Friday, December 21, 2007

Music and Gujaratis

Firstly, let me make it clear right at the beginning that please dont classify my blog as one that is favouring regionalism. Views presented here are just my Biased views towards Gujaratis. They are a realization that is coming from well within me, denying a general view of people from my state.

Through out my college days I have been envious of my Bengali friends, for a simple fact, that all of them had a good taste of music and a natural flair of understanding it easily. I had always struggled to be so. I have tried to work hard on understanding music more but atleast till date I have not even achieved 1% of what I ever wanted to. Looking at my self and fellow Gujaratis around me, just the way everyone likes to blame situations for their limitations, I too felt that its just that I belong to place where Money is more important to people than art (this might be an absolutely rubbish hypothesis that I had, but I managed to convince this to my self for a long time :) ). Moreover, lack of good Gujarati singers both in the Classical format of music as well as the popular format had endorsed my views.

Having said this now when I look back at the great musicians that Gujarat has given to the Indian Industry, I feel that Gujarati's contribution towards music, let me not say music here, to Bollywood music, has been very important one. Tracing Gujarat's contribution to all the form of music, we can see that even with small number of good musicisans Gujaratis have left substantial impact on the Indian Music space.

Hence, I would as my tribute to these Gujaratis who had come from the same land which I always felt was not very appreciative, write a small note of appreciation for these great music personalities that has shaped today's Indian Music.

Earliest Form of Music from Gujarat : Bhajans

Gujarati music has contributed through many compositions of Bhajans that were created by Narsinh Mehta in Junagadh and Mirabai after she travelled to Dwarka from Rajasthan.

Narsinh Mehta (Click here to know more about him)

One of the most famous bhajans that has touched and changed millions of Indians Pre and post independence is "Vaishnavjan to ene re kahiye je...", this was composed by Narsinh Mehta in the fifteenth century. And the compositions have been passed on generations after generation orally.

Other works of Narsinh Mehta that have been acclaimed over the years include, Putra Vivah, Mameru, Hundi, Har Same No Pado, Jhari Na Pado,Chaturis, Sudama Charit, Dana Leela, and episodes based on Srimad Bhagwatam. Apart from this he has also created many compositions that touched the social issues of accepting Harijans as a part of the society.

Mirabai (click here to know more about her)

The era of Bhajans just after Narsinh Mehta's death was of Mirabai. She travelled to Dwarka all the way from Rajasthan, contributing to merging of the music of two regions. Her devotional songs for Lord Krishna has songs in rajasthani dilect of hindi and Guajarati.

The best of these Bhajans can be found on the following link:

Music for Indian mainstream Hindi Cinema

Theatre arts ...

Well let me start with the very begining and roots of music in Hindi cinema. Well before movies were officially introduced to Indians, the only form of entertainment which still is a great source of talent for bollywood was Parsi-Gujarti Theatre artists. They made musical plays which laid, 150 years back, the tradition of music getting involved with the art of story telling in India.

Mumbai Gujarati Natak Mandali (Source

Infact the earliest form of musical theatre had some of its roots in Gujarat. The drama form, including song and dance stories, called Bhavai (Nautanki is its equivalent), which led to Indian musicals had been one of the most popular form of story telling in early 1900s. Artistic use of this form of music can be seen in movies like Bhavni Bhavai and Hum dil de chuke sanam.

After the initial contribution of Guajarati musicians to the hindi film industry it seems that the time post independence, Gujarat disappeared from the Music scene in Hindi Film Industry. This carried on till the time when came the duo of two kutchi brothers composing some mesmerising music in 70s.

Kalyanji Anandji (Their wikipedia profile)

The two were sons of hard core business family who migrated from kutch to mumbai to open up a grocery store. Initially they did not get good teachers to teach them music but they persisted.

I wish to have been born in that time staying in those interiors of Girgaun, going to that kirana store, and listening to the tunes of the best musical scores to come in coming years. They gave some absolutely mesmerzing romantic songs like "Bekhudi mein sanam,..." and "Chandan sa badan.." to amazing fun songs like "Khaike paan banaraswala..." and "Laila oh laila...". While with the former they touched the classical music based songs, with later they explored the lanes of commercial cinema and touched the arena of beats. They made patriotic songs like "Mere desh ki dharti..." which made manoj kumar an Icon of his times.

