Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Kerala and Hindi Film Music: Part 3

Curiously enough, by mid-1960s, Malayalam film music began to give its Hindi brethren a stiff fight, mainly thanks to a slender young man in whites who came from the suburbs of Cochin and whose mesmerising voice, impeccable diction, and outstanding tonal range took Kerala by storm. K. J. Yesudas transformed Malayalam film music and took it to new heights of glory like no other singer before or after him, ably supported by poets-turned-lyricists like Vayalar Rama Varma and P. Bhaskaran and immensely-gifted music directors like M.S. Baburaj, G. Devarajan and V. Dakshinamurthy.

But the Malayali was not to forsake Hindi film music which, in the 1970s, re-invented itself thanks to another precocious talent called R.D. Burman. Trained in Hindustani classical music, Burman was also in touch with musical trends from all over the world and had this uncanny knack of connecting with both young and old alike. Thus in Kerala, he was appreciated as much for the lilting and melodious “Chingari koi bhadke” in Amar Prem as for the jazzy acoustical arrangement of “Dum Maro Dum” in “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”.

What should not be forgotten here, of course, is the fact that the 70s saw the re-emergence of the versatile Kishore Kumar as a credible singing force. Kishore could be soulful or mischievous, romantic or funny as the situation demanded, and was the perfect foil for Burman’s genius. Burman’s success was also, in no small measure, due to Asha Bhonsle and her sensuous and melodious voice which he was able to deploy in a manner that no other composer before him, with the exception of O. P. Nayyar perhaps, had been able to do.

And thus the Malayali’s love affair with Hindi film music continued to flourish, in the absence of other distractions such as television, cable TV and the Internet.

The 1980s were not a good time for Hindi film music in general, the focus having shifted to action dramas which had little scope or inclination to showcase music. The 1990s did show some marginal improvement but the old masters were either no more or retired from the scene. Crass commercial interests had taken over and the newcomers like Kumar Sanu and Abhijeet found themselves unfavourably compared to their legendary predecessors. But what about today? Are the present-day singers like Shaan, Naresh Iyer and Rashid Ali or music directors like Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam as popular in Kerala as they are in the North?

Perhaps, some young blogger living in Kerala now should write the concluding part of this post!

(Concluded)

4 comments:

DesiPundit said...

Rada traces the origins of Kerala’s relationship with Hindi film music in a three-part series.

..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.

Curiously enough, by mid-1960s, Malayalam film music began to give its Hindi brethren a stiff fight, mainly thanks to a slender young man in whites who came from the suburbs of Cochin and whose mesmerising voice, impeccable diction, and outstanding tonal range took Kerala by storm

Philip said...

Very erudite post(s), Rada. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the analysis. I used to be surprised by how much my parents knew about Hindi films and film music in spite of having rural upbringing and no access to the media that we have now. Now I know how.

PS: Listening to Naushad's soulful compositions in 'Dhwani' as I type this.

Rada said...

Philip,

Thanks! I hope you will follow your parents' footsteps to become an afficiando of Hindi Film Music!

Btw, I am looking for a young blogger from Kerala who can write an update post on the current status of Hindi Film Music in Kerala. Do you know anyone who will be interested?

Philip said...

Don't know anybody at present. And I won't be able to do justice to the topic, otherwise I would have done it myself. But will keep looking around for ppl who may be interested.

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