. It brings 'good' experiences as well as 'bad' - a debt must be repaid and a blessing rewarded.
A more indepth esoteric look at karma gives us the following distinctions: Sanchita Karma: the accumulated result of all your actions from all your past lifetimes. This is your total cosmic debt. Every moment of every day either you are adding to it or you are reducing this cosmic debt. Prarabdha Karma: the portion of your "sanchita" karma being worked on in the present life. If you work down your agreed upon debt in this lifetime, then more past debts surface to be worked on. Agami Karma: the portion of actions in the present life that add to your "sanchita" karma. If you fail to work off your debt, then more debts are added to "sanchita" karma and are sent to future lives. Kriyamana Karma: daily, instant karma created in this life that is worked off immediately. These are debts that are created and worked off - ie. you do wrong, you get caught and you spend time in jail.
As a soul, you experience a constant cycle of births and deaths with a series of bodies for the purpose of experiencing this illusionary world gaining spiritual insights into your own true nature until the totality of all experiences show you Who you really are - the I AM! Until you have learned, you will find that pretending that the rules of karma do not exist or trying to escape the consequences of your actions is futile.
Although it may often "feel" like punishment, the purpose of karma is to teach not to punish. Often the way we learn is to endure the same type of suffering that we have inflicted on others and also rexperience circumstances until we learn to change our thinking and attitudes.
We are all here to learn lessons as spiritual beings in human form. These lessons are designed to help us grow into greater levels of love, joy, and awareness. They teach us our true nature of love. Where we do not choose love, show forgiveness, teach tolerance, or display compassion, karma intervenes to put us back on the path of these lessons. Quite simply, the only way to achieve a state of karmic balance is to be love.
Before you incarnated into your present personality, you agreed to put yourself in the path of all that is you need to learn. Once you got here, you agreed to forget this. Karma is impersonal and has the same effect for everyone. It is completely fair in its workings and it is predictable - "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" is a way to ensure peace and tranquillity in your own life as well as the lives of those you come into contact with. The law of karma is predictable - "as you sow, so shall you reap" what is done to you is the net result of what you have done to others!
Karma gives you the opportunity at every moment to become a better person than you are and to open up to the realization that you are the master of your own fate.
The goal of karma is to give you all the experiences that you need to evolve into greater levels of love, joy, awareness, and responsibility. Karma teaches that you are totally responsible for the circumstances of your life. They keep you on the straight and narrow until you have mastered your vehicle and can ride freely on your own. Once you understand that you are the master of your own circumstances and that everything you experience is a direct result of your past actions due to your thinking and emotional responses you can overcome its seeming negative effects by creating only 'good' karma.
Karma forces us to look beyond ourselves (oneness) so that we can see ourselves as we truly are Whole, Complete, at One with everything. Once we truly understand ourselves, we can see our divinity and our unity with all life.
Karma drives us to service. Love means service. Once you accept total responsibility for your life, you see yourself as a soul in service to God. Once you do, you become a fully realized being, allowing God to experience the illusion through you.
Belief in karma and an understanding of its workings will lead you to a life of bliss. Only your own deeds can hinder you. Until the time comes when we release ourselves from our own self-imposed shackles of limitation and fully understand who and what we are we will live under the mantle of karma. So until that day why not create some wonderful experiences for ourselves by "doing onto others, as we would have them do unto us". personal development

Amit said...

Guzare Hain Aaj Ishq Mein Ham Us Maqaam Se.....

Goodbye to a great musician, his soulful music will always be with us and call us forever.

strangely he did not work much with Kishore kumar. Probably because Kishore was never a classically trained musician.


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