About “The Great Bollywood Party”
Bollywood, Music and Movies, for a Nouveau Experience. Read and revel in a unique way, detailed, magnetic and indulgent insights into the Film and Classical Music of The Asian Sub Continent.
My musical Journey transcends into the skies, deep beneath the ground, through the earth, in my veins and captured in my heart. ..
I am what someone would a call, a 4th generation NRI, this means that my great-great-grandfather came to South Africa in the late 1800’s. Cut a long Story short, I am a South African (proudly), and Indian by race (that is how we brown skinned people are classified, this is not racist, just a classification).
I grew up in house where music was always heard. The only time the music went off was when the Adhaan started at the local masjid and lasted the duration of the prayer. The radio had been locked to the local Indian station, playing a variety of tunes from Bollywood to Classical. My dad had his favourite slots, the Qawalli hour on a Sunday evening, we had our favourites slots. I was exposed to a variety of music from a young age. But it ran deeper, my Nana (Mother’s father), had a very good ear for classy music. He passed on before I was born, actually in the same year. He had a penchant for Mohammed Rafi, and I still remember my Nani relating to me the story of how my nana felt when he found out about Mohammed Rafi’s demise. She related the story in gujarati and went something like this. My nana said: ‘If A man of this stature, a king of kings, can die, then who are we?
Those words rang in my head and touched my heart. During my teen years, while other teenagers would be listening to the latest Michael Jackson and Madonna, I would be sitting with our cassette player, waiting to record some of those beautiful songs from the radio. I got to make my own cassettes compilations and started to learn the movies names, music directors etc… all the technical stuff.
As time went on, I got introduced to variety of film singers. My dad really supported my love for music, giving me a little more spending money to buy the cassettes and VHS of the movies that I liked. I spent a lot of time with my cassettes, copying, recording, making mix tapes, etc It was around my middle teens that my grandmother handed over my Grandfathers vinyls to me, He had a good collections of Ghazals and film songs.
Listening to some of the Ghazals was really enchanting. It gave me a deeper sense of satisfaction. I had also developed a liking to Mohammed Rafi’s; his songs touched a chord in my heart with his angelic voice, probably due to what my granny told me, but honestly when I hear his songs, they still give me Goosebumps.
My introduction to classical music began in my later teens, when I, after almost listening to it 1000 times, played two very similar sounding songs one after the other. Both were sad song by Mohammed Rafi: ‘O Duniya Ke Rakhwale’ from Baiju Bawra and ‘Toote Hue Khwabon Mein’ from Madhumati. I played them over and over again, thinking why do they sound so similar. One must have copied the other; so that Is what I thought was happening when I heard these two songs. One must have copied the other! Only later on I found out that they were both based on Raaga Darbari. Darbari became easier for me to recognise due to the simple structure of the raag. Raaga Pahadi was another I found easy to recognise, that one being my favourite. Due to information being quite limited (at the time), internet resources were a privilege; I used write down any bits of information that I could find. Later on when I found a plethora of information in some books, radio and the internet, most of my notes were correct. I did get some wrong and then learnt about the differences. However, still not very aware of what Ragas were and how they could be used to base songs on.
I decided to read up a bit more on the subject, and found the history quite lovely. All in the meanwhile, my tastes in music matured. The run of the mill Bollywood songs featured less and less in my playlist, there were those really catchy numbers but they didn’t last on my mind. I kept on going back to the Raga based music; the music had more soul and very enriching. I starved for knowledge and just kept on searching and reading.
My knowledge only got more refined when I started attending classical music concerts. I was able to pick out which Bollywood songs were based on the Raga they were playing when I heard the musicians’ recitals. One such instance occured when i attended a concert by Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and Rahul Sharma, they played Raaga Bhimpalasi and could place the Raga in many Bollywood songs.
Cut through to the present, I don’t have a really refined ear, I still make sure by playing songs in similar ragas to hear the counts and scales. This is how I can make out which Raga I am listening to. All I can say is that I enjoy music of past era much more after gaining this knowledge and classical music on the whole be it Ghazals, Qawalli’s, Bhajan etc. I have learnt to appreciate non-bollywood artists like Ustad Amir Khan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Begum Parveen Sultana, Smt. Kishori Amonikar, Kaushiki Chakrabarthy and many more.
Here is hoping to share my passion with as many people in the world that I can connect to ❤