Jyoti Kalash Chhalke is a testimony to the musical genius of Sudhir Phadke who left for his heavenly abode on July 29, 2002. I still fondly remember meeting him last year at his Shivaji Park flat in Mumbai, when the great octogenarian and his ever so courteous wife Lalita – a fine playback singer of the forties, had regaled me with their musical reminiscences.
Blessed with a melodious voice and a talent for carving sweet tunes, Sudhir Phadke along with his favourite lyricist G.D.Madgulkar, created some of the finest ever songs in Marathi. ‘Geet Ramayan’ – their celebrated combined musical venture was translated into almost all Indian languages. Along with film-maker Raja Paranjape, they formed a magical trio who brought the golden era in Marathi film music in the late fifties and sixties.
Fondly called as ‘Babuji’, he had a brief unsuccessful innings in Hindi film music but his mastery over nuances of melody and Indian classical music and even his Marathi musical roots shone dazzlingly through this eternal gem of a song from the film Bhabhi Ki Choodiyan.
Lata Mangeshkar was initially reluctant to sing this song because of some misunderstanding. Luckily the veteran lyricist Pandit Narendra Sharma – whom Lata respectfully and lovingly called ‘Pappa’, intervened and made her accept the assignment. Sharma himself penned the song in his famed Sanskrit-based pure Hindi.
Lata’s soulful vocals then converted Babuji’s Bhupali – raag based composition, into a divine journey into spirituality and piety. On silver screen, Meena Kumari – looking like dew drop fresh Goddess herself, portraying a loving, homely housewife offering her morning prayers, going round the Tulsi planted in her house compound then provided the perfect visual backdrop.
It’s a song adorned with minimal but pleasing strains of sitar, violins, flute and tabla. Starting off with a sweet, soaring aalaap and replete with delicate nuances, Lata’s sublime rendition brings out the true inner beauty of the tune and of the words that mean:
‘‘ The glowing holy light flows with joy /
As the glorious morning dawns on this world /
Showing off its pink, red, golden colored clouds /
And a cool shadow of peace and happiness envelops all beings. "
It’s a song that calms one’s troubled mind with its serene imagery and message. What better song to remember in the present day world beset with fear, chaos, war and hatred?