Other States

At these wedding processions, it’s yesterday once more


Old gems score over new-age Bollywood songs among revellers in western Uttar Pradesh

On a dark stretch in Anupshahr, a quiet town on the banks of Ganges in western Uttar Pradesh, Manish Kumar, the 25-year-old lead vocalist of Anil Band, is making a group of young wedding revellers dance to Pallu Latke. The all-male procession swaying to the Kishore Kumar-Asha Bhosle song from Nauker (1979) had no clue it was picturised on Sanjeev Kumar-Jaya Bhaduri, but they all agree it is meant for the “occasion”.

New-age Bollywood is yet to make it to wedding procession playlists in this part of the world. They are still swooning to Baharon Phool Barsao (Suraj, 1966) and Saara Zamana Haseenon Ka Deewana (Yaarana, 1981) and, of course, Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai (Aadmi Sadak Ka, 1977). For them, “new” are songs from the neighbouring Haryana, picturised on dancer Sapna Chaudhary. The hot favourite is Teri Ankhiyon Ka Yo Kajal, a number sung by a little-known Ragini-singer D.C. Madana in 2013 which soared when Chaudhary danced to it in 2017.

Manish says he loves to sing sadabahar (timeless) songs, a quality he feels new Bollywood numbers lack. The cut-off decade for him is the 1990s, particularly Nadeem-Shravan songs. “It is safe to sing old gems rather than investing in learning a new tune and then being stopped midway by a baarati because he could not relate to it,” says Anil Kumar, the proprietor of the band.

Tough times for bands

Anil says these are tough times for small bands spread across the region. “More than 20 weddings are solemnised on any given day during the short wedding season but we could not take more than one booking. Pandits should spread it through the season,” he laughs. DJs are also cutting into their business, he says, though the Allahabad High Court order barring them from playing songs above prescribed decibel and time limits is music to his ears.

Waseem Ahmed of Popular Band in Muzaffarnagar tells a similar story. “Earlier we used to bring trained artists from Allahabad and Jaipur. It is hard to find and retain good percussionists nowadays,” he rues.

Critic Ajay Brahmatmaj says songs also endure because of their association with stars. “These days such association is not there because songs mostly play in the background,” he says.

“Bollywood lately has also been banking on remixes of the hits of the 1990s. It is the simple melodic structure of these songs that keep them in circulation. Complex orchestration can’t work in a wedding procession,” points out Raj Shekhar of Sadi Gali (Tanu Weds Manu, 2011) fame.

Meanwhile, Manish ushers the procession into the banquet hall with Jaanewalon Zara Hoshiyar, Yahan Ke Hum Hain Raj Kumar from the 1964 Shammi Kapoor-starrer Rajkumar.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 7:51:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/at-these-wedding-processions-its-yesterday-once-more/article30119810.ece

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