Saturday, August 18, 2012


I started this post a long time ago, and went through several ideas on how to introduce this topic, but never completely liked any of them. Trained as an Electrical Engineer, I mused on the Fourier Transform analysis of different singers; and tried to see if there could be a correlation between energy in different frequency ranges and characteristics of different wines. The resultant headaches convinced me to look elsewhere. Try explaining to a layperson, Lata Mangeshkar has twice the energy in the 5 - 10 KHz range as Kishore Kumar; and it correlates with the elevated sugar content of dessert wines. I will be lucky if my family still includes me in our gatherings.

It is usually a challenge to pair Indian food with wines, but Indian singers, especially Old Hindi Film ones, are a delight. As a group, and along with Music Directors and Lyricists; these men and women have risen from humble surroundings and have provided endless hours of pure joy. Wines can sometimes be expensive, and they almost always cost some money; but the price of the Classic Indian Film Industry Music has been amortized over time and is essentially close to zero. Even though my favorite economist has always argued  "There is no such thing as a free lunch";  some of the best things in life are indeed free. This post presents some interesting pairings, but more important; it is really an attempt to demonstrate the extremely high value of what these artists have left behind.

A) Hai Duniya Usiki ------ Red Bordeaux, Mohammad Rafi

Paul Giamatti has just been dumped by Virginia Madsen in the movie Sideways, and is about to drink his prized and only Chateau Cheval Blanc (the 2005 vintage retails for $1000) out of a styrofoam cup in a fast food restaurant. Any snobbish oenophile would react, "What a waste".

Faced with a similar situation, the lady is Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki kali; Shammi Kapoor breaks out Scotch Whiskey.  I would  react, "What a terrible pairing"!!!.  Shammi is lip-syncing to a wonderful Mohammed Rafi song whose equivalent would be that Red Bordeaux being drunk in Sideways. Paul has the right idea; if a gorgeous woman dumps you, that is something to be celebrated with an expensive-once-in-a-lifetime-wine. Rafi's singing caliber is exactly that; multi-layered, complex, improves with age, and worthy of being labelled once-in-a-many-generations.

As an aside, at the end of both movies, both men get their respective women. In a lighter vein, one could argue that it was the excellent beverage choice that led to Paul Giamatti getting the classy Virginia Madsen. On the other hand if you look like Shammi Kapoor and sing a Rafi song, you will always get your love; no matter what you drink.

B) Mausam Hai Ashiqana ----- Sauternes, Lata Mangeshkar

Sauternes is made from grapes affected by Botyritis, a kind of noble rot. This counter-intuitive real-life occurrence results in a dessert wine of the highest quality from outwardly disfigured grapes. Legend has it that Raj Kapoor had Lata Mangeshkar in mind when he was creating Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Add to this the sweetness that dominates Lata's singing, and you can see why I have paired her songs with a Sauternes.

C) Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai ----- Red Burgundy,  Kishore Kumar

Here is Rajesh Khanna in a situation similar to what is faced by Shammi Kapoor, but his song has just that extra touch of romance. Some music enthusiasts do not consider Kishore to match Rafi's gravitas, and some oenophile's think the same about a red Burgundy vs. a red Bordeaux. I think both are different, and on the surface a Kishore song may not seem to have the same complexity and depth as a Rafi song; but upon further exploration both do alright. Same with a red Burgundy,  and this is the reason for the pairing.

D) Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu ----- Champagne,  Asha Bhosale

Asha Bhosale has a nice party song voice, and several bubbly frothy celebratory songs have been filmed upon it.  Aage Bhi Jaane Na Tu has just that touch of restraint, but note the fountain that spouts like a newly opened champagne bottle. Restrained or not, Asha's style has the effervescence that leads to a great pairing.

E) Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli ----- Barolo, Manna Dey

I have to thank Pacifist,  Dustedoff, and Anu Warrier for increasing my respect and liking for Manna Dey as a singer. After mulling over his songs I have to conclude that he probably ranks right up there with Rafi. Bordeaux wines keep improving with age, and can often stay drinkable for almost 100 years. Italian Barolo's have the same characteristic, Manna Dey's songs grow upon you, and so my pairing.

