Easily the best in class….

My Sunday morning started with the sad news of the sad demise of arguably the most famous singer with one of longest singing careers in Bollywood, and indeed , maybe one of the longest careers around the world, Bharatratna Lata Mangeshkar. I think choosing one song as a tribute to a lady, a true legend, with such a long and prolific career and one who every Indian worldwide has surely heard hundreds of times every year of one’s life is an impossible task. I love this one song of hers for a variety of reasons. It is tough to immediately express in words the huge , indelible impact the lady born in the city my family hails from exactly 3 months to the day after my Father’s birth had on my life.

Dastak is Rajinder Singh Bedi‘s Bollywood debut as a director and the movie made in Black and white in the early 70s, (when colour was the norm) with a debutante actress (Rehana Sultan, fresh out of FTII) who had a memorable acting duel with my most favourite actor of the generation, Haribhai Jariwala aka Sanjeev Kumar.

I’ve already written lots about the movie in previous posts on two other songs from the movie: “Baiyan na dharo,” by the great Latadidi and the unforgettably sensuous vocal eroticism by Rafisaab, “Tumse kahoon ek baat paronse, halke, halke…”

This post is about what happens as a happy and memorable once-in-a-blue-moon-event when a genuine poet of the highest class is freed from the shackles of writing mere rhyming made-to-order lyrics for films as a means of earning a livelihood  (Majrooh Sultanpuri ) and is allowed the rare freedom of writing poetry in its most ethereal form, this then coupled with a Composer who was truly Shehenshah-e-Ghazal in Bollywood music (Madan Mohan) and then rendered by one of the best voices we have been treated to since the mid 40s through to the early 80s, Lata Mangeshkar, the result is a one way ticket to auditory bliss- an other-worldly experience, true Nirvaan.

The song is beautifully picturized with Rehana Sultan sitting demurely , pallu draped over her head and just a taanpura providing the sur, as Madan Mohan’s signature composition kicks in with a Sitar piece that is very likely to be by Raees Khan one of Madanji’s very favourite Sitar players. The song is just out of this world, Rehman the client who is used to visiting the previous occupant of the home, a Tawayaf, sitting staring lecherously, and Sanjeev Kumar emoting arguably one of the very best sequences (if not THE BEST) of a brilliant career. The other bit players in the sequence are the hangers on in the red light area where the couple unfortunately finds themselves, having unwittingly rented a flat that was previously occupied by a Tawayaf.

हम हैं मता-ए-कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार की तरह,
उठती है हर निगाह ख़रीदार की तरह।

इस कू-ए-तिश्नगी में बहुत है के एक जाम,
हाथ आ गया है दौलत-ए-बेदार की तरह।

वो तो कहीं हैं और मगर दिल के आस पास,
फिरती है कोई शय निगाह-ए-यार की तरह

सीधी है राह-ए-शौक़ पा यूँ ही कभी कभी,
ख़म हो गई है गेसू-ए-दिलदार की तरह।

बे-तशा-ए-नज़र ना चलो राह-ए-रफ्तागन, हर नक़्श-ए-पा बुलंद है दीवार की तरह

अब जा के कुछ खुला हुनर-ए-नाखून-ए-जुनून,
ज़ख़्म-ए-जिगर हुए लब-ओ-रुख़सार की तरह।

‘मजरूह’ लिख रहे हैं वो अहल-ए-वफ़ा का नाम,
हम भी खड़े हुए हैं गुनेहगार की तरह“।

The original ghazal is reproduced above. It had 7 ash’aar, of which only 3 have been used in making the song for the movie.  These are shown in bold italics above.

The ghazal is extremely beautiful and meaningful, too.

हम हैं मता-ए-कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार की तरह,
उठती है हर निगाह ख़रीदार की तरह। The opening ash’aar depicts the deep anguish of the lady who compares herself with “मता-ए-कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार”, goods for sale in a bylane or (of) a marketplace, which is the object of the lecherous gaze of every buyer (in a red light area, that can only mean one thing). The sad feeling of being not just objectified but also of being considered as a saleable item is clearly evident in the underpinning of pain that Latadidi conveys so effectively in the Ghazal set to such a beautiful composition. Ghazals in films are generally no longer so replete with pure Urdu poetry of this kind. This was much more common in the 40s and 50s.

वो तो कहीं हैं और मगर दिल के आस पास,
फिरती है कोई शय निगाह-ए-यार की तरह। This ash’aar beautifully describes the pain of the lady, when she talks of “the lover/friend being somewhere else but the feeling of something hovering around her like the loving gaze of her love.” Though my beloved is not here, his love always surrounds my heart. The objects around the place remind me of his presence. She is trying to say that she is not for sale, she is not a commodity. She is very much in love with her husband and her music (she is trained in Classical music). And she yearns only for his loving look, a mere glance.

