Satrangi's show, ‘Voice of Bengal', took listeners back to the golden era of Hindi film music.
The story goes that when Kishore Kumar was about eight or nine, he had a terrible voice. One day, while in the kitchen, he cut his toe accidentally on the vegetable cutter. And he is believed to have cried for a month continuously (though brother Ashok Kumar says it was for just a week or so!) But what came out of it? Well, that inimitable voice that has mesmerised music lovers for decades!
Here's another account of a young girl whose family had to move out of Bengal due to various circumstances. The family landed in Bombay and stayed in a cramped one-room tenement. The girl had a gifted voice and would often be heard singing. One day, producer Hanuman Prasad happened to visit the house next to this girl's. He heard her voice and decided to use it for his film ‘Bhakta Prahlada.' That soulful voice was noticed by S.D. Burman and Geeta Roy (later Dutt), the singer, found a firm place in Hindi film history.
It was interesting anecdotes such as these that added lustre to Satrangi's ‘Voices of Bengal,' held this past week. Bengal and Hindi films have had a strong bond. Some of the greatest names on the music scene hailed from the land of Tagore. The Burmans, Anil Biswas, Hemant Kumar, Geeta Dutt, Manna Dey and of course, Kishore Kumar…
And as has been said many times before in these columns, old Hindi film songs never go out of fashion. Reiterating this that evening were singers Surojit Guha, Jaya, Pramod and Usha who enjoyed themselves as much as the well-informed audience did for three and a half hours. The spotlight was on the duets of Geeta Dutt, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar.
The programme saw the competent compere Lakshmi take listeners on a melodious journey of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when the Hindi film industry was at its most prolific and innovative best. Geniuses such as Anil Biswas, C. Ramachandra, S.D. Burman, Kalyanji-Anandji, Shankar-Jaikishen and Vasant Desai created the templates on which others were able to experiment further.
Romance, grief, jealousy, anger… songs with every kind of emotion were presented that evening. Take ‘Nain tho nain nahi' (Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje). You can still visualise Sandhya and Gopi Krishna dancing in sync, in a dreamy setting. And who gave it soul? Hemant Kumar and Lata.
Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna may have been immortalised in ‘Kora kagaz tha yeh man mera' (Aradhana). But it was the magic of Kishore and Lata that gave the S.D. Burman classic life.
So also with Raj Kapoor and Nargis lip-syncing ‘Pyaar hua ikraar hua' (Shree 420) to the voices of Manna Dey and Lata.
Here are a few of the other numbers for the record: ‘Chunri sambhal gori' (Baharon ke sapne), ‘Hum aapki aankhon mein' (Pyasa), ‘Likha hai teri aankhon mein' (Teen Deviyan), ‘Yeh raat bhegi bhegi' (Chori Chori), ‘Aasamaan ke neeche' (Jewel Thief) and ‘Udhar tum haseen ho idhar dil jawan hai (Mr. & Mrs. 55).
The success of shows such as Satrangi lies not only in the content but also in the excellent singing quality and the well-rehearsed orchestra. So much so, the end product offered a happy and harmonious time for one and all.