F) Tadbeer Se Bigdi Hui ------  Port, Geeta Dutt

One theme jumps out from the pairings so far, all males with red wines, and females with white wines. Geeta Dutt is the first to break this rule, her smoky honeyed seductive voice leads me to pair it with an aged port. To be honest I also thought of Drambuie, a liqueur made with Scotch and honey. I like to listen to her songs when you are winding down just after dinner, and hence the choice of port. With a red wine pairing, I am in no way trying to say she starts leaning towards a male voice. Her unique style transcends traditional male-female classifications.

G) Bekarar Karke Hame ------ Chianti,  Hemant Kumar

Sit back with your eyes closed and listen to this Hemant Kumar song, do you feel the warm sunlight. "Wine is sunlight held together by water", says Galileo; and who am I to disagree. Hemant Kumar transports you to sunny Tuscany with this song, and hence the pairing. Also note the Italian connections, Galileo, Tuscany, Sunshine, Chianti; I hope I have not overdone it. Incidentally, Chianti is also a reasonably good pairing with some Indian Kebabs.

H) Jawaan Hai Mohabbat ------ Italian Dessert Wine, NoorJehan

Continuing on that Italian Sunshine theme, and adding sweetness, gets us NoorJehan at her best. If Lata is the cooler elegant France, then NoorJehan is the sunny spontaneous Italy; and both dominate the dessert wine category.

I) Tasveer Banata Hoon ------  Cognac, Talat Mehmood

When you are in a blue mood try nursing a glass of cognac or listening to Talat Mehmood. No harm in doing both, you just might snap out of it.

J) Nain Deewane Ek Nahin Mane --- Chardonnay, Suraiyya

Another theme so far is most female singers have been paired with sweeter wines. This pairing demonstrates that a female singer, Suraiyya, can be paired with dry minerally Chardonnay. Listen to this song again, note the distinct mineral tones, the correctness, the complexity, the dryness; all hallmarks of a good Chardonnay.

This is not to say that Lata, Asha, Geeta, Noor cannot do this style; most if not all of them can be interchangeably paired. 

K) Yeh Mera Deewanapan Hai ------ Chateauneuf Du Pape, Mukesh

Brooding is the thought that comes to mind when I hear this song, and the wines of Chateauneuf du Pape are exactly that. Dark, brooding, intense, sometimes hit-and--miss; this has to be Mukesh.

L) Tum Apna Ranjho Gham -------- Banyuls, Jagjit Kaur

Once again this is a song that was refreshed by the online blogging community, Dustedoff, Anu, Pacifist, Ava; all of them posted/commented on various aspects. I think it has a little bit of Geeta Dutt in it, hence the pairing with a South-of-France port-wine type wine.

M) Sunu Mere Bandhu Re ------- Young Cote Du Rhone, S.D. Burman

Copying my comments from Harvey's post on S. D. Burman;
"It is very difficult to pair a wine S.D. Burman's voice, and I have struggled to identify a suitable wine. Austere, possibly nasal, are adjectives that come to mind when I try to categorize his voice. Here is what Robert Parker says about an austere wine ----
Wines that are austere are generally not terribly pleasant wines to drink. An austere wine is a hard, rather dry wine that lacks richness and generosity. However, young Rhônes are not as austere as young Bordeaux."

Hence the pairing with a young Cote Du Rhone.

O) Na Tum Hame Jaano ------- Sauvignon Blanc, Suman Kalyanpur

Another Classic Hindi Film Expert, AK (SongsOfYore),  has a wonderful comparison of Suman Kalyanpur with Lata Mangeshkar. He says, and I quote ---

"It is sad that a singer with such enormous talent did not get her due; her similarity with Lata’s voice became her curse. Yet her best is no inferior to any singer’s best, and she is one of the great singers of the golden era."

Sauvignon Blanc wines sometimes are not as highly regarded as say Chardonnays or Sauternes; however just like Suman Kalyanpur, they will never let you down.

