Saturday, July 18, 2009

I write,I recite by Meena Kumari

Much has been written and discussed about Meena Kumari as an actress. Her swansong ‘Pakeezah’ perhaps epitomized her Screen personae as the unquestioned ‘Tragedy Queen’ of the Indian Cinema. However, the lesser known faculty of this Screen legend has not been given its due it deserves. Meena Kumari is also an accomplished poet and most of her writings after her demise in 1972 passed on to Gulzar, who was instrumental in publishing her poems.

I write, I recite is the only recorded Album of the actress wherein she recites her selected poems. The composer of the Album, the inimitable Khaiyyam has contributed his genius in crafting the poems to suit the voice of Meena Kumari. The poems are a reflection of the personal tragedy and loneliness which the Actress encountered in her own life. Strains of melancholy and sadness are evident in her poetry.

First poem is a recitation in free verse…Akelepan ke usi Bekinaar Sehra mein/Uljhi Bikhri hui, Takdeer ko lakeeron mein ghiri…..
The next number is a slow rendition of her immensely beautiful poem. Accompanied by Sarangi/Santoor, the number gives an ethereal experience.
Tukday Tukday Din Bitaa/Dhajji-Dhajji raat beeti/
Jiska jitna aanchal tha/Utni hi saugaat mili….

The following number is again a beauty. The rendition simply mesmerizes by its simplicity and the emotion-laden voice of Meena Kumari.
Puchhate ho to suno kaise basar hoti hai/Raat Khairaat kee sadqe kee sahar hoti hai… (You ask me, How do I survive? /Night goes in earnest and Prayers fill my morning….)
Mera Majhi meri Tanhai ka yeh andhaa sifaq…. is again recited as a free verse and keeping in mood of the poetry, the voice is modulated for the desired impact.

Chand tanha hai asman tanha/Dil mila hai kahan kahan tanha.. is the subsequent rendition which again characterizes the melancholic mood. The theme is repeated in the next number Aaghaz to hota hai anjam nahin hota/Jab meri kahani mein vo naam nahin hota…( There is a beginning, but without any end/ When his presence is no more in my life….) The remaining numbers are Abala paa koi dasht aaya hoga… and Yeh noor kaisa raat ka sarong pehne….. enhances the mood so far built up in the Album. Who else, but except for the poet can better express the feelings. Meena Kumari pours out her heart in the renditions. The last number is Yun tere raah guzar se diwana vaar guzre/Kandhe se apne sar rakh ke, apna mazaar guzre….which has been aptly chosen as a finale to the selection.

The Album as LP has been released by EMI and was re-released as CD in 2001 by Music India. Now the Album is available in the label of Universal Music .A must-buy rare collection for every lover of Hindi Cinema.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prayers of the Heart by Viju Kulkarni

Prayers of the Heart or Vandamala is a garland of devotionals sung by Viju Kulkarni,released by Chitshakti Publictions of Siddhayoga Ashram,Ganeshpuri. This beautiful collection includes songs by Kabir, Tukaram, Rabindranath Tagore, and others. Available both in cassette and CD format, the Album contains ten tracks with a duration nearing one hour.

Perhaps this is the only Album available in publication by the singer.Not only her voice is impressive, but the renditions are soulful conveying the essence of the devotionals selected for the Album. Each and every piece stands out in creating the bhava or the moods so essential in devotionals. Antara mama vikasita karo(Unfold the glory of my heart)/Mahima Mahaprasad ki(The glory of Maha Prasad)/Kehi Samajhau(How Can I Convince You ?) are the selections which usually do not find place among the Devotional Albums and are the pieces that can be heard over and over again.Other selections include Santa Charana Raja/Prabhu teri Mahima Parama Apar/Biraje rom roma mein ram/Prabhu more/Prem mudita manase kaho/Amuche Prema Guru Padi raho/Chadariya jhini re jhini.

This Album is to be treasured by lovers of devotional music. Since this Album is not released through any music label, this Album is difficult to get noticed.. Information for buying the Album can be obtained from or in communication with Chitshakti Publications,104, Dhanlaxmi Complex,Rutu Estate, Off. Ghodbunder Road,Thane(W), Maharashtra-400 607/ Phone/ Fax –022 2586 2766/2791

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Astachchap Poets : Praising Sri Krishna

The published Albums by Bhajan Maestro Purshottamdas Jalota are few and these are a Collector’s delight not only for their choice of very best in devotional poetry but the magical voice that continues to regale listeners. Praising Krishna-Astachhap poets is one such Album.

