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Star showers in Bollywood

Guest article by DP Rangan

(Full Moon evokes poetry, beauty and romance.  One would think its converse, Dark Moon, must be very depressing.   But think again.  That is the time when the stars come out in full glory. As with the moon, stars, too, have evoked wonder, admiration and myths. We see our seven ancient great sages in the stars, known as Saptarshi. When a dear one passes away, we imagine he/she has become one of the stars in the sky.  Bollywood has also been inspired to create ‘Taare/Sitaare’ songs in great numbers. A Full Moon Night is followed 15 days later by the Dark Moon, or Amavasya, according to our Almanac.  No sooner had we been satiated by the Bollywood’s romance with the Moon, DP Rangan was ready with his ‘stars’ post.  On my suggestion he has cut out a great deal of astronomical details.  Having read his full article I can say he is not an amateur astronomer.  Mr Rangan has diligently covered every year of the 50s with some great selection of songs.  ‘Moon’ came on a Full Moon Day.  Today is Dark Moon, the best time to enjoy Mr Rangan’s dalliance with ‘taare’ and ‘sitaare’. Thank you Mr Rangan. – AK)

Chaand taareAnyone could jump to a conclusion that this post has something to do with the glittering actors of filmdom, particularly female of the species, popularly known as stars or actress. Such is not my intention. I will commence with my personal experience as a boy.

My father was an amateur astronomer and constructed a telescope with the lenses I filched from the school laboratory where they were lying in a neglected condition. A pair of a long focal concave lens and a discarded convex eye piece of microscope were enough for the purpose. As a ten year old, I enjoyed hours of watching the skies in the night lying down on the ground. It was a thrilling experience to see moon with craters, Mars with two moons, Jupiter with four moons and the rings of Saturn. I was completely bitten by the bug and am a keen Star gazer even today and have gobbled up a lot of literature on the subject. I once had an occasion to travel through an open plateau in Maharashtra. I deliberately chose to travel on a New Moon day across all night with a well-bribed driver, and the spectacle of dark sky unfolding before me with millions of stars is far ever ingrained in my memory. People living in metropolis have no such opportunity as the sky is filled with reflected light from below which obscures everything. One has to wish for a total blackout to see the sky miracle.

A star-spangled sky at dark nights is a wonder and one would be lost in admiration at the handiwork of God. The Milky Way, the galaxy in which solar system is located in one of its spiral arms, stretches as a white band across the skies, known as Akash Ganga, and is visible from April to October. It is so densely packed with stars, that they cannot be seen individually and the entire stretch across the sky looks like a white river. In my boyhood days, small towns used to be sparsely lighted at night and the sky would be visible as a dark arena with stars of all magnitude blinking in unison and the planets as Jupiter, Mars, Saturn travelling from east to west. Planets do not blink at all and can be easily identified. In fact the very name planet is derived from Greek where it means wanderer. Venus and Mercury rise in the east as morning star or in the west as evening star and climb up to a certain height in the sky and then go down. Mercury is very difficult to spot as it is close to the sun and concealed in its glare. It is faintly visible just before sunrise or immediately after sunset. Uranus, Neptune and dethroned Pluto are not visible to the naked sky. Venus is the brightest object in the sky and is even visible in day time provided one can pinpoint its location. Mars will appear as a reddish body.

Our ancestors were well versed in the science of astronomy and could predict solar and lunar eclipses very accurately. Tablets of the ancient Sumerian civilization contains data on eclipses with future calendars of them. Egyptian pyramids and Mayan sun temples were closely linked to the star system around us. There is a steady build up of knowledge of astronomical bodies since long and instruments revolving in space in dust free conditions far above the earth like Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990 have immensely added to our knowledge of universe. Astrophysics is a major branch of study these days and radio telescopes have enabled us to explore further back in time by studying receding galaxies at more than 12 billion light years away.

Origin of the universe is linked to the Big Bang Theory. The entire material of the universe was packed into an intensely hot and dense point called Singularity about 13.8 billion years ago. There was a sudden explosion, and accelerated expansion took place. Books have been written to describe further events in duration of seconds. I do not want to dwell upon them here as it is too technical in nature. Initially after cooling due to expansion, sub-atomic particles were created as proton, electron and neutron. Later, these coalesced to form elementary elements as hydrogen, helium and lithium. Even today the interstellar gases are filled with these elements. Due to gravitational pull, areas of local hot dense gases started contracting and heating up and led to the formation of galaxies and stars thereon. Heavier elements were formed within the giant hot star interiors and when these imploded as supernova, the star material was dispersed far and wide and secondary stars with heavier elements were born. Still heavier elements were synthesized and repetition of this process has led to the present day range of elements from hydrogen to uranium and beyond. Observational evidence as predominance of light elements and constant cosmic background radiation discovered in 1965 lend support to this theory. In 1929, Edward Hubble observed galaxies retreating from one another, implying steady expansion of universe over time. This was known as Red Shift, i.e. spectroscopic analysis of radiation from these bodies showed in the red band of light.