Later years, they came up with blockbuster music of songs like "Tirchi topiwale..." which introduced Indian movies with a slight touch of pop. Their songs have been mixed by modern day DJs and still rocks the dance floors of the nightclubs where Indians party.

After Kalyanji and Anandji duo, there has not been many noticable music directors from Gujarat who made their mark in hindi film Industry. But In 1990s came a musician who along with a very controversial partner of his, and along with a company that changed the way comman man was exposed to music completely, made ripples in the world of hindi cinema.

Shravan (Wikipedia profile)

Year after year, for the entire 1990s, Nadeem sharavan, came up with hit albums. This duo is the one that can easily identified with the music of 1990s. Just look at the list of movies for which they have made musical scores and you realize that the entire 90s was an era of these two prolific musicians. Though later they have split with controversies marring their image in the Indian industry.

1990 they entered the industry, along with an impactful T-series combination and new singers like Kumar sanu and Alka yagnik to give, hits, year after year like Aashiqui (Till date one of the biggest Musical hits from indian cinema), Saajan, Sadak, Deewana, Raja Hindustani, Pardes and many more.

Will wait for their music of upcoming Raaz2.

Present day...

2005 and onwards, we have seen quite a few gujaratis leading the music of Hindi cinema today.

Ismail Darbar (wikipedia profile)

With the present day showman, director par excellence, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, was introduced the son of a marriage band owner from Gujarat. His name merges the two religions in a musical harmony, the later part of which has come from the name of the band his father owned. He has made musical scores for a few films and his panache in creating the true tunes merging classical with commercial can be seen in movies like, Devdas, Hum dil de chuke sanam, and kisna. He has travelled a long way from being a violinist in the Jatin Lalit troop to coming on the same stage as Jatin Lalit.

Himesh Reshammiya (wikipedia profile)

Love him, hate him, but you cant ignore him. Though I prefer the latter option in his case, I feel that if anyone in bollywood music industry represents the present day face of the industry, he is none other than HR. The first music director to win the best singer award, he has played it big in the very little time. Look at the biggest hits from hindi cinema in last 3 years and more than 50% of it are his compositions.

Son of a gujarati music director, he took to music after his brother's death, to fulfil his parents' wishes. One thing that I admire the most about him his, whatever his style of music is, it is original. He has not copied western music and yet has a western touch to his music. His start as music director for TV serials on DD and Zee was remarkable given it was at an age of 16.

I would wait to get one more Tere Naam or Pyar kiya to darna kya from him.

Shekhar Ravijani

Started as a singer through talent hunt shows, he turned to music direction after meeting his musical alter ego Vishal Dadlani, and two have been one of the best musical duo that the industry has recieved.

I feel their movie Jhankar Beats, had given the real meaning to what we call "inspired music". It was not lifting musical scores of RDB and still it had his touch of music. Recently they have given big hits like Om Shanti Om, Golmaal, Zinda and BluffMaster.

Classical Music... : Notable Gujaratis in classical hindustani music are Ustad Faiyaz khan, Mualabux, and Pandit Omkarnath.

Ustad Faiyaz khan (His Profile) had for long served as the court musician in Baroda for the kings.By the time he died in 1950, he had earned the name of being one of the most influential vocalists of that century. Pandit Jasraj has commented that Faiyaz Khan and Ustad Amir khan would remain the most important vocalists of the 20th century.

Maulabux has been a notable dhrupad singer from Baroda, in whose memory stands the music schoold in faculty of performing arts, Baroda.

Pandit Omkarnath Thakur till date remains one of the most prominent educationalist and composer of Hindustani classial music of yester years.

Vasant Rai has also been a notable gujarati name in the world of music internationally. Born in france to Gujarati parents, he was the teacher to likes of Ravishankar. HIs students has for years ruled the different aspects of music industry.

This is no comprehensive list of people who has contributed to music from Gujarat. The tradition of Haveli music, the raas-garba and other folk forms of music, Gujarati music directors like Avinash Vyas, Mahesh Kanodia and likes, Contribution of Manhar Udhas to Gujarati gazals and many more things still needs more discussion.

A lot has been done and a lot is to be done. Hoping to get a lot more from the state of trade and business to work in the music industry of India.


Pratima said...

Good work boy...

Keep it up :)

Ashoka said...

Appreciate your interest. Done good research young boy. Keep it up.

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