The blog is 2
On the first of this month, the blog weathered another year. Well, the anniversary came and went, and I did precious little about it. I had had so many posts planned for the summer months, apart from the obligatory pat-myself-on-the-back-for-completing-another-year one that I intended - a month-long tribute to Meena Kumari, whose birthday it was at the beginning of August, another post commemorating our Independence Day, a few lists... I just didn't get around to writing any of them. Not even a tribute to Pran, even though I had planned a post on him under 'The Greats' series months before.
But it's also been a strange two months. Rather uncharacteristically for me, there was a definite lack of interest in blogging. Was it some personal angst, or the onset of summer holidays which meant the kids were home (which meant my routine was shot to pieces), or that work suddenly became even more hectic, or even that young A dropped my laptop and I lost the dozens of lists and hundreds of screenshots and song images that I had meticulously filed away? Or that I hadn't been able to muster up enough interest to watch many movies anyway (blasphemous, I know)? I truly cannot say.
I've had to push myself into blogging again and, almost two months after my last post, here I am again.
In honour of the (belated) second anniversary of the blog, I had decided to do something more than just write a post. I must confess that it was Dustedoff changing her template a few months before that inspired me to change mine.
Deciding to make changes was one thing; doing it was another. Blogger has precious few choices when it comes to templates. It was all quite dispiriting. Much heartburn ensued, since I had customised the original template to my satisfaction, googling hacks to make Blogger behave the way I want it to. Much muted swearing also ensued when I would suddenly lose one set of changes when I made another. Finally, I got it, somewhat, to be... this!
But the change is only cosmetic. The blog remains the same. (Whether that is good or bad, I leave it to my readers to judge.) I do look back with some pride at my journey from desultorily uploading old articles of mine to the number and variety of posts, from the various themed lists to reviews of films, Hindi, regional and international.
I look upon the traffic my blog generates with not a small amount of gratitude - there are many who stop by, read and encourage me with their comments. They have introduced me to 'new' films, 'new' old songs, they have commended me, corrected me and been forgiving of my errors, they have taught me much. They have become online friends, I have met a couple and broken bread with them, and somewhere, somehow, we share a bond.
There are many more who stop and read and go away to come back to read some more. Anonymous they may be, but that they give their time to read what I write is rewarding and encouraging.
I would not have kept blogging if it were not for you, my readers.This journey would not have been possible without you. This blog would not be what it is without you.
To all of you, I say a heartfelt 'Thank you'.
Last year, I celebrated the anniversary of my blog by writing a post on a list requested by one of my readers. This year, I fulfil another request from a reader - to do a list on what she called 'comparison songs'. We were discussing Annie's Song at the time and I laughingly pointed out that this was the era when 'You are my chicken fry' is a lyricist's idea of describing a woman. That was the point, she retorted. Isn't it time we remembered those songs that did liken a woman to more than a poultry dish? Too true. And so, here, Aparna, just for you, aap ki farmaish...
1. Ye chand sa roshan chehra (Kashmir ki Kali / 1964 ) Mohammed Rafi / OP Nayyar-SH Bihari
How could I not begin with Shammi Kapoor? This was the era in which he epitomised romance, wooing his heroines in his own inimitable style. From his many songs, this one stands out for its lyrics comparing the blushing heroine's face to the glowing moon, her hair to spun gold (a bit odd, that), her eyes to the blue waters of the lake... A fresh-faced Sharmila, an exuberant Shammi, the magic of Mohammed Rafi's voice and OP Nayyar's pulsating music complemented by the beautiful locale and some complicated manoeuvring from the shikara boatmen made this song stand out amidst a melodious score that boasted of some really catchy numbers.
Shammi Kapoor once recounted an interesting story of how the song turned out the way it did. By this time, he shared a close relationship with Mohammed Rafi and he suggested that the lines Tareef kraoon kya uski... were repeated at the end of the song. OP Nayyar brushed the suggestion off since he felt the song would be unnecessarily lengthened, but an obstinate Shammi persuaded Rafi to plead his case.
