Art & CultureArt/Culture/Literature

Voices from a Golden Era – A Trivia for the Musical Archives of Bollywood

Voices from a Golden Era is a biography like none other. Traditional approaches emphasize life stories but, in this biography, together with a conventional pattern, introduced are data in tabular form, which can become a Reference Manual. Vibrant photos of singers abound, which gladden your heart. Incisive analyses exist in Author’s Critique. Augmenting this treatment is trivia and the singer’s views on various topics related to the movie industry. What more can one ask?

The Golden Era voices, ignitable by their excellence, found shelf space in the repository of Bombay Cinema’s musical archives 1950 to 1980 saw enchanting hours on Radio Ceylon when Binaca Geet Mala captured the hearts of Post-Independence India in Hindi Film music. Following it were Vividh Bharti and Door-darshan, affiliates of All India Radio, whose airwaves strummed the magical melodies of Bombay Film music.

Voices from a Golden Era captures this exciting period, from infancy to maturation, during which this industry was a Petri Dish that incubated marvelous tuneful music. Not a single artist from this era was willing to accept mediocrity. The result was a tapestry of highly competent crooners. Lataji is her best in semi-classical songs. Her mastery of Sargam notes made such renditions possible. Asha Bhosle, her sister, specialized in risqué, saucy songs, and Geeta Dutt’s velvety voice did justice to any genera. Not to be outdone, the male contingent filled the airwaves with Rafi Saheb’s resonant deliveries, Mukesh Mathur’s honest minimalist voice touched hearts, and Kishore, whose style was off-beat, quirky, and scintillatingly original, doled out major hits in succession. Several other singers like Talat Mehmood, Manna Dey, and Hemant Kumar flanked in with their contributions. All received accolades from a stunning public who marveled at the capacity of these singers to deliver rapturous melodies.

Represented by The Book Bakers and published by Vishwakarma Publications, this book is a trip down memory lane, capturing a wealth of emotions from touching sorrow to joyous scenes penned by lyricists who wrote songs as poems and composers with finesse. Unique, masterful voices delivered this effort. Hats off to this period of excellence. A must-read book. Lalit’s idea to write began as a way to utilize his time. After retirement, he played Duplicate Bridge three days a week, leaving plenty of free time. Being an ardent fan of Bombay Cinema music since his Engineering Days at the university, he felt he could write mini-biographies of these singers and compile an anthology. It helped to be a decent singer, a devout fan able to hum Lataji, Rafi Saheb, and Mukesh. That’s the genesis of Voices from a Golden Era. Subsequent writings flourished as he genuinely began to enjoy putting pen to paper.

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