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26 October 2015

My Favourites: Songs of Cool Breezes

Sometime in the past month, without my knowledge, our extremely brief summer passed me by. It was only towards the end of August that we actually had three or four consecutive 'hot' days at all. Mostly, it was rather cool, even wet, with incessant rain which was met with continuous griping from me. Didn't Mother Nature know that Spring was over? And that Summer was supposed to be an endless run of glorious, sunny,  hot days? Well, Summer, such as it was, slipped away, and Fall, glorious, colourful, vibrant Fall has already put in its appearance. 
© Anuradha Warrier
The trees are beginning to change into their autumnal wardrobes and here in the North East, these range from the palest of creams to the richest of reds - with many, many different shades of yellow, orange and russet in between - all, often, on the same tree. These colours are all the more vibrant against the dark green of the evergreens. Pine needles lie soft and brown underfoot, releasing the fragrance of the pines when you step on them. The yard is beginning to be carpeted in varying shades of red, speckled with yellow and orange and brown as the trees shed leaves in preparation for Old Man Winter. 

The days are glorious - sunny and bright, without being too hot, and the nights are beginning to get chilly, to remind us that Winter is just around the corner. (As if we need reminding!) Yesterday was a cool, crisp day and I was out walking my dog - who's a lovely pup who answers to the name of Scamper - when the autumn leaves dancing in the wind sent the silly pup into paroxysms of barking as he tried to jump higher than them. He seemed to take it as a personal insult that they brushed against his nose and then flew away aided by the wind, before he could bite them into pieces. The wind itself was cold enough for me to be thankful I had a jacket on, even though the sun was out. Suddenly, 'Uff, kitni thandi hai yeh rut' came unbidden to mind. (Yeah, I think in terms of Hindi film songs all the time.)

Once I began humming that - much to Scamper's puzzlement (he stopped to see if I was in pain), I began thinking of the many songs that specifically talked about cool breezes - thandi hawa - that would be so apt for this season. There seemed to be quite a few. I love discovering 'new' songs and, while searching for songs for this post, I also came across some lovely, unexpected songs, apart from the usual suspects. Here, then, in no particular order are songs that, like autumn colours, are so varied in mood and feelings. 

1. Thandi hawa ye chandni suhani
Jhumroo (1960)
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Music: Kishore Kumar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
This is a perfect song with which to start this post. The breezes waft Jhumroo's (Kishore Kumar) yodel to Anjana (Madhubala) as she sits humming pensively at her piano one evening. He's singing of the cool breezes and the moonlight night and Anjana is drawn to Jhumroo's voice (and his song) as he passes by, with his donkey, on his way back to his village that lies at the foothills. They are, as yet, strangers, rich-girl Anjana only meeting the poor villager Jhumroo later. In a tale of star-crossed lovers and abducted babies, Jhumroo was the first film for which Kishore Kumar composed music, and the film was choc-a-bloc with songs that gave Kishore much chance to yodel.    

2. Thandi hawaayein lehra ke aaye
Naujawan (1951)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
From listening to a stranger's song and being drawn to it, to a young woman who, when the cool breezes come wafting along, wonders how she can call her beloved to her. All the times she's spent with her beloved flash across her mind, and she is so lost in her song that she doesn't realise she's woken up everyone in her household. (I liked that bit, simply because I've never understood how someone can sing - usually, at night - and the rest of the household not hear them at all.) It's only when she finishes her song and turns around that she sees them standing around, looking at her and then she, slowly, most nonchalantly, turns and goes away, pretending not to have been singing at all. 

The melody, composed by SD Burman, had some imitators: Roshan used it for Tera dil kahan hai (Chandni Chowk/1954) and later recycled it for Rahen na rahen hum (Mamta/1966). Son RD confessed (in a television interview in the mid-eighties ) to using it as the base for his Sagar kinare (Sagar/1985).

