Archive for Music

The Saddest Song of Them All

Posted in Refugee with tags , , , on June 5, 2016 by Qalandar

This might be the single best piece I have read on Hindi film music; thanks to agyaat and @joycarpediem for sharing (and, I hope Salim is online and sees this post!) — Qalandar


Excerpt 1: “In Hindi film music, there is too much artifice to arouse pathos: techniques of dramatisation and sentimentality are used to cajole the listener’s sensibility. The problem with Madan Mohan’s ‘Rasm-e-Ulfat’ is that the song hurries the poetry, and Lata Mangeshkar makes it too melodious. In fact, melody is the central problem in Hindi film music; it cushions the effect of sadness, and makes it consumable. A similar problem afflicts a host of Lata songs, from ‘Betab Dil Ki Tamanna’ to ‘Na Koi Umang Hai’ from Kati Patang There is more elegance in songs like ‘Haal-e-dil Yun Unhe Sunaya Gaya’ and ‘Woh Chup Rahe To’, both from Jahan Ara. A gentle air of melancholy pervades ‘Pal Bhar Mein Yeh Kya Ho Gaya’…”

Excerpt 2: “Talat Mahmood and Kishore Kumar are the exact opposite of Rafi and Dey. Talat’s quivering voice is the epitome of sadness. In ‘Phir Wohi Shaam Wohi Gham’ or ‘Zindagi Dene Waale Sun’, he is more involved in the sadness than the singing. But melody chases his despair to prevent him from losing himself completely, and keeps him measured and poised. About Kishore, Zakir Hussain once said the most striking thing ever: When you hear him, you feel as if he is singing for you and you alone. Kishore, perhaps more brilliantly than others, manages to individualise the feeling of pathos, creating an intense, private relationship between himself and the listener. Though he mastered all moods, it is in songs like ‘Badi Sooni, Sooni Hai’, from Mili, or ‘Panthi Hoon Main’ that you find him, completely himself, thoroughly involved in mapping the contours of sadness.”

Music Review: MARYAN (Tamil; 2013)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2013 by Qalandar


In retrospect, albums like Delhi-6 seem to have inaugurated a mellow phase in A.R. Rahman’s career. The last few years have given us a number of albums (Kadal and Raanjhana the most recent of these) to confirm the impression that the master has, where the subject gives him rein, shifted gears: the qawwalis have become more reflective (contrast “Arziyan” (Delhi-6) with “Noor-un-Alaa” (Meenaxi) from a few years earlier); the love songs increasingly suffused with a murmuring longing (“Moongil Thottam” (Kadal)), and even a jazz bent (“Aaromale” (Vinaithaandi Varuvaaya)); the sounds a bit less ornate, but just as rich. Maryan is in this vein. It is leaner than Raanjhana (Rahman’s most recent Hindi composition), and if two of the lighter tracks are far more trivial than anything in the latter, at its best (which is to say in its four slower songs) Maryan is more reflective, almost unsettlingly so: you really miss it when the music stops playing. This is, quite simply, Rahman’s best Tamil album in years for any director not named Mani Rathnam. Continue reading

For Song’s Sake (THE CARAVAN, October 2012)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2012 by Qalandar

I can think of no better tribute to Yash Chopra on my part than to post this piece here. Increasingly, I find that the labor of archiving, of stubbornly standing for memory against forgetting, is heroic to me, more so than any monument; and this heroism touches me in a way that, if I am honest, even word of most deaths does not. Part of it is that the archivist deals with memory and knowledge dependent on things — books, cassettes, film reels, CDs — that survive, but that are very fragile. They seem vulnerable, and all the more so when we are not talking about a hallowed object, such as a book, that has been relevant for centuries; but of more recent media, destined to become obsolete every few years with unseemly haste. (This obsolescence is also dangerous, because it ties up far too much of our musical and cinematic heritage into particular media that are doomed even when they are introduced (who would bet on the DVD?), dependent on the vagaries of fashion and taste to preserve material that could so easily be lost forever: we can still read a century-old book, but it isn’t too hard to imagine a world where no-one has any cassette players; in such a world, that which hasn’t been digitized risks being lost forever.) Shelves of dusty audio-cassettes with reels in them, old records and video-cassettes, make claims on my sympathy that even old books do not: because they are proving even more ephemeral.

Read the complete piece HERE.

Eminent Telugu Lyricist Veturi Passes Away

Posted in the bad with tags , , , on May 23, 2010 by Qalandar

[Thanks to Shashi for these links — Qalandar]

One of the doyens of Telugu film industry, lyric writer Dr Veturi Sundara Ramurthy, 74, died of a massive cardiac arrest at a private hospital here on Saturday night. He was admitted to the hospital two days ago and was kept in ICU.
Continue reading

Qalandar’s Music Review: RAAVAN (Hindi; 2010)

Posted in the good with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2010 by Qalandar

The music of “Raavan” — supposedly a modern day re-telling of The Ramayana — wasn’t what I was expecting. Instead of a self-contained album confining itself to the world of the film like several other collaborations between composer A.R. Rahman and director Mani Rathnam (such as “Alai Payuthey”, “Yuva”, or “Kannathil Muthamittal”), this album hearkens to the music of the greatest Rathnam film of all, “Iruvar”, in its anthologizing of almost an entire film music tradition. But whereas Rehman’s mode in “Iruvar” was history, with each song representing a different Tamil film era (Rehman’s genius ensuring that none of the songs seemed derivative or stale, as merely nostalgic numbers would have), the “Raavan” album cannot imagine such continuity: the Hindi film musical tradition is here, but in shards as it were. Continue reading