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3 June 2016

My Favourites: The 'Mawsome is Awesome' Songs

 
I first came across the saying 'The Mawsome is Awesome' when my husband would make his usual funny remarks in the middle of a conversation. It tickled my funny bone, so I ended up using it myself, as and when appropriate. I did ask him for the origin of the term. He has no clue: they used to say that in IIT Bombay, apparently, but he doesn't know if they picked it up from somewhere else, or whether they coined the term themselves. In any case, it's a great phrase (he insisted I spell 'Mausam' the way it has to be pronounced for the phrase to work;), suitable for use in various social situations. 

In any case, the 'Mawsome' has finally turned 'awesome' in our frigid part of the world. It has turned a little too 'awesome' if you ask me, since the temperatures have suddenly jumped to 86oF (a balmy 31oC in the mother country), which is hot! here for us wimpy people who were shivering at 54oF (12oC) just four days ago. In any case, Summer is upon us, and the skies are blue and clear, and because we know we have barely three months of this before the temperatures dip again, we have to make the most of it. So despite my complaints about the heat, and having to water my plants for a good hour and a half so they don't all wilt and die on me, I'm glad to not have to wear multiple layers of clothes, gloves, cap, scarves, before I step out. When my flowers eventually bloom, and my front yard becomes a smorgasbord for humming birds, butterflies, chipmunks, assorted birds, etc., I will forget I groaned about weeding, watering, composting, etc., in this scorching weather. (Just because I wrote that, the temperature the last couple of days dropped 30o. That's New England for you.)

In the quixotic mood that I have been for some days, I figured Hindi film songs must surely have plenty of songs celebrating the generic 'mausam'. Since I'm always on the look out for a new peg to hang my posts on, I decided to make a list. I put in the songs I knew, I found songs I had never heard before (but which quickly became new favourites), and songs that I'd heard before but didn't recollect immediately. I spent some time sorting through that list, and whittled them down to ten songs that I really, really like, and which are worthy of being called 'My Favourites'. Here they are, all singing of how lovely the mausam is.  Unlike my Songs of Spring, I have not restricted myself to songs that are sung only outside.)

1. Suhana safar aur ye mausam haseen
Madhumati (1958)
Singer: Mukesh
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Shailendra
In a whimsical fable of love, loss and reincarnation, Salilda wove magic with a variety of songs that moved from playful to romantic to grief-stricken and everything else in between. This song, sung by Mukesh and enacted by Dilip Kumar on screen, comes right at the beginning of the film (just when the flashback begins). Anand (Dilip Kumar) is on his way to his new job as manager of a feudal estate, and the song explores his wonder as he makes his way through hill and vale. It is the perfect song to begin this post with: Mukesh sings Suhana safar  with such joyous abandon that one thrills to his rendition. Shailendra's lyrics describe nature's bounty... the rippling stream, the beauty of the view, the gently ambling path through the forest, the flowers, the sky, the earth itself... how can one not lose oneself?  

2. Kitna haseen hai mausam
Azaad (1955)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Chitalkar
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
A frothy melody, very reminiscent of OP Nayyar with its use of tonga beats, Kitna haseen hai mausam was orginally composed for Talat Mehmood. Unable to get the singer's dates for the recording, C Ramchandra stepped into the breach. This is very different in mood from the previous song in that Kitna haseen hai mausam is a romantic duet. He's not afraid that he'll lose his heart; he's already lost it to the woman riding by his side. The world looks even better with her in it, and the season more lovely. It's an emotion that is thoroughly reciprocated by the lovely lady. 

Dilip Kumar, again, this time accompanied by Meena Kumari in a film that was so far removed from their reputations (and images) as the king and queen of tragedy. Dilip Kumar, already wanting to switch genres on the advice of his doctor, was said to have been amused that the producer came all the way from Madras (now Chennai) to sign him for a movie that he signed the film at once.  

3. Din suhane ye mausam bahaar ka
Poonam (1952)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra
Back again to feelings of love, the wish to find someone to fall in love with – no wonder poets often associated the season of spring with nascent feelings of love. So this lovely village lass sings of the beautiful days of Spring, of how her heart yearns to sing love songs, of wanting to have someone to call her own, to know what it is like to wait for him, to be be able to dream lovely dreams...  

Poonam had only one singer Lata Mangeshkar. (All ten songs were sung by her. Ashok Kumar had to be content with playing the sitar.) Din suhaane is sung by the heroine, Chanda (Kamini Kaushal), in the manner of most of our Hindi film heroines, who seem utterly unaware that someone is listening to them (until the song ends). Here, Chanda has two men listening Sajjan (Birju) and Rajan (Ashok Kumar). Sajjan is in love with Chanda; Rajan is only interested in her voice. (No prices for guessing who Chanda will fall in love with.)  

4. Mausam aaya hai rangeen   
Dholak (1951)
Singers: Satish Batra, Sulochana Kadam
Music: Shyam Sunder
Lyrics: Aziz Kashmiri
This is the song I had in mind when I wrote that I was not restricting myself to songs that were sung outdoors. Mausam aaya hai rangeen is a stage performance, and it is also a song I fell in love with, in its totality the melody, the lyrics, the picturisation... 

From the beginning where the camera focuses only on the dholaks held by the women, and their hands as they play, to where Yashodhara Katju begins to preen before she's pushed off the stage by Meena Shorey, I was hooked. The entry of (a very young and very handsome) Ajit was a bonus. For all that it's picturised indoors, the song is very much a description of the loveliness of the season, and of the effect of all that loveliness on unwary hearts. What's even more interesting is that the orchestra at the back is an all-woman triumph.  

