Category Archives: Music

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One hundred sixteen moonlit nights

Cross-posted on Passion For Cinema. Plot spoilers ahead. Images courtesy Google image search and YouTube. All song titles are linked to their audio files on MusicIndiaOnline and will open in a new popup window using the MIO player. If you don’t like popups, don’t click on the links.

The 80s is often associated with all the things that went wrong with Hindi films. Messy action and violence, aging superstars singing innuendo-heavy songs, has-beens trying to be wannabes, noisy music, poofy hair accessories, Jackie Shroff — you name an embarrassment and there it was staring back at you, in all its 70mm glory.

But to be fair, the 80s didn’t start out that way. Musically speaking, at least. The early years saw soundtracks like Umrao Jaan (1981) and Bazaar (1982). And Silsila (1981). Or an Utsav (1984) even. But things soon went downhill. Subhash Ghai patronized Lakshmi-Pyare who made up for their dwindling quality with larger orchestras and more noise. Bappi Lahiri, who was a somewhat decent composer otherwise, chose to be the disco-baadshah. And even before you fully recovered from that, the production houses of the south discovered Bappi. And the world was never the same again.

Hindi film-goers were introduced to beaches with chorus girls going taathaiyyaa taathaiyyaa hooo, while strategic crane shots showed us ample pots interspersed with even more ample heroines, offering pyaar ka tohfaas to their himmatwaalaa hero — a safedii kii chamkaar, dhulaaii ka bhandaar Jeetendra, in all his blinding white glory. The beginning of the end had surely arrived.

However, Kalyanji-Anandji did give us some hope with Yudh (1985) and Jaanbaaz (1986), bringing to light the synth talents of a young Viju Shah, much before he made news with Tridev (1989). And Rajesh Roshan gave us Kaash (1987). But these were, as they say, chamaks in the kadhaai. Popular film music was already brushing its toe dangerously close to the bucket, by now.

But a discussion of Hindi film music of the 80s is incomplete without the mention of one person. Throughout the decade, he gave consistent and quality music. This man had seen glory days in the 70s and early 80s. Big production houses, major hits, the default choice for any star son launch .. he’d had it all. By the mid-80s though, his popularity had dwindled. Producers who once lined up outside his door labeled him a flop and avoided him. The films he did compose for, were mostly duds. Badly made movies that tanked, taking many a wonderful soundtrack down with them.

The year was 1987. Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), the movie that many credit with resurrecting Hindi film music, hadn’t arrived yet. The Tere Sar Ke Tukde Tukde Kar Ke Kutte Ko Khila Ke Uska Khoon Pee Jaoonga brand of movies were rampant. But in the middle of this mindlessness, came a tender film that brought together a sensitive filmmaker and his musician best friend, once again. Director Gulzar and music director Rahul Dev Burman who began their journey with Parichay (1972), and touched upon movies like Aandhi (1975), Khushboo (1975), Kinara (1977), Kitaab (1977), Angoor (1982) and Namkeen (1982), culminated their artistic relationship in a beautiful, complex and layered film — Ijaazat (1987).

Ijaazat

On a rainy night, Mahen unexpectedly runs into his ex-wife Sudha at a railway station waiting room. Two people unwillingly thrown in each other’s company, compelled to revisit a part of their life they have chosen to forget. The relationship has changed, the rules have changed. And the past becomes an intangible third person in the room, much like Maya was in their life. But where is Maya now?

Using his trademark of weaving the past with the present, Gulzar takes us back and forth between the waiting room and their home in the past. (a home, that Mahen remarks, was much like a waiting room.) And the complexities start to unravel. Maya’s free-spiritedness, Sudha’s conflict between being supportive and being possessive, Mahen’s inability to get past his memories but still wanting to keep Sudha happy — the characters become relatable and their dilemmas become real. And as with most of life’s dilemmas, there are no simple answers, no easy solutions.

