Hindi film songs based on Raga ‘KALAVATI’  

By

Sharada Iyer 

The rich repertoire of our century-old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani ragas. There is no denying that the reach of Hindi films and Hindi film music in our country is far beyond any other form of music. Therefore instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to a select audience with in-depth knowledge of the technicalities of classical music, our music directors draw inspiration from our vast legacy to compose either semi-classical songs or just touch upon the raga lightly. 

These subtle modifications in the raga allows them to compose apt songs to suit the mood and setting of  the story and the character keeping in mind the visual medium of cinema. Therefore, such compositions not only help to enhance the appeal and reach of these ragas to the large base of film-viewing populace of our country, but also exposes them to our unique heritage.

This is my third post on Hindi film songs based on Indian classical ragas. The first two posts were on raga Shivaranjani and raga Bhimpalasi. For this post I have chosen a very pleasant raga- Kalavati. 

The word Kalavati implies ‘the one adorned with the ‘kalas’ or ‘arts’. So Kalavati also refers to Goddess Saraswati, who is considered the Goddess of knowledge, wisdom and all forms of arts. It is a very melodious raga and the beauty of the raga lies in its simplicity which makes it extremely pleasant to the ears and gives relief to stress.

The Carnatic counterpart of Raga Kalavati is called Raga Valachi.

For those interested to know the basic technical aspects, here is a quick lesson on the raga:

Raga Kalavati: A quick lesson

Surprisingly there are very few songs composed in this raga as compared to some other popular ragas like ‘Bhairavi’, ‘Yaman Kalyan’, ‘Malkaus’, ‘Pahadi’, ‘Bhimpalasi’, ‘Darbari Kanada’, etc. But these handful of songs composed have attained immortal status and remain unique even today.

Let us look at some of these songs and their situations. We start with the most iconic composition in this raga from the film Chitralekha. Though this film was a failure at the box-office (perhaps due to its unique story-line and wrong casting), the music of the film became very popular and the film is remembered till today only for its outstanding music.

Film: CHITRALEKHA (1964)

Music director: ROSHAN

Lyricist: SAHIR  LUDHIANAVI

Singers: ASHA BHONSLE, USHA MANGESHKAR

The film was based on a Hindi novel-Chitralekha, and interestingly, this film had also been made in 1941 by the same director Kidar Sharma, and that film had been a huge box-office success. 

Here is a memorable song picturized on Mumtaz in the film Khilona where she plays a prostitute. The lovely lyrics set to superb beats and tune of this pleasing raga make this dance number one of the best songs of Mumtaz’s career. Such ‘mujra’ numbers have all but disappeared in our films today.

Film: KHILONA (1970)

Music Director: LAXMIKANT PYARELAL

Lyricist: ANAND BAKSHI

Singer: LATA MANGESHKAR

Sample this soothing composition in raga Kalavati from K Balachandar’s directorial venture in Hindi Oonche Log, based on his play titled ‘Major Chandrakanth’. Ashok Kumar plays a blind retired Major of the Indian Army and his two sons are played by Raj Kumar and Feroz Khan. A very interesting film with superb performances from all three especially Ashok Kumar as this role can easily be rated among his best performances. Later this film was made in Tamil and Telugu as well.

Film: OONCHE LOG (1965)

Music Director: CHITRAGUPTA

Lyricist: MAJROOH SULTANPURI

Singers: LATA MANGESHKAR, MAHENDRA KAPOOR

The above song is picturized on Feroz Khan and the popular South star K R Vijaya who makes her debut in this film but did not act in any other Hindi film other than this as her assignments in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films kept her very busy.

In classical music all ragas are allotted different time of the day/night depending on the effect they have on our mind and body. Raga Kalavati is a late night (midnight) raga and is generally associated with pangs of separation, remorse, nostalgia. This song from the film Sati Savitri conveys these feelings beautifully.

Film : SATI SAVITRI(1964)

Music Director: LAXMIKANT PYARELAL

Lyricist: BHARAT VYAS

Singer: LATA MANGESHKAR

Our music directors using their creative genius have used this raga to churn out even qawaalis. In fact undoubtedly the best and the most iconic qawwali ever composed for Hindi films- ‘Ishq Ishq hai Ishq Ishq…’ from the film Barsaat Ki Raat is based on raga Kalavati. Though the tune does take on slight variations as the song progresses, the basic raga in the beginning cannot be missed.

With this song, music director Roshan proved his genius and mastery over his musical skills as well as mastery over his knowledge of ragas. Sahir Ludhianavi as usual gives dignity to the composition with his magical lyrics and with three of our greatest singers singing this outstanding number, this qawaali remains unmatched and evergreen even today…

Film: BARSAAT KI RAAT (1960)

Music Director: ROSHAN

Lyricist: SAHIR LUDHIANAVI

Singers: MANNA DEY, MOHAMMAD RAFI, ASHA BHONSLE, SUDHA MALHOTRA

After a gap of seventeen years, this raga was used once again in a brilliant qawaali, this time by music director R D Burman, sung by Rafi and Asha and picturized on Rishi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman.

