What makes a song magic?
Actor Aamir Khan says that it’s the stars the song is picturised on. Music lovers respond to this with a pithy ‘Tchah!’ "No one person alone can make a song. Least of all an actor! In fact, in most cases one does not even remember the film a particular song belongs to," says mediaperson Vinod Dua. "Apart from the lyrics and the composition, the singer plays a vital part. But unfortunately, they don’t make great songs anymore." Words, music, vocals, visuals, thought, emotion – combine these and you’ve got a song for all ages.
‘Song writers were poets’
Theatre veteran Vinod Nagpal believes there’s no class in music any more. “Earlier, song writers were poets. Every word, every phase had meaning. Today, writers are told to simply write a song to given music.”
Nagpal loves Mohe bhool gaye sanwariya from Baiju Bawra for its melody and Jaane kya tune kahi from Pyasaa for the simplicity of its lyrics. Aaj sajan mohe ang laga lo from Pyaasa, he feels, is the ultimate passion number and Chadh gayo papi bichhua from Madhumati is his association with his youth.
But he has three favourites. Unko yeh shikayat hai from Adaalat is associated with a love he could not profess. “She was older. I could never tell her.”
Pyaar par bas to nahi from Sone Ki Chidiya and Shaame gham ki kasam from Footpath are love songs for his wife. “The first I sang to woo her. She didn’t like me but she liked the song!”
‘Songs on zindagi have me hooked ’
Old Hindi film songs reflected real personalities, situations and moods, says Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief, IBN Network. “They are almost critical to my identity.” The golden age of music, he says, lasted from the ’50s to the mid-’70s. “It was the era of Shankar-Jaikishan, OP Nayyar and SD Burman. Their music had innocence and idealism. Then came the khatiya generation of music.”
Sardesai enjoys the soulful Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam from Kaagaz Ke Phool just as much as he loves the naughty Chura liya from Yaadon Ki Baarat. But songs with the word ‘zindagi’ have him hooked. Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya from Hum Dono is his personal anthem.
Other faves are Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate from Aap Ki Kasam, Gaata rahe mera dil from Guide and Musafir hun yaaron from Parichay. Jaane jaan from Jawani Diwani is his pick in the experimental genre. Any new songs? Only Khwaja mere khwaja from Jodha Akbar, he says, has the potential to haunt.
‘Songs today are written for the market’
For mediaperson Vinod Dua, old songs – unlike new – were more than products. “Emotions were strong. People like Salil Choudhary, Manna Dey, SD Burman and Talat Mehmood were each a force on their own.”
However, songs of today are not too bad, he says. Though they are written for the market, not the heart, they are more joyous. “We had happy songs earlier but the mood wasn’t as vibrant. So though my favourite may be Mohammad Rafi’s Aaye bahar banke, lubhake chale gaye from Raj Hath, I also love Kajra re from Bunty Aur Babli.”
Dua’s list of favourites includes Hai bas ke har ek unke ishare mein nishan aur from Mirza Ghalib, Talat Mehmood’s Raat ne kya khwab dikhay from Ek Gaon Ki Kahani, Lata Mangeshkar’s Bichde hue pardesi from Barsaat and Dhalti jaye chunariya hamari, o Rama from Nau Do Gyarah.
But his best friendship number is Aaja ke intezaar mein. “It was 1971. I was on an empty bus – there were just the driver, conductor, me and another boy. It was drizzling. Then the radio played this song and the stranger and I started singing. That began a life-long friendship.”