In a way, Ijaazat is a simple story about three people, two relationships and one night. But it derives its depth from its complex characterizations. Its strength lies in its screenplay and dialogues by Gulzar and its moody cinematography by Ashok Mehta. And in the strong performances of its three leads — Rekha, Naseeruddin Shah and Anuradha Patel.

And of course, in its music. Ijaazat is inarguably one of the finest of Pancham’s oeuvre. Four gorgeous solos, exquisitely crafted by RDB and lovingly sung by Asha with layered poetry by Gulzar that once again show the symbiotic relationship that the three shared. One realizes at such moments, that the whole sometimes is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Ijaazat

Chhotisii kahaanii se, baarishon ke paanii se, saarii vaadii bhar gayii .. sings Asha, as we follow a train’s journey through rain-drenched valleys and mist-covered mountains, while the titles roll. The music is so delightfully visual that one doesn’t need the lyrics to see the scene. The steady rhythm of the train, the sound of the rain slowing down to a drizzle, only to burst into a gleeful downpour once again, a waterfall that cascades grandly or a little brook that plays peek-a-boo .. the images are created by the music, but the on-screen visuals and the lyrics enhance the experience. Gulzar personifies the rain, making it dance lightly, using the clouds as stepping stones —

ruktii hai thhamtii hai, kabhii barastii hai
baadal pe paaon rakh ke, baarish machaltii hai ..

Ijaazat

Pancham always claimed to not having an ear for poetry. Seeing the kind of magic he has created with Gulzar’s pen, one wonders if he was just being self-deprecatory. When Sudha sends back some of Maya’s belongings, Maya wants her memories back as well. A song whose lyrics Pancham jokingly described as akin to reading a newspaper. Asha’s voice languidly caresses every word, as she plaintively at times and retrospectively at other times, asks him to return the moments that they’ve shared. Meraa kuchh saamaan tumhaare paas padaa hai ..

meraa kuchh saamaan tumhaare paas padaa hai
saawan ke kuchh bheege bheege din rakhhe hain
aur mere ik khat mein liptii raat padii hai
vo raat bujhaa do
meraa vo saamaan lautaa do ..

ek sau solah chaand kii raatein, ek tumhaare kaandhe kaa til ..

What does that even mean? asked a friend. One hundred sixteen moonlit nights, and one sesame of onion, I replied. Wise friend has promised to never ask us to interpret Gulzar lyrics again. But perhaps it is a count of nights spent together? Or maybe a four month relationship? (One hundred sixteen moonlit nights would be one hundred twenty days minus the four amaavasyas?) White on black and black on white? Contrasts to indicate the gamut of emotions felt? With Gulzar, so many interpretations are possible. But whatever the intended meaning, the imagery is subtly sensual and so very beautiful.

Ijaazat

Mahen and Sudha go on their honeymoon, to make a fresh start. Which sets the scene for the next song. Katraa katraa miltii hai, katraa katraa jeene do .. Pancham uses the twin track recording effect beautifully in this number, overlapping Asha’s highs and lows. The locales of Kudremukh form a gorgeous backdrop as Asha’s silken voice hit the high notes of pyaasii hoon main pyaasii rehne do. Her thirst for more is not a complaint. She knows she cannot have Mahen completely, but in her very longing for him, she tries to find happiness.

tumne to aakaash bichaayaa
mere nange pairon mein zameen hai
paake bhii tumhaarii aarzuu ho
shaayad aise zindagii haseen hai
aarzuu mein behne do
pyaasii hoon main pyaasii rehne do ..

Ijaazat

But Sudha’s longing remains unfulfilled. Mahen is unable to remove Maya from his life and Sudha is tired of being patient. In these moments of despair, comes the fourth and final song of the movie, a ghazal. Khaalii haath shaam aayii hai, khaalii haath jayegii, aaj bhi na aaya koii, khaalii laut jayegii .. The pain in Asha’s voice is palpable as Sudha sits waiting in the darkness, watching the light come in through the slightly ajar door, a constant reminder that Mahen is not back ..

aaj bhii na aaye aansuu, aaj bhii na bhiige nainaa
aaj bhii ye korii rainaa, korii laut jaayegii ..