P) Daane Daane Pe Likha Hai -------  Beaujolais, C Ramchandra

Beaujolais is renowned light fruity early age drinkable wines that can morph into almost any situation. C. Ramchandra was one such singer,  at will he could sing like most anyone, and hence the pairing.

In a party of Marathi speaking Maharashtrians, a person who only knew him by his real name Ramchandra Chitalkar is supposed to have said --- "Aho Chitalkar Kahi Tari Kara, To Bagha South-Indian C. Ramchandra Kevdha Gajto Ahe". 
Translated it means --- "Mr. Chitlakar do something from from the Marathi side, Look at that South Indian C. Ramchandra getting all the accolades."

Q) Neele Gagan Ke Tale ------- Rioja, Mahendra Kapoor

Mahendra Kapoor used to be called a clone of Mohd. Rafi, as is Rioja of a Bordeaux. Perhaps both are a little unjust, but hopefully you see my point.

Other Music Wine Pairing References

Indian Food Wine Pairing References

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Harvey's 70's Farmaish

In his recent post, fellow blogger Harvey thinks I know a lot about 70's songs, and had this farmaish.
"Wouldn’t you like to do a 70s gaana post. Somehting like a hit parade of each year in the 70s or fads of 70s gaana or Dev in the 70s mood. "
It is kind of Harvey to think that, I did see a lot of movies in the 70's, but would not consider myself an expert. However, a 70's Farmaish cannot be ignored; and hence this one is for Harvey.
Doing a post on hit parade of each year in the 70's does not appeal to me, and I already did one on fads of the 70's. The theme I decided was underrated songs, or songs that were not always the biggest hits of a particular year, or songs that would not be considered the most popular of the hero/heroine on whom they were filmed. My earlier post emphasized "Over-The-Top" songs, this one attempts to counterbalance and also lend some measure of respect to some of the 70's songs.
I broke out the list into 4 categories, and to please Harvey (and myself), one of those is 70's Dev.

Harvey started his post on a bicycle, he rides to work in very cold weather. I also like bicycling as a sport, so what better reason for the first category.

1) Guzar Jaye Din --- Annadata
This is probably the best solo bicycling song of the 70's.  Anil Dhawan represents another feature of the 70's, namely the presence of several non-big-star heros who had great songs filmed on them. Others in this category include Vinod Mehra, Navin Nischol, Vishal Anand, Rakesh Roshan, Vijay Anand, Amol Palekar, Rakesh Pandey, Kiran Kumar, Vijay Arora, and Mahendra Sandhu. You are a big-time 70's expert if you can create a list of good songs that only have one of the above mentioned heros :)
P.S. This song complies with Dustedoff's stringent standards of at least 90 % + duration on the bicycle. :)
P.P.S. Legend has it that Kishore thought this was a very complex song meant for Rafi, and had to be coaxed into singing it. (I don't remember where I read this, it could have been someone commenting on one of the blogs.)

Pre Stardom
Coming to the stars of the 70's, and this decade had plenty of them, but several of them were still struggling in the early days.

2) Nainon Mein Darpan Hai --- Aarop
Keeping with the bicycle theme, this is a pre-stardom Vinod Khanna with an established married star Saira Banu. The 70's were famous for much older heros (Dev Anand) pairing with younger women, but there were also a few senior established heroines (Saira Banu, Asha Parekh, Mala Sinha, Sharmila Tagore, Mumtaz) pairing with new comers.
In his initial days Vinod Khanna played a villain, something also done by at least two other 70's male strugglers --- Amitabh Bachchan & Shatrughan Sinha.

3) Tum Bhi Chalo Hum Bhi Chale --- Zameer
Amitabh Bachchan's struggle was perhaps one of the most intense, and it probably helped him in his later career.  Here he is singing an excellent but underrated song while reprising Dev Anand's role from Bambai Ka Babu in the film Zameer. Saira Banu plays Suchitra Sen's role, and Shammi Kapoor (her first hero) plays her father. This was one of the first Shammi as a character actor film, and we also see Saira continuing to star with junior heros (in stature not in age.)

