Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Remembering Kishori Amonkar

Posted: April 7, 2017 by moifightclub in music, RIP
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Kishori Amonkar passed away this week. I have a failing (as against passing) knowledge of Hindustani classical music. I have what they call a good ear for music. I can discern a few ragas based on years of listening to few favorite compositions by classical vocalists. And, my one-time obsession of doing well in movie/music quizzes meant I had to know the answer to ‘which raga is this famous Hindi film song based on’ kind of questions that usually came my way. Within this limited repertoire of my classical Hindustani musical knowledge, however, I can safely say I must have listened to Kishori Amonkar for a couple of thousand hours over the years.

How it started is a story by itself.

I must have been about 11 years old when a boy named Kishore, who was about 3 years older, entered our friend circle. Or, to be more precise, our circles merged. Over months of playing cricket, football and generally wasting time together, some of the older boys in the group started calling him Kishori. I duly followed suit. On enquiring about reasons for this strange name (I had never come across a girl named Kishori), one of the older boys told me about a singer named Kishori Amonkar who occasionally featured on DD. I filed that away in my memory and went on with life. A few years later I was old enough to start buying blank T Series cassettes (Rs 12 for 60 minutes tape) and using the old Philips recorder to tape anything that caught my fancy – songs from Chitrahar, ad jingles and title tracks of TV serials. The idea of recording something was immensely fascinating. And, soon it got out of control. I’d use the same cassette to record things over and over again – news, cricket commentary, Meryl Streep’s Race to Save the Planet and everything in between.

One late Monday evening I sat with the recorder while the weekly staple – Sangeet Ka Akhil Bhartiya Karyakram – came on. Normally, I would switch off at this time and go to bed. But then the announcer mentioned the name of the artist for that evening – Kishori Amonkar. Well, I stayed back and decided to record it. I didn’t care much about what was played that evening but I recorded about 25 minutes of her signing. My summer vacations soon began and on afternoons when there was no one to play I would listen to the tapes. Since I was being indiscriminate in listening to anything that was there on them, I didn’t forward any tracks. And, so I heard Kishori Amonkar many a times over that month. In May that year, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. The state mourning that followed meant there was nothing on DD except classical music. And, there again was Kishori Amonkar. I watched her sing and what impressed me more was her persona. She had a presence; a certain magnetism that reached out to you despite your complete ignorance of her craft.

Over the next decade I kept that cassette and heard those tracks many times over especially during late evenings in solitude. There was almost a pattern in a certain year in the 90s where I would play Maya Memsaab, Libaas and Kishori Amonkar in that order before going to sleep. One fine day (or evening) the cassette gave away; the tape came out of the cassette while the song was playing and was completely mangled. From then on I listened to her sporadically. I never got myself to buy a CD of her songs. I attended a SPIC MACAY event in late 90s where I heard her sing and I came away with a sense of satisfaction of having heard a legend. That was it.

Only a few years back while scouring through Youtube, I came across a whole treasure trove of Kishori Amonkar songs. In them I found the two compositions that I had on my cassette. They weren’t the exact recordings but it was the same composition. I also learnt why one of those songs felt so right listening to them in the evening. It was Raag Bhoop – a raag to be played in the first ‘pahar’ of the night. I heard them on Wednesday evening when I heard she was no more. I have linked them here.

I was happy to note the next day she was given a state funeral by the Maharashtra Government. Maybe she deserved a bigger honour. But I’m happy that a city like Mumbai still maintains its respect for its true legends. In times when we seem ever so keen on reviving our cultural identity and nationalism, I’d think Kishori Amonkar and her legacy are true representation of what’s great about our culture. That’s what needs protection and nurturing. And, keeping that alive wouldn’t need any vigilantism. It would only need a keen ear and an open heart.

Subrat Mohanty

Exclusive preview to biggest and deepest Hindi film number of 2017.
(And it’s only February now!)

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to and rate some of the best songs of 2016 (more about it in a different post). The one thing that struck me about lyrics of many songs was the rampant fake Sufism, faux Punjabiyat and false soulfulness running through them. There seems to be a random Sufi song generator app that lyricists have got their paws on.

This has prompted me to pen my own blockbuster Hindi film song for 2017. I mean, why not? I too have no talent.

This song’s got everything: Amir Khushro, Surdas (why not?), Peer Meher Ali Shah (for the undivided Punjab diaspora), Rahim (Why Kabir everytime?) and Surdas again (making up years of neglect). I have written the song below in Devanagari and provided some context to the lyrics to give you a sense of the ‘depth’ of this song.

This is the song that 2017 has been waiting for. Please spread this far and wide and help me turn into a Hindi film lyricist. 2017 will be poorer without this.

My wishlist for this blockbuster:

Composer: Pritam or anyone who needs a hit
Singers: Arijit Singh, Kavita Seth, Nooran Sisters, Mame Khan, Jasleen Royal, Benny Dayal, Shillong Choir
Picturised on: Ranbeer Kapoor /Salman Khan / Siddharth Malhotra with Alia Bhatt / Deepika / Kangana Ranaut chipping in. Though I won’t mind Chunky Pandey singing this in Sajid Khan’s next
Situation: Heartbreak song that plays randomly through the movie in surprising upbeat fashion. The Surdas elements play out to hiphop beats at nightclubs

अरब यार तोरी बसंत मनायो
सदा रखिए लाल गुलाल
हज़रत ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल
खेलिए धमाल, धमाल, धमाल

The song starts off with Amir Khushro’s lines thereby immediately establishing its depth. Plus, we get Khwaja which is necessary. And, most importantly, a hook – dhamaal, dhamaal. It can’t get better. Wait, it can if you get Mame Khan Manganiyar to start this in a full-throated way.

