Lollywood Flashback

Sound of Lollywood: A hip-swinging dance number from the Pakistani Laila-Majnu movie

Tasadduq Hussain’s score for ‘Nai Laila Nia Majnu’ (1969) includes a tune that throbs with the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll.

Laila and Majnu is an old love story originating in Arabia but familiar around the world in the guise of Romeo and Juliet, Heer Ranjha, Shireen Farhad and Tristan Isolde (and many more).

Nai Laila Nia Majnu (1969) is a second-rung production, a comedy that seeks to update the story of star-crossed lovers for the modern era. For an audience raised to place the tale of Laila and Majnu in some distant past, the film’s premise was obviously a fun concept to play around with. Though I’ve not been able to trace a full version of the film on the internet it apparently did well at the box office.

The film’s music was composed/arranged by Tasadduq Hussain, who was classically trained in the Patiala gharana, and whose career was blessed with a number of hit movies (such as Choti Begum and Hamrahi). Hussain was honoured with the President’s Award for his score for Roop Matti Baz Bahadur (1960).

Dance music is a title given to many up-tempo rock ‘n’ roll compositions in a lot of movies. Often times, while they do feature some imagined form of rock ‘n’ roll, most are not that danceable. They are vaguely Western sounding, perhaps with some benign guitar runs and a few tired accordion squeezes. But in this instance, Hussain has hit the nail right on the head and come up with a true stomper.

A frenetic snap fest of snares and bongos kicks off the piece before quickly being pushed aside by a stuttering electric guitar riff that seems to be lifted directly from the most recent Ventures record. A slack-jawed voice sighs “Nai Laila” and several bars later follows up with a shivery “Naya Majnu”.

Still roaring down the line like the Khyber Mail running late, a number of instruments take short solos (sax, drums, a Dwayne Eddy guitar, some early electronic keyboards, sax again) before abandoning all resistance and giving way to the unrelenting electric guitar line.

What always amazes me is how musical directors like Hussain, M Ashraf, Tafo and Nisar Bazmi, whose roots and training were either in the folk or classical music traditions, were able to cotton on to the raw, urgent, sexual drive of American rock ‘n’ roll so easily. A lot of what was marketed as rock music in these films falls flat. But when they got it right, such as in this piece or in Shankar Jaikisan’s Jaan Pehchaan Ho (Gumnaam, 1965) across the border, they really got it.

The tremendous little surf instrumental is nearly flawless. It throbs with the very essence of rock ‘n’ roll: danger, swagger and rebellion. Why it hasn’t been sampled by an enterprising DJ is beyond me.

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

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

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

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.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

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.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

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

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

Play

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.