Hindi Film Song is the proclaimed victory song of Indian popular music. Countless musicians, voices, composers and lyricists have contributed to its emergence and prosperity. Irrespective of origins and locations, Hindi Film Song has artistically explored, craftily modified numerous musical resources and sometimes even shamelessly plagiarized them!
Did K L Saigal sing better when drunk or when sober?
Was Kishore Kumar an actor who sang or a singer who emoted?
What did Lata Mangeshkar think when she heard Hemant Kumar?
Are 'songless' films hooted out in India?
Anecdotes, floating myths, rare reminiscences and moving personal encounters have lit up the world of Hindi Film Music. On the other hand, deep cultural convictions, significant musicological concepts and radical aesthetic ideas have also shaped it.
Analyzing composers and voices, noting historical developments and discussing aesthetic issues, Dr. Ashok Da. Ranade seriously and lovingly brings together all strands to trace a complete musical profile of the distinctly Indian phenomenon that continues to cross all kinds of boundaries...
Sangeetacharya Ashok Da. Ranade is a vocalist (Hindustani classical), musicologist, voice-culturist and ethnomusicologist. He has composed music for plays, documentaries and films. His writings in Marathi and English on music and theatre are widely appreciated and read throughout India and the world. Broad cultural vision, rigorous analysis, clarity and thought-provoking presentation are his strengths. He seeks to explore everything that is touched by music.
Dr. Ranade's publications include: Sangeetache Saundaryashastra (1971), Loksangeetshastra (1975), Stravinskyche Sangeetik Saundaryashastra (1975), On Music and Musicians of Hindoostan (1984), Marathi Stage Music (1986), Maharashtra : Art Music (1989), Keywords and Concepts: Hindustani Classical Music (1990), Music and Drama in India (1991), Indology and Ethnomusicology : Contours of the lndo-British Relationship (1992), Bhashanrang-Vyaspeeth te Rangpeeth (1995), Hindustani Music (1998), Essays in Indian Ethnomusicology (1998), and Music Contexts: A Concise Dictionary of Hindustani Music (2006).
He also has audio-albums to his credit: Baithakichi Lavani (1989), Devgani (1991), a multi- media album on Gangubai Hangal (1988) and Devi Ahilyabai (2005) - a sound track.
My conscious interest in Cinematic Music and especially the Hindi Film Song dates back to the early sixties. By that time many songs had already found a secure place in my musical memory to my constant musical and cultural enrichment! However, by the seventies, I also became aware of my musicological responsibility of undertaking a serious assessment of the multiple ways in which Hindi film song has contributed to Indian music at large. Then a series of events triggered off some actual action on my part.
Through writings and lectures, etc., I began voicing my faith in the musico-cultural worth of film music to the consternation of many! Then the Government of Maharashtra happened to arrange a symposium on music in Dhule - in the interior of the region. The participants included Pt. Vamanrao Deshpande (a highly respected and pioneering music-aesthetician), famous music-directors Vasant Desai and C. Ramchandra, and L C.Ramchandra and I became friendly. C. Ramchandra was cordial but near-silent in a bigger group. But when the party was about to break up, he would give me a wink suggesting we should continue 'our' session! After others had retired he would have his 'refills' and then expectably begin humming, singing and talking about music. He would describe how he 'taught' many playback singers how to make music lightly and delightfully! He would also demonstrate how he taught the likes of Lata and Asha some particularly appealing mode of phrasing music in specific songs. Such sessions were simultaneously fascinating, moving and revealing! At the end he would sigh and accusingly say, "You, Pandit-people have never paid any attention to us!" After one such session I said, "Why should you wait for somebody else to prove the quality of your music? So many Western musicians and composers write so well about their own music, and that surely sounds more convincing!" He would become a little preoccupied and we used to leave it at that!
Later, in Bombay, when we met in some party or in a meeting, the threads were picked up again! 'Music delights' was our common conclusion - but in everything else we differed! He used to call me Ramadasswami and I would return the compliment by calling him
Years passed. He wrote an autobiographical work, but unfortunately more on the romantic side!
Our musicians' lack of interest in intellectual biography or autobiography remains a sad shortcoming in Indian literature on music.
This is the background for the present attempt and the dedication!
Finally my grateful thanks to Shri Suresh Chandvankar, Shri Narayan Mulani, Shri Preetam Menghani and Shri Bhalchandra Meher of the Society of Indian Record Collectors, Mumbai for their varied cooperation. Thanks are due to Dr. Prakash Joshi for the photographs in the book.
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