What do these lines mean?
Just focus on dhamaal.

दिल इज़्तिरार, दिल इज़्तिरार,
है बेक़रार, है बेक़रार,
मुंतज़िर है तेरा, तू है मेरा,
चाँद को डाले जेब में, घूमे दर-ब-दर,
सब को नकार, ख़ुद को नकार
Now we get into my original song writing territory. What I have done, cleverly, is to bring some heavy-lifting Urdu words that rhyme. Look up their meaning on the web since I too didn’t know them till this morning. But they all make sense. Then, I swerve into Gulzar territory by putting the “Chaand” in the “Jeb” and round it up with a self destructive idiom (Khud Ko Nakaar). We will have Arijit Singh sing these lines in his usual short-of-breath, deep in pain but soul-less way. I can almost picture Ranbir Kapoor running the streets of London, colliding with assorted NRIs while these words ring away in the background.

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

This is to be sung in chorus by Shillong Choir. See, the value of picking that dhamaal hook!

हरी ना मिले माइ जनम, ऐसे ही लाग्यो जान
जोवति मघ बासर निसि, जात जुग समान
चात्रिग पिक बचन सषी, सुने न परत कान

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold! Surdas makes an entry into Hindi film songs with these words of ‘birah’. Kavita Seth to sing this while Alia Bhatt is downing tequila shots at a LA bar.

यह वस्ल मेरा कब से मुसलसल,
बेबाक़ आरज़ू मेरी कब हो मुकम्मल,
तुझ से कुरबत चाहे, तेरा सुकून चाहे,
दिल की दराज़ में है रखे ख़ाक तेरे प्यार के,
सीने में है उठाए दर्द-ए-सकल

Back to my original lyrics territory! These lines are actually quite good. Benny Dayal can sing them normally and then do a little rap jig with them.

किथे मेहेर अली, किथे तेरी सना,
ग़ुस्ताख़ अँखियाँ किथे जा अदियाँ,
अज सिक मित्रां दी वधेरिए,
क्यूँ दिलरी उदास घनेरिए?

Pir Meher Ali Shah comes in to play now. The theme is separation as it has been through the song. But this could be interpreted as separation from the motherland at the diaspora level. The punjabiyat of the lines make them perfect for Nooran sisters to croon their hearts out.

लकीरों से कर चला हूँ मैं शिकायत,
सरफिरा मलँग हूँ ना मानु मैं हिदायत,
(ज्यों नाचत कठपुतरी, करम नचावत गात,
अपने हाथ रहीम ज्यों, नहीं अपने हाथ)
उड़ गया है परिंदा बाग़बान छोड़के,
हाथों से अपनी क़िस्मतों की ज़ंजीरें तोड़के,
ख़ुद की कही को कर चला हूँ मैं रवायत

Again, my original lines but in Amitabh Bhattacharya (AB) mould this time. Because my aim in life is to be poor man’s AB. There is enough parinde, baaghban etc to fool you into believing this is AB.

But note my subversion. In between (in brackets) I have incorporated a Rahim doha. Just to maintain the cosmic balance from overuse of Kabir dohas. That doha is perfect for Jasleen Royal to sing in a breathless, hurtful manner. All other AB like lines are perfect for Arijit Singh to cry his heart out.

जा दिन तें नैननी अंतर भय
अनुदिन मुश बाढ़ी अति बारि
मनहु सूर है सुभग सरोवर
उमगि चले मरजाद उदारि

Back to the criminally neglected Surdas with Benny Dayal this time rapping on them. Alia Bhatt tequila shots continue unabated.

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

Close the song out with unlimited repeat of these lines; all building into a crescendo of the kind that will have you imagine Sufi dervishes whirling away like Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar. Bring back Mame Khan for this.

There you have it. The perfect 2017 blockbuster number.

I have put the whole song together below for you to consume in how God meant it to be consumed.

अरब यार तोरी बसंत मनायो
सदा रखिए लाल गुलाल
हज़रत ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल
खेलिए धमाल, धमाल, धमाल

दिल इज़्तिरार, दिल इज़्तिरार,
है बेक़रार, है बेक़रार,
मुंतज़िर है तेरा, तू है मेरा,
चाँद को डाले जेब में, घूमे दर-ब-दर,
सब को नकार, ख़ुद को नकार

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

हरी ना मिले माइ जनम, ऐसे ही लाग्यो जान
जोवति मघ बासर निसि, जात जुग समान
चात्रिग पिक बचन सषी, सुने न परत कान

यह वस्ल मेरा कब से मुसलसल,
बेबाक़ आरज़ू मेरी कब हो मुकम्मल,
तुझ से कुरबत चाहे, तेरा सुकून चाहे,
दिल की दराज़ में है रखे ख़ाक तेरे प्यार के,
सीने में है उठाए दर्द-ए-सकल

किथे मेहेर अली, किथे तेरी सना,
ग़ुस्ताख़ अँखियाँ किथे जा अदियाँ,
अज सिक मित्रां दी वधेरिए,
क्यूँ दिलरी उदास घनेरिए?

