Filed under: India
S. Hazarasingh was from India.
The term “Bollywood” originally referred to Bombay’s (now known as Mumbai) Hindi language film industry. Although there are a number of other studios that produce films in other languages, more recently the definition has been expanded in the West to describe pretty much all films produced on the sub-continent. But where in most countries a film’s soundtrack would merely be used as a promotional tool for the film, in India film music has become an industry unto itself with playback singers and dance numbers. The music is just as important as the film and lives on long after the film has left the theaters. These songs are, for the most part, the pop music of India.
As with most popular music, other artists sometimes recorded cover versions of these songs. Of these musicians, a small number specialized in instrumental arrangements and created what could be called the elevator music of India. While there were a few who used the harmonium or ‘mouth organ’, the most popular instrument used in these “instrumental favorites” was the steel guitar.
The earliest known report of anyone playing slide guitar was Gabriel Davion, a native of India who had been kidnapped by Portuguese sailors and was brought to Hawaii in 1876. Of course, there are Indian string instruments like the gotuvadyam and the vichitra vina that utilize slide known to have existed since the 11th century. But it was not until Ernest Ka’ai and his Royal Hawaiian Troubadours’ toured in 1919 before the slide guitar was introduced to India.
S. Hazarasingh started out in the film studio orchestra as early as 1941, and had played on the original version of “Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu.” On many of his records, he is listed as “S. Hazra Singh”. Apparently there was a popular comedian in India named “Hazara Singh”, and he changed it to prevent confusion. I do not know how many 78’s he may have recorded, but I have seen two singles from 1964 and 1967. He didn’t release his first solo album until 1966, and only released two more before he passed away in 1971.
This is a Malaysian pressing of this record. There is no indication of the company that pressed it, but the catalog number is RSLP 2012. The Indian version on HMV of India has the same cover, except for a red background instead of the blue background and was released in 1969.