3. Thandi hawa kali ghata
Mr & Mrs 55 (1955)
Singer: Geeta Dutt
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
One of the few 'light' movies that Guru Dutt acted in, much less directed, Mr & Mrs 55 is by way of being a guilty pleasure of mine. It's such a regressive film, parts of it, that I wonder why I like most of the rest of it. I have no such qualms about the songs however. OP Nayyar's stellar score is fabulous. I do like that here, the man that the heroine is in love with is not shown as a gold-digger who's conning her for her wealth. He's a famous tennis player who has absolutely no interest in her at all. But learning that her father has left her his enormous fortune under the condition that she marry before her 21st birthday, or within a month of it, Anita (Madhubala) goes off to the club to meet Ramesh (Al Nasir), with whom she's besotted. There, just before giving him the 'glad' news that they should get married immediately, she meets her friends with whom she prances around the swimming pool, singing about how listening to her heart meant she could barely stop herself from dancing around.

4.  Dil thandi hawa mein
Shama (1946)
Singers: Shamshad Begum, Hamida Bano

Music: Ghulam Haider
Lyrics:  Shams Lucknawi
It appears that the cool breezes have a distinct connection to fantasies of the heart and mind. Certainly, they seem to bring back memories of a loved one. (The wind as a messenger is a consistent trope in our poems and literature.) Here, too, as in the Naujawan song, the young woman sings of how the heart, in the presence of a cool breeze, remembers the beloved, how his absence pricks like thorns, how the moonlit night is forlorn and silent, and all that is left is to complain to the moon that its light brings back happier memories, how each star reflects her beloved's face... Only, it is not the beloved who puts in an appearance at the end of the song.

5.  Thandi thandi chali re hawa  
Guest House (1959)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
It is time to meet at last; as dawn lightens into day, and the cool breezes blow gently, her heart is light as she hastens to meet her lover. Her complaint? Her dupatta flutters in the breeze and lifts off her head, unveiling her face, and she is shy - she scarcely understands the feelings that rise in her breast, and she begs her beloved when she meets him to help her understand why she feels the way she does. The cool breezes only seem to fan the flames of her emotions. And it doesn't matter to her that her friends are also listening to her song. Nor indeed that they are witness to her meeting with the man she loves.

6.  Kehti hai ye thandi hawa 
Ilzam (1954)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen

You would think that Kishore Kumar and Meena Kumari are the last people who should be paired together - one was the king of very  physical comedy, while the other was the anointed 'tragedy queen' known for the single tear balancing perfectly on her long eyelashes, and a voice husky with the weight of a thousand sorrows. Yet, there was a time when Meena played very lighthearted characters, and with such elan, her smile lighting up the screen as she matched her costars wit for wit. While Ilzam wasn't as much of a comedy as, say, Miss Mary or Kohinoor, Meena sparkled in a role that went from the light-hearted to the romantic to the (melo)dramatic. Ravishing Kamli (Meena Kumari) is a village maiden who makes every man in the vicinity swoon for love of her. She plies her boat to support herself and her blind father, and is soon being wooed by a rich young city-slicker named Rajan (Kishore Kumar). But the path of true love is never smooth, and the young lovers have to cope with a resentful lover (hers), an uptight mother (his), an unwed mother (neither's), and a loyal family retainer who finds his loyalty a slippery slope to hell. But here, Kamli has just met this young man, and is ferrying him across the river, singing of the message of the winds - don't waste this day, this moment. Life is like this boat, tossed about in the waves of fate; enjoy the journey, don't worry about the destination. Carpe diem.

7. Thandi thandi ye hawa
Kya Yeh Bombay Hai? (1959)
Singer: Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey
Music: Bipin Dutta 
Lyrics: Noor Dewasi 
I must confess to having listened to this song only because the title of the movie intrigued me. I can only imagine, from the star cast, that it must have been a rather obscure movie. But this is a case of the picturisation matching the lyrics, and vice versa. It appears - from the picturisation - that Maruti (I know him only as a comedian; I hadn't realised he had starred as a hero) is in love with Nishi (again, I have seen her in secondary roles in movies, never knew she had been the heroine in one), who cannot spare him the time of day. Importuning her near the swimming pool one day, he is pushed in - fully clothed - by her friends. And so he sings, 'the winds are cold and so is the water, if only she would be his, then it would be kind of her...' She isn't too flattered, but I admire the man's persistence; he swims to the end of the pool, gets out of the water, and falls back in again.

