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BANNER

23 June 2016

My Favourites: 'Where Are You?' Songs

The other day I was listening to one of my favourite RD Burman songs. From a 70s fluff movie called Jawani Diwani. Apart from the fact that it had Randhir Kapoor as a college student, it also had Jaya Bhaduri walking around with a creepy life-sized doll. But – and that is a huge 'but' – this  song is classic Burman. Anyway... long story short, it gave me an idea for a song list. (Another one? you ask disbelievingly.*Hangs head in embarrassment*)

Heroes and heroines in Hindi films seem to lose their lovers with alarming frequency – yes, it was like an epidemic. My theory is: Nirupa Roy continually misplaced her children; growing up, they misplaced girlfriends / boyfriends. When they were pulled up in court for such carelessness, they pleaded 'Not Guilty'. 'It's genetic, milord,' they claimed. Faced with such earnest claims to innocence, milords had no other option but to let these young men and women go free. Free to wander around hills and dales, singing despairingly in varying tones, varying phrases – 'Kahan ho tum?' 'Tum kahan?' Some of them even avowed, 'Main yahaan', hoping against hope that that would bring their recalcitrant lovers back to them. (If I were their confidante, I would assure them that that rarely works – at least, when Scamper disappears after a particularly pesky squirrel, shouting 'Kahaan ho tum?' gets me no response. He certainly doesn't bark 'Main yahaan hoon!' at me; he contrives to silently hide in the undergrowth. Perhaps I should sing it the next time?)

Long story short, I wracked my brains to think of songs that held the magic phrase and came up with a sum total of... 2! Then Lalitha, a long-time reader and good friend, came to stay with me for a couple of days. She likes my song lists, and always has a kind word to say about the themes. Serendipitous as my blogging life has been (some older posts have chronicled the coincidences), this was just another instance of life throwing up some strange coincidences: talking about my blog, Lalitha said, 'Why don't you do a post on 'Kaun aaya' songs?' When I told her that I'd started on a list of such songs, she came up with another two or three of them; and there it remained, until now.

Then, on one of our long car journeys, my son asked me to play the song from Jawani Diwani, and that brought the list back to mind. However, five songs do not a post make, and half-finished lists do not complete themselves. Okay, this needed some serious research. So I bit the bullet, and tying a wet towel around my head, delved into the recesses of old Hindi songs. Many, many nerve-wracking hours later, when the dampness of the towel had been replenished by my sweat, and I came back to the land of the living, pale and worn out, I had a list. (Okay, it wasn't so bad; I'm just trying to see what I can get away with.) So here are the fruits of my long hours spent in the service of my readers... 

I begin with the song that set me on this journey...   

1. Jaane jaa doondhta phir yahan
Jawani Diwani (1972)
Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi 
(Yes, that's the creepy doll.) An ode to the flower power of the 70s, Jaya Bhaduri got herself a glamorous makeover, and Randhir Kapoor, though only 25, just didn't fit the role of a college-student. Jaya had the acting chops to carry off her role of a poor-little-rich-girl. Randhir was only asked to be his ebullient self which, I must admit, he did very endearingly, looking like an overgrown puppy most of the time. Kader Khan debuted as the dialogue writer with this film. The real hero of the story, however, was RD, who went wild with the music. Jaane jaa, beautifully orchestrated, is both haunting and playful, as the heroine decides to play hide-and-seek with her boyfriend when they are off on a college picnic. Randhir wanders around searching for his beloved who had just the previous day confessed that she loved him. 'Answer me,' he pleads, 'where are you hiding?' From amongst the trees comes a clear, if impish, 'Main yahan' as Jaya stays hidden, her twinkling eyes ramping up the mischief implicit in Asha's response to Kishore's partly-anguished, 'Tu kahan?'  

2. Tu kahan ye bata 
Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri 
What do you do if your beloved is whisked away to a hill-station by her very-angry parents? Well, grab your best-friend-cum-colleague, get onto your trusty steed (er, scooter), and drive down to said hill station. Well, if you're Dev Anand, that is. What do you do if you suddenly realise that you have forgotten her address back home? And that it's not that easy to track down one young woman in a strange town? Ordinary men might give up in despair, but if you're Dev Anand, you have a few tricks up your dapper sleeve. Like, wander the streets of Shimla, calling out for your beloved, in song, for instance. 

