The incredible music of Salim Khan and Sikander Langha

It has been almost 3 weeks since my Suryagarh trip, a trip that will go down as one of those trips of a lifetime. Being able to see the incredible monsoon desertscape, to visiting lesser known and popular sights in Jaisalmer, to the food feast laid out for us, to the pampering … everything was special.

But the reason that makes Suryagarh really special was an experience that stood over and above everything else and one that remains with me even today — the incredible music I heard at Suryagarh. Right from the Padhaaro Mhaaro Desh (please click on the song to hear it being rendered by Meelu Khan and Maqsood Khan) that welcomed me to the hotel or the performance of Manganiar musicians during dinner on the first day or the Langha musicians performing during dinner on the second day or hearing Algoza for the first time or discussing Rajasthani folk music…it was music, music and more music all the way.

Langha folk artistes, Kahnoi sand dunes, Jaisalmer, Suryagarh

Langha musicians performing at the Kahnoi sand dunes

Music is a quiet passion for me. While I enjoy hearing new kinds of music and am always open to hearing different kinds of music, I rarely seek music, local or pre-recorded, during my travels and Suryagarh was no different. But music was everywhere at Suryagarh and one that enveloped me in its melodious magic. While all the music I heard was truly incredible, two performances stood out for the sheer quality and for the interaction I was able to have with the musicians concerned.

I’ll introduce them to you a little later but for now let us call them the singer at the sand dunes and the musician at the window. Because that is how I first saw them and heard their magical music. My interactions with both of them left me feeling truly blessed and like the chosen one :-)

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My “now” song: Anjan ki siti

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

I love the rains, not so much for the romance associated with it, but for the freshness that it brings. It is a time for to take things a little slowly, for long walks, hot cups of tea, books to be read and listen to lots of music, particularly folk music. If you were to ask me what the connection is between folk music and the rains, I have no explanation.

Therefore, it is not surprising that my “now song is Anjan ki siti mein mhaaro man dole, a folk song sung by Rehana Mirza.

A mix of Rajasthani and Haryanvi, Anjan ki siti... has been pretty addictive and I have this song playing at home, at office… and often singing along with it as well. :) I was introduced to this song by Teevramadhyam and I can’t thank him enough for this.

What is your “now” song?

My “now” song: Dasht-e-Tanhai

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

I discovered Coke Studio Pakistan (CSP) sometime last year, and life was never the same again. The musicians featured here have opened up an entirely new world through their folk numbers or ghazals or qawwalis or raga-based pop numbers. The sheer variety and quality of music has always amazed and delighted me and has given me hours of pleasure.

One such song is Dasht-e-Tanhai, a ghazal by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and sung by Meesha Shafi. Ever since I came across this song about 2-3 weeks back, I have been listening to it or singing along with it during all my waking hours. And I think I hum this song in my sleep as well. Little wonder then that this song is my “now” song.

Dasht-e-Tanhai was originally sung by the legendary Iqbal Bano (you can listen to her version here). Though her version is very good, Meesha Shafi’s rendition of this song is a sensory delight. It is a song that is full of pathos, longing, hope, love, romance and Faiz’s beautiful Urdu poetry is matched by Meesha’s sensuous and earthy voice. You can actually feel the emotion behind each word in this song and when I listen to…

apni khushboo mein sulagti hui madham madham
door ufaq par chamakti hui qatra qatra…

I get goosebumps. (Please switch on the sub-titles option in the video for the English translation). What a song ! What. A. Song. :-)

Have you listened to this song before? Which rendition did you like — Iqbal Bano’s or Meesha Shafi’s?

To listen to other songs from this series, please click here.

My “now” song: Daya ghana

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

These days, I have been listening to a lot of both film and non-film songs based on Raga Puriya Dhanashree. And one of those songs has become my “now” song: Daya ghana, sung by Suresh Wadkar to lyrics by Sudhir Moghe and music by Hridayanath Mangeshkar for the 1981 Marathi film, Sansar.

I am a great fan of Suresh Wadkar and, in my opinion, this is one of his best renditions ever. A highly underrated and under appreciated singer, no one else could have sung this song.

Daya Ghana is a song about the futility of this life and is directed towards God asking for the explanation of the reason behind this entire existence. The song is dark, questioning and sombre and quite reflects my own reflective, inward-looking mood these days. Whenever I listen to this song, the existential angst conveyed by the lyrics touches a chord, while the calming music soothes me.

Does your music reflect your mood or does your mood choose the music?

My “now” song: Prathama tula vandito

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

The music selection blared out by the various pandals at the ongoing 10-day Ganpati festival has not thrown up any surprises. Hindi and Marathi film songs, and film songs from other languages as well; remixed bhajans and aarti songs, and at a pandal near my house some Vishnu Sahasranamam spiced up with some ‘technofied’ beats. But today morning I heard a song that I associate with the Ganpati festivals of my childhood and took me back to the Mumbai of my childhood.

I had just got off at the bus stop near my workplace when I heard the opening strains of  “Prathama tula vanditi krupala…”

This song is from the 1979 Marathi film Ashtavinayak and is sung by Vasantrao Deshpande and Anuradha Paudwal. I remember singing this with many others at the pandal near my grandparents’ house at Matunga and enjoying this beautiful melody in Raga Yaman. Even after so many years, I found that the appeal of this song had not diminished as I softly accompanied this song from across the road. I was also surprised to find that I remembered the lyrics as well !

Hope you enjoyed listening to my “now” song :-)

My “now” song: D.K. Pattammal singing the Jana Gana Mana

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

With August 15th just a couple of days away, desh bhakti of different types is in the air. Excited plans for an extended weekend vacation thanks to Independence Day and Id holiday in the bus; plastic and paper tricolour flags at traffic signals, shop windows dressed up in white, green and saffron; a sudden rise in the popularity of “desh bhakti geet” on TV and the radio… yes, its that time of the year. Even my customised YouTube page had Independence Day recommendations for me. One of them was D.K. Pattammal (1919-2009) singing the Jana Gana Mana:

D.K. Pattammal (DKP) would have been 28 when India attained Independence on in 1947. I wonder what it must have meant to her as a young, trailblazing musician. For someone who was well-known for her renditions of Mahakavi Bharatiyar’s nationalist songs, did she see the songs coming to life with India’s freedom

Maybe she did, for the joy and pride in singing the national anthem is so evident in the video that it would take a cynic or a real pessimist to not be moved by her expressions. For a change, I love the video more that the actual rendition of the song itself and it’s all because of DKP.

Happy Independence Day :-)