It’s one am in the morning. And I have had the same song playing on loop on my laptop for the last three hours. It’s been written, composed and sung by Himesh Reshammiya.
The song is Tera Pyar Pyar Pyar Hookah Bar from the Akshay Kumar starrer Khiladi 786. There is something very infectious about the song. I can’t really figure out why I am hooked onto it. I guess in this day and age of complex multilayered songs this is a simple tune which one can hum.
With the music of Khiladi 786 Reshammiya is well and truly back. The album has the music director who for a brief period became more famous for his hair weaving, crooning songs in his famous (or should we say infamous) nasal twang.
If you thought Aashiq Banaya Aapne was too much then try listening to Lonely Lonely Tere Bin and you might find yourself shouting O Banwariya by the end of it. The song has Yo Yo Honey Singh rapping along with Reshamiya.
For those who are the old fashioned kind and prefer people singing through their mouth and not through their nose will appreciate Saari Saari Raat Soye Na Hum. Okay, I have to admit that there is a slight nasal twang in Himesh’s voice even in this song. But then the nasal twang is to Himesh what yoddling was to Kishore Kumar.
Himesh Reshammiya burst onto the scene as a singer with the big hit Aashiq Banaya Aapne. The nasal twang in his voice reminded me of the Pakistani singer Hasan Jehangir who sang the hit song Hawa Hawa in the late 1980s (The video of the song that I have uploaded is from this movie called Don 2 and try spotting the rather dilapidated Shah Rukh Khan’s Mannat in the background).
Hawa Hawa achieved cult status and rose to as high as the second position on the Cibaca Sangeet Mala (or was it Cibaca Geet Mala, I really don’t remember). Back then it was the only countdown show and used to be on air every Monday at eight o’ clock on Vividh Bharti (It had moved from Radio Ceylon by then). Years later I was devastated to know that the song was not an original had been copied from the song Havar Havar sung by the Iranian singer Kourosh Yaghmaei.
Okay, Okay, I am deviating, but that’s the trouble with writing on movies and music. So we were talking about Reshammiya and I thought his voice had a nasal twang which was similar to that of Hasan Jehangir but the twang was much more pronounced in this case and I also thought that like Jehangir before him, Reshamiya would be a one song wonder.
But I, like a lot of others, was hopelessly wrong on this one. He belted out one hit after another as a singer as well as a music director. The irony of course was that even though everyone was listening to his songs no one would admit to the same. I realised this on a random rainy day in Ranchi while visiting my parents in 2007 and humming a song called Jummerat from Phir Hera Pheri all day long.
And I was surprised. I wasn’t supposed to like Himesh bhai. Okay, I told myself, this is a temporary phenomenon and I would soon get over it. But the fact of the matter was I liked what I heard.
It was fashionable to listen to the non hummable songs of A R Rahman but Himesh’s music was for the auto-rickshaw drivers. As a columnist in the Daily News and Analysis asked in July 2007 “Only autowallahs and taxi-drivers listen to his kind of music,” I was told.
“We who sit in the passenger seat don’t.” Oh! This raised more fundamental questions in my mind. So, apparently, when Himess(Himesh Reshammiya i.e.) became the first Indian to perform at the Wembley, all of India’s auto, taxi and truck drivers must have flown to London to attend his concert? Or perhaps it was attended only by London’s taxi-drivers?”
“And what about the savvy lot who run our FM channels? They all know that their target audience is the young, cool, hip, urban, intelligent, upwardly mobile (or Ipod/Iphone),” the columnist went onto ask.
In between, all this Reshammiya decided to become a hero. And at the same time decided to give music only in those movies in which he starred. His first film as a hero was Aap Ka Suroor. The nasal twang of Reshammiya reached monstrous proportions with the song O Huzoor – Tera Tera Tera Suroor. Other than having ten songs sung by Reshamiya it also had for the very first time in the history of Hindi cinema the hero wearing a baseball cap throughout the movie.
The next one was Karzzz. But even all the extra zzz’s and Reshammiya without the baseball cap could not save the movie at the box office. Ironically this was a remake of the earlier Karz made by Subhash Ghai. Ghai had ripped off the movie from The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and still got paid Rs 3 crore for the remake rights. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.
Himesh Reshammiya’s next film as a hero was Radio. The film had some fantastic music and I personally feel its Reshamiya’s best album till date. It includes a personal favourite Daamad Ji Angna Main Padhare which Reshammiya has sung along with Kailash Kher. His next film Kajraare directed by the former actress Pooja Bhatt saw a fairly limited release (in two cinema halls if I remember correctly).
And Himesh’s acting career was more or less over after this. But Reshammiya was only trying to do what a lot of other famous singers have done in the past i.e. become a hero. Mukesh stopped singing for a while in the early 50s when he wanted to become a hero and decided to sing only for himself. The dashing Talat Mehmood went through the same phase of wanting to become a hero and soon other singers were singing for superstar Dilip Kumar.
In the early 70s Shailendra Singh was Rishi Kapoor’s voice in Bobby. But he had acting aspirations as well and became neither a famous singer nor a famous actor. In the recent years Sonu Nigam has fallen into the same trap and is no longer the top male playback singer.
There are very few singers who made it big as actors. One of course was the great Kishore Kumar. But his best songs came after he had more or less quit acting. The only true singing superstar that Hindi cinema has ever had is Kundan Lal Saigal who drunk himself to death at a young age of 43 because he had this thing in his head that he sang better when he was drunk.
By the time he realised this mistake it was too late (Dr Rajkumar, the kannada superstar, sang a lot of his own songs. He also sang bhajans). Ashok Kumar also sang his own song during the days when cinema did not have any playback but gave it up as soon as technology allowed trained playback singers to takeover.
The moral of the story for Himesh bhai is that he should stick to what he knows best and i.e. giving music and belting out superhit songs with a nasal twang.
In the meanwhile I am waiting for his next song with a nasal overtone and am also ready for the hate mail. Bring it on, women!
(Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)