Films and film songs are a very important part of Indian life. I grew up listening to Hindi songs. I remember waiting for Wednesday nights to listen to a very popular radio programme called ‘ Binaca Geet Mala’. For an hour we used to listen to the best Hindi songs of the previous week. But over the years it has become very difficult to appreciate Hindi and Kannada film songs of these times. We find the lyrics and the music deplorable. There are good songs but they are only a few. The 60s and the 70s were the golden period of Hindi and Kannada film songs, they are evergreen. They touched the heart and left their imprint for all times. Many a time I feel my inability to appreciate new songs is what I call the ‘generation thing’. At all times most people of the older generation believe that younger generation is not what they were and everything was better than what it is now. I suppose looking back through rose coloured spectacles makes us believe this opinion.
This reminds me of the book ‘Lectures on Ramayana’ by V S Sastri which was first published in 1944. In the Foreword, the author writes about the younger generation not being interested in our epics and Upanishads and so on. This was amusing because he was talking about my father’s generation!! My father used to read the Upanishads and the epics and so much more in Sanskrit. This ‘generation thing’ is a very interesting phenomenon.
Some time ago we attended a music concert. The singer was a classical Hindustani vocalist. He was just 31. It seemed to us that his singing transported him to the presence of God. He was in his own world. There are so many youngsters like him who are taking our traditions forward. Then why this ‘generation thing’? Sometimes I think it has become a habit with the older generation of every age.
Our Epics and Puranas are thousands of years old. They have influenced generations of writers and readers. There have been countless stories based on them. Every generation reads them, interprets them and writes according to their way of thinking. Some are accepted and many others are not. There are heated discussions about different interpretations. Then again this ‘generation thing’ makes the older generation shake their heads and wonder what the younger generation is up to. Over the years writers have been inspired by our Epics and have written stories based on them. But the original or what we believe to be the original has remained a constant. In the beginning there was only the oral tradition and all the stories were narrated from one to the other. And something would have been added to the original over the ages. Otherwise it would have been dead long back.
Last week, people in different parts of our country celebrated Rama Navami, the birth of Lord Rama. In August people will be celebrating the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. Our customs and traditions which have come down to us through centuries are a part of our everyday life and will continue to be so as long as they are open to change. What we are doing now is not what was done long back but this change is keeping it alive.