Thursday, 10 January, 2008

RD Burman - Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973)

Yaadon Ki Baarat is a movie directed by Nasir Hussain in 1973. It was a huge hit and it tells, in true Bollywood fashion, the story of three brothers separated during childhood. The eldest brother, played by Dharmendra, becomes friendly with a Muslim boy and grows up to be a good-hearted criminal; the younger one is adopted by a widower who works for a rich Bombay family, and leads a carefree life with his friends; and Ratan, raised by his family's maid, changes his name to Monto and forms a band, called The Avengers, sweeping Bombay's night scene with his wild tunes and eccentric clothing.

Unlike most Bollywood movies, the soundtrack is here crucial to the plot and holds the key to the family reunion that closes the film. In the opening scene, Lata Mangeshkar sings the title song with a children's choir and Padmini Shivangi, depicting the familial harmony that is soon to be destroyed by a villain who wears different sized shoes. This songs allows Lata to display her enormous vocal talent and remains an all-time favorite for Indians of all ages; it is also the song that will allow the three brothers to recognize each other and reunite in the end. After their parents' murder, the brothers go on with their separate lives, and the second song, Aap Ke Kamre Mein, introduces us to Monto and the Avengers, the Psych-Rock-Masala band that offers us the best songs in this soundtrack. Manic rock'n'roll guitars are here merged with fast paced grooves to take us through the various stages of the song. Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle (RD Burman's wife) are then joined by a semi-chaotic choir (reminiscent of Hair-related stuff!), quickly transporting us to a frantic succesion of psych musical sketches that eventually lead to a variation on Dum Maro Dum (probably RD Burman's best known tune in the West) and back again to the opening tune -- that good! Next comes Churya Liya Tumne, an extremely popular tune by Asha that illustrates the memorable courting of Sunita (the unbelievably gorgeous Zeenat Aman) by Vijay (Vijay Arora) at one of those Bombay high-class parties that Bollywood screenwriters fancy so much.

In O Meri Soni, RD Burman pulls one of his plagium/not-plagium tricks and has Asha and Rafi screaming "I Love You" to illustrate a lovers' strife up in the mountains (with suicide threats and all). Then comes Lekar Hum Diwana Dil, another brilliant Burman take on psych rock. The song kicks off with distorted guitars, proceeds to a horn section typical of 70s Burman, and rapidly develops to produce one of Bollywoods most dramatic and intense tunes ever. Violins play a minor role here, as the guitars, congas and organ pave the way for another memorable Asha/Kishore duet. The final song, Yaadon Ki Baarat, revisits the opening tune but now substitues Lata's vocal gimmicks with an emotional and apotheotic duet by Rafi, "the nasal", and Kishore, "the king", marking the final reunion of the three brothers (Dharmendra, the good-hearted criminal, never sings throughout the movie, and therefore remains silent, incognito, and crying while his brothers embrace each other).

Whereas most Bollywood soundtracks, and even Burman's, usually include one or two good songs and simply fill up the rest of the time with banal tunes and arrangements, Yaadon Ki Baarat is engaging from the beginning to the end. It is perhaps Burman's most accomplished recording, one in which his penchant for crazed-out Western psych elements and his continuous engagement with Indian modern musical traditions don't override one another. This is thus true "fusion music", much more than any recording ever produced by Ravi Shankar or Anand Shankar. The only thing to be regretted here is the absence of "incidental music", those scraps of sound and musical sketches in which Burman excelled and that, unfortunately, the publishers deemed unworthy of the CD edition. Jay Burman Jay!



Anonymous said...

to cry; to dance; to laugh!does cury belong to anyone's record shelf? it does in mine!
thank you for the share!

bravo juju said...

Thanks for your comment!

OM HA DANCE a lot and fly away ;-)

Best Regards;

Anonymous said...

"One's kitchen is like one's soul. And a kitchen without curry is like a soul without a heart" (The Indian Book Of Lame Aphorisms)

phil said...

nice post, crackin' film :)

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