Meera: WTH?

15 Jul

In my usual labyrinthine fashion, I started thinking about Gulzar’s movies last week and it ended up as a bout of Youtubing with unexpected results. On the one hand I finally sat through Lekin in full for the first time and really liked it. On the other hand, Hema Malini’s rather youthful Didi led me to her performance as the title character in Meera.

I never sat through Meera from start to finish either (when it comes to Gulzar’s movies, I find, I’m either riveted or else easily distracted. There never seems to be a happy medium – which is not a necessarily bad thing now that I think about it). Which must be why I don’t remember the music at all.

And now I wish I’d left it like that.

I’m sorry, I understand that Pandit Ravishankar obviously knows what he’s doing, Vani Jairam is a wonderful artist, and I’ve always loved Meera’s bhajans. But that accent…

I just can’t get past it. Plus (and this is rather unfair to Vani Jairam) I keep looking at Hema’s face and expect Lata Mangeshkar’s voice to emerge. Alternatively, I listen to the voice and expect Tamil.

I have a new appreciation today for M’s beef with Sadhna Sargam in Konjum Mainakkale.


Posted by on July 15, 2009 in Entertainment, Movies, Music, Video


23 responses to “Meera: WTH?

  1. bollyviewer

    July 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    You’re so right! I saw this as a kid and all I remember is that I felt distinctly sorry for Vinod K – how could Meera ignore his hotness for an invisible god! 😉

    Now that I’ve heard the songs again, I can see (or rather hear) that they sound all wrong. Its probably not the accent, but the distinctly Carnatic overtones in the voice, for a song where you expect Hindustani overtones, if any! Should revisit M. S. Subbalakshmi’s Meera bhajans and see how I feel about them, now.

  2. wordjunkie

    July 16, 2009 at 12:33 am

    True. Felt the same about MS singing meera bhajans too. And there is this famous rendition of ‘Vaishnava jan to’ by MS Subbalakshmi that still sounds so wrong.

  3. Gradwolf

    July 16, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Hahaha, she is actually very good in Konjum Mainakkale. She is bad in Snehidhane.

    And hey but the biggest of them all, have you heard one Mr. Udit Narayan?

    • Gradwolf

      July 16, 2009 at 3:46 am

      Err click on Udit and Narayan alone 😛 Bad html skills !

      • Gradwolf

        July 16, 2009 at 6:45 am

        Ok, I totally need to know this from people here.

        I totally love Ranjini-Gayatri for their wonderful talent but here are three abhangs. People who speak Marathi, or otherwise, let me know how it sounds like. The first two are actually mesmerising:

        • pitu

          July 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm

          OMG would never have guessed it’s an abhang! Sounds totally Southie hehe. Regarding Rahman’s use of non Tam singers for Tam songs, obvy I can’t tell the mispronounciations etc but I did find Chithra hilarious! And Rahman attempting to sing songs with strong Urdu overtones is kinda sad. Case in point: Kwaja mere kwaja (he eats up the h), parts of the title song of Dil Se etc.

          I do think it’s imperative for singers to overcome accents. I don’t care how busy you are, if you’re a singer and you’re going to earn your bread and butter through singing songs that are not in your native language, you need to take accent lessons or something. Listen to Asha in Umrao Jaan. That’s a lot of hard work there!! And for that matter, Rekha vs Hema. One could play a Northie tawaif with ease, one cannot utter a ‘paratha’ dialog without making me crave dosas :p (Case in point: Baghban).

          I think it’s just one word (and Rahman fans don’t beat me): Laziness. If Western actors and singers can slip in and out of accents, why can’t desis? Look at all the tons of Aussies and Brits here who sound like they were raised in SoCal.

        • pitu

          July 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

          Also the lady in the red sari (not rust) looks like my music teacher o.O hehehe

          • Gradwolf

            July 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

            Hahahaha! You mean Chitra in Hindi? I found Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon cacophonous.

            @Amrita: They are pretty awesome, aren’t they? You should really listen to their rendition of Rangapuravihara. Widely believed to be better than MSS’s. No, really. It’s on youtube.

            • pitu

              July 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

              Ya, in Hindi. Well, everything in that movie was hideous, ek gane se kya hota hai 😉

              • M

                July 17, 2009 at 12:11 pm

                Hmm – wasn’t the song from Parineeta by Chitra? Chitra is actually OK IMO, as are many Mallu singers – occasional words that sound off but much better than SPB, for example.

                As for MPKDH….AAAGH! Someone actually listened to the songs?

                I agree about Rahman’s urdu accent sounding very off – he *has* managed to sound *almost* normal in Hindi now though – again, a word here or there that throw me off a song. But accents – I don’t think it is laziness – regional Indian accents are *very* difficult to eliminate. Remember the flak Lata got for butchering Hindi songs back in the day?
                And since I have been so critical of non-Tamil singers singing Tamil songs, one song/singer who needs acclaim is Munbe Vaa/Shreya Ghoshal – Shreya has her share of butchered accents, but she’s done a stellar job in this song.

                Ranjani/Gayathri – the song is sung in carnatic style, so shouldn’t sound very Abhang-like in form, but I thought their accent was OK – isn’t it? Amazingly talented singers and they both play concert level carnatic violin too.

                Amrita, Aruna Sayeeram also sings Abhangs in Carnatic form….


                • Gradwolf

                  July 17, 2009 at 1:11 pm

                  There is a squeaky tone to Munbe Vaa but otherwise Shreya Goshal is simply brilliant. The song that she’s actually awesome in is Unna Vida in Virumandi. Simply flawless with Kamal.

