JAGI OBEROI’s TRYST WITH LYRICS AND MELODY

 Soldiering is generally associated with weapons and martial arts. Not many lay citizens know that deep within their rough exteriors, soldiers have very sensitive hearts. Jagdeep Oberoi joined the ‘Rashtriya Indian Military College’ at the tender age of eleven, and then graduated as a highly competent electronics engineer, trained in the UK. However, all along that gruelling period of training and service, his passion for verse and music survived. What is given below is an outburst of his first love, ‘adab & adaab’. Please read on, and click on the links, to listen to the music, if you have the time and the inclination to do so.

Editor. 

 

Kashti kaa khamosh safar hai, Shaam bhi hai tanhaai bhi,

Door kinare par bajti hai, lehron ki shehnai bhi,

Aaaj mujhe kucch kehna hai, Aaj mujhe kucch kehna hai ………

-          Sahir Ludhianvi

My earliest memories of melody in music are when as a five year old I tagged along with my mother to a kirtan commemoration of Guru Nanak Dev’s birthday. There after the kirtan the “sangat” got up to recite the “Anand Path” (Song of Bliss) during the “Ardaas”. For the first time my ears perked up to the inherent melody in music and to this day it has stuck.

Music has many moods – divine, romantic, comforting, light hearted, boisterous, serious to mention a few. Most importantly music has always been an expression of humankind even before we learnt to communicate through the written script. In fact it is the window to a culture.

My own self discovery was rather slow “off the block”. I never got any music in my parents’ home – they were too involved in putting their broken and interrupted lives together after partition like most Punjabis after 1947. So I was given the opportunity for the best education they could afford. DPS, Mathura Road followed by RIMC, Dehradun. Unfortunately neither contributed to my musical learning in any way. We followed the fashion of the day – “A Date with You” every Friday evening with the incomparable compere “Preminda Premchand” and “Forces Request” every Monday evenings.

Needless to say I was only exposed to Bing Crosby, Pat Boone, Jim Reeves and later that American sensation “Elvis Presley” followed by the British singer “Cliff Richards”. The music was good, melodious and catchy but beyond that sometimes the lyrics were inane and a collection of pot-pourri of sorts. It did not contribute to any development of my higher senses as music goes. The era of “Beatles”, “Woodstock” and many other “me too” bands came and went and soon I wasn’t able to keep track. My daughter born in 1977 had her own music icons and tapes (cassettes) as they were called in those days and occasionally I enjoyed listening to “Westside”, “Mariah Carey”, “Whitney Houston” and the like. But that was it – just listening. There was a yearning that wasn’t fulfilled.

In late 1978, while on an engineering post-grad course in UK, my aunt presented me with a recording of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, better known as “Pastoral”. The fifth movement of this masterpiece composition of music has evoked emotions of “beauty, gratitude, devotion, love, joy, exuberance, peace and sublimity”. Can there be a greater range of human emotions? I enclose the link to this wonderful piece of music.

And so the journey began …… I got myself a recording of “An Introduction to Classical Music” by that great genius called “Yehudi Menuhin”. He explained the instruments beyond the violin and flute in the genre of classical music. For the first time I heard the music played by a cello, an oboe, a clarinet and a host of others that go on to compose the essentials of a Western Music classical orchestra. The sounds left me spellbound. Could music be so sweet, could it be so disturbing, could it reflect anger, desire and a host of human emotions that till now one experienced only by reading the classics.

Since then I have filled up my time whenever I can by listening to melodious music and one day I came across this CD of our own Dada SD Burman. I cannot describe the feelings that came across – very soon I got hold of music that could only be described as “sublime”. The timeless melodies of “Pyaasa”, “Parineeta” are amongst  the many that come to mind. The next logical step was to try to learn a little “Urdu” – that language of poetry that has been so easily forgotten by our generation of Indians. So began the exciting journey into the nuances of Sahir Ludhianvi and Mirza Ghalib. The lyrics are uplifting to say the least but more importantly there is an element of identification one has with music of this genre – the feeling that it is ours and not borrowed from an alien culture. Of course these days when the upper educated and affluent classes speak to each other socially too – it tends to be more dominated by the English language. Thankfully, slowly it is changing and I often notice we speak to each other in Hindustani, or even in the vernacular Punjabi without feeling embarrassed any more – although a correct pronunciation and accent is admired even now. Nevertheless, I am enclosing links to some personal favourites in Urdu music and hope you enjoy them as much as generations of music lovers have earlier.