Memories are heavy baggage and burying them is the healthy thing to do. But will denying the existence of memories make them go away? Or is it better to embrace them? As Sudha remarks to Mahen, looking at the rain that refuses to stop — baras jaayegii to apne aap thham jayegii. Perhaps memories too are like that. They flood you for a while, but with time, they cease. Then again, memories get their well-deserved burial only at the end of one’s life. As Maya requests Mahen at the end of her letter —

ek ijaazat de do bas, jab isko dafnaauungi
main bhii vahii so jauungii .. main bhii vahii so jauungii ..

Debonair detectives and seductive Bharatanatyam dancers

Potential spoilers ahead. Images courtesy Google image search. All song titles are linked to their audio files on MusicIndiaOnline and will open in a new popup window using the MIO player. If you don’t like popups, don’t click on the links.

A boy and a girl are sharing a sweet, mushy moment. Let’s call them Dev and Gina for the sake of the story. He holds her hand, she blushes and pulls her hand away, giggling. This goes on for a while, seeing as neither of them is in a rush for the moment to end. Eventually, the girl overcomes her shyness and looks at him. Their eyes meet, and without the need for words, they signal their feelings to each other. But alas. At that instant, a giant gust of wind throws them into a spin, and when the dust settles, the boy finds himself in the middle of a vast expanse of desert. There’s no girl in sight. Just him and lots and lots of sand.

If this cinematic moment had to be captured in song, which one would it be? Aakhon hi aakhon mein ishaara ho gaya, baiThe baiThe Gine ka Sahara ho gaya .. Yes, all the gushing and blushing was just a distractionary tactic. I know, I know. I deserve to have heavy objects thrown at me. But to be fair, I did not make that one up. No really, I promise. Laung ke tel waala. It is an old-favorite that I learnt in my college days. (No, believe it or not, I did not go to school to learn PJs.) But it has withstood the test of time and continues to pull in the groans like few others can. Our movie today is much like that. An old favorite. But without the groans.

CID

While Guru Dutt’s musical collaboration with S D Burman is unforgettable in Baazi (1951), Pyaasa (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), the trio of classics that came out of Dutt’s association with O P Nayyar, are no less memorable — as actor, producer and director in Aar Paar (1954) and Mr and Mrs 55 (1955) and as producer in CID (1956).

CID is often mentioned amongst the best of the black-and-whites of Bollywood. Produced by Dutt for his protegé and assistant Raj Khosla, CID came from a period of Hindi cinema that was heavily influenced by film noir of Hollywood. Shades of Dutt can surely be found in Khosla’s CID. The focus on the actor’s eyes, dramatic chiaroscuro lighting, wet roads at night, backlighting characters as they smoked .. all noir-isms that were Dutt trademarks. Another factor common to Dutt was V K Murthy, the brilliant cinematographer who was working with Dutt for the fifth film here and went on to film classics like Pyaasa (1957), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959) and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962).

Khosla however, soon grew out of Dutt’s shadow and went on to be a versatile moviemaker of his times. He touched upon a variety of genres — romantic musicals like Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962), crime thrillers like Kaala Pani (1958), dacoit dramas like Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971) and the unforgettable trilogy-of-sorts with Sadhna — Woh Kaun Thi (1964), Mera Saaya (1966) and Anita (1967). But CID remains what Khosla is most remembered for.

