February 23, 2012

Nostalgia: Piya Basanti...

A still from Piya Basanti
Back during my school-days, the musical phenomenon known as Indipop had really taken off and I remember being unusually quite into music during that time, eagerly buying the audio cassettes of favorite artistes and musicians (how retro it sounds to refer to audio cassettes...and yet it was not *that* long ago, sigh!)Yet, to once more state the obvious, interestingly conceptualised music-videos created to market the songs were the ones that ensnared my attention first and subsequently made me familiar with the songs -  and there were some well-thought out ones produced at the time. In my opinion, though, the advent of  remixing Bolly songs in the early noughties pretty much killed Indi-pop and sucked the soul from the videos as well. 

Sung by the late renowned singer, Ustad Sultan Khan and South-Indian chanteuse, Chitra and directed by Pradeep Sarkar (who happened to make a lot of great music videos at the time - his movies, though, barring Parineeta, such as Laaga Chunri Mein Daag and Lafange Parindey, I am not such a fan of), the music video, Piya Basanti became hugely popular, both due to Sandesh Shandilya's music as well as the beautifully-conceived and directed music video itself. Unsurprisingly, I became more drawn towards the song due to repeatedly viewing the video and I recalled eagerly awaiting to catching a glimpse of it whenever it appeared on the music video channels in that innocent pre-YouTube era:)

                                             Piya Basanti

Apart from its super cute couple, Naheed Cyrusi and Donovan, I loved the video's story arc and the way Sarkar presented literally-love-at-first-sight narrative between an innocent mountain-village girl and terrorist (I think?) without overdosing on the saccharine factor*- plus, the landscape (I believe it was shot in the northern Indian mountain state of Himachal Pradesh) and weather play a major role in the video as well: the thick, swirling clouds, the rain-washed green, the smell of rain, and the cold of the mountains add so much atmosphere. I know, I know, I conceded that I am more of a beach gal than a mountain one...but seeing this video always makes me want to race off to the hills!

I also loved the little details embedded in the narrative, such as that of the seemingly innocuous daisy: 

As seen in the visual above, Naheed is wearing an aubergine-hued Himachali outfit and I remember purchasing a similarly hued kurta around that time (trust me to remember outfits!)

The video also built up much hype for a second installment, driving the narrative forward, which I thought was an interesting concept at the time. I especially love the beginning of the video which used the haunting track, Yeh teri surmayi aankhen... I also liked the fact that there were layers to the narrative - the music was undoubtedly integral to the video yet the narrative was equally compelling on its own...it wasn't merely just showcasing the music.

                                             Surmayi Aankhen/Chale Re

Listening to songs favorited from your past is akin to biting into chocolates of nostalgia: when you hear those songs, you are once more transported to a specific time-period of your past, remembering how your life was then, remembering how you envisioned your future then, reliving that present. While listening to the song, you become that person once again. But what happens when the song finishes playing? Would you ever want to return to being that person again?

Perhaps, this quote sums it all:

"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently over there."
The Go-Between, L.P Hartley

*Indipop music aficionados, does anyone recall the unbearably cloying and cheesy 'Chui Mui Si Lagti Ho' series of  music videos starring Preeti  Jhangiani and Abbas? I wouldn't be surprised if the term, cho-chweet originated after seeing those videos:P


  1. Hey friend :) Just read your article and many memories revived just in front of my eyes. Actually the place where this whole album was executed is my village in Himachal Pradesh. The place is known by the name of Kotgarh and is situated 80 kms away from Shimla towards the NH-22. It also happens to be the place where apple orchards first blossomed in Inida. You have written a beautiful article about the album which I saw being shot myself (I used to be a school going kid that time). The dress that you see Naheed wearing in this album is called as Rezta-petticoat and dhatu(the cotton printed scarf). It is the traditional dress of people who live in this beautiful valley. I am so thankful to you for re-igniting the childhood memories of mine with this article of yours :) God bless and take care!


    1. Harshendra,

      First of all, a very warm welcome to the blog and hope to see you here once again:)

      It's wonderful to hear that you enjoyed reading this post - in fact, it's such a coincidence but I was hearing the songs of Piya Basanti today after such a long time and just reminscing about the video and how beautiful the locales were:)That's so interesting to hear that you were there to see the video being shot!

      Thank you so much for telling me about Kotgarh and Naheed's costume, I especially find details about costumes very fascinating:)

      Once again, glad to know that you enjoyed the post so much:) Please keep on reading!

  2. oh cant believe all the things which i was thinking and every now and then searching this song on net especially the video which u described so beautifully are here. i cannot express my feelings in words about this song .this song made me love mountains rains ,,,so lovely music.i was wondering whether this album has more video songs , iwas also looking for a hd video of this whole song (3 of them).....Thanks for writing such a beautiful writing

    1. Hi Rups! First of all, thank you so much for stopping by here and I do hope that you will visit again:)

      Thank you for all your kinds words about this post - this is one of my all-time favorite videos and in fact, just re-watched it recently,! It still continues to leave an impact and it just shows how well-made it was considering we are still talking about it! I don't think that the album had more video songs - just Piya Basanti and Surmayi Aankhen/Chala Re...wish they had been more of them, would have loved to see them! I have only seen the two separate videos - not one consisting all three of them...good luck in finding it:)

      Take care:)

  3. V True. Good old days will be back soon. We are coming up with a plan to revive the Music Album Industry. 2015 will be different.

  4. Your article truly describes what i feel evrytime i hear this song..The stories in those albums at that time were so good...used to be so excited to know the story...n i m actually reminded of how I used to think about my future den. I actaully searched on google for the shooting location of dis song n ws led here..i hv decided to visit dis place as i love Himachal Pradesh n no matter hw many times i hv been dere...bt i m nvr satiated...i love mountains...thnks alot priyanka n harshendra.

    1. Hi Iti! First of all, thank you so much for coming by and I do hope you will visit again. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed reading this post, evoking good memories for you and that you will be going to visit the place where it was shot! In fact, thanks to your comment, I too feel inspired to go there...but for the meantime, I will re-watch the video!

  5. I can't help gaping at this article. It blows my mind to believe that someone shares the exact same views about something. I was a kid when this album was released, in the pre YouTube era like your correctly said. I too thought that I am a beach person and then my first visit to the mountains in monsoon revived my piya basanti memories where I was obsessed with those daisies!!! I literally would imitate using other wild flowers that I'd find in my garden. Thank you for such a lovely article! I hope to write one soon on this. In fact that is what draws me to your work here. I was just looking for the location and here I am! Google search engine, I tell you!


Thank you so much for taking the time out to leave a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!