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4 November 2015

My Favourites: Teasing Songs

Lalitha, a regular reader of my blog, once asked me how I think of the themes for my song lists. I hadn’t really thought deeply about it before. Generally, it is one of many ways. A) The themes are very common – ‘Patriotic Songs’, say, or ‘Rain Songs’. Or Qawwalis. B) I find patterns. ‘Oh, here’s a heroine singing about writing/receiving letters; hmm, are there more songs about letters? There should be.’ Or, ‘Ghoda-gaadi Songs! How many of those do I like?’ Usually, I remember two or three songs almost immediately. Then, it’s a question of searching for other songs that fit that theme. C) Themes are suggested by my readers: Conversational Songs, Twin Songs, a post on the same songs sung by different singers – all happened because my readers thought I could do justice to that theme. D) Posts arise because of discussions on my blog, or elsewhere.  Songs of Kings and Queens, Missing Songs in Hindi films, etc., happened thusly. 

And then, it can also happen this way. I come up with a theme, and my readers post songs they think fit that theme. Now, one of my regular readers, Subodh, calls my ‘rules’ for my posts rather arbitrary; perhaps, but those arbitrary distinctions make it easy to select the songs that fit that theme according to me! So, when they post a song, somehow the pesky definition of the theme (in my mind) makes me say, ‘Oh, no, this doesn’t fit very well because…!’ (Which makes Subodh grumble some more.) But sometimes, the song they added makes me think of another theme where their addition would fit perfectly.  

So when, on my post on Unvoiced Emotions, Expressed Feelings, Neeru, a relatively new reader (who gladdens my heart by reading everything I’ve ever written and writing to me about them!) posted Salaam-e-hasrat qubool kar lo from Babar, I had to sadly inform her that no, it didn’t fit the theme at all. Shubha Khote wasn’t expressing Azra’s feelings, she was teasing her friend about her new love. And I – casually – suggested that perhaps I could make a list of ‘sahelis teasing their friends’ songs. It was an off-hand remark, but Neeru was enthusiastic, and she was ably seconded by fellow-blogger Dustedoff who, equally enthusiastically, egged me on to write about it. Such unbridled enthusiasm is nourishment to a blogger's soul, and needed to be rewarded, so I promptly sat down to mentally rifle through the songs that I know and love. The first three came to mind quite quickly; the others took some time. Not all such songs – of the hero/heroine being teased by their friends are songs I like, so it took some winnowing to remove – what I see as – the chaff.  

And no, even though the post is called 'Teasing' Songs, it does not involve the heroes teasing heroines until the latter fall in love with them. Those are 'eve-teasing' songs, or 'stalking songs'; here, I'm talking only about situations where the heroine (or in one case, the hero) is already in love with the hero, and her friends (/his friend) – as friends will – tease her about it. Let me start with the song that sparked this post; the rest are in no particular order. 

Singer: Sudha Malhotra
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
I had first heard the songs from Babar when I was searching for songs to fit my Letters in Verse post. This one, obviously, follows that initial reluctance to get involved. Hamida Banu (Azra) is definitely in love now, a fact that her cousin, Hijab (Shubha Khote), knows very well. She notices a letter that her cousin has received from her beloved, Crown Prince Humayun - they seem to delight in writing to each other in verse (very erudite lovers these) - and hums the contents out to her mistress, who asks her to sing it instead. And Hijab, having encouraged the romance all she could, is both playful and teasing as her cousin blushes at the sheer romance in her beloved's words.

Goonj Uthi Shehnai (1959)
Singers: Geeta Dutt, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Vasant Desai
Lyrics: Bharat Vyas
It is said that when one is in love, one cannot eat, or sleep... And here, it's all joy and happiness and pretend anger while Gopi's (Ameeta's) friends tease her about her enduring love for Kishen (Rajendra Kumar). ('Kishen', 'Gopi' - get it? With names like that, you just know they won't end up together.) But until the contrived tragedy occurs, Gopi and Kishen spend a lot of time mooning about each other - after all, they'd fallen in love while they were mere children. And once her friends find out, it is not unusual that they should tease her about her shehnainawaaz. Until she's finally forced to beg them to stop - they won't know what it's like until they fall in love themselves. 

