Lollywood Flashback

Sound of Lollywood: Anything goes and that’s the point of ‘Akh Ladti Hai Jab Dildar Se’

‘Dil Nasheen’ scored by the inimitable M Ashraf, has a dance number that sounds like a wedding band hard at work.

Dil Nasheen (1975) starred Nadeem and Shabnam, the undisputed dynamic duo of Urdu films whose antics and sexual frisson lit up screens throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Like Nadeem, who was the most decorated male actor in Pakistan, Shabnam garnered more best actress awards (13) than any of her female peers.

Dil Nasheen performed moderately well but given the stars was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps this was due to writer Agha Hassan Imsital re-running one of his earlier successful scripts. Imsital wrote the script for Anjuman (1970) a tawaif story that was a huge success. Here he adds a twist or two but essentially pens the same tale of a spoiled nawab who falls in love with a dancing girl with a heart of gold in Pakistan and creates all sorts of friction and complications within respectable society. The final scene, in particular, is an almost exact replica of the earlier film.

But thankfully, the movie’s music was composed by the prolific M Ashraf. After an initial successful partnership with composer/arranger Manzoor, Ashraf was getting a reputation as a brilliant ideas man on his own by the early ’70s. He loved playing around with western instruments, beats, phrases and melodies. Many of his compositions have found a second life in recent years as collectors and curators in the West have likened his fast-paced, rockin’ and rollin’ compositions to those created by RD Burman.

Akh Ladti Hai Jab Dildar Se (When Eyes Fight With My Beloved is the first song of the film. A voluptuous dancing girl hurls herself around the dance floor and onto tables in front of a drunken Nawabzada Salim (Nadeem) and his two equally inebriated companions.

The song opens with a perfect Ashraf sound confection. Within 30 seconds he has tipped his hat (probably unconsciously, but maybe not) to the rockabilly/early rock sound of the legendary American Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and a host of American musical giants got their start. The jangling piano introduction is followed by a typical South Asian accordion solo followed by some rumbling Johnny Cash/Carl Perkins-like guitar playing.

After one of the Moona Sisters – a ’60s-’70s sibling act most famous for singing fluffy patriotic songs – sings the first phrase, our ears are tickled by some quick electric organ runs and a blazing guitar that would be at home in a Ventures show. A few more lines – all pretty innocuous stuff about making eyes with your boyfriend– and still more instruments are brought in: trumpets, flutes and electronic keyboards. It sounds as if a wedding band has wandered into the studio and each player is determined to outdo the other.

As the song progresses, one gets the feeling that Ashraf doesn’t give a damn. Throw anything in there. Any beat, any sort of sound, any instrument will do. (Harmonica? Sure. Accordion? Why not.) It’s all a huge romper room of fun. The singer and the lyrics are for the most part irritations, though near the end she does manage to throw in a few heavy sighs that mix nicely into the whirlpool of sound.

Finally (and very sadly), the end is nigh and the trumpets and the electric guitar are in a dash to the finish line. Who can go faster and have the final say? Of course, it is the guitar, Ashraf’s favourite child, which wins.

Nate Rabe’s novel, The Shah of Chicago, is out now from Speaking Tiger.

A version of this story appeared on the blog https://dailylollyblog.wordpress.com/ and has been reproduced here with permission.

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German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

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Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

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Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.