Nostalgia never had it so good! Retro is alive and how with the continuing success of music label Saregamaâs portable digital audio player, called âCarvaanâ, which contains built-in stereo speakers and arrives with a catalogue of 5,000 perennial Hindi songs. With the option to tune into FM, âCarvaanâ 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!
Saregamaâs product team commenced work in 2015, based on extensive research conducted across 23 cities pan-India on several âCarvaanâ 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. Burmanâs pulsating hits to any other singer/genre that you deem fit from the library â all in their original glory â including the entire Ameen Sayaniâs âGeetmalaâ countdown spanning 50 years.
Since then, Saregama has created variants such as âCarvaan Miniâ, containing 351 Hindi songs, and âfull-lengthâ 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 âPremâ, âPujaâ, âPrakritiâ, and âBichitroâ.
Not far from the concept of âCarvaanâ in Bengali was a live experience of some of the songs that are contained on the device, with a concert featuring music composed by âThe Bengal Tigersâ â S.D. Burman, Hemant Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, and R.D. Burman â which made its debut at Mumbaiâs 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 âmusical journey of 4 iconic Bengali music composersâ featured four singers too â Shailaja Subramanian, Anindata Paul, Adish Telang, and Hrishikesh Ranade â who, as solo artistes or as part of duets, provided compelling renditions of the âoriginalsâ 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, âThe Bengal Tigersâ 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 âBengal Tigersâ, 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 âThe Prince-Musicianâ, 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 â published by Westland Publications â is packed with insights into the composerâs 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 Kumarâs musical brilliance its due, and provided unwavering faith in Lata Mangeshkarâs vocals.
This well researched biography from the authors behind the best-selling âR.D. Burman: The Man, The Musicâ, which I own, are winners of the National Film Award for âBest Book On Cinemaâ in 2011. Undeniably, âThe Prince-Musicianâ 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.