8.  Thandi thandi hawa pooche 
Johnny Walker (1957)
Singers: Geeta Dutt, Asha Bhosle
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
I have loved this song since I first heard it a few years ago. And I wonder about all the songs that I haven't heard that I would love if only I heard them. (If this sentence is too complicated and doesn't make sense, don't worry - it's not you; it's me.) Another rather obscure film, it stars the beautiful Shyama with our very own Johnny Walker, one of the few films in which he has the starring role. Johnny plays an alcoholic named Murli Manohar, while Shyama is Chandra, his lady love. Here, Chandra exclaims at having to tell the winds her beloved's whereabouts; she is too shy to do so, she confesses to her friend (Sheila Vaz), who is not very sympathetic. Why doesn't Chandra tell the wind how attractive her beloved is, she asks; why not say that she is madly in love with him? But Chandra's shyness persists...

9. Thandi thandi hawa
Mall Road (1962)
Singer: Suman Kalyanpur
Music: Sudarshan
Another obscure movie that I came across a few years ago, I don't recognise the music director's name, nor do I know who wrote the lyrics. This is a sweet song, nevertheless, that talks - yet again - of how the cool breezes tease her by reminding her of the person she loves, and how her heart yearns to call out to him to come to her...I'm left wondering what power the chill breezes seem to have over susceptible young women; the only influence such winds have over me is to make me yearn for a warmer coat. 

10. Jab chali thandi hawa
Do Badan (1966)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
It must stink that when you are out on a picnic and ask your friend to sing, she first demurs, and when you insist, sings a sad song of yearning instead of the peppy number you were hoping for. Picturisation aside, however, Jab chali thandi hawa is a very pleasant 'I miss you' song, filled with such delicate yearning, as the cool breezes and the dark clouds bring back memories of a beloved wafting across to the heroine, who is pining away. One of those 'contrived tragedy' films (which apparently was inspired by Deedar) with unnecessary 'sacrifices' and over-the-top villainy, it gave scope for drenched-in-tears number such as Lo aa gayi unki yaad and Rahe gardishon mein har dum. Definitely not one of Ravi's better scores, but this one song redeems it from complete disaster. Nothing could do the same for the film, however.

11. Thandi hawayein kaali ghataayein
Sitara (1955)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Shamshad Begum
Music: Ghulam Mohammed
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
I came across this song only recently. I found the lyrics hilarious. Not only because he thinks calling his lady love 'nan khatai' is romantic, but his entire mode of proposing to her is extremely funny. So is her response. She has an entire line of men proposing to her, she tells him, and she is fed up. She is not interested in him or his proposal, and she would thank him to go away and leave her alone. Mohammed Rafi and Shamshad Begum have a fine time with this song, which I assume is picturised on the characters who provide the comic side plot in the film.

12. Thandi thandi hawa jo aaye   
Sunehre Din (1949)
Surinder Kaur
Music: Gyan Dutt
Lyrics: DN Madhok
One of those interminable love triangles - no, quadrangles - that were the staple of cinema in those days, Sunehre Din was made bearable only by its songs. With its hero, Premendra (Raj Kapoor), a singer, it was easy enough to insert songs into the narrative. He has three fans, Renu (Rehana), Lata (Nigar Sultana), and Asha (Roopkamal) who, friends though they are, are all in love with him. Here, however, Renu is in tears - obviously, the path of true love never runs smooth. Each caress of the breeze, each glimpse of a naughty cloud is a further pinprick to her wounded heart. He's forgotten her, she complains, but she hasn't been able to stop remembering him. Won't her beloved tell her what she should do? Because she hasn't been able to convince her own heart. It was bad enough to feel the yearning of love, it is worse when it has to bear the pangs of separation. This song actually has two versions - one, sung here in the film by Surinder Kaur, and another, in the voice of Shamshad Begum, which is only available on the records.

Perhaps it is just as well that I began with some cheery songs about the cold winds, and ended with a bitterly tearful one. In the time it took me to write this post, the temperatures have dropped drastically here, and while still sunny, 'cool' has suddenly given way to 'cold'. Brrrr! I feel tearful too. 

Can you think of some 'cool' songs to add to this list?

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