Usha Khanna is an odd MD, imho. Odd – because it’s difficult to pinpoint any one or two or three characteristics of her music as being peculiar to her. She seems more of a chameleon, or a shape-shifter, taking on the peculiarities of the project she’s working on. I do find a central theme within each of the albums she’s created, but no commonalities across the board.
Having said that, there remains her magnum opus – Dil Deke Dekho (according to me) – which defies even that rule! There’s a richness to this album as if Usha Khanna decided to utilize all the instruments, rhythms, beats in her knowledge and at her disposal in this one album and its 10 songs! I, for one, have zero complaints she did that! Because she came up with a feast for the senses!
Each song in this album is so creatively handled that it’s difficult to figure out a favourite. But this one remains in the top 3 from this album for various reasons – one of them being the visuals here are in complete synergy with the audio!
Consider the pre-prelude. That is probably not even a word…but, humor me… . As the song starts with the sound of the brushes on the drums – what a sound that is!! – you find your feet start to move, much like Asha’s Parekh’s in the video, the body swaying with that glorious percussion start, ending in the flourish of Asha’s Parekh’s coat!
What starts after that is the prelude music – so much like “mera naam chin-chin-chu” that had the pre-prelude not been there, you couldn’t have told the difference. But.. only until that flute joins in! The instruments changing rapidly, giving this song an energy that only the combination of Rafi + Shammi Kapoor could have handled! The violins herald the lyrics. And the lyrics? Majrooh saahab, who could caution you against falling in love “karna dil ko ghumon ke hawaale”, telling you “kaam ulfat ka naazuk bahut hai, aa ke honthon pe tootenge pyaale”, throws caution to the winds here, much like the youthful do! Not much nazaakat here . A direct question, asking for a direct answer.
Note how ‘tight’ the rhythm is while asking the question, and how much more it ‘flows’ as the lyrics say ‘to hell with whatever happens after your answer!’ “phir jo ho, ho so ho…..haye…”
What starts off as a general love song in a club changes rapidly to a rather personal question between the lead pair as Shammi Kapoor wanders outside from the ‘mehfil’ to the ‘tanhayi bhi hai’. I love that part! And that flourish of music right after “sambhaalo sanam” and before “pyar ho to keh do ya” (around 1:43, i think!) – ufff! Is that a piano?
Majrooh and Rafi and Shammi Kapoor are merciless in this song, trying to get a clear answer from the lady. And, so is Usha Khanna! She creates the right mix of cheekiness, sauciness and vulnerability in this song, I think.
To me, that same mix applies to the music repertoire of this lady. There seems to be a confidence in it, but a rawness too – may be part of her USP?
This album was created in heaven, as far as I’m concerned.
Written on 7 October 2017, Usha Khanna’s birthday
Monica Kar received her BA in English Honours from the University of Delhi. She now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, where she wears several hats, including doing voluntary work as an educator and homemaker.