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a few more old articles from mid-day

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> a few more old articles from mid-day
post Sep 8 2004, 04:05 PM
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First article on Nanda, the actress

'I wanted to be a teacher'
By: Savvy Gehna Mehra
May 1, 2001
Yeh sama...sama hai yeh pyar ka, is amongst the many nice numbers which were picturised on me and Shashi Kapoor but this one was my favourite. It was from the greatest hit Jab Jab Phool Khile. I also like that film as I wore very modern clothes, unlike my sari-clad image of the good old housewife. Besides, I've done maximum number of films (eight or nine) with Shashi, whereas with all my other heroes, it was a flat - three film each - ratio," says actress Nanda, better known as Baby Nanda.

I travel back in time with the actress as she talks about her childhood, when she was just six years old. The daughter of Master Vinayak, who with the late V Shantaram (who happens to be her paternal uncle), pioneered the Hindi and Marathi cinema movement. "I started acting as a child artiste as Baby Nanda. My first film was Mandir, which was produced and directed by my father. Unfortunately he expired before the film got completed. After his death, we had to fend for ourselves and so I started working in films."

Toofan Aur Diya was her first film as an actress. "I played the sister in the film, based on a brother-sister story. Rajendra Kumar was my first hero. Interestingly, all of us in the film were new and we would joke as to who would bother to see this film, as opposed to Shantaramji's other big film Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje.

"Out of the blue Toofan...became a big hit. The offers started coming in, so I had to give up my studies. I always wanted to become a teacher and I still feel bad that I couldn't fulfill my wish."
The actress however is quick to add that "God's always been kind to me. Right up to the time I voluntarily gave up films in the year '72, I worked on my own terms and conditions. My second film was Bhabhi opposite Balraj Sahni and I was nominated for the best supporting actress. Lobbying took place even in those days and so it was someone else who won the award."

Choti Bahen established Nanda as a leading lady. Some good films followed - Hum Dono (Dev Anand), Usne Kaha Tha (Bimal Roy), Dhool Ka Phool and Kanoon (a mile stone in film making, it was B R Chopraji's first songless film). "My last film before I quit was Naya Nasha and the only time I bent my rule was when I was offered Prem Rog by Raj Kapoor."

Talking about her male co-stars, she says that most of her films with Rajendra Kumar were silver jubilee hits but "Shashi Kapoor and I made a hot pair. He was new to the industry. We did a lot of films together but the turning point for both of us was Jab Jab Phool Khile. When I was doing Yeh sama, people couldn't believe that I was capable of looking glamorous. It was a record breaking film for me as in that film I had the opportunity to sing with Rafiji in the song Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul..."
She also remembers happily how "During the making of Kala Bazaar, Devsaab (Anand) told me, "Nanda, one day I will play the lead with you." I didn't believe him then but while casting for Hum Dono, when everyone suggested he cast Meenaji (Kumari), Devsaab kept his word and opted for me. The song Allah tero naam was a landmark in my career.

"Also, when my film Bhabhi was showing at Roxy theatre, Meenaji's Char Diwari was running at Liberty at the same time and both shows ran to packed houses. It was a dream come true."

Another memorable incident she recalls is the time when she met the late singer Mohammed Rafi. "I was his great fan. Somebody introduced me to him as Baby Nanda. When I told him I was his great fan, he said shyly that he too was a great fan of mine. I couldn't believe it. I was flabbergasted. It was the biggest compliment of my life!"
Nanda says that during her days, work was a general 9.30 am to 5.30 pm shift. "Only later did the trend of second/third shifts start. But I stuck to doing just six films a year, which totalled to some 60-65 films of my career. I could have easily doubled or tripled that figure but I preferred to stick to my principles and stay away from the rat race. Even today I'm flooded with offers to do films/serials but I don't feel I will be able to recreate those times, those moments..."

An article on Sonik-Omi, a pair of MDs

Moments of melody
By: Narendra Kusnur
October 16, 2001

TEAM MEMORIES: Omprakash Sonik, aka Omi, sits next to a picture of his uncle Manoharlal Sonik

A broad smile illuminates Omprakash Sonik's face when he says: "You won't believe it, but when I was a kid, I sang in a female chorus. In those days, anything was possible. The moment my voice changed as I grew older, I switched to a male chorus."

Better known as 'Omi', he formed part of the Sonik-Omi duo of music directors along with his blind uncle Manoharlal Sonik. The two debuted as composers in Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya, and the success of the film's music prompts Omi to speak at length about hit songs like Kaliyon Ne Ghoonghat Khole (Mohammed Rafi), Aaja Re Pyaar Pukare (Lata Mangeshkar), Are To Jal Jaoge (Asha Bhosle-Manna Dey) and the title track (Rafi-Suman Kalyanpur-Mukesh).

