Romancing the Past

I did not belong to the generation of my country that had Murphy radio glued to their ears. For news and more than that, as their sole source of entertainment. But, even though I belonged to the TV generation, I liked the radio better. Well, for beginners, nobody called it an Idiot Box and I loved getting clicked in the Murphy Baby pose.


I distinctly remember the cold winter evenings when people gathered outside tea shops, made a fire and huddled around it with a radio at the center. They drank tea, enjoyed the songs and discussed news. The “chai & charcha” (tea & discourse) was such an integral part of Indian way of life.

For me, I can recall so many nights when I went to sleep clutching the small black radio with the volume turned lowest.

In my house, the radio was switched on at 7:00 in the morning so that we could listen to the BBC English news as we got ready for school. It taught me correct usage, pronunciation, enunciation of the language and also enriched my vocabulary. Radio was not just for entertainment, not for me. With regional and international news, presenters who were well informed and experts on the subjects of discussions with clear diction and impeccable language skills, radio was a wealth of information . Anyone listening to All India Radio or AIR would be abreast of the current events from all across the world from New Zealand to Nagaland. Well, for me, it also meant great scores in General Knowledge tests and and a repertoire of excellent points to put forth during class debates.

I loved the radio, I still do. And even in this age of thousands of FM channel, my favorite remains Vividh Bharti – Desh ki surili dhadhkan (Nation’s melodious heart-beat). Which it has remained for as long as generations can remember.

In all probability the most popular programs were the ones which played songs from the Hindi movies. Ameen Sayani’s ,”Bhayio and Behnon” (Brothers & Sisters) would bring a smile on the most tired faces. And one cannot forget “Jaimala” dedicated to the soldiers of the Indian Army and BSF, playing song requests sent in by them. My personal favorite was “Hawa Mahal”, a program that aired audio plays. I owe my oral storytelling capabilities to programs like these.

The summer afternoons and winter evenings would have been dreadful without the solace of the radio. What bliss it was to curl up in the blanket with tea and your favorite songs playing on the radio.

Radio enjoyed much popularity for decades and in turn ensured the establishment and popularity of the Indian Cinema by taking it to the masses. So entrenched was Radio’s presence in the collective Indian mindset that when TV did make an appearance in Indian households, the most popular programs were “Rangoli” and “Chitrahaar”. Both were programs based on playlist of old and new songs from the Hindi films. I am sure no other country in the world plays “Antakshari” (the last alphabet) where as the name suggests one had to sing songs starting with the last alphabet used by the previous player in his/her song.

Radio introduced me to music and so many things wonderful. In my future blog posts I will discuss songs from the Hindi cinema that had lasting impact on me as a writer. Till then you can check out my YouTube channel where I have reacted to a few songs from the Golden Era of Indian Cinema.

Leave me a comment if you would like me to write about any of your favorite songs.

Love Vintage and want to Romance the Past? Check out my book “A Vintage Tale-What’s Past is Prologue” and take a trip to Victorian India. A Vintage Tale
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Orange Saree and Hindi Film Heroines

The first technicolor Indian film was Dilip Kumar, Nimmi and Nadira starrer “Aan” released in 1952. Since then, Hindi cinema has always been perceived and accepted as the kaleidoscopic, colorful and vibrant extravaganza by movie viewers around the world. Add to that, melodious music, soulful songs with beautiful lyrics and the spectacle stands complete.

Amidst all the beautiful colors and iconic songs, there is one common thread. The presence of the color orange.  Some of the biggest musical hits over the years had the heroine donning an orange saree. Orange is a vibrant color that has so many moods. Playful, flirty, sensual and downright seductive if it comes to that. It also looks absolutely gorgeous on the Indian skin tone and therefore from Mumtaz to Madhuri, Vijentimala to Katrina Kaiff, all have draped six yards of orange and set our hearts flutter.

The first song that comes to mind is definitely, “Tere husn ki kya tareef karoon” from the movie “Leader” 1964. The young Vyjayanthimala draped in a sheer orange saree looks hqdefaultbreathtakingly gorgeous. Her hair pulled back to display her very quintessential Indian features with those big almond eyes absolutely justify the lyrics of the song.

The other song that flashes in my mind is “Aajkal tere mere pyar ke charche” from the movie “Brahmachari” 1968. This iconic song picturized on vivacious “Mumtaz” not only lets her rock that orange saree but also introduced the new way of draping it. Etched in our collective memories, the 03sd21 “Mumtaz” style of draping a saree is still a huge hit in the retro theme parties and weddings. There is another memorable song picturized on her where she clad in orange playfully disturbs Rajesh Khanna’s study session. “Bindiya Chamkegi” is sweet and melodious and our heroine teaches us how to get those trademark Bollywood hip shakes right. Can I also mention “Jai jai shiv shankar” an absolutely fun number where again “Mumtaz” in her orange saree made the song memorable with her expressions.


The heroines of 60s sure loved their orange saree and it will be blasphemous if I move on without mentioning the passionate “Roop Tera Mastana”. “Sharmila Tagore” with her DcC9u4BWAAA_rjvorange saree tastefully draped over her bare shoulders redefined sensuality.




Rakhi’s” innocence captured in the song, “Oh meri Sharmilee” again had her flaunting an orange saree with beautiful black embroidery. “Zaheeda Hussain” looked equal maxresdefault (1)measure glamorous and chic in the song “Choori Nahi Ye Mera Dil Hai”  and teary eyed “Rajashree” was tragically beautiful in “Dil ke Jharokhe mein tujhko bitha ker”.



Come 70s and Zeenat Amaan taught us that the right way to get wet in the rain is in an b4931276-94d1-4e5a-a14a-4b63e86a0f5aorange saree. The iconic “Hai Hai Ye Majboori” sees her channeling her inner desi girl.




The legacy was carried on when “Madhuri Dixit” set the screens on fire in “Dhak Dhakmadhuridixit Kerne Laga” and the 90s redefined Hindi Film heroine who was now bold enough to embrace the sexual aspect of relationships. Close on the heels of this number came the anthem song of 90s on screen sexuality. “Raveena Tandon” took a leaf out of Zeenat Amaan’s book and decided to do a rain dance in an orange chiffon. It sure was enough to melt our Khiladi boy like candle wax.

I have always been a fan of Sushmita Sen, a graceful actress and a dancer who makes thex360--26 most horrible of bollywood choreography look elegant. The song I want to mention is “Laga laga laga re laga Prem Rog”. Her dual shaded orange saree and fun dance steps on a fast paced number is a delight to watch. Befittingly, she too gets drenched in a sudden downpour, keeping the trend alive.


Last but definitely not the end of list, when Kareena Kapoor had to recreate the love as itmaxresdefault happens in the movie, she chose to wear an orange saree off course and get wet in the rain. The song in question is “Zubi Dubi Zubi Dubi Pampaa” from 3 Idiots if you haven’t guessed already. There can be no better tribute to the importance of orange saree and hindi film heroines and this is the point where I rest my case.


Leave a comment if you think I missed out on any other iconic song.