लकीरों से कर चला हूँ मैं शिकायत,
सरफिरा मलँग हूँ ना मानु मैं हिदायत,
(ज्यों नाचत कठपुतरी, करम नचावत गात,
अपने हाथ रहीम ज्यों, नहीं अपने हाथ)
उड़ गया है परिंदा बाग़बान छोड़के,
हाथों से अपनी क़िस्मतों की ज़ंजीरें तोड़के,
ख़ुद की कही को कर चला हूँ मैं रवायत

जा दिन तें नैननी अंतर भय
अनुदिन मुश बाढ़ी अति बारि
मनहु सूर है सुभग सरोवर
उमगि चले मरजाद उदारि

दिल मचाये यह बवाल, यह बवाल
ख्वाजा संग खेलिए धमाल, धमाल

– Subrat Mohanty

The list might include some songs that some of us might have heard earlier. Pardon me for my late discovery. As the saying goes, a thing of beauty is joy forever. So here goes the playlist. If you want to read, then scroll down, else just play it and let us know what you think of it.

Dhafer Youssef is a Tunisian composer and after coming across his performance in Bombay (recorded by a dear friend and shared with me), I have been itching to tell the world about him. If you haven’t heard his earthy tunes, I suggest you head straight to his Youtube account. I have included a 4 year old clip in the playlist. Trust me, his work is much wider than what you will see in this playlist.

The sun won’t set (Anoushka Shankar – Norah Jones)Although the entire album (Traces of you) is brilliant, this song somehow did the trick for me. Norah Jones and Anoushka’s Sitar have such a musical symmetry to it. Ravi in Hindi means Sun. The song is an obvious tribute to their father and a classic one at that.

Bajre da sita (Neha Bhasin)Much before we came across her splendid version of jag ghumeya, Neha came out with this beautiful interpretation of a folk song. Easily one of the most promising voices we have today. Hats off to the light arrangement by Sameer Uddin as well.

Ismail Ka Urdu SheherIs a Sci-fi comic conceptualized by Zohaib Kazi. He penned and composed the music for his comic (yes! music for his comic) which was breathtakingly good to put it mildly. You can read our recco post on the same here. The album has artists like Sara Haider, Zoe Viccaji, Jaffer ali Zaidi, Omran shafique, Samra khan and Nida Khurram. Do pick this one up. Easily the find of the year. There is a distinct feeling of a free fall in what Zohaib does, and I love it! (Fun fact – The last song in the playlist is also composed by Zohaib and it came out 4 years ago. check it!).

AsWeKeepSearchingI am late to discover this band and even though we have put the link to their song called ‘tattva‘ (which came out in 2013), I strongly urge you to check their album titled Khwaab. The entire album is here. Search the song titled ‘Other side’ and melt away. We are looking at you people @Aswekeepsearching, give us more!

Ahesta bero (Ahmad Wali) – Essentially a wedding song. The understated singing and the simple 90s like arrangement of the song is heartwarming to say the least. Heart aches if you hear it and think about what has happened in that region.

Sunoh Shilpa Rao – While private albums aren’t topping the agenda of artists these days, it was heartening to see Kailash kher, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Javed Bashir, Monica Dogra (really?) and few others come out with theirs. I loved the mood of this album by Shilpa Rao, and in spite of the fact that my favorite song from the album (Ka karu sajni) doesn’t have a music video right now, the one you will see in the playlist is equally good.

Gerua/Kabira cover medley (Bryden-Parth feat. The choral riff) – Rarely have I come across a remix/re-imagined version of a song that can make the original pale in comparison. The simplicity of this mash-up made me love Gerua and Kabira.

Maya (Bipul Chhetri) – We are so happy we discovered his work sometime back and this year he gave us another stunner of an album. Do check his work out and you can buy his album from oklisten dot com.

Ae ri sakhi morey (Papon) –  In what would be yet another good album this year that was titled The story so far, Papon gave this ethereal tribute to a timeless composition in his own honey dipped style of singing. We loved it, hope you do so too!

Nawazishein  (Shuja Haider) – Discovered this song thanks to this season of Coke Studio Pakistan. Some found it terribly low on energy, some loved the helplessness in the singing. Depends which side of life you are when you play this, but do play this once, for no matter where you are, you might just end up humming Kaneezein hain…

Coke Sudio 9 – This year, Coke Studio Pakistan experimented with multiple composers and giving them company were disco lights that went haywire on their own will. It was a weak season but left us with some gems, like always. We have reviewed the season here and have included 4 best songs of the season in the playlist. Hear the soothing lullaby vocals of Ali, the reincarnation of a timeless classic by Momina and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, The rock solid combo of Saein Zahoor and Sanam Marvi, and the ever so moving Abida Parveen, who, according to me, sang the song of the season. Do check out the full playlist at the link above as well.

Tu mera nahi – Nescafe Basement (Xulfi) – Nescafe basement has been doing some really exciting work off late. Still this gem from season 4 leaves me teary eyed every time I listen to it. Great arrangement, killer flute, lovely execution and so much pain!

