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Lata Mangeshkar, India’s Singing Goddess

admin   February 14, 2022

The passing away of the legendry singer Lata Mangeskar has left a huge void in the hearts of her billions of fans spread across the world. Amit Khanna, the veteran lyricist, writer and filmmaker, reflects on what makes the iconic singer, who sung faultlessly for almost eight decades, unparalleled in the music world as he pays a rich tribute to the nightingale of India

For nearly eight decades, Lata Mangeshkar defined Hindi film music. Diminutive, Indore-born Lata was literally nurtured in music. Her father Dinanath Mangeshkar ran a theatre company and later did music concerts. So, a two-year-old Lata would sit by her father’s side while he did his daily riyaaz.

By the time she was 5, she would warble abhangs and other songs from her father’s repertory of classical and traditional songs. Lata was the eldest of the five Mangeshkar siblings—Asha, Meena, Usha and Hridaynath. Incidentally, all would grow up and make a name for themselves.

Unfortunately, after some professional disasters, Dinanath died leaving the family destitute in 1942. All the responsibility fell on 13-year-old Lata. She had appeared in bit roles in movies till then but now she needed more work. Family friend Master Vinayak (father of actress Nanda) came forward to help. He helped the young Lata get her a break in friend Vasant Joglekar’s film Kittie Ha Saal in 1942. She started working in Master Vinayak’s company Navyug Chitrapat.

In 1945, this company moved to Mumbai and the young Lata too followed. While the initial days were of tremendous struggle, Lata started learning classical music under Ustad Aman Ali Khan of Bhindi Bazaar Gharana.

In 1946, she got her first Hindi film in Vasant Joglekar’s Aap ki Seva Mein (1945). She kept on doing an odd song or the other until Master Ghulam Haider (Better known as the composer of Kamal Amrohi’s Pakeezah) became her mentor and got her a job in Bombay Talkies, and her first hit was in Majboor in 1948 where Gulam Haider gave the music.

Haider also got her to improve her Urdu diction.

In 1948, she got her big breakthrough in Ziddi. The breakthrough came in Bombay Talkies. Her first big film  as a singer was Ziddi starring Dev Anand and Kamini Kaushal with music by SD Burman (Kishore Kumar too got his break in this film), followed by Buzdil in 1948 and 1949 respectively, and the super hit ‘Ayega Aanewala’ in the film Mahal.

This Kamal Amrohi film had music by Khemchand Prakash. Lata’s rise to the top thereafter was swift.

She soon became the default choice as the playback singer for most leading ladies and composers. Once Bade Ghulam Ali Khan said about her: “Kambakth kabhi sur nahin chhodti (damn, she never drops a note)”.

From the fifties to the eighties, Lata delivered hundreds of hit songs under various composers.
She was the first choice of filmmakers like Mehboob Khan, V Shantaram, Bimal Roy, Raj Kapoor, the Anand brothers, Chetan, Dev, and Vijay), Raj Khosla, Yash Chopra, Amiya Chakravarty, and LV Prasad.

Let us not forget this was the golden age of Hindi film music with composers like Anil Biswas, Naushad, SD Burman, Khemchand Prakash, C Ramchandra. Shanker Jaikishen, Roshan, Madan Mohan, Khayyam, Salil Chowdhury, Vasant Desai, Hemant Kumar, Ravi, Kalyanji Anandji Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and later Rajesh Roshan, Bappi Lahiri, and Anu Malik.

Poets like Sahir, Shailendra, Majrooh, Shakeel, Kaifi, Indeevar, and Anand Bakshi were also among some of the most talked-about individuals.

Among the singers, we had Suraiya, Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum, and Suman Kalyanpur, among women and Mohamad Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Mukesh, Hemant Kumar, Talat Mehmood, and Manna Dey. Lata Mangeshkar was the voice most heard and liked in India.

Lata Mangeshkar never married though there were whispers about her liaison with C Ramachandra, Raj Kapoor, Jaikishen, and an extended close friendship with cricketer-prince Raj Singh Dungarpur.

Such was her respect that such innuendo never impacted her image. She would come to the studio dressed in exquisite white sarees with a prominent bindi carrying a thermos of warm water. Rarely would she ask for a cup of tea.

She did not socialize much and spent most of her time with her family doting on her mother and nieces and nephews. Cricket and photography were her favourite hobbies, though she could whip up a mean dinner if required.

I got to know her in my early days in Navketan but came closer to her once I turned a lyricist in 1973. In fact, she sang the first song I wrote ‘Dur Dur tum rahe’ for which she got the West Bengal Film Journalists’ award.

Over time she got fond of me partly because I was the youngest lyric writer and partly because of the language which was a little different from the conventional Hindi/Urdu used in film songs. It was only after a couple of years of working together that she opened up.

She would talk about her travels or indulge in some mild gossip about other film folks, but usually, she would come to rehearse the song and go to the mike and in a couple of takes the song would be okayed and she would leave.

One thing I noticed was that she would always exchange a few words with some of the senior musicians whom she knew for decades.

She was not political in an overt sense of the word but was a nationalist. She was proud to be an Indian and was not willing to accept needless criticism of the nation or its rulers.

A couple of times I spoke to her about it and found that she was aware of what was happening in the world. She was also familiar with global music trends.

While she respected classical performers and singers, she was not intimidated by anyone. She doted on her family special the kids of her siblings. There are several stories going around since the 1950s about how the Mangeshkar sisters obstructed the entry of newcomers. This is patently wrong.

They were loyal to some composers and felt betrayed if a song created for them was handed over to another singer on account of their unavailability on a particular day.

