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Tag Archives: C Ramchandra

The Tragedienne

My ten favourite Meena Kumari songs

Meena kumari1
Meena Kumari, a face, which launched thousand tragic films. A thousand might be a bit of exaggeration, but she alone on her star-power helped tragic films to great success. In the 50s and even in the frolicking, colourful 60s, people would flock the cinema halls (to different degrees) to see her suffer. She was also an adept comedienne, in which she also excelled and was quite successful as seen in Magroor [1950], Miss Mary [1957], Azaad [1955] and Kohinoor [1960].
Pakeezah Meena Kumari
Meena Kumari at a certain time in my childhood played a big role in shaping the image of women in my psyche. Exposed to a slew of films, where she played a neglected wife, a suffering daughter-in-law, a sacrificing daughter, a caring sister-in-law, a protective sister or ‘simply’ a tormented woman between two men, she moulded an image of women being forever doomed to suffer at the hands of men in life. It is true that even other leading ladies like Mala Sinha (Anpadh) or Nutan (Khandan, Chhota Bhai) played such roles but it was as if they were impersonating Meena Kumari in these films. Meena Kumari remained always the original and the one to which others had to match to.
The presence of strong, independent and liberal women in my family and surroundings though would rectify the image in my mind; Meena Kumari would nevertheless always remain special.
Meena kumari3
On 31st March it was her 41st death anniversary. To commemorate it here are ten of my favourite songs filmed on her. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Bollywood, Lists

 

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This Singing Business

  • Seeing no new post from me on my blog, my readers got concerned about it. Pacifist just couldn’t tolerate this utter neglect and came again to my rescue. thank you, dear Pacifist. This is her third post on this blog and with it she is showing her business acumen. Bravo, Pacifist! More power to the small businessmen and -women!
    Pacifist’s choice of 10 songs of small business

Thank you Harvey. I’m quite pleased at having this opportunity of posting 10 songs on a subject I have often thought about. People selling stuff, doing business. It was a wonderful time of economic opportunity, letting the small fish survive. Today they have been eaten up by the big fish. I don’t mean to imply that they all sold stuff in the filmi manner, but sell, they did.
So in memory of those small dying/dead businesses, here are 10 such songs.
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I do have more than 10 songs with a different product being sung and sold, but I’m such a sucker for melody, tunes which are pleasing to my ears that I left some and took some even though the product got repeated. Boot Polish was one such, Tel Maalish another 🙂
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Bollywood, Guest Post, Lists

 

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In Remembrance, Nalini Jaywant

My ten favourite Nalini Jaywant solo songs

If I ask my niece who is Nalini Jaywant, she will most probably say that she must be one of my innumerable aunts. In fact, I do have a distant aunt with the name of Nalini. But the actress Nalini Jaywant seems to have faded into oblivion. When one reads discussions on Hindi film actresses of the 50s, her name hardly appears. Maybe the reason is her self-imposed exile, otherwise it is hard to understand, why she should disappear from public memory. In her heydays she was considered the most beautiful actress and as a talented actress by her colleagues.

She started her career in her teenage years, playing sister (the title role) to Sheikh Mukhtar in Mehboob Khan’s Bahen [1941], where she sang all her songs in her own voice.. Her films in the 40s were nothing to write home about, till she made a splash with Anokha Pyar [1948] as the all-sacrificing part of the triangle, showing Dilip Kumar once again between two strong ladies, the other being Nargis. After that there was no looking back for her, acting in hit films like Samadhi, Naubahar, Rahi [1952], Shikast, Munimji, Nastik and Kala Pani. Like many of her contemporaries she couldn’t carry her success streak into the 60s and retired from the silver screen. She appeared only in two films in the 80s Bandish [1980] and Nastik [1983].

More detailed writing on her career can be found at Upperstall and by Shishir Krishna Sharma on his blog. The first and last photo in this post are from his collection. Thank you Shishirji for the loan!
Here are my ten favourite solo songs of this beautiful and talented actress. Enjoy!
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Bollywood, Lists

 

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Anokhe Bhol!

Arunji has been a loyal follower of this blog and has always been very much encouraging with his comments and suggestions. This is his second post here on this blog in the role of an author. It is an honour for me that he agreed to do this post. His personal reminiscences as usual makes this post more dear to me. Thank you Arunji!

