hindi film music

Behind bars but still free to sing: the songs that perfectly capture the state of confinement

From ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’ to ‘Qaidi Band’ and ‘Lucknow Central’, the songs that perfectly express literal and metaphysical imprisonment.

In most Hindi films, there is plenty of action going on behind bars. Hefty men placed in custody, such as Sunny Deol, have rattled the bars in anger; conspiracies and escape plans are hatched, as in Sholay; politicians and gang leaders have held court within the premises.

There are various kinds of confinement, of course. Sanjeev Kumar in Khilona struggles with mental illness as well as physical confinement in Khilona Jan Kar.

Young lovers have been restrained in their rooms and prevented from leaving on pain of serious injury, usually to the legs. Sometimes, whips and sticks are employed. In some cases, the victims get through the ordeal with remarkable aplomb, as Madhuri Dixit did, swinging to Ek Do Teen in Tezaab, not missing a single step.

And in Tridev, three nubile young women, held in the villains’ den, perform, with impeccably synchronised movements, the song that became an anthem in the late 1980s.

Play
Gajar Ne Kiya Hai Ishara, Tridev (1989).

Non-state actors have also detained heroes for political reasons, but such captivity has rarely resulted in musical protest. One exception is Roja, in which Arvind Swamy plays a just-married scientist visiting Kashmir, where he is kidnapped by an armed group. There, confined to a hut, looking out at snow-capped terrain, he sets aside his nationalist feeling and his befuddlement about the complexity of the Kashmir situation and launches into a ballad to his new wife. The lyrics, translated from the original Tamil, are clumsy, but the score, springing from raag Desh and sung to perfection by SP Balasubrahmanyam, placed composer AR Rahman firmly in the spotlight in Hindi filmdom.

Play
Roja Jaanemann, Roja (1992).

Incarceration by the state, however, is a different story, and it appears that only three kinds of people have been hauled into prisons and have gone on to sing eloquently about it.

The first kind are the ones in love and made to suffer for it, not just by society but by the mighty power of the state. In poor, naive Anarkali’s case, it was the entire Mughal apparatus that did her in. In these two classics from Mughal-E-Azam classic, written by Shakeel Badayuni and scored by Naushad, a shackled, exhausted woman describes her fate. Mohabbat Ki Jhoothi Kahani, in raag Darbari Kaanada, unusually, begins with any instrumental or vocal prelude – it is a lament rendered with childlike incredulity.

I didn’t watch out, didn’t stop to think, she cries. Your love proved to be my undoing.

Play
Mohabbat Ki Jhoothi Kahani, Mughal-e-Azam (1960).

Beqas Pe Karam Kijiye, set to raag Kedar, on the other hand is a more formal complaint, a fariyaad, evoked in the prelude. It is also a naat, a prayer to Prophet Mohammed, as Raju Bharatan explains, quoting the composer himself, in Naushadnama: The Life and Music of Naushad. Come to my aid now, the forlorn Anarkali pleads, save this sinking ship. Singer Lata Mangeshar excels in both songs, “setting the mood”, as the composer termed it. One, a brisk protest, another, a more delicate supplication.

The second category includes songs of patriotism, usually in the context of the freedom movement. Among those, Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna is distinctive – written as a rallying cry by Bismil Azimabadi and popularised by freedom fighter Ramprasad Bismil, it was first used in Shaheed (1965), scored by Prem Dhawan and performed by Mohammed Rafi, Manna Dey and Rajendra Mehta.

In The Legend of Bhagat Singh, a flute and santoor accompany the opening stanzas as Bhagat Singh, played by Ajay Devgn, attempts to revive the spirits of his cellmates. As the men are re-energised, the tempo picks up with a tabla joining the orchestra. Sonu Nigam and Hariharan come together for this fine number scored by AR Rahman.

Play
Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna, The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002).

Finally, there are those resigned to their fate or striving for redemption. One of the best-known examples of rehabilitation is Ae Malik Tere Bande Hum from Do Aankhe Baarah Haath, a film about six hardened convicts and a prison warden who attempts to reform them through hard manual labour at a farm.

The most poignant prison song is possibly from Bandini, sung by Asha Bhosle, scored by SD Burman and written by Shailendra. A woman convict in a prison yard works at a grindstone and sings the traditional song of young bride who is now far away from her parents’ home.

The imagery of home is evocative – the woman sings of “mango trees, with swings under them, the gentle rain” and nostalgia for a childhood, toys, dolls and all, that is now lost forever.

Play
Ab Ke Baras, Bandini (1963).

Refreshingly, we now also have a fourth category reflecting the egregious conditions of prisons in the country, and the shocking, recurring cases of miscarriage of justice, that don’t always stir the national conscience.

In Qaidi Band, seven young undertrials form a music band in an attempt to score some points with the authorities, possibly get justice and an acquittal. Their music videos go viral – of these I Am India makes stock references to the taste, sights and sounds of India, presumably appealing to young Indians’ patriotic spirit. The more nuanced and believable number is Hulchul, an edgy, hard-strumming score by Amit Trivedi, about dreams that boil and churn, and about waiting to escape. That sounds more like the India we know.

Play
Hulchul, Qaidi Band (2017).
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.

Play

As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.

Play

So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.

Play

As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”

Play

By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.