Waheeda Rehman in CID

While Aar Paar (1954) had Shyama as the heroine, Shakila is more remembered for her smaller vamp role. With CID, Shakila graduated to a heroine, but history repeated itself. A flamboyant Dev Anand, a glamorous Shakila, a sinister K N Singh, and Johnny Walker in fine comedic form, but the person who outshone them all in a brilliant debut as a vamp, was Waheeda Rehman. Singing kahin pe nigaahen kahin pe nishaana in Shamshad Begum‘s voice, she dances with her eyes and her feet as she seduces the audience and villain both, warning the hero of the impending danger and hinting at his escape route. In the room hangs a painting of a woman with long hair, behind which is a lever for a trap door. Through song, she tells him —

aaya shikaarii o panchhii tu sambhal jaa
ek jaal hai zulfon kaa tu chupke se nikal jaa
ud jaa O panchhi, shikaarii hai deewaanaa ..

The classically trained Waheeda started out in Telugu films (remember eruvaakaa saagaaloyi from Rojulu Marayi (1955)?), but after CID there was no looking back for her in Hindi cinema. CID also has the brilliant and incomparable Mehmood in his first role of significant length. As Sher Singh, the killer hired to bump off the newspaper editor, which in turn starts up the investigation that forms the plot of the film, Mehmood was finally noticed. And lastly, here’s a bit of fun trivia — most movie watchers are familiar with Jagdish Raj, the resident police inspector of more than a hundred movies. CID happens to be the *first* movie he played inspector in. Neat, eh?

By the time CID came around, O P Nayyar was a known name. First with Aar Paar (1954) and then Mr and Mrs 55 (1955), this ‘westernized’ composer had established that he was here to stay. He was a colorful personality outside of his music, as well. Obstinate about doing things his way and willing to make enemies for it.

CID is arguably one of OPN’s best, every song a memorable gem and a huge hit. Besides kahin pe nigahein, there is the perpetual Chitrahaar favorite, leke pehla pehla pyaar, a whopping six-antara song, that appears in two places in the movie. Asha Bhosle sings the first three antaras, picturized on a boo-hoo Shakila missing her Dev. But the last three antaras are the high point. Sung by Shamshad and Mohd Rafi and picturized on some street singers, with Dev walking behind Shakila with the express purpose of annoying her. She realizes of course, like every heroine before and after her, the futility of rebuffing the advances of a Hindi movie hero and breaks into a smile in the end. Just then Shamshad’s infectiously playful voice sings —

sun sun baatein terii gorii muskaaii re
aaii aaii dekho dekho aaii hansii aaii re ..

A much more charming version of the hansii to phansii concept, methinks. Then there’s the effervescent Geeta Dutt-Rafi duet aankhon hi aankhon mein ishaara ho gaya (and thus the perfect chance to reminisce about the PJ). Both songs have the OPN trademark of using identical interludes between the antaras. Shamshad’s chirpy boojh mera kya naam re starts off with a slow violin solo but breaks into glee soon after. And there’s the sensual Geeta sung jaata kahaan hai deewane, which doesn’t make an appearance in the movie, since the censor board found its lyrics to be too risqué!

Johnny Walker in ae dil hai mushkil

But think CID and the song that comes to mind more than any other, is the quintessential ode to Bombay immortalized by Johnny Walker on screen ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahaan, (nicely channeling O my darling Clementine) with Majrooh‘s words that still echo true —

kahiin building kahiin traamein, kahiin motor kahiin mill
miltaa hai yahaan sab kuchh ik miltaa nahiin dil
insaan kaa nahiin kahiin naam-o-nishaan
zara hatke, zara bachke, ye hai Bambai meri jaan!

A new series

Somewhere on the sidebar of this blog lies a listing of categories. In a rare moment of lucidity, one grandly named it Method in Madness. And somewhere in it lies a dedicated category called Music. You see, once upon a time, I imagined I’d be doing a whole lot of music writing on this blog. No, not in a ‘Yay! I shall give Altaf Raja some competition!’ sort of way. (Although those who have heard the seventeen of us sing a harmonized chorus version of yaaron maine panga le liya will vouch for it being a perfectly viable career option for us.) But writing about music.

