Asha Bhonsle & Suresh Wadkar – Yeh Hawa Yey Fiza
Asha Bhonsle – O Babuaa Yeh Mahua
Suresh Wadkar – Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le
Back in early March Records LA set many local DJ’s diggin’ hearts aflame with several boxes of choice LPs and 45s from India. Just like the fool I am, when the message went out that the records had arrived, I did not go in for quick visit. Time was just too tight that Friday. Later on someone posted a thank you to Scott with a youtube clip of “Yeh Hawa” from this LP, the soundtrack to the film Sadma, released in 1983. I instantly recognized the song as the sample for one of my fave songs of 2010, Gonjasufi’s “Sheep” and just as instantly cursed myself for not getting to the store when all these LPs arrived (apparently there were multiple copies of Sadma, and reasonably priced for the top-shelf quality at $35). After a couple of weeks obsessising about my loss, I was however able to secure a copy of this LP for myself via a UK dealer on Ebay and now I get to share it with you.
Sadma is a 1983 remake of a film from a few years earlier. Most of the footage is the same, with some newly recorded songs and dance numbers, but the story is the same. A young woman has an accident and loses her memory, somehow gets sold to a brothel where she meets a shy dude who takes her in and they fall in love, only to be separated when she regains her memory (thus forgetting all about him) and returns to her old life. A tragic yet appealingly over-the-top story, as all good Bollywood films are. The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja (sometimes his name is spelled Illaraja, which you have to admit sounds like just the perfect Indian Rapper/Producer name) and features a couple of serious stars of India music in vocalists Asha Bhonsle and Suresh Wadkar. “Yeh Hawa Yey Fiza” was the main reason I obsessed about this record, it’s such a face-melting, bewilderingly fantastic track that I don’t even know how to describe it. Lush and dreamy then bomb ass funky with all kinds of minor deviations along the way. Hearing the original and understanding the ways that Gaslamp Killer chopped it up, extended a few bits and looped others to match the narrative from Gonjasufi just makes me appreciate “Sheep” even more.
“Aye Zindagi Gale Lagaa Le” has a similar schizophrenic structure, perfect for the manic pace of Bollywood dance numbers and yeilding lots of suprising sounds (my favorite is when the strings and drums hit about 1:30 in…dyno-mite!). “O Babuaa Yeh Mahua” maintains a basic structure throughout with drums that seem to match the strange seemingly Native American inspired fantasy dance number (one of the few songs that remains the same between Sadma and the original film).
Surprisingly this is the first Bollywood record that I’ve actually owned, though I’ve been a fan of the music from 1970s & 1980s India for years and years and a former partner in crime Soul Marcosa runs an excellent Monthly featuring many of these sounds, Masala Beat Club. I’ve always wondered how closely the composers work with the film makers, if the music is composed first and then they try to creatively represent it in the film, or if they start with the dance sequences then figure out the music. Actually watching the opening of Sadma which features “Yeh Hawa” it seems like the music comes first then they work on the dance pieces…it’s the only way I can make sense of that meditative dude chanting in the middle of the beach (and the song) admist all the revelry.
Also, FYI…Scott at Records LA just got in another batch of rare LPs from India, (including a Bollywood version of Herbie Hancock’s Rock-It!?!?) it might be a good time to check it all out…Record Store Day is after all only a week away.