I could not beleive my ears when Shanker sab told me that he is going to record a duet with me & Rafi sab .
I say, ‘ What ? Me ? Meeeeee ?…. With Rafi sab ? You must be kidding ‘
He says ‘ no you are singing duet with Rafi . The recording is fixed . From tomorrow we are doing rehearsals ‘…. God .. Oh God…………..
The rehearsals over, dawns the day of the recording .
The historical Famous studios Tardeo , from where thousands of evergreen songs have come out for us.
You go up the few steps , then you come to the passage , To your right side is the recording room with mixers & recorders & giant film rolls mounted upon huge machines. Those days they used to record songs on film rolls.
Adjoining the control room comes the singers room with microphone stands & all . You go a little further there comes the musicians’ hall big enough to hold all of S J musicians & more .
Sitting in the control room is the top recordist Minoo Katrakji with his assistant Mr Bansali next to him .
I am sitting in the singers’ room wondering how Rafi sab is going to react to me . What if he does not like me ?
The hall is filled with musicians ,Shankerji standing in the middle surrounded by Hasrat sab & the producer
In the far corner sit rows & rows of violinists with violas , cellos & double bass in the last row.
The first row will play the melody part .Many MDs keep single violin to play the melody . But SJ liked to keep more , Next rows play the music ,the next one play the counters & behind them the row plays the bass part
Next to them sitting are soloists like keyboardist , lead guitarist & as such .
Then a group of four or five melody rhythm guitars is sitting with top piano player of India Mr Roberts sitting in the grand piano behind them .
Then comes the rhythm section…drums , congo , tumba bongo & all . Next to them in a raised dais sit a dozen or so percussionists with all sorts of sound making gadgets like maracus kabash tambourine bells rotos scratchers screechers chuk chuks , chick chicks etc.
The music rehearsals start with Shankerji checking , Sebastianji making the musicians play part by part , piece by piece to perfection with Dattaramji bringing the rhythm beats along.
When all parts are rehearsed then comes the final rehearsal with song melody & music.
Shankerji’s himalayan personality & musical genius charging the musicians with enormous energy & enthusiasm they play by their heart & soul loosing themselves in a musical dream. Nearly hundred musicians playing at one time bringing out a glorious out of the world sound of music.
Fifty or so bows gliding front & back on the bridges of violins , fingers caressing strings of guitars & other music instruments , sticks dancing on the drums …..oof ……what a sound..
You should see it to believe it , you should hear it by your own ears to believe it .What you will hear is not even 50% of this magnificence. The microphones will struggle to take all this , but they wouldnt be able to handle. The recordist will sacrifice the counters & seconds in order to keep the voice up & the words clear.
It is Shankerji’s orchestration , for heaven’s sake . It is no one piece played by some violins ,stop , another piece played by another instrument , stop , then another piece played by another.
At one time three / four channels of music played by different sets of musicians , the first part , second , bass part , counters , fillers & what not …Do you hear all these parts when you listen to the records or anywhere else?
The musicians mesmerised by the sound they themselves are creating play as if bound by a magic musical spell.The hall swings & sways drowned in a musical nasha .
I watch this spectacular scene , awestruck , my heart floating in the clouds of music ,
Then the song comes to the end .The rehearsal conducted to perfection .
Presently the singer room’s door opens
Rafi sab enters , with a smile on his face . A divine aura fills the room as if a saint is entering the room ,
I get up to greet him . He signals me to sit down . Just then Shankerji , Hasrat sab , & the producers come in the room . They all greet one another .Then Shankerji introduces me to him . He acknowledges the introduction with a kind smile … No nose in the air stuff for him . No ‘ I am the greatest , who are you ? ‘ look in his eyes He says some nice , encouraging words to me. My fear & apprehensions fade away.
Seeing tension released Shankerji begins the voice rehearsal with full music playing . We both sing the full song along with full music.. Everything fine .
Rehearsals over , coconut breaking over time for recording .
The producers Hasrat sab & others go to the control room while Shankerji stays in the singers room to conduct both of us.
Rafi sab gets up to go to the mike stand. I tell him ‘ Rafi sab , till yesterday I was just fan of yours , I will always be a fan of yours . Now how can I stand next to you & sing ?’
He says in a most assuring manner ,’ Dont you worry , you are doing fine .You will do a good job ‘.
The greatest singer of India standing there & talking to a newcomer in a most humble manner . I could not trust my ears.
Some what relieved . still wondering what I am going to do I look at all the musicians & I look at the door longingly , my heart saying ‘ get out & run away ‘…..But my legs take me to the mike . I stand there holding the stand wishing I was at home lounging in my favourite chair , reading Archie comics , eating hot hot home made pakoras………No chance of such luxury just now…….But another luxury waits for me….
The recording starts ..one… two… three.. four…
The music goes , ‘ Tararararararara… tarararararara tararara tararara………………
My heart also goes ,’Tarararararara …tararararara … ..somewhere high up in the sky , I dont know where.
I hear Rafi sab’s voice come floating in the air,’ Jane chaman shola badan pahlume ajao ‘
At this time Shanker sab comes to my rescue .
He waves his arm & lifts it , lifting my voice & the song comes out
‘O mere dil , mere humdum bahome ajao’
Rafi sab’s voice again . ‘Jane chaman …. & mine ‘O mere dil ………….
A dream world opens up … in this world there is nothing but the melody music & the song ..
The air drenching in the ecstatic sprinkle of music , Shankerjis arms moving in rhythmic waves Rafi sab’s voice leading , the song comes flowing like a dancing river
Time stands still ,listening to the song , five minutes.. five hours … eternity ? I dont know..
First music …. antara .. second music ……The song sails thro the cables into the machine in the control room..
Suddenly everything stops . No sound .. The song gets over .. I come back to the real world.
Is the song recorded or what ?
Shankerji goes to the control room hears the song & he calls out ‘O K ‘
Loud cheers in the hall . We all collect in the hall to hear it in the big screen…The song is played in full volume……..Wow………………………………
Everyone is happy . Rafi sab gives me his blessings.
Pedhas are distributed .. Come, take your pedha..