In this series, we have covered almost all the major genres of music. But Narendra Kusnur and I always felt we have missed out on something. It struck him today that we have not discussed a Ghazal album so far.
As always over a phone call we decided to discuss the soundtrack of the movie Arth for this week’s Album Talk.
Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.
Me: Although it’s a movie soundtrack, this is essentially a Ghazal album.
Kusnur: Let me go into the background for a bit. When this movie was released, in 1982, there was a Ghazal wave in the non-film music segment. The most popular ghazal singers at that time were Jagjit and Chitra Sing, Talat Aziz, Pankaj Udhas, Chandan Das, Rajendra and Neena Mehta. Simultaneously, parallel cinema was at its peak of popularity. Directors like Shyam Benegal, Basu Chatterjee, Hrishikesh Mukherjee were making movies which required a different style of music than mainstream Bollywood. Ghazals would fit in well in most of these movies.
Me: Was this the first movie with only Ghazals in its soundtrack?
Kusnur: No! Ghazals were used in movies released before this. In 1981 Umrao Jaan was released.
Me: But its music was mujra and thumri.
Kusnur: There were some songs which fit in the Ghazal realm. Ghazal is essentially the rhyming of couplets. The lyrics of some songs were written in the Ghazal style. In 1982, before Arth, two movies Saath Saath and Bazaar used Ghazals in their soundtrack. Kuldeep Singh composed the music for Saath Saath and most of the songs were sung by Jagjit and Chitra Singh. While the Ghazals in Saath Saath were simple, the soundtrack of Bazaar was complicated as the classic style of Ghazals was used.
Me: This surely must be the first movie where the Ghazal singer has also composed the music.
Kusnur: This soundtrack is totally about Jagjit Singh.
Me: Except for one song which is sung by Chitra Singh but composed by Jagjit Singh. Who wrote the lyrics?
Kusnur: Kaifi Azmi wrote 3 of the songs. The 2 most famous songs of the soundtrack, Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar and Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe along with Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye were penned by him.
Me: My pick from this soundtrack is Tu Nahin Toh Zindagi Mein sung by Chitra Singh. Like in most albums, there is a classic song which gets overshadowed by the bigger hits and this is that song.
Kusnur: It has its own following. It was written by Iftikhar Imam Siddiqi and the remaining song, Tere Khushboo Mein Base, was penned by Rajendar Nath Rehbar. Jagjit Singh has used a mix of Ghazals and nazms in this soundtrack. Nazms are free flowing poetries.
“Tere khushboo mein base khat main jalaata kaise
Pyaar mein dube huye khat main jalaata kaise
Tere haathon ke likhe khat main jalaata kaise”
These are the opening lines of Tere Khushboo Mein Base. The sentences rhyme with the last word but they are not couplets which are used in Ghazals.
Me: It free flowing poetry.
Kusnur: Yes it’s a nazm. Jagjit Singh also used a lot of guitar in the composition and also simplified the orchestration process. Earlier mostly tabla, dholak, harmonium and sarangi were used in Ghazals. Rarely someone would use the bansuri. Jagjit Singh introduced the guitar and keyboards to Ghazals.
Me: This introduction also helped Ghazals to evolve and last another 10 years.
The Jagjit Singh influence
Kusnur: Yes. Jagjit Singh is also credited for simplifying Ghazals, earlier they were too complex. The hard core fans would prefer Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hasan and even Ghulam Ali. Jagjit Singh also sang a lot of his Ghazals in Hindi and not in Urdu. This helped people to connect with them easily.
Me: My point of asking about the lyricists was that hardly anyone knows who wrote the Ghazals and lyrics are the soul of a Ghazal unlike other genres where it can be the composition.
Kusnur: “Beqarar hai ke nahi..Daba daba sa sahi..Dil me pyaar hai ke nahi”. These are the opening lines of Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar. Look at the imagination of the poet! He is curious to know that even if there not much love left but is it still there.
Me: Even the lines, “Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho Kya Gham Hai Jisko Chhupa Rahe Ho” are full of irony.
Kusnur: There is a sentence in the song Koi Yeh Kaise Bataye,
“Itni Kurbat Hai Toh Fir Faasla Itna Kyun Hai?”
Meaning, if there is closeness then why is there a distance? Such deep words and interpretations.
At this moment we decided to end the call and listen to songs that are poetry and not mere words. And we would recommend you to do the same.
Until next time, Adios Amigo!
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