Tum mujhe bhool bhi jaao, to yeh haq hai tumko,

Meri baat aur hai mainen to mohabbat ki hai”

-          Sahir Ludhianvi

“Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se Likhi roz paati,

Kaise bataun kiss kiss tarah se, pal pal mujhe tuh satati,

Tere hi sapne lekar ke soya, teri hi yaadon mein jaaga,

Tere khayalon mein uljha raha yoon, jaise ke maala mein dhaaga”

-          SD Burman


Some of this music  has endeared generations of music lovers – hope you all enjoy it too.

And how can any session of Urdu poetry be complete without the quintessential Mirza Sahib. Here is a favourite.

“Nukta cheen hai gham-e-dil,

Usko sunaaye na bane,

Kyaa bane baat Jahan, baat banaye na  bane”

 

Shakespeare is said to have said “If music be the food of love, play on”.

Please feel free to comment, add, edit or any such editorial musings you may wish to, as this article is for me is a personal journey.

I haven’t yet learnt the nuances of a Raag Darbaari, or Raag Malhaar. I still have an unexplored journey to reach out to MS Subbulakshmi and Carnatic music. But the small step has been taken.

“There are no foreign lands; it is only the traveler, who is foreign”.

  1. col mukul dobhal says:

    dear col obrio,iab also rimcolion passed out in dec 72,sir supurb nosto,coolection

  2. Dear Jaggi,

    Nostalgic memories indeed!

    Urdu is synonymous with poetry and unfortunately we dont know enough of it.

    Maybe Ghaiib the second,(Surjit) can teach us a bit.

    My compliments to you on a well written piece

    Surinder

  3. Om Bhatia says:

    Dearest Surjit ji,
    Namaskar.

    we are at present at Boston. likely to stay till 4-5Th of Nov. It is pleasure to receive yr. email. ever any service for us shall be a honour for us.

    Bhatias

  4. Ranjit Grewal says:

    11:33 PM (10 hours ago)

    to me

    Thanks a lot Surjit. I really enjoyed listening to the old songs of our era Regards Ranjit

  5. Ranjeev Saluja says:

    Hi Jaggi

    Great to know about your interest in music maturing into a passion.
    Recall your tape recorder which i enjoyed for free as your roomate in CME in 1970-71.
    Roopa joins me wishing Geeeta, Sheela and u are best wishes.

    Ranjeev

  6. Paramjit Singh Gill says:

    Sir Ji, Tusi Great ho!!

    Regards
    Paramjit Singh Gill

  7. Krishan Punchhi says:

    Dear Surjit,

    Thank you for a lovely collection of old favourites. Really enjoyed them. Became nostalgic. I used to sing in school and college. In JSW I joined Indian music club. Sh SBN Singh, our history and economics teacher was O/ic of the club. He introduced us to light classical singing, starting with Raag Maalkonsh. I was a regular member of the club and used to sing a song on stage whenever JSW put up an Indian music show. My voice matched that of Talat Mehmood and I used to sing one of his ghazals.

    Singing to the small crowd of friends in Surjit and Sati Bhasin’s house was again a must, by order !!

    Once again, thanks and regards……..Krishan.

  8. brig kanwal dhingra says:

    i loved every bit of it.

  9. kulbir singh says:

    Thank you, Sir

    Kulbir

  10. Ghansham Ahluwalia says:

    Dear Surjit ji,

    How should I thank you for sending this wonderful mail and

    collection of some of my favourit songs.Being a refugee myself from

    Pakistan and having suffered a lot but with hard work and devotion

    I was also able to overcome those bad days and passed out my Enineering

    from BITS Pilani,in 1954.

    I am too fond o music.

    With love

    Ghansham Ahluwalia

  11. Parminder Singh says:

    Surjit ji,

    Thats a priceless collection,thanx for sharing.

    Parminder

  12. honour and pleasure going over JAGI OBEROI’s TRYST WITH LYRICS AND MELODY.wILL PASS ON TO MY WIFE WHO LOVES TOWRITE POETRY AS WELL AS SING.

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