One of the major proponents of Saguna Bhakti has been Vallabhacharya of Sixteenth century. The devotional sect formed by him and his son & successor, Vitthalnath was based on the worship of Shrinathji, a form of Lord Krishna. The deity is worshiped through a process of elaborate rituals personifying the Lord as a living person.The hymns written in Braj Bhasa by the eight saint-poets formed the basis of temple worship or what has been called as Haveli Sangeet. These eight poets are disciples of Vallabhacharya and Vitthalnath. As introduction to the Album Pushottamdas Jalota describes the meaning of ‘Astachhap’ as the influence or ‘Chhap’ of these eight poets on the Indian society.

Paramanandadas,Nanddas,Govindswami,Khumbandas,Chaturbhujdas,Krishnadas,Surdas,Chittswami are these Astachhap poets.The selection of the poetry has been done according to the timing of seva or service offered to Srinathji starting from the morning Darshan to the Shayana or ‘bedtime’ of the Lord. The selection of the ragas has been in consonance to the timing of the seva. The Album starts with mangala or the first darshan of the Lord with a composition in Raga Durga-Chitta ko chora abahin jo paun by Paramanandadas wherein the devotee speaks of giving milk and butter to the Manohar in person. The singing portrays a persuasive mood where the Lord is awakened in the morning.

The next poetry by Nandadas Ram Krishna kahiye uthi bhor has been sung in Raga Bhairav,and is sung during Shringara where the Lord is dressed up in fineries.The song focuses that both Rama and Krishna are the incarnations of Vishnu. The rendition in this morning raga by the Maestro is mesmerizing.

Shringar is followed by Gvala,the third Darshan of the Lord when Krishna takes the cows to graze and is dressed as a cowherd.The composition by Govindswami Kaha karun baikuntha jaun is sung in Raga Darbari for the seva.The poet says that there is no point in going to heaven, as Krishna’s flute only resounds in Vrindavan. Purshottamdas Jalota being a master of the art again does full justice in evoking the appropriate mood.

The next Seva is Rajabhoga where Krishna’s feasting in his main meal of the day is celebrated.The poetry of Kumbhandas is used for the hymn during this period of darshan.Bhijata kaba dekhaun ina naina is the composition sung in Raga Hamira.The devotee in ecstatic mood desires to see Radha and Krishna beneath the Kadamba tree in the monsoon rain.The intense desire is reflected in the singing of Bhajan Samrat.

Surdas composition is used as hymn for the folloeing darshan i.e,Utthapana or awakening of the Lord after the mid-day sleep.Ab main nacyau bahut gopala is the popular number sung in Raga Mishra Khamaj.This is a celebrated song in the repertoire of Purshottamdas Jalota.

Bhoga is the next darshan where the Lord is offered fruit and sweets in the middle of the afternoon.The hymns of Chaturbhujadas Naina aisi bana pari/binu dekhe giridharana mukha jugabhara ganata ghari has been used for the seva. Sung in Raga Bhopali the single-minded devotion of the poet is manifested.

The hymns of Chittaswami Pritama priti ten basa kinon sung in Raga Yman form the song for the Sandhya Arati where the evening worship of the Lord is done. The tenderness of this special hour is brought to life by the rendition.

The Shayana forms the last seva where the Lord is left for His sleep. Gvalino Krishna darasa ko ataki is the composition by Krishnadas sung in Raga Malkauns as a hymn for this period of darshan. The rendition represents a form of lullaby ending the day-long seva of the Lord.

The last piece is a selection from Sursagar where Surdas sings in praise of his guru Vallabhacharya Bharaso dridha ina charanan mein (Firm is my faith in the feet of my Lord) is the perfect ending to this Album sung in Raga Bhimpalasi by the inimitable Purshottamdas Jalota.

