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Singing in the rain

Anirudha Bhattacharjee Balaji Vittal | Updated on January 23, 2018 Published on August 28, 2015
Promise in the air: Young lovers at one with the newly arrived monsoon at Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive. Photo: Vivek Bendre

Promise in the air: Young lovers at one with the newly arrived monsoon at Mumbai’s iconic Marine Drive. Photo: Vivek Bendre   -  The Hindu

Madan Mohan

Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – 50 classic Hindi film songs; Anirudha Bhattacharjee & Balaji Vittal; HarperCollins; ₹350

Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – 50 classic Hindi film songs; Anirudha Bhattacharjee & Balaji Vittal; HarperCollins; ₹350

On a wet evening in South Mumbai, Madan Mohan’s bluesy Tum jo mil gaye ho weaves a collage of moods infused with the colours of an overcast sky and glistening citylights

One rainy evening brings together two strangers in Bombay’s Marine Drive and Chowpatty. One is a rich heir-turned-taxi-driver by choice (Navin Nischol), and the other is a woman (Priya Rajvansh), a high-society escort. The song takes us on a cab ride through an evening of their courtship.

The sequence is built up as a series of events. It starts when the lady, in a dilemma, boards a taxi, where the hero, playing the chauffeur, attempts to croon ‘ Tum jo mil gaye ho’. This is met with a curt response. However, after remaining silent for a while, he starts crooning again. Accompanying him are fragile notes on Bhupinder Singh’s twelve-string Boeing guitar and Manohari Singh’s obbligato on the English flute, a combination that makes the lady warm up to the cabbie. She lights a cigarette, and the Rain God, perhaps taking cognisance of the lovers, obliges with a soft drizzle.

After the relaxed first mukhra and an unconventional humming, (which ends in Ma — also touching Teevra Madhyam — in the process), the orchestration gains urgency. Bongo, a flurry of woodwind, a surge of the violin ensemble — the change in pace is exhilarating as is the change in the intensity of the rainfall. This continues until the frenzied coda. Mohd Rafi’s unconventional humming in this song was, probably, extrapolated to write the melody for the Lata solo ‘ Raat ujiyari dil andhera hai’ from Chaalbaaz, Madan Mohan’s last film, which was released without any fanfare in 1980…

The 1970s saw Madan Mohan reinvent himself. Guitar, jazz, blues — he had created a new avatar, so much so that for ‘ Tum jo mil gaye ho’, Madan Mohan conceived a blues scale based structure. At its core, the tune carries the familiar Madan Mohan mystique. Yet, it is difficult to believe this is the same person who composed ‘ Unko yeh shikayat hain’ ( Adalat, 1958).

In ‘ Tum jo mil gaye ho’, Madan Mohan rolls the words jahaan and aasmaan to capture their vast expanse; the phrase ‘ Mil gaye ho’ is given an earthly cadence, underlining the yearning, and the word ‘ door’ is stretched to express the metaphorical distance. In fact, the song is paced out — from the sluggish movement in the mukhra to the top gear after the sanchari (a concept alien to Hindi film music), to the calm of the soliloquy by Lata. This creates a collage of moods infused with the colours of the overcast sky and the lights as they glisten over a rain-soaked Bombay.

Kersi Lord’s symphonic arrangement, to go with Madan Mohan’s melody, ensured that ‘ Tum jo mil gaye ho’ did justice to the rainy evening.

How different would the number sound without, say, the ‘flute obbligato’, the unconventional set of notes — Sa, Re, Komal Ga, Komal Dha, Komal Re, Sa — that follows the line ‘ Ke jahaan mil gaya’. What would it sound like without the complete suspension of all instruments after ‘ Ek bhatke huye rahi ko, kaarvaan mil gaya’, or the hide-and-seek between the rolling thunder and the faintly audible guitar in the interlude? It would be a very different song indeed without its pièce de résistance after the first antara, where it picks up speed without warning and races along the rain-slick driveways of south Bombay to an almost syncopated interlude score, only to halt just in time for the sanchariTum kya jano tum kya ho’ (During the composition, the dummy lyrics for this sanchari were ‘ Tum jo dil me aaye the’). The frenetic pace continues before a sudden stop as we are led to the angry sea crashing into the rocks. The couple step out of the taxi into the thunder squall. Then one hears the Lata Mangeshkar version of the mukhra

The end result: ‘ Tum jo mil gaye’ is intoxicating. It begins like a series of paintings clouded by a misty membrane, which gradually clears to reveal a riot of colours like one would see in Bert Haanstra’s award-winning documentary film, Glass (1958), or in Powell and Pressburger’s Red Shoes (1948). Surrounded by lashing rain, Chanda (Priya Rajvansh) and Somesh (Navin Nischol), both now in the front seat, drunk in melody, zoom ahead in their newfound relationship.

Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal are also the authors of RD Burman: The ManThe Music, which won the Best Book on Cinema award at the 59th National Film Awards 2011

Published on August 28, 2015
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