Once in a while, Meherbai’s Mandli held a musical evening. Every Mandli member contributed to it. Sometimes, it was an instrumental evening which was always dominated by Hormasji-harmonium and his brother Zubin-Xylophone. They were the male stars always accompanied by their respective wives, Temina-Tabla and Mani-Mandoline! These four rock-stars were away on a tour of East-Europe so at the musical evening, the remaining members started the Antakshri with, “Bethaa, Bethaa, Soo Kariye? – Chalo Kariye Kai Kaam – Saroo Karo Antakshri – Laine Khodaiji Nu Naam!”
Abbhan Aban: But how can we do that? Kolamai Khodaiji is absent today, so how to start in her name?
Good old Baji sang an old nostalgic song from the film Baiju-Bawra and he was so good that the Mandli named him Baji-Bawra!
Cyrus the Virus, brought up on Western music, sang ‘Puppet on a String’ but his pronunciation was so atrocious, that it sounded like ‘Papeta Ma Sing’.. and his ‘Besame Mucho’ sounded like ‘Bawaji no Bucho’!
Meherwanji: Cyrus dikra, stop! These Gujarati songs are not allowed!! No papeta and no bucho!
Cyrus: In that case, shall I sing an aria from an Italian Opera?
Banu Batak: Not here! Sing it on the stage of NCPA! Your Angrezi songs sound like Gujarati, so your Italian ones will sound like Marathi or Bengali! Plus you don’t sing in soor (tune).
Abbhan Aban: Oh yes, he sings in soor but it is called bhesasoor, named after the buffalo.
Meherbai: Enough! Stop this Pijan-Patlo! It’s time for some cold coffee and paneer pakoras which I have made for the Mandli, after which we shall discuss film music.
The pakoras vanished faster than vanishing-cream!
Meherbai: As children, my cousins and I grew up on a staple diet of English and Hindi films. Weekends meant a trip to Lamington Cinema, Swastik Cinema, Roxy, Opera House and Naaz. After the show, we would buy a tiny booklet containing the songs of a particular film for one anna and sing them to death!
Gooli Gol Gol: My earliest childhood memory of such songs is Meri Jaan, Meri Jaan, Sunday ko Sunday and Lara Lappa from the film Samadhi. We loved Johny Walker’s combo of playfulness and innocence, as he sang Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji in Mr.& Mrs.1955.
Dhunmai Drupad: Songs are the soul of a Hindi film. Can you imagine V. Shantaram’s Janak Janak Payal Bajey, Navrang, Do Ankhen Barah Haath, Ladki Sahyadri Ki and Pinjra, without songs? Or Anarkali? Think Madhumati and you can almost hear Suhana safar aur yeh mausam hasin, Hai Bichhua, Zulmi sang aankh ladi, Aa ja re Pardesi and Dil dhadak dhadak ke keh raha hai pyar kar.
Jeroo Geography: Take Khandala, which was mostly unknown outside the Mumbai-Pune belt until Amir Khan asked Rani in his film ‘Aati Kya Khandala?’ The rest is history!
Romantic Rutty: When we were in college, Shammi Kapoor’s mating call to Saira Banu “Yaa Hoo” in the flic Junglee was the anthem of all the guys, right from students to the canteen-boys who served chai-vadas at St Xavier’s canteen. Shammiji’s Aa-ja A-a-a-ja from Teesri Manzil was a craze. Everyone loved it. Even meaningless songs became instant hits at times, but mostly it’s the actor and the dance that etches a song on the collective consciousness of the listeners. A whole generation of females swooned when Rajesh Khanna sang Mere Sapno Ki Rani Kab Ayegi Tu in Aradhana’s famous train scene (repeated by Sharmila’s son Saif in Parineeta). Dev Anand also serenaded Asha Parekh, who was in a train, with Jiya ho, jiya ho, jiya, kuch bol do in Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai. Come to the 70’s and the words became bolder with Hum tum, ek kamrey main bandh ho from Bobby with its fragrance of teenage-love!
Bomi Bevdo: Then there were buzz words songs like Oye Oye from the film, Tridev or Ilu, Ilu from the film Saudagar. Of course, Mithun Chakraborty’s pigeon songs like Gutar, Gutar and Lucky Kabooter don’t even appeal to the kabooters! Then on, the songs and lyrics became dirtier than an uncleaned parrot’s cage with songs like Meri pant bhi sexy (Dulhara), Sarkai lyo khatiya (Raja Babu) and Choli Ke Peechay Kya Hai (Khalnayak). My generation which grew up on songs of Noor Jehan and Shamshad Begum, couldn’t relate to these khatiya-ghatia songs dealing with ghagra-cholis. Previously, Hindi film heroines were put on a pedestal, loved and worshipped as Mother India. Today, any and every starlet is willing to expose to an ‘item-number’ hoping for instant fame. Today, TV and radio make the heart grow fonder for the songs that were great. Those lyrics were so meaningful, like Tu Kahey Agar, Aaja Sanam, Ravaiya-Vastavaiya, O Duniya Ke Rekhwaley, Tu Pyar Ka Sagar Hai, Upar Gagan Vishaal, Voh Paas Rahey Ya Door Rahey etc. What words and what singers! Today, singers may be good but the lyrics are trashy and songs like Hai Hai Mirchi, Tunak Tunak,Chumma, Chumma de de , Lungi dance, Lungi Dance, Unchi Hai Building lift meri bandh hai, Chikni Chameli, Sheela Ki Javani and the Fevicol song are very disappointing, to say the least.
Khadhri Ketayun: Meherbai, let’s end the evening on this note and tell me what you have cooked for dinner. I’ve brought a small tiffin box in which you can give me something to take home.