Conversational numbers

I spend a lot of time listening to movie music. The reason for this can be condensed to two words: Marathahalli Bridge. This is a little stretch in Bangalore on my way to work where I’ve spent a significant fraction of my adult life staring at the butt of the car before me. My only respite from this experience is the music I keep playing in the car – Tamil and Hindi film music, mostly.

I listen to and love so much of it that it’s difficult to pick favourites off-hand. But a particular category that I’m quite fond of is conversational numbers – songs that involve some kind of dialogue between two or more characters. The song itself is in the form of a dialogue, and sometimes it also has actual dialogue interspersed in it. Somehow, I find these a lot more involving, and fun to listen to than the generic stuff. So here’s my list of favourites in this category:

5. Jaane Kyon Log Pyaar Karte Hain, from Dil Chaahta Hai. Composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Sung by . Picturized on Aamir Khan and Priety Zinta. Playful, romantic and cynical in equal measure. (I’m also tempted to include Pyaar mein sau uljhanein hain from Kyun… Ho Gaya Na! in this list, but it’s not a conversational number, strictly speaking.)

4. Ghum Hai Kisi Ke Pyaar Mein, from Rampur Ka Laxman. Composed by R. D. Burman. Sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Picturized on Randhir Kapoor and Rekha. This is pretty much the only sequence involving Randhir Kapoor that I can tolerate. The song is basically a vehicle for the two of them to tell each other how they feel. He goes first, but is shy and doesn’t quite come out and say who he’s talking about. She figures it’s about her, and tells him she reciprocates.

3. Poongatru Thirumbumaa, from Mudhal Mariyadhai. Composed by Ilaiyaraja. Sung by Malaysia Vasudevan and S. Janaki. Picturized on Savaji Ganesan and Radha. The man is in a dejected mood and sings, almost to himself, of his loneliness. And hears a female voice singing in response, consoling him. One of the best duets I’ve ever heard.

2. Abhi Na Jaao Chodkar, from Hum Dono. Composed by Jaidev. Sung by Mohd. Rafi and Asha Bhosle. Picturized on Dev Anand and Sadhana. One of the best looking screen pairs of all time, and a sweet, romantic song where she wants to leave and he asks her to stay. It’s a damn good song as it is, but the little touches, such as when Asha sings Yeh hi kahoge tum sada / Ke dil abhi nahin bhara, and parodies Dev Anand in that line, or when Rafi brings a touch of gentle sarcasm when he says Bura na maano baat ka / Yeh pyaar hai gila nahin… that’s what takes it from being a song to a dialogue between the lovers.

And my favourite song in this category, without doubt is…

1. Sippi Irukkudhu Muthum Irukkudhu from Varumaiyin Niram Sigappu. Composed by M. S. Viswanathan. Sung by SPB and Janaki. Picturized on Kamal Hassan and Sridevi. The song is basically a contest between the hero and the heroine – she composes a tune, and he comes up with lyrics to suit it. The exchange is playful, interesting from both a musical and lyrical standpoint, and absolutely magical.

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4 thoughts on “Conversational numbers

  1. V says:

    Somewhere I have read that “Sippi Irukkudhu Muthum Irukkudhu” is also a reflection of how Kannadasan and MSV work – tune and lyrics going hand in hand.

    Try imagining MSV giving the tunes in his harmonium and Kannadasan rattling the apt lyrics instantly.

  2. S says:

    Been to Bangalore as a kid and don’t remember much, but ‘Marathahalli’ sounds magical (I mean the name; not the experience of sitting on it staring at the butt of a car that’s ahead, despite il lust trious company).

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