Saturday, October 9, 2010

Make Music, Not War!

Back in 2001, when I was in my hostel, there was a guy who was absolutely in love with music. A delicate strumming of guitar, a finely touched key of the harmonium or the slightest wind blown in the flute and you would automatically see him present there, at that very place where the that sound originated, with a trance-like expression on his face. And then one day, as I was humming in the hostel bathroom, he was right there standing outside with his toot brush! As soon as I came out of the bathroom holding the bucket in my hand, he came forward and looked straight towards me.

'have you learnt music?'

I didnt deny and he said.
'For the next 'god knows' how many years in this lonely hostel, in this tedious college, in this deserted town, in life's most unfriendly moments, promise me that you will sing. You will sing to your heart's content'.

I was elated. Not that someone asked me to sing, but for a junior student, who had to put up with that hostile atmosphere of that god-forbidden hostel and had to face those draconian ragging sessions, those intimidating senior students and a hell lot of extra-convoluted diagrams to be drawn in someone else's journals, that statement was a respite. I didnt particularly dislike singing, but that guy's encouragement was enough for me.

On the Freshers' Party day, the same guy turned out to be the host of the function and when my turn came on stage, as every junior is asked to perform some or the other thing, he asked me in simple words: 'Son, you need to sing!'

The professors, the academicians, the principal, the seniors all of them were there in that auditorium, 'singing here would mean that one will get a permanent tag of being a performer on the college stage', I certainly didnt need that tag - but when the same guy turned out to be the host and his request and that anticipation in his eyes, I knew that come what may, even if the whole auditorium is bored to death, I will sing for this one person.

I sang to my heart's content and got a tag of 'Bhaand' from the senior students for the coming next four years of graduation. Thus, the professors knew that when a Chief Guest of a particular function gets late, its time to call 'the Bhaand' on stage and ask him to sing or perform. In a way I loved the idea of being on stage and performing, whether people liked it or not, but I loved singing in that hostel lobby. My voice would hit those semi-plastered walls and create resonance, it would pierce through the hollow bricks and seep into the rooms, it would make the pillars sway as if they were intoxicated and for all the Aurangzebs it would provide an excuse to get out of their rooms and curse me. This is when I thought that I was good, but not so sure about the present.

That guy was in a way responsible for the name of this blog. He accidentally gave birth to 'bhaand'. But why him here, read on.

Recently, almost every netizen has been following the progress of a phenomenal show, conceptualized and made in Pakistan called Coke Studio. To know what Coke Studio is, click here.

Names like Abida Parveen, Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Azhmat, Sahi Zahoor, Shafqat Amanat and many more are performing on it and creating a whole new pallet, coloured with amazing fusion elements. The fantastic combination of live folk instruments, passionate singers, amazing musicians and contemporary sound makes this show extremely popular. Once upon a time, I had overheard my uncle telling it to someone: 'the power that Sufi music has it, is possessed by none in the world - its a straight connection to the almighty'. My uncle often sings Qawaalis for his connection to that force.

Uncle, you were absolutely right! At the cost of sounding a little off-beat, but have you ever felt like closing your eyes and keeping a particular song on 'repeat' in your playlist? And even after hearing it for the umpteenth time, you would still not feel like opening your eyes. OR If you felt that your feet have suddenly got rhythm and you circle around the speakers as if it was a holy shrine.

'ho wanga chada lo kuriyon,
mere daata de darbaar diyaan'

Translation: 'Put on your bangles, girls
Those that you brought from Master's shrine'

These words when sung, takes me to that kind of trance. I need not go to any temple or bow before any god or idol, such is the purity of the language, such is the purity of the sound emerging from Arif Lohar's throat, such is the purity inside me when I hear this and I sincerely hope that 'Daata' gives me that purity If I ever try to sing this!

Hear the sound below and feel elated. esp after 5min: 30s. But I suggest you hear the whole song to feel how it would be to be inside the singer's heart while he must be singing this. Also on youtube you have the translated subtitles! And not to mention, do observe the musicians while they play the instruments, its as if they are having a ball while playing this, its that emotion that music needs to bring inside you.

Now being inside some of Bollywood's music studios and seeing a few songs being recorded you come out feeling cheated. 'Are these the same songs we humm, the radio channels continuously play and they instantly become chartbusters? Why do they record everything separate, wont it be amazing to have all of them sitting together and doing the harmony?.
'Kya hai, thoda mehnat hi padega na, lekin socho kitana Anand milega dil ko.

Imagine the harmonium keys giving way to an acoustic guitar and the singer observing that transition and looking at the music director who in turn instructs the Arranger and the later asks the Flautist to join in and you standing behind that glass wall and not able to contain your excitement?

You dont believe me? Watch this Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performance at Coke Studio and most of you will gift your right hand to have a voice like that. esp hear from 3 mins to 6 mins and I assure you, you will be a changed person at the end of it.

And for Atif Aslam fans, here is his tribute to Nusrat saab's Aur Pyar Ho Gaya number 'Ek Din kahin' and truly a deserving tribute at the end of this amazing Atif aslam number 'Jal Pari'. For the tribute hear from 4 mins 30s
but again I suggest, you hear the whole performance.

I can now understand how that guy felt so lonely amidst those crumpled walls and a deserted town without music, without the fountain of life. After hearing the Coke Studio sessions, one thing that I felt honestly is: forget getting up early morning to exercise, tomorrow onwards I will get up early and sing. Sing to my heart's content. Sing as if I am back in my hostel, sing as if that guy is hearing me. I know wherever he is, he is all ears for me. We went to the Rahman concert together in West Delhi. Ah, the joys of knowing that wonderful permutations and combinations of those seven letters: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa.

Amit Trivedi, are you gonna go to Coke studio? You would be our best export combined with a folk artist from the hinterlands of Gujarat, Rajasthan or Bengal.

Thank you Rohail Hyatt for continuously putting up such wonderful performances and getting the best artists from all over. Your country needs more people like you. And so does our television producers instead of making a 4 year old sing: 'breathless' on national television and terming him or her as 'Chotte Ustaad' and making their parents go hysteric over it.

And to the neighbours, one simple message - 'Lets make music guys'. Easier said than done though, ah those Rediff commentators-wala India!

By the way did I tell you I fell in love with that girl who features near 5:21 in the 'Jal Pari' video.

© Copyrights 2009 All Rights Reserved. Hardik Mehta


Akanksha said...

So I have one more reason to thank CS for... apart from the amazing music they offer! Am glad its done what we've wanted to for the longest... have you sing!

Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly, throughout all these years, they have kept improving with every new season.
Truly evident that voice of every singer comes straight from his/her heart.
Thanks Rohail Hyatt, inspiration to music lovers in India and around the world to come up with such a great concept. [V] had come up with Jammin season bringing artists together and perform, but eventually vanished somewhere in the history.

Anonymous said...

superb blog entry, you almost made us be part of the audience! sufi music is much more than what we see in films (nowadays it has become a replacement of yash chopra bhangras...pick up any movie and you'll find a sufi song in it). ar rahman's leanings towards sufi is much more than any other film composer (he actually waited for long hours just to meet up nusrat saab and learn the ropes of sufi music before composing gurus of peace)'s evident in the sufi songs he gave us (believe me if you think piya haji ali and khwaja was his best, listen to zikr from bose - the forgotten hero and you'll know what i mean) furthermore, hadn't it been for composers like amit trivedi (ha raham, ek lau from aamir), vishal shekhar (allah ke bande, aas paas khuda), we would've always thought sufi means qawwali song. thanks to them that we can now distinguish between a parda hai parda and a noor un ala.

keep up the good job of sharing such experiences.


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