Monsoons in India are almost over and chilling winds have set in to pave the way for winter. The rains kept our company for almost four months, sometimes as a pleasant companion, sometimes as a long lost friend who came to surprise us and sometimes even that annoying person who just wouldn’t let us be in peace !! But I think we all agree that the beginning of monsoons is a truly delightful period. The schools in India start around the same time. When I see kids walking towards schools in their rainy shoes and cute umbrellas, I am always reminded of this beautiful song from the movie The Blue Umbrella: Chatri ka Udan Khatola
This movie is based on a short story by Ruskin Bond by the same name. Ruskin Bond has a knack of capturing the subtle emotions of kids and of course weaving it beautifully into words. Vishal bharadwaj has done complete justice to the short story while making this movie. The movie has also won the National Film Award in the year 2007 and I will recommend this sweet movie to everyone. The story is based in a remote village of Himachal Pradesh where a small girl gets hold of a wonderful blue umbrella. The story is extremely simple and perfectly captures the innocence of children.
The feel of the song: The girl has just got a brand new umbrella, plus she is from a remote village where possessing such an umbrella itself is a remote idea. Of course the girl is highly excited about the umbrella and takes it everywhere she goes. Just recollect the excitement of any kid when he/she sets eyes on a new toy, that is exactly the emotion this song is trying to capture. The song describes the amazing things that the umbrella does from the perspective of a child.
The rhythm: The song makes use of bouncy rhythms throughout the song, keeping in tune with the intended enthusiasm of the song. The percussion elements from the region of Himachal like the manjira or jhanjh have also been used occassionally for a garnishing effect.
Vocals: The vocalist Upagna Pandya has done a nice job in rendering the lyrics of the song with an endearing childlike enthusiasm. The throw of her voice in the higher parts is quite precise, especially considering her age. The chorus is an excellent means of adding to the childlike feel. Harmonies have also been used nicely in the chorus.
Interplay of major and minor scales: The synthesizer has been used extensively to create crescendos. Since this is a kids song, it has fast transitions of moods to reflect the bubbly and transient nature of kids. These transitions are achieved by changing extensively between minor and major chords, especially in the chorus. Along with the chord transitions, the mood change is achieved by modulating rhythm as well. There is a nice mix of fast paced sections going towards a climax and slow emotional parts.
For the more interested listener: This song uses elements from the folk music of Himachal Pradesh. The state is amidst the Himalayas, one of the most scenic parts of the world and subsequently the music also reflects the freshness of this region. They have a wide range of percussion instruments and wind instruments. In fact I feel that the wind instruments like flute aptly bring out the windy feel of the mountains. Here is a nice Himachal folk song by Mohit Chauhan.
The melodies of this region are typically called Pahadi Dhuns. Many Hindustani classical instrumentalists play these Dhuns as a part of their performances. This is a soulful rendering of a Pahadi Dhun by Pandit Shivkumar Sharma.