V Kumar has been writing on Bollywood movies and music for several years, highlighting perspectives that are often missed out or ignored.
Darbari Kanada Songs
Popular Songs in Raag Darbari Kanada
Unlike what most people believe, Hindustani classical music is not just for the purists. Equally ironic is the fact that masses love it when it is used to make compositions in the popular genres of music, which they are used to. The most popular genre in India are Bollywood songs, and some of best of them that we hear and enjoy everyday are based on classical music. Take the example of Darbari Kanada, a Raag that even the best of composers find difficult to work upon. Yet, this Raag has also been the underlying musical base for many popular numbers of Bollywood, which most people do not even identify with classical music.
Here are ten Bollywood songs, not for the connoisseurs of classical music, but specially for the masses that love light Bollywood numbers. These numbers, made long back, some over half a century ago, still remain popular with the masses, most of whom are perhaps not even aware of an entity called Raag Darbari Kanada. They have enthralled audiences over several decades and will probably continue to do so for a long time to come. They not only provide a testimony to the widespread impact of Hindustani classical music on Bollywood songs, which most of us have not noted, but also tell us why the songs of fifties and sixties still rule our heart, while the more recent ones quickly fade into oblivion.
A taste of Raag Darbari Kanada in popular Bollywood music!
Song # 1
"Chandi ki deewar na todi, pyar bhara dil tod diya..."
A very popular songs from the late sixties by Mukesh, whose serene voice is one of the most characteristic features of this number. The music of this song is composed by Kalyanji Anandji based on Raag Darbari Kanada, which allows the disturbing emotions to flow almost effortlessly with the composition giving them further depth. The lyrics of Gulshan Bawra are effective and convey the whole context in which the song is expressed, expressing the disappointments of a young man whose love preferred money over him.
Song # 2
"Daiyya re daiyya, laaj mohe aye..."
This popular number is a rather unusual composition for the use of Raag Darbari Kanada. It was composed by Naushad for the glamorous song dance sequence featuring Vyjayanthimala, one of the best exponents of classical dances in Bollywood. It was sung by Asha Bhonsle, and had lyrics written by Shakeel Badyuni. Naushad was one of the few music composers in Bollywood, other than Madan Mohan, who could indulge in such an experimental use of this Raag. This song is actually composed in the form of a medley. The first portion of the song is largely instrumental music that supports the gorgeous stage setting and a grand presentation. The later part is the song-dance which carries forward the grandeur of the sequence. This number is one of the more innovative uses of Raag Darbari Kanada, and it is the melody of the Raag, which differentiates it from many other similarly choreographed numbers of that period.
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Song # 3
"Dekha hai pehli baar, saajan ki aankhon mein pyar ..."
With the benefit of the hindsight, it seems that the singing style of S P Balasubramanyam may have been well suited for Raag Darbari Kanada. Unfortunately, the only instance when he sang a Bollywood song based on this Raag was this number, where he was joined by Alka Yagnik, one of the most talented female singers of that time, who was also equally unfortunate in not getting such opportunities more often.This successful number was composed by Nadeem Shravan, with lyrics written by Faiz Anwar. This was one of the most popular songs of early nineties. Made for popular consumption, it has been composed in a way that uses the depth and energy of Raag Darbari Kanada to great effect, without making it look like a classical music composition. The result was this scintillating number that rode the charts all the way. This number is also a great illustration of the versatility of the composers. By 1990s, few music composers were left in Bollywood with the ability to make use of classical music. Perhaps, that is why this number stands out!
Song # 4
"Kitna haseen hai mausam, kitna haseen safar hai ...."
This is an extraordinary number, simply because of the very unique manner in which the Raag Darbari Kanada has been adapted, almost as if it were Raag Yaman Kalyan expressing love, or Raag Pahadi, describing the beauty of nature. Such a harmonious fusion of sounds with Raag Darbari Kanada is not very common. Devoid of the depth and turbulence associated with it, this number is one of the most melodious songs ever composed in this Raag. It reflects the all round genius of C Ramachandra, who has also lent his voice (as Chitalkar) to it along with Lata Mangeshkar. The impressive lyrics are by Rajinder Krishan. This number also throws light on the calibre of C Ramchandra, suggesting that this master of light compositions has probably been underrated and given far less credit that he actually deserved.
