Music is a divine art form. I firmly believe that there is hardly anyone who does not enjoy singing or at least listening to good music. It has been an integral part of cinema, especially indian cinema often referred to as Bollywood and its subsidiaries like tollywood, mollywood etc. The cinema has thus made the music ‘affordable’ to the common man through its catchy and simple lyrics and memorable rhythms. When heard through their favourite heroes and heroines, these songs create a lasting impression in the minds of the audience.
During my student days, the ‘ Binaca geetmala ‘ became an integral part of Wednesday nights. The ‘manchaahe geet’ was the regular lullaby for many a bachelor nights. ‘ Janey kahaam gaye woh din ‘ was perhaps sung more than ‘ Jana gana mana ‘ during the last day of the educational years. ‘ yeh dosti hum nahi chhodengey ‘ was another inevitable number.
Similarly the custom of singing a song by the girl during the ‘ girl seeing ‘ before marriage was almost a routine in South Indian houses of yesteryears. The girl was tutored one or two songs just in case the would be mother-in-law demanded such a performance during such an ‘encounter ‘.
A few of my classmates were good singers. They were in great demand during the so called ‘ free periods ‘and sessions we cut’. We used to compel them to sing the numbers as per our ‘parmayish’. Such singers gained lot of enviable importance when the girls requested for numbers like ‘ meri sapnom ki raani kab aayegi tu’. It was during my tenure in Poona that I got introduced to the Marathi Bhaav Geet which really stole my heart. Later my interest turned to Gazals of Jagjit Singh, Gulam Ali, Hariharan and the like. I used to listen to them in the car while driving to the office and back.
The young kids at home get attracted to filmy music as they see movies on television along with elders. They also enjoy singing without any inhibitions as they are not conscious about the quality. A relative of mine lived in Bombay in the mid 1970s. He wanted to send his son to one of the best schools in Bandra run by the Christian Missionary. He had booked for admission well in advance when the child was three. The school authorities called the parents for an interview when the child turned five. They were successful in the first screening as they had prepared very well. Then came the call for the kid’s interview. The kid rattled all the alphabets, months of the year, days of the week, numbers up to 25 etc without a single mistake. Then he was asked to sing a song. This was least expected by the poor parents. But the kid said he was ready. And he did sing too. He could sing more than six lines of the most popular Hindi movie songs of the time loud and clear…….!. But alas , when the list got published his name was missing. The parents were agitated. They ascertained the reason. It was revealed that the boy sang the ‘Bobby’ number ‘ Hum tum ek kamre me band ho aur chaabi kho jaay…’
The other day, I had a similar experience in America. We were invited for a puja in house in connection with the ‘ paalki’ of Saibaba. One thing I noticed in the USA is that the first generation settlers suddenly start missing their homeland and do not lose any opportunity to make a ‘desi’ reunion in one pretext or the other and also try to display their love for their culture and affinity to their tradition in any possible manner. The ‘paalki’ did come in a Tesla car. From the drive way it was ceremoniously shouldered by four dhoti clad men. The puja was performed by one gentleman who had worn saffron robes after changing from his faded jeans and polo t shirts. Then it was chorus singing of bhajans. Afterwards it was the turn of onlookers to recite Saibaba devotional songs. After a lull, my little grandson also volunteered. I too was surprised at his move since he was not used to such bhajans and gatherings in the past. Whenever we had visited the baba temple, he had shown interest in dropping coins in the donation box, running around the deity and above all to eat good food/Prasadam at the basement. Soon he sat down and started. ‘ baba black sheep , have you any wool…… yes sir, yes sir three bags full’……..and so on. The people gathered around started looking at each other. My daughter stood in front of him and showed signs to stop with a disgusting facial expression. He was not prepared to listen. He completed the recital as per his wish. As he was preparing for the next ( which could be anything from ‘ five lil monkeys jumping on the bed’ to ‘ London bridge falling’) my daughter physically lifted him from the center stage and dragged him to the dining area……..!
There was a series of hushed up laughter in the crowd around. I really enjoyed it thoroughly well. After all, for his age all ‘babas’ are the same…..There was no scope for singing the blue feeling it as inappropriate…..Let me conclude by repeating the opening remarks…...Music ( in any form ) is divine…….