Mil ke baithenge + Vanjhali Wala – Angrej (Amrinder Gill) – Yes, I cry when I hear a good song and many a times it has nothing to do with lyrics. Here, however, whatever little I understood, made me waste more and more tissue papers. What a lovely composition. Hear it. Then, when i hear Vanjhali Wala, it makes me smile as it reminded me of a certain Coke studio (Pak) song that we have featured here. Delightful Amrinder!

Swahh bann ke – Punjab 1984 (Diljit Dosanjh) – Diljit Dosanjh has sensibilities that can outrun most thinking actors of today, and a voice that can melt stones. With this song, he politely pointed out that he is just not ‘bruaaaaah’ singer. Quite simply my favourite song from him, so far. Yes, it is a sad song. No, you don’t want to know the meaning of it, trust me on that.

Yad laglaSairat (Ajay Gogavle) – Well, to state the obvious, it doesn’t matter whether you listen to this song on V-Moda headphones or on a bad quality tweeter speaker, you cannot stop yourself from dancing. The sheer force of love and melody when combined sound exactly like this. We loved this album, as you can read here, but this remains the pick for me. Ajay-Atul, you sexy sexy people! :*

And that’s it.

Please let us know your picks and discoveries of the year. In addition to the non-bollywood playlist, we are also putting the ‘dinchak-playlist’ which might make you cringe but well, you might want to dance on it anyway. Wishing you a musical new year from all of us here @moifighclub!

Here goes the dinchak list, that contains my 2 favourite Hindi film themes from this year as well. Have fun!

– @Rohwit

adhm

This year was mostly dull, film songs wise. The clutter was celebrated by digging the same old formula to return a fake spectacle of sanitized arrangement, auto-tune overload, and, in most cases zero relevance to the film which the album represented. My ‘top film songs’ are as under. Yes, it features a song from a Sunny Leone film and another song from a film you might not have heard about. These songs remain in my playlist, till today as we close the year.

I would suggest you click the play button and then keep scrolling down to read the post. The songs will play in the sequence you will read about them.

Dug dugi dug (Jugni) Vishal bhardwaj‘s voice, Clinton‘s free flowing composition and Shellee‘s beautiful poetry, all made up for a fantastic song that lasted the whole year in spite of the fact that the film released in January. The album was quite ok but nothing lasted longer than Vishal’s balm of a voice in this song.

Dil mein hua ghotala (Saala Khadoos) – Now I am mindful that there is an ‘original’ of this song in another language, but I don’t think most songs retain their charm when they are reborn as a Hindi film song. Ok jaanu?  That said, the frisky vocals of Monali and the ‘toom toom’ in the song made it impossible for me to take the song off my playlist. Santosh Narayanan gets full marks for using strings which are intertwined beautifully in the song. Monali Thakur, sing more?

Haminastu (Fitoor) – Rarely have I come across a song so beautiful about Kashmir. Tapas’ superlative string play, Zeb‘s spirited singing and Amit Trivedi‘s talent culminated into a magnificent song that will outlast us all.

Bollywood Diaries* – I wish I could write a recco post about this beauty. Oh wait! I did! You can read me raving about the album here. Vipin Patwa‘s music and Dr. Sagar‘s lyrics were beautiful and devastating in equal measure. Hear Titli (By Papon), my pick of this album. It might have escaped your attention but tell me if it doesn’t affect you as a song, as an album. Highly recommended.

Single chal reya haiMohit chauhan got the bhopali accent right and Krsna‘s composition made the song even more adorable. I do suspect that the lyricist Rajshekhar has paid a tribute to Javed Akhtar by mentioning him, subtly. Anyway, the cute song’s high point is – Tu hai ab tak akeli, humko khal reya hai…ha! what fun!

Le chala (One Night Stand) – Jeet Ganguli can melt us with his romantic tune is old news. For One Night Stand (the film), he teamed up with Jubin Nautiyal for a song that deserved much wider audience than it got. This is one of the better penned songs by Manoj Muntashir and even if you are rolling eyes thinking ‘Sunny Leone’s film? really?’, give this song a listen, you will know what I mean. A romantic song, done right.

Waiting* – Mike Mccleary is much more than someone who makes ‘English-type’ songs. He has a distinctive sound and it is time for the ‘gyaani’ mainstream people to fuse his sound with good lyrics. The effect of that would be something to look forward to, just like it was in this album. My pick is tu hai to main hu, of course.

Mehandi (Dhanak) – While the album didn’t set my playlist on fire, this song from Dhanak rocked and how! Tapas Relia‘s earthy fusion and raw singing by Anwar, Swaroop & Niyaz sounded just too good to miss. Do not miss the khadtal all throughout! This is just a glimpse of what we can achieve in bollywood music if our neeyat is at right place.

Udta Punjab* – This album by Amit Trivedi didn’t soar exactly but gave us the delightful Kanika Kapoor in memorable da da dasse, Splendid re-imagination of ik kudi, and my favorite title song of the year – Udta Punjab. Disclaimer – Now the lyricist is somewhat related to our blog, but trust me when I say this – Haven’t heard such wildness in a song this year. Andar da kutta, rifle dikha ke mushayre lutiye forever! Also, fuck disclaimers! Amit trivedi and Vishal dadlani should be fined for sounding this good with a song that has Bakaiti written all over it.

Jag Ghoomeya  (Sultan) – Salman, err! Sultan had some decent tunes to its credit but Neha Bhasin’s affectionately sung version stole my heart and hid it somewhere in those strings that accompany her throughout the song. A song for bonfires and those mushy evenings. Kudos to Vishal-Shekhar and Irshad Kamil as well.

Chu liya (Hai Apna Dil Toh Awara) – We don’t come across such simply composed songs anymore. So kudos to Ajay Singha for creating this song. Papon and Neha Rajpal sound like fragile lovers. (Fun fact – The central riff of this song is pretty similar to Bipul Chettri‘s asaan from the album that we featured here 2 years ago. Still it is a damn good song.)

Mirzya* – If only music could save the fate of a film! I was quick to pronounce Mirzya as the album of the year in my post here and it pretty much remained so till someone else invaded the playlist. More on that later. Mirzya, if not the best, can be surely called as the most experimental album of the year. We have included the title song of the film in the playlist but the entire album remains our favorite.

Dariya (Baar Baar Dekho) – Granted that the song is a case study in excessive auto-tuning, still, I love the way Arko has retained the emotion so well in lyrics and the way he has sang this. Hopelessly in love, flowing like a dariya.

Besabriyan (MSDhoni – The Untold Story) – Amaal- Armaan Malik are good guys but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find out which song of theirs belongs to which album. Still, this gem from ‘Dhoni’ makes me soar the way Udaan‘s music did. Yes, big statement, but Manoj Muntashir has penned a beauty and full marks to Amaal and Armaan for such a fabulous effort.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil* – For me, the album of the year. For me, the album that should get Amitabh Bhattacharya and Pritam all the awards. The way songs came together and helped the narrative was unparalleled this year. Channa mereya is where I have been living since I heard it for the first time, I don’t think I will ever relocate from there. It has a destructive pleasure that lucky few among us have experienced. Give all the awards to Arijit Singh already!

Haanikaarak bapu (Dangal) – While I love Raftaar‘s Dhaakad a lot, I go crazy at the smart lyrics and crisp presentation of this song. Sarwar Khan & Sartaz Khan Barna are such a treat! Also, Amitabh Bhattacharya should be weighed in gold for every word, and the way he has used them here – haanikarak, baapu, torchar, vaahanchalak, mogambo, khalnayak…wooot! Total riot.

This does it! Yes, this year had Mr. Rahman coming out with an inconsequential album that neither sounded true to its time nor the present. This year also had Neerja which fit the film well but sadly didn’t stay in my playlist beyond the film’s release and stay in theaters. We had almost Sanam Re which was almost instructive in telling us not to expect much from the songs as it is. Then we had embarrassing attempts like Zubaan, Terra Surrooor, Fever and so on.

That said, we have a ‘Dhinchak Bollywood’ playlist as well that we will share in our post about the non-film songs of the year. Till then, share your favorites and let us know what you think of this playlist.

Rohwit

(* signifies that I liked the entire album but in the interest of keeping the post shorter than an Ashutosh Gowarikar film, I had to pick one song)

The Humma Song vs Humma Humma of 90s

Posted: December 20, 2016 by moifightclub in music
Tags: , , ,

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Humma Humma, Bombay (1994) – Constrained spaces, two lovers unsure of what they have got into and where they have landed. A Muslim girl who has come to a strange place with a Hindu boy. She does not see the familiar green fields in this big city that does not allow one inch of privacy. Here they cannot hug and perhaps steal a kiss without a bunch of eyes looking at them.

Cut to – night. Hormonally charged souls moving around and somehow the constrained space becomes a propeller rather than a deterrent. And then they hear a celebration where a viking and a beautiful lass indulge in a musical foreplay and mind you, the girl is not singing. Her moves are not fake; they don’t need her to wear shorts.  She can make you pant just by exchanging a look with you. The man has to woo her, so the man tries. There is not a hint of ‘hotness’ in the voice of Remo Fernandes. What you hear is pure energy that isn’t auto-tuned or sanitized to sound just perfect in the earphones. This song is for big bad music systems, where the sound will hit your heart in a way you will feel you are getting a heart attack and you thank God when the song ends, because you will rewind and wait for the ‘dhichak dhichak dhik dhik aah‘ that launches you into space and you feel like you haven’t felt before, perhaps like when you felt someone you love for the first time, breathing out on your neck.

The Humma Song, Ok Jaanu (2016) – Cut to an India where a young couple cruising around on a bike, where the guy is not applying brakes ‘strategically’ so that he could feel his pillion’s body against him. The pillion is already ‘one’ with the rider. They do the snake-moves driving instead. Why? ‘We float-on-the-road-babeh’ that’s why! Meeting and finding a place for meeting isn’t a cause of worry.

We aren’t in a dim lit room, our rooms have mood lighting. The song isn’t humma humma, it is The Humma Song. The sense of occasion and anticipation is moaning from the title of the song. It is 2017, the man needs to be wooed too, so the woman sings as well. She has to. It is not a bad thing, Shashaa Tirupati is brilliant. The song starts too self-aware; there is an excellently written rap portion which perhaps captures the mood of the original song to the T. The only time the shehnai sounds like lovers climaxing is when the rap ends and leads you right to it. There is greater bass; this one is for the headphones of smart-phones. This one is for the silent clubs in London. No-one has run away from their village, no one is dying to ‘do it’, they want to do it right. Of course they love each other; their filter-rich Instagram will have you believe that. They might not have the sexual energy of Manisha-Arvind which was more driven because the couple reached a place of certainty from an uncertain past, but what Shraddha-Aditya have is a surety about how their love will be expressed in that place where they don’t have to ‘steal’ a kiss or a hug.

