Friday, 5 September 2008

Kerala and Hindi Film Music: 2

Vividh Bharati service of All India Radio (AIR), started operations in 1957 and was designed around a format that gave importance to music, predominantly Hindi film music. This was not surprising, considering it was put together in the first place to stave off the challenge of Radio Ceylon and its extremely popular “Binaca Geet Mala”.

Radio Ceylon played the latest film music no doubt, but transmitted in the Short Wave (SW) metre band which called for a more expensive SW receiver. The reception quality was also inconsistent as the signal waxed and waned depending on the atmospheric conditions. Vividh Bharati on the other hand, beamed its programs from a series of linked transmitters installed in major cities and towns and that too, in the Medium Wave (MW) spectrum. Reception quality was excellent and the signal could be picked up from a low-cost, single-band receiver. Even from the sheer variety of film-music based programming that it offered, the new entrant scored, with specific time-slots targeted at youth, housewives, elders, jawans and so on.

But to come back to the Hindi film music of that era: while the songs were full of touching melody and meaningful as well soulful lyrics, it was still steeped in the traditions of Hindustani classical music and were sometimes heavy, ponderous, and overtly sentimental. It took the music director duo of Shankar-Jaikishan, a maverick composer called O.P. Nayyar and an upcoming actor called Shammi Kapoor to rewrite the prevailing rules of the game and in the process, save Hindi film music from its own excesses.

Shankar-Jaikishan and O. P. Nayyar lightened up Hindi film music considerably by giving it a racy beat and experimenting with a western style orchestra. Borrowing as they did from western music styles such as jazz, swing and rock ’n’ roll, they infused a robustness and vigour in their music, faithfully portrayed on screen by the inimitably-animated Shammi Kapoor. But, for many Keralites of that generation, the music of Shankar-Jaikishan or Nayyar was just a door-opener. Once they entered the marvellously diverse world of Hindi film music, they encountered the varied but distinct composing styles of such talented composers as Naushad, Madan Mohan, Roshan, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Salil Chowdhury and were hooked forever.

Within a very short time, Vividh Bharati broadcasts became a rage and became the most preferred radio channel in every Kerala household.

4 comments:

Vijay said...

Aaah Binaca Geeth Mala and Ameen Sayani.. the original RJ...

Ravi said...

I am so glad that you did not mention K.L.Saigal anywhere in your post, ...I have as yet to figure out what was so good about his music or acting for that matter.

Below is an interesting link
http://www.indianetzone.com/6/kundan_lal_saigal.htm

The best of Hindi film music was during the 50's to the 80'2.

Now we have, SINGH IS KING and Snoop Dog-what do we call it-progress or cultural evolution?

Rada said...

@Vijay: Wednesday nights at 8 pm with the honey-voiced Ameen Sayani and the Binaca Geet Mala! Surely those were the days!

@Ravi: K. L. Saigal was a great singer. I'm sure you will come around to appreciating him as you grow older and wiser! :-)

Thiruvengadam said...

I beg to contradict Ravi's comment and totally agree with Rada on KL Saigal. He was a legend and had a soulful voice, particularly in the sad songs. Nearly an era has elapsed since his demise. But he still commands a very loyal fan following. Even the trio of Rafi, Mukesh & Kishore considered Saigal as their Guru and in some way or other, imitate his style in their singing. Sadly enough, Saigal died a pre-mature death.

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.