Friday, November 6, 2009

Swar-Lata, Bharat Ratna Lata

Lata-didi, you did it again. When work threatened to drown me in its drudgery, out of nowhere that vocal miracle swooped upon me, took me by the scruff of my neck and injected a fresh dose of life and energy into me.

Of you, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saheb said ‘Kambakht kabhi besura hee nahi hotee’ (Drat it, she never goes out of tune). And that from a giant of Hindustani classical music. Addressed to a mere ‘film playback singer’.

Hundreds, thousands have offered their silent and vocal tributes to you. I can offer you nothing more precious than my tears.

Here I sit up at midnight, offering a humble IT coolie’s tribute to the eternal Lata, for whatever it is worth. Two of your songs in recent times have derailed me from my rut. And given me fresh hope……….. I attempt to provide a very flawed and puerile translation of the original lyrics for both the songs…… the sincere hope that somebody provide me with better versions of it.

Non-desis have remarked on the fact that Indian female voices sing in a very high pitch (they screech). Doubtless they would have the same opinion of the below songs, but I don’t see any flaw in it, is it culture or cultural familiarity, I don’t know, but it touches my heart in a way very few other things, gross and subtle, do

1. Sawan Ke Jhoole Pade from ‘Jurmama’

a great blend of lyrics, tune and playback.

Hindi lyrics

Saawan Ke Jhoole Pade, Tum Chale Aao
tum Chale Aao, Tum Chale Aao

aanchal Naa Chhode Meraa, Paagal Huyee Hain Pawan
ab Kyaa Karu Main Jatan Dhadake Jiyaa Jaise Panchhee Ude

dil Ne Pukaaraa Tumhe, Yaadon Ke Parades Se
aatee Hain Jo Desh Sen, Hum Us Dagar Pe Hain Kab Se Khade

jab Hum Mile The Piyaa, Tum Kitane Naadaan The
hum Kitane Anajaan The, Baalee Umareeyaan Mein Nainaa Laden

My translation

The swinging breezes of Spring and the ardent wish that you come over
…the ardent wish that you come over.

This crazed wind doesn’t let go of my anchal (the end of a sari tossed over the shoulder?)
What do I hold onto? The heart’s astir like the fluttering birds taking to the sky

The heart called for you, from the foreign land of memories
And here on the road that comes from my land, I have been waiting for you since long

When we had met my beloved, you were so naïve
and we were so ignorant, t’was adolescence when our eyes crossed paths

2. Sunya Sunya maifilit majhya

from a Marathi ‘art’ film starring another treasure of India, the late Smita Patil, the song is made more memorable by the lyrics, by Smita, by the music and by Lata…..

Marathi lyrics

Sunya, Sunya, Maifilit majhya, tujhech mi geet gaat aahe
ajoonhi vatate mala, ajoonhi chand raat aahe

Kale na mi pahate kunala, kale na ha chehra kunacha
Punha punha bhaas hot aahe, tujhe hasoo aarshyat aahe

Sakhya tula bhet-til sare, tujhya ghari sur olakhiche
Ubha tujhya angani swarancha abol ha parijat aahe

My translation

In this solemn, lonely gathering of mine, I am singing your song
Again, Yet again the haunting feeling that its that moonlit night

(The state I am in) Puzzled by, whom I stare at, whose face it is
Again, yet again that ‘bhaas’ (hallucination) it’s your smile / laughter in the mirror
In This solemn, lonely gathering of mine,

Dear beloved, you will meet in your house, those familiar tunes of mine
Present in your garden, a mute jasmine of musical notes
I keep singing your song
Again, Yet again the haunting feeling that its that moonlit night


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