RAAGA based Classical songs in Hindi Films: Cinema of the Week: BASANT BAHAR (1955) by Venkata Raman G

Cinema of the Week: BASANT BAHAR (1955)

RAAGA based Classical songs in Hindi Films:

The music of India is said to be one of the oldest unbroken musical traditions in the world. It is said that the origins of this system go back to the Vedas. Many different legends have grown up concerning the origins and development of Indian classical music. Such legends go a long way in showing the importance that music has in defining Indian culture.

Indian music has developed within a very complex interaction between different peoples of different races and cultures. The basis for Indian music is “Sangeet”. Sangeet is a combination of three art forms: Vocal Music, Instrumental Music and Dance.

The present system of Indian Music is based upon two important pillars: Raag and Taal. Raag is the Melodic form while Taal is the Rhythmic. There is a system of Seven Notes which are arranged in a means. However when we look closely we see that it is quite different what we are familiar with. The Taal (Rhythmic forms) are also very complex. Many common Rhythmic patterns exist. They revolve around repeating patterns of beats.

The Raag is the most important concept of Indian Music. The Hindi/Urdu word “Raag” is derived from the Sanskrit “Raaga” which means “Colour or Passion”. It is linked to the Sanskrit word “Ranj” which means “to Colour”. Therefore Raag may be thought of as an acoustic method of colouring the mind of the listener with an emotion. Raag is again a combination of different characteristics which define the Raag. Here are the characteristics:

There must be the notes of the Raag. They are called the Swar.
There must also be a modal structure. This is called Thaat.
There is also the Jati. Jati is the number of notes used in the Raag.
There must also be the ascending and descending structure. This is called Arohan /Avarohan.
Another characteristic is that the various notes do not have the same level of significance. Some are important and others less so. The important notes are called Vaadi and Samavaadi
There are often characteristic movements to the Raag. This is called either Pakad or Swarup.
In addition to the main characteristics of Raag, there are some other less important ones. For instance Raags have traditionally been attributed to particular times of the day. They have also been personified into families of male and female Raags (Raaga, Raagini, Putra Raaga, etc.).


SJ & their Classical background:

During his formative years, Shankar played the tabla and learned the art formally from Baba Nasir Khansahib. For many years, Shankar studied as a disciple of the legendary composer Khawaja Khurshid Anwar, in whose orchestra he performed. Shankar started his career with a Theater group run by Satyanarayan and Hemawati, before shifting to Prithvi Theatre where he played Tabla and performed some minor roles in Plays.

Jaikishan, a trained singer was adept at playing the Harmonium. Subsequently, he obtained his musical lessons from Sangeet Visharad Wadilalji and later from Prem Shankar Nayak. After moving to Bombay, he became a disciple of Vinayak Tambe.

Contrary to popular belief, ShankarJaikishan made a very significant, perhaps the best contribution in promoting Indian Classical Music throughout their career. It was their established practice to have at least one song in a Movie based on Classical or Semi-Classical style. Most of the SJ’s songs were based on Indian Classical & Indian Folk. SJ’s songs would appeal to both Masses and Classes. While the Raag ”Shivranjani” and Raag ”Bhairavi” were the favourite Raag of SJ and they composed most of the songs on these Raags, they also composed on different other Raags. Excellent Orchestra with an ensemble of Indian & Western Classical/Folk Instruments were another highlight of this legendary Music Directors.of Hindi Cinema

The Movie:
BASANT BAHAR (1956) was produced under Vishwa Bharati Productions, produced by Ramachandra Ghanti (R Chandra) & Directed by SJ loyalist Raja Nawate who made Aah (1953) , Gumnam ( 1965) & Bhai Bhai (1970) all with SJ. The movie has a Star Cast of Bharat Bhushan, Nimmi, Chandrasekhar, Manmohan Krishna, Kum Kum, Leela Chitnis, Parashuram etc.in lead roles. It was an adaptation of the Kannada Novel “HAMSAGEETE” by TAluku RAmaswami SUbba Rao (TaRaSu) based on the real life story of the 18th century Carnatic musician Bhairavi Venkatasubbaiah.

The story of this Movie is of little importance as the Film is best remembered only for its soul stirring Music by SJ.

The NAVRATNAS, all of them based on Indian Classical Raagas as under.

1. Badi der bhayi badi der bhayi –Shailendra-Rafi-PILU (Night Raaga)
2. Bhay bhanjana vandana sun hamaari –Shailendra-Manna Dey-MIYAAN MALHAR (Evening Raaga)
3. Duniya na bhaaye mohe ab to bulaa le -Shailendra-Rafi-TODI (Morning Raaga)
4. Jaa jaa re jaa baalamwaa -Shailendra-Lata-JHINJHOTI (Evening Raaga)
5. Kar gaya re kar gaya mujhpe jaadoo saanwariya-Shailendra-Lata, Asha-Combo of Raagas
6. Ketaki ghulab joohi champak ban-Shailendra-Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, Manna Dey-BASANT (Evening Raaga)
7. Main piya teri tu maane ya na maane-Hasrat Jaipuri-Lata-BHAIRAVI (Morning raga)
8. Nain mile chain kahaan –Shailendra-Manna Dey, Lata-BHAIRAVI (Morning Raaga)
9. Sur na saje kyaa gaaun main-Shailendra-Manna Dey-PILU (Night Raaga)

1. The story behind the film Basant Bahar is-The Movie Baiju Bawra (1952) became very famous and Naushad got the FILM FARE AWARD for the Best Music Director in 1954. Once, in a routine get together of film people someone commented that Naushad was the king of Classical songs in Hindi Movies and ShankarJaikishan felt it was a challenge to them. That day they determined to make a similar film based on Classical Music to prove that they were no less. Since they were loaded with work at that time, it took them couple of years to meet the challenge, They got Mr.Ramchandra Ganti,a very wealthy man from Hyderabad to finance a film to be produced under his banner of Vishva Bharati Films and got Mr TaRaSu’s Kannada novel Hamsgeete for Basant Bahar and Rajinder singh Bedi to write the Screenplay & Dialogues. The film was made,but sadly it did not get any Awards. All the songs of Basant Bahar were extremely melodious and based on Classical Raagas. Just a Trivia and not a comparison between Naushad and SJ.

2. In the song “Main piya teri tu maane ya na maane” the flute was played by Pannalal Ghosh, the renowned legendary flute player. The song turns out to be perfect jugalbandi between Lata’s voice and Pannalal Ghosh’s flute.

Youtube Link to this song is here-https://youtu.be/iEsRWf80V3A

Venkata Raman G's photo.
Venkata Raman G's photo.

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