It is easy to chug the new one away saying the earlier one was a classic and frankly if that would have been a way of life, we would have never heard Indian classical music’s gift to us that is called a Thumri. We re-create, we laugh at purists, for they don’t know the delicious taste of fusion. Is all this wrong? No, it is just the spirit of times where we now exist. If we oldies are unable to search chemistry in them, may be we should stop looking at the The Humma Song and look at Humma Humma again, because while the latter had liberation written all over it and the former has self-aware celebration tattooed on its neck. Both are fine. Let us leave it at that.

The Humma Song is targeted at the generation that has grown up listening to and watching Humma Humma on Boogie Woogie and other dance shows. This was all much before they were hit by the highs of wifi, 1080p videos. Post-wifi the world spiraled down to booze parties with songs and gentle gyration to the tunes of Humma Humma and other such songs. The way you hear Jubin hum The Humma Song is a perfect example of that. Booze parties or not, we need just the right amount of thrust to float and while we are at it, a new video with fresh colors and high resolution won’t harm either. The old one, till the last I checked looks pixelated on all YouTube channels it is available.

Finally (and this is where my music reviewing is coming in the way), let us look at the composer of the song. He had a promising future at the time when the song came out. He had to prove himself with every beat that made way from his studio to the music stores that the promise bestowed on him was right. He is comfortable now. What did you expect? Same energy? Na! This is a self-assured way of showcasing to ‘YOLO’ folks – “Look, I can be hip too!”

Personally, I would take raw, unfiltered energy any day, to carefully constructed noise. Passion is best expressed uninhibited, where you break a glass or two while you are at it, forget the mess it will create. Let me rewind (not ‘repeat’) Humma Humma, but I won’t judge you if you like The Humma Song, in fact I would try and hum the song like Jubin, as I sit and reminisce about how The Humma Song would look like with the visuals of Humma humma, isn’t that lovely?

Rohwit

(P.S. – I still haven’t seen the video, I would like to see it when the film comes out to find out if it fits the narrative like those baggie pants of 1990s or does it look super chic like ‘tights’ we see today. Both are fine, been there did that)

Best Of Coke Studio-9 : Round-Up + Playlist

Posted: September 28, 2016 by moifightclub in music, Music Recco, Music review
Tags: ,

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Coke Studio 9 has come to an end. The experiment of bringing six music directors (while Strings remained Producers) was presented a bit differently than the Indian version. Here, we bombard a music director’s entire set at one go. Pakistan version composed an episode with a single song from every composer. In the order in which the songs appeared, here goes the list of my favourite tracks from this season.

Scroll down to the end of the post for the youtube playlist. So this is the way we do it – start the playlist, listen to the songs and then start reading the post.

Jaanay na tu – To me, this remains one of the best songs I came across this year and not just in Coke Studio. There is not a single fault a nit picker like me could find. The sincerity of Ali Khan is matched by a tune that changes towards the end and with such subtlety that you would probably not notice it at all. It infects you nevertheless. I loved the texture of Ali’s voice and the range that he explored. Not every song needs to bring the house down, some can lull you to sleep with a smile on your lips. This one, does just that.

Aafreen aafreen – Re-imagining classics is something that CS-Pakistan does rather well. So when they picked up this song and turned the tune by its head, it didn’t please a lot of people.I have a theory that if you cannot play and manipulate ‘classics’, then they would never be explored by the current generation who is rightfully bent on better acoustics and ‘clear’ sound. So when Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Momina sat down with a soothing guitar by the side and an ethereal tune for company, it sounded good. The ganpati pandal right next to my apartment was playing this non-stop. Now, ask yourself, would they have played the original (which remains a classic and my absolute favorite) with such fervour? Oh, and too much respect for Javed Akhtar sahab. You listen to this alone and you blush, what a feat to achieve, sir. Thank you, for the song!

Maula-e-kullThe powerful voice of Abida Parveen is best left with minimal arrangement so that we can all connect with ourselves in her characteristic long taans and powerful rendition. That is exactly what Shani Arshad cleverly did here. With a running time of approx. 10 minutes, you are guaranteed to be transported in the space where only the supreme devotion exists, i swear I was in that space. I strongly urge you to explore this and wait till the song changes its pace, it will sit in you ‘run’ playlist, I bet. My pick of the season.

Khaki Banda –  This power packed song by Umair and Ahmed Jehanzeb pretty much did its job well. The lyrics were sharp, piercing and a commentary on the state of us humans that hasn’t changed since ages. Just listen to Ahmed towards the end (karda phirey part) and then quietly go and listen to this song which he sang long time back that pretty much besotted all of us. The man has got range and sur.

Dilruba na raziWhat’s a Coke Studio season without a good Pashtu fused song? While I did have issues with the arrangement, Zeb’s beautiful singing and Faakhir’s energy ensured I start swaying even though I was frowning. What can you do when Ustad Tanweer is hell bent on getting us all dance-y? Super effort!

Ala baali – Fantastic percussions are a given with CS-Pakistan. This season, however, it was a task to keep the sound from overpowering the vocals. Nirmal Roy and Jabar Abbas were clearly audible and were amazing to say the least. Doesn’t Jabbar sound like a soothing Sukhwinder? That ‘habibi’ vibe was tantalising and the Bulleh shah part grows on you as well, a pretty pretty song!