The Album is accompanied by exhaustive sleevenotes by Dr.Rupert Snell,Reader in Hindi at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.The Album was originally produced in 1993 by Audiroec Limited,U.K.Of late it has been released in India through the subsidiary of the company in India under the label of Audiorec Classics. This timeless Album is a Collector’s delight and is a must possession for all those keeping interest in the divine poetry.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rare Gems : The early recordings of Jagjit Singh

It almost took a decade for Jagjit Singh to cut his first LP ‘The Unforgettable’ in 1976.When Jagjit Singh started his career as a singer in the Mid-60’s film music ruled the roost as popular music and Ghazals as existed being esoteric in their format were only patronized by the connoisseurs. Jagjit Singh as a singer and composer released some EPs and Super Sevens (EPs with 33 rpm speed) in this period spanning from 1966 to 1975.To commemorate the silver jubilee of his recording career, HMV brought out a 2-Volume Cassette in 1992 of these earlier recordings of Jagjit Singh-Chitra Singh. This Album now available in CD though contains 19 numbers out of the 21 original compilations would certainly be an item to be treasured by Jagjit Singh fans, if they are still yet to acquire this Rare Gem.

The recordings not only offer an opportunity to relish these unheard songs, but also give an idea about the evolution of Jagjit Singh as a singer and composer. After a brief introduction on the production of the Album by the Maestro himself, the two 1966 compositions by C.K.Chauhan follows in succession. Faruq Kaiser’s Apna gham bhool gaye and Shamin Shahabadi’s Aankh ko jam samajh baitha anjaane mein/saqia hosh kahan hai deewanon ko give a feeling of singing style of early Mehdi Hasan songs. Both the Ghazals are exquisite.

What follows next are compositions by Jagjit Singh. The choice of poetry has been that of the Masters of Urdu Poetry as Momin/Mir/Daagh/Ghalib etc. These recordings of 1970 includes Jigar’s Yeh kisika tassavur /Momin’s Who jo hum mein tum mein qarar tha /Ghalib’s Bas ke dushwar hai/ Daag’s Ajab Apna Haal Hota Jo Visaal-E-Yaar Hota, all sung by Chitra Singh.Jagjit Singh’s numbers include Jigar’s Mujhe de rahe hain tassaliyan/ Daagh’s Dil Ko Kya Ho Gaya Khuda Jane and Mir’s Patta patta boota boota. These numbers are structured around the style of ghazal singing in vogue at that time with minimal use of instruments as Sarangi/Sitar/Tabla. These poetry bearing a theme of unrequited love have the spark of the wizadry of the Maestro, who has to take the musical scene by storm in a few years hence.

The 1973/74 recordings have Zauq’s Ab To Ghabrake Yeh Kahte Hain/ Ghalib’s Phir Kuchh Is Dil Ko Beqarari Hai sung by Jagjit Singh.The Chitra Singh numbers are Ghalib’s Kab Se Hoon Kya Bataoon/ Jigar’s Os Pade Bahar Par and Ishq Fana Ka Naam Hai. Jigar seems to be the favorite poet with as many as seven selections of his poetry finding place in these recordings. A brilliant wordsmith, Jigar’s poetry oozes with feelings which are a reflection of his pathos-ridden life. Jagjit’s composition gives them a living presence.
The 1975 recordings present a change in the singing style with use of guitar and violin pieces and perhaps can be considered as precursors in shaping the distinct style which identifies Jagjit Singh. Krishan Adeeb’s Jab Bhi Aati Hai Teri Yaad Kabhi has been sung by Jagjit Singh. This beautiful number has been included in one of his later Album. Shamin Shahabadi’s Dhuan Utha Tha Deewane Ki Jalte Ghar Se is a solo by Chitra Singh, while Ameer Minai’s Uski Hasrat Hai Jise Dil Se Mita Bhi Na Sakoon is the only duet in these recordings. Altogether this compilation presents a ‘rare’ listening pleasure.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Meera Kahe – A legend rediscovered

There have been a spurt in the genre termed as World Music over the past years. World Music while breaking away from the straight-jacket structure of traditional music is influenced by cultures across the globe. Meera Kahe –A legend rediscovered is an Album in the genre that presents the poetry of Meera in a new perspective.The brilliant music has been composed by the musician duo Ajay-Atul with the singers Richa Sharma and Sujata Mohan doing full justice in infusing life to the compositions. The Album presents the yearning of Meera for her Lord in a moving and tender manner with a confluence of sounds.

Richa Sharma renders the first song Prabhuji tum darsan bin moye. The pain and anguish of Meera bereft of her Giridhar has been beautifully portrayed in this slow number.The sweet voice of Sujata Mohan has been utilized for the second track Parasi hari ke charan. Meera dreams of the touch of Krishna’s feet and glorifies them.These were the feets that crushed Kaalia and these were the feets that danced with the Gopis in Vrindavan. The touch of his feet will take away the sins of Meera.

