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BANNER

5 November 2016

My Favourites: Nigahein Songs

A quick glance, a shy smile, a suddenly fast-beating heart. Of such infinitesimal occurrences are woven the gossamer webs of romance. No, not today, when 'romance – that sort of romance – has gone the way of the dodo. I'm not being nostalgic for 'the good old days'. Much has been achieved since those days, some of which were not that 'good' after all. Yet, it is a truism that we lose something to gain something, and it is not merely 'nostalgic' to acknowledge what we have lost. 

They were more innocent times. When an unexpected glimpse of a face when the veil flies in the breeze, or a glance from a pair of beautiful eyes from behind a naqaab, was enough for a young man to lose his heart.   
Kal na jaane main kahaan aur tu kahaan tu ho sanam, 
Do ghadi apni nigaaon ka sahara de de 
And why not? 'Les yeux sont le miroir de l'dme' as the French proverb remarks – 'The eyes are the mirror of the soul.'

Some time ago, Dustedoff wrote a post on 'Aankhen' songs. As we have often found to our slightly amused dismay, we have often pipped each other to the post where our themed lists are concerned. So, it came as no surprise to her that I had had a list of 'Aankhen' songs; in an email, I half-jokingly remarked that I could perhaps do a 'complementary' post on 'Nigahein' ('glance') complementing 'eyes'. (This led to an interesting email discussion on the meaning of words.) Madhulika encouraged me to do so, and remarked that she might write a post on 'Nazar', (also 'sight' or 'glance'). That was exciting. It also made sense (to me) to publish them together. After all, there was precedent. Then, I remembered that we had a third masala sister Bollyviewer

The three of us had published posts on a common theme before – 'lost-and-found' masala films. So, I promptly suggested that we invite Bollyviewer to write on 'Naina'. Her response was, 'I'm in!' That, my dear readers, was that!

So, here, for your edification, some of my favourite songs about glances. As for restrictions, arbitrary though they might be, they are pretty simple:
1) The word 'nigaahein' and its variations – nigaah, nigaahon should appear, if not at the beginning of the song, at least in the first line.
2) No synonyms, not even nazar; those songs are over on Madhu's blog.  

1. Nigaahein milane ki jee chahta hai 
Dil Hi Toh Hai (1963) 
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
If you want proof that a mere glance is enough to turn a man into mush, here is Jameela (Nutan) alternately looking mischievous and adorable. She has a secret, she confesses, should she admit that a certain someone has taken up abode in her heart? For she desperately yearns to meet his glance, to be his, heart and soul... The person who is quite evidently melting at this declaration of love is not the person she is addressing; a fact that she, and her beloved know, and is the reason for the mischief sparkling in those beautiful eyes. She even comes forward from behind the purdah, and in case her beloved has any doubts, she makes it very clear who she means: 
Jis ghadi meri nigaahon ko teri deed huyi
Woh ghadi mere liye aish ki tamheed huyi
Jab kabhi maine tera chaand sa chehra dekha
Eid ho ya ki na ho mere liye Eid huyi... 
'Chand' being Raj Kapoor; to be more exact, the 'old' man sitting next to Yusuf (Pran), who is being thanked for making Jameela amenable to Yusuf's exhortations of love. A delightful song from a delightful movie, this clip has the entire musical prelude, which is really worth listening to – Roshan outdid himself in this qawaali. 

2. O nigaahein mastana 
Paying Guest (1957)
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Kishore Kumar
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
One of my favourite songs, and in my opinion, one of the most romantic of songs. A man, so deeply in love, so lost in his beloved's intoxicating glances, that he's struck by cupid's arrow... her eyes, soft as muslin, how can he not be maddened by her glances? He is teasing, and she responds equally playfully, even fluttering her eyelashes at him, but there's an undercurrent of seriousness in the emotions that are being expressed. Nutan is absolutely luminous in this scene (saying Dev is handsome is stating the obvious): the moonlight, the solitude of the night, two people who are so in love with each other, so engrossed in each other that they  have no eyes for anyone else. One of Kishore Kumar's best songs, ably complemented by Asha, humming along. 
Koyi dekhe nasheeli aankhen mal mal ke
Dil kaise bane na deewaana
Shama kare hai ishaare jab jal jal ke
Kaho kya kare parwaana 
O nigaahein mastana...  