Aaya lariye – Granted that this song is quite distracting with lighting all over the place. Still, I picked this one up because it touches an oft ignored genre. Rufi was superlative and Meesha was naughty, and God those ‘jijja’ calls were infectious! The brass band (from M-Audio keyboard) played a key part in lending a celebratory character to the song.

Shamaan pai gaiyaan/kee dam da bharosa – Kashif, who is the runner up of Pakistani Idol  2013, has a voice that is soothing, and thankfully the song he was given exploits this trait very well. When he goes ‘haar ke baye gaiyyan’, he means it because it pinches your heart as well. That said, Rachel enters like a diva with a call that is measured, painful and malicious. Don’t miss the way Rachel swoops in at 5:24 in the song along with the electrical guitar and changes the mood of the song. Pain, Malice and Melody…perfectly mixed.

Main rastaThe only song of Noori in the list and the one that wasn’t trying too hard to be everything to everyone. I absolutely loved the funk of the song and the way entire house came around was a treat to see and hear. Junaid has a natural ‘chest’ voice and he uses it well and Momina, well she was quite good here as well.

Lagi bina/Chal mele nu chaliyeThere are artists that made us Indians sit up and take notice of Coke Studio Pakistan. Saein Zahoor and Sanam Marvi top that list. This soulful song saw both of them collaborate and boy did it work! We hear songs where they say Bulleh Shah danced, I think Bulleh Shah danced because he heard Zahoor sing. Do check this one out!

Nawazishein/Tera wo pyarWhen Shuja Haider fused his two songs (which you can hear here and here) asking Asim and Momina to do the honors, we got a soulful romantic song that might be accused of being too mushy, but hey! If we can hear a ‘typical one sided lover song from Bhatts’ filmed on Ranbir Kapoor and go all weak in the knees, this one deserves a listen and a repeat one at that. The string section of this song is where magic happens in addition to pretty much everything that contributed to the song.

Tu Kuja mann kujaIn this remarkable song, we saw Rafaqat Ali Khan sahab with Shiraz Uppal and lovely humnawas sway us the way only pure devotion can. I think this was Shiraz’s best composition of the season.

Nimma nimmaSabir Zafar’s words are matched by the vulnerable vocals of Shani Arshad, who has also composed this song. With Coke Studio-Pakistan, touching varied genres are a given and this one is a call to mother and a very melodious one at that.

Rang – Amjad Sabri’s last outing that was complimented exquisitely by Rahat Fateh ali khan and humnawas. The highlight would always remain the ‘allah’ call by Sabri that used to be a Sabri signature in their days.

Observations  – Somehow, I got a feeling that everyone was trying too hard to give it all. Hire an exotic instrument, get a good singer, and let us all do this together. The cohesive sound was totally missing from this season and after a stellar season 8, it hurt a lot. That and those distracting lights. If you hire a group of chimpanzees and give them laser pointers, they would do a better job than what studio did this time round. It *is* important because Coke Studio is as much a video property as audio. So spare me ‘focus-on-music’ argument. Look at how the studio evolved from season 1 (where one could see cameraman running all over) and you would understand how the visual theatrics were never a part of the studio’s presentation. Subtlety has been forcefully evicted. Noori was probably overwhelmed by the opportunity and wanted to reinforce their presence in almost every song that was given to them. It was quite distracting and put me off. I loved paar channa de but the way Noori made a mess of the song towards the end put me off and it remained a song that you would love humming, but would just like to see it getting over when you hear the Coke Studio Version. Ali Sethi was given just one song, that is wrong on so many levels!

Applause – The biggest plus was the new backup vocalists and we saw them being put to good use. In fact, one of the reasons of picking nimma nimma was the way Shahab Hussain participated in the song, enveloping the feel so well. Hussain was one of the backup vocalists of the season. Also, I absolutely loved the house-band and guest musicians. It was so nice to see Amir Azhar make a return after we saw him in this song, years ago in the studio. Javed Iqbal sahib was the ‘head’ of string section, and boy, did he make his presence felt! We also liked the varied genres the studio touched, ranging from a  call to the mother, a lover taunting her innocent better half,  to a marriage dance song done just right. All the singers were top class, to say the least. 

Looking ahead – We don’t know what Rohail Hyatt is doing these days but he really needs to be engaged again because the overall vibe of the season wasn’t promising at all. Granted that Strings were splendid in season 8 but they have managed 3 seasons so far and all we remember is  just one out of that.  The cohesive sound, subtlety and experiments Rohail did are sorely missing.

Let us know your favourites!

– Rohwit 

(ps- you can find individual episode reviews on my blog – Almostareview.wordpress.com)

I heard about the tale of Saheba and Mirza for the first time, in my favorite song from Jab Tak Hai Haan – Heer. Guess who wrote that. Now, If the first name they splash on the screen is Gulzar’s, you know the makers are serious about their sh*t. The music of Mirzya is out and while I try hard to keep myself equanimous, pardon me if my feelings jump out of the keyboard and infect you with some enthusiasm and drunken stupor. Read on!

