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Sangeet Baiju Bawra - 4: Maand

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

The bandit queen Daku Roopmati, who has come to Gauri’s village along with her band of robbers to plunder the village, ends up falling in love with Baiju thanks to his singing. She agrees to spare the village and leave, but only if Baiju accompanies her to her camp. Gauri and all the villagers beg Baiju not to accede to her demands, but a resolute Baiju agrees to go with her so that the poor folks of the village are saved. As Baiju rides away along with Roopmati’s gang, a distressed Gauri sings Bachpan ki muhabbat ko. The song by Lata Mangeshkar is based on Maand, a raga which has its origins in the folk music of Rajasthan, and is accompanied on the tabla with a keherwa theka, which as we saw in earlier posts is an eight beat rhythm, popular in the lighter forms of music. There are numerous variations of keherwa, and Bachpan ki Muhabbat ko has a simple keherwa beat without much adornment. Here it is:

The best known example of Raga Maand on which the song is based, is the Rajasthani folk song Kesariya balama, padharo mharo des. It has been sung and played on instruments by classical musicians, light classical singers, and folk singers alike. Here is Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt playing it on the Mohan Veena, his modified Hawaiian guitar. Pt. Bhatt has presented a mix of vocal and instrumental rendition of Kesariya:

Back in Roopmati’s camp somewhere in a large cave in the forest, Roopmati tries to get the captive Baiju to talk to her and sing for her. Baiju spurns her advances and tells her that a ruthless dacoit like her is incapable of love. Roopmati then reveals to him that she is in fact a princess, daughter of the king who ruled the territory of which Baiju’s village was part. King Mansingh killed her father and annexed his kingdom, and Roopmati turned into a dacoit to avenge her father’s murder. The talk of revenge brings back memories of his own father’s death at the hands of Tansen’s soldiers, and his mission in life to avenge his father’s death. Roopmati offers to help him in his mission, but Baiju, determined to fight his own battles gets hold of a sword and escapes. In this whole sequence of scenes Nuahsad has used raga Darbari for the background score on the sitar, flute and violin:

Baiju makes his way to Tansen’s mansion with the intent of killing him. He scales the walls of the masion to get in and finds Tansen deep in riyaaz, with his eyes closed. As I have said in an earlier post, if you haven’t heard Ustad Amir Khan saheb before, this is the right place to start. His alaaps in raga Darbari including some aakar and sargams will create the majestic structure of raga Darbari in your mind’s eye. If you want to understand what raga Darbari is, this is the place to start. Baiju enters the room sword in hand, but is so mesmerized by Tansen’s riyaaz that he forgets why he is there. In a sort of a trance, the sword drops from his hand, which brings him back out of his trance. He picks up the sword and strikes Tansen’s tanpura with it breaking it into pieces.

At this point the dialog writer has done a wonderful job. Tansen, shaken out of his riyaaz, tells Baiju that if he wanted to kill Tansen, he should have done it with music rather than a sword. Tansen realises that the young man who tried to kill him but was so mesmerized by his music that he forgot to kill him, is a sensitive soul who appreciates music. He tells his guards that the best punishment for the young man is that he lives a long life to suffer all the pains and hurt that life has to offer, and orders his guards to accompany the stranger who came to kill him to the gates of the mansion and let him off.

Baiju realises that in order to attain the musical power that will kill Tansen with Baiju’s own music, he needs to find a guru to teach him. And who could do that better than Tansen’s own guru, Swami Haridas in Vrindavan, where Baiju was being taken by his father when Tansen’s soldiers killed him.He goes to Swami Haridas and falls at his feet, telling the guru that he wishes to learn music in order to take revenge from somebody. Swami Haridas tells Baiju that to learn music, he must replace the hatred simmering in his heart with love because music is meant to unite hearts, not separate them. He hands Baiju a veena, telling him to play the instrument until his heart is filled with love.

Baiju makes his way to a Shiva temple in the forest with the veena to begin his music sadhana. Listen carefully to the sitar in the background while Baiju is on his way to the temple. I am in two minds about which raga is playing on the sitar in the background. I think it is either Mishra Pahadi or Mishra Piloo. I would be happy to be corrected and would request knowledgeable listeners and students of music (especially light music) among the readers of this blog to listen to this 90 second piece and write in the comments section what raga they think it is:

In the meanwhile Gauri is still waiting in her village for Baiju’s return remembering and trying to relive her days with Baiju, while Tu Ganga ki mauj plays in the background in the film.

The next section of the film contains a beautiful raga mala while Baiju practices in the temple. The voice is Rafi’s and is testimony to Naushad’s and Rafi’s deep understanding of Hindustani music. We will start the next section with the raga mala. So make sure you tune in!

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