But alas, it did not happen. The silliness took precedence, the lunacy invaded the blog, and the poor music got pushed aside. It still sits at the top of the list though, looking imposing and all-important. Saala main to saahab ban gaya it sings, thinking of itself as a Dilip Kumar in Sagina (1974). But it is more like Dilip Kumar in Devdas (1955) — all talk and no action. Its only purpose is to taunt me from time to time — Music is your passion, you claim? How many posts? Thirteen? Pfffft. Passion, it seems. Snigger.

So one has decided that enough is enough. (Why do we always say that, by the way? Why can’t someone else be enough? Why should only enough be enough? I think everyone should be given a chance to be enough. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mr Mukkavalli Sambasiva Rao. He will be enough from today on. Thank you.) So where was I? Ah yes. One has decided to start a new series.

What is it going to be about, you ask? I will pick a movie, any movie, and write about it. The focus will primarily be its music, but the movie will also get spoken about. I will not limit myself by composer, director, era or genre. Obscure movies, obscurer music, everything is welcome. Connoisseurs will find a Bandini (1963) and lovers of cheese will find a Dance Dance (1987). Or a Meera Ka Mohan (1992) even.

Oh and yes! I want you to recommend movies to write about. I hope that this series will help me (and you) discover music that we had forgotten about or never heard. Or never wanted to. Songs that fill you with déjà vu. Or soundtracks that we love to hate. But I also hope, that this series will result in discussion. Who is better? Kishore or Rafi? Should Lata stop singing? Is there a difference between inspiration and plagiarism? Is Pritam a suspect composer but an excellent arranger? In sansanikhez aur hairat-angez sawaalon ka answer, coming soon to a commentspace near you. And I’m counting on you all to make it happen. Yes, you. So stop lurking and start writing!

Finally, I will say this. Music, for me, is a matter of the heart. As it must be for a lot of you, I am sure. So while I will try to be unbiased and analytical, what I write will be subjective. It will be my opinion at the time of writing the post. It may change the next day, or it may not, but it is still just an opinion and not the gospel truth. So, if I step on your toes sometimes, it might be because you were trying to waltz while I was attempting to dhinkichiki. But it doesn’t mean that either of us doesn’t know how to dance.

Speaking of déjà vu, a little nonsense before I go —

Q: What do you call a feeling of déjà vu that also makes you very happy?
A: Déjà-woo-hoo!

Okie, now let’s talk music.

Photoblog : Ha Khel Savlyancha

Ha Khel Savlyancha
Ha Khel Savlyancha
(The play of shadows)
Home
Boston, Massachusetts

Many years ago, when I started listening to Marathi music, I came into the possession of an album of bhavgeet by Asha Bhosle sung under the baton of her brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar, a composer who often gets shortchanged when judged on the basis of his Hindi output, but who has done far brilliant-er work in Marathi.

The CD, titled Aawaz Chandanyache, is a must-have for anyone who likes Marathi music, be it a beginner feet-wetter or a connoisseur. Hridayanath, who is renowned for his complex and intricate compositions, is also known for reserving his best for his sisters. This album is no different. Be it the incredible raaga Puriya Dhanashri composition jivalagaa raahile re duur ghar maazhe, the sensual tarun aahe raatra ajunhi, or the delicate and nuanced kevhaa tarii pahaate, every song makes one marvel at the singer’s ability to traverse the complex notes with such remarkable ease and grace. There should be a law against it somewhere, methinks.

But the song from the album that makes all this babble relevant is one called kaajal raatina odhuun nela. The melody of this will be familiar to Hindi film music listeners as the Lata Mangeshkar sung khudse baatein karte rehna from the Ketan Mehta directed and Hridayanath composed Maya Memsaab (1992). The low and high notes and chord changes in this gorgeous roller-coaster number make it a joy to hear and a challenge to sing. The song is from a Marathi movie called Ha Khel Savlyancha (1976). I have no idea what the movie is about, but its intriguing name stayed with me, skulking around in the backbenches of my mind. And today, on seeing this picture, it ran up to the front of the class to the teacher handing out chocolates, waved its hand excitedly and said — Me! Me! Pick me! And so here we are.