                • Gradwolf

                  July 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

                  She is little squeaky in Munbe Vaa. But almost flawless in pronunciation of course. She is simply awesome in Unna Vida from Virumandi with Kamal. I was surprised when I found out it was her.

                • pitu

                  July 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm

                  Chitra sang ‘Raat Humari To’. Rest of the songs were divvied up between Sunidhi and Shreya. And I had a friend who LOVED ‘Kasam ki kasam’ from MPKDH. *pulls out hair*

                  • sachita

                    July 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

                    agree with all the above comments. i cant stand chitra in hindi (even though i butcher the language myself). rahman i cant tell the difference.

                    The strange thing is, there are other singers who sing well in tamil like sonu nigam and asha bhosle but they dont get repeated.

                    GW: ye ye on Ranjani-Gayatri’s ranga puravihara, i have only heard it like a gazillion times. though, didnt realize others had found the gem too.

                    • pitu

                      July 17, 2009 at 4:38 pm

                      Ohh, Sonu Nigam reminds me: I MUST give him and Shankar Mahadevan props for singing amazingly well in Marathi. Perfect pronounciation! Shankar’s mom is Marathi but Punjabi Delhi boy Sonu deserves a lot of credit!

                    • Gradwolf

                      July 18, 2009 at 12:37 am

                      Oops I thought the first comment never made it. So the posting twice!

                      @Sachita: I think KK sings flawless Tamil but he is mallu right? And lol @ i butcher the language myself. I do it too. I can’t even say vazha pazham and am commenting on these ppl!

  4. NSFW

    July 16, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Thanks for the response on the other post.
    Psst, dont tell anyone, but

  5. M

    July 16, 2009 at 11:22 am

    LOL – trying to refrain from “I told you so”, without success, obviously!
    I thought Vani Jayram did fine in Guddi – Like Bollyviewer, I think it is the carnatic overtones that were off here. But, Hema looks so S.Indian to me, that she looks wrong to me in all her movies anyway! A recent movie with the same disconnect in music is Paheli – the use of veenas especially..

    Gradwolf – the song in KK refers to kissing mynah birds – not small mynahs, which is what SS’s mispronunciation makes it sound like…and she even butchers the word “Mynah” and yes, Snegidhane was awful!


  6. sachita

    July 16, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    i was just going to take udit’s name. Strangely, people enjoy these butchering.(it was cute,yeah!, the buffoons say).

    meera bhajan with wrong pronounciation is probably blasphemy (ofcourse one should never butcher it to a level where a non-hindi person can recognize it).

    but to me to hear any tamil song from rahman comes with this danger. (like an invisible warning, hearing this might be an assault to your pseudo-tamil sensibilities). he routinely uses non-tamil singers with horrible pronunciation. i endure it.

  7. Amrita

    July 16, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    BV – I know! who the hell passes up Angry! Hot! Fighting! Vinod? Esp when he’s bending over to be nice to you. And she’s such a mope anyway.
    You’re probably right about the carnatic impulses being more of a problem than the accent itself. After all SPB has a strong accent but I didn’t care. This however… I still have no idea what the second line of the chorus is, she twists it up so much.

    WJ – the one from Hey Ram? I remember!

    Adithya – my mother likes to tease me with his lisping 😦 It’s the worst thing possible, next to her poking me in the side. I dont know why but it kills me when she starts off, esp the facial expressions she comes up with.
    And my god, who are those two women? They’re awesome! I never even heard of them before this. I don’t speak marathi so I don’t know if they got it right (although if they grew up in Matunga, it’s likely they did) – Amey and Pitu would be able to tell you better.
    But thanks for the links!

    NSFW – dude, I just spent a couple of hours reading that site! THANK YOU! I’m just so sorry she seems to have stopped writing. I was in tears, laughing my ass off at the Love in Tokyo review in particular. I’m afriad I had to share!

    M – you know, I didn’t figure out the kissing / little thing until you started cribbing? LOL! I was talking about it to my mother and she was like, “Uh, are you deaf now?” I didn’t feel anything with Paheli, I need to go back and check now.

    Sachita – but he does it in reverse as well! Although it’s not so bad in reverse. In fact, the worst is when he himself takes it on and even he’s improved from his Rangeela days. However he continues to inflict Blaaze on us poor mortals. That is the one thing I can’t bring myself to forgive him for.

  8. Song Stress!

    July 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Hmmm. This is turning out to be quite the transcendent week(what with Meera’s date with the Divine, and the mention of Muffy, a self-confessed drag queen)!

    And oh yeah, add one more to that ever-growing list of people peeved at MDs who perpetually sacrifice accent at the altar of some nebulous quest for melody (for which they alone have an explanation that some (oxymoron alert) sensible interviewer is yet to elicit; until then, poor us tone-deaf masses who are left to fixate on stupeed, totally non-aesthetic thingses like accjent). But seriously, even given my lack of a discerning ear for all that’s good and true about music, I would hardly label Sridevi’s shrill, heavily accented shrieks in Chandini, “dulcet.”

    • pitu

      July 17, 2009 at 9:46 am

      AHHAAHA!! mere shona shona shona…… pakdo pakdo pakdo *shriek squeal shriek* LOVE!!

  9. M

    July 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    NOTHING about Sridevi was dulcet – least of all her I-partied-with-a-helium-balloon voice! Which is my gripe with Juhi as well – grown women who sound like they’re hyperventilating SHOULD be dubbed on-screen!


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