Saturday, September 20, 2008


I was sitting in the make-up room getting ready for my show. My eyes were closed as I tried to soak in the beautiful melody of that dreamy composition from the Hindi film ,Razia Sultan. AAYI ZANJEER KI JHANKAAR KHUDA KHAIR KARE, DIL HUA KISKA GIRAFTAAR KHUDA KHAIR KARE. The song was courtesy our hairstylist, who has a fantastic collection of music on his cell phone and often entertains us with some number or the other. Kabban Mirza’s unique voice, Jan Nissar Akhtar’s soulful poetry and Khaiyyam’s exemplary music were creating a magical sort of aura in the room and we all hummed and sang along. It was a moment of sheer bliss and harmony.

The trance like state, however, was soon shattered by Piya’s voice. ‘ Sheetal, what is wrong with you? What crap are you listening ? And what a weird voice ! Is that some twelfth century song or what? ‘ I was horrified and shocked. How could somebody be not knowing the famous Khaiyyam composition and most importantly, how could one be so insensitive to a musical masterpiece? But then, one couldn’t really blame Piya , for this vivacious, young colleague of mine probably must have been in her diapers when Khaiyyam composed the famous song. ‘ Piya, that’s a very, very famous composition by one of Indian film industry’s best known music directors. Ask your mother. I am sure, she would have heard it,’ I tried reasoning it out with her.

‘ C’mon, give me a break. My mother doesn’t listen to such behenji stuff. Her choice is very hip.’ ‘ Hip, as in? Rock, Pop, hip hop, etc. ? ’ ‘ Of course, She listens to Beatles, Boney-M and all those 70s and 80s bands .’ ‘ And so do I. But, I also love my Khaiyyams and Mehdi Hassans and C.Ramchandras.’ ‘ Now, who are all these folks ? ’

Our conversation ended there, as I had to rush for my show. But it set me thinking . It was actually very unsettling for me that someone could be so discriminating of music, a language which is so pure and universal. Atleast I have grown up believing that. I have always been fascinated, charged, touched, stirred, encouraged and thrilled by music. It is something that gives an instant boost to the energy levels. My love for music of all kinds dates back to the days when I was just a toddler. My parents tell me that I used to try singing the famous song of the late 70s , KABHI KABHI MERE DIL MEIN KHYAAL AATA HAI in my baby voice. We grew up listening to the wonderful collection of music that my parents had, which ranged from Jagjit–Chitra ghazals to the 60s and 70s English bands of Beatles and Carpenters to the 50s Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar melodies, among others.

We never discriminated one form or genre of music from another. The sitar and guitar fusion of the Beatles’ NORWEGIAN WOODS stirred me as much as the soft, lilting Talat Mehmood song MAIN DIL HOON IK ARMAAN BHARA,TU AAKE MUJHE PEHCHAAN ZARA. The famous American rocker Neil Diamonds’ KENTUCKY WOMAN, BROOKLYN ROADS and PLAY ME touched my soul as much as Shahenshah–e-Ghazal Mehdi Hassan’s AAYE KUCHH ABR KUCHH SHARAAB AAYE and DUNIYA KISI KE PYAAR MEIN JANNAT SE KAM NAHIN. The lively Mohammad Rafi composition of MAIN ZINDAGI KA SAATH NIBHATA CHALA GAYA inspired me as much as the carefree Frank Sinatra melody of MY WAY. Beatles, Eagles, Carpenters, Jim Reeves, Frank Sinatra, ABBA and Marc Anthony were as much the norm of the day as Lata Mangeshkar, Talat Mehmood, Mohammad Rafi, Bhupendra, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan and Chitra (the famous South Indian singer).

My days would begin and end with music। They still do. Only the list of favourites has expanded further. It now also includes the likes of Natalie Imbruglia, Celine Dion, John Mayer, James Blunt, Shreya Ghoshal, Mohit Chauhan, Sona Mohapatra, Rabbi Shergill, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Shantanu Moitra and the trio of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. I sometimes feel I am a little biased towards music. I may not exactlylove every second melody that I hear, but somehow, I can never bring myself to criticise a composition outrightly. I like to embrace music in all its forms, hues and genres. And wherever I travel, within oroutside the country, a large chunk of my shopping includes the music of the place! To me, music is the essence of life, the strongest driving as well as calming force. It is sacred, it isplayful and it is meditative. And therefore, I would like to sign off with the famous Carpenters’melody which is my musical anthem for all times – Sing, sing a song

Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

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