Thursday, March 18, 2010

Desi songs, videshi flavour

There isn’t much to do here near my hotel. I was hungry and tried to explore and found this delightful Chinese joint. The charming girl was smiling from ear to ear as she saw me. she was naturally happy to see a repeat customer specially after I had bought my dinner on her recommendation. Today she promised a lot of vegetables. I loved the vegetable shrimp combination. The Chinese cooks are amazing. They can toss unbelievable food. I asked her to put some extra broccoli. Amazing stuff.

I washed all the vegetables with my favorite red wine. I know red wine doesn’t go with the shrimp. But no matter what I just cant have white wine. Not even champagne. But who cares! Even the queen drinks vodka! To hell with propriety if she likes it she drinks it. And if the queen can do,why cant mere mortals!

I was listening to my favorite ‘unchained melodies’ when suddenly I remembered this man.

Its not often that you dedicate a post to some one who hated you. but I am making this exception. This one is for the old man who I know will never read this post. Sir, May you live long and may I never reach your age for I wouldn’t have your fortitude!

Hyderabad to Gwalior is a long journey. It can be tedious if you don’t have any thing to read or some good music to listen to.

Sometimes I feel claustrophobic in the first class. There are only four people. That kind of proximity kind of puts me off.

So here was this old man traveling alone. This was his first visit to the south and he looked pretty happy going back to his own kindred. That made him very boisterous and a pain in you know where.

My bad luck that I was the only one who spoke hindi. As the train picked up speed this garrulous man became more and more articulate. He was competing with the machine!

When he saw that I wasn’t paying attention, he asked me to show what I was listening. It was like showing a red cloth to a bull. He saw the book on the table and asked me when was the last time I read a hindi novel. I racked my brain and told him when I was in school.

He was not just angry! He chose the choicest invectives and abused my lineage. I tried to explain that literature or music cannot be slave to human boundaries and there is some very fine literature in English. Also I wanted to challenge him if he had read more hindi literature than me. but he was old. And I was polite.

Today suddenly a though struck me. some of the finest songs in Hindi ( I said SOME !) are either straight lifted or inspired by some popular English songs. But to be fair,some of the hindi songs , I dare say, are better than the original.

I would have loved to give some of the original and the Hindi versions. But I am not sure if the bandwidth will permit. So giving just one.

Some of my favorites Usha Uthup singing ‘ Hari om Hari’ lifted straight from ‘ one way ticket’ yet her rich voice bringing in a rare freshness. Frankly I love both. Or who can forget the song from ‘ maine pyar kiya’ ‘ I just called to say I love you’.

Or five hundred miles! ‘ jab koi baat bigad jaye’ or sochna kya from ghayal and compare it with ‘ lambada ‘ examples are countless. But lets give to them. they all make us happy. That is what music is meant to do.

Sir, I would like to narrate one story. In 2005 when I was in UK, we sponsored ustad Amjad ali Khan’s nephew in Scotland. It was an amazing experience. As he started to play, the string broke. But the Scottish are nothing if not patrons of arts. Every one sat in silence as he explained that the sudden cold weather may have resulted in the strings breaking. They waited patiently as he replace the broken string. When he started playing , it was magic! When the show ended the applause was deafening. He confessed to me later that he had never seen such beautiful audience before. each person from the audience came and praised him for his skill. He was overwhelmed. and so was I .

Music or literature has no boundaries. Two movies. Both by my favorite author. Eric Segal. Alas! He is no more. Masoom. Man woman and child. Love story. Ankhiyon ke jharoken se. Sir, it was a tribute to your genius language not withstanding. Both movies handled subtly yet adapting to the Indian flavor. Whichever language it is made, you will be appreciated.

Plagiarism? Not by a mile. Tribute. Most definitely yes!

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