The gentle singer told the maverick music director that he would repeat the lines as Shammi had wanted, but if OP Nayyar did not approve of the final offering, he would re-record the song as it was originally scored. Nayyar reluctantly consented, and Mohammed Rafi recorded the song as Shammi Kapoor had suggested, with the line repeated and the word tareef enunciated differently in each line. When OP Nayyar heard the recording, he hugged Shammi and admitted that the repetition of the lines added a certain edge to the original composition.
2. Ab kya misaal doon (Arti/1962) Mohammed Rafi / Roshan-Majrooh Sultanpuri)
How do I compare thee? he asks, and then proceeds to do so quite eloquently. Majrooh Sultanpuri's poetry likens the beloved to the personification of the moon's rays, her face absorbing the golden glow of moonlight, her eyes reflecting the dark intoxication of the night, her neck like the drooping branches of a rose bush... Mohammed Rafi's liquid voice caresses the notes as Pradeep Kumar sings onscreen paeans to Meena Kumari's loveliness and ends with
Tasveer ho tumhi mere jannat ke
Jannat ke khwaab ki
Ab kya misaal doon main tumhaare shabaab ki...
Ab kya misaal doon main tumhaare shabaab ki...
3. Jo baat tujh mein hain (Taj Mahal/1963) Mohammed Rafi / Roshan-Sahir Ludhianvi
Aah... talk about timeless classics, and this painter's lament that his painting does not do justice to its subject will surely be counted amongst them. An ode to eternal love, Taj Mahal was the story of Shehzada Khurram and Arjuman Banu, the latter becoming enshrined forever in popular imagination as Mallika-e-Alam Mumtaz Mahal, for whom the besotted emperor built the Taj Mahal. Roshan's score for this love story of an emperor and his queen was complemented by Sahir Ludhianvi at his romantic best. Mohammed Rafi sings for Pradeep Kumar as Emperor Shah Jehan as he decries his inability to express his beloved Mumtaz's beauty in painting or in verse.
Rangon mein tera aks dhala tu na dhal saki
Saanson ki aanch jism ki khushboo na dhal saki
Tujh mein jo loch hai meri tehreer mein nahin
Jo baat tujh mein hai, meri tasveer mein nahin
4. Chandan sa badan (Saraswatichandra /1968) Mukesh/Kalyanji-Anandji-Indeewar
A Mukesh solo in what seems to have turned into a Mohammed Rafi monopoly, this song from Saraswatichandra was composed by Kalyanji-Anandji, with lyrics by Indeewar. Unlike the previous songs that simply complimented the beloved's beauty, this song expresses the singer's reaction as well. He simply cannot be blamed for being maddened by her beauty.
Pehle bhi bahut tarsa hoon
Tu aur na mujhko tarsaana
Mujhe dosh na dena jagwaalon
Ho jaaoon agar mein deewana
5. Aap ke haseen rukh (Bahaarein Phir Bhi Aayegi/1966) Mohammed Rafi/OP Nayyar-Anjaan
The problem with singing songs that praise your beloved is you need to ensure she is the only woman around, or at least you are making it very clear that you are singing to one particular woman. In another of those songs where the singer claims that he cannot be faulted if his heart sways (due to her beauty, of course), Dharmendra's character serenades his lady love (Tanuja), who heartily reciprocates his sentiments; only, her elder sister is equally smitten, and assumes, mistakenly of course, that he is referring to her when he sings
Jahan jahan pade kadam wahan fiza badal gayi
Ke jaise sar-basar bahaar aap hi mein dhal gayi
Kisi mein ye kashish kahan jo aap mein huzoor hain
Mera dil machal gaya toh mera kya qasoor hain?
Mohammed Rafi's vocals caress the notes to bring us a quintessential love ballad that still evokes goose-bumps (especially when you remember Dharmendra on screen).