5. Mausam ye pukare 
Burma Road (1962)
Singers: Talat Mehmood, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
A rather obscure film, though it starred Ashok Kumar (paired with Vijaya Choudhary), Burma Road nevertheless had some excellent songs by the underrated composer, Chitragupt. The film also co-starred Kumkum and Moti Sagar (seen in this song), along with Sheikh Mukhtar, Murad and Ajit, among others. Once again, the season is  intoxicating, so much so they don't know whether it is night or day, as they travel together down the path of love. All she knows is that the veil of romance covers her head, while the skies seem to be beneath her feet. Lost in headiness of being in love, the loveliness of the season has made them forget where they are, or even think about their life outside of this moment.  

6. Ye hawa ye mastana mausam
Akeli Mat Jaiyo
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
There are countless films with a decent cast and lovely songs, and if you have ever watched a film because you heard its songs and liked it, only to discover that the film is a disaster, you will understand why I watched this film. Despite Rajendra Kumar.  (Woh jo milte the kabhi was the reason for my downfall.) 

The film is funny unintentionally, though one (not human) character is seriously creepy. However. There are saving graces. Meena Kumari being one of them. She's absolutely lovely (well, this film must have taken a long time to make, since she's very young and pretty in most of the scenes, and quite different in others) in this song, but despite some excellent tonga beats in the background, it's pretty obvious they are not riding in one. Never mind. The song fits the theme about the season being carefree, driving their hearts to passion/craziness (deewanapan)... (The real craziness is just around the corner.) 

7. Ye mausam rangeen sama
Modern Girl (1961)
Singers: Mukesh, Suman Kalyanpur
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra
Another obscure film, another lovely song. Starring Pradeep Kumar and Saeeda Khan,  Modern Girl was just the sort of film you would expect with that title a morality tale about how 'modern' girls end up being led astray. (There's a ghastly song lyrics wise about a woman's moral downfall.) Ye mausam ye rangeen sama, however, is a lovely romantic melody, with Mukesh letting go of his usual lachrymose rendition and sounding very happy instead, as he becomes the voice of Pradeep Kumar, pleading with his beloved not to leave the season is beautiful, colourful, they are in love, why is she so shy. Apparently, the lady is not as shy as he thinks she is (or should be): when did she refuse to stay, she asks him. So the duet goes on, with their little quibbles and teasing... 

8. Dekho mausam kya bahaar hai
Opera House (1961)
Singers: Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
A beautiful heroine (Saroja Devi), a dashing, if unexpected hero (Ajit), a villainous villain (KN Singh), lovely, lovely songs... yes, I fell into the trap of watching the film. Suffice it to say that the plot (what plot?) had crevices larger than the Grand Canyon. I must confess, however, that I found this murder mystery more entertaining than Akeli Mat Jaiyyo, Meena Kumari notwithstanding. Back to the song: Saroj (Saroja Devi) has just been given a job at a theatre, where almost at once, the theatre owner's brother, Ajit (Ajit) is smitten by her. He even manages to sidle up to her onstage one evening, much to his older brother's (and Saroj's employer's) shock and anger. Which means, as you may have guessed, that Saroj will soon be out of a job. In the meantime, however, there's this song, about Spring and the moon in June (well, not exactly, but you get the drift), and why they shouldn't go a little bit crazy... 

9. Jhoomta mausam mast mahina
Ujala (1959)
Singers: Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
A song list, and no Shammi Kapoor? Despite my husband's dislike of this song, I just had to add it. (I dropped another Mausam song because it had nothing to do with the mausam being awesome, so obviously I needed something to replace it in the list.) Ujala is not one of Shammi's successful films, its story having something to do with its fate at the box-office, but like so many films of that era, it had a wonderful score, headlined by Manna Dey (who took over for some reason as Shammi's voice in this film) and Lata Mangeshkar. 

Like many of Shammi's songs, Jhoomta mausam too capitalised on the actor's exuberance, Manna Dey providing perfect vocal foil to a song that sang of the joy of actually being in love. The intoxication of the season was mirrored both in the singers' voices as well as the picturisation their feelings seem to ensure that neither hero nor heroine could bear to remain still.

10. Ye raatein ye mausam 
Dilli ka Thug (1958)
Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Shailendra
From the exuberant energy of the previous song to the soft romance of this duet. Like many a Hindi film, this one was a disaster from the word 'Go'. It also ranks among the films I watched purely because I'd heard, and loved, its songs. Also, it starred Nutan, whom I usually adore in just about anything. (To be fair, she had a decent role in this film.) It also starred Kishore Kumar, whom I usually abhor as an actor. (New Delhi and Chalti ka Naam Gaadi being notable exceptions.) In this film, I had mixed reactions. When he was good, he was very, very good. This song is an example his expressions are not restricted to his usual goofiness; there's something very sweet and sincere about him. It helps that Nutan is absolutely gorgeous. 

I must also confess to cheating a little here: there's no description of the mausam; just the implication that it is all so beautiful the night, the season, the moonlit night, the river banks that it extracts a promise from the two hearts (in love) that they will never be torn asunder. And so, they plight their troth... Tumhen dil diya hai, ye vaada kiya hai, sanam main rahoongi tumhari sada...

Do you know any songs that talk about how awesome the mausam is?

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