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Dinanath died leaving five children with nothing more than his passion for classical and theatre music
 

 Review

Sibling revelry with three bhakti poets

Mera Soor Kabira

HMV

Rs 50


Hridaynath Mangeshkar and his star sister Lata come together for a bhajan album that packs in Meera, Soordas and Kabir 


By his own admission, Chala Vai Des, the album Hridaynath Mangeshkar recorded with his sister Lata, became a bigger hit in Pakistan than in India. That was 20 years ago. The siblings come together again for 
Meera Soor Kabeera, which, as the name makes obvious, is a compilation of the songs of three outstanding bhakti poets -- Meera, Soordas and Kabir.

Hridaynath is a great Lata fan, and ranks her above his other three singer-sisters -- the illustrious Asha, and less known Usha and Meena. He also places her
above Ustad Amir Khan, his guru who he feels is not as "timeless" as Lata. That's not an assessment that will go down too well with devotees of the ustad, who revere him for his austere music. But it should give you an idea of the high esteem in which Hridaynath holds Lata.

Film music lovers know Hridaynath from his score for Lekin, which starred Sridevi and featured songs by Gulzar. He has otherwise been a low-key composer, working on occasional devotional albums.

Hridaynath's music owes its roots to his father Dinanath Mangeshkar's theatre music and quite a bit of Mumbai's film music, which you will notice in the interludes and the orchestral arrangement of Meera Soor Kabeera.

Dinanath died leaving five children with nothing but his passion for classical and theatre music. They grew up through hard times, and everyone knows how Lata excelled in film music to become one of India's national icons. Besides film music, where her repertoire ranges from the exquisite (Yeh zindagi usi ki hai) to the indifferent (Didi tera deewar diwana), Lata has recorded for Hridaynath verses from the Bhagavad Gita and the Marathi devotional classic Dhyaneshwari.

Meera Soor Kabeera
  brings three bhakti poets together. Kabir (born in June or July 1398) wrote couplets, called dohas, that sought to stress the oneness of god. Meera was a romantic who boldly went against all convention and claimed god Krishna for her lover. Surdas was the blind Milton of bhakti poetry.

All three have long been legends with miracles and myths to their names. To Kabir goes the credit of bringing together clashing Hindus and Muslims with his aphorisms. These singer-saints together spearheaded the bhakti movement in the 14th century.

Hridaynath's style is staid, and has none of the wild energy of Kumar Gandharva, who also made tunes for Kabir bhajans. Hridaynath uses the violin ensemble quite generously, which slots his entire style with Mumbai's long-standing film style that's only now giving way to techno sounds.

Hridaynath admits to having simplified some of the lyrics. A summary of each verse appears on the inlay card.

While quite a few songs are in the well-established bhajan format with the manjira (small cymbals) and a 4/4 beat on the dholak, others like Arre dil mere mann are in the old film style, with heavy violin back up and drums. This song echoed popular film songs like Dard e dil, dard e jeegar. Lata's Bhabi Ki Churiyan hit Jyoti kalash jhalake finds an echo in Hari bin kun gati nahin. The same Shuddh Kalyan tune, and similar orchestra.

Naa main dharmi naa main adharmi represents the eternal quest for god, and is in the form of a dialogue. God (here the voice of Roop Kumar Rathod!) chides the bhakta for looking far and wide for divinity whereas He lives near the devotee.

Surdas's poetry takes up the futility of worldy relationships, time wasted in childhood, youth and old age, and the illusory nature of the world. Meera is the lover, the agony of waiting and longing and the joy of welcoming the lover reflected in her poetry.

Sahaliya saajan ghar aaya ri has a some surprising turns of phrases. Dheemi chadariya by Kabir is a beautiful poem which uses the image of the body as the bedspread which the poet keeps unblemished to place at god's feet. 

Lata sounds younger than in some of her more recent songs, and this album will add some more tunes to her devotional repertoire.

S Suchitra Lata

Other Hridaynath-Lata albums:

Chala Vahi Des: Meera Bhajans
Meera Bhajans
Lata Mangeshkar Sings Ghalib
Lata Mangeshkar Recites Bhagvad Geeta and Dnyaneshwari
Dnyaneshwar Mauli
Ganpati Aarti

Lata's devotional albums with music by Shrinivas Kale

Abhang Tukyache
Ram Shyam Gun Gaan: with Bhimsen Joshi



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