6 October 2015

Unvoiced Emotions, Expressed Feelings

Some days ago, I'd one of my frequent bouts of insomnia and was trawling the 'Net trying to find something, anything, to watch that would take the frustration out of lying in bed, unable to sleep. As I did, YouTube helpfully threw up 'recommended for you' films based on what I'd watched before. One of them starred Dharmendra and Mala Sinha, and I'd just watched a Mala Sinha film where I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked her, so... But having already been burnt one too many times before,  I decided to see if anyone knew what Akashdeep was all about before I began watching. I was glad I did. 

Not only because Dustedoff's hilarious treatise on how this film came to be made suddenly made my insomnia bearable (you can't laugh and fret over not sleeping at the same time), it also stopped me from wasting my time, even if the stated goal was to fall sleep. More importantly, it gave me the seed for a new post. 

Here's Dustedoff's explanation for how the producer, director and writer managed to get a mute character to 'sing' on screen: 
W: Why? Do you want them to? Look, let’s just have her sing a romantic song, and leave it at that—
D: Sing? How’ll she sing? She’s mute. 
P (interrupting): Let’s get a move on. We can have her put an LP on and lip-synch to that. [Emphasis mine.]

Now, pay close attention to the producer's brilliant idea. A mute girl can't sing. But they need the heroine to sing. Let's just show her putting an LP on, so she can lip-synch the lyrics! They couldn't just have the song in the background. No, that would have been too simple, too realistic. One can't have too much realism in a commercial film. Besides, Nimmi may have wanted at least one song picturised on her... 

Anyway, that led me to thinking of other similar sequences in Hindi films. No, not of mute characters beginning to sing or even talk with the help of recording machines! But what if the producer/director/distributor wanted a romantic song and the writer had written a scene where the characters are as yet unaware of their own emotions? Or it's a scene where the lead characters cannot, for some reason, articulate the emotions they feel? Well, they could have the song in the background, for instance. Or they could come up with something different - like have someone else voice these nascent feelings.

Unlike the aforementioned fictitious 'Producer' (and his vision), some of our directors were very, very good at incorporating songs very subtly into such scenes. And so, the rest of the night (until I fell asleep) was spent trying to remember songs that would fit into this category. A few of them came very easily to mind - Leke pehla pehla pyar, Kabhi aar kabhi paar and Deewane hai deewano ko... After all, I'd only recently watched C.I.D and Aar Paar. The rest? Ah, that needed some research.

Finally, however, I found ten songs that fitted this category (and also found a theme for another post!). So, as the wise Winnie-the-Pooh says, each song listed here has the lead characters' 'feel' what they feel, and those emotions are 'spelled' out by others' voices, even if the underlying mood is not similar (and in fact, is quite the opposite) in some cases. No, not 'background songs'. But songs  that are actually sung on screen by other characters. 

C.I.D (1956)
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Let me start with one of the songs that first came to mind when I thought of this theme. Here, the feelings are not so much a coincidence, as they are being paid to be expressed. Perhaps the hero doesn't know to sing? Perhaps he thinks that if he does sing, she will have him arrested for being a stalker? Perhaps it's below his dignity to go around singing in public? (He's a C.I.D, officer after all.)

Whatever the reason, he very sensibly pays a couple of street performers (Shyam Kumar and Sheila Vaz) to serenade his beloved with a song that expresses - quite neatly - how he feels about her. She's not as indifferent as she pretends to be, as the woman entertainer promptly points out...
Sun sun baatein teri gori muskaayi re
Aayi aayi dekho dekho, dekho hansi aayi re...
Of course, the song also has a sad version, which the heroine sings herself.  
Aar Paar (1954)
Singer: Shamshad Begum
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Now this is a song that fits very snugly into the theme. The hero has, not just fallen for, but fallen over the heroine; she's repairing her car, and he, not noticing, has just tripped over her feet. Angrily, he pulls her out only to notice that she's a very attractive young woman. Hot words are exchanged, and he finally offers to call the police for her. She's ready to retaliate, when a young boy, Elaichi (Jagdeep), and his bachcha party begin to dance in front of her. The young woman is furious, but as she chases them away, she is interrupted by the sound of a construction worker (Kumkum, in her screen debut) singing as she goes about her work.
Pehle milan mein ye toh duniya ki reet hai
Baat mein gussa lekin dil hi dil mein preet hai
Is she singing of his feelings? Or the young woman's? Love is in the air, but Cupid needs a few more arrows to find their mark before these two can admit to themselves that they care for the other, much less express those feelings to the one they love.