Our galaxy is a barred spiral one and has two major spiral arms and a few minor ones. It is 100,000 light years across and contains more than 400 billion stars. It is very difficult to assess the sheer spread of the galaxy when one light year is equal to 9460.8 billion kilometres (1 light year = the distance travelled by light in a year at a speed of 300000 kilometres per second). It is part of a local group of around 50 galaxies surrounded by globular cluster and irregular galaxy called Magellanic Cloud, visible from the southern hemisphere and named in honour of Captain Magellan of Spain, the first sailor to circumnavigate the globe in a sail ship and passing through the straits around Cape Horn, extreme southern tip of South America (1519-22) though he did not survive through the epic journey.

Our Sun is 25000 light years from the centre of the galaxy and located in a minor arm or spur called Orion Arm. A thick blanket of stellar dust further obscures the galactic centre saving our solar system from harmful radiation. Our location is a very fortunate one with sparsely populated stars in the neighbourhood ensuring that nights stay dark. Otherwise even night would have looked like day with combined light from densely packed cluster of stars in the sky as in the galactic centre. Our Sun is an average-sized star with a long life and at present in its steady state. We have at least another billion years to run before life will vanish from earth due to a bulging and heated up sun. Here is an imaginary picture of our galaxy as would be visible if viewed from outside and the position of the sun in it.

Milky Way

I have given enough material for people to be yawning while reading through or getting their interest whipped up to look for more information on the subject. Let me now turn attention to the musical aspect. Our heroes and heroines seem to have been fascinated with blinking heavenly objects visible at night that have stimulated them into a singing mood. Music directors have created lilting and exhilarating songs penned by great lyricists. I will list a few of them below for the enjoyment of the blog followers, whose patience has been sorely tested by me.

1. Abhi sham aayegi nikalenge taare by Lata Mangeshkar from Samadhi (1950), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music C Ramchandra

Ashok Kumar and Nalini Jaywant are the main stars with other actors  as Shyam, Sandhya. The story is woven around battlefields of Burma during the closing stages of the 2nd World War. The film is a tragedy with Ashok Kumar crawling into India on Burma border and expiring. Nalini Jaywant laments that her love will not be there to greet her in the evening and Ashok Kumar is taking leave of her. It is a tender scene and the song reflects it. Another song which was on the lips of everyone in those days is Gore gore o banke chhore by Lata Mangeshkar and Amirbai Karnataki. A crude copy of the same was sung by the great Carnatic musician M L Vasanthakumari in the film Oor Iravu in Tamil.

2. Tara toote duniya dekhe by Mukesh from Malhar (1951), lyrics Indeevar, music Roshan

The film was produced by Mukesh. Some of the actors are Arjun Bakshi, Shammi, Moti Sagar and Sonali Devi. Roshan in his ascendency phase gave very good music and all songs were hits. Here Mukesh is singing this song in his usual voice of pathos.

3. Dil-e-beqarar so jaa by Talat Mahmood & Lata Mangeshkar from Raagrang (1952), lyrics Kaifi Irfani, music Roshan

Ashok Kumar and Geeta Bali are the main characters in this film with others as Sunder, Madan Puri, Ruma Devi. A very lovely duet brought out by Roshan. Reference to ‘sitare’ is only one line.

4. Ae chand sitaron by Talat Mahmood from Daayera (1953), lyrics Kaif Bhopali, music Jamal Sen

This film deals with the travails of a young woman (Meena Kumari) married to an old man and the resulting incompatibility. Presence of a young man (Nasir Khan, brother of Dilip Kumar) adds to her ire and in the end she commits suicide. Kamal Amrohi is the producer. He was 15 years senior to Meena Kumari whom he married just before the film was started. In a way it could be called biographic. It was a tragedy of marriage for the great actress and affected her subsequent life very badly. Jamal Sen gave wonderful tunes and Mubarak Begum by her singing made them immortal. This song by the crooner Talat Mahmood is an all time great by him.

5. Gaya andhera hua ujara by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar from Subah ka Tara (1954), lyrics Noor Lakhanavi, music C Ramchandra

A Shantaram production with Pradeep Kumar and Jayashree as main actors. He tried to tackle a grave social problem of rehabilitation of girl widow. This is a typical C Ramchandra song with his easily identifiable background music. Hero and heroine travelling in a train are gazing at the morning stars and singing this song of hope, very pleasing to the ears.