4) Barkha Rani, Jara Jamke Barso --- Sabak
Another feature of the 70's was several real-life husband-wife pairs, Dharam-Hema, Amitabh-Jaya, Rishi-Neetu, Randhir-Babita; Shatrughan & his wife Poonam also starred in at least one film --- Sabak. In a much later interview Shatru showed his self-deprecating style of humor saying --- "Prior to my marriage my mother-in-law used to complain that it did not matter whether  my photos with Poonam were in color or B&W, they always looked B&W". This song is probably one of the few sedate non-OTT Shatru songs, just goes to show the troubles one had to face while not being a star :)
P.S. While playing poker or teen-patti and holding only two kings, I still pull out the famous Shotgun line from Kaala Patthar "Mere Tash Ke Tirpanve Patte, Teesre Badshah Hum Hain"

5) SaReGaMaPa --- Abhinetri
Last but most certainly not least is Hema Malini, a star who faced the least amount of struggle, and who dominated most of the 70's. She started out with Raj Kapoor, and soon delivered her first major hit with Dev Anand, and here she is extremely poised with Shashi Kapoor. This wonderful song was a big hit when it was released, but it is a challenge finding a pre-stardom underrated Hema Malini song. Her other songs during this brief period include "Kitne Din Ankhen Tarsegi" & "Sharafat Chod Di Meine".

Post/End Stardom
Two major stars saw a decline/end to their stardom, and by a curious coincidence both involved Amitabh Bachchan.

6) Dakiya Dak Laya --- Palkon Ki Chao Mein
There is not much I can add to one of the dominant theme of the 70's, the Rajesh-Amitabh rivalry, and Amitabh's dethroning of Rajesh's super-stardom. Again keeping with the initial bicycle theme, I have Rajesh in post-superstar underrated song from Palkon Ki Chaon Mein.

7) Tu Lali Hai Savere Wali --- Abhi To Jee Lein
The second star is Amitabh's wife Jaya Bhaduri, who left films after her marriage. As the spectacular song shows, this was indeed a big loss for Bollywood.  "Abhi To Jee Lein" was released in 1977, a time when Amitabh was the undisputed superstar. Several 50's & 60's Hindi film fans believe that 70's music did not match up, but it could be argued that the real decline began in the mid-to-late 70's. Did Amitabh's super-stardom cause the decline in music standards, or was it merely a coincidence, I leave it open for debate.

Personal Connections
A completely whimsical category.

8) Jeevan Mein Humsafar Milte to hai Zaroor --- Taxi Taxie
Harvey and me go back and forth about plain looking Ghati males, and Amol Palekar is a perfect example. Amol excelled in playing the common man, and had several really good songs. I selected an underrated one, hopefully it is appreciated.

Zindagi Ke Safar Mein Na Jane Kab Kaise Yeh Do Anjane Hue Pyar Mein Yu Deewane --- Damaad
In keeping with the 70's bicycle theme, here is Amol Palekar and Ranjeeta on a bicycle in "Damaad".

9) Jeene Ka Din Mar Jaane Ka Mausam Hai In Nazaaron Mein --- Gomti Ke Kinare
If you knew this hero is Sameer Khan, the younger brother of Feroz & Sanjay Khan, full marks to you. "Gomti Ke Kinare" was Meena Kumari's last film, and the song is one of RD Burman's underrated ones.
P.S. --- Harvey, I hope you stop complaining about me giving you bicyclist Anil Dhawan, I saved Sameer Khan for myself :)

70's Dev
It goes without saying that I have to include 70's Dev, I have two of them ---
The first is an underrated song from Shareef Badmash, and the second is perhaps the best 70's bicycle duet.

10) Tere Sau Deewane
Notice the pink shirt, pink cap & probably pink lipstick ;). Oh all right, I had to bring in some OTT, how can you do a 70's post without OTT, especially when 70's Dev is involved.

He Maine Kasam Li --- Tere Mere Sapne
To make up for the earlier OTT.