Singer Rekha Bhardwaj misses the Delhi that was
The summer breeze becomes pregnant with her voice as the verse ‘Ek woh din bhi the… Raat yeh bhi guzar jaayegi’ from her first Bollywood song, from the film Chachi 420 (1997), is melodiously sung by playback singer Rekha Bhardwaj. “While singing this song today, I realised it’s such a big philosophy… this too shall pass,” says the songstress, getting nostalgic about her Delhi days – the city where she was born and grew up.
In Delhi recently, for a masterclass at Harper@Cinema at the recent 13th Habitat Film Festival, Bhardwaj shared some of the memories she holds fondly of Delhi.
“Delhi ki meri bahut fond memories hain (I have very fond memories of Delhi). You mention ‘college’ and the first thing I get reminded of are my friends; unki sabse zyada yaad aati hai (I miss them the most). In college, I used to be a tomboy and sported short hair. We were a group of four friends and I was called the gang leader… Hum chaar ladkiyan apni special bus banwati thi kyunki humari Music (Hons) ki classes ek baje shuru hoke 4.45-5pm khatm hoti thi. Puri bus khali hoti thi [phir bhi] hum footboard par baithke aate the (We four used to travel back home after our music classes in a special bus, and even though the entire bus used to be vacant we preferred to sit on the footboard),” says the Delhi University (DU) alumna, who has won National Awards for her songs such as Badi Dheere Jali (from the 2010 film Ishqiya).
Like all mothers, Rekha’s mum used to remain worried till she reached home safe. “My house used to be in Paharganj. So, I used to travel all the way from North Campus to Defence Colony, Golf Links, drop each one of my friends and then get off at the end. Meri Mummy bahut gussa hoti thi kyunki mai bahut dubli thi, and I used to be a very timid person. Unhe andhera hone ke baad mera ghar aana pasand nahi tha (My mother used to get angry because I was physically the weakest among all my friends, and she didn’t like me reaching home after dusk),” says the alumna of Faculty of Music, DU.
Besides religiously practising music, hanging out in college and around Mandi House is what the singer misses even today. “Hindu College was my main college, and I used to spend more time there. That’s how I met Vishal (Bhardwaj, her husband and filmmaker). Wahan front lawns mein baithe rehte the apne group ke sath… Mai classes bhi kam attend karti thi (We used to hang out in the front lawns of Hindu College, and I didn’t attend too many classes either). Sometimes Vishal used to come to Mandi House where I had my music classes,” Bhardwaj recalls.
“I love jo barishon ke waqt pedon se jamun girke puri Tuglaq Road, India Gate jamuni ho jata hai (I loved it when the roads near India Gate used to get covered with black plums that fell from the trees in monsoon). I specially miss jo Feroz Shah Road ke wahan chote-chote int ke khokhe bane hote the, udhar taat dalte the aur sardiyon mei hum wahan baith ke chai peete the aur bread pakora khate the (I miss the small rustic, roadside eateries near Feroz Shah Road where we used to sip tea and eat bread pakoras). I miss that because I don’t see those anymore. Those places have turned into café’s. Change ho gaya na sab (Everything has changed now); raat yeh bhi guzar jaayegi (This too shall pass),” she says philosophically.
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