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When Cinema Matched Music Beat by Beat: Nadiya Kinare in Abhimaan

January 6, 2017 | By and

The challenge of Nadiya kinare in Abhimaan was to create a supremely classical yet rustic song. SD Burman’s music, Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics, Lata Mangeshkar’s voice along with Jaya Bhaduri and Amitabh Bachchan’s performance and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s direction were ably supported by the competent technical crew and musicians.

Anand Desai (in maroon) and Antara explore how master craftsmen of cinema and music matched every frame to a note in this song which can well be called a textbook in song composition and picturisation.


Subir Kumar is startled by the crystal aalap that breaks the morning stillness

A quaint village, a small temple, a little rivulet, soothing greenery dotted by cottages hidden in the distance, the chirping of birds – the strapping city-slick singer is enjoying the serene morning which is as spiritual as it is scenic.

The stillness is broken by an exquisitely melodious and rising aalap (0.03) that floats through the air, merging with the morning freshness. Star singer Subir Kumar (Amitabh Bachchan) who had dropped by the temple just for a nod to the deity on orders of his Mausi is mesmerized.

Excellence in Orchestration

This particular song {one of my personal favorites as far as the orchestration is concerned} is based on Raag Pilu and the Taal is Dadra. SD Burman accentuates the early morning purity through the instruments he employs. The song starts with Lata’s pure aalap with some stroke’s on the xylophone till 0.23 where the Dadra pick up is excellent.

Watch the song on YouTube here

Curious and drawn by the magnetism of the voice, Subir follows it.  As the enchanting Hei-ei.. Nadiya kinare heraaye aayi kangana (0:13) floats through the air Subir turns to spot a sari-clad girl twirling her pot in the rivulet as her long plait almost dips into the water.

Jaya Bhaduri

Uma is a devout yet impish girl firmly grounded in her sanskaar

The camera zooms in gently to get a closer shot of Uma (Jaya Bhaduri) as she stirs the water a little to clear the surface, fills her pot, singing to herself. Her gold-bordered white sari and single bangle add a touch of purity. She offers the first fill to Lord Shiva and then with a little hop and skip up the stone incline goes her way towards the temple. No prizes for guessing, she is a devout yet impish girl firmly grounded in her sanskaar. Subir Kumar forgets he had a flight to catch. Uma does not even notice him.

Notice a slight offbeat double tak-a-tak on the Chatti just adding the masti to the rhythm. As Subir rushes after her to make sure he does not lose sight, Burman Dada brings in his favourite Bamboo Flute and the Santoor to add to the spell that’s being cast. The violin obbligatos form superb bridges. Particularly, one notices all the tabla beats as one approaches the beginning of the interludes, the pace picks up, a bit racy.

The Challenge to Create a Rustic Classical

SD Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri

The challenge SD Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri faced was to create a classical song but with a tinge of the rustic countryside

The lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri capture the feel of the village with a fair use of dialect, heraai aai kangana, gori ad jao na maano kehna, kari ho bahana and so on. Subir has not met Uma before but thanks to Durga Mausi (Durga Khote’s) briefing earlier, he is aware that  that the priest at the temple, Sadanand Bhaiyya and his daughter are exponents in classical music.  He had heard her the day before chanting shlokas with her father.

Now here in lies a curious challenge in this song. The composition needed to have a classical base to show Uma’s expertise and ease with its complexities. Yet it had to be rooted in the village soil, which in other words means using a dialect without making it folk. There could not have been a lighter song nor a pure classical. There is sangeet in the entire shrishti, and the music of Nature had to be captured in all its mellifluous hues.

Besides, there was a greater challenge where Burman Dada had to make Lata sing in a manner that reflected that the heroine on screen was a better singer than her to-be-husband. Imagine having to make her sound better than Kishore Kumar and Rafi all through the other songs in this movie without making them compromise on their rendition. Well, SD Burman is no stranger to drawing out the best from his singers and this song is a shining example of that acumen.

The orchestration had a super balance of poetic and commercial superiority. At 2.18 Lata stretches to fit the meter with an excellent murki Ab khadi khadi sochoon. It heightens the dilemma of the bride who has lost her bangle and is wondering what excuse to cook up for her mother-in-law and sister-in-law who would quiz her about it for sure. Oh well, it did prove costly meeting her beau discreetly on the river bank!

Lata rehearsing for Dada Burman

Lata rehearsing for Dada Burman
(Pic courtesy: Sachin Dev Burman Fan Club Facebook Group)

Dekhi hai saas nanadiya
Tab kaa kare ho bahana {an amazing stretch}
Ab to sooni kalaa-aa-aa-i (the matras make her voice dance down the steps)
Laike chori chori jaana
Bhaari pada re piya se milna [2]
The postlude is simple and does not dominate the singer.

Abhimaan – a Team of Super Talents

This was a dream project for director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee. He had apparently discussed about it with S D Burman way back in 1969 after Aashirwad (1968). For various reasons the project kept getting delayed. For Burman, it was also a pet project for after many years he was getting an opportunity to compose for a film that had music as its primary subject. Within himself he had been planning ever since.

