Monday, December 22, 2008

What else has Ovaltine been up to?

Watched 1960's black and white Barsaat Ki Raat over the weekend. The hero, a renowned but underemployed poet (imagine that) takes a job working for a radio station in ... Hyderabad! Where, under the name "Aman Hyderabadi," he composes songs and has a regular radio spot performing them live on the air. His poem about accidentally meeting Madhubala on the rainy night of the title becomes a big hit, and people are singing it everywhere, even as he's rejected by her father as a suitor because, well, he's a penniless poet.

Since I, of course, am such a huge fan of the radio stations in Hyderabad, this was like one of those special shout-outs just for me. I will add, however, that if they were to broadcast live qawwali competitions, like they did in the movie, I'd like them even better.

Then yesterday I finished the book The Last Mughal (a harsh read; it sounds amazing that anything of Dehli was left standing), and came across an intriguing footnote about some ghazals that are attributed to Zafar, that last Mughal emperor. Mohd. Rafi actually sang them in a movie, Lal Qila, that I haven't been able to track down yet (but the morning is young). Anyway, the note continues that the songs were actually performed and popularized earlier, in the fifties, "on Radio Ceylon's talent show, Ovaltine Amateur Hour." (p. 437n)


Which I drank as a child, but mainly associate as the sponsor of the radio show in A Christmas Story.

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