I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Saturday, October 6, 2007

.....Of A Great Re-Discovery

Q. Define the word "ubiquitious".

A. Ubiquitious (n).Meaning : Noorjehan on PTV.In the Nineties.

My little sister,she's almost 12 years younger than me.I lament the fact that she won't be in the same cultural sphere,if that's the term I want to use,as I am.She won't know Mr. Rogers and his red cardigan,she won't get to see the 6th September waala dramas on PTV.She won't know who the hell Mohammad Jumman was. But most of all I lament her not being there when Noorjehan used to be on PTV.

At least twice,no thrice a day,Her Royal Highness would grace us with an audience.In glitzy saris,the matching neckscarves,the gaudy make-up and the impossible jewelry she still didn't look,how shall I put it,brazen. There would be kooky camera effects,multiple close-ups,kaliedoscopic whirligigs and what not.And then there would be the strangely enticing singing rituals....the sideways-glancing,knowing-eyed coquettish nods,the rolling of the lips,the strange conjuring hand movements...

It was a strange contrast that Noorjehan presented to the other great voice of the subcontinent,Lata Mangeshkar.While Noorjehan was a riot ofcolor even to her last days,Lata remained demurely shrouded in the white sari,the saffron bindi and no makeup to speak of.

When it comes to voices,I was never as great a fan of Noorjehan's as I am Lata's.Noorjehan's voice,especially since the mid-seventies had coarsed down to a scale,that sounded at times a bit too earthy,a bit too blase.That was until 25 minutes ago.

What I have in my hand is a CD.A noorjehan CD of pre-partition tracks.I had been looking for one specific track,"Tu Kaun Si BAdli Main" from the 1942 film Khandan.It's a haunting,hair-raising tune,and the young Noorjehan sings it like nobody's business.I had searched the old songs archives on every goshdarned website there was,to no avail.And then I found this CD.As i put it in,I got a shock to the system.Not one,not two,but twenty of the most otherworldly things my ears have ever heard,and they have heard their fairshare of otherworldly stuff.

I sit here totally mesmerised,my viewpoint totally altered.I used to consider the '50s as the true beginning of the golden age of Bollywood music,with the 40s a preamble,filled with nautch-girl ditties,Saigal nasal intonations and the such.But this music has opened my eyes.The surprisingly intricate arrangements,the jazz and swing infusions and the ethereal singing have made me revise my date by at least ten years...

So,now the image in my mind has altered.Noorjehan is still there,but she's this precociously talented young girl who's got the goshdarned brilliantest voice of her era.I sure wish my sis can join me,as I set out anew on the voyage in search of Noorjehan...

Song Of The Week,"Na Milta Gham",Lata
Movie Of The Week,"Starngers On A Train"
Discovery Of The Week, Noorjehan !!!

1 comment: