Basant Bahar and Baiju Bawra – The Power of Music

JK sent an advertisement of a ‘Two in One’ (A Cassette Player and Radio for the uninitiated) last week. This ad about Bush Radio and Tape Recorder came in the late seventies and my uncle had one. This was our first exposure to songs on a tape and I have listened to Muqqadar Ka Sikandar songs and Carnatic music in 1979 when I first went for holidays to Bombay. The recorder, a mono, lasted for number of years.

The Advertisement that Triggered the Blog.

The advertisement brought back some lovely memories of our first serious listening to Music. JK and I bought our first mono tape recorder in 1984 and listened to Hindi movie songs taped on cassettes. One of the first cassettes we bought was Basant Bahar and Baiju Bawara. It costed 25 Rs 40 paise or about 20 US cents in today’s money. I am not sure who recommended these film songs to us as these movies came out in 1956 and 1952 respectively.

We probably had a collection of about 100 songs and listened to each one of them a hundred times which is not unusual. The difference was we did not know the meaning of 99% of lyrics. Our exposure to Hindi or in other words our knowledge of Hindi language was limited to the very essential like “Where are you going?” or “What time is the next train?” or “Who is coming in the night shift?” (Our business communication). With these vocabulary of two dozen words, we listened to songs written by some serious lyricists for a knowledgeable audience. A look at the photo of those years would reveal everything including your truly is antique. You can see our first Music Player a Mono form Panasonic.

Some Serious Listening over a Pint. My First Music System.

Both Basant Bahar 1956 (Beautiful Spring) and Baiju Bawra 1952 (Crazy Baiju) were musical classics. Both had close to dozen songs, and all were hits. Basant Bahar is a typical story of a budding singer being poisoned just before a competition, loses his ability to sing and revives his speech with the help of the heroine and ends up singing before the King. Not a great story. But songs compensated and each one of them was a classic. Even people like me who first listened to them in 80s almost two decades after the film was released, and who could not understand a word of it, they conveyed a soul stirring experience and made us listen to them over and over.

Of course, it is almost impossible to understand all the music or the lyrics of everything you listen to, if you are born in India. This is especially true from a Tamil speaking person’s perspective. Some of us start reciting Slokas in Sanskrit without comprehending any of the words. We graduate to listening to Carnatic Music where many of the compositions are in Telugu. We slowly started singing “Manasa Sancharare and ‘Enthrao Mahanubavulu,” again without understanding the words. And then the Hindi Film Songs. When we were in High School, Mohan Ram used to sing songs from a movie ‘Chalte Chalate‘ just by listening to them on the radio. It took me about fifteen years to understand “Kabhi al vida na kehna’ meant “Don’t say Goodbye.” I am sure Mohan Ram still doesn’t know the meaning, but he still remembers these songs.

Even with this understanding (the why?) what makes Basant Bahar and Baiju Bawra songs special are their ability to stir something in you.

In Basant Bahar, the song Dhuniya Na Bhaaye Mohe (The World doesn’t love me?) you always think the singer is saying something that has more to it than your mere understanding of it. Probably this mystery made you love the song more. It took me few years and countless listening to understand the words

These broken pieces of heart

How can I sell them

In World’s Bazaar?

And then he goes on to sing

Tu hi bata main kaise gaaun Bahari duniya ke aage” I am not sure what did he mean by Bahari Duniya (Outside world or the other world?) This is the song list from the movie:

# Song Singer

1 “Badi Der Bhai” Mohammed Rafi

2 “Bhay Bhajana Vandana Sun” Manna Dey

3 “Duniya Na Bhaye” Mohammed Rafi

4 “Ja Ja Re Ja Balama” Lata Mangeshkar

5 “Kar Gaya Re” Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle

6 “Ketaki Gulab Juhi” Manna Dey, Bhimsen Joshi

7 “Main Piya Teri” Lata Mangeshkar

8 “Nain Mile Chain Kahan” Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey

9 “Sur Na Saje” Manna Dey

My favorites are Ja Ja Re Balamwa, Main Piya Teri, Sur Na Saje, Badi Der Bhai and of course Duniya Na Bhaye.

There are some great songs in Baiju Bawra as well. The movie is about a singer so there is full license to fill the movie with songs. A budding musician challenges Poet Samrat Tansen to a musical duet. All the songs listed in Wikipedia mentions the raga also which should make my classmate and friend Radhakrihnan happy. Also saves him time; he need not write the raga of each song for us all.

1.“Tu Ganga Ki Mauj” (Raga Bhairavi)Mohammad RafiLata Mangeshkar 
2.“Aaj Gaawat Man Mero Jhoomke” (Raga Deshi)Ustad Amir KhanD. V. Paluskar 
3.“O Duniya Ke Rakhwale” (Raga Darbari)Mohammad Rafi 
4.“Door Koi Gaye” (Raga Desh)Lata MangeshkarShamshad BegumMohammad Rafi & chorus 
5.“Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariya” (Raga Bhairav with traces of Raga Kalingda)Lata Mangeshkar 
6.“Jhoole Mein Pawan Ki Aai Bahar” (Raga Pilu)Mohammad RafiLata Mangeshkar 
7.“Man Tarpat Hari Darshan Ko Aaj” (Raga Malkauns)Mohammad Rafi 
8.“Bachpan Ki Mohabbat” (Based on Maand)Lata Mangeshkar 
9.“Insaan Bano” (Raga Todi)Mohammad Rafi 
10.“Tori Jai Jai Kartaar” (Raga Puriya Dhanashree)Ustad Amir Khan 
11.“Langar Kankariya Ji Na Maro” (Raga Todi)Ustad Amir KhanD. V. Paluskar 
12.“Ghanana Ghanana Ghana Garjo Re” (Raga Megh)Ustad Amir Khan 
13.“Sargam” (Raga Darbari)Ustad Amir Khan
Source Wikipedia

My favorites are Door Koi Gaye, Bachpan Ki Mohababat and Oh Duniya Ke Rakhwale

The Music for Baiju Bawra was Composed by Naushad and for Basant Bahar by Shankar Jaikishan, two of the best Music Directors in Hindi Cinema and the most famous songs are sung by greatest singers of Indian Film Music, Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, Ustad Amir Khan and the greatest of them all, Bhimsen Joshi.

I was thinking about the immortality of these songs last night and played them during my morning walk. The music, particularly the music of the Cinema has changed so much over the seventy years since Baiju Bawra got released. But these songs would still figure prominently in any music lover’s library or play list. I urge friends to listen to these songs when they get time over the weekend. Of course, they are available on all Music Platforms from Apple to YouTube. I have given links to some of them here.

Which also led me to think, “Even in my wildest dreams, I could not have thought that music would become so portable that one can listen to them on a phone when I first listened to them on a Mono decades ago.” How we consume Music has changed in the last twenty years and more importantly how would this change in the next 20 years?”

I decided to listen to the tape and to my surprise the quality of the recording just blew me over. Even after 38 years, the music from the tape was crystal clear. I think I have ‘digiproofed‘ myself. I will have these immortal songs with me even if the entire cloud disappeared tomorrow. The Featured Image is the Cassette Cover which we bought in 1984.

Crystal Clear Music from Cassette Tape


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