Old Wine Really Fine?

House arrest on account of heavy rains has kept me indoors this weekend. To prevent cabin fever from taking over, I've been listening to Hindi film songs. When I played 'Jiya Jale Jaan Jale' from the 1998 film Dil Se, the husband remarked 'vandutaaya paati' (here comes the grandmother) referring to Lata Mangeshkar's aging voice in the song.

My husband and I do not like the same type of music. But on this count, I must say that I agree with him. With due respect to Rahman and Lata Mangeshkar, I feel she was not the right choice for this song.

The song is about a young, innocent bride looking forward to her wedding night. Gulzar's sensuous and smouldering lyrics sends shivers down your spine. Tells you so much without actually saying it. The picturisation was just right. A young fresh faced Preity Zinta, a bare bodied SRK, the lush greenery and the flowing water. The whole effect primordial and stripped down to the bare basics - Superb! And then that granny voice....Just listen to it:

Its not that I do not like Lata Mangeshkar's singing.Far from it. I think she has a golden voice and has given us some really memorable music. Take the song 'Jaise Radha Ne Maala Japi' from the film Tere Mere Sapne. Also about a young bride - although I guess its more about the glow from the wedding night! The tenderness and love that you get from this song is simply not there in Jiya Jale. And its not that the music is inferior. Music is top class in both songs.

Now here is a song from the music director everyone loves to hate - Anu Malik. Its from the film Asoka (you didn't know he was the music director for this film now did you?!).

The song 'Raat Ka Nasha Abhi' is laced with sensuality. (yes! Anu Malik does make good music once in a while) Also makes euphemistic references to sex. Again lyrics are by the inimitable Gulzar. The choice of singer, Chitra, in my opinion, lifts the song to another level. Call me a heretic, but for a song about love making, a 40 something singer is a better choice than a (then) 70 year old legend. The 'inspired' Anu Malik seems to know that. How come Rahman didn't?

And yet Jiya Jale was a super hit song - as it deserves to be. I just have the sense that, if say, Shreya Ghoshal had sung it, it might have moved from being a beautiful song to a mind blowing one.

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11 Responses to Old Wine Really Fine?

  1. Rachna says:

    Sometimes to satisfy the Director's wishes or out sycophancy, music directors might not be able to do what they actually desire. Don't know the reason behind the choice, but I felt this way about many of Lata's later songs where she sounds very old. The other songs you've mentioned are very nice. Though, I don't like Chitra's voice much because it is too minmini. I don't know if you understand what I mean. That is the same with many female South Indian singers, which is extremely jarring.

  2. sampavar says:

    Spot on. Lata Didi stopped being a didi and turned in to a grand grand dadi some 20 years back.
    Remember Maine Pyaar Kiya? SPB used to hit the high notes while Lata-di was left languishing.

  3. Sandhya says:

    I agree with you about the 'dil se' song, rather agree with your husband. I think everybody respects her so much that they want to use her just for her fame in their song! Rahman must have used her for this reason! I am also a great fan of her! I have got a long list of favourites of her songs!

    I love this song of Anu Malik too!

    Yes, Shreya would have made more justice to the song!

  4. Deepa says:

    Rachna: Yes. I do know what you mean. Chitra sings at a very high pitch which makes her shrill many times.

    Sampavar: Arrggh! Do not remind me of the 'sadiyal' MPK songs.

    Sandhya: Shreya or anybody else. Maybe even Sunidhi Chauhan. She has a lovely voice which I feel she wastes by singing only these item numbers.

  5. I liked the song ... though I agree with your views on Shreya Ghoshal. Even Sunidhi Chauhan would have lent a certain something to this song; wonder why she sings 'item' songs though. Maybe lack of choice...

  6. Sandhya says:

    I have heard some good songs of Sunidhi in Punjabi is reality shows. She is too good but wasted.

    Here, hear this song of Asha...pure classical. But she is famous for singing songs with a western touch! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPc_dyJbs1U

  7. Deepa says:

    Thanks Sandhya. The song is lovely. I'm hooked on to it! Asha has an amazing repertoire. And between the 2 sisters, I always prefer her voice - which at her age is still going strong.

  8. radha says:

    Yes, I agree. Lata should have retired when her voice did not have the strength and melody anymore. For that matter, while Asha is still fine, it is always better to retire before people think you should!

  9. ashok says:

    I totally agree with you...People should know when to retire grcefully. Legends like Lata and Janaki should realize this.

    Regarding the song Jiya Jala..i think it must be Maniratnam's choice to use Lata for that song. He is known for his bizare and horrible casting and choices. (Who can forget his crazy casting of Radha Ravi as Kamal Hassan's son in Nayagan)

  10. Maybe having heard Lata singing all the years one gets biased! However, it would be long before anyone to match her will emerge on the horizon

  11. Well Lata was never my favorite even during the days when her voice was young. No one like Asha...!!!