Where does the globally acclaimed Oscar- winning A.R. Rahman figure in the history of Indian film music? His work as a versatile composer marks a unique watershed in the evolution of the way songs are composed and recorded in our cinema. This book is a comprehensive overview of an integral aspect of filmmaking in this country - the song. From the Jesuit priest who took his musical organ to the screening of the first Lurniere Brothers films in India and the traditions of Parsi theatre and Marathi natya sangeet to the new sounds and rhythms that Rahul Dev Burman brought into the mix many decades later, it has been one, long, fascinating process. The author traces the journey of innovative composers and gifted singers, the rich, varied and vibrant world of creative musical energy that enriched the sound wave of Bollywood song with Khemchand Prakash bringing Rajasthani folk, Naushad enriching with Ganga-Jamuna culture, Shankar-Jaikishan with Goan light hearted beats. Ghulam Haider discovered Noorjahan and Lata Mangeshkar. R.C. Boral established the Bollywood song with strong foundati ons.
Vijay Ranchan was born in Lahore. After completing his Master's in English Literature he joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1967. An art lover, poet, writer and convener of INTACH (Ahmedabad chapter) he has been Chairman of REACH (Rural Entrepreneurship in Art and Cultural Heritage), a cultural outfit that organizes the longest cultural heritage festival in Afro-Asia. He has also visited many international Institutes and Universities to give lectures on Hindu religion and cultural heritage, Indian music and Hindi cinema. His collection of poetry "Macchandar Gaan" has been widely appreciated. He has written a digital book titled "Hindi Sahitya ka Cinemakaran".
At present he is associated with the Film & Television Institute of Gandhinagar.
The Story of a Bollywood Song traces the evolution of a Hindi film song from the time of silent movies to the era of talkies. Bol- lywood songs were formed by singing performances of the Parsi Theatre, the Natya Sangeet and by maestros of the Hindustani Classical music. The evolution of a Bollywood song has been depicted in this book through certain incidents and situations during the process of composition. These narrate the contextual background of a song. These stories are illustrative of the gradual as well as simultaneous evolution of Hindi film song as we hear it today. Each milestone in the evolution of a Bollywood song has a story to tell- be it the story of a Jesuit Father, or of the first test recording, or of the mendicant-beggar song, or of a song sung by a princess or a rebel commoner, and so on.
With playback singing emerges the story of Homi Sisters. There are stories related to the pioneers of film music - New Theatres' triumvirate of R.C. Boral, Pankaj Mullick and Timir Baran and the triumvirate of Prabhat Studios, namely, Govind Rao Tembe, Bhole Keshavrao and Master Kishanrao. Ghulam Haider pioneered the Lahore School of Music in Bollywood and discovered Noorjahan and Lata Mangeshkar. His prediction on Lata Mangeshkar's domination of Bollywood music had a utopian ring to it.
There have been great music directors and great singers in the Hindi/Urdu film industry, but this book limits itself to only those singers and music directors who have been trend-setters. The contribution of Noorjahan, Shamshad Begum, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Manna Dey and Talat has been immense and so has been the contribution of music directors like Khemchand Prakash, Madan Mohan, Hemant Kumar and Salil Chaudhary. However, the book again limits its scope to singers and music directors who are known to have set up certain milestones and standards. There is a plethora of very popular songs, but we are once again limiting ourselves to representative songs or the songs that are relevant to this narrative. This book is not about the chronology of film music nor is it a critical examination of the Hindi film music. It aims at helping the reader in the 'critical' enjoyment of a film song and the same has been done by adding audio and video CDs.
The book can be enjoyed only if the relevant audio/video clippings are heard and seen while reading the narrative. Audio and video clippings are used only for illustration of the point made or for carrying on with the narration. No audio or video clipping is longer than fifty seconds. No video clipping of any movie after 1953 is more than fifty-nine seconds.
I am grateful to City Pulse Institute of Film and Television, which made its facilities available to me. Harsh Patel, editor in the Institute, helped me in establishing various factual details about the songs and films mentioned in the book and also in editing and making the CDs of audio and video clips. I appreciate his diligence and meticulousness.
The manuscript was critically read by Dr. Ram Thakur and I'm thankful for his editorial inputs.
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