In fact, there are many young singers who were encouraged by Lata and Asha. She was willing to take a stand when required. She was the first singer after KL Saigal who insisted on a share of royalty for each of her songs.

When Rafi compromised, she stopped singing duets with him for a number of years. Similarly, she took offence to a comment made by OP Nayyar about her voice quality. She never sang a single song of the talented composer. Similarly, once she had some creative differences with SD Burman and they did not work together for about five years.

What is it that makes Lata Mangeshkar stand amongst not only her contemporaries but also singers from earlier and later periods? One is her voice which is a natural gift-soft, dulcet, and very malleable. The second is her ability to feel the words she sang.

She could sing a romantic song with as much ease as she sang a ghazal, bhajan, or lullaby. In fact, I can say with confidence that she was the only singer who would improve upon the original composition of the music director.

She could embellish the song with the right murkiharkat or a mere emphasis on a particular word. Her enunciation was impeccable. It’s a wrong notion that she rehearsed a lot. In the 50s it was a tradition for the singers to go to a music director’s music room for rehearsal. Somehow this practice faded away by the 70s.

Lata Didi could give a perfect take after a mere 15 minutes rehearsal. When she really liked a particular composition, she would call the composer and asked him to come home for a rehearsal.

To sing faultlessly for almost eight decades is an unparalleled achievement. There were perhaps a dozen composers and half a dozen lyricists and, a few filmmakers with whom Lata had a special relationship, but her professionalism was there for every singer, writer, composer, arranger, or orchestra with whom she worked.

I am often asked about Lata’s best songs. When an artiste’s repertoire runs into thousands, it is very difficult to pick a handful of her songs. A few of my favourites (not exclusively) at random are: Ayega Aanewala, Na Jaane Kahan Kho gaye, Ai ri main toh prem diwaniya, Zindagi usi ki hai, Phaili hui hain sapnon ki bahen, Bekas pe karam kijeye, Ajeeb Dastan hai yeh, O basanti pawan pagal, Allah tero naam, Kahin deep jale kahin dil, Mere Mehboob tujhe, Jogi Re jao re, Naina Barse, Lag ja gale, Bindiya chamkegi, Aaj phir jeene ki, Phool tumhe bheja hai, Chalo Sajna, Kaise rahoon chup, Baharon mera aanchal bhi sanwaro, Bahon mein chale aao, Rangila Re, Ye galiyan ye chaubara, Ehsan Tera hoga mujh par, Yashomati Maiyya se, Didi Tera devar deewana, Tujhe dekha toh, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi gham and two of my lyrics – Pal bhar me ye kya ho gaya and Suman Sudha Rajni chanda.

(Amit Khanna is a Lyricist, Writer and Film Maker)

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Singing Legend Lata Mangeshkar, Nightangale of India, Dies at 92

admin   February 6, 2022

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar who passed away Sunday morning was unique in many aspects. Here are 20 important and interesting things about her.

Leaving a huge void in the music world and her millions of admirers in tears, veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar died in Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital Sunday morning. She was 92.

People from various walks of life and fans have been paying homage to Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed deep grief over the passing away of Lata Mangeshkar.

In a series of tweets, the Prime Minister said, “I am anguished beyond words. The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people.”

“Lata Didi’s songs brought out a variety of emotions. She closely witnessed the transitions of the Indian film world for decades. Beyond films, she was always passionate about India’s growth. She always wanted to see a strong and developed India.”

“I consider it my honour that I have always received immense affection from Lata Didi. My interactions with her will remain unforgettable. I grieve with my fellow Indians on the passing away of Lata Didi. Spoke to her family and expressed condolences. Om Shanti,” he added.

Oscar-Grammy winning composer AR Rahman took to Twitter to share a throwback photo with Lata Mangeshkar and paid tribute. In the photo, Rahman can be seen sitting on the floor while Lata can be seen sitting on the couch. He wrote, “Love, respect and prayers @mangeshkarlata.”

Bollywood veteran Ambitabh Bachchan and cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar visited Lata’s residence in Mumbai and paid tributes to her mortal remains.

