There was a time when I would spend more than three hours a day listening to old Hindi songs and ghazals. This started when I was in 10th std and continued till the time I got married so that’s almost a decade. My very first memory of listening to hindi film songs is of “Chand fir nikala mag tum na aaye” from Paying Guest. I remember getting bored when that one came up on our gramophone. I enjoyed all the other ones but this one was particularly boring. But then it was the mid 80s and I had no other source of entertainment than what was laid out or laid down on the gramophone. My dad told me quite seriously that it was a very good song of Lata‘s and I should listen to it a few more times and then it will grow on me. As an obedient child I went on to do just that. Thus began my education on Hindi songs.
As fas as I remember this was a post dinner and pre breakfast activity in our household – to put on records of old songs and ghazals. Every morning I woke up to the tunes of Madan Mohan, Roshan, Anil Biswas, Shankar Jaikishan et.al. Then there were those never-ending songs which I later came to know as ghazals. At that time I honestly thought a single ghazal could go on for about an hour.
I don’t remember listening to any songs during my school years. Sa Re Ga Ma – Sonu ka – started when I was in 10th std. In one of the episodes, a contestant sang Lata’s “Woh to chale gaye aye dil..” from Sangdil and it completely changed my inclination towards music and songs and ghazals. That moment opened a Pandora’s box for me. I absolutely loved that song. Immediately after the episode was over, Pappa put on the original one sung by Lata. Then I listened to some more songs by Sajjad. Tumhe dil diya yeh kya kiya maine , Jate ho toh jao, Aaj mere naseeb ne, Bhool ja aye dil, Kali Kali raat among others were my favourite then.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I won’t be able to sing a single one of Sajjad’s song. They were brilliant and ridiculously difficult. Only Lata has done justice to them. Who ever thinks that Asha is a better singer than Lata, please, ask her to sing these songs the way Lata sings and then we shall talk. Only the words from Lata’s vocal cords pull at the heart-strings.
I then moved on to Shankar Jaikishan, Anil Biswas, Salil Choudhary, C Ramchandra and Roshan. I don’t quite remember when I shifted my attention to ghazals. Somewhere during college perhaps when my bus journey took more than 15 minutes and I could listen to a complete ghazal. While Pappa was always partial to Ghulam Ali, I always preferred listening to Mehdi Hassan. Ghazals need a different post.
At home, we all have our favourite music directors, for my pappa it’s Anil Biswas, my grandma loves Roshan and Madan Mohan and my uncle Shankar Jaikishan. It took me a long time to decided which one was my favourite and so I made a list of songs that I loved the most. Majority of them turned out to be of SD Burman‘s.
What makes me think of songs today suddenly. To my horror I realised I couldn’t recall words to my favourite songs even after singing a line repeatedly. It’s been happening for quite some time now. If my grandma heard about it, she would be me disapproving dirty look – how can I forget after listening to the renditions a hundred times. So have pledged to listen to more of my favourite songs and ghazals this year.
Signing off with three best gems from Anil biswas