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Trivia Tunes: From Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics over whisky to Lata Mangeshkar’s lost gem

About decibel levels and a song’s soulfulness
How does one reconcile a loud and very raucous ‘Aadha Main Aadhi Woh’ within the movie Bholaa with the same, soulful song we have heard in the special video promo? What is the reason for this decibel difference that makes the track sound so different?  This phenomenon highlights the difference that good song recording and the final mixing of the film’s soundtrack can make to any song. As it is, the song is used in bits within the film, and Irshad Kamil’s wonderful lyrics, with the beautiful play on the words tudke (pieces) and dukhade (sorrows) and the North-South sangam of composer Ravi Basrur and singer B. Praak fail to register as they do in the audio.

Trivia Tunes: From Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics over whisky to Lata Mangeshkar’s lost gem

Written over a drink
An old friend of mine, filmmaker Raaj Grover, has been witness to this story. Outside Shree Sound Studios in Dadar was a café called Gupta Restaurant, where several film folks would eat, and the friendly owner would keep accounts of them all, so that they never had to pay upfront cash. On one such day, almost at closing time, lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi entered and requested the owner to let him sit for a while. He asked for a steel glass, and poured whisky in it to hide the alcohol, which he had brought from home. And then he began scribbling words, words that finally became the cult Phir Subah Hogi hit, ‘Chin-O-Arab Hamara’ from the 1958 hit, Phir Subah Hogi!

Great minds think—almost—alike
Great minds think alike, as the proverb goes. And when this truism comes to life in cinema, and with a common actress and singer too, the phenomenon becomes very tangy. Anand Bakshi, in the 1970 My Love, wrote the hit, ‘Zikra Hota Hai Jab Qayamat Ka’ sung by Mukesh and composed by Daan Singh. It had the lines, ‘Tu Jo Chahe To Din Nikalta Hai / Tu Jo Chahe To Raat Hoti Hai (The sun rises and night falls as per your desires) and was filmed on Shashi Kapoor singing for his beloved, Sharmila Tagore. Later, in the same year, Indeevar, arguably Hindi cinema’s most underrated lyricist, wrote the Kalyanji-Anandji hit for Feroz Khan, ‘Jo tumko ho pasand wohi baat karenge / Tum din ko agar raat kaho raat kahenge (I will say all the things you like / If you want to call the day as night, I will say that too!). The film was Safar and it was Sharmila Tagore again. What’s more, both hit numbers were sung by Mukesh!

Bonhomie among giants
The late Indeevar had told me an anecdote about Sahir Ludhianvi that showed the bonhomie among writers in the days gone by. “Sahir came to me with his lyrics for Chitralekha because it was a Hindu-oriented subject set in the Maurya Empire. He wanted me to check every song so that nothing was incorrect or inapt for that culture.” He added, “But his lyrics were so perfect that there was nothing to be done!” Indeevar later part-completed Sahir’s last two assignments, Deedaar-E-Yaar and Lakshmi along with Kaifi Azmi.

Reciprocal gesture
But probably as a huge reciprocal gesture, Sahir, when approached for B.R. Chopra’s Chanakya Aur Chandragupta, featuring Dilip Kumar, Dharmendra, Hema Malini and Parveen Babi, suggested Indeevar’s name for the subject, also set in those times. Sahir was a fixture with B.R. Chopra then, but before the film was shelved for unknown reasons in the 1970s, Indeevar had recorded a song composed by Naushad and rendered by Lata Mangeshkar. A part of this song is even traceable online!

Four verses in different languages!
And talking of Lata Mangeshkar, she had recorded a unique song in the 1990s for a Sanjay Dutt-Madhuri Dixit film, Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai, which was to be produced and directed by R.K. Nayyar. A day earlier, composer Laxmikant (-Pyarelal) had actually invited me for its recording at Mehboob Studios. However, I had another commitment and excused myself. The song was recorded with an antara each in four languages—Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Telugu, all written by eminent lyricists in each language! The film was never completed, and I never got to hear this wonder. When I met Sadhana, R.K. Nayyar’s wife, in 2011, I had asked her about it, but she confessed that though she possessed the song on spool, she could not see how it could be made available to all!

Friendship is unconditional
At the recent birthday party of Alka Yagnik, it was refreshing to see the doughty Anuradha Paudwal enjoying herself as one of the early guests. The media has always projected them as persona non-grata with each other as there were some cases where the former was said to have dubbed the latter’s songs. The fact that these two singers share a warm camaraderie indicates that, if the stories had been true, the two had soon realized the games played with them and chosen to remain friends.

Musical ‘hearing’
Anuradha Paudwal herself is taking up worthy social causes through her social welfare initiative, Suryodaya Foundation. She recently distributed over 200 customized hearing-aids for free to the hearing-impaired in Bhubaneswar, on the occasion of World Hearing Day. The recipients ranged from three-year olds to senior citizens.

Discovery channel
The late composer Jaidev actually introduced three formidable singing talents to Hindi cinema. The first was Anuradha again, in her first recording, a solo, though the film was never completed. Suresh Wadkar and Hariharan both made their debuts in the 1978 film Gaman. Interestingly, Mukesh’s last songs to be released were from the album of the 1997 television serial, Chand Grahan, also composed by Jaidev. The songs had been recorded for a film that never took off and were used by the same producer for his TV enterprise. And Jaidev himself had passed away in 1987 while Mukesh left the world in 1976!

Lavish praise for a junior
The late composer Khayyam was broadminded and fair enough to lavish praise on Anu Malik on the music of the new Umrao Jaan, released in 2006, a full 24 years after his own iconic musical masterpiece of that name. He told me, “I was working in much more musical times. My director, Muzaffar Ali, was fully into the subject and the atmosphere of Lucknow and we worked in the best possible environs and with total creative freedom.” It is up to the reader to interpret this remark and his final comment, “For these times, Anu Malik has done a brilliant job!”

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