Raagdari

My new residence has two big pluses- it’s bang on the Versova- Ghatkopar Metro line and is bang opposite Gurudwara. Yesterday, as I got down from the metro train and proceeded towards my residence, I heard a very familiar tune emanating from Gurudwara, though I was not able to discern the lyrics. In no time, I was able to place the tune, which was set in popular Hindustani raga “Shivranjani”. It’s the same raga that formed the basis of several popular Hindi film songs like “Tere mere beech main” from Ek Duuje Ke Liye and “Mere naina sawan bhadon ” from Mahbooba! Though my mother is an accomplished and classically trained singer, it was my father, who never learnt music, but who had an ear for raagdari and he would mention “Shivranjani ” to my mother, every time either of the above songs played over radio.

Though I too have inherited ear for music from my parents, I am no expert at discerning ragas. However, Shivranjani is etched in my mind for a different reason. A diehard Kishore Kumar -RD Burman fan, I always thought that the recognition and adulation that they got posthumously, were amiss during their lifetimes. While Kishore-RD Classic Mere Naina, except from being lapped up by aficionados , went almost unnoticed at that time, SP Balasubramaniam- LP’s collaboration, Tere Mere Beech, got them a National Award. I had earlier read of horrible decisions by Filmfare juries in declaring winners, but the above incident got etched into my memory. As a result, I loved Mahbooba song more and never had any problem in recognising any composition in Raga Shivranjani!

Of course, there’s one more angle that music lovers can immediately identify themselves with. While religious hymns (mata ki bhenten, bhajan, Shabad ) sound the best in original composition ( they lose their fervour when based on film songs) , the beauty of the ragas is that even if there are hundreds of film songs based on a particular raga, a religious hymn in that raga will still retain it’s divinity and purity and not sound a crude version of a Hindi film song! This Shabad I heard being sung in Gurudwara compelled me to write this musical blog!!!

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