Mirzya

The album contains 15 songs and some are in the form of less than a minute of powerful recitations – composed and voiced by Daler Mehndi. What is clearly a storytelling technique, in these tracks, not only you understand the character, you get a feel of particular situations as well. Take the Yeh wadiyan for example,  the track is screaming ‘flashback flashback!’ But even then you would want to play it again. We get these lines in the title song as well.  In Mirza se darre and Mera mirza sher, the way Daler Mehndi soars, you will have goosebumps, the fearlessness of youth in two lines. What attitude! In Lahoo luhaan – Daler slightly errs in the beginning but paints the gory detail about a bloody fight that went on till the fighter started losing his ‘havaas’.  Even if Punjabi is not your language, fear not – it will make you soar nevertheless because Mehndi does NOT falter in Puchh na pende or Phaa paye nain fact, in the latter, hear how resigned is Daler when he says – Tu phir na jammi, Mirjiya. You feel the pain, you lose hope along with the singer. He has already won. Now, on to the songs of the album..

  • Mirzya – Sain Zahoor does what Sain Zahoor does. He sweeps you off your feet and S.E.L. bombard you with perhaps the most vibrant track of the album. There is a goosebumps gooseFOREST inducing Akhtar Chanal Zahiri as well and if this wasn’t enough, we get the ever so dependable Nooran Sisters and Daler mehndi jazzing things up and all this under 4 minutes. I kid you not, I couldn’t go beyond this track for a while. A bombastic start to the album!
  • Teen Gawaah Hain – Notwithstanding the earthy beginning of the song where we hear Sain Zahoor calling out, the tune of this love ballad reminded me of ‘mere mann ye bata de tu’ from KANK. Having said that, it’s what young love sounds like. A playful guitar stealing a glance while the constant pace eases your mind, making everything dreamy and slow. In antra, hear how Siddhartha leaves the last word of the first line, making you feel his passion. Listen to his ‘khol’ in the line ‘aasman khol ke dekhne do’ and you will know what I mean. A pretty pretty song! (I kept thinking the back up vocalists will break into ‘love will find a way’)
  • Chakora – God only knows why I wanted to talk to my dealer the moment this song started. It is comforting to see Bollywood waking up to Akhtar Chanal Zahiri, and not only that, using him well! Add some trippy beats to his recital or perhaps overlap him while someone is singing and you would probably want to make love to a joint near you. Mame Khan and Suchismita Das lend the ‘bollywood folk’ feel to the tune in their own cute style. Stunning song!
  • Aave re hichki – The opening 37 odd seconds of Esraj (or sarangi), is a class act by S.E.L., not to say that the song isn’t good otherwise. The song has fuses a bit of dervish-like sound on a simple free flowing tune. A minor grouse – You don’t go ‘hitchhh’ when you get ‘hichki’, you go ‘hikkk’. Clearly, Gulzar sahab wasn’t present in the recording.
  • Hota hai – I am sure it is just me but a ‘tun tuna’ start from Nooran Sisters put me off…and then I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri (ACZ) together and it all made sense. The fantastic beat pattern of the song that stops to accommodate Sarangi and meets ACZ’s solid voice is to be heard to be believed. In addition to these powerhouses, I absolutely loved Shankar Mahadevan’s voice towards the end. For the uninitiated, please do check out Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri independently as well. They have brought studios down across the border. The brute force in the song makes you want to break the law, do the impossible and be weirdly proud of it all. A fantastic song by all means and well, I changed my mind. The ‘tun tuna’ is not all that bad afteral…..TRAAA!
  • Ek nadi thee – Thank God someone gave K. Mohan a tune that is not very ‘K Mohan’ if you know what I mean. All his songs have been sounding similar to me lately. This one is a glorious exception. Intimate claps and a bonfire like improv singing (of course with sexy strings) has made this quite a different song from the usual ‘unplugged and reprise’ like songs we come across.
  • Doli re doli – Who in their right mind would do a babul song with a slow jazz like treatment? S.E.L. did it here and boy, does it sound delicious. It has me conflicted whether I am supposed to be sad or happy, and I love the song for that. Clearly an example of what S.E.L. can achieve if the makers are willing to let them be.
  • Kaaga – It is a fine feeling when you see the artists you have been rooting for since long, go ‘mainstream’. I shrieked like a teenager when I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri and here in kaaga, we hear the flawless Kaushiki Chakraborty with breathtaking strings and brass! The sound towards the end of the track can be so easily mistaken for a ‘superhero climax theme’. That said, I wish there is a longer version of this song hiding somewhere because it would be soul satisfying, just like this one is.
  • Mirziya theme – I might not reach out to the theme to play it again and again but I blame songs of the album for that. You are too consumed by the time you reach this track. It fills the album well, is no ‘Udaan theme’ by any measure, but is still good. Sarangi and flute. Enough said.

Most of the film music albums this year have been remarkably impervious to the flow of creativity and freshness. If this album makes you want to stop everyone, and make them listen to this, don’t worry, You are not acting strange. Mirzya’s music is *the* real thing and not an oddity in template infested bollywood that requires quotes around it as if it was a strange thing. I don’t know how the film would be, I don’t care how the film would be. I am just celebrating what would easily be the film music album of the year. This is what fundamentally good things sound like. Hear Hear!!

I wish there was an option to buy an album twice on iTunes!

Rohwit

(PS – To give credit where it’s due, I absolutely love T-series for including the artist credits in the jukebox link. You can access it here)