Nostalgia never had it so good! Retro is alive and how with the continuing success of music label Saregama’s portable digital audio player, called ‘Carvaan’, which contains built-in stereo speakers and arrives with a catalogue of 5,000 perennial Hindi songs. With the option to tune into FM, ‘Carvaan’ doubles up as your home radio too with an additional benefit of also enjoying your personal collection of audio tracks by plugging in a USB drive or, via Bluetooth, allowing you to stream songs from your phone too. Reports indicate projected sales during financial year 2018-19 at an incredible 750,000 units!
Saregama’s product team commenced work in 2015, based on extensive research conducted across 23 cities pan-India on several ‘Carvaan’ prototypes, with different looks and features, before it settled on the current-generation model. With the turn of a knob, you can switch from Kishore Kumar classics to R.D. Burman’s pulsating hits to any other singer/genre that you deem fit from the library – all in their original glory – including the entire Ameen Sayani’s ‘Geetmala’ countdown spanning 50 years.
Since then, Saregama has created variants such as ‘Carvaan Mini’, containing 351 Hindi songs, and “full-length” versions focusing on Tamil, and Marathi, before Saregama begins cutting across other languages. In fact, there is a Bengali variant too, wherein you can listen to the hits of Hemanta Mukherjee to the poetry and songs of Kazi Nazrul, as well Tagore songs covering collections like ‘Prem’, ‘Puja’, ‘Prakriti’, and ‘Bichitro’.
Not far from the concept of ‘Carvaan’ in Bengali was a live experience of some of the songs that are contained on the device, with a concert featuring music composed by ‘The Bengal Tigers’ – S.D. Burman, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, and R.D. Burman – which made its debut at Mumbai’s Shanmukhananda Auditorium on the 1st of September, where the capacity audience was regaled to expectedly popular and unexpectedly unknown gems from these legendary music composers.
Initiated by Ninad Karpe through his recently floated Badaam Raja Productions, the “musical journey of 4 iconic Bengali music composers” featured four singers too – Shailaja Subramanian, Anindata Paul, Adish Telang, and Hrishikesh Ranade – who, as solo artistes or as part of duets, provided compelling renditions of the “originals” that featured tight arrangements and competent musicians courtesy music director Kamlesh Bhadkamkar. Host Sumeet Raghavan was quite a revelation as he provided a cameo of his singing talent on select songs. However, a better rehearsed narration and restricting the length of trivia between songs would have held the event in good stead.
Otherwise, there were passages when the trivia overran the length of the songs, leading to a boredom of sorts and an obvious break in the flow of the musical content, keeping in mind that it was the music/songs that was the common thread across the event. Nevertheless, ‘The Bengal Tigers’ was a marvellous concept from director Rahul Ranade, especially the bit that involved an interaction with the audience, and the vintage footage and visuals that were featured as part of the backdrop. While one hopes that this concept is deservedly taken across to venues pan-India, the production really needs to be a lot slicker for continuous listener engagement.
Meanwhile, in focusing on one of the four “Bengal Tigers”, S.D. Burman or Sachin Dev Burman, the man who gave Hindi film music its grammar and is undeniably one of the most enigmatic composers in Indian cine history, had a biography launched earlier in the year, called ‘The Prince-Musician’, by authors Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal, with a foreword by flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia. The biography traces the young scion of a Tripura royal family who decided to pursue his passion for cinema and for music, causing his affluent family to ostracise him. The book – published by Westland Publications – is packed with insights into the composer’s life, work, and his astute understanding of Hindi cinema. Despite the fact that he spoke little Hindi or Urdu, S.D. Burman was the man who introduced poet/lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, gave Kishore Kumar’s musical brilliance its due, and provided unwavering faith in Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals.
This well researched biography from the authors behind the best-selling ‘R.D. Burman: The Man, The Music’, which I own, are winners of the National Film Award for ‘Best Book On Cinema’ in 2011. Undeniably, ’The Prince-Musician’ is worthy reading for anyone passionate about music.
Without doubt, 2018 has certainly been a good year for nostalgia, and just goes to prove that the musical past continues to remain a present for the future!
The writer has been part of the media and entertainment business for over 23 years. He continues to pursue his hobby and earns an income out of it.