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Song # 5
"Pag ghunghroo bandh Meera nachi thi..."
It is not easy to imagine a music composer using Raag Darbari Kanada to compose a comical song to be sung by Kishore Kumar. Not many would dare to do such a thing, but then, one could always expect Bappi Lahiri to try what no one else would even think of, and when he did succeed, as in this number, the results were always spectacular. For Kishore Kumar, carrying through this unthinkable task was yet another feather in his crowded cap that he wore as Bollywood's best male singer of seventies and eighties. The on-screen energy of Amitabh Bachchan and his innovative genius that always peeked in comical scenes, made this popular number one of the best ever comedy songs of Bollywood. The lyrics of Prakash Mehra fit in very well. In the eighties, the use of classical music in Bollywood songs was already on the decline, and composers preferred to use it more as part of experimental compositions. This number is a unique example of how their successful experiments could result in an everlasting delight, both for the connoisseurs as well as the more casual audience.
Song # 6
"Tere dar pe aaya aya hoon ..."
Raag Darbari Kanada is one of the best options for expressing restless desperation. In the hands of Madan Mohan, by far the best Bollywood composer in using this Raag, the result can only be a popular masterpiece, as was this number. Mohammed Rafi has sung it to perfection and the lyrics of Sahir Ludhianwi give it the substance and meaning to complement the other two maestros. The forceful and energetic commitment to love that gets an expression in this number is also an ode to the depth of this Raag. This number was one of earliest popular pieces in Sufi music, long before it came to dominate Bollywood in 21st century. It was one of the last contributions of Madan Mohan before he left us. This piece is a tribute to his genius, and his aura keeps growing larger as years pass by!
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BAWRE NAIN (1950)
"Teri duniya mein dil lagta nahin, wapas bula le..."
This is a song that became extremely popular even before the Bollywood entered its golden era, and remains popular even after six decades. Sung by Mukesh and composed by Roshan, this number was part of the transformation of Bollywood music from the "Saigalesque" singing to that evolved by later composers and singers. It was a period when several new singers were emerging to fill in the vacuum created by Saigal's death, and till this time, they used to follow Saigal in style. The lyrics of this number were written by Kidar Sharma. This popular number is also an epitome of what Raga Darbari Kanada represents, the passion and depth of emotions which can touch you, pierce you and most importantly, make you understand what another person is going through. The complexity of human emotions is not easy to communicate. It is something that only great music can do!
Song # 8
"Suhaani chandni ratein humein sone nahi deti ..."
This popular song is one of the very few composed by R D Burman using Raag Darbari Kanada, perhaps because of his preference for sweet, harmonious melodies that do not easily fit in to this Raag. Even this number has his signatures in the form of subtle variations that move from restless dispair to loving memories and back. Mukesh's voice is a big plus here and the lyrics of Anand Bakhshi perfectly describe the context. The selection of Raag Darbari Kanada for this number helps to convey the disturbing sentiments with great ease, explaining why even R D Burman, who did not use it often, opted for it in this case.
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Song # 9
"Shairana si hai zindagi ki faja..."
A very effective use of Raag Darbari Kanada created this popular number of the nineties. The music of this number was composed by Anu Malik and it is sung with great mastery by Alka Yagnik, bringing out the emotions with great creativity. The lyrics are by Qateel Shifai. Like some of the other popular numbers of the nineties that relied upon this Raag, one can feel in this number, a touch of Sufi music that later became the dominant genre in Bollywood. A highly underrated song, it is one of the masterpieces of Alka Yagnik.
One wonders how it would have sound in the hands of Madan Mohan!
Song # 10
"Main nigahein tere chehre se hataoon kaise..."
A popular number from the sixties, this is yet another example of how Madan Mohan had mastered the art of composing songs based on Raag Darbari Kanada. He was one of the very few music composers, who created romantic numbers with this Raag with an unprecedented frequency. This song is characterized by a soft flowing rhythm not commonly associated with Raag Darbari Kanada. It seems to represent his special touch. Maybe he could do almost anything with this Raag. May be he should have done more with it! The lyrics of this song are written by Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, and it was sung by the great Mohammed Rafi.
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© 2012 V Kumar