1919 was a good year for Hindi film music (though, at the time, Hindi cinema—then only six years old, since Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra was released in 1913—did not know it). Because this year saw the birth of several people who went on to define the music of the industry from the 1940s onwards. From singers like Shamshad Begum and Manna Dey, to music directors like Naushad and Sudhir Phadke—and three of Hindi cinema’s finest lyricists: Kaifi Azmi, Rajendra Krishan, and Majrooh Sultanpuri.
Today, April 18th, is World Heritage Day. A day to thank God, our ancestors, civilisation—for the richness that surrounds us. Whether it’s in the form of a unique ecosystem, or a beautiful old building. Or a language, a cuisine, a medicinal system. It’s all heritage, and it’s all precious. All remarkably, frighteningly fragile.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has, as one of its wings, the World Heritage Centre. This is responsible for selecting (based on very strict criteria), preserving and promoting the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: natural and cultural heritage believed to be of ‘outstanding value to humanity’. India has a total of 28 World Heritage Sites, with a further 32 nominated and therefore on the ‘Tentative List’.
So: to celebrate. Ten songs, from Hindi films of the 50s and 60s (the only exception being Johny Mera Naam, 1970), which are picturised, either in part or totally, against a backdrop of a UNESCO World Heritage Site—or at least a tentative one. These are all from films I’ve seen. Enjoy!
There was a snippet in the newspaper the other day about a Britisher who was fined by the police for laughing while driving. He’d been using a handsfree on his mobile to chat with a friend, but it wasn’t, apparently, the mobile that irked the police; it was the laughing.
That got me thinking: what would they make of characters in Hindi cinema who sing, play musical instruments, and sometimes even dance, while driving? That thought, of course, led to this post: ten of my favourite 50’s and 60’s songs, picturised on modes of transport. They’re all from films I’ve seen, and haven’t been included in any of my earlier posts (or, as one of my readers pointed out, not in one of my earlier Ten of my favourite… lists). Just to make it a little more interesting, no two songs are filmed on the same type of vehicle—and a song qualifies only if (a) the singer is on the vehicle (people sung to could be elsewhere) and (b) the singer stays on the vehicle through at least 80% of the song. And yes, a song figures on this list only if it’s good to look at and listen to.