Coming to the picture — every once in a while, the evening sun reflects off a neighbor’s porch door, streams in through my kitchen window, gets partially blocked by a wall and finally casts a spot of light on my living room’s vertical blinds, illuminating the leaves of my ficus plant. It takes a very specific set of conditions for this to occur, and when it happens, it lasts for just a minute. But while it does, it is an incredibly beautiful and moody sight to watch. The orange glow of the sun contrasting with the blue-ish light slipping through the chinks in the blinds. The fascinating play of the many hues of light. And more so, the play of shadows. Ha khel savlyancha.

Asha, Pancham, Kronos and ditzy Ghaat women

I realize I need to break this routine of not saying anything and then apologizing for not saying anything, but still not *really* saying anything. And how better to do that than to write a post about moojic. And the fact that THE Asha Bhosle was in town a few weeks back, touring with the Kronos Quartet and Zakir Hussain, only makes it easier. For you see, I was *there*. All of ten rows away, while they performed R D Burman numbers from their Grammy-nominated CD — You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R D Burman’s Bollywood.

A digression here — The debate about which of Lata-bai or Asha-bai truly deserves to be called the queen of Hindi film music is always a tough one to resolve. It is difficult to take sides, unless you are an RDB fan, in which case Asha rules. Lata is no doubt, an exceptional singer and has rendered masterpieces like none other. But in terms of sheer consistency, versatility and a willingness to experiment, especially in her work with Pancham, Asha rules. Then again Asha and Pancham had, in my opinion, a symbiotic relationship, creatively speaking. They each pushed the other to new heights. An implicit understanding of the other’s art, perhaps helped by the personal relationship they shared, leading to output that few other music director-singer combinations can match.

Then again, preference for one over the other, is beyond logic and debate. As Pancham diplomatically put it once — If Lata is like Don Bradman, Asha is like Gary Sobers. Or like when, at the end of a exhausting discussion with a friend, complete with examples and counter-examples, I was asked to sum up, in one sentence, why I preferred Asha over Lata, and I replied — Lata may be Lata, but Asha is *Asha*. Okay, not exactly an argument that would hold up in a court of law, but that is finally what it comes down to. A gut feeling. That and Lata’s annoying giggle. Yep, those are pretty much the only things that matter.

Another thing that amazes me about Asha, the performer, is her incredible energy on stage. The way she’s all chirpy-chirpy and wheeeee! all the time. And her wonderful sense of humor. At the start of the show, she stated rather matter-of-factly that she doesn’t know English, but since half the audience was non-Indian, she was gonna speak English anyway. And then added, with a cheeky grin — the doors are locked, so you can’t really do anything about it. Heh!

She also said a few words about how it is ‘eeshwar kii ichha aur aapkaa pyaar’ (God’s will and your love) that I am able to continue singing at this age. So please excuse any mistakes I make. Just then, an unhappy child went waaaaaaaa in the audience. (Side rant: People who bring wailing two-year olds to music concerts, assume that the audience will find the wailing adorable, and stay happily glued to their seats, while the kid howls away. Bah.) Asha-bai sweetly said — If I can listen to your kid cry, you can also listen to my mistakes, na? One could see the blur of a red-faced parent as he promptly darted out, howling kid in tow. Sweet.