Dreamt of and planned for so long by people who were masters in their craft and co-produced by the lead stars themselves, Abhimaan had everything going right for it. Needless to say, the charisma of Amitabh Bachchan and the spontaneous simplicity of Jaya Bhaduri were ideally suited to their roles – of the singer star and the simple, innocent girl. As was characteristic of this super-talented actress, she emoted the song with exact emphasis in the correct places, seamlessly lip-syncing with the murkis too.

Shots are Cut to Match Beats

As students of cinema appreciation we’ve analysed the world classics, dissecting them frame by frame for days on end.

But when it comes to giving an easy-to-grasp glimpse of the craft of cinema to a regular movie viewer, I fall back on Abhimaan. Reason? Every frame in this film is a vital link to the story. One must acknowledge the critical role of the screenplay writers here – the legendary Nabendu Ghosh along with Biresh Chatterjee and Mohini N. Sippy. Drop a frame, you lose a link. Drop a song, you break the flow of the story irrevocably. All the songs of Abhimaan are “Obbligatos” unto themselves! 

And Nadiya kinare is no different. The story flows through the song and with each cut, Hrishida is careful not to intrude into the flow of the music. So when is the cut? Its on the taal or the samm! Check the cuts alternating between Uma and Subir that perfectly match the beats 1:06, 1:07, 1:08, 1:09 with a finish at 1:10. Notice the interplay between the Flute and the Sarangi in the first interlude.

Kaahe panghat upar
Gayi thhi chalke akeli

The camera holds steady as Lata plays with the delightful murkis. And then it cuts to a closeup as she holds her voice at ‘Maare has has’, cutting to a big closeup as Lata stretches on taa-aa-na. Particularly remarkable are the Violin obbligatos just after kaa..he panghat uuu…par [ obbligato]… gayi thhi. This again gets repeated at maaa…re has has taaa…naa [obbligato]…saari sakhiyan saheli…The treatment of the ‘stretch’ of u.u.u.u.par and ta.a.a.a…naa… to fit the meter is SD Burman’s double ice-cream scoop!

The camera cuts to a closeup as Lata holds her voice at ‘Maare hans hans’, cutting to a big closeup as she stretches on taa-aa-na.

The camera cuts to a closeup as Lata holds her voice at ‘Maare has has’, cutting to a big closeup as she stretches on taa-aa-na.

This interplay of shots with the beats continue even in the interludes alternating between closeups of Subir and Uma. Every shot is cut only with a beat or when a line ends.

The masterstroke of zoom comes at 2:16-2:18 – the cameraman, Hrishi Da’s trusted lieutenant Jaywant Pathare, is having fun with the camera! Four Sitar strums match four zooms. But just before that the interplay between a Sarangi and a lovely Flute stretch in the interlude is exemplary. The Flute races as Jaya suddenly sprints away from the viewer. Watch it! It takes an editor-director with a keen sense of music to get this effect. For the viewers, the total effect is so perfectly tuned that it becomes an experience to recall and enjoy forever.

Four zooms matching four beats

Four zooms with four sitar strums!

I consider this as the most challenging song of SD Burman and Majrooh Combo. Moreover, Lata’s singing makes it even more compelling, making us want to hear it many times over. It’s a song of simple words and rhyme with delightful music and rendition and takes my breath away, always.

SD Burman won the Filmfare award for Abhimaan after a gap of 20 years, post Taxi Driver. And the film became a milestone in Hindi film music, even in terms of every single song being a superhit!

(With inputs from Peeyush Sharma)

The Mesmerizing Moods of Jaane Kya Tune Kahi (Pyaasa)

Creative Writing

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After qualifying as a CA, I worked in the field of Investment Banking for around 18 years wth JM Financials and Kotak Mahindra and did a stint in the media with SONY. I now run a business advisory firm and I am an independent director on the Boards of companies. Music consumes a large part of my waking hours and keeps the fire in me alive.
All Posts of Anand Desai
Editor in Chief, Learning and Creativity; Consulting Editor, Silhouette Magazine. A former business journalist, Antara writes extensively on the changing trends of music, direction and filmmaking in cinema. Her articles aim to provide well-researched information on the legends of cinema for the movie and music enthusiast. She is also the Founder-Editor of Blue Pencil, a New Delhi-based publishing house. She edited and published Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, the biography of SD Burman written by HQ Chowdhury. She has co-authored a chapter on Hemant Kumar's Bengali music in the acclaimed book The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar, written by Manek Premchand. Her articles have also been published in and Antara is Editor-Creative Director of Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd.
All Posts of Antara Nanda Mondal

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4 thoughts on “When Cinema Matched Music Beat by Beat: Nadiya Kinare in Abhimaan

  • Silhouette Magazine

    Comments received on this article on Facebook:

    Dharma Kirthi: Excellent write up by Anand and Antara… I like the way, the song has been presented!
    Abhimaan is a classic movie , inspired from A Star is Born. Hrishida created a movie which won Dada Burman his second Filmfare Award after Taxi Driver.
    Everything fell in place.
    Hrishida belongs to the Bimal Roy school of filmmaking where subtlety and great music to blend with the narrative was at the essence of their genre.
    Hrishida was a trained musician himself, hence all his movies had music at heart.

