Since moving to India I’ve been educating myself about the film industry here, and particularly the music which is an essential part of any movie.
This tune is one of my favourites so far, even though I’ve never actually seen the movie Noorie yet. (It’s set in Kashmir btw – looks great on the clip, eh?)
The playback singer is Lata Mangeshkar, who along with her sister Asha Bhosle, must have sung 90% of all the tracks that ever came out of Bollywood. “Legend” doesn’t even begin to describe these two ladies.
(After years of debate and rivalry, the Guinness book of records finally decided in 2011 that Asha was the world’s most recorded artist ever, with around 11,000 recordings to her name. Mind-boggling really.)
Back when I lived in Leicester, whenever I used to go to one of my favourite Indian restaurants–the Lal Bagh, off London Road–there would always be these tinny-sounding old movie tunes playing over the speakers, and I was drawn to what I considered a kitschy-but-loveable aesthetic. Now I realise I was actually listening to Indian musical royalty, even though the tunes sounded like they were recorded on a piece of tin or something. It maybe explains why they were given such pride of place in the restaurants.
I’ve been listening to music from the subcontinent for a long time… going right back to when I used to hear exotic melodies coming out of Pakistani taxis and kebab shops when I was growing up in Lancashire. But it took a while for the music to enter the UK mainstream, and by that time a lot of the stuff I recognised and liked was being produced by the British-Asian Scene, by people like Nithin Sawhney, Panjabi MC, or Talvin Singh, and it was noticeably different. (With notable exceptions of legends and cross-over successes like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, or Zakir Hussain.) So it’s good to be learning about the origins, and returning to the source.
Never a day goes by here without hearing some of these filmi tunes, whether it’s on the mobile phone of an otherwise-bored security guard, or over the PA of one of the less pretentious supermarkets. (You can hear some great tunes in the supermarket, and that’s when Shazam really comes into its own. The more up-market malls or shops always seem to have Western music playing, and without fail it’s always terrible.) They’re not all to my taste by any means, but they certainly add to the flavour of life in India.
And the people here love them! There’s something quite heart-warming about seeing a rickshaw driver or a school-girl absently-mindedly belting out one of their favourite tunes as they go about their daily business… Anyone who’s singing away to themselves is certainly feeling happy, no question about that.
Here’s another great tune from Noorie: Aashiq Ho To Aisa Ho… I really must watch this movie one day…