Ae mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona aaya! Mallika-e-Ghazal Begum Akhtar

Updated on the occasion of her birthday!  NO one had a voice like hers, full of dard that welled up from her life experiences!


Born Akhtari Bai Faizabadi, Begum Akhtar began her training as a singer at age 7, and gave her first public performance at age 15 and soon became the voice of ghazals, dadras and thumris. In a biography of Begum Akhtar, Rita Ganguly and Jyoti Sabharwal tell us of how her father abandoned her, her mother and twin sister, a parting that led to a constant search for approval from her father, and one that she never ever got. At the age of 4 the siblings were poisoned and Begum Akhtar survived but her sister died, and a second parting left an indelible mark of sorrow on Akhtari Bai’s soul. A series of abusive relationships began with her first guru – a respected name in Indian Classical music, and was followed by an assault by a known royal patron of music from Bihar. At age 13 she gave birth to an illegitimate daughter whom she could never acknowledge as her child and always called her a sister! These traumas shaped a life full of melancholy that was channeled into the most divine music.

Please read more here!

All those W(AK)OW moments – Asha Bhosle in concert!

Ashaji’s birthday today – so I am bumping this one up!

On the spur of the moment I made the decision to try my luck at the Flint Center where Asha Bhosle was supposed to be singing, along with Sudesh Bhosle. We rushed madly through traffic, arrived late, were told only cash could be used for ticket purchase and the ATM was out of money please! After everyone turned their wallets and pockets inside out we had enough money to get middling good seats, and walked in to see Asha ji on stage, spotlighted, in a baby blue bejewelled saree, talking of how RD Burman asked her to sing a song, which she was unsure of ever being able to do. It was for a Nasir Hussain film, and a bet was on between Nasir and RD about whether Asha or Rafi would do a better job! RD won and the song was a lusciously mad number Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera with the signature hyperventilation in the mukhda. She started to sing and the clapping and dancing in the seats and out of the seats began! Magic was ON stage and I was viewing it. (Thankfully NO male accompaniment, just pure Asha magic!!). We were told to not do any video photography – so to invoke the magic of Aaja Aaja, I post here the original version from Teesri Manzil:

Continue reading

Kishore Kumar – musical genius

It is the birth anniversary of Kishore Kumar, a day worth remembering for all lovers of music. Born 4th August 1929, Kishore was never a trained singer. His biopic mentions that he once got badly injured as a child, cried very loudly for several days, and that “opened” up his vocal chords! It is one of those injuries that changed Indian music forever! Continue reading

The gentle mellifluous genius – Jaidev!

On his birth anniversary, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite compositions from this master. The winner of three National Awards for his compositions in the films Ankahee, Gaman, and Reshma Aur Shera, he also composed the music for Harivanshrai Bachchan’s Madhushala. Continue reading

Rafi – Tum mujhe yun bhula na paaoge!

He died 31 years ago but his songs are immortal and give me joy even today! For all the fans of Rafi – here is a film made on his life, it contains great commentary, and wonderful video footage! Enjoy!

Continue reading

Bodyguard – Salman and Kareena

The first long song promo is out! Desi Beats is a catchy enough number but it does have some energetic choreography:

Here is my analysis:

1. Salman is looking quite youthful and fit – best looking Khan today.
2. He is actually dancing to the beat, following the choreography and playing to the galleries splendidly.
3. The backup dancers are shirtless, while Salman has a vest on and shows us his biceps!
4. Kareena is almost a glorified extra with little to do – but at least she indicates she is romancing Salman by looking at him or coming out from behind him.
5. Salman is so focused on the choreography that we get no indication he is even aware that Kareena is sharing the song with him! Reminds me of the kid who memorizes his lines so painstakingly that he forgets to add the expressions as he recites.

Remembering Kaifi Azmi on his death anniversary

At the age of 12 Kaifi penned a couplet, and then to convince his father he really write it, he had to pen a whole ghazal. Here it is sung by none other than Begum Akhtar:

Continue reading