"Most of today's music is tough on the ears, there are a whole range of musical instruments, that's all..Whatever happened to the real music?!" Most(All?)of us would have heard this from our parents/grandparents..These remarks seemed outrageously cocky at the outset, but in due course have sunk in, adding another chapter to the 'Elders are almost always right' book.
Having grown up in a music loving environment, where watching Saregama on Zee TV was not scorned at even if there was an exam the next morning, I slowly began to appreciate that the bar had well and truly been raised before the 90's. An almost cherubic Sonu Nigaam singing Mohd.Rafi gems with Anil Biswas, OP Nayyar and other greats as judges is a scene most music fans would recollect vividly. The right music tutelage is important for kids, for that, helps them start the journey in the right direction. Most of us were surely lucky in this regard.
In the 90's, 'old' music was always loved..The elders seemingly liked the term evergreen.I was skeptical regarding its reach into the new millennium and beyond. Today, nearly 20 years hence, I don't see an iota of difference. Those songs are still defined as 'old' and are still endearing. The heartening aspect would be if the post-Y2K generation are provided the right inputs and continue to find these 'old' songs refreshing.
The golden pentagon I refer to in this post were a product of those times. Pretty much, pre-1980. There was no track recording at the time, there were very few instruments that could turn a non-singer into a singer. Having jammed a few numbers as a hobby, I can vouch for the difficulty of one-take-recordings. They are anachronic because there is no scope for error. I somehow feel the limitations in technology also helped these famous five become the singers they eventually did. You had to be 'tayyar', do your 'riyaaz' at 6 AM, and watch that extra scoop of ice-cream. Rafisaab, Mukesh(no suffix doesn't mean no respect), Kishoreda, Lataji and Ashaji.
Rafisaab was/is/will be India's talisman male playback singer. His versatility must have been a composer's delight. You only have to listen to the subtle variations and his soothing voice to know he was gold. Rafisaab was born to sing.
They say Mukesh's voice could speak to the mountains..You could feel the soul in his voice..I remember my cyclerickshawallah Deepak, (in Belgaum) singing "Duniya banane wale kya tere mann me samayee, kahe ko duniya banayi tune" the entire way to school. This left a lasting impression on the UKG kid that was me. Mukesh had well and truly arrived!
Kishoreda..I sometimes wonder how things can be seemingly so easy for anyone. He could act(check Half Ticket or Padosan),compose, had the eternal Madhubala as wife..But the hardwork/struggle behind his success shouldn't be forgotten. Aradhana, Kaka and Panchamda made him this gigantic figure. He had the Midas touch in the 70's. His voice in the 80's felt even richer and more 'mardaana' (Listen to Agar tum na hote title track and 'Zindagi ki yahi reet hain' from Mr.India).. An absolute God given talent.
Lataji..What does one say about India's nightingale that hasn't been said before? Lataji is the definition of the term 'singer'. Everything. Perfect. Will never be anyone like her. Ever.
Ashaji. Has been my favorite always. The typical younger kid..Rebellious,dynamic, supremely talented, lovable. And a secret,I have always preferred her over Lataji..Don't know why..Maybe I love rooting for the underdog.
This golden era couldn't have been realized with just these 5 greats. Lyricists like Javedsaab, Gulzarsaab, Anand Bakshi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Composers like Madan Mohan(a magician!) ,Shankar-Jaikishan, Kalyanji-Anandji, Ravindra Jain, SD Burman acted as the rock solid base. Not to mention other great voices like Mannadey and Mahendra Kapoor.
However, 'THE genius' I refer to was someone (atleast for me) way better than the pack. He composed stuff that most others failed to even visualize. A better composer India will never see (Rahman/SEL are real good, but RD is God!).Pancham da was a freak, creating percussion with spoon and glass (Chura liya hain tumne jo dil ko) and bringing the amazing "Monicaaa oh my darling" to life in that rough baritone..
They say "mortal does what it can,genius does what it must". Today, when I hear some horrendous remixes floating around, I smile at the fact they have recognized him at last, even while resorting to murdering his music. I still regret that Panchamda almost died in penury, but then some things are better left than analyzed.
Food for thought..Can the present generation ever match up, let alone be better, than these folks? Motivational speeches certainly think so, constantly telling you you can outdo yourself and eventually become the best. I feel that knowing what the best is, is half the battle won.
These legends were truly worthy of the honor and have left us a trail impossible to surpass and remarkably easy to admire.