“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Lamp for Thee, My Love!

It is amusing to read the comments of the younger friends on my posts on decades-old music. Like, ‘It is something my mom loved’ or Dad still listens to it’, etc. Songs that my generation held close to our hearts are ‘ancient’ to the younger set.

Like the way I thought of K L Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, C H Atma, Noorjahan or Lataji singing in her young voice - songs like Hawaa mein udtha jayae mere lal dupatta malmal (Lata M), Aaawaz de kahan hein duniya meri jawaan hein( Noorjahan with Surendra), Yeh raatane yeh mausam ye hasna hasaana( Pankaj Mullick)

We had a special, tall table stand for the Radio, beneath which was the HMV Star Turntable. The lower racks stacked full of LP records. After his evening bath, my father would come, smelling pleasantly. He would stand in front of the BIG Phillips radio, and tune it to Binaca Geethmala or Radio Ceylon. A Panama curling smoke in his left hand, and occasionally a glass of Brandy resting near the Radio, he would listen intently to the radio, fine tuning the stations. He would be humming a Saigal or a Mukesh, songs from the 1940s. I am talking about 1965-70. I used to get impatient with my dad and would think, ooph, what a drag, when he would break out – Sojaaa rajkumareee…!

Only in my early adulthood and in solitude that I started listening to the Hindi film songs of 1940s. As I understood more and more Hindi/Urdu, I could appreciate the songs better.

One of the unforgettable songs from that period is – ‘Diya to jala sub raat re baalam, par tum laute na aaye’ by C H Atma. Atma hasn’t sung as many songs as he should have; he tried his hand at acting but that didn’t do well. I googled Atma, but there is scant information on his life. This song, hauntingly beautiful, may not be familiar to all. But – do listen to it. If you want a taste, go to www.hamaracd.com .

Diya to jala – A lamp burned for you all the night my love! But never did you come back. In his deep bass, C H Atma sings so soulfully.

All you need is a cool, dim-lit room and a cold drink in your hand. Stretch your legs, lean back and look at the ceiling. Let the old movie roll…

************ Balachandran V, Trivandrum 18-11-2010


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