The movie, released in 1966, starred Dharmendra, Nutan and Rehman. "Before Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya, we had struggled for more than 15 years. We came to Bombay from Sialkot in 1948, and Sonikji became involved in Hindi film music," recalls Omi, as he sits near a photograph of his deceased uncle.

Omi says that while working as assistants for Roshan, they decided to adopt the screen-name Sonik-Omi. "People said that sounded like a good name for a team of music directors. While Sonikji retained his name, I used Omi because everybody called me that. When the Rawal brothers were looking for somebody to compose for their new film, they thought of us," says Omi.

According to the composer, the duo had sittings for almost one and a half months before recording Kaliyon Ne Ghoonghat Khole. "The lyrics were written by G L Rawal. In fact, the songs were written first, and the script was then written keeping the songs in mind. So when we composed music, we knew exactly what the situation in the film demanded," he says.

The songs were recorded at Famous, Tardeo. "While doing a title track, we were thinking of Rafi and Lata. But in those days, the two had had a big fight, and weren't on talking terms. So we chose Suman Kalyanpur," Omi points out.

The music director then narrates this rather interesting incident when Asha Bhosle came to record Are To Jal Jaoge. He reminisces: "We were playing the title song, and Asha thought Lata had sung it. So she asked when Rafi and Lata had begun singing together again. When we told her it was Suman Kalyanpur and not Lata, Asha said: "I felt it wasn't Lata from the way she sang the high notes."

The film's premiere was held in Delhi. "Dharmendra and Nutan were quite popular by then, but we were thrilled that our music got a great response too. In fact, one paper gave a headline that the real hero of the film was Sonik-Omi. This is because those songs had so much melody," says Omi.

Over the years, Sonik-Omi did films like Mahua, College Girl, Bhai Ho To Aisa, Saawan Bhadon, Umar Qaid, Do Chattane and Bindiya Aur Bandook. And though many of their later films didn't taste the same kind of commercial success as their debut, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya remains a memorable experience.

Omi explains that he and his uncle always got along well. "Sonikji was a perfect music director, just like Pyarelal. In some ways, his tendency to stick to perfection prevented him from giving what the public wanted. We would compose together, but I also put this condition, that if he composed a tune, I would tell him whether it had commercial appeal or not. We enjoyed a lot together, and I miss those days," he says.

Surely, Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya remains a special moment in Sonik-Omi's career. Even today, the title track and Kaliyon Ne Ghoonghat Khole are hummed by those who still believe that the '60s gave film music some really great moments.

This one is the best. Pyarelaal on Rafisaab

Remembering Rafi — the person
By: Narendra Kusnur
July 31, 2002


When filmmaker Babubhai Mistry asked Laxmikant-Pyarelal to compose music for the low-budget costume drama Parasmani in 1963, the duo began thinking of which singers to choose. In his natural narrative style, Pyarelal recalls: “We chose the singers on the basis of the song, instead of sticking to one singer. If we felt Mohammed Rafi’s voice suited Woh Jab Yaad Aaye and Roshan Tumhi Se Duniya, we chose him. And if we thought Mukesh's voice went well with Chori Chori Jo Tumse Mili, we chose him.”

Parasmani, in fact, marked the beginning of a long association between Rafi and Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

The singer was to give L-P a major hit with Chahoonga Main Tujhe in Dosti. Over the years, he’s rendered a string of hits for the music directors — including Beimaan Hai Bada (in Loafer), Na Tu Zameen Ke Liye (Dastaan), Aane Se Uske Aaye Bahar (Jeene Ki Raah), Chalkaaye Jaam and Hui Shyam Unka (Mere Humdum Mere Dost), Yeh Jo Chilman Hain and Itna To Yaad Hai Mujhe (Mehboob Ki Mehndi), the Patthar Ke Sanam title track, the Khilona title song, Jhilmil Sitaron Ka (with Lata Mangeshkar in Jeevan Mrityu), Parda Hai (Amar Akbar Anthony), Dafliwale (with Lata in Sargam), Dard-e-Dil (Karz) and scores of others. In fact, Rafi’s last song Tu Kahin Aas Paas Hai Dost was recorded for L-P in the film Aas Paas.

Exactly 22 years after Rafi’s death, his songs remain immortal. On July 31 every year, musicians and fans do their bit to remember their idol.