Full of life and the joy of living, Rafi's voice ebbs and soars in quiet exuberance along the serpentine roads on a dark, misty night, as the besotted Rakesh searches for his beloved, Sulekha, behind closed doors and shuttered windows. When she finally appears, having heard his siren call, her glorious smile and sparkling eyes light up the night, and reflect the quiet but wondrous joy implicit in Rafi's voice and Dev's expression.   

3. Kahan ho tum zara awaaz do 
Malhar (1951)
Singer: Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Kaif Irani 
A song that differs from the previous two, in that it's neither haunting nor exuberant. Instead, one feels the anguish implicit in the lovers' separation. 'Kahan ho tum zara awaaz do hum yaad karte hain' she begs, and he, far away, responds as if he's present to hear her plea: 'Jis haal mein hai, hum tumhaare hai'. His love is unconditional. Theirs is a deliberate separation, one that's dictated by honour and death-bed promises, the sort that always causes mayhem in the personal lives of characters in Hindi films. When Reshma's (Shammi) dying father makes her promise that she will always obey her brother, Anand (Moti Sagar), he's not aware that she's in love with Ratan (Arjun) nor that Anand is a wayward young man, who's wasted his patrimony on debauchery. So, of course, when Anand decides to get his sister married to his friend, Bihari (Kanhaiyyalal ?) from whom he's borrowed heavily, she acquiesces, sacrificing her love on the altar of duty. Malhar, made by an inexperienced cast and crew (this was singer Mukesh's debut home production; Shammi and Arjun made their debut as the leads; lyricist Indeevar made his debut in this film; Roshan was barely a handful of films old), was a flop, but the music continues to remain a goldmine of melodies.    

4. Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum 
Patita (1953)
Singers: Hemant Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri 
This is unconditional love as well, the sort that supports you through the ebb and flow of life. She has a 'past'; he's man enough to not mind. He accepts her, past and all. There is love, there is gratitude that they found each other, there is happiness in having found each other. He is thinking of her, where is she? Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum? His excitement is palpable, as he impatiently waits for her. She cannot help but respond. Her response is quiet, but intense. She is to be found wherever, whenever his loving voice calls for her. Their romance is muted as well, but so much more poignant, and all the more stronger for the trials and tribulations that they have been through. This is one of the most romantic duets I've heard, and if I ever do a post of Hemant Kumar-Lata Mangeshkar duets, this will find a place there.   

5. Main yahan tu kahan
Bedard Zamaana Kya Jaane 
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Kalyanji Veerji Shah
Lyrics: Bharat Vyas 
Okay, if anyone can tell me why she's dressed to the hilt (curled hair, flowers, jewellery, well made-up), while he's in his pyjamas, I'll write a post of your choice especially for you. Also, why he has to sing, 'Tu kahan', when she's right there beside him. Indeed, they just walked onto that beach, hand in hand. Never mind, mine not to question why. This is a lively song, with the most unlikely actors to enact the romanceAshok Kumar and Nirupa Roy. Who both look extremely comfortable with each other. Of course, long-time viewers of Hindi cinema will know that when the hero-heroine sing 'Sach keh doon tumhen o balam, bichhdenge nahin tum-hum; Ik pal bhi nahin door ho, chand-taaron ki humko kasam,' they are bound to be separated in the very next reel. (With the film being titled Bedard Zamana Kya Jaane, what else can you expect?)    

6. Kahan ho kahan ho mere jeevan sahaare 
Sangdil  (1952)
Singer: Talat Mehmood
Music: Sajjad Hussain
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan 
Here is despair, of a kind seldom given to a male character in Hindi films. (Typically, they are expected to be either quasi-betrayed and therefore angry; or heartbroken, in which case the woman is almost always dead.) As the Indianised Rochester (Sangdil is a relatively faithful adaptation of Jane Eyre), Dilip Kumar (as Shankar) is alternately cynical, amused, passionate, romantic, even bitter. His childhood sweetheart has returned, their feelings for each other have reignited, but they are both bound by duty – he, to the wife to whom he's legally bound; she, to the religious sect who have been her family from the day she ran away from a fate worse than death. He realises he cannot hold her back – he wants not just her body, but her soul. She cannot, in all honesty, give him that, even though her heart is – has always been – his. So, letting go of his love and his happiness, Shankar takes refuge in music, giving voice to his despair.   