6. Mere mehboob mein kya nahin (Mere Mehboob/1963) Lata Mangeshkar-Asha Bhosle/Naushad-Shakeel Badayuni
For a change, the women are describing their beloved in glowing terms, each trying to out-do the other. In a film where the hero falls in love with a pair of eyes peeping out of the naqab and a fair hand stretching out from under the burqa, it is not incomprehensible that two women, best of friends, have fallen in love, and are indeed, unbeknownst to each other, describing the same man in the most complimentary terms. If one says her mehboob is ek chaand hai, husn apna nikhaare huye, the other avers that her beloved is aasman ka farishta hai woh, roop insaan ka dhaare huye, for after all, Mere mehboob mein kya nahin?
Which is all very well, but they are describing Rajendra Kumar!
7. Yun toh humne lakh haseen dekhe hain (Tumsa Nahin Dekha/) Mohammed Rafi/OP Nayyar- Sahir Ludhianvi
This must have been the first film made to launch a heroine (Ameeta), which propelled its hero (Shammi Kapoor) to stardom instead. One of Shammi Kapoor's patent tease-and-stalk-until-she-relents songs, he begins with Yun toh humne laakh haseen dekhe hai, tumsa nahin dekha (I have seen many beautiful women, but none as beautiful as you) and proceeds to sing two antaras in praise of her beauty
Uff ye nazar, uff ye ada, kaun na ab hoga fida,
zulfein hain ya badliyaan, aankhein hain ya bijliyaan, jaane kis kis ki aayegi qazaa until he realises that she is not very enamoured of him.
His praise turns into a moral lesson:
Tum na agar bologe sanam
Mar toh nahin jaayenge hum
Kya pari kya hoor ho,
Itne kyun magroor ho
Maan ke toh dekho kabhi kisi ka kaha
Lovely, lovely song, but I was pleased to see that Ameeta doesn't relent. At least, not then.
8. Teri pyari pyari soorat ko (Sasural/1962) Mohammed Rafi/Shankar-Jaikishen-Hasrat Jaipuri
This is an unusual song for this list in that it does not overtly compare the beloved's beauty to the moon or the stars or the sun. Instead, they envy her (Dekhkar tera roop salona, chaand bhi sar ko jhukaata hain) and he exhorts her to keep her beauty covered. She is not safe from his gaze either, he claims... Mukhde ko chhupa lo aanchal mein, kahin meri nazar na lage, chashm-e-buddoor... In fact, Dekha na karo tum aaina, kahin khud ki nazar na lage...
It's rather endearing, this concern, and thank heavens it is not the usual eve-teasing-under-the-guise-of-wooing song; the two are in love after all.
9. Ek ladki ko dekha toh (1942 A Love Story/1994) Kumar Sanu/RD Burman-Javed Akhtar
I know this transcends my usual time frame for my selection of songs, but this was RD Burman rising from the ashes to compose tunes that sounded like they belonged to the 50s or 60s. In an era where songs sounded like gunshots, the score of 1942 A Love Story came as a breath of fresh air. In any case, the song fits the theme like a glove. Or perhaps I had just come through a decade of Kya gaadi hai kya number hai Kya body hai kya bumper hai but hearing the lady he loves described as
Jaise khilta gulaab
Jaise shaayar ka khwaab
Jaise ujli kiran
Jaise ban mein hiran
Jaise chaandni raat
Jaise narmi ki baat
Jaise mandir mein ho ek jalta diya... was rather refreshing.
10. Chaudvin ka chand ho (Chaudvin ka Chand/1961) Mohammed Rafi/Ravi-Shakeel Badayuni
Chaudvin ka chaand ho ya aftaab ho
Jo bhi ho tum khuda ki kasam lajawaab ho
This is probably the best of all the comparison songs. Apart from the very complimentary comparisons, there is an element of adoration, of respect, of awe (almost) that is implicit in Mohammed Rafi's rendition and Guru Dutt's enactment of it on screen as he watches his beloved sleeping. Waheeda's ethereal sensuousness deserved every bit of praise that the lyricist lavished on her.
As I leave you with
Chehra hai jaise jheel mein hansta hua kamal
Ya zindagi ke saaz pe chhedi huyi ghazal
Jaan-e-bahaar tum kisi shaayar ka khwaab ho...
Tell me, which are your favourite songs of comparison or praise?