Showing posts from October, 2010

A concert and a movie

Hariharan at San Diego

We have not been to too many live concerts, but I have been to ones performed by Yesudas, Chitra, Janaki, MG Sreekumar etc and we have watched a number of others on tape – Ilayaraja, Gangai Amaran, SPB….. So when Hariharan was scheduled to visit nearby San Diego, we jumped at the chance and joined the Raag & Taal academy here. It was worth it, Hariharan is one of those audience friendly singers, and the audiences truly appreciate and acknowledge the fact. He could easily get the mix of old and young going and singing with him, clapping with him. The Neurosciences institute auditorium was as Hariharan himself put it, a very good concert hall, acoustically. He regaled us last Sunday evening with some great numbers, Ghazals, Thumri’s, Hindi and Tamil movie songs. Chandrayee who accompanied him was passable, but then it was Hariharan’s evening – singing many of his popular Ghazals, movie songs like Tuhi re, Roja jaane man…Ennai thalattu varuvaya, Y…

Mannadey - On his muse

‘Zindagi kaise hai paheli’, what a riddle this life is sang the great Prabodh Chandra dey – a.k.a. Mannadey (Song from the movie Anand), that was the number the car CD had picked up at random, just as I was ruminating about the vagaries of life…one has to agree, what a great song, tuned by the superlative Salilda. A song that was originally a background song as composed for the movie. Rajesh Khanna after hearing it wanted it to be picturised on him and thus the beach scene was added.

Which of course made me think about and drift to Mannadey’s other great number, a memorable one for us Malayali’s, ‘Maanasa Maine varu’ from Chemmeen (1965), a song that Manndey had to practice over & over before he went on to sing it in his own inimitable style. Mannadey comments fondly about the song, "Even if there is one Malayali in the audience, he will insist that I sing that song"

So what is behind the man and the song? The man is famous, there is plenty of writing about him…

Forgotten or less known singers - Part 2

Bhupinder Singh

Starting as Panchamda’s (RDB) guitarist, Bhupinder ended up as a reputed Ghazal singer after a foray into movie music. And the few songs he sang with his deep sonorous voice are still remembered by all. But like they mutter, his voice was never meant for the chocolate-faced teen heroes….

Well Bhupinder sang some melodious songs like in Mausam ‘Dil doondtha hai’, Gharaonda ‘Ek Akele is sheher mein’ and Naam Ghoom jayega from Kinara…each a masterpiece..amongst a few others

His passion was ghazals and he did them so well together with his wife Mitalee singh (they met on-stage!!). I remember one of his Ghazals ‘Ahat se koi aye to lagata hein’…wonderful, mellifluous, soothing…...

Naushad once said that nobody does better than Bhupinder on a guitar…well that sure is some compliment!! Here is a very comprehensive article on him.


She came into the limelight together with Yesudas, the movie being Chitchor. ‘Tujo mere sur mein’ was a superb duet…Akhiyon ke jarokh…

Less talked about singers - Part 1

Manhar Udhas

The first time I heard Manhar was way back in College. Somebody had a record Mukesh ki Yadein and I saw that the collection in that record was superb. It had all the popular hits. After a few spins, I could make out that it was not Mukesh. Checked the cover carefully, somewhere in the corner of the LP was the statement – Sung by Manhar …That was the first time I heard one of these re-sung records…

The next I heard of Manhar was when the Abhiman EP came out – Loote Koi man ke nazar banke mera saathi – what a great song…He followed on in Qurbani with ‘Hum tumhen chaahate he’….Some more good hits followed, one I recall was the Hero song Tu meri janoo hai. I hear he is active and does Gujarati Ghazals etc these days…

Shailendra Singh

This chap just burst into the music scene with his ‘Bobby’ songs; even today ‘Mein shayar to nahin’ is a song that still enthrals the listener. But it was not to be; after a few Rishi kapoor movies and some years of struggling (and an…

Four stars and India

Cliff Richard, Englebert Humperdink, Freddie Mercury and Norah Jones -

Each a big name, conjuring up great music, amassing fans and making a name for themselves – What connection did they have with India? I decided to investigate

Englebert Humperdinck – Born in Madras 1936 as Arnold George Dorsey to a British dad and an Anglo Indian mom – Big family, Arnold was the youngest - mom taught violin, moved to UK in 1947 and then on to US. His manager renamed him Englebert. This multimillionaire singer still has relatives in Chennai and visits them

"I have such wonderful childhood memories of Madras. I like the sun, and my 10 siblings and I went from a big home in India to relatively modest surroundings in England, which can be so cold and grey."