7. Main doondhti hoon kahan ho sanam 
Shrimati 420 (1956)
Singer: Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
Probably the last film of actress Meena Shorey before she emigrated to Pakistan, Shrimati 420 was a sort of gender-reversal story in which the wayward husband suffers a change of heart due to his wife behaving exactly like him. Starring Om Prakash as the wealthy husband, Meena Shorey as his timid and dutiful wife, and Johnny Walker as the 'other man', the film wasn't a great success. Perhaps a woman getting the better of her husband, albeit in a long drawnout dream, didn't go down well with the audience of the times, or perhaps it just wasn't made well. It had a decent enough set of songs, however, even if some credit N Dutta as the composer. This song is classic OP, though, and fits in well with the theme of calling for the beloved. (Even if the beloved is right there, in front of you.)      

Afsaana (1951)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Husnlal Bhagatram
Lyrics: Asad Bhopali 
This film is very close to my masala heart. It has twins separated in childhood, in a mela (more masala joy!); a childhood sweetheart; the twins growing up to be a judge and a criminal; one brother killing the other and taking his place, so as to escape the long arm of the law; the other refusing to stay dead, and instead, insisting on coming to life most inconveniently, but forced to take on the identity of his almost-murderer; a woman, loving one brother and hating the other, but not sure just who is who any more... Here, a grown-up Meera (Veena) is still mourning the loss of her childhood love, Ratan (Ashok Kumar), wondering where the love of her life (or more literally, the 'king of her dreams') is, and when he'll return to her. For she's grown up now, and is waiting for him. The question is, will he come? And will she still love him when she knows who he is? (How she can love someone whom she doesn't know from Adam, is a question that has always perplexed me.) 

9. Tu chhupi hai kahan
Navrang (1958)
Singers: Manna Dey, Asha Bhosle
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: Bharat Vyas 
The story of a man, a poet and singer, who is so love with his wife that when she cannot/will not share his love of art, he carves out a muse in her image from his imagination. It is that muse who inspires him to compose his best. When she, jealous of the 'other woman' who seems to have captured her husband's heart and soul, and tired of the poverty in which her husband's principles have thrust them into, takes their child and leaves him, the poet is shattered, both personally and professionally. With the love of his life gone, his imaginary muse also deserts him, and he is about to be punished for his inability to compose a new melody for the king. His despair at her absence haunts him, and finds voice in this wonderful composition (by a man who had also lost his muse) as he laments that his life has become both colourless and uninspiring without her. Where is she hiding? (Tu chhupi ho kahaan?) Drenched in sorrow, Manna Dey's voice soars to the heavens, as Mahipal (on screen) confesses that his wife and his muse are one and the same... Beautiful!   

10. Awaaz de kahan hai
Anmol Ghadi (1946)
Singers: Noor Jehan, Surendra
Music: Naushad
Lyrics: Tanveer Naqvi 
Another story of childhood sweethearts separated by class and the vagaries of fate. Another heroine who grows up, holding the memory of her beloved close to her heart and dreams. Another hero who doesn't deserve to have one beautiful woman fall in love with him, much less two. Another heroine who, running into her now-grown-up sweetheart without having a clue who he is, nevertheless assumes it must be he because, if not, why should her heart flutter the way it did when they were children? (I would have advised her to visit a cardiologist. Flutters of the heart are not to be taken lightly!) Why should she not feel embarrassed to lift her eyes to meet his? (Ye gads and little fishes! You're Noor Jehan! That chap looks like something no cat would drag through a hedge, much less fight over! Deep sigh. She won't listen, will she?) After an accidental meeting with a man she assumes / hopes is her childhood beloved, she wonders where he is, and why he doesn't call upon her. He, too, is struck by this beautiful young woman whom he had met, though he seems to be happier bemoaning his fate than doing anything about it.

Kahan ho tum, my readers? What songs do you remember that fit this theme?

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