In Tero koi nahi hai rokanhar, Meera after denouncing all relations and belonging leaves in search for her Lord. Richa Sharma sings this beautifully crafted song bringing out the defiant mood of Meera. The arrangement and sequencing of the instrumentation is fabulous.

Mere to Giridhar Gopala,the popular Meera number has been rendered by Sujata Mohan. This particular number have been rendered by the likes of Lata Mangeshkar and M.S.Subbulakshmi wherein Meera declares that Krishna is her one and only. The composition brings out the feelings of Meera.

Daras mare begi dijyo ji by Richa Sharma is a fast paced number where Meera begs Krishna to reveal in flesh and blood to her. The desperate call of Meera has been expressed by the rich voice of the singer.The crowning piece of the Album is Sakhi meri neend nasani ho sung by Richa Sharma and Pyaare darshan dijyo aaj by Sujata Mohan. Both are emotive and moving numbers presenting heart-rending calls of Meera to have a glimpse of her Lord. The music and the vocals rise in crescendo in tandem with the devotional fervour of Meera’s poetry which makes a lasting impression on the listeners mind.
The Album has been released by Kosmic Music,Chennai This Album is a must buy for music lovers for this unique attempt.

Shahnsah-e-Ghazal : Live rendition by Mehdi Hassan

Mehdi Hassan has been an unrivalled Master in the field of Ghazal Gayaki for more than five decades now. Generations of singers have been inspired by the Maestro who can be singularly credited in bringing the Ghazal singing from the purview of elitist few to the masses for appreciation as well as establishing Ghazal singing as one among the other melodic genres as Thumri, Dadra, Kajri etc to be reckoned with. Mehdi Hassan has a number of recordings to his credit and some of the ghazals have achieved a cult status. The live recordings of the maestro have been a delight of connoisseurs where there is ample room for showcasing his eclectic genius.

Shahenshah-E-Ghazal is a 2-CD Set of the live rendition of Mehdi Hassan given at The Royal College of Music, London during October’1990.The impeccable recording quality coupled with Ustad Sultan Khan on Sarangi and Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan on Tabla as accompaniment makes this Album , a listening enjoyment. CD 1 starts with the Rajasthani folk number Kesariya balama padharo mharo desh sung in Raga Mand. Who else, but for the virtuoso having his roots in Rajasthan can faithfully reproduce the emotion of the number. As the rendition meanders through the intricate patterns, the maestro pauses to give a brief on the meaning and technicalities of his rendition of this appealing number.

The second number is the heart touching Mubham baat paheli kaise, bus wohi bujhe jisko bujhae. This melodious ghazal penned by Arzoo Lucknavi has been sung in Raga Yaman Kalyan. This number is an absolute bliss with the maestro rending each word in sync with the mood of the ghazal complemented by the brilliant sarangi recital. This is followed by a Thumri in Raga Desh.Umad ghumad ghir aayo re sajni badra captures the atmosphere of the beautiful over bearing dark clouds enrapturing the listeners. The succeeding number is a Dadra ,Teer nainon ka zaalim ne mera mujhe which again enthralls the listeners.The remaining two ghazals of CD 1 are Ahmed Faraz’s Shola tha jalbhooja hun hawaein mujhe na do in Raga Kirwani and Farhat Sehzad’s Ek bas tuhi nahin mujhse khafaa ho baitha in Raga Miyan ki Malhar.These two numbers spanning for around half an hour regales the listeners with the Maestro experimenting with murkis and taans.

The CD 2 starts with Abdul Hamid Alam’s Jab tere nain mushkurate hain sung in Raga Sahera. The Ghazal is a beauty bearing the unmistakable stamp of Mehdi Hassan. This is followed by Adib Saharanpuri’s Ghazal Ek khalish ko haasil .This slow number will certainly endear the discerning listeners. The magic continues through Farhat Sehzad’s Khuli jo aankh to na who tha, na who zamana tha. Added bonus is the Ahmed Faraz’s Abke hum bicchde to shayaad khwabon mein mile which has been one among the signature Ghazals of the Maestro. The Album ends with a Heer in Raga Bhairavi. The range of musical genres this Album represents is only a testimony to the genius that personifies Mehdi Hassan.
The Album released eaerlier by Navras Records, U.K. in 1992 has been released by Sony Music in India.This Album is a Collector’s item.