Hindi music composers have always relied on Indian classical music for inspiration since the golden years of Hindi films. One of the first mainstream composers was Naushad, who successfully entrenched the melodious configuration of his films songs in classical music. In “Baiju Bawra”, he placed all the 13 songs to classical ragas. It was this avant garde effort that earned him several accolades, including the very first Filmfare Music Director Award for the song, “Tu Ganga Ki Mauj”. The song was based on raga Bhairavi.
Whether it’s Hindustani or Carnatic, both forms of classical music are a huge authentic ocean whose depths are immeasurable. This is a tradition which is timeless, and within this redolent world of sounds one can discover pleasure, level-headedness, fidelity, infatuation, anguish, rapture and the ultimate truth.
Ragas (melodies) are an inherent organ of Indian classical music. Each raga symbolizes a structure of melodious notes and expressions, but the definitive goal is to stir up a sentiment that captivates the listener. All ragas have their analogous balance, which is distinct by a explicit set of notes from an octave. By simply accentuating on certain notes or by varying the way a note is approached, an adept singer or an instrumentalist can conjure a gamut of moods in the listener’s mind. Only a few forms of performing arts can boast of such a feat.
Songs ingrained and developed in classical music were extremely popular in the 1950s. But as the 1960s arrived, Western music acquired a foothold in the Indian film industry and, since then, tunes with classical inclination have been composed few and far between. Yet every now and then, melodies with an instantly recognizable classical mannerism wrench at our heartstrings and pencil in our consideration back to this often-neglected affluent tradition that lies at the very centre of our edifying cultural fabric.
Bollywood music is not only the most popular genre of music in India but also one of the most recognised in the world. It largely owes its subsistence, nourishment, fruition and durability to the classical tradition, from which it draws heavy inspiration, predominantly during the first few decades of its evolution.
Classical based songs flourished in Bollywood during a period that observed a great revitalization of musical compositions in Hindi Cinema, chiefly during the fifties, and in the process, fashioned a tendency that continued right up to early eighties. This period, particularly the fifties saw some great numbers, which stimulated a whole generation of Bollywood musicians to espouse classical music and subsequently led to what is often referred as the ‘Golden Period’ of Bollywood Music. In the development, it also shaped many folklore whose work continues to be tremendously fashionable even today.
Here is a glimpse at the Bollywood songs based on the various Raagas in Hindustani music.
They are best due to the way in which they have preserved the integrity of the Raag (the original classical composition) and yet delivered a unique musical proposition that is reasonably pure and yet popular in the masses!
Bollywood music itself is not classical music. These are numbers composed by adhering closely to the classical music genre.
Dil hoom hoom kare
Bhupen Hazarika has not been involved in many Bollywood movies, but this song will be enough to carry his legacy till there are people who follow classical based music produced in Bollywood. From a classic movie, Rudali, acclaimed for its courageous and pragmatic depiction of one of the less known societies, the song was composed and sung by Hazarika, in Raag BHUPALI. The number brings out the power of Hindustani classical music and why it is considered such a great gift – a real treasure that can never decay.
Insaaf ka mandir hai yeh
A great number, that is not just a near perfect rendition of a song based on Hindustani classical music, but one which communicates a lot, making use of the different effects of classical compositions. It is based on Raag BHAIRAVI, and sung by Mohammed Rafi – an evidence of why Rafi is considered by so many as the greatest ever singer of Bollywood (amidst protests from fans of Kishore, Lata and Mukesh, of course!). The music was composed by Naushad, lyrics of Shakeel Badayuni are special and expressions of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala (actors) complete the story
Nache man mora
Another all time great rendition from a great singer, in a movie that was a milestone for classical music in Bollywood, composed by perhaps the all time greatest music composer of Bollywood, in a Raag that has been one of most popular ones in Bollywood. The Raag is BHAIRAVI , (tal is teentaal/kaherva) , singer is Mohammed Rafi and music was composed by S D Burman. Asha Parekh’s dancing performance on the screen lends it an additional colour.
Jaag dard-e-ishk jaag
A great duet, based on Raag BAGESHWARI (taal Dadra), which has also been very admired among the Bollywood music composers of fifties and sixties, sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mageshkar, two great voices of Bollywood. The music was composed by C Ramachandra and the lyrics are by Rajinder Krishna. The movie is based on the tale of Anarkali, a courtesan in the palace of Moghul Emperor, with whom the Heir Prince falls in love, creating mayhem! A great musical depiction of the crisis!
Baiyan na dharo
One of the great numbers based on Raag CHARUKESI, a composition of Hindustani classical music, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, a living legend, to near faultlessness. The music for this number was composed by Madan Mohan, who always retained his best for Lata, who was also near the zenith of her singing expertise at that time. The result is an eternal melody not only for classical connoisseurs, but for everyone. The tal is a muddle up of Punjabi Theka and Kaherva. Ironically, the movie is a tale of how ladies in singing profession were looked down by the society.
Kaali ghodi dwar khadi
A great illustration of Raag KAFI, this number coalesces the genius of Yesudas with the straightforwardness of Kafi to produce a great performance very uncomplicated and yet requiring mammoth knowledge. Hemanti Shukla (female singer) joins Yesudas to make it eternal. Music was composed by Rajkamal for a highly acclaimed comedy of the eighties. The song is screened in a simple but innovative way and the lyrics written by Indu Jain make the song very consequential.
Tu Ganga ki mauj mein….
A great number nearly sung to precision by Mohammed Rafi, one of the greatest singers of Bollywood, in Raag BHAIRAVI (Tal DADRA). It was composed by Naushad, another all time great, with lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. The movie is one of the original in the long tradition of musicals based on Hindustani classical music; it portended a golden era of Bollywood music that eclipsed all other forms of popular music in India. It is also a great portrayal of those times
Puchho na kaise maine rain bitayee.
Another great classical rendition from the great master, Mannade, this time in Raag AHIR BHAIRAV, another composition of Hindustani Classical music. This song is in two parts, the first of which is sung by S D Batish. The music for this song was composed by S D Burman, another legend in Bollywood, while lyrics are written by Shailendra. An everlasting classical number that will live to tell the tale, from a movie that gave us some of the best classical numbers ever heard in Bollywood.
Ketaki, gulab, juhi
This number is only one of its kinds simply because it brought together two young singers, fated to accomplish legendary fame in classical vocal music. Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, one of the greatest Indian classical singers joins one of the greatest classical singers of Bollywood, Mannade in what must be a contest of best ever classical vocal jugalbandi of Bollywood, set in Raag BASANT BAHAR, a classical composition of Hindustani music. Music is composed by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics written by Shailendra.
Laga chunari mein daag
Debatably, the greatest ever classical song in the history of Bollywood, it is composed in Raag BHAIRAVI, a classical music composition of Hindustani music, which is very frequently used by music composers of Bollywood. It is sung by Mannade, one of the greatest promoters of classical music in the history of Bollywood, who has rendered it with extreme precision without violating the raag, and yet integrated enough of his own modernization to make it stand apart from other regular compositions. Backed by pleasant lyrics, written by Sahir Ludhianwi and some great music composed by Roshan, it is a persistent delight of the classical aficionados of Bollywood music