Her discomfort with English (which I sometimes think could be an act) did not prevent her from subjecting Dave Harrington of the ‘Quartet to snark. She narrated a tale of how, when she initially met Dave, it was tough to explain to him, what the song meraa kuchh saamaan tumhaare paas padaa hai from Ijaazat (1987) meant. Saamaan? What’s that, Dave asked. Oh, luggage, she replied. They have poetic songs about luggage, in Bollywood?, he asked incredulously. Uff, ab main inko kya samjhaaon, she said, and proceeded to tell us — It is a song in which a girl, after breaking up with the guy she loves, tells him to return all the things that belonged to her. Her feelings, her memories, the moments shared with him — anything that is hers, she wants it back. At this point in the tale, she turned to Zakir saying — Zakir, you speak English well .. how do you explain the meaning of this song? Zakir promptly replied — Oh that’s simple .. Alimony! Heh heh. Gulzar would have been proud.
Mousie Singh

And then, there was the little joke that was gleefully tossed out by her on stage. Made us proud, it did. But before we tell you what it is, we have to show you a picture. Here it is, to the right. Guess who it be? Yep! It is Mousie Singh! So here’s the background —

There was a Sardarji wedding in town. But this wasn’t any ordinary wedding. This was one of Sardarji tigers. Punjab da sher and all that. So a bunch of tigers were dancing in the baraat and growling yahoon yahoon! A wee-little mouse in a tiny pheta was also dancing with them, squeaking a little yawoon yawoon! of its own. A random passerby came up to Mousie Singh and said — Oye, yeh sher ki shaadi mein chuhaa kyon naach raha hai? (This is wedding of tigers. What’s a mouse doing here?) At which the mouse replied — Arrey! So what if I am a mouse? Shaadi ke pehle main bhi sher thha! (I too was a tiger before marriage!)

Heh Heh. Ouch. Made you wince, did that not? You were not seriously expecting a post only about music, were you? But trust me, when that joke is earnestly narrated by a chirpy and twinkly Asha, accompanied by a little mouse-bhangra, it gets much much cuter.

Age has begun catching up on Asha, and there were moments where her voice faltered, gently reminding us that she is, after all, nearing seventy-three! But even then, watching her smile and sing and even dance at times, resplendent in a white and gold sari, surrounded by musicians half her age, was incredibly inspiring.

And then there was the music itself. The ‘Quartet’s song selection for their CD (and thus the show) was unusual. Rather than only going with RD’s more famous numbers which people are wont to doing, they’ve picked a number of lesser-known and interestingly arranged compositions. Will do a separate post on that, if anyone wants to listen to me ramble about RD. C’mon, be nice and say you do, will you?

The audience was about half American and half Indian, roughly divided along the lines of those who had come to hear the ‘Quartet and those who had come to watch Asha sing. It was pretty much the perfect evening, marred only by some ditzy Ghaat women who chattered next to us in the lobby, and whose scintillating conversation we had the privilege of overhearing —

DGW1: How many sisters are they in all?
DGW2: Four.
DGW1: Really? Lata .. Asha .. and?
DGW3: Usha ..
DGW2: There’s one more! There’s one more!
Me: *math genius!*
DGW2: Uh .. her name is .. uh .. her name is .. uh ..
Me: *someone put the woman out of her misery, please*
DGW2: I know it! It is .. it is ..
Me: *turning to woman* Meena ..
DGW2: Oh yes! Thank you!
Me: *phew*

A few minutes later —

DGW1: Her husband was also a music director, no?
Me: *Duh!*
DGW3: Was it Hridaynath Mangeshkar?
DGW1: No yaar, that was her brother! Chheee!
DGW3: What was his name then?
Me: *This was right after an Asha-R D Burman concert, for crying out loud!*
DGW2: Mr Bhosle, I guess? *annoying giggle giggle*
Me: *groan*
DGW4: She was married to R D Burman, yaar! Did you not read the brochure?
Me: *God bless your soul*
DGW2: But why is she Asha Bhosle then?
DGW1: That was her first husband. She divorced him.
*DGW2 and DGW3 clamping hands to mouth and collectively gasping in shock* Ohhhh really? Hawww! She’s a divorcee?! Wowww, I didn’t know that!

Sheeesh. Gah bah! But we don’t do generalizations about Maharashtrian women. Nuh-uh, we don’t.