Monday December 18, 2017

Music: Is it for our good now?

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By Preksha Buttan

Music is said to be a universal language. It has been there since humans gathered the ability to appreciate sound and take note of elements of nature like rivers, wind, chirping birds and so on. There is hardly any person who does not like music. Almost everyone listens to it, gets affected by it and enjoys it in his/her own style.

With hundreds of years having passed, nature around us has changed. Humans and their lifestyle have gone through a huge evolution while technology has constantly endeavored to enhance our lives. With these, bollywood music has also come a long way.

Among the things that have changed and have affected music is technology. Today, a person who barely knows anything about music can create it using latest software and applications like ‘Reason’ or ‘Ableton Live’ and publish it on social media. Music created through software has taken the place of live band members. We are gradually losing the human touch.

Instruments are going through a make-over as well. Flute has come a long way from being a thin hollow bamboo stick with holes to plastic and metal ones with more dynamism, for instance.

While purely instrumental music never fails to touch the heart, it’s the beauty of the words which give the piece a more concrete meaning. Lyrics are the soul of music. According to Wikipedia, lyrics can be defined as: They are words that make up a song, usually consisting of verses and choruses. The meaning of music often lies in its lyrics. So, whatever the lyrics are like, the song will be reflected in the same way.

picture credit: indiannewslink.co.nz
picture credit: indiannewslink.co.nz

Along with all the changes that Bollywood music has seen over the years, lyrics are the most affected part, having undergone dramatic changes. Earlier, music had a softer touch and lyrics were more meaningful. Songs used to convey a message, whether it was religious or about love or friendship. Take a song from Bollywood movie Andaz sung by Kishore Kumar: “Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana” (Life is a wonderful journey. Nobody knows what will happen tomorrow.) Lyrics should speak about the hidden nuances and the truths of life.

Nowadays, songs are rather empty with shallow lyrics which have no deep impression to offer other than some head-banging enjoyment to the younger generation. Consider a song of the film ‘Yariyaan’ for instance: “Aaj blue hai paani paani pani paani paani paani, aur din bhi sunny sunny sunny sunny sunny sunny” (The water is blue and the day is sunny today).

The elderly describe songs from their time as reasonable, inspiring and conveying a sense of philosophy of life that dwelt on from love, romance, friendship to words of wisdom. Songs such as these had a certain depth and a soothing nature which brought peace, or made us think. Complaining about latest trending songs, they say, the songs impart a wrong message about love, friendship and values to the youth, owing to which, they are moving away from Indian traditions.

picture credit: movies.suleka.com
picture credit: movies.suleka.com

Observe the lines from the song Abhi toh party shuru hui hai sung by Badshah and Aastha: “Thaka thaka jo feel kare wo jaake dou RedBull gatak le”, “Aur jisko dance nahi karna woh jaake apni bhains charaye”, “Hum hain bete hum, baaki saare paani kam; Humein rok ke dikhaaye jiski bum me hai dum” . Another example is the song Jaa chudail from ‘Delly Belly’ in which a girl is described in a very crude manner. For more, one can listen to Engine ki seeti from the movie ‘Khoobsurat’, Lip to lip from ‘Katti Batti’, G phad ke from ‘Happy Ending’ or Khoon choos le from ‘Go Goa Gone’. There is an endless list of such songs composed in last five to ten years.

In our fast-paced lifestyle where every appointment is a click away, where we have no time to take it easy and actually ‘feel’ a song, the younger generation chooses to pick songs with tempos as fast as their lives, shallow in meaning, but nevertheless upbeat.

Earlier, songs on friendship went like: “Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge, todenge dam magar tera saath na chodenge” (We will not break this friendship, I may break my pride but I will not leave your side); or “Tere jaisa yaar kaha, kaha aisa yaaraana; Yaad karegee duniya teraa meraa afsaana” (There is no friend like you, there is no friendship like this; world will remember our story). Now, however, this is what a song on friendship sounds like: “Mera yaar bada swanky; Hai karda hankey pankey; But daaru di ye tenkey; Not karda danga haaye”. So crude and vulgar are these lines that providing a translation for them would be a disappointment.

