Ten from the heart

Posted on February 14, 2018

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: http://www.filmcompanion.in/baradwaj-rangans-love-song-list-ten-heart/

In which I use a hi-tech method (okay, not so much) to come up with a list of love songs for Valentine’s Day..

Being asked to make a list (of songs, of films) for an occasion is one of the more nerve-wracking aspects of pop-culture writing. How do you pick a finite (yet somehow representative) set? Do you go with popular choices and risk eye-rolls from “connoisseurs”? Do you select obscure songs and scare away the regular folks? Do you get “logical” about it, say, with a “decade-wise” compilation? Instead, I felt, why not get all digital about it (given that you are reading this on a digital platform), and let YouTube dictate my list? After all, Big Brother does keep his electronic eye on every music video I’ve clicked on in the past, and he does keep nudging me towards recommendations along those lines. Why not bring that element of algorithmic calculation into a random exercise like this one? In that spirit, I plunged in, clicking on a song, and then clicking on something YouTube recommended on the sidebar, and wash, rinse, repeat. This is what I ended up with.

  1. Tum jo mil gaye ho (Hanste Zakhm, 1973): An uncharacteristic (though characteristically brilliant) Madan Mohan composition, with languorous, bluesy beginnings and a hysterical closing section (see-sawing violins, bongos going crazy) more apt for a Bachchan-era car chase. Mohammad Rafi grounds this apparent bipolarity with his phrasing. The opening lines go: Now that I’ve got you, it’s like I’ve got the world. The word “jahaan” is elongated, held over several beats – it suggests the expanse of the world, which, here, is really the expanse of love.
  2. Kitne bhi tu kar le sitam (Sanam Teri Kasam, 1982): There’s a rambunctious Kishore Kumar version of this RD Burman hit, but in the hands of Asha Bhosle, the song turns into a sensuous plea for forgiveness. (Let’s just skip the obnoxious opening lines, shall we? However much you ill-treat me, I’ll bear it all smilingly. Whatever!) I love everything about this song. I love the insistent synth, the percussive equivalent of a spoilt child clamouring for attention. I love the surprising ascent to a high note in “yeh pyaar na hoga kam.” I love Asha’s silken caress of the words “sanammmmm teri kasam,” which sounds like the most heavenly chocolate dissolving on the tongue. That’s a lot like love, no?

Continued at the link above.

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