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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Baahon kE Darmiyaan - Dedicated to my father

Song : Baahon ke Darmiyaan
Movie: Khamoshi
Singers : Hariharan, Alka Yagnik
Composer : Jatin-Lalit
Performed by : Sindhuja Bhaktavatsalam, Murali Venkatraman

It may appear unusual to dedicate a romantic song to one's father. But Khamoshi - the album has more connotations in my life than just music.

It was 1997. I was visiting home at tirunelveli from CECRI, my undergraduate college. My father was away for an official trip to Madras.

Hailing from a middle class (lower-middle class - sometimes I wonder how so many varieties of middle classes are there in India) family which stressed emphatically on education, moral values and minimal materialistic pleasures, it was really a struggle to do anything pertinent to music when I was growing up. Even the BUSH radio, which is still religiously serving us, was considered a luxury item. I was rarely allowed to listen to film songs since my father’s doctrine was, and is, that film music hinders studies. And with education being the only rudder to a better life, listening to music was considered a time-wasting-exercise. Nevertheless, my interest never ceased and I registered in my memory most of the songs I heard off and on.

Once I was in CECRI, in the absence of parental control, my listening and practicing of music grew to very high prorportions, however, I did not have a walkman or a transistor-radio to listen to songs. I had silently envied my classmates who had a walkman but told myself buying one of those was just the start of unending expenditures since cassettes were not cheap then (Rs 50 for CD-recorded cassette !). I had asked my father if I could get a walkman sometime and he had answered with a strong “No” since budget would not allow. also, in line with his doctirnes it woudl be a serious deterrent. A good AIWA walkman would cost more than Rs 1000 and he certainly could not afford it since it was a tight-rope walk for him every month with me going to college.

So, I had buried my desires. Dad came back from Madras to tirunelveli, and had reached home at night. I was just relaxing in the bed with some music played on the bush radio. He called me, handed me a package and said : “Open it” with a subtle smile.

And inside the package was a beautiful AIWA walkman.

My eyes gleamed and my heart skipped a beat. I said “thank you” to him (well.. real family situations are not melodramatic soap operas – that was my reaction) and found two cassettes given as a compliment for the purchase.

Needless to say one was Khamoshi. One could not ask for a better album. All songs were good but baahon ke darmiyaan was outstanding and I was really enslaved by Hariharan’s voice. Music and music players have become cheap these days and cassettes and even CDs are long gone, but what my dad bought me at a time he could barely afford will always remain etched in my memories and whenever I hear this song I get reminded of him. (That he has no idea about either the movie Khamoshi or the songs is a different thing altogether).

I also have fond memories of Khamoshi with my friends Srinath, Gump and Ravi in Columbia. In October 1999, I bought my first car, a 5 year old Nissan Sentra. Being the only guy with a car, it was normal to drive friends around. I had not forgotten the Khamoshi cassette. It was a usual routine to go for long drives in the night listening to Khamoshi songs and discussing some junk topics. Once on highway at 70 mph, probably overwhelmed by the gravity of the melody, Srinath remarked:

“indha maadhiri paattu kEttuNdE fast aa car OttiNdu pOy crash aagi seththup pOyidaNum” ( Translated – would like to drive the car fast, crash and die as I listen to these songs )

We looked at each other. I pulled over and stopped.

“Dei..arivu irukka ? ippadiya pEsuvE ?”

were some of the retorts we gave him. But later when I read in an article that Vairamuththu expressed his wish to be listening to “maalaip pozudhin mayakkathile” as he dies, I understood what impact those songs have had on Srinath. Unlike Vairamuththu, Srinath's expression of his admiration for Khamoshi songs was hardly poetic but certainly no less sincere.

Singing a song with Sindhuja is a difficult proposition generally with her razor sharp ears picking up even the most minute of slips. But it is always a good experience. And this is the first hindi song that I have felt mildly comfortable to attempt (As always, I am overly conscious about pronunciation and accent in any song / language). It is u for you guys to decide how good our version is.