Insaan Jaag Utha (1959)
Singers: Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Shailendra
This song is - slightly - different. Munia (Meenu Mumtaz) and Sukham (Sunder) are in love, and Sukham gets into trouble with his supervisor at work when he constantly slips off to pretend-squabble with his beloved. So when Munia hears him protest loudly that he will  never give her up, come what may, she jangles her bangles in appreciative response. Sunder is ecstatic, of course, but Gauri (Madhubala) coming along to hear it, cannot help but tease Munia - Jaanu jaanu ri, kaahe khanke hai tora kangna... (I know for whom your bangles are tinkling...) Munia blushes, but gives back as good as she gets - Main bhi jaanu ri, chhupke kaun aaya tore angna.. (I, too, am aware who comes surreptitiously to your house...) And so the friends continue to tease each other, happiness in every step, every smile, every glance... ending with a promise not to break each other's confidences.

SD Burman is said to have measured the distance between the wheels before he composed the metre of the song, so he could have the sound of the bangles jingling just when the girls reach one wheel from the other (they are waltzing around a machine near the construction site). 

Benazir (1964)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle
Music: SD Burman
Lyris: Shakeel Badayuni 
Shahida (Tanuja), in town for her elder sister's (Nirupa Roy) confinement, runs into Anwar (Shashi Kapoor) and it's love at first sight for the young couple. Unlike most Hindi film lovestories, their union is not only sought after by them, but entirely approved of by all the parental (or quasi-parental) units. And while all that is happening (and their engagement is blessed by the elders), Shahida's friends find it all rather amusing. It's after all much fun to tease your friend about all the troubles that accompany falling in love... Picturised on Lata Sinha and Shefali (along with Tanuja), I haven't been able to identify the chasmish actress who sings one of the verses.

5. Aaj achanak jaag uthe kyon
Lakshmi Narayan (1951)
Singers: Geeta Dutt, Sulochana Kadam
Music: SN Tripathi
Lyrics: Baldev Mishra
I guess I'm cheating a little bit here. It is not clear that the young lass (Meena Kumari - wonderfully young, charmingly beautiful - and laughing!) is in love - not yet, at least. She wonders why, this day - suddenly - a melody comes unbidden to her lips; her friends know: it's perhaps, they tell her, because her heart has just known the first stirrings of love... How have her eyes learnt to look down in shyness? Perhaps because she's finally left her childhood behind... They tease her well and truly, until she's forced to plead: Nahin humko sataao, banaao jaao mat dhoom machaao/Ae ji chhed-chhad ka rang anokha dhang na mujhpe chalaao... Do they listen? Not they. (I wonder who the actress is, for whom Sulochana Kadam is singing - she's very pretty.) I love the melody, the way it trills high and then drops low, not entirely following an expected pattern of notes.
 
6. Kis kaaran kaamini sharmaaye
Chandan ka Palna (1967)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Usha Mangeshkar
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

An older, not-quite-as-pretty Meena Kumari, who's again being teased by her very young sahelis, including the gorgeously impish Mumtaz. It was quite difficult to accept Meena Kumari as a coy, young woman who has fallen in love for the first time and is embarrassed by her friends' teasing. In fact, in a movie so regressive as to earn the epithet 'appalling' (she marries the man she loves and who loves her, discovers she's barren, 'sacrifices' her love by pretending to be an awful, awful woman so her husband will divorce her, husband promptly remarries, gets his wife pregnant, wife dies in childbirth, and she comes back to take care of husband and ready-made family = trainwreck), the songs are the one bright spot, though that's not saying much. Be that as it may, the song fits the theme very well, with the sakhis enquiring why their friend is suddenly so shy, and with her answering them. Unfortunately, it didn't help that there was no consistency in picturising the voices of Lata and Asha onscreen.  

