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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumnal Hues

Durga Pujo marks the beginning of the autumnal festive season in Bengal.
It is the time for celebration and togetherness.
It is the time to rejoice and seek the blessings of the divine deity, Maa Durga.
Even for those of us who aren't high on religion and rituals of the Hindu calendar, this time of the year is synonymous with family reunions, and get-together with friends & loved ones.
It is the time to deck up in best clothes and go pandal-hopping especially in and around Kolkata.
It is the time for revelries of the other kind too - like feasting on good food, feasting on the literary treats that are released in form of the annual supplements of magazines & periodicals, feasting on the movies in Bangla (or other languages), and feasting on the music albums released by all the major audio labels,
The festive revelry typically includes even the spinning of real-life love stories,
egged on by the wisp of freshness in the air,
especially during the four days of Durga Pujo.
I can never think of being someplace else during this time.
Only twice in my life I have had to miss out on the celebrations in my favorite city, Kolkata, and, needless to say that I missed my city and its typical sights & sounds a lot.

From Mahalaya to Bijaya Dashami, to Lakshmi Pujo, KaliPujo/Diwali and BhaaiPhonta,
it is a series of festivities. It is much more than the pomp & show, or the Brahminical rituals; for most of us Kolkatans in means basking in the blend of tradition & modernity, of savoring the delectable mix of religious, neo-religious & non-religious sentiments.
It is a time to be nostalgic as well - as if the season itself conspires to evoke nostalgia in us all.
For me, things that I do during the festive days have changed, or rather evolved with time. I hate the excesses. I abhor the noise pollution. I detest the recklessness exhibited by the maddening crowd in the evenings.
I still wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, during the Pujas.
I wouldn't want to catch the unmistakable autumnal hues, the serene morning air, and the vibrant spirit that is the hallmark of the Pujas in Kolkata.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Happy Birthday Asha-ji!

Asha Bhosle, the original & ultimate songstress-diva turns 76 today!
Being an ardent admirer of the singer, I wish her a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
May she enthrall us with many more wonderful songs in the days to come.
She is lucky to have been gifted with a golden voice, and has had a fantastic musical career, but we are luckier still to be able to listening to her for multiple decades.

She has not only been the singing voice for the gorgeous actresses of the silver screen - from Madhubala to Kajol - Dimple Kapadia to Aishwarya Rai - having done playback for more than 1000 Hindi films, but she has also had the rare achievement of singing in more than 14 languages. She is considered to be the most versatile South Asian singer of all times. She has a magnificent repertoire of songs spanning numerous genres - from pop to ghazal, folk to classical, qawwali to devotional. Being the younger sister of Lata Mangeshkar, an equally accomplished singing sensation, Asha Bhosle carved out a niche for herself way back in the late 50's, and she has never had to look back.

My personal favorites include hundreds of songs sung by Asha-ji (as she is fondly & reverentially called), most of them in Hindi, and some in Bangla too. Here, I am listing just twenty gems from that treasure-house of melodies, I have limited the listing only to Hindi songs from films, i.e. Bollywood. (needless to stress that I had to leave out many delightful numbers, it was indeed tough to sieve through more than twelve thousand songs to come up with this minuscule listing):
1) 'Mera kuchh saamaan...' [OST: Ijaazat; 1987]
2) 'Ab ke baras bhej bhaiya...' [OST: Bandini; 1963]
3) 'Tu tu hai wani...' [OST: Yeh Vaada Raha; 1982]
4) 'Raat akeli hai...' [OST: Jewel Thief; 1967]
5) 'Radha kaise na jale...' [OST: Lagaan; 2001]
6) 'Dum maaro dum....' [OST: Hare Rama Hare Krishna; 1971]
7) 'Roz roz aankhon tale...' [OST: Jeeva; 1986]
8) 'Dekhne mein bhola hai...' [OST: Bambai Ka Babu; 1960]
9) 'Piya tu ab toh aaja...' [OST: Caravan; 1971]
10) 'O meri jaan....' [OST: Manzil Manzil; 1984]
11) 'Jaane kya baat hai...' [OST: Sunny; 1984]
12) 'O mere sona re..' [OST: Teesri Manzil; 1966]
13) 'Chura liya hai...' [OST: Yaadon Ki Baaraat; 1973]
14) 'Bas ek baar merakaha...' [OST: Umrao Jaan; 1981]
15) 'Kahin aag lage lag jaaye...' [OST: Taal; 1999]
16) 'Tanha tanha...' [OST: Rangeela; 1994]
17) 'Kambakht ishq...' [OST: Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya; 2001]
18) 'Rang de rang de...' [OST: Takshak; 1999]
19) 'Sapna mera toot gaya...' [OST: Khel Khel Mein; 1975]
20) 'Do lafzon ki hai...' [OST: The Great Gambler; 1979]