29 July, 2021

Raga In Flight

Let's bring back the spirit of the golden oldies

Raga In Flight
In the 1950s and '60s we had some of the greatest of filmmakers and also the best of music that Hindi films have ever produced. Take the role of music in the films of V. Shantaram. He was the first filmmaker I worked with in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje in 1955. That was the first time santoor was used in an Indian film. The film was about a kathak dancer (played by Gopi Krishna), and the relationship between a guru and his disciple. Naturally, you couldn't use rumba-samba music. It had to be based on Indian classical ragas.

The theme of the films allowed for the use of classical art forms. No wonder, the stalwarts of Indian classical arts willingly performed—Gopi Krishna, Pandit Shamta Prasad, Ustad Amir Khan. The films of Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt and Mehboob Khan were deeply Indian, so the music was rooted as well.

Music directors themselves had a sound grasp of the classical and folk music traditions—Vasant Desai, Naushad, C. Ramachandra, Anil Biswas and Madan Mohan. But it was not that these people looked only at Indian...

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