16 December 2008

Black and White

Yesterday, we attended a show titled 'Black and White' at the famous Bal Gandharva theatre in the city. It was a charity event hosted for the organization - Aadhar, a support group working for the education of deaf and mute children.

The show composed of local singers singing old Hindi melodies from the black and white films era. The set and costumes of the singers were all in variations of black, gray and white. While the singers sang the melodies, the original song's visual was shown in the backdrop. There was a Master of Ceremony, who performed an excellent job of taking the audience through the various songs. He kept the audience entertained through his repertoire of a variety of expressions - both facial as well as verbal.

The singers did ample justice to the legendary singers such as Rafi, Kishore, Mukesh, Lata, Asha, Geeta Dutt etc. They swayed and mimed to the songs of an earlier era during rendition of the songs. In doing so, they walked the fine line between looking ridiculous in the out-of-style costumes & get up and getting into the skin of the characters on whom the song was originally picturized.

It was like being transported into a different- much older and simpler - India. It felt wonderful to watch the old songs on the big screen and made one wonder how far we have come in Hindi cinema these days. Though we are technologically sound, our actors are better dancers and look spiffy in almost any clothing; the old ones had their own charm. Their beauty and acting did not come out of boxes or textbooks - they were true artists and natural in their expressions and style. They were the pioneers who set many precedents in Indian cinema. They were later copied by artists of future generations be they writers, singers, actors or directors.

There is an altogether different charm in watching things in black and white. Things appear clean and sanitized. Emotion, action and dialogue appears restrained and it is left to the imagination of the audience to amplify their intensity or take them at face value. In between sharing trivia regarding the old movies and artists, the MC made a few pithy comments about the quality of the artists, films and even the audience of that time. He said that people wanted characters that were either good(hero/heroine) or bad(villian/vamp) or comedians. Hence the characters too were black and white in that era with almost no scope for gray shades that are so close to reality. It was a time when people went to watch movies in order to escape into a more idealistic, virtual world.

It was a time when movies had evolved from plays which were mostly musicals. Hence the earlier movies had more songs and there was such an emphasis on good lyrics and melody. Did you know that the first talkie Hindi movie - Alam Ara- had 50 songs? It was lovely to see a much younger and handsome Dharamendra and Mala Sinha crooning to my favorite number - 'Aapki nazron ne samjha pyaar ke kabil mujhe'! And other songs like 'Mana janab ne pukara nahin', 'Ude jab jab zulfen teri', 'Wo bhuli dastan, lo phir yaad aa gayi', 'Haal kaisa hai janab ka', 'E malik, tere bande hum', 'Waqt ne kiya, kya haseen sitam', 'Na jao saiyyan, chhuda ke baiyyan', etc.

All in all, it was a fun evening, passed in the company of like-minded friends. Apart from the fact that my hubby could not keep from praising the gorgeous Madhubala, I had a great time:) I left with the resolution to watch at least half the movies whose songs I'd listened to. My only regret - they did not play any of Sadhna's songs. Would have loved to hear 'Bahut shukriya, badi meherbani...', 'Tera mera pyar amar' and 'Tujhe jeevan ki dor se baandh liya hai'. Also songs from movies such as Anupama, Khamoshi, Hum Dono, Tere ghar ke saamne, Jab Pyar Kisise hota hai, Dil Apna-Preet Parayi were conspicuous by their absence.

1 comment:

J P Joshi said...

You are so right when you say, 'It was like being transported into a different- much older and simpler - India'. I am a great fan of old Hindi songs and movies. I remember, many years ago, i had gone to Bangalore and there was a Raj Kapoor week on at one of the cinema halls and I saw seven evergreen black and white movies of Raj Kapoor - awara, shri 420, jis desh mein ganga behti hai and other names that i find difficult to recollect now. I remember watching dil apna preet parai twice for the song that she sings in the boat - 'ajeeb daastan hai yeh, kahan shuru kahan khatam.... i think. My wife has downloaded and recorded all of these songs for me... thanks to livewire.

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