"We lived near the harbour," Engelbert dimly recalls his Madras days. "The beach was nearby. I understand that the house that I lived in is no more. The tsunami took it away”.

Cliff Richard - Born in Lucknow 1940,…

MB Sreenivasan - A tribute

Chembaka pushpa suwasita yamam…. Yesudas is crooning that wonderful MBS song from Yavanika…You are listening and picturing a time and place in front of a wood-cased valve radio, fingering its piano key selector array and looking at the magic ‘cat’ eye twinkling green, But no, Yavanika was actually a 1982 movie!!

I grew fond of MB Srinivasan’s music when I first heard his songs from the movie Ulkadal. Then came songs from the movies Yavanika, followed by Chillu and I adored those melodious numbers…. Many of this generation may not know MBS; he passed away some eighteen years ago.

Life went on, countries, continents and days passed by. His songs moved to the ‘old songs collection’ in my hard drive to be double-clicked on rarely. Today MBS re-entered my thoughts. I thought I will pen a few words on that great man who made me hum many a tune in the bathroom.

MBS always maintained a low profile in the news media, you read very little about him these or even those days.MBS was no…

Usha Uthup

On Kerala - Sometimes after a great show you are so excited and want to know how the programme was. They will just say, `kozhapam illa.' For every shilpi the most important thing is the applause. We live to listen to it. Actually if you can make it in Kerala, you can make it anywhere in the world. The most difficult people to please are in Kerala …So said Usha Utup, rightly so, in an interview….Usha Uthup has always been and will always be a favourite of mine. If you are short of optimism, see a show of hers (even a tape will suffice) to take in her 1000Watt smile and guffaws, or well, just listen to her songs.

I first heard about Usha Iyer, as she was known then, from our English teacher at school, Iyer saar. He used to tell us during the English classes, ‘Usha is my niece, and sings pop music’ And we used to imagine a girl swinging in her bell-bottoms, tight short tops (like Hare Rama hare Krishna’s Zeenat Aman – a movie for which Usha sang) blowing hair and the su…

Mammad Kaka's coat

Driving down the I 15, I was starting to nod off a bit when I was surprised by MS Baburaj’s Kandam bechoru Kottane, mammadu kakkade kottane from the old hits CD playing in the car.After so many years, I was hearing that song all over again. On a dull winter day with teeming traffic crisscrossing the lanes and driving you mad, this one song has that ability to get you smiling. I listened to the words…What simple and nice lyrics, sung in the inimitable Calicut Koya dialect & tuned by the great Baburaj (the Cd cover states Baburaj- Mehaboob – Did Mehboob sing this or Baburaj? BTW this was the first Malayalam color film).

A song about an old and worn out coat, fit to be condemned, one that belonged to Fakir Mohammed Koya, and not a coat worn by blood sucking rich businessman or lawyers. The coat was always popular whilst on Koya, and ah! it is now mine ( who was this pictured on ? Adoor Bhasi or Bahadur? I tried picturing it and ended up with Bahadur since only Bahadur could…

Mehaboob - that forgotten singer

For quite some time I searched around for information on the Malayalam singer Mehaboob, but only a little could be dredged. It was finally a brilliant, thought provoking and sentimental article by novelist Vennala Mohan in last years ‘Manorama Onappathippu’ that gave me much insight to this lovable person. Thanks a lot to blogger Abraham Tharakan for directing me to Mohan’s article. That is the real stuff – the article to read, I am writing this only for the benefit of those cannot find it and those who can’t read Malayalam.