20 interesting facts about Lata Mangeshkar

  • Lata Mangeshkar started singing at the age of 13 and recorded her first song in 1942. In her career spanning seven decades, she has to her credit over 30,000 songs in different languages.
  • She has been the voice behind popular tracks like ‘Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai’, ‘Raam Teri Ganga Maili’, ‘Ek Radha Ek Meera’ and ‘Didi Tera Devar Deewana’ to name a few.
  • She has lent her voice to songs in Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, and other regional languages. She has been honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan as well as several National and Filmfare Awards.
  • Lata Mangeshkar was known for her range — she could sing in four octaves — and tailoring her voice and emotions to the actress she was voicing onscreen.
  • She was the singing voice for generations of actresses- from Madhubala and Meena Kumari in the 1950s and 1960s to Kajol and Preity Zinta in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • She was the oldest of five children born to Shuddhamati Mangeshkar and her husband, Pandit Deenanath Mangeshkar, a well-known classical musician active in Marathi-language theater. Her sisters Meena, Asha and Usha and her brother, Hridaynath, all of whom survive her, are also musicians.
  • Lata Mangeshkar never married. Her sister Asha Bhosle, 88, is also a well-known playback singer.
  • Lata and Asha have performed together many times.
  • Mangeshkar was a passionate cricket fan and had a love for cars and the slot machines of Vegas. She also rubbed shoulders with some of Bollywood’s brightest stars – and at least one Beatle.
  • She was never formally educated. A maid taught her the Marathi alphabet, and a local priest taught her Sanskrit, while relatives and tutors taught her other subjects at home.
  • When she sang Ae Mere Watan ke Logon (Ae, the people of my land), a haunting and soulful tribute to slain Indian soldiers in the disastrous war with China in 1962, at a public meeting, India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru teared up.
  • “I am a self-made person. I have learned how to fight. I have never been scared of anyone. I am quite fearless. But I never imagined I would get as much as I have,” she once said.
  • “Every female actor wanted her voice. But she was always busy and only a few fortunate music directors got the chance to make her sing,” music director Mohammed Zahur Khayyam had once said.
  • She enjoyed listening to Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Nat King Cole, the Beatles, Barbra Streisand and Harry Belafonte. She went to see Marlene Dietrich singing on stage, and loved Ingrid Bergman’s theatre.
  • As a teenager, in the 1940s, Ms. Mangeshkar played minor roles onscreen. “I never liked it — the makeup, the lights,” she said in an interview for a book published in 2009.
  • In the 2009 book, “Lata Mangeshkar … in Her Own Voice,” written by Nasreen Munni Kabir, Ms. Mangeshkar said she gave up formal education on her first day of school. She had brought her 10-month-old sister, Asha, with her, and the teacher refused to allow the baby into the classroom, she said.
  • Lata Mangeshkar was variously described as the Nightingale of India, Didi and the Queen of Melody.
  • In a tribute to Lata Mangeshkar in The Qunit, Khalid Mohamed has written, stating that in her last interview, Lata Mangeshkar had said, “I do not consider myself as a reflective, brooding person. I would just end up tying myself in knots. Time has gone by in a blur, the beginnings seem just like yesterday. Today there’s that instinct to do more. No singer can stop because of one’s age or the drastic shifts in taste and trends in music.”

In that same interview, Lata Mangeshkar had said, “Gratitude above all to Bhagwan, to my father, to my gurus and to the nation which showed me the way to pursue whatever I have done with diligence and shraddha (faith). I would like to continue singing till my voice gives up on me. Singing is all that I know.”

“Instead of straining my ears to figure out what the new millennium music is all about, I have stopped listening even to the chartbusters. I don’t mean to sound supercilious at all. I have also stopped listening to my own songs and the vintage film hits of my colleagues.”

And now, the Nightingale has stopped singing too forever.

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Top 20 international musicMusic

IMI unveils Top 20 International Singles Charts India

admin   June 21, 2021

The aim of the IMI International Top 20 Singles Chart is to make it easy for music enthusiasts to discover fresh and exciting music

Indian Music Industry (IMI), the organisation that represents the recorded music industry in the country, has released its first-ever International Top 20 Singles Chart India.

The charts which are formulated using streaming figures of international singles are compiled by global music technology leaders BMAT. It will be updated weekly on Mondays by sundown.

Every week from Friday to Thursday BMAT aggregates and consolidates the data from three leading international DSPs (Digital Service Providers) in the country – Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.

The Top 20 chart is reviewed by the IMI Charts committee comprised of experts from record labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Times Music, and Warner Music Group.

Top 20 Music List

The aim of the IMI International Top 20 Singles Chart is to make it easy for music enthusiasts to discover fresh and exciting music.

Rajat Kakar, Managing Director India, Sony Music Entertainment, said, “Sony Music India is delighted at the launch of the first ever official Indian Music Industry charts. This is a landmark moment as music listeners can now get unbiased International Music Charts which are based on actual consumption data across leading streaming service providers. This will pave the way for growth of global music amongst Indian fans with significantly higher engagement and also put India firmly on the Global Music map.”

According to Mandar Thakur, COO, Times Music, “The IMI charts are the first ever formal launch by the Indian Music Industry to provide a concise, factual and real time chart system for its stakeholders to refer to. The mechanism to arrive at the charts is industry grade and is collated from data analysed across all verticals and as such will be the definitive charts for Indian consumers and global stakeholders. Times Music is proud to be part of this initiative.”

Top 20 Music List

Jay Mehta, Managing Director, Warner Music Group, stated, “Warner Music Group India is excited to be involved with this project. Exponential growth of smart phones coupled with a plethora of streaming services has taken international recorded music to the remotest part of India. International music today is no longer a metro or city centric genre its pan India, and the IMI International Charts will be a true representation of what India listens to.”

Blaise Fernandes, CEO & President, IMI, said, “I am delighted to launch the International Charts – an inaugural consumer-centric foray by IMI, which is largely a recorded music trade body. The charts represent what consumers in India are listening to. Globally charts are an effective search and discovery tool, I expect the same to happen in India. Given our country’s socio-eco-cultural diversity, the charts roll out will be in phases. Phase two will see the launch of regional charts in two Indian regional languages. Once we get the operations and formulae right, we plan to launch the IMI NATIONAL CHARTS – our endeavour to highlight the music consumers in India enjoy – on a weekly basis.”

According to Dema Therese Maria, Lead Charts & Certifications, IMI, “IMI is proud to present the first phase of our IMI India charts roll out, we have outsourced the entire process to BMAT, a recognised global brand in the music ecosystem, associated with music charts in over 22 countries. The DSP’s or streaming platforms share consumer data with BMAT. The data is then processed, as per international norms, giving the charts 100% transparency and accuracy.”

Top 20 Music List

Lewis Morrison, Head of Global Charts and Certifications, IFPI, stated, “The introduction of the IMI International Top 20 Singles Chart is a great milestone for music in India and is an important step in the development of further charts to capture the full extent of India’s unique music culture and the vibrant and growing music industry in the market.”