‘मजरूह’ लिख रहे हैं वो अहल-ए-वफ़ा का नाम,
हम भी खड़े हुए हैं गुनेहगार की तरह“। This is the last ash’aar included in the film song, and as is the convention, the poet introduces his nom de plume , his “takhallus” in the last ash’aar in either of the lines. The reference is to “Him” who is busy making a list of those who are loyal to him, but the lady (who should rightfully be in the list of those who are fidel, but) is standing quietly as if guilty (as suspected or charged). It is said that Majrooh wrote this ghazal for those in love. He feels guilty that such a situation should arise in the society. Every person who is a mere onlooker of such a situation is also as guilty as the culprit.

The ghazal was never written for the film. It always was a standalone ghazal with seven ash’aar which Madan Mohan heard Majrooh recite in a mushaira and loved the recital. He therefore used part of it and created a timeless classic. No wonder this is only time Majrooh‘s name appears in any of the thousands of film songs he helped create.

A truly wonderful piece of poetry that is undoubtedly still praised and appreciated as a standalone verse in its complete form.

Stay safe, folks, stay happy and healthy. Steer clear of the Wuhan Virus in any of its iterations. My heart knows Lataji will join Bhimsenji and Jasraj ji in heaven for adding to the glory of Devendra’s collection of musical geniuses.

ॐ शांति शांति शांति:


By abchandorkar

Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Pune, India

29 replies on “Easily the best in class….”

माहेरहुनी गलबत आले,
मला सखीचे स्वप्न जडे ;

हृदयामधल्या गुपितामध्ये
निशिगंधाचे फुल पडे !

अन्तरज्ञानी युगाप्रमाणे
शब्द परतले घरोघरी ;

*जडबंधाच्या मिठीत रुसली,*
*चैतन्याची खुळी परी…*

*या वाटेवर रघुपती आहे*
*त्या वाटेवर शिळा ;*

*सांग साजणी कुठे ठेवू मी*
*तुझा उमलता गळा ?*

मी आपल्या भेटीला प्रत्यक्ष येतोच आहे, वाकून नमस्कार करण्यासाठी.

तोपर्यंत हृदयनाथाच्या आभाळपलाणातून, एखादा शिराणी ढग, माझ्या माथ्याकडे कलता झाला, वळता झाला, तर मग मी निमुटपणे मंचावर बसून, हृदयनाथाच्या समांतर ; माझ्या स्वगतांच्या समाधीत आकंठ बुडून जाईन….

पाणी,चंद्र,आभाळ,निळाई या सर्वांच्या संघाताची, भूलभिंगरी , माझ्या मेंदूचा करवती प्रवास करते आहे, आणि माझ्या आतला जोगियापुरुष तल्लीन होऊन, साधेसे भजन म्हणतो आहे –

*पाणीयाच्या तुकड्यात*
*दिसे चंद्राचे जावळ ;*
*म्हणू नये निळाईला*
*सांडपाण्याचा ओहळ !*

भावपूर्ण श्रद्धांजली….

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Innumerable songs by the legend, hard to choose the best from…
बहुत ही खूबसूरत गाने का चुनाव आज के इस उदास दिन के लिए 🙏

एक सुरीले युग का अंत…
माँ सरस्वती के विसरजन के दिन, साक्षात् सरस्वती हमारे बीच से चली गईं 😪

ओम् शांति 🙏🌺

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लता मंगेशकर या एका संगीत युगाचा अंत झाला….. त्यांचं प्रत्येक गाणं सगळ्यांच्या हृदयाचा एक भाग बनून राहिला आहे आणि त्यांचा प्रत्येक सुर हे साक्षात देवी सरस्वतीचे रूप आहे…..

त्यांच्या अनेक अनमोल गाण्यांमधून निवडलेले एक गान रत्न…..🙏🙏

माझी त्यांना भावपूर्ण श्रद्धांजली…..
ओम शांती🙏🙏

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This is truly a GEM for lovers of Urdu to be studied.
The 3 ashaa’rs must not be known to many. (Myself included)
it will be a great gesture to transliterate the gazal.
I will try it too.

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Great gesture SIRJI… you combined the two masters so well👌👌👌👌👌👌🙏🏾
What a immortal song in every way🙏🏾

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Still struggling with the language … But will do it


कु ए तिश्र्नगी… Path of thirst

सिधी v/s खम
Straight and गुंता… Curls, curves

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