3Hai unki woh nigaahein 
Aakhri Dao (1958)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
Nutan once again! Only, this time, it is not her nigaahein that is wounding some poor soul's heart. Someone's nigaahein have wounded her heart – can someone ask him how she can not fall in love with him, she queries... 
Hai unki woh nigahein,
Dil dekhe jinki raahein
Koi unse jaake poochhe
Hum kyun na unhe chaahen... 
...and Shammi, sitting beside her, is amused by her confession. So is Shekhar, the object of Nutan's ardour, who unbeknownst to her, is the driver of the cab she is sitting in. He's so interested in listening to her sing, and so pleased at what she's singing, that he doesn't seem to be paying much attention to the road. One wishes such lyrics, indeed such emotions, were directed towards one more worthy of it, but hey, love, as they say, is blind. (Pun not intended.) Nutan looks dreamy, Shammi whistles her queries, and the non-verbal interaction between the two young women bespeaks a camaraderie that is full of teasing affection. This is Madan Mohan at his melodious best, and surprise, Asha, instead of his favourite, Lata.    

4. Main nigaahein tere chehre se hataaoon kaise 
Aap ki Parchhaiyan (1964)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan  
Another Madan Mohan melody, and Mohammed Rafi to do it justice... There's a certain anguish in his query – how can he tear his gaze away from her face? How can he, once he's drowned in her beauty, ever come back to his senses? When the heroine is Supriya Choudhary, one can understand Dharmendra's plight. It's not just the intoxication of her nigaahein, her gaze, that has him drowning; it's her hair, spread over her shoulders like the darkness of the clouds, it's the love he has for her... love and recrimination war in his gaze; there's desire there, and there's his yearning to see her... how can he keep this storm from spilling over?   
Meri aankhon mein gile-shikwe hain aur pyaar bhi hai
Aarzuen bhi hain aur hasrat-e-deedaar bhi hai
Itne toofaan main aankhon mein chhupaaun kaise
Main nigaahein tere chehre se hataaoon kaise... 

5. Yaad aa gayi woh nasheeli nigaahein 
Manzil (1960)
Singer: Hemant Kumar
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
What's with Nutan, and her gaze? She seems to have inspired so many songs that talk about the intoxication of her glances. Here, once again, it is Dev Anand who is at the receiving end – only, this time, he's remembering a far happier, more romantic moment, when those nasheeli nigaahein drove him to madness that he needed someone's support to steady him.
Yaad aa gayi woh nasheeli nighaahein 
Yaaron, thaam lena, thaam lena meri baahein... 
In a melodramatic film that snatched happiness from the jaws of death – quite possibly the only time a married female character gets to live a life of happiness with her beloved, Dev Anand turned in a quiet, restrained performance devoid of his usual characteristics. SD Burman's music –Aye kaash chalte milke, Chupke se mile pyaase pyaase, Humdum se gaye humdum ke liya, Dil toh hai deewana na, amongst others make this Nutan-Dev vehicle an interesting watch. 

6. Kahin pe nigaahein 
C.I.D. (1956)
Singer: Shamshad Begum
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri 
Can eyes flash out a warning? Definitely, if the person you're trying to warn is in the same room. When the hero is trapped, however, you have to warn him verbally –and intelligently. For this master crook is not exactly dumb. So what does Kamini do? Why, sing out her warning, of course, warning the trapped man that his nemesis is here, looking for him. And that his escape route is hidden. If only he knew where to look, he could escape... Will he understand what she's referring to? Or is he doomed to be discovered... and killed? The 'glances' here are neither romantic, nor passionate. They are a calculated risk taken by an intelligent woman, to help her lover's enemy. 
Aaya shikari, panchhi tu sambhal ja
Ek jaal hai zulfon ka tu chhupke se nikal ja
Ud jaa, o panchhi, shikari hai deewana
Kahin pe nigaahein kahin pe nishaana        