Enric Calabuig, VP Charts, BMAT, “As the official charts compilers for 22 countries alongside IFPI, we’re excited to be partnering with IMI to do India’s charts. It’s a pleasure to be using our technical expertise to keep India up to date on their huge streaming market as well as help them make their culture more accessible to international consumers.

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A R Rahman's Covid 19 Anthem goes Viral

A R Rahman’s Covid-19 Anthem Resurfaces in Social Media

admin   May 15, 2021

Composed by AR Rahman and lyrics by Prasoon Joshi, the Covid-19 anthem was a tribute to Covid warriors released by HDFC Bank Resurfaces in Social Media

#Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge, a motivational song by Oscar-Grammy winning musician AR Rahman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, that gave a musical tribute to the nation’s fight against Covid-19 last year, is now all over the social media.

With the second wave hitting the country hard, people have been sharing the anthem on social media and it has gone viral once again. Launched on 1 May 2020, the video has garnered 19,636,857 views so far.

Composed by AR Rahman, the anthem had been sung by various Indian artistes along with Rahman. This was a song supported and released by HDFC Bank who promised to contribute Rs 500 to the PM-CARES Fund every time the official video gets shared.

AR Rahman’s Inspiration

Talking about the initiative, Rahman had said, “This song has brought all of us together for a noble cause and we hope it inspires the nation to come together too.”

During the release time, HDFC Bank said that the song was conceptualized as a clarion call to spread hope, positivity and motivation. The powerful, emotional track reminds people that we are in this together and we will get through it together.

The track had brought together an ensemble of musicians from all over India. Clinton Cerejo, Mohit Chauhan, Harshdeep Kaur, Mika Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Sid Sriram, Shruti Haasan, Shashaa Tirupati, Khatija Rahman and Abhay Jodhpurkar are among the artistes who had joined hands for the initiative.

Not just that. Popular percussionist Sivamani, sitarist Asad Khan and bass prodigy Mohini Dey were also part of the project.


Tribute to Covid Warriors

The song paid tribute to the never-give-up attitude of frontline workers such as doctors, police officers, nurses, people feeding stray animal and every individual helping to curb the impact of Covid-19 by putting their life at risk.

On how the song took shape, Rahman said, “After Prasoon wrote the song, and I set it to tune, each of the artistes recorded their parts in their own homes within 10 days, and I put them together.”

Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge’ which translates to ‘We won’t give up’ featured monotone visuals of essential service providers such as policemen, municipality workers, voluntary workers distributing groceries, mothers working from home, and people feeding stray dogs. The campaign was executed by creative partner agency Kinnect and digital media firm Qyuki.

Talking about the Covid anthem, Prasoon Joshi said, “Though this is not the most ideal of circumstances for creativity, as artists we have to break through adversity and catch the finger of hope. My poem is centred around the thought of the un-putdownable spirit of us humans. We have much to learn, but together we will surmount the odds, we won’t give up.”

Vandemataram Album

Interestingly, this is not for the first time Rahman is part of such initiatives. When India celebrated its 50th Independence Day in 1997, he came up with the ‘Vandemataram’ album, which echoed from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

More than a decade ago, the ‘Mozart of Madras’, as he is called by his fans and admirers, composed ‘Semmozhiyaana Tamil Mozhiyaam’, an anthem for the World Classical Tamil Conference.

Maathaare and Singapenney

In 2019, for Vijay-starrer Tamil film ‘Bigil’, Rahman came out with ‘Maathaare’, and ‘Singapenney’, highlighting the power of women.

Almost 29 years ago – in 1992 – AR Rahman burst on the movie music scene as a whiz kid with Mani Ratnam’s Roja. He has conquered the world many times over as a creator of unique sounds that have fetched him two Grammy Awards. AR Rahman’s first film, experimental as it is, continues to be watched with keen interest by his fans across the globe.

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Heard About Enjoy Enjaami | Pickle

Heard About Enjoy Enjaami. Here it is

admin   April 2, 2021

Enjoy Enjaami is the word hummed by everyone. In fact, the heat generated by this indie single by singers Dhee, Arivu and musician Santhosh Narayanan is more than that of Tamil Nadu’s pol(l)itics and the scorching sun, so to speak. Pickle gives you 10 interesting facts about the song that has gone hugely viral on all possible platforms.

Political Punch

Enjoy Enjami, an independent Tamil song featuring Dhee and Arivu, is a viral sensation, with admirers across languages and pop cultures. Interestingly, it is a political song and not just an entertaining dance number.

Good Mourning

Fused with Oppari (lament song sung during a mourning), the song is a celebration of the ancestors who toiled in the forests and led to human civilisation.

A R Rahman’s Support

Produced by A.R. Rahman’s Maajja — a platform for South Asian independent musicians, Enjoy Enjaami has even got Netflix giving it a meme status and celebrities cooing.


Grandma’s Song

Enjoy Enjaami was inspired by the experience of Arivu’s grandmother, Valliamma, as a bonded labourer in Sri Lanka. The lived experience of Valiamma and generational loss of experiencing landlessness are aptly depicted as Oppari.

It’s Everywhere

The song is played everywhere — in local markets, malls, cafes, cars, households. Not just younger people, even grandmothers and grandfathers are humming the main tune — cuckoo cuckoo.

La La Land

While there is a universal theme of celebrating the ancestors in the song, Arivu clarifies that his celebration of ancestors is not about ‘pride’, ‘supremacy’ and ‘jingoism’ — but a tribute to his ancestors who belong to marginalised communities — who are deprived of land.


