Sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan, considered by musicians and music lovers as a maverick genius, was not only a performer, composer and guru for the Hindustani music world, but he also composed music for films. While he composed for Bengali and Hindi films, in our fifth episode on Hindustani musicians who have worked as music directors for Hindi cinema, we listen to songs composed by him for the film Aandhiyaan (1952).
We begin with a bhajan sung for the film by Lakshmi Shankar. Listeners will note that the melodic line has twists that are reminiscent of the unpredictable quality that marked the dhuns that Ali Akbar Khan played on his sarod.
The second song sung by Surinder Kaur has distinct segments that utilise elements from Hindustani instrumental music in the form of a short snippet of the popular gat or instrumental composition in the raag Bihari or a brief portion that is like the instrumental jhala or the percussive climactic section in an instrumental performance. The male dancer in this song is the famous Kathak virtuoso Gopi Krishna.
The last song in this collection is sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Once again, it has unpredictable twists in the melodic line. While it is set to Rupak, a rhythmic cycle of seven matras, the tabla plays a slightly different interpretation of the commonly heard Rupak theka or universally accepted mnemonic syllable line representing the taal.
One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a widely recognised performer, teacher, composer and scholar of Hindustani music. Visit his website here.