    Vishesh Parekh: Never seen such an analysis… picturization and orchestration so closely interlinked and analysed…super!

    Kishore Pandey: Excellent narration.

    Swapneel Sathe: Excellent!

    Debasish Bhattacharya: Aptly revealed shot by shot…….. a making of a song and its picturization. A sheer “Nirmal Anand” going through the article (Y)

    Sayan Roy: Beautiful article. It really explains the nuances of music and its impact on the movie so amazing, especially to a layman like me. Thanks!!!

    Prasad Desai: The words “saasu nanadiya sound so warm and touching. Shows the highly important and revered the sasu (mother-in-law & sister-in-law are in the cultural ethos of our country) and these words sung by Lataji with such ease (sahajata) that they seamlessly blend with Jayaji’s acting, that it’s visual treat watching this song…a bashful village belle in all her innocence conveys her innermost feelings in such a demure way that the urban bred Bachhan is bewildered.
    One is stunned at the finesse of a high calibre artist like Jayaji’s. And how could she achieve it without a very competent yet subtle support from the singer and above all the lyricist ever-so ably guided by Dada. He wasn’t only a music director but also ventured to different areas as he had in-depth knowledge of the Indian culture and it’s paradigms.Only a very high-level of intellectual prowess coupled with the ability to bring a complete harmony of words with music and of course the scene is not the work of an Artist but a Craftsman like Dada.
    One has to listen to this song when it’s midnight to get its true feel.
    Its our Sages who brought forth the Indian Culture but the essence could be scripted through cinema by the stalwarts like Hrishida and of course Dada.
    Very meaningful post. Such Posts add richness to the Musical Travel journey of the Club… Regards

    Peeyush Sharma: Great comments by Prasad ji. Majrooh had been summoned by Dada to start writing for Abhimaan, without waiting for formal producers’ invite. He knew what he could get out of Majrooh in such song situations.

    Kunal Desai: Classic Article Antara. Your creativity and Anandbhai’s technical analysis has made it an awesome piece of work to cherish again and again.

    Uday Joglekar: Fantastic Antara and Anand Desai. Love the simplicity in writing. Touched to the heart. A small request from me express your feelings on another gem song Aye ri pawan dhundhe kise mera man ..

    Soumyadeep Chakroborty: So very lucidly narrated with a sharp introspection of Latajis exquisite voice pouring out like a free flowing Himalayan stream..however, i feel that the other song in form of piya bina piya bina has the signature effect that outraces both the KK and Rafi sabs renditions… Burman dada brings the flute into play to express the inner pains which transcends to a super emotive plane as the song progresses only to establish the eternally true lines…our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts…Arguably one of the finest of all the numbers ever delivered by the melody queen!

    Vibhas Verma: Amazing analysis! one of my most favourite songs. After reading this i watched the song again 3 times and found the pleasure of watching and listening to it has actually enhanced. Thank you. Looking forward to more such stories.

    Kalindi Saraf: Brilliant analysis, Antara !!!
    If Burman da and Hrishikesh Mukherjee are a textbook for composition and picturization of a song then Antara, you and your team at learningandcreativity are textbooks for analysis of a song and excellent write-up. Congratulations to you all. 💐🙏

  • A Bharat

    What an amazing analysis about an amazing song.

    When one watches the movie in a theatre all the tiny touches lovingly incorporated in songs flit by usually unnoticed. But when studied individually in depth like these two genii have done one kicks oneself- justifiably! I saw the song again (and again) after reading these comments and felt like rewinding eternally.

    To give it the proper perspective I would say that I felt exactly as I felt with another SDB masterpiece “Sach Huwe Sapne Tere“. Such perfect identification of the music director and actress appears positively miraculous. And here Jaya is a perfect match for Waheeda. SHE is singing the song as the words appear in her mind.

    And one gathers the music also appears in her mind – for see her flourish at the end- twirling the near empty (which she has verified a few moments earlier) pot and tapping it like Dada’s baton to close the song! And I just loved the moment when she smiles to herself (2.50) after saying sooni kalayi!

    Thanks for the treat Antara and Anand!

    1. Antara

      Thank you so very much Bharat ji for this fantastic feedback!

      As you said, “I saw the song again (and again) after reading these comments and felt like rewinding eternally.” – this is exactly what happened to me when I kept watching the song in a loop discovering new treats and twists I had missed earlier. I had noticed earlier that the camera movements matched every note but the intricacies of the notes I never knew before. All thanks to Anand ji – it was a revelation for me.

      In fact, I would love to revisit two more songs from Abhimaan where this same technique is used albeit with a slight difference – Piya bina and Tere mere milan ki yeh raina. Each camera angle has a story to tell and the movements of the actors match the notes too.

      Sach huye sapne tere is a beautiful melody – a perfect example of speaking to one’s own heart. And who else but Burman Dada can cast a spell like that. Thanks for reminding me of this delightful number.

      Grateful and very humbled by your feedback. Was awaiting it eagerly 🙂

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