Sunday, August 12, 2007

Missing the golden oldies

One huge tragedy of LPG (Liberalization, Privatization, Globalization) has been the loss of a wonderful singing tradition, particularly of patriotic songs. The crap that circulates today in the name of patriotic songs simply makes one hang his head in shame. I don't want to grant them respect by mentioning them here, but suffice to say that they are nowhere in the class of the golden oldies that Rafi and Manna dey, with Lata and Asha breathed their voices into.

For instance, take the song "Kar chale hum fida jaan aur tan saathiyon" - rendered in Rafi's immortal voice. One line of the song goes thus: "Kat gaye hamare sar to kuch gham nahi, sar himalay ka hamne na jukhne diya" Or the ever melodious Manna dey singing the soulful "Aye mere pyaare watan" in which Gulzar mourns "Chood kar teri zameen ko door aa pahuche hai hum. Phir bhi hai yehi tamanna teri zarron ki kasam - hum jahaan paida hue us jagah hi nikale dum" - can you resist getting goosebumps? Or why, a little Asha singing Kavi Pradeep's "Jis din teri chita jali thi roya tha mahakaal - sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal." (When your pyre was lit, even fate cried, O saint of Sabarmati, you did a miracle.) Or the 1940s song "Aaj himalay ki choti se phir hamne lalkaara hai - door hato door hato door hato aye duniya walo hindustan hamara hai". (Today we've given a clarion call from the Himalayas - quit, you foreigners, Hindustan is ours.)

The lyrics, the music and the singing of the time all combined to give a surreal feel to these songs. Sixty years after independence, someone born thirty years after the day can still feel the sentiment of the freedom movement. That was the greatness of the era - the songs tugged at your heart - not at your purse-strings.

Will those days come again? Or will the next generations grow up on utter crap like "It happens only in India" or "Sandese aate hai" and think they are great patriotic songs!?

1 comment:

Monojit said...

I share the same feelings and by any stretch of imagination I cannot call "sandeshe aate hain" or "it happens only in India" as patriotic songs. But, on the other hand, this is a universal phenomenon that has affected every genre of music and not only the patriotic ones (e.g., what about devotional songs or even romantic numbers?).

Once I asked my Bengali poet friend, "why it is the case that earlier we had such great poets like Rabindranath and jibonananda, who wrote for the common folks, and you guys write things so that we cannot appreciate (another way of saying that what you write is just junk :)). His reply was, "if you write like Rabindranath, you are not creative, you are just a copycat. So you have define your own style. So be as different (and consequently as horrible) as possible!"

Perhaps that's the way how art progresses.