Post-drenchings: Ten Songs

The monsoon has arrived here, in Delhi and around. We’d had a parched and hellish June, the heat seeming to grow more unbearable—and then, suddenly, one morning we woke to an overcast sky. Grey clouds looming, and soon, rain. Except in my childhood (when I remember going out in the rain to play, with the express purpose of getting thoroughly soaked), I’ve never really liked getting wet in the rain. Come the monsoon, I don’t venture out without an umbrella. In our car, we always have an umbrella or two to spare (our latest acquisition in that department is a golf umbrella, large enough to accommodate two adults). If I should by some chance get caught in the rain—a rare chance, indeed, given the precautions I take—I will bolt for the nearest shelter, even if it consists of six inches of overhang.

The last thing that occurs to me is to sing.

Not so in Hindi cinema, where getting wet (almost always in pouring, roaring thunderstorms that come out of a clear blue sky) is invariably a precursor to bursting into song. For various reasons.

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Ten of my favourite ‘Aaja’ songs

Or, to put that better: Hindi film songs that begin with the word “Aaja”.

Let me give the background for this. My daughter, ever since she was a baby, has always had an ear for music. All you had to do was turn on the music (or start singing) and she’d start wiggling her shoulders. When she began walking, the dancing became rather more vigorous—and the first song she totally fell in love with was Aaja aaja main hoon pyaar tera. The very first time she heard it (and she hadn’t even started talking coherently yet), she joined in at the end: “Aaja, aaja!” After that, every time she’d do a little wriggle and say “Aaja, aaja!” we knew she wanted to listen to some dance music.

So, Aaja. Literally, ‘Come!’ Though I’ve always puzzled over why aaja—which combines aa and jaa, and should create a paradox—and not simply aa? Does the imperativeness, the urgency (which is invariably a part of Hindi love songs that use aaja in the lyrics) come through more when the word is aaja and not aa?

Aaja songs

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Top Ten Songs Sung by Actors Themselves (or by Singers Appearing Onscreen) – Guest Post by Abhik

Some weeks back, fellow blogger and reader Abhik Majumdar suggested an idea for a song list: songs actually sung by (not merely lip-synched by) actors. Not singer-cum-actors, but people who were known only for their acting. I couldn’t think of too many songs that would fit my criteria (and those I could think of, were more often than not, from films I hadn’t seen). It did sound like an interesting topic, though (and wouldn’t it be fun to hear the singing voices of people we invariably ‘heard’ only in the voices of playback singers?). So I took the easy way out: I asked Abhik to do a guest post. And here it is. Since this one’s a guest post (and atithi devo bhava and all that…), I allowed Abhik a bit of a free hand. No need to stick completely to my blog’s time lines, for example.

Over to Abhik:

Madhulika’s blog is what a friend calls a ‘time black-hole’ – you get completely immersed randomly browsing through, and then you’re left wondering just where all that time went. Some time I had suggested to her a ‘top-ten’ post on actors singing their own songs or singers appearing onscreen. Most generously, she responded by asking me to do a guest-post instead.

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Lata in Ten Moods

When I did the Rafi in Ten Moods post a few months back, Stuartnz suggested I also do a Lata Mangeshkar post sometime. It’s taken a good deal of thought, since—like Rafi—Lata also has such a huge corpus of work, it’s impossible for me to pick my ten favourite songs. This, therefore, is the easy way out. It’s a list of ten songs in ten different moods. Not Lata’s ten best songs, but ten songs that showcase her voice, in every emotion from joy and playfulness to heartbreak and deep sorrow. These are all from pre-70’s films that I’ve seen (Pakeezah is the exception, but I never count that as a 70’s film—for me that’s very 60’s).

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