Arunkumar Deshmukh’s ten favourite songs with “interesting” lyrics

Words like ‘Dumbak dumba’ or ‘chidi chapata ‘ or Ding dong etc always attracted me in Hindi songs. In the early 50s I was an avid listener of Radio Ceylon. They used to have a weekly programme of ‘ Anokhe Bol ‘ for 15 minutes. I waited thru the week for this programme. it was my favourite programme. Songs played in this programme had odd words in it and those songs haunted me for the entire week till the next programme, when next set of songs took over.
From my early childhood i was very fond of seeing films and enjoying its music. We were in Hyderabad State. This being a Muslim ruled state; there were many peculiar things in those days. For example, in most Theatres, there used to be a class called “ZANANA “(Ladies Only). This was like a balcony. It was meant for those Burkha-clad Muslim women who wanted to see the films, without being seen by the men folk. A huge cloth curtain was dividing the Zanana Class and the rest of the Theatre. A She-male or a He-female (I don’t know which! ) was appointed with the exclusive duty of removing the huge curtain once the film started and closing it before or as soon as the Interval or the end of the film, so that the women could see the film and still not get exposed to the prying eyes of the men folk in the theatre.
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Posted by on November 18, 2012 in Bollywood, Guest Post, Lists

 

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Arunkumar Deshmukh’s 10 favourite cycle songs

Arunji has been a loyal follower of this blog and has always been very much encouraging. With this post he makes his debut here on this blog in the role of an author. It is an honour for me that he agreed to do this post. His personal reminiscences makes this post more dear to me. Now, without much ado I give the microphone to him.

It is said, that Indian Films represent the life in India. There is, however, a section of people who believe that the society emulates what is shown in films. So, what is the truth?

When the Talkie came to India and films were made, only one thought was there in the minds of the producers and that was to make films based on Mythological and Historical stories.
This went on for first 5-6 years, but then film makers realised that people will like their films if they could relate their lives with it. So, films based on stories with village background, the caste system, dowry, the moneylender and the farmers were made. These became popular. The urban and the city viewer who was educated were looking for something different. Thus, films were made on love stories set in cities and bigger towns.

Those days middle class was growing in India by leaps and bounds and these were the people, who could spend the money. Now these were the people the films were aimed at.
In the 40s and 50s, the most common transportation vehicle was CYCLE. Almost everybody knew how to ride a cycle. Few people had cars and motorcycles had not yet become popular. Scooters were yet unknown.

I remember, I got my first Cycle when I was in school. My school was 3-4 miles far and I used the cycle to go to school in the morning and to go to friends in the evening. There were many cycles on the road and there was a Traffic rule that every cycle must have a Lamp on the Cycle’s handle as a caution to other vehicles. These lamps were kerosene and Cotton-batti lamps in the night. Sometimes, the lamps got extinguished due to wind. Unaware of this, the police used to catch us. On hearing our plea about the lamp, wind etc, the police would touch the glass of the lamp. if it was still warm, we were let out with a warning only. This was the life in late 40s and early 50s, when I was in Hyderabad State.

It was natural that now cycles too should feature in films. Imaginative Directors used cycles for the heroes when they chased the heroines and for the heroines when they went on a picnic with sahelis. In many films, the village affluents would be shown as cycle owners and the city people using it for moving about.

Up to the 70s, cycles were part of many films. Slowly, cycles were replaced by scooters, Mopeds and motor cycles in films and by 80s, it was only cars and fancy Mobikes for the heroes. Poor cycles were reduced to be shown, only used by the doodhwalla bhaiyyas (milk-men).
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Bollywood, Guest Post, Lists

 

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Of Clouds and Separation

My ten favourite songs on clouds and separation


Mid-June, the rains used to arrive in Bombay when I was a kid. The black clouds would hold the promise of change. This would mean relief from the heat and dust of the preceding summer months and a burst of new life. The dreary plain near our house would promise to turn into a pond with lots of small streams arising and emptying in it. These small streams would then become alive with small and big crabs and tadpoles! Coinciding with the arrival of the black clouds, the new school year would also arrive. This would mean new textbooks! The dark messenger would also bring the hope, that I would share the class room with my friends from last year, but at the same time also the anxiety if I would again have to spend this new school year with class bully.

These dark water-bearers of sky, who brought so many emotions in my being were and are also the bearers of hope over the centuries in India for separated lovers. The earliest mention is found in Meghduta (the cloud messenger) by Kalidasa (most probably 4th century CE). It tells the story, how a yakṣha (a supernatural being), after being exiled, asks a passing cloud to take a message to his wife. In Hindi cinema though, we find mostly women singing to the clouds. They call upon them to be their messengers, to take a message to their far-off beloveds, asking them to return back.
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Bollywood, Lists

 

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Happy Birthday Mala Sinha!

My ten favourite Mala Sinha songs


Mala Sinha is an actress, who shaped Hindi film history in the late 50s and 60s with her portrayal of diverse roles, which ranged from a princess to a fisher-woman, from a spy to a blind flower-girl. In my childhood, I saw  her a lot in the Chitrahaar and Chhaaya Geet programmes and also in the Sunday evening film. We children, used to make fun of her quite often, but were also in awe of her all the same. Even now, although she makes me laugh unwittingly at times, I do have a soft corner for her and a big one at that!

Choosing songs from her films was not easy. That is why put in some rules
a) One song pro film
b) Only solo songs
c) Songs to which she lip syncs, i.e. no background songs

Madhu, here is to your Mala Sinha, tujhko rakhe ram, tujhko allah rakhe

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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Bollywood, Lists

 

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