Saturday, February 4, 2017

Notes On Some Hindi Movie Songs

A few years ago, songs from Manish Jha's Anwar were quite a rage. Maula Mere Maula and Tose Naina Laage continued to play on the radio channels many months after the film's release. Both the songs are masterpieces of their own. Anwar is the story of Anwar (Siddharth Koirala), a Muslim man, who researches on Hindu temples. Due to some circumstances, he is caught in a temple with some drawings. The police and the villagers believe he is a terrorist, who wants to bomb the temples. He is trapped in the temple, and there is no easy way out except a near certain death. While he is in the temple, he reflects on his life, when he was in love with Mehru (Nauheed Cyrusi) who committed suicide due to his impulsive behavior. 
Krishna-Meera
Tose Naina Laage has not been picturized in the film, but has an attached video with some scenes from the film. It is a very interesting video in the sense that it tries to challenge some conventional notions. There is a point in the film when Anwar's friend tells him the story of Meera and Krishna. He advises him that one should love like the way Meera used to love Krishna, and vice versa. Their love had truth, sacrifice, and trust. Meera's love was so strong that she melted and immersed herself in Krishna, and he did the same, too. Jahan pyaar me do log ek ho jaaye, balki yeh kahein ke ek or do ke paar ho jaayein. When two people unite in love, or rather, they cross all boundaries when they are in love. This forms the basis of the picturization of Tose Naina Laage. There is Anwar dressed as Krishna, playing his flute with an imambara in the background. He sees a woman dressed in a saffron saree, and runs towards her. She keeps running away from him, and then, mysteriously disappears. The subversion here is that, traditionally, it is Meera who is a devotee of Krishna and it is she who wants to see him. But here, it is Krishna who runs after Meera. The positions of the god and the disciple have been reversed. In the beginning few moments of Maula Mere Maula, we see Mehru, dressed in a burkha, is playing the flute, while Anwar is looking at her from the ground. She is Meera (how similar are the names Meera and Mehru) who plays the flute, while it is Krishna who comes towards her, like the Gopis who used to watch Krishna playing his flute while perched on a tree. The fact that the role of Krishna and Meera, being played by Muslim charaters, along with the stature of the god and the disciple being reversed challenges the stereotypical portrayal of Krishna and Meera. It is also noteworthy that the film does not even talk about Radha. The love between Meera and Krishna is portrayed as the purest form of love, and the film goes to the extent of saying that no other story, be it Heer-Ranjha or Romeo-Juliet, can compare with Meera-Krishna.
The lyrics say that mohabbat toh ek jaaveda zindagi hai. It means that love has an eternal life. There is another fantastic passage in the song. It means why would anyone wish to die when there is love. If one has love, even after death, his story lasts forever. Love has an eternal life. Then, we see many interesting shots in the song. We see an ant on a flute, a few fishes, and a lotus getting immersed in water. I am not entirely sure what do these symbolize. It could mean different things. Perhaps, something to do with life not ending with death, if one has love. All these creatures represent different forms of life. A fish cannot survive without water; a lotus blossoms only in water; and, an ant cannot survive alone. Or, it could be something related to Krishna and Meera, as there is a popular bhajan talking about Krishna's lotus feet and Meera's life as a fish. 

Shama ko pighalne ka, armaan kyun hai
Patangge ko jalne ka, armaan kyun hai
Isii shauq ka, imtihaan zindagi hai
Mohabbat jisse, baksh de zindagani
Nahee maut par, khatam usaki kahani

Why does a flame, wish to melt,
Why does a moth, desire to burn,
Life is just a test of these desires,
Love which gives someone life,
Beyond death, his tale lasts.

Whenever I read about Meera, I am reminded of Kiran Nagarkar's splendid Cuckold. At some point in the book, Meera's husband says, "We were that rarest of couples. Even after years of marriage we were madly in love. I with her and she with somebody else."  If only history acknowledged his love, too.