Naturally, memories of Rafi dominate our conversation with Pyarelal when we meet him at his Bandra flat. Willingly, the composer talks about Rafi the person. Relaxing on his sofa, the music director says: “Rafi was like a farishta. No other word would be more appropriate to describe him.”

Pyarelal spins back down the years. He recalls: “Laxmiji and I became music directors after a long period of struggle. But we had known Rafi because we had been musicians for many years. In our early days, Rafi had given me Rs 500, which was a big amount those days. I told him I won’t return it and he just smiled. Till today, I have kept that money.”

According to Pyarelal, Rafi laughed a lot. “He talked less and had a special style of nodding his head. He always looked down and talked, no matter whom he talked with. For him, everybody was the same, and he talked to everybody in the same tone,” he points out.

Rafi had a special habit of keeping his car spotless clean. “He had a Fiat, and he would put together all these lights and bright-coloured objects. Even at home, he would insist on cleanliness. There was one room full of awards, and he took care of each award. Another thing he loved was good food. He’d have a lavish meal whenever he could,” he says.

Pyarelal, however, points out that Rafi rarely went to parties. “He liked to stay in his own world, and concentrate on two things — namaz and riyaz. But he has come to my birthday party twice. They may be among the exceptions he made, but we were so close,” he adds.

The conversation naturally shifts to Rafi’s approach towards singing. Says Pyarelal: “He was God-gifted. He used to do so much riyaz that everything looked so simple. Then, he would modulate his voice to suit each hero, whether it was Dilip Kumar, Bharat Bhushan or Shammi Kapoor.”

Pyarelal says Rafi was a strict disciplinarian when it came to work. He elaborates: “He never cancelled any recording, even if he had a 102 degree temperature. In fact, he was the first singer to regularly go on foreign tours. He would go every year, first with his small orchestra, and later with a bigger group.”

Was there anything that Rafi loved as much as singing? Pyarelal laughs: “Yes, he loved whistling. He would whistle regularly, either in the form of a tune or just loudly when he was happy.”

For Pyarelal, the tales would never cease. But then, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Rafi not only made some great music together, but shared a special bond too.

A foreigner fan of Rafisaab!

Of blues and Indian music
By: Narendra Kusnur
November 26, 2002

Dana Gillespie

As usual, singer Dana Gillespie is in a jolly good mood. She keeps coming to Mumbai, and each time, she regales us with interesting anecdotes about her career, including her fondness of the blues and her association with Indian music.

The British singer is now happy for two reasons. One, she and her London Blues Band is about to begin an all-India tour.

After playing at the Rang Bhavan in Mumbai tomorrow, she will sing in Goa, Pune, Kolkata, Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai and Bangalore.

The other thing that’s keeping her in good spirits is the book Mirrors Of Love, which she’s compiled herself with artwork by Jorg Huber. Containing translations of quotes and poems by well-known people, it is being released by IBH soon.

The blues and Indian music, of course, dominate the conversation. She says: “I discovered the blues when I attended the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962. My biggest influence was Bessie Smith.

She was trying to make a mark in a field dominated by men. Since I was also striving for recognition at that point, I sort of identified with her.”

Besides Bessie Smith, Dana was influenced by many unknown singers who sang funny and double-meaning songs.

She explains: “Those songs may sound risque to most people, but the lyrics were actually very funny. I admired their subtlety.”

In her career, Dana has had many good moments.

She knew Bob Dylan since the ’60s, and in 1997, he invited her to support him on his UK tour.

Much earlier, she was actively involved in West End theatre, playing Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar and the Acid Queen in Tommy.

The exposure to Indian music came through Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. “He called me to shows by Vilayat Khan and Ravi Shankar.

After a few years, I got exposed to Indian spirituality. I have recorded three albums in Sanskrit, under the name Thirdman,” she says.

Dana has also developed a taste for Sufi music, Indian film music and ghazals, her favourites being Ustad Nusrat Ali Khan, Jagjit Singh and Mohammed Rafi. “One of my songs Move Your Body Close To Me is inspired by a Rafi number.

I once sang a whole lot of Pankaj Udhas and Rafi songs to a camel-rider in Rajasthan.

We couldn’t understand each other’s language, but had a great journey together. Music is a great communicator,” she says.

This tour is presented by the British Council and Taj Hotels Resorts And Palaces in association with Orange and Arisia Solitair Diamond Collection.

Here, Dana will be accompanied by a young band.

“There are many people in their 20s, and I am the oldest. But that’s good, because I can order everybody about,” she jokes.

Dana is as lively on stage as she’s off it. Her show should be fun.

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