Throwback Soundtrack: 1942 – A Love Story (1994)

Album Rating: 8.5/10
Music: Rahul Dev Burman


The trademark sound of RD’s tabla gives a humble opening to the song. The sound, although in use for, two decades, sounds better than ever in those first ten seconds  of the song. Coupled with other percussion instruments including another tabla, a continuous drag of (possibly) a drumstick on a third tabla, a triangle (or is it a jal tarang?) and accompanied by a sitar, and a dafli; Kumar Sanu, a new sensation back then in 1994, sings Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga.. in his trademark nasal twang. And just when he finishes singing the opening lines, a soothingly haunting flute tune kicks in. Romance is in the air and everywhere! Rahul Dev Burman a.k.a R.D.Burman, RD, Pancham weaves magic with music.

The mention of this song would’ve thrown most of those born in the 80s in India into a nostalgic tour of the 90s. Vivid images of the ever charming Anil Kapoor riding down a hill slope on a bicycle come to life; Kapoor lip syncing to Sanu’s voice, sings of what he felt when he saw his girl, played by Manisha Koirala. This song used to wake me up on Sunday mornings when Hema Malini used to host Rangoli on Doordarshan.

And that’s why I picked 1942 – A Love Story as the first music album to talk about in SomeGeetha SomeVaadaa new section where I plan to write the thoughts that come into my mind when listening to these songs.

We all have our favourite singers, music directors, songs and even instruments. Some songs make us feel happy while others drop us into an abyss of pathos. Some songs or even whole albums take you on a tour of your past. This album is all about such nostalgia. You may like the songs, you may feel they’re slow, boring or whatever. But, the kind of nostalgia associated with this album overpowered my want of writing on a different album. Not just that, this album introduced me to the world of music in the true sense. The orchestration, the first-of-its-kind-in-Indian-cinema high-quality recording and the beautiful tunes have all left a long lasting impact on the way I perceive music.

The tablas, the sitar, the triangle, the drag of the drumstick run in a continuous loop, even as Sanu’s voice and the flute take turns to add to the beauty of Javed Akhtar’s lyrics. It’s not everyday that I appreciate Sanu’s voice in a song. But, for a moment there, you wonder if he was born to sing this song.

And if that’s not enough, Kumar Sanu returns with Kuch Na Kaho – a beautiful, slow song with a heavy church choir feel to it. The violins fill in for the choir, though. The alternating bass from the cello, the violin pieces and that killer of a flute in the background are all way too mesmerizing. Not many from the younger generations would feel the same about the songs or the kind of sound in the album. But, being a musician, I cannot help but praise the kind of massive orchestrations that RD arranged for this album. It’s just beautiful.

Kumar Sanu also has Rooth Na Jaana and Rimjhim Rimjhim to his credits. The former is a playful lyric with a complex composition and an elaborate orchestration with rhythm shifts. Kavita Krishnamurthy joins him in the interludes of Rimjhim Rimhim and quite expectedly steals the show. The lyrics of the song is quite romantic and beautifully sings of rain and love in a way never done in film music.

Shivaji Chattopadhyay, a still unknown name to me, sings Yeh Safar Hai Kathin Magar, Na Udaas Ho Mere Humsafar. The instrumentation is pleasant but the song works only in parts, partly due to the singer’s voice and partly due to the fact that it quite sounds like one or more songs from a bygone era, again in parts! The lyrics, on the other hand, are quite mature.

Lata Mangeshkar gets to sing Kuch Na Kaho. The song also has a version sung only by chorus but doesn’t deserve anything beyond a mere mention. I’ll be considered blasphemous here, but I don’t quite like Lata’s version of the song. Although differing from the male version in terms of lyrics, the song is rendered boringly in the aged voice of Lata. Lata had a gem of a voice once, but it wasn’t nice to hear her singing when growing up. Her voice had turned into a shrill, especially in the high notes. There were pretty talented singers in the 90s whom RD could’ve used. He had already used Kavita Krishnamurthy in two songs in the same album. He could’ve given her a third one.

Nevertheless, it’s Kavita who steals your heart with her voice. I’m not a big fan of her voice but, you just can’t resist it when she sings Dil Ne Kaha, Chupke Se, Yeh Kya Hua, Chupke Se.. The song is, undoubtedly, the best piece in the album. In fact, it remains to be one of those songs that stand as a proof of RD’s immaculate knowledge of music. Original, classical-based, percussion-heavy, complex and soulful – that’s how I’d describe the composition. If Rooth Na Jaana and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To had complex and elaborate orchestrations, this song takes the complexity of  arrangements to a whole new level. The song makes use of varying rhythms, beautiful sitar and santoor, percussion, bells, a lovely violin and an addictive “Dhuruna dhuruna” hum to keep you glued to it. The percussion beats are so well designed that I wish I had been part of that orchestra playing those pieces. I had read some where that Pt. Shivkumar Sharma played santoor and Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia were behind the flute pieces in a number of RD recordings. I’d like to believe they were behind these dreamy santoor pieces and the haunting flute pieces.

1942 – A Love Story is vastly considered a masterpiece. RD was probably at his lowest point in his career when he was asked to compose for this movie by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Legend has it that Vidhu Vinod Chopra asked RD to compose like his father considering the movie was a period drama set in the Indian pre-independence era. But, it’s not something I am inclined to believe. The compositions are very much RD.

1942 – A Love Story is arguably, one of RD’s best albums, if not legendary. Although, there are few low points in the album, 4 out of 7 is not all that bad, especially when those 4 are among the best ever compositions by the composer. It’s unfortunate that the composer didn’t live long enough to receive his third Filmfare Award for Best Music. Or was it conferred on him because he expired, as a mark of respect? I don’t know, I’d like to believe it was the former.

Today’s composers flaunt their borrowed tunes and synthesized music. There’s hardly any natural instrument recorded in Indian film music these days. The quality of lyrics is something that doesn’t even inspire a laugh, forget romance. The kind of arrangements involved in Dil Ne Kaha, Chupke Se in itself speaks for the amount of hard-work people used to put into the process of creating music. That creation, was possible not because of computers and a music programmer, but because of an array of musicians playing real instruments, guided by a music arranger with the singers, the lyricist and the composer playing their roles diligently.

The album is indeed a masterpiece – both musically and lyrically.

 

Format: WAV 44kHz 16-bit
Recording Quality: 4/5
 Label: Saregama
Source: Saregama

I bought this album on Saregama’s website in the Hi-Res WAV format. Visit my page –  Music Originals to know more about legal music available online in India.

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