“Hume tumse pyaar kitna yeh hum nahi jaante; magar jee nahi sakte tumhaare bina” (I do not how much I love you but I cannot live without you) is a line from an eternal love song sung by Kishore Kumar. Today’s songs which go like– “mein kitna tanhaa tanhaa lonely lonely tere bin, O Baawariya!” (I am so alone, alone, lonely, lonely without you)– are fast gaining popularity. Words which are meant to reflect our deepest feelings of love are currently working at destroying all such feelings.

One major reason for this deterioration in the lyrics of Bollywood music is the effect of westernization. The youth is adopting a modern style and picks up things which make them look modern. Gone are the days when a person would fall in love and spend his/her days in bed signing along with Kishore da’s songs. They are more likely to do a Honey Singh and take out the girl for “Chaar bottle vodka”.

picture credit: tumblr.com
picture credit: tumblr.com

But then, any change is not completely good or bad. It would be completely wrong to say that today’s music is totally meaningless.  There are still many pieces which are heart touching. For example, Raabta from ‘Agent Vinod’“Kehte hain: Khuda ne iss jahaan mein sabhi ke liye kisi na kisi ko hai banaaya har kisi ke liye; tera milna hai uss rab ka ishaara maano mujhko banaya tere jaise hi kisi ke liye” (It is said that, God has made someone for everyone. Meeting you is like God is sending signs to me that you are the one made for me); Bande hai hum uske from ‘Dhoom 3’“Bande hai hum uske, humpe kiska zor, ummedon ke sooraj nikle chaaron ore” (We are his men, nobody other than him has control over us. Light of hope spreads all around), Give me some sunshine from ‘3 Idiots’– “Give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again”. These are just a few, but the list goes on.

But the sad truth is that it is the meaningless lyrics with their pumped up repetitive beats which are the most popular today. These songs are everywhere—be it at a marriage function, birthday party, nightclubs, on autorickshaws or even during pujas in certain areas. On a daily basis, you can see many people listening to them with the bass throbbing in their headphones, humming to them while going to work, or kids dancing to them at every little function.

Different kinds of music promote different feelings in the mind of the listeners. Since things can never remain the same, music will also change with time. Changing human notions, upcoming trends, small and big occurrences in the world will all modify our taste in music. Time will bring innumerable changes. Some will be more adaptive than the others. However, music will take its own course in the world and we can only hope to preserve what was once good while keeping our eyes open for the next big trend.

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Lata Mangeshkar writes on her association with the late actor, Raj Kapoor

An experiment between a biography and an autobiography, a special book, will be launched to mark the 93rd birth anniversary of late actor Raj Kapoor and singer Lata Mangeshkar writes on her association with the late actor

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Lata Mangeshkar writes on her association with the late actor, Raj Kapoor
Lata Mangeshkar writes on her association with the late actor, Raj Kapoor. IANS

December 14, 2017: (Editors note: To mark the 93rd birth anniversary of late actor Raj Kapoor, a special book — an experiment between a biography and an autobiography — will be launched by his children Randhir Kapoor, Ritu Nanda, Rishi Kapoor, Rima Jain and Rajiv Kapoor on Thursday evening. Presented here is an exclusive extract from “Raj Kapoor: The One And Only Showman” where noted singer Lata Mangeshkar writes on her association with the late actor)

It was sometime in 1948 I was recording a song at the Famous recording studio for music director Anil Biswas. At that time, Raj Kapoor had a very small office on the second floor in the same building. Anil Biswas contacted him and asked him to come down to the studio and listen to my voice. I sang and he listened. There was no reaction. He listened and left! Next day, Anil Biswas called and said that Raj Kapoor has called you at the Mahalaxmi office.

In Kohlapur, I had seen Prithviraj Kapoor’s film “Sikandar” fifteen times. I was a great fan of his. He was tall and so handsome. I thought it might be a good opportunity to meet my favourite star’s son, Raj Kapoor.I accepted the invite and went. Raj Kapoor was sitting on his desk in his office. I sat across the table. He said ‘I want you to sing for my film,’ and asked me what that would cost him. I responded by saying any amount that he gave me would be acceptable. He replied by offering me rupees 500 for the same. At this time, Ram Ganguly was the music director and both Shankar and Jaikishen were music arrangers. They all worked together at Prithvi Theatres.

