I recently started a series on my YouTube Channel called ‘Chhand Othatale‘ which literally means ‘melodies on the lips’. The series idea came from a thought that had been lingering in my mind for a long time. Listeners get to hear a song in the form of a finished product – sung by a professional singer, beautifully arranged by an arranger with all the paraphernalia of different instruments and recorded in a professional studio and properly mixed and mastered. But there is an earthy satisfaction in listening a raw composition from the music composer himself.
It was July of year 2011. The monsoon had set in. I had gone to Nagpur for an event. The plan was to return to Mumbai the next day. When I checked the phone after the event, I saw many missed calls from Nitin Desai, the famous production designer. I called back wondering what the urgency was. Nitin Desai asked – “Where are you?”
I said – “I am in Nagpur for the programme. Coming back to Mumbai tomorrow.”
“So, here’s the thing Don’t go back to Mumbai. I will arrange for a car for you from Nagpur. Come directly to Palaskhed (a small village near Ajanta) where we are going to meet with the poet N. D. Mahanor.”
I was super excited. Since the last few days, plans were afoot to make a film on Mahanor’s epic poem ‘Ajintha‘ which was a ballad about the ill-fated love affair between Major Robert Gill, an officer in the East India Company and a painter commissioned by the Royal Asiatic Society to replicate the paintings of Ajanta, and Paru, a native girl who he met there. But I did not expect the plans to move so fast.
I travelled through the night and reached Palaskhed in the morning. In the morning we went to Mahanor’s farm and from there he took us to the Ajanta caves. As soon as we were in the car, Mahanor handed me a poem. He had systematically put all the poems together. “These are the poems that we’ll be using as songs in the movie.” I immediately began to sift through one poem at a time. One of the poems caught my attention.
Man Chimb Pavasaali
Zhaadaat Rang Ole
The lyric is an ode to the monsoon. It captures the colours of the monsoon and the romance that is associated with it.
We reached the caves and Mahanor began to tell the story behind each painting, each
sculpture. As we passed from one cave to the other, hearing all the wonderful Jataka tales depicted in the paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, interspersed with the love story of Gill and Paro, dark clouds had begun gathering in the sky. In no time the whole landscape turned grey and nostalgic. The words ‘Man Chimb Paavasaali’ began playing in my mind. It started raining heavily and Nitin Desai said to me –
“Kaushal, I think you’ll think of something in this beautiful weather.”
I immediately replied – “I think I have already thought of something!” Almost in a flow I sang the song ‘Man Chimb Pavasali‘ till the first stanza. The tune came to me almost spontaneously. I have often observed that the moments leading up to the creation of a song are very lonely. When the clouds of creativity gather in your mind, even in a crowd, you become alone.
Creativity does not always excite you. Often it makes you introspective. The fatigue of creation also sometimes gives a rest to one’s ego. You do not feel “I have created this tune!” Rather you are engulfed with gratitude that the tune came to you.
The lyrics have the monsoon wetness! I tried to capture the same pleasantly wet feeling in the tune. Imagine a tune that is soaked in rainwater! It carries the weight of the water and therefore becomes sluggish and unhurried. If one visualises the poetry as a film, one can sense a close-up shot of the raindrops on the wings of the birds; And that’s why even when singing, the volume of the voice automatically decreases, as if one is humming a tune softly in somebody’s ear while singing the line –
Paus Pakharanchya Pankhat Thembi Thembi
– which literally means that the rains have settled in the wings of the birds in the form of rain drops!
I had composed the tune in sort of a trance and that is why there was a flow to it. There was no deliberation or even craftsmanship. The emotions just flowed along with the words. Yet there are a couple of places where I have done consciously tweaked the tune. If you listen carefully, you will notice that although the tune of both the verses are similar, there is a small change in the last line.
Aakash Pangharoni Man Door Door Jave – In this line, while saying ‘Door Door Jave‘, the song moves to a higher octave, as ‘door door jaave’ means to go far far away, but in the line ‘Raja Punha Navyan Umalun Aaj Yave‘, the words ‘Umalun Aaj Yave‘ express the feeling of a bud about to bloom into a flower. So, in that line, the tune wraps around itself, in a manner of speaking.
The song was supposed to be for a different situation in the film earlier. The song was supposed to be the first time Robert Gill saw Paru, and so initially I decided to record it as a duet. I wanted to do this in the voices of Milind Ingle and Hamsika Iyer. But while writing the screenplay, the song was replaced by a solo song. The song was beautifully arranged by my talented musician friend, Mithilesh Patankar. When Hamsika heard this song, I saw a sparkle in her eyes. It was a glow that lights up a singer’s face when she knows that the song is meant for her! Any music composer always hopes to see that sparkle in the eyes of his singer. We recorded this song one evening in Nitin Desai’s studio. I liked it but Hamsika was not satisfied. The same night I got a call from her.
“Kaushal, let us record this song in the quiet of the night. I can sing it even better.” She said.
I called Kittu Myakal (our sound engineer) and asked him if he was fine with recording at 1am. He said yes immediately. The recording of this song went up to half past three in the morning. If you have heard this song in the voice of Hamsika, you will notice that the silence of the night, the solitude, can be felt in her voice. When we left the studio in the morning with great satisfaction, our minds were soaked in the monsoon song – even in winter!
© Kaushal S. Inamdar