Hindi Film Geet Kosh Update Project……..
By Abhay Jain
Historically, Indian society has never paid enough attention to documenting or archiving things. Similarly, film industry has also suffered from the same indifference towards archiving. With desire to get information about Hindi film songs, Mr. Hamraaz embarked on a mission to painstakingly create a document of Hindi films/songs. Effort involved obtaining information from censor records, film booklets, catalogues of record companies, gramophone and vinyl record labels, interviews with music personalities, magazines, record collectors, music lovers, Radio Ceylon listeners etc. Without listening to actual songs, information could not be verified. His effort of documenting Hindi film songs resulted in five volumes of Hindi Film Geet Kosh in book form starting from 1932 (one volume per decade). Without his effort, most of the music and information would have never seen the light of the day. Many songs particularly the rare would have just stayed with collectors and some played on SLBC. I would say that my own interest would have been limited to what songs I had listened.
However information in Geet Kosh is not always complete or accurate because booklets either have errors, record companies had incorrect or incomplete information, many artists have passed away (and thus incapable of confirming the information) or the memory of living artists was fading (due to old age), some artists even provided outright misinformation for reasons best known to them. Moreover, actual songs were not always available. Ever since the publication of Geet Kosh volumes, corrections have been discussed by many music lovers, sent to Mr. Hamraaz but that information is not easily accessible to everyone at a central place in any form. Some of the errata information regularly appears in the periodically published Listeners’ Bulletin However, the scattered nature of the information is not very helpful and next editions of the Geet Koshs are long pending. For details about the Geet Kosh volumes and purchase information please visit the website http://hamraaz.org/ .
My effort is an attempt to centrally document correct information for songs of 1930s and 1940s. The information for these decades is most obscure and current focus is on these decades though if interest is there other decades can be seen at a later date. We would keep this information (one document per year and a separate one for 1940s) online to be accessible by everyone. It is built on the foundation laid out by Hindi Film Geet Kosh.
My Methodology of Information Update
It must be emphasized that it is a stretch to call it correct information. Especially towards singer names, it is the ears of people who have tried to recognize the voice where singer name is not available. One person’s “correct” guess may not match another person’s. It becomes particularly difficult in the case of obscure singers or where misinformation is there in other sources including the records themselves. There are some cases where listening is the only way to know. For example, in movie Muqabla (1942), Khan Mastana sang for both himself and Yakub but singing credit is mentioned as Yakub for the song actually sung by Khan Mastana because it was picturised on Yakub (It was a common practice for record companies/producers in 1930s and 1940s to mention the name of the artists it was picturised or even the name of the characters in the movies because of which one only has to resort to listening to guess the singers).