The Silent Tributes
Tribute – something that you say or do to show that you respect or admire somebody or something. It could be just a sign of how good somebody/something is. Tribute is generally for the person who is no longer with us and we want to remember all his good work and follow the standard he/she has set. Quoting Thornton Wilder – The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude. The greatest tribute is that which is paid to one’s teacher, mentor or Guru. Your mentor can be anyone. From your Parents to school teachers to your siblings to your colleagues etc. Your Gurus may vary from educational to spiritual. Indian mythology boasts of pupils paying rich tribute and deep gratitude towards their Gurus or mentors. Karna and Eklavya come to my readily when we talk about the gratitude towards the mentor. Everyone is aware of the story of Eklavya. He was denied entry to Dronacharya’s Gurukul, but without getting discouraged he made a statue of Dronacharya and learnt archery by self-study and worshipping the statue of his Guru. He became the best archer in the world only to be asked for the thumb of his right hand by his Guru as the Gurudakshina. The fearless Eklayva had so much gratitude towards his guru that he severed the thumb immediately. However, today in the era of social networking, tributes to a person are paid by just posting the photos on the media. Tributes have come down to either a mere formality or a way of showing off. Just posting photographs of the person without praising her/his work. How can that be a tribute, I fail to understand!!
Hindi films too have some examples of tributes paid to artists. There are some movies made in remembrance, some scenes dedicated, some songs dedicated, some styles dedicated. Nowadays even remixes are churned out under the name of tributes. But these are all advertised tributes. Sometimes they have been hyped just to get more audience. Amongst all these tributes, silent tributes are said to be of high regard. Or even inculcating what you learnt from your mentor is the best possible tribute. Some unsaid tributes are profound. These silent tributes sometimes become as good as the work by master/Guru himself. Let us see some of these silent tributes which became benchmarks in the Hindi film music and no they are not merely copied or inspired, they are tributes in the real sense.
Disclaimer – The mentioned songs/scenes are personal choice only.
1. Pyarelal ji – Almost all are aware of this story now. This particular song is a tribute by Pyarelal ji of the Laxmikant – Pyarelal duo to his mentor, teacher Anthony Gonsalves. The story goes that Amitabh’s character was initially named Anthony Fernandes in Manmohan Desai’s blockbuster Amar Akbar Anthony. The name somehow was not fitting in the given lyrics, hence Pyarelal ji suggested the name Anthony Gonsalves and Manmohan Desai went ahead with the suggestion. Anthony Gonsalves, a known musician from Goa, a world class violinist had mentored Pyarelal ji in learning violin since his early days.
2. Gulzar – Parakh (1960), a film known mostly for its music by Salil Chowdhury, lyrics by Shailendra and the subtle picturization by Bimal Roy. Picking up finer nuances of village life. He specialized in making stories of real life with all mundane things, making unglamorous things turn into eye candy. No Bimal Roy fan will forget the boy playing flute sitting on a buffalo while the beautiful Sadhana sings – Mila hai kisika jhumka…yes you remember it don’t you?
Gulzar pays tribute to his mentor Bimal Roy in a similar way. While he picked up finer nuances of woman working in a village home, he showed a boy playing flute sitting on the buffalo while the sisters in Namkeen sing – Aaki chali baaki chali.
Another example could be from Madhumati. Bimal Roy has just nipped the song Hum haal-e-dil sunayenge in the bud. We hardly get to hear it except for the first 2 lines. He makes the abrupt stop look perfect and Gulzar does exactly what his mentor taught, making it look perfect. Where you ask? In Parichay, while Sanjeev Kumar is seen practising Mitwa bole meethe bain….he is abruptly stopped by Asrani.
3. R.D.Burman – He not only did what was taught to him by his mentor father S.D.Burman but also experimented it and mastered it. As a true pupil, Pancham also explored his own ideas. All this when he supported his father, assisted his father. After he became an independent composer he also picked up his father’s regional songs (openly calling it baap ka maal, in jest), added his experimentation to it and made it sound like a new song. Kaandibo na phagun gele….SDB’s vintage song from 1930s was made as Ab ke sawan barse for Kinara (1977). So where’s the tribute? Because there are few more examples of Pancham picking up his father’s songs. Do listen to the second stanza of the song, when Lata Mangeshkar sings – Jaane kab aaye din, din dhal jaaye….tere bin akhiyon se raat na jaaye…Pancham is as if reminiscing not only his father but his immortal creation Din dhal jaaye, raat na jaaye….
4. Shantanu Moitra/Pradeep Sarkar – Who isn’t inspired by the creative genius Satyajit Ray? Take these 2 for example. Pradeep Sarkar made his debut as director with Parineeta (2005) and Shantanu Moitra was a new comer who received R.D.Burman new music talent award for Parineeta. One paid tribute to Satyajit Ray the director while other paid tribute to Satyajit Ray the composer. Charulata (1964), a Bengali film by Satyajit Ray has a swing scene where Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee) realises she has started liking Amal (Saumitra Chatterjee). Phule phule dhole dhole…..a song by Rabindranath Tagore adapted by Ray for the film. But Rabindranath Tagore himself was inspired by Robert Burns’ Ye Banks and Braes. To put long story short, a similar scene was picturised on young Lolita and Shekhar. So indirectly they pay tribute to Tagore too. Have a look at both the scenes and decide!!