FILM: HUM KISISE KUM NAHEEN (1977)

Music Director: R D BURMAN

LYRICS: MAJROOH SULTANPURI

Singers: MOHAMMAD RAFI, ASHA BHONSLE

Enjoy this lesser known but beautiful song in the raga Kalavati sung by Asha Bhonsle and composed by Vasant Desai for the children’s film Do Phool which was based on the famous German novel ‘Heidi’. The story revolves around the events in the life of the young orphan girl Baby Naaz and the people around her- her grandfather, her aunt, her goatherd friend in the hills and a rich wheelchair-bound girl of her own age whom she befriends and becomes a companion to.

Film: DO PHOOL (1958)

Music Director: VASANT DESAI

Lyricist: HASRAT JAIPURI

Singer: ASHA BHONSLE

In 2004, A R Rahman decided to weave his magic around this raga to produce a gem for the film Swades. This is such a beautiful song and Udit Narayan has sung it so brilliantly that by the time we reach the end of the song, we will all be humming this catchy tune. Such is the magical effect of this lovely raga.

Film: SWADES (2004)

Music Director: A R RAHMAN

Lyricst: JAVED AKHTAR

Singer: UDIT NARAYAN

Film: SUR SANGAM (1985)

Music Director: LAXMIKANT PYARELAL

Lyricist: Vasant Dev

Singer: LATA MANGESHKAR

This film revolves around the theme of classical music and how it is dying in today’s times because of people’s ignorance and failure to understand its value. This semi-classical number therefore fits well with the theme.

Technically speaking, raga Kalavati has the same notes in its ascent (aroha) as well as descent (avroha). However, a little change in the structure of Kalavati- the addition of the note ‘re’ in the descending movement (avroha) changes it into the raga Janasammohini. The notes in the ‘aroha’ or ascent remain the same and hence the startling similarity.

The word Janasammohini means ‘that which has hypnotic effect on people’. This raga also produces a soothing effect. This raga was brought to prominence in Hindustani classical and film music by none other than the great maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar. In Hindi films, he immortalized this raga in the song from the film Anuradha:

Film: ANURADHA (1960)

Music Director: PANDIT RAVI SHANKAR

Lyricsist: SHAILENDRA

Singer: LATA MANGESHKAR

Here is a very interesting demonstration of the subtle difference in the two ragas Kalavati and Janasammohini  by Dr Mukul Acharya:

Music director Naushad used the raga Janasammohini to give us a poignant number. The feelings of pain and anguish are brought out so evocatively by Rafi Saab and enacted superbly by none other than Dilip Kumar.

Film: DIL DIYA DARD LIYA (1966)

Music Director: NAUSHAD

Lyricist: SHAKEEL BADAYUNI

Singer: MOHAMMAD RAFI

Our film songs based on classical ragas do not always conform to all the technicalities of the raga and because there is only a very delicate difference between these two ragas,  sometimes songs based on both these ragas are classified under only raga Kalavati.

In the following songs the raga Kalavati/ raga Janasammohini has been very lightly touched upon and the songs are catchy and melodious.

Uljhan is a murder-mystery thriller in which the wife is suspected by the husband who is an Inspector as all clues point to her involvement. But for now they are happy romancing in this catchy number composed by the dynamic duo of Kalyanji-Anandji.

Film: ULJHAN (1975)

Music Director: KALYANJI ANANDJI

Lyricist: M G HASHMAT

Singer: LATA MANGESHKAR

Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s heart-warming family drama Khubsoorat  is a movie one can watch any number of times for its lovely plot, lively performances and superb music. Actress Rekha gave one of her career-best performances in this film and her saris and hairstyle became a fashion statement. In this song, the raga seems a mixture of Behaag and Khamaj with a touch of Kalavati…

Film: KHOOBSURAT (1980)

Music Director: R D BURMAN

Lyricist: GULZAR

Singer: ASHA BHONSLE

I end the post with this beautiful piece titled ‘Swagatham’, which was composed for the inaugural ceremony of the Asian Games held in New Delhi in 1982. Pandit Ravi Shankar has composed an immortal piece in the raga Janasammohini / Kalavati.

HYMN OF THE ASIAD- ASIAN GAMES -WELCOME SONG (1982)

Music Director: PANDIT RAVI SHANKAR

Lyricist: PANDIT NARENDRA SHARMA

 

Given below are links to my other ‘raga’ based’ posts:

(https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/the-use-of-raag-shivaranjani-in-hindi-film-songs/)

(https://myviewsonbollywood.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/the-use-of-raga-bhimpalasi-in-hindi-film-songs/)

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Hindi film songs based on Raga ‘KALAVATI’  

  1. Hi Sharada,
    Just came to this blog today and wow what a post and so well written! Thanks for covering this raga! Its a wonder it has been used so sparingly in Hindi movies but each song is memorable. Perhaps that’s the greatness of the raga!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very informative article Shardaji and written in a very lucid, flowing language. And the song selection is ace!
    And I am glad you found my short demo clip of Kalavati-Janasammohini useful, thank you!

    Dr Mukul Acharya

    Like

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