Shankar was on the tabla and Jaikishen on the harmonium. They sang and taught me the song ‘Jiya bekarar hai’ for the film “Barsaat.”

It was after this recording that Raj Kapoor took the decision that the music director for the film would be Shakar-Jaikishen and not Ram Ganguly. This was the historic decision, with Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri handling the lyrics, that created the evergreen music of R.K. Films.

I also recall Raj-ji cautioning Jaikishen. He was concerned about my ability to sing commercial film songs, being a classical singer. Hearing this I was naturally very upset. I was new and had not worked in the film industry. I sang all the songs in Barsaat. It was very gratifying for me to hear of a request from Raj saab for a bhairavi alaap in a certain song in Barsaat. I sang it and he loved it and was very happy. The music of this film was very successful.

Later, for the following films, he would leave the details of the melody to me. But he always wanted an alaap which would touch the hearts of millions of people.

I recall a time when we were recording the famous song in Awara, ‘Ghar aaya mera pardesi’, with Manna Dey accompanying me. We reached the recording theatre. Shankar and Jaikishen made us learn the lyrics and the melody of the song, but Raj saab, who came later, rejected our entire day’s work. He said to Jaikishen, ‘I don’t want a popatiya song!’ He changed the whole song. He also added an alaap to the song! All this went on till 3 a.m. and only after it was done did he say, ‘Now let us eat!’ He had arranged food for the entire unit. I remember the entire team sat in the middle of the road and ate. There was almost no traffic those days, particularly at 3 a.m. A sheet was spread on the road where we all ate and left for home.

This was his way of working…

I was also bad tempered. I used to fight. I was recording with his son Randhir Kapoor for his film “Kal Aaj Aur Kal”. Raj-ji had come for the recording. There, he told me that he was soon starting his next film called “Satyam Shivam Sundaram” for which he wanted my brother Hridaynath Mangeshkar to score the music. I replied to him saying that I would ask my brother. I managed to persuade my brother who was not really interested in scoring scores for films…

I left for my US trip where I was shocked to hear from Mukesh, ‘Hridaynath ki picture gayi (Hridaynath has lost the film)!’ Hridaynath called and said that he had accepted the film because of me but the newspapers were writing otherwise. He was offended and embarrassed. I was very angry with Raj-ji. On my return, I called him and said, ‘why did you do this?’ I had persuaded him because you had asked me to!’ (IANS)

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Sexual abuse is everywhere in the world, says Radhika

The actress believes that one should know how to say 'No'

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Radhika Apte's view on sexual abuse
Bollywood actress Radhika Apte says that sexual abuse is not only in B-town but in every part of the society. Wikimedia Commons

– Durga Chakravarty

Actress Radhika Apte feels that sexual abuse does not only exist in the world of showbiz but takes place in every alternate household.

“Sexual abuse takes place in every alternate household. So it’s not a part of just the film industry. You have so much child abuse, domestic abuse everywhere in the world, including India,” Radhika told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

She says it exists in “every field and household at some level or the other and that it all needs to be eliminated”.

Sexual abuse does not target just women, stresses Radhika.

“It’s also towards men, little boys and everybody. People exploit their power at every level.”

Radhika asserted that this needed to change.

“I think it starts from us putting our foot down and saying ‘no’ to things, however big your ambition is. You need to be brave about it, believe in your own talent, say ‘no’ and start speaking up because if one person speaks up, nobody is going to listen to him or her. But if 10 people do, then others would (listen to them),” she said.

The “Phobia” actress, who will be seen mentoring budding filmmakers in MTV’s upcoming digital show “Fame-istan”, says there has to be a more organised platform for people to work.

“There has to be more professional platforms as well as rules in place which is slowly happening.”

Sexual abuse has been a topic of debate in Bollywood and Hollywood. Prominent names from the entertainment industry are discussing how men in power take advantage of women in exchange for taking forward their dreams.

The sexual harassment saga started when a media house published a story in October revealing numerous accusations of sexual abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

But why are no names taken in the case of casting couch in Bollywood?

“Because of fear, because people who have great ambitions are afraid. They think of what will happen to them if they take somebody’s name who has so much power. That’s what I am saying. Everybody has to speak up,” she added.