This is about Mehaboob, a singer great with his voice, but unfortunately weak in character. It is about a singer of yesteryears, whose talents I alluded to in my earlier blogs on trains and Mammad kaka’s coat. Sometimes you get drawn to a certain person, you can’t necessarily explain why, but it could very well be that it was because he was an underdog, one who was seemingly wronged, one who never received recognition that was always due to him.


Ormakkayi – Kozhikode Abdul Khader

Actually I was humming the Yesudas song ‘Pachapanam thatte’ and my mother in law who is visiting us said, can you add that to the CD you are making for me? At that time, I did not know this was originally a drama song done by Abdul Khader for Baburaj many decades ago nor did I know of the debate in Kerala over whether M Jayachandran should be taken to task for copying it in Nottam, a new movie!! M Jaychandran’s statement that it had nothing to do with Khader or Baburaj and their offspring’s furious involvement in the debate led to a furore in Kozhikode, a year back.

But, yes, I had heard his fabulous ‘Engine nee marakkum kuyile’ from Neelakuyil many a time, I had also heard many other Khader memorable’s in a cassette of his songs, sung by his late son Satyajit. My brother has been trying to locate the originals for ages and recently when I heard ‘Engine nee’ again, I was intrigued. I knew that Khader was around with Baburaj, when Baburaj was also doing music with Mehamood…

Awaz De – Anmol Ghadi

There are some songs that will live with you during your life. This one created by Naushad and sung by Noor Jehan and Surendra in 1946 is like so for me. I enjoy it each time I hear it and always marvel at Noorjehan’s thick and husky Punjaban voice. Of recent, only one singer created such a tonal quality – it is Richa Sharma (try listening to her Zindagi mein koi kabhi aye na rabba – Musafir)..

The year was 1946, the film Industry was hard at work creating excellent B&W movies and a number of new heroes and heroines were coming to the forefront. Hema Malini was just born, Yusuf Khan (Dilip Kumar) was making his entrance into Bollywood, Suraiyah was making her mark, Lata Mangeshkar was just entering the scene, Naushad Ali was creating waves with his music and Madam Noor Jehan – Mallika e Tarannun (Queen of melodies) had not even started contemplating whether to remain in India or move to Pakistan…She was at that time an established singing - acting star, all of 20 year…

Shanta P Nair Kerala’s Nightingale

Thumbi Thumbi va va…Picture a scene - a song from 1956, K Raghavan master’s music and Vayalar’s lyrics. The nervous Vayalar Rama Varma would have been sitting and listening to his very first lyrics for the movie ‘Koodapirappu’ being sung by Shanta Nair. After the opening lines, he would have finally relaxed, and allowed the magic of the experienced singers voice to take over. Or switch to another scene – The great MB Sreenivasan is tuning a song for Kalpaadukal. He asks ‘Shanta, do you think you can do a duet with a young newcomer’? Shanta says (a time when stalwarts usually refused to sing with newcomers) – ‘of course, why not’ – thus introducing Yesudas into the singing scene, singing the chirpy song ‘Attention penne’. Or the great Baburaj doing his very first movie ‘Minnaminungu’ with Shanta singing ‘Vallittu Kannezhuthanam’…or some years later, enthralling Salilda with her own composition for a ‘Salilda movie’.

Sadly, yet another great singer of yesteryears passed awa…

Salilda - We Remember

Now that we get to watch Asianet on the net, I see the Idea Star singer competition on some nights and these days the Salil Chaudhary round is on. That reminded me of this draft on Salilda with Trivia collected some years ago, but had failed to post.

Some years ago (Asianet star singer 2007) there was a girl with a very unique name Mufeeda, who sang Salida’s ‘O Sajna’, a song from ‘Parakh’…not very well I am afraid, but when one of the judges gave a long and heartfelt speech on Salilda the person, my ears perked, eyes focused and I was all attention. When he made a remark that there is only one composition that Salilda truly made for Malayalam, which is ‘Manasa maine varu’ (for interesting details on that number, and the singer Mannadey, checkout my earlier blog). Sarath the eminent judge and music director also went on to say that Salilda’s other songs were recycled from various languages. Now I am a diehard fan of Salilda and well, my eyes said it all (I believed that …