Tuesday, 4 September 2012

MUSIC & LYRICS

Say You Love Me and Mehbooba, Mehbooba

This week I have two classic audio-video songs for you as part of Tuesday’s Overlooked/Forgotten films and television over at Todd Mason’s blog Sweet Freedom.

When I first heard Say You Love Me by Greek singer Demis Roussos, I was struck by its musical resemblance to Mehbooba, Mehbooba from the Hindi cult film Sholay (1975) which many consider to be the greatest Indian film ever made. Roussos, himself, appears to have borrowed the musical score of Say You Love Me from Ta Rialia sung by another Greek singer Michalis Violaris. I haven't heard his version yet.

Sholay, produced and directed by the father-son duo of G.P. Sippy and Ramesh Sippy, was influenced by spaghetti westerns and particularly by John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven (1960), or Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) if you like. I intend to write about Sholay someday. It was called  Embers in English.

Mehbooba, Mehbooba, which means my love or my beloved, was composed and sung by the late R.D. Burman, one of India's most versatile musicians, in his trademark soul-filled baritone voice. You can picture an RD song the moment you hear the opening lines. His fan following has grown since he passed away in 1994.

In Sholay, the song is pictured on Indian character-actor Jalal Agha and dance queen Helen who, as a couple of wandering gypsy musicians, sing Mehbooba, Mehbooba before Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) who plays a dreaded dacoit from Chambal Valley, the once-notorious bandit hideout in central India.

Most Indians, I'm sure, have never heard Say You Love Me and I don't think they really need to, because Mehbooba, Mehbooba outscores Demis Roussos' solo number which sounds tame in comparison. The Hindi song is vastly superior in musical texture, thanks to the use of a wide array of musical instruments by R.D. Burman.

It's the kind of song you'll enjoy even if you don't fathom the lyrics but then Mehbooba, Mehbooba is about RD’s score and Helen’s dance, and little else. I suggest that you listen to Say You Love Me first and then its near Hindi copy. It was plagiarism at its best, as so many Hindi films and film songs have been over the years. Let me know what you think.





6 comments:

  1. Thanks for bringing us something so unfamiliar. We Americans often live in a bubble of our own cultural touchstones. It's good to hear about others.

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    1. Patti, I'm glad you enjoyed it. The Indian film industry, especially Bollywood, itself a takeoff on Hollywood, is heavily influenced by western film and music and no film reflected this trend more than SHOLAY. I hope you get a chance to watch it sometime.

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  2. I know Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was Pakistani, but the Demi Roussos song immediately reminded me of him. The song from SHOLAY is surely the source for "Say You Love Me," especially in the similar treatment of both songs. Thanks for the mini-lesson in international pop culture. More please.

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    1. Ron, Indian film music resonates with loud echoes of western music and I'd love to write about some of these songs and films here. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had a number of fans in India and his Qawwalis are still popular today. Roussos has sung a few good songs including "Forever And Ever" though I like Engelbert Humperdinck's version more.

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  3. I'll have to check these at home. my office computer has this plug in disabled.

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    1. Charles, it's worth looking at, especially the bedouin set-up to the song and dance.

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