Dhee Factor

Dhee (Dheekshitha Venkadeshan), 22 is a Sri Lankan-Australian playback singer. The music is by composer Santhosh Narayanan, Dhee’s stepfather, and the song is the first release under the Maajja banner.

Jungle Book

The lyrics bring alive a tropical forest filled with flora, parakeets, insects, birds and animals. One can only imagine how fantastic the song’s video will be. The lyrics also talk about how forests made way for civilisations.

Symbols Aplenty

The video, directed by Amith Krishnan, is full of rich symbolism as the main characters move from forests to fields and back. It ends with Valliammal, flanked by her people, seated as if on a throne.

Freedom Flavour

Independent music is a symbol of freedom. The coming together of Dhee and Arivu, two artists from different social strata, is perhaps the best way to champion the “indie-cause”. Entertainment through art is important, but limiting art to mere entertainment would undermine its power.

Raagotsav Celebrates Music and Musicians

admin   July 14, 2020

Raagotsav, dedicated to the rich and age-old tradition of instrument music and its legendary practitioners, will be streamed by Films Division (http://www.filmsdivision.org) between July 14 and 16

Films Division is gearing up to present ‘Raagotsav… Celebration of Monsoon’, an online festival of select pick from ‘precious films’ on Indian classical music in its archive. First part of the festival, dedicated to the rich and age-old tradition of instrument music and its legendary practitioners, will be streamed between 14 and 16 July, said a statement.

‘These documentaries tell music lovers about major streams of instrument music – string, wind and percussion and also about maestros, Ustad Allaudin Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Ustad Ahmad Jaan Thirakwa, Ustad Alla Rakha, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt. Ramnarayan, Pt. Sivkumar Sharma, Sheikh Chinna Moulana and others who have influenced music lovers, old and young alike for centuries,’ it said and added: ‘The rare collection will be showcased on Films Division Website and You Tube channel for free viewing.’


In India, many instruments have been skillfully used for music composition, accompaniment and for solo performance, from time immemorial. An informative compile of such instruments through the film ‘Music of India’-Instrument (11min./1952/ Bhaskar Rao) will kick start ‘Raagotsav’.

To understand how passion for music brought an 8-year-old boy from a remote village in the then East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) to the city of Kolkata, the documentary on the life of the legendary multi instrumentalist-composer and music teacher, Ustad Allauddin Khan, ‘Baba’ (15 min./1976/N. D. Keluskar) is a must watch, according to Films Division.


Produced 50 years ago on life and work of tabla maestro, Ahmed Jaan Thirakwa’ a rare B&W biography (14min./1971/L Shankar) takes us to the golden era of music. The credit for elevating the status of Shehnai, a wind instrument played in marriages and religious processions only to the solo concert stage goes to one and only ‘Ustad Bismillah Khan’ and this short film (19 min./2007/Dinesh Prabhakar) showcases master’s life and his illustrious journey leading to the highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna.


Pandit Ravi Shankar, the worldfamous Sitar exponent and the first instrumentalist to be bestowed with Bharat Ratna has expressed his views about the tradition of Indian Gurukul system in the documentary ‘Moments with Maestro’ (18min./1970/Pramod Pati). Also interesting is the biography of Sheik Chinna Moulana who mastered and popularised Nadaswaram, a double reed wind instrument played mostly in temples and during Hindu weddings in South India, where ‘Shruti & Grace of Indian Music’ (14 min./ 1974/ Shyam Benegal) is majorly on grammar of Indian classical music.

DA Y 2…

On day 2 of ‘Raagotsav’, the story of a Tabla genius and his music philosophy is revealed in ‘Ustad Alla Rakha’ (13 min./1970/ C S Nair). ‘Tala and Rhythm –Mridangam’ (11 min./1972/ Shyam Benegal) underlines importance of the ancient percussion instrument in Carnatic music. Through ‘Music of India’- Drum (10 min./1952/Bhaskar Rao), a short overview is taken on variety of drums used in India. ‘Pandit Ramnarayan’ (50 min./2007/ V. Packirisamy) denotes the journey of Sarangi maestro who took the hitherto accompanying instrument to the glorious level of solo excellence. ‘Bansuri Guru’ (57 min./2014/Rajeev Chaurasia) shows the fascinating musical journey of flute magician Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia whose mellifluous bansuri rendition is enchanting music lovers across globe for over six decades.


On 16 July, the last day ‘Raagotsav’- Part I, another masterpiece ‘Antardhwani’ (65 min./2008)/ Jabbar Patel) brings to life the musical journey of great Santoor exponent Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma. Ustad Amjad Ali Khan belongs to the family that introduced Sarod to the world. His illustrious musical journey, love for Sarod and grooming of his sons….Music aficionados can listen to all these and more in his own words in ‘Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’ (62 min./1990/Gulzar). The documentary ‘Bansuriwala’ (52 min./2016/Biplab Majumdar) is on ace flutist Pt. Ronu Mujumdar. This documentary gives us the experience of meditation through soothing music.

According to Films Division, ‘Raagotsav’ aims to double the celebration of monsoon and bring pure joy and celestial ecstasy to all music lovers, uplifting their spirit in the present days of isolation and depression. Those interested can visit http://www.filmsdivision.org and click @ “Documentary of the Week” or follow FD YouTube Channel to enjoy the rare films on Indian classical music.

Weaving Magic with Music

admin   February 14, 2018

What sets Ilaiyaraaja apart is the magnificent ease and efficacy with which he fuses Tamil folk traditions, the strains of Carnatic music and Western orchestration to create a soundscape that instantly draws the listener into its depths

Ilaiyaraaja’s contribution to film music is second to none.There couldn’t be a more deserving Centenary Award winner

Indian film composers make music.Ilaiyaraaja makes magic. His compositions add value to a film, at the same time, they also have a life beyond the films that they are embedded in. Could there be any other reason why he is a household name across the length and breadth of the country?

