Category Archives: Art and Culture

Mahendra Kapoor is no more

Legendry singer Mahendra Kapoor passed away following a cardiac arrest on Saturday evening.

Mahendra Kapoor’s talent was spotted through an all-India singing competition where he received the best singer award from Mohammad Rafi whom he considered his mentor throughout his life. Music director C Ramchandra gave him his first break with Aadha Hai Chandrama Raat Aadhi in Navrang.

Mahendra Kapoor was best known for his patriotic songs in Manoj Kumar’s movies like Upkar, Purab Aur Paschim, Roti Kapda Aur Makan and Kranti. His song Mere Desh Ki Dharti in Upkar is still the most popular patriotic song. He also sang some of his best songs for B R Chpora Films including Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Ajnabee Ban Jaaye (Gumrah), Tere Pyaar Ka Aasra Chaahta Hoon ( Dhool Ka Phool), Neele Gagan Ke Tale (Hamraaz) and Sansaar Ki Har Shai Ka (Dhund).

I got the opportunity to meet him when he came to the cultural festival of my college. I was in the protocol team responsible for taking care of his stay in our college during the show. The first thing that strikes you after meeting Mahendra Kapoor is his down to earth attitude. At that time he was still a big name but he never showed that in his behavior. He was extremely cordial and humble with everyone and enjoyed his interaction with young students.

I was fortunate to be present when he was doing the rehearsals for his show and the power and intensity of his voice without the microphone in a closed room was unbelievable. When he sang it felt as if the whole room was reverberating.

His show was a great success and he sang most of his popular songs. When it ended people were still craving for more and on popular demand he even sang a couple of songs after announcement of the end of the program.


Big B responds

An image of Amitabh Bachchan

Big B is back in India. He is a worried man today. I just finished reading his blog on Raj – Jaya controversy. He says he didn’t sleep that night. He has also indirectly admitted that Jaya had made a mistake by instigating Raj Thackeray. Obviously he can’t directly blame her in public. At the same time, he appears to be visibly shaken by the turn of events. His nervousness has forced him to do what he hates doing. To prove his contribution to the state and its natives, he has published a long list of his benevolence towards the so called Marathi Manoos. He has also apologized on behalf of Jaya with lots of ifs and buts. I would like to quote his exact words from his blog:

“The casual off the cuff remarks made by her at the music launch function were without malice or deliberate intent, but if it has caused hurt to the sentiments of Maharashtra, Maharashtrians and indeed the city and citizens of Mumbai, then she must seek regret and offer apology. Everything that we possess today is what came to us from this great state and city. We never have and never can look at Maharashtra with disrespect. If inadvertently this is what has been construed, then we apologize and are sorry and seek forgiveness for any sentiments that have been hurt.”

I can fully understand Big B’s state of mind. As I mentioned in my previous post – what Jaya did was an unnecessary provocation which has now sabotaged the most ambitious releases of not only his film but also Abhishek’s most talked about film Drona. Big B is on a big fire-fighting mission today. The controversy has already taken its toll on the premier of Big B’s own release in Mumbai.

As much as Raj Thackeray needs to be condemned for his vandalism, Jaya can not absolve herself from triggering this unnecessary controversy. I am not sure if the apologies tendered by Jaya and Big B would be able to save the two important film releases of Bachchans. I am saying this because Raj Thackeray has tasted blood now and he may like to go for the kill. This time even Bala Sahab is not ready to come to Bachchans’ rescue. The only consolation he has provided is to drag SRK into this controversy. It is difficult to say how much that will help the cause of Bachchans’. Not much, I guess.

Strangely, no one is blaming Priyanka Chopra whose wicked chuckle played a key role in making Jaya’s remark sound even more contemptuous. Probably it serves no useful purpose to target her.

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Physics and Mathematics of Music

In almost all popular systems of music, there are 12 notes out of which 7 are called pure notes and remaining 5 are flat or sharp notes. In Indian Music system, the pure notes are called “shuddha swara” and flat/ sharp notes are called “komal” and “teevra” swara”. The seven “shuddha swara” are – “Sa”, Re”, “Ga”, “Ma”, “Pa”, “Dha” and “Nee”. The remaining five “swara” are – “Komal Re”, “Komal Ga”, “Teevra Ma”, “Komal Dha” and “Komal Nee”. The twelve notes together form one “Octave” or “Saptak”. There are normally three “Saptaks” – “Mandra”(lower), “Madhya”(middle) and “Taar” (High). Each “Saptak” theoretically has all the 12 notes but in most of the compositions apart from the entire “Madhya Saptak” only 3-4 notes of the “Mandra Saptak” and the “Tar Saptak” are used. This is mainly because of the limitation of the human voice which can not cover more than this span. Instruments of course can span over a much wider range but normally instrumentalists compose tunes in the same range as it sounds much better that way.

Pythagoras, the man in the center with the boo...

Pythagoras teaching music in "The School of Athens"

All the twelve notes of an Octave sound different because they have different frequencies. There are three versions of each note – one in each Octave. For example we have one “Mandra Saptak Sa”, one “Madhya Saptak Sa” and one “Tar Saptak Sa”. If we play these three notes they sound similar yet different. Why? Obviously the three “Sa” have different frequencies so why should they sound similar? It is because all the three frequencies are resonating frequencies. Which means that if the frequency of Mandra Saptak Sa is “f” then the frequencies of “Madhya Saptak” and “Tar Saptak” Sa are “2f” and “4f” respectively.

One “Saptak” comprises of 12 notes having frequencies between “f” and “2f”. The method of assigning the frequencies to the 12 notes is called “Tuning Method”. Various tuning methods have evolved over thousands of years both in Indian as well as in the Western Music System. Interestingly, most of these methods have very interesting mathematical backgrounds and the famous mathematician Pythagoras was the first to propound a mathematical tuning method. I wouldn’t like to load this blog with the technical details but those who are interested can search the web to find out more about this subject.