7. Kaun aaya ki nigaahon mein chamak jaag uthhi 
Waqt (1965)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
What is better than falling in love? It's falling in love with your best friend. She's known him for ages; they are childhood friends. Now, grown up, she's realising that he means so much more. It took his going away, and then returning to the city she lives in, to make her realise just how much. It is clear that he reciprocates her feelings too. In fact, he's promised to come visit her this evening. While waiting for him, she walks around her house, opening the blinds, carrying the flowers in a basket, then, restless, sitting at a piano to play a few notes there's anticipation here, of waiting for the physical presence of the man she loves with all her heart and soul all the while singing about how a certain someone has brought a sparkle to her gaze, caused her soul to blossom...
Kiske aane ki khabar leke hawaayen aayi, 
Jism ke phool chatakne ki sadaayen aayi, 
Rooh khilne lagi, saanson mein mehak jaag uthi 
Dil ke soye huye taaron mein khanak jaag uthi...
...only, the person who arrives there is not the person she's singing about. 

8. Nigaahein kyun milati thi 
Lal Kunwar (1952)
Singer: Suraiya
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi  
Unlike the other songs in this list, this one is a plaintive reproach: if you had to leave, why did you meet my gaze? Why did you awaken my hopes if you were going to set my heart ablaze? She had asked for happiness, he had burdened her with sorrow; yet, her heart remembers him, and wishes he would return. 
Mile kyun the agar milna
Bichhadne ka bahaana tha
Nigaahein kyun milaayi thi
Agar yun chhod jaana tha   

9. Ye jhuki jhuki jhuki si nigaahein teri 
Aao Pyar Karen (1964)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Usha Khanna
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen 
These lowered glances, these supressed sighs, how can he hide his love anymore? He? Or she? Apni apni nazariya ki baat hai. What is real: a very young MacMohan (yes, of the 'Arre o Samba' fame) matching steps with an equally young Joy Mukherjee, while a very young and handsome Sanjeev Kumar is visible in the background. What the 'seth' sees, much to his pleased surprise: MacMohan morphing into a nubile young woman, removing item after item of clothing in an erotic striptease.    
Ye jhuki jhuki jhuki nigahein teri 
Ye ruki ruki ruki si aahen teri
Dil ka raaz keh gayi 
Tujh ko pyaar hai kahin
Ab ye baat chhup sakegi kaise teri 
A candy-fluff romance from the Filmalaya stable, it followed the tried and tested trope of poor boy-loves-rich girl, but stuck to pure comedy: the girl's father is ready to agree to the alliance if he manages to earn enough money within a year; the film follows his misadventures as he fights for the love of his life, by immersing himself in one quick-rich scheme after another.  

10. Ye nigaahein 
Khoya Khoya Chand (2007)
Singers: Sonu Nigam, Antara Choudhary
Music: Shontanu Moitra
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire 
These downcast glances, these sighs that fade at the borders of your lips, the maddened moth knows he's destined to burn, so why does he caress the flame?  
Ye nigaahein, nigaahein, nigaahein jhuki jhuki, 
Apni aahein labon ki hadon par ruki ruki 
Haaye mehfil mehfil kyun deewana
Ye parwaana ghoomta hai
Jal jaayega jaanta hai,
Toh kyun shama ko chhoomta hai...  
Once in a while, Sonu Nigam reminds me why I like him; in this, he sings of passion without unnecessary angst (which is my major complaint about him). Inspired from Jingle Bell Rocks to be sure, but oh, what a difference in the orchestration, and how much I prefer the 'inspired' version to the original. Kirkire's intelligent lyrics are the icing - the man can write poetry, and how!

There are two interesting things about this post; one, the narrative of 'nigaahein' in Hindi/Urdu poetry is it a mere coincidence that (especially) a woman's glances have to be lowered, or downcast? A saucy 'Nigaahein milane ko jee chaahta hai' or a 'Nigahein mastana' are exceptions rather than the rule; usually nigaahein seem to be 'jhuki huyi' - I can't help thinking that societal mores demanded that a 'good' woman's gaze must forever be lowered, if she's to be considered 'good'. 

Two, from an academic point of view, this must be the first list of songs on my blog (and I have over a hundred lists) that is completely devoid of even one song by Lata Mangeshkar. This, despite the fact that I have two songs by Madan Mohan. Considering the period from which I have sourced these songs (with the exception of one), that's an anomaly worth mentioning.  

Both these points are probably only of interest to me, so, tell me, what do you think of nigaahein? What songs can you add to this post? Bonus points if they are not all 'jhuki jhuki'.

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