Procol Harum

the Pale

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Tum ho mere dil ki dhadkan

Sam Cameron on a pseudo-AWSoP in an Asian film

It is no secret that I am greatly amused by covers and derivatives of A Whiter Shade of Pale. After all, it would be somewhat ironic if we, long time defenders of the right to be inspired by Bach, were to scorn the right to ruin or otherwise reconstruct Procol Harum's albatross-cum-pot-of-gold.

Cross-cultural transformations are of particular interest to see what gets lost and what is new in the setting. By now there are many interesting reggae versions, some of them quite entertaining, but no South Asian version. In idle moments I have often contemplated the shock appearance of the familiar descending sequence played on a highly-strung sitar, with particular interest over what would fill the place of the organ solo which is the usual major weakness of covers.

On a routine web search using the 'variant spellings of the band-name' strategy I came across a reference to AWSoP in a feature in an Indian newspaper listing film music which had 'borrowed' from European music. The film Manzil appears not to be available for purchase on video so I sent out various help-messages to people who might know people who might have the film or the music [including sticking a note on my office door].

Eventually the organiser of language courses at Bradford University gave me the fax number of the Hindu Cultural Society in my local area which eventually provided [notwithstanding the inexplicable desire of the taxi driver to take me to a Sikh temple] the cassette which is the source of the following description.

You don't expect finding the right doorbell to ring to be an easy task on a mission like this. Nor was it, but this at least gave me the chance to be amused by seeing that the building opposite was the 'Southend Hall' and thereby indulge my incurable epiphany-addiction.

Tum ho mere dil ki dhadkan: a love song in the film Manzil (further details in review below). It seems to translate 'My Heart Beats For You' ... that is my attempted rendering, and it passed the scrutiny of native-tonguers I put it to.

From a cassette of music from three films, Manzil / Bemisal / Jurmana on HMV Economy SPHO 820762, released 1984. The sleeve says "some songs may have been edited" but does not say which ones. It also says these are the original soundtrack recordings, and the date for Manzil is given as 1977.

Sleeve details: Tum ho mere dil ki dhadkan

Authors: lyrics: Yogesh; Music: RD Burman (lazy fellow only did 331 films and 4 non-films: not subject to the anxieties that plague GB then!):

Performed: Kishore Kumar, singer:

Many thanks to Mrs K Katnur for the loan of the tape and for the hospitality of the HCS

Well if I was a judge [going on the recent Michael Bolton case] I suppose Brooker-Reid might get a decent share off this, but hardly a majority one.

There is no discernible resemblance to AWSoP in the arrangement, which sounds like very mild tabla, western acoustic guitar, those kind of sandpapered muzaky strings you will be familiar with from curry restaurants and one of those flute type things with the bulbous neck. None of these attempt to replicate Fisher's organ solo or any of the basic song structure.

So what is the resemblance that was brought to my attention by an Indian newspaper feature?

The vocal does start off carrying the basic melody of the organ introduction to AWSoP long enough for it to be recognisable, and the word sounds fall rhythmically into a pattern you could karaoke with to the Procol original. But by the time it gets to where the singing would start on the original Procol Harum song, it begins to deviate: although the passage with the resemblance does come back after some lengthy absences. So that is that, at least assuming that something crucial has not been edited out for this release.

But there is one more rock-and-roll link to this film soundtrack. The previous song, Man Mera Chahe, is sung by Asha Bhosle whose bosom was immortalised into mondegreen proportions in the 1998 chart smash Brimful of Asha by Cornershop.

In case any one is wondering, the resemblance – whilst just slight enough for legal action – is considerably more substantial than that of A Salty Dog to the Gus song Word of Mouth Parade (see here).

A Texan review

Manzil, a film from the 70s, stars Amitabh Bachchan and Maushami Chatterjee. It is a story about an ambitious and aspiring entrepreneur salesman, Amitabh, who has a simultaneous love interest with a rich girl, Maushami. Coming from a humble background, the often dreamy and romantic Amitabh relies on his rich roommate / friend for borrowing his car, plush flat, and money to impress Maushami and her parents. They are impressed with this young and 'successful' businessman and his material success, not realising his half-truths and hypocrisy. While Amitabh has secured their approval, he fails miserably in his small business - facing bankruptcy and debt. The climax occurs when Maushami's father finds out the truth about their soon-to-be son-in-law. What ensues during and after the climax is both surprising and inspiring.

The film is probably one of Amitabh's best (building galvanometers, reading physics book, sales / repair man). Maushami is at her best in this film, being a sweet and naive girl who loves him for who he is and not for his apparent success. The song Rim, Jhim Gire Saawan ... sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishor Kumar is one of the best rain songs I ever heard. It is decently filmed, the director Basu Chaterjee wouldn't have done it better. The movie portrays reality and teaches a lesson in values, and it is a must-see for everyone, especially aspiring and ambitious young men who have simultaneous love interest.

More about A Whiter Shade of Pale More Procol music in films

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