Radhika ventured into Bollywood in 2005 with “Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi!” and since then has explored genres like thriller, drama and adult comedy with films like “Rakht Charitra”, “Shor in the City”, “Badlapur”, “Parched” and “Hunterrr”.

Was it a conscious decision to act less in commercial entertainers?

Radhika said: “Nothing like that. You have to choose from the work that you have. You can’t say that ‘I want that’ if that’s not been offered to you. So, whatever is offered to you, you choose from that. You make your choice whatever you feel is going to be more challenging or something that inspires you or excites you.”

She says she makes her choices in the “spur of the moment” with whatever she feels intuitively. “I am not a very big planner.” (IANS)

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Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi Kapoor all set to debut in Bollywood

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Daughter of Sridevi
Jhanvi Kapoor is the daughter of veteran actress Sridevi and Director Boney Kapoor

Radhika Bhirani

“Let me tell you, I feel like a newcomer,” Sridevi asserts, breaking into a giggle almost reminiscent from her ahead-of-times 1991 film “Lamhe”, even as she prepares to let her elder daughter loose in the Bollywood world. She says nothing comes easy in life, and she is sure her Jhanvi is ready to face the challenges.

Jhanvi, who is frequently followed by the paparazzi in Mumbai, will reportedly foray into films with a remake of Marathi hit “Sairat”.

Steering clear of divulging details about Jhanvi’s debut, Sridevi told IANS over phone from Mumbai: “She has chosen this path and profession, and I have been in this industry for long. So I am mentally more prepared than her. She has been watching me, and knows what she is getting into.”

“Nothing is going to be a cakewalk in any profession. So you have to work hard, and there will be challenges. I’m sure she is ready for it.”

The charismatic actress made a powerful comeback of sorts with “Mom” earlier this year — five years after her delightful plain Jane avatar in “English Vinglish”.

As “Mom”, which will soon release in Russia, nears its world television premiere on &Pictures on Saturday, Sridevi — who also has daughter Khushi — spoke about her worries as a parent.

“I’m of course worried when they go out, but luckily, they know their limits and they are very responsible children. When you have responsible children, half the battle is over. So, you don’t have to worry. But you are concerned. The concern will never go, and you’ll always be conscious about them,” said the 54-year-old.

Sridevi has been a big screen delight since her Bollywood debut with the 1978 movie “Solva Sawan”. But acting is something she started when she was all of four. In Hindi cinema, “Himmatwala”, “Mr. India”, “Chandni”, “Sadma”, “Nagina”, “ChaalBaaz”, “Lamhe” and “Khuda Gawah” are some of the films which established her footing as a performer who took woman power seriously.

The trait has continued with “English Vinglish” and “Mom” — in both of which she played the strong role of a mother effectively.

While most women actors in India complain about lack of roles for older actresses, Sridevi retorted: “Let me tell you, I feel that my career has just started, haan (giggles). I feel like a newcomer, and I feel that my career is going to start now. It’s not finished, it’s going to start now.”

She is also unlike many others — even much younger actors — who are putting their life story into books.

“Arre, maine kuch achieve nai kiya (I haven’t achieved anything), where I write about my story or my book. There’s a long way to go. There’s nothing, nothing like this,” she said, sounding almost ignorant, but humble, of the fan followers of her emotive power and fluid dancing skills.

At this point, she is just enthused to deliver more.

“There are definitely two films that are coming up, but it’s too early to talk about it. (There’s) Nothing I can say right now,” she said.

Over the years, Sridevi has not just embraced the changes in Indian cinema, but also opened up herself to an environment where celebrities — as opposed to her own shy self in her earlier days — need to go all out to promote her projects.

“Look, with the time, I have definitely opened up. I am definitely introvert and shy, and have never been rude to… I’ve definitely been shy, but thanks to my children, I have opened up. Somewhere, you have to change with the time.

“You can’t be like what you were… It doesn’t work that way. And do that (change) within your comfort, not by going out of it.”

That besides, she says a positive frame of mind, helps her look forward to what life has to offer.

“Be in a positive frame of mind, be happy, fulfil your goals, work hard… It never goes waste.”