Operating in a league of his own, Ilaiyaraaja has been striking the chords of the hearts of millions of admirers for all of four decades. His consistency borders on the phenomenal. He is widely, and rightly, regarded as a peerless force in the domain of film music.

Ilaiyaraaja, who made his debut as an independent music director in the 1975 Tamil film, Annakili, has continued to dominate the south Indian film music scene despite changing fads and popular tastes. He moves with the times without bartering away the soul of his music.

When he branched out on his own he was simply known as Raaja, so his first producer added the prefix Ilaiya (meaning young in Tamil) to his name to distinguish him from a music director who was already in the industry, A.M. Rajah. The name stuck and rose to heights that nobody had scaled before him. He soon emerged as the undisputed Raaja of Raaga.

Ilaiyaraaja grew up in rural Tamil Nadu and imbibed the lilt and range of the region’s folk music. He was only 14 when he joined his elder brother Pavalar Varadarajan’s itinerant troupe. He travelled with it all across south India over the next ten years, honing his skills and sharpening his ears to the unique sounds that he heard around him.

It was during this learning curve that he composed his first number – an adaptation of an elegy to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, penned originally by the great Tamil poet and lyricist Kannadasan.

Ilaiyaraaja learnt the ropes of classical music from the renowned Madras-based guru Master Dhanraj and subsequently did a course in classical guitar from Trinity College, London, which is an institution that also drew A.R. Rahman to its hallowed corridors many years later. Ilaiyaraaja absorbed various influences,and he brought all that he acquired along the way to bear upon his musical output. It has been so rich and varied that he is deservedly counted among the very best music directors that Indian cinema has ever produced.

What sets Ilaiyaraaja apart is the magnificent ease and efficacy with which he fuses Tamil folk traditions, the strains of Carnatic music and Western orchestration to create a soundscape that instantly draws the listener into its depths.

Those that do not know better often draw comparisons between him and his accomplished protégé A.R. Rahman. The latter, who in his formative years was a keyboardist in Ilaiyaraaja’s musical troupe, dismisses all these attempts as odious.

Rahman sees his mentor as a trendsetter, a genius who paved the way for the work that the Oscar-winner does today in India and elsewhere in the world. Ilaiyaraaja, on his part, never hesitates to describe Rahman as ‘a phenomenon’.

That generosity of spirit extends to everyone. When the doyen of Tamil film music, M.S. Vishwanathan, passed away in July this year, Ilaiyaraaja took the lead in organizing a concert to pay homage to the man who composed songs for over 1,200 films.

The remarkably prolific Ilaiyaraaja has composed over 5,000 songs for more than 1,000 films, besides the background score of numerous other successful feature films.

Besides, he has to his credit several acclaimed non-film albums, including How to Name It and Nothing but Wind, both of which he released at the height of his prowess in the 1980s.

How to Name It was Ilaiyaraaja’s first fusion album. The numbers draw inspiration from 18th century poet-musician Thiyagaraja as well as legendary German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The album was proof that there was nothing in the musical sphere that was beyond the ken of Ilaiyaraaja.

The purely instrumental album Nothing but Wind had compositions that featured flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia playing raagas with scores of violins. No Indian music director had ever attempted something of this nature – am audacious blend of Western harmony with the patterns of Hindustani classical music.

He continued composing remarkable non-film music through the subsequent decades.

In 2010, the Government of India bestowed on him the Padma Bhushan. This honour was a crowning glory for a composer who has won the National Film Award – the country’s highest prize for cinema – on as many as four occasions.

Three of his National Awards have been for Best Music Direction for the Tamil film Sindhu Bhairavi (1986) and the Telugu films Saagara Sangamam (1984) and Rudraveena (1989).

His fourth National Award was for Best Background Score for the Malayalam period epic Pazhassi Raja (2009).

On the national level, Ilaiyaraaja is known for his music in films such Mani Ratnam’s Nayagan, Balu Mahendra’s Sadma, Bharathan’s Thevar Magan, Priyadarshan’s Kaalapani and Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram. Among the countless other films for which Ilaiyaraaja composed music are Thalapathi, Mudhal Mariyadhai, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal and Pithamagan.

Today, aged 72, Ilaiyaraaja is still in the thick of the action, setting benchmarks that only the exceptionally talented can attain. He is currently collaborating with Hindi film director R. Balki for the fourth time after Cheeni Kum, Paa and Shamitabh. The upcoming film is Ki and Ka.

In the first half of the 1970s, he was a musician for hire and he worked with many composers, including Salil Chowdhury, playing a variety of instruments. He also served as assistant to Kannada film music composer G.K. Venkatesh before taking the independent plunge.

His rise was meteoric but his success was obviously no flash in the pan. He built steadily on the early momentum, delivering hit after hit with relentless regularity.

He has never faltered. Such is the flow of his music that even those who could not understand the Tamil or Telugu lyrics were swept away by the power of his compositions. Only a true maestro like him can rise above the limits imposed by verbal language and communicate through pure music.

Ilaiyaraaja’s contribution to film music is second to none. There couldn’t be a morE deserving Centenary Award winner.

Rehman Sings New Tune: VR The World

admin   February 14, 2018

As AR Rehman prepares to embellish the upcoming period film Sangamithra, directed by Sundar C., with his compositions, he is now all set to strike a new note. Rehman is expanding his horizons by trying his hand at screenwriting and film direction.