6. Doob gaye aakash ke tare by Talat Mahmood from Angaarey (1954), lyrics Sahir Ludyanvi, music S.D. Burman

A Nasir Khan and Nargis starrer with the villain Pran, the story revolves around love of a princess with a commoner and the attempt of the irate father King to scuttle it. I have not seen the movie but I presume it would have had a happy ending. In case it ends as a tragedy my apology to the readers for my presumption. S D Burman has composed a soulful smooth flowing song in the silken voice of Talat Mahmood.

7. Na ye chand hoga na taare rahenge by Kauser Parveen, Geeta Dutt and Hemant Kumar from Sassi (1956)/Shart (1954), lyrics S.H. Behari, music Hemant Kumar

Deepak, Shyama, Shashikala, I S Johar are the major actors. All the three versions of the song are combined here. It starts with one rendered by Kauser Parveeen and ends with that of Hemant Kumar. Parveen version is from the Pakistani film Sassi (1956). The song is well known for all serious music lovers of the old songs.

8. Sitaaron ki mehfil by Lata Mangeshkar from Uran Khatola (1955), lyrics Shakeel Badauni, music Naushad

Dilip Kumar, Nimmi and Suryakumari are the principal actors. The story line has been described in the post “Tonga in Tinsel World”. Naushad’s own production, and the music by him is par excellence and all songs will be hits for ever. Lata Mangeshkar has brought out the yearning of Nimmi for Dilip Kumar by her tone of rendition of the song.

9. Kahan le chale ho by Lata Mangeshkar and chorus from Durgesh Nandini (1956), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, music Hemant Kumar

A panoply of actors – Pradeep Kumar, Bina Rai, Ajit, Nalini Jaywant, Nigar Sultana and I S Johar – grace this film. This song appears to be a dream sequence by Bina Rai in which Pradeep Kumar also appears. A lovely piece by Hemant Kumar which has not lost its appeal even now.

10. Teri chamakatee ankhon ke aaghe by Lata Mangeshkar and Talat Mahmood from Chhote Babu (1957), lyrics Indeevar, music Madan Mohan

Shekar and Nimmi are the main stars of this social drama. Madan Mohan gave some outstanding music for B grade movies. He didn’t get commercial success commensurate with his status. In Chhote Babu, too, his music rses over the film. Well sung by Talat Mahmood and Lata Mangeshkar, this is a free flowing tune from the maestro.

11. Taaron ki zuban par hai mohabbat ki kahani by Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammad Rafi from Nausherwan-e-Aadil (1957), lyrics Parvez Shamshi, music C Ramchandra

Raj Kumar and Mala Sinha are the leading pair in the film directed by Sohrab Modi. This film dealing with the conflict of religion, ends in a tragedy. The Muslim prince is in love with a girl who practices Christian faith in secret. The stern father disapproves of the alliance. C Ramchandra as usual has given a very good music.

12. Tim tim tim taaron ke deep jale by Talat Mahmood & Lata Mangeshkar from Mausi (1958), lyrics Bharat Vyas, music Vasant Desai

A very ordinary film with second string actors, it was redeemed to some extent by the good music of Vasant Desai and this is one of the good duets. Another notable song is a solo by Lata Mangeshkar – Meri godi mein gopala.

13. Sitaare raah takte by Lata Mangeshkar from Black Cat (1959), lyrics Jan Nisar Akhtar, music N Datta

Balraj Sahni, Minoo Mumtaz, Johnny Walker act in this film. It appears to be an average film. N Datta has given ever enduring songs and this is one of the best songs from this film sung by the great Lata Mangeshkar in her dulcet voice.

14. Tim tim karke taare by Lata Mangeshkar from Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959), lyrics Prem Dhawan, music Ravi

A serious social drama with Rajendrar Kumar and Meena Kumari in lead roles. Widowed Meena Kumari delivers a still-born baby in the hospital. Dr Rajendra Kumar substitutes his own new born boy as his wife had died in child birth. Meena Kumari does not know this. Rajendra Kumar frequently visits her house to have a look at his child much to her discomfiture. The mother-in-law of Meena Kumari does not approve of this frequent visit and mistakes it as his passion for his widowed daughter-in-law. Ultimately all the issues are resolved. This song has a happy and sad version. Sad version is sung by Meena Kumari when the child on being proved as not her own is taken away by Rajendra Kumar. A typical song from Ravi, it is a good lullaby.

I request the blog followers to excuse me for the long introduction. I had to do to bring forth my ideas about the science of astronomy. I am more than an amateur in this field and have visited several observatories in USA and have been encouraged by the authorities there to spend as much time as I could to view heavenly objects. What a feast for my eyes and total fulfilment of my childhood dreams. I cut out a lot of technical stuff and attempted to present a simple essay on the subject. I added an illustration to ensure people who have the patience to read through it also get a visual effect. Please feel free to offer your frank comments, including anything that you do not like about my writing.

This post first appeared on Songs Of Yore - Old Hindi Film Songs, please read the originial post: here

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Star showers in Bollywood


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