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The remembered village

Yesudas's new private album harks back to his glory days in the Hindi film industry, to 1979 when Chit Chor was a blockbuster musical hit     

Yesudas's album for the new millennium






Sitaron Mein Tu Hi
Rs 65

Yesudas, the Gori tera gaon bada pyara voice, returns to Hindi music with this private album. What prompted Yesudas, after recording over 40,000 songs in various languages and winning the coveted title of Padmashri, to do this album? Was it the draw of music videos? Was it his desire to relate to a younger audience? Whatever Yesudas does makes ripples in Kerala, and Sitaron Me Tu Hi is no exception. It has caught the fancy of many young people, as I noticed during my recent Kerala visit.

Yesudas was strangely rejected by the Hindi film world even after he gave a string of  hits. Salil Chowdhary gave him a break in Hindi in 1976. Yesudas's first film Anand Mahal flopped. But one song, Aa aa re mitwa, a duet with Sabita, was noticed.

The biggest landmark in Yesudas's Hindi career is Chit Chor, starring Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab.  Ravindra Jain scored the music for it, and Yesudas won the national award for his song Gori tera gaon (1979).

As far as I am considered, these are some unforgettable Yesudas melodies: Chand jaise mukhade, Jab deeb jale ana, Ka karu sajani, J
anam janam, Chand jaise mukkadonse, Teri tasvir.

Hardcore Hindi audiences began to like him in spite of what some described as his "poor Hindi diction". In the '70s and early '80s, Mumbai reverberated with Yesudas songs. Then why was he out of the Hindi film music world so soon? Was he lobbied out?

Yesudas attempts to recreate the ambience of his peak days on this album of 10 love songs. The words are all by Mehboob. Lalit of the Jatin-Lalit team has composed the tunes.

The album's theme is separation. That is why many tunes are melancholic. Relationships are torn asunder by circumstances or by death. All songs except two echo this feeling of loss. 

The opening Chamak cham cham cham ke he sitaron tu hi (You are the twinkle in the stars) features a folksy rhythm. Lalit's tune captures a sad longing.

Ishq mushq ne cupte says: "I can't hide my love. It is like the fragrance of  a flower". Again a song with sad undertones.

Tu jaan hai is a good musical experience. The harmonica (mouth organ) and the sitar blend well. Sajni chali mo re  is a comparatively faster number. But it still provides space for melodic improvisation. Lalit is careful to use minimal orchestration.

Tujh se bichhad ke features a violin and a flute used neatly. Man mohini  is a fast number with a folksy beat. Itna bhim hamse ruto is notable for some good tabla work. Sanwali saloni  has a rhythm that matches the movement of a bullock cart.

Lalit has worked hard on his tunes, but more than express a variety of emotions, they seem anxious to recreate an era. You can't say this is Yesudas's best work either, and you may notice a certain monotony in expression. Everything in the album harks back to the style of the ' 70s and early '80s -- orchestra, lyrics and tunes. There is little of the keyboard; instruments that stand out are the sitar, violin and the dholak-tabla combination.

Yesudas stresses certain syllables that may sound awkward in Hindi. In fact, it's a habit he brings from Malayalam. But then, as a friend closely associated with this magazine says, "Why not? What does all this talk of 'unity in diversity' mean if we can't even bring the musicality of our languages into what we sing?"

Gireesh Balan 

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