The world sways to music maestro A.R. Rehman’s irresistible beat. And even as he prepares to embellish the upcoming period film Sangamithra, directed by Sundar C., with his compositions, he is now all set to strike a new note. Rehman is expanding his horizons by trying his hand at screenwriting and film direction. Is it any wonder that we can hardly wait to see what the outcome of the effort will be?

For starters, trust the double Academy Awardwinning music composer never to tread the beaten path. For his first shot at film direction, Rehman is focused on conquering the next frontier of storytelling with a real-time sensory movie-watching experience aimed at stimulating the sense of smell.

Titled Le Musk, it is a virtual reality immersive narrative about an orphaned heiress and part-time musician. The film is produced by Rehman’s newly launched company, YM Movies. A three-minute prelude to the film was unveiled at the brand-new PVR VR Lounge in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi on May 5. Chennai-based Thenandal Studios Ltd is the co-producer of Le Musk.

At the event, organized by PVR Cinemas, which is collaborating with the first-time director for the India launch, Rehman opened up on the impulses that enthused him to experiment with virtual reality filmmaking.

Le Musk, featuring French actress-singer Nora Arnezeder, English theatre actor Guy Burnet, musician and actress Munirih Jahanpour and pianist Mariam Zohrabyan, had its global launch at the NAB Show in Las Vegas on April 24.

The ‘Prelude to Le Musk was launched at NAB by Intel and Rehman, powered by Intel technologies in multi-sensory ergonomic motion guided Cinematic VR chair developed by Positron. The premiere garnered outstanding reviews and drew long queues. It was shortlisted for special previews at a VR Society event in Hollywood and an upcoming VR event in New York. The overall experience powered by various technologies and the Le Musk team allow audiences to enjoy multi-sensory 360 Cinema VR comfortably while he or she is transported to an incredible world. Le Musk is now considered by leading industry experts as one of the world’s first, and India’s first, multi-sensory VR 360 cinema experiences.

Speaking to the media at the PVR VR Lounge, Rehman revealed that the basic idea of Le Musk was from a casual conversation with his wife. “She is very fond of perfumes. It is she who suggested that I should make a movie on smell. Things have fallen into place and here I am,” he said.

The year 2017 is a significant one for Rehman both personally and professionally. He turned 50 in January this year. That apart, it was 25 years ago – in 1992 – that he burst on the movie music scene as a whiz kid with Mani Ratnam’s Roja.

So, 2017 is as good a year as any that he could have picked for the showcasing of newer facets of his creativity. Rehman has conquered the world many times over as a creator of unique sounds that have fetched him two Grammy Awards. His first film, experimental as it is, will be watched with keen interest by his fans across the globe.

Grace Boyle, the science director of UK’s Shuffle Festival, will be contributing the olfactory element to Rehman’s highly anticipated film. Her London-based company provides the technology that releases scent during the film.

Grace is the daughter of director Danny Boyle, with whom Rehman has worked on two films – the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours.

She calls these multi-sensory films “feelies”, borrowing a word coined by Aldous Huxley, the author of the dystopian novel Brave New World. Huxley had predicted the advent of real-time experiential cinema as a natural progression from two dimensional movies that have dominated the medium virtually since its very inception.

This kind of VR storytelling is geared towards delivering more than just visuals and sounds to the audience. It draws its uniqueness from also generating the sense of smell, touch, taste and movement while delivering a 360-degree viewing experience.

It isn’t unusual at all for Rehman to gravitate towards the unknown. When he began scoring music for the movies, he ventured in a direction that was entirely his own, which entailed blending traditional music and classical strains with techno-pop and electronic sounds. The result, as we are all aware, was heady.

Experimentation has been the hallmark of Rehman’s career. Le Musk, filmed on locations in Rome, is another push towards a fresh terrain.

Why has Rehman chosen VR, and not a full-fledged conventional film, to debut with? He admits that he has attention deficit disorder and “therefore short format filmmaking is just right for me”.

But, of course, for his first film as a producer, 99 Padalgal (99 Songs), Rehman has opted for more orthodox means. The Tamil-Hindi bilingual musical, scripted by Rehman himself, will be directed by the multi-talented Vishwesh Krisnamoorthy, writer, actor, stand-up comic, musician and theatre artiste

The under-production film, unsurprisingly laden with a slew of songs composed by Rehman, has a cast of new actors. It tells the story of the struggles of a determined young singer who wants to make it big as a musician.

Blurring The Lines Between Real and Virtual Worlds

admin   February 14, 2018

In an interview with Pickle, Ravi Velhal, Global Content Strategist-New Media Experiences, Intel Corporation, talks about the potential of VR filmmaking and how it is transforming the cinematic experience.

Intel and AR Rahman launched Prelude to Le Musk at Las Vegas on April 24, 2017, powered by Intel technologies in multi-sensory ergonomic motion guided Cinematic VR chair developed by Positron, which seamlessly transports the audience to the incredible world of Cinema VR.

Portland Oregon-based Ravi Velhal, Intel’s Global Content Strategist, who first made headlines at Hollywood’s VR Society, is at the top of his game with his debut as VR Technology Producer collaborating with debut director AR Rahman and his team, creating world’s first multi-sensory and India’s first VR movie experience prelude to Le Musk, setting a new industry standard and continue to promote VR as immersive medium for storytellers globally and more on the way VR Technology Producer, Ravi Velhal deep dive into new immersive medium of 360-degree storytelling with the Le Musk. As Hollywood’s VR Society board member, Ravi is on a mission to accelerate the transformation, innovation and profitability of the Virtual Reality Content, Distribution and Technology Business globally and especially in the emerging markets.