Song Credits:
Lyrics: Hasan Kamal, Sayeed Quadri
Music: Mithoon
Singer(s): Kshitij Tarey, Shilpa Rao

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Radha Kaise Na Jale from Ashutosh Gowariker's Lagaan is a beautiful song. The song's lyrics are based on the story of Radha and Krishna, and talk about Radha's jealousy when she sees Krishna flirting with the other women in the garden. Moments before the song begins, Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), Gauri (Gracy Singh), and Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley) are standing in the temple of Radha-Krishna in their village. Bhuvan explains to Elizabeth about the immense love between Krishna and Radha. He tells her that Krishna was married to Rukmini, and Radha was married to Anay, but the two of them had this pure love between them that became an ideal for love. Even after eons, they are worshipped together. Their love was like a dew drop on a lotus leaf. Neither united nor separated. Kamal ke patte pe shabnam ki boond jaisa. Ek bhi nahi hue, aur alag bhi nahi. It is such a sublime comparison. While he explains this to Elizabeth, Gauri feels jealous of the attention that Bhuvan gives to Elizabeth. 
A few moments later, Gauri and Bhuvan start dancing on Radha Kaise Na Jale. Bhuvan is Krishna. He carries a flute, and wears a peacock feather, as Krishna used to do it. Gauri talks about the jealousy of Radha, which gives the impression that she is Radha. But the interesting thing is that the film hints that it is Elizabeth who is Radha. There is a particular point in the song when the expressions of Elizabeth give the feeling that she is jealous of Gauri. When the song finishes, she compliments Gauri as if trying to make up for her jealousy. The fact that Bhuvan's mother has the same name as Krishna's mother Yashodamai is another indicator that Bhuvan is Krishna. During the final scenes in the film, the voiceover tells us that Elizabeth went back to England. She never married, and became Bhuvan's Radha. The film explicitly points out that she was Radha. As Radha and Krishna did not get together, Bhuvan and Elizabeth were also not meant to be together. The differences in race and economic status between Elizabeth and Bhuvan posed a huge barrier at that point in time. Even though they could not be together, they still had this love that transcended time and space. At an earlier point, Elizabeth told Bhuvan that she was falling in love with him, but as Bhuvan did not know English, he did not understand what she was saying. Krishna was married to Rukmini; in the film, Bhuvan got married to Gauri, so Gauri was Rukmini. Though Elizabeth is more like Krishna's another famous devotee Meera, the film compares her with Radha, while Gauri, displaying shades of Radha, is more like Rukmini. During the song, we see that Elizabeth is dressed in white, Gauri is dressed in yellow, and Bhuvan wears both these colors—yellow and white—a lot like the two different kinds of love that he received from the two women in his life.

Song Credits:
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: A.R. Rahman
Singer(s): Udit Narayan, Asha Bhosle, Vaisali and Chorus

It is interesting that Anwar talks about Meera, and ignores Radha, while Lagaan talks about Radha and ignores Meera, when both of them could have replaced the other one in context in the two films. 

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Tujhme Rab Dikhta Hai from Aditya Chopra's Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is truly a secular song. During the song, Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) and Taani (Anushka Sharma) visit a temple (Hindu), a church (Christians), and a dargah (Muslims). In the female version of the song, they complete the quartet by visiting the Golden temple (Sikhs). Actually, the young boys in the male version of the song are Sikhs, so the first song has all the four principal religions of India. What is interesting is that we see only kids at these places of worship. They say that children are like god. Bachche bhagwaan ka roop hote hain. Maybe that is why we see only kids at those places in a song about seeing god in a lover. He sees god in the temple, in children, and in his lover. 
Song Credits:
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni
Music: Salim Sulaiman
Singer(s): Roop Kumar Rathod, Shreya Ghoshal

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The other day, I was listening to Sau Aasman from Nitya Mehra's Baar Baar Dekho. The song says, "Sau aasmaano ko aur do jahano ko, chhod ke aayi tere paas." A hundred skies, and two worlds, I have left to come to you. In Saat Samundar Paar from Vishwatma, the singer says, "Saat samundar paar main tere peechhe peechhe aa gayi, zulmi meri jaan." Crossing the seven seas, I came after you. Are they not quite similar in meaning except that the distance has increased subtantially in the second one? :) 

Sau Aasman
Song Credits:
Lyrics: Kumaar
Music: Abhijit Vaghani,Amaal Mallik
Singer(s): Armaan Malik, Neeti Mohan

Saat Samundar Paar
Song Credits:
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Music: Viju Shah
Singer(s): Sadhna Sargam

Dialouge of the Day:
"Mujhe koi bhi aisa nasha pasand nahin jo waqt ke saath utar jaaye. I love life."
—Harry, Mausam

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