7. Jaa ri na bataaun main toh chitchor 
Angulimal (1960)                                
Singers: Meena Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar                      
Music: Anil Vyas 
Lyrics: Bharat Vyas
 Based on the legend of Angulimal, the scholar who turned killer who turned monk, this is the fictitious background presented by the film (a critically well-received film) where he's shown to be in love with the princess of the realm. In fact, it is his love for the princess, and hers for him, that sets in motion the events that turn him into a dreaded dacoit, who cuts off the little fingers of his victims and wears them as a garland around his neck - thus leading to his new name, Angulimal. But before all this happens, Princess Maya Devi (Nimmi) is being teased by her friends - they want to know who her beloved is. The more they exhort her to confess who is occupying her days and nights, the more she refuses, though she is not loath to describe him in much detail. It's a lovely, lovely song, sung beautifully by Meena Kapoor for one of the sakhis and Lata Mangeshkar for Nimmi. 

8. Aag lagi tan man mein 
Aan (1952)
Singer: Shamshad Begum
Music: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
 
An Indian version of The Taming of the Shrew, Nadira plays Princess Rajshree, whose arrogance will not allow her to return the love of a commoner, Jai (Dileep Kumar). Why he does, considering she has him beaten, whipped, and other such loving things, I wouldn't know. Actually, considering that his idea of getting her to acknowledge his love is to keep running into her, singing songs, even plant a smooch on her, I don't quite blame her for not warming to him. (Also, considering that his next idea is to kidnap her and hold her prisoner in his village until she acquiesces, I wonder why any sane woman would want to be in love with the man!) Alas, Princess Rajshree has a pesky maid, Manohari (Sheila Naik), who prances around her singing of the princess' supposed feelings. (I wonder why the arrogant princess doesn't just fire her, or have her burnt at stake or something.) In any case, she helps the Princess have her bath (in the most fantastic bath tub ever with the fakest waterlilies in existence), all the while singing of how the princess's life is all bereft without her saiyyan. No wonder the princess's eyes look like they are going to fall out of their sockets.  

9. Jab ishq kahin ho jaata hai
Arzoo (1965)
Singer: Asha Bhosle, Mubarak Begum
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
 
An impromptu qawwali in the college hostel. (And what a fabulous hostel it is, indeed. In comparison, my college hostel looked like the modern version of a bhoot bungalow.) Here, unfortunately, Sarla (Nazima) is barking up (or singing up) the wrong tree. Usha (Sadhana) is in love with Gopal (Rajendra Kumar), whom she knows as 'Sarju' (don't ask!). He's left her behind promising to come back in a week to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Her father (Nasir Hussain, who else?) has, in the meantime, arranged her marriage with Ramesh (Feroz Khan), who also happens to be - no prizes for guessing - Gopal's best (bestest of best) friend. But Usha, having 'told all' to her father, has decided to come to Delhi in search of her missing lover (who's not a cad; he's had an accident and lost a leg and now thinks he will be a burden to everyone). Sarla and Usha are classmates and the former has seen Usha's photograph - Ramesh has been happily showing it to anyone who asks (and to anyone who doesn't). Sarla, who considers Ramesh as much her brother as Gopal, thinks that Usha reciprocates Ramesh's feelings and therefore gathers all their friends (including a grown-up Daisy Irani) to tease an irritated Usha into revealing her 'love'. (Poor Usha!)

10. Jis pyaar mein ye haal hai
Phir Subah Hogi (1958)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh
Music: Khayyam
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Now, one for the other side. Why should it only be the sahelis who get to tease their friend for falling in love? So for a change, we have Rehman (Rehman) playing kabab mein haddi to Ram (Raj Kapoor) and Soni (Mala Sinha). Ram and Soni have not yet expressed their mutual attraction to each other, though they seem to have an unspoken understanding. Rehman - knowing all - decides he needs to give his friend a push in the right direction. Much to Soni's amusement and Ram's chagrin (though he's half-amused himself), Rehman decides to have some fun - he would have loved to fall in love, he claims, only, seeing the state of his friends who are in love, he is now going to steer clear of it. Ram gives back as good as he gets, while Soni, quietly amused, enjoys the teasing between the friends. (Mala Sinha's expressions in this song were priceless!)

Do you know of any songs that you could add to this list? 

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