How has computing and virtual reality evolved over the years? What is next in VR filmmaking?

Industry experts say the total VR market is expected to reach $80 billion by 2020 and $569 billion by 2025. The world of computing is radically expanding the epicentre of VR ecosystem. Technology is going to change VR filmmaking, as virtual reality has changed the equation; expanded boundaries; has defined new expressions for story tellers; and brought new immersive multi-sensory experiences for audience, making them a part of the story. Where existing experience primarily involves engaging with a screen, Le Musk VR Cinema project marks an inflection point where computing possibilities are bound only by two times Academy and Grammy award winner musical maestro AR Rahman’s imagination to completely immerse audience through multisensory- sight, sound, haptics, motion and olfactory (aroma) experience. The next frontier of VR will empower us to build, solve, create and play without limits – in a world that is indistinguishable from reality. It will enable content creators to deliver richer, immersive and more interactive cinema VR experiences to delight audience globally.

What are the key technology challenges for VR movie making? How can these be addressed?

The sheer file size and quality of the media moving through the VR workflow pushes most available technologies to the limit. While the vast majority of existing pre-and post-production processes have been optimised for standard HD and 4K media, 360 immersive VR format has to work with media that is exponentially larger in size, higher in resolution, and performs complex operation on that media. Sheer nature of current VR 360 camera, stitching and lighting requires CG correction in almost every frame.

Every component ranging from workstations, blade servers, network, graphics card, software stacks, storage, output monitors to VR system in the production and post production pipeline has to perform in harmony to deliver exceptional results. Workflow pushes the boundaries of technologies, requiring the latest equipment, software and creative talent to meet film-maker’s expectations to delight audience. From production (acquire and live preview) to post-production (edit, stitch, vfx, render, mix and encode) to secure delivery of VR cinema on motion chair and VR ready devices where Intel and ecosystem partner technologies play a very important role.

So where can I watch VR cinema?

Full length cinematic VR is in relatively nascent stage. Many location-based VR lounges are being created all over the world. However, space required for indi vidual VR setup, library and the duration of content that audience can watch without experiencing fatigue or motion sickness pose challenges for commercialising VR cinema. At NAB, while showcasing prelude to Le Musk we were able to address some of the key cinema VR challenges by reducing VR showcase footprint and combining multisensory experience in a mere 5×5 footprint using Positron VR Chair, a promising step towards multisensory Cinema VR theatre ecosystem realisation down the line. Such transition is not driven by one company alone – a number of important players across the industry have come together to make it happen. Our mission is to provide computing platform that is suited for developing such ecosystems and make it easy for people to build solutions on top of it.

How was the Le Musk project conceptualised? Please tell us more about the world’s first multi-sensory cinema VR movie.

AR Rahman entered into a new venture as a debut director in a pioneering attempt to make new episodic international VR film Le Musk. The film is directed, written and scored by Rahman in technical collaboration with Intel. Le Musk is considered as one of the world’s first multi-sensory cinema VR movie. Set in Rome and surrounding Tuscany, the musical aromatic story chronicles the Juliet, played by Nora Arnezeder, a prominent French actress, who has a smell fixation. The audience should be able to watch this high-resolution 360 degrees cinema VR story for an extended period of time without experiencing fatigue or motion sickness. From storyboarding to scriptwriting, content creation and processing to consumption, rules were re-written for VR flmmaking. We worked endless hours, learning, failing, and solving problems every step of the way. It had been a fascinating journey— we are just scratching the surface to unleash the real potential of immersive cinema VR experiences.

World premiere of Prelude to Le Musk was launched in NAB Show Las Vegas 2017. Please tell us about how this new movie watching experience unfolded for the audience.

Still VR is relatively new entrant in the nascent medium of 360-degree storytelling. Le Musk in many ways was a challenging experiment for AR Rahman and our entire production and post-production crew. The challenge was to bring several multisensory integrations together for its NAB showdown at Intel booth in Las Vegas in April 2017. High quality 360 degree virtual reality cinema with spatial audio, subtle haptics that responds to gesture, motion encoded movie to reduce fatigue and motion sickness associated with VR, combined with olfactory-aroma shooters that emanate various smell (including Le Musk developed by sensory director Grace Boyle) that depends upon particular scene sequence – all were combined together in egg shaped motion encoded VR Pod chair developed by Positron with Intel VR ready PC at its base that drives all the action. The viewer sits in the Pod chair with their VR HMD and headphone on with their feet off the ground. As the movie plays the pod rotates in 360 degrees, pitches forward, backward and side to side gently as the story unfolds. Overall experience guides you through different points of the story, letting you fully immerse in the Le Musk prelude story which dazzled NAB Show 2017 in its official premier of Prelude to Le Musk at Intel show floor in Las Vegas. With total amazement and rave reviews, people were standing in long lines with average wait time of more than 1.5 hours. After experiencing Le Musk, audience were thrilled about the VR movie technology breakthroughs achieved by AR Rahman, Intel and the hardworking Le Musk team.

The future of cinema VR is going to be totally immersive, where multi-sensory experiences powered by technologies will keep on multiplying but the lines between real and virtual worlds will keep on blurring.

We have been going thru amazing experience learning about VR Moviemaking in the last year and half discovering new techniques and new ways to tell stories, Le Musk is immersive project. As I have been trying to tell stories thru music so far and somewhere interest in virtual reality made the line blur and compelled me totake steps to visuals and directing. VR is a game changer and opened a new world of creativity – A R Rahman