Zanjeer (1973)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar 
Music: Kalyanji Anandji
Lyrics: Gulshan Bawra
This is actually the first song that actually came to mind when I was reading Dustedoff's post. In a film which didn't require any songs (but still had them), this was the one song that fit into the story without sticking out like a sore thumb. In fact, it was very sensibly picturised on two itinerant performers, given that Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) is a man tortured by his inner demons, and not prone to the finer emotions. His laughter is rationed out, and even his smiles are in short supply. It is very certain that his character would not ever have - verbally - expressed his feelings for the young woman who seeks refuge in his house (fearing the repercussions of her informing the police about a hit-and-run accident). It is not clear that he's even aware he has any. So it is a fortunate coincidence that these performers sing outside their window one morning; as glances meet, and slide away in shyness, they are first caught by surprise by the depth of their longing for the other, and tentatively draw closer, emotionally. 
Nigahon mein aise ishaare hue, ishaare hue
Ke dil ne kaha hum tumhare hue, tumhare hue
Nazar ban gayi hai zuban pyaar mein
Maza aa gaya jeet ka haar mein
And by the time the song ends, they are closer than ever before. It's a touching scene, and the economy with which it was picturised made a far stronger impact than if they had had Vijay and Mala burst into song.
There's a lovely bit of trivia associated with this song. According to Gulshan Bawra (January 9 2001, Mid-Day), who was not only the lyricist, but also the person (along with Sanjana) on whom the song was picturised, the first take of the song had been recorded, but Lata Mangeshkar requested another take. Mohammed Rafi, who was known for being very accommodating and totally free of any nakhras, was on that day, very upset. So upset, in fact, that he was ready to leave. According to Bawra, it was the month of Ramzan, and Rafi was a tad irritable at the delay. When he heard that Rafi was leaving, Bawra quickly informed the singer that the song was to be picturised on him. With a quick 'Ye pehle kyun nahi bataaya aapne?' ('Why didn't you tell me that before?') Rafi turned back, and recorded another take that satisfied everyone. 

4. Jahaan main jaati hoon
Chori Chori (1956)
Singers: Manna Dey, Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Shankar Jaikishen
Lyrics:  Shailendra
What happens when an heiress (Nargis) runs away to marry a fortune hunter (Pran) and bumps into an intrepid, down-on-his-luck reporter (Raj Kapoor) who's looking for that one 'exclusive' that will make his career? What happens when the spoilt heiress begins to realise that a lifetime of having her wishes and demands catered to does not mean that life owes her anything? As the mismatched couple bicker their way through to their eventual destination, sparks - of a different kind - are beginning to smoulder. Here too, the two are just beginning to realise that their feelings for each other are simmering underneath all the squabbling, but neither can express it. 
It takes the performing artists of a travelling puppet show to ask the question that Kammo wants to ask but dreads asking: Ye toh bataao ke tum mere kaun ho? ('Won't you tell me what you mean to me?') Even as he responds 'Mujhse na poocho ke tum mere kaun ho', she is in dreamland - where she and Sagar have taken the place of the puppets. 

The song is lip-synched by an actress called Shanti, but I cannot identify the actor - anybody? 

Razia Sultana (1961)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle
Music: Lachchiram
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
The story of a princess of the Slave Dynasty ascending to the throne amidst stiff disapproval from her father's nobles is not new to any of us. When Sultan Iltutmish appointed his daughter, Razia, as heir apparent to the throne of the Sultanate of Delhi, overlooking his sons, he went against all tradition - only, the wise ruler knew that his accomplished-at-state-craft daughter was a far better choice than her dissolute brother. Though the nobles went against their late ruler's stated wish, and appointed her eldest brother the Sultan, his incompetence led to his death a mere six months later, and Razia ascended the throne of Delhi. By all accounts, she was an accomplished ruler, but her confidence in an Abyssinian slave, Jamal-ud-din Yakut who, some say, was also her lover, led to the Turkish nobility rising up in arms. The greatest betrayal, however, came from one of her closest friends, Malik Altunia, who had himself aspired to Razia's hand.
While the more well-known film on the first (and last queen) of the Sultanate was Kamal Amrohi's 1983 film starring Hema Malini, this one, made almost two decades earlier, starred Nirupa Roy (yes, she of the 'misplaced children' fame) as Razia and Jairaj as Altunia. (Yes, this film showcased the lovestory between Razia and Altunia - she is supposed to have married him after her first incarceration.) And as they meet at night, they overhear a pair of lovers who sing: 
Dhalti jaaye raat, keh le dil ki baat
Shama parwaane ka na hoga phir saath
Words that resonate -  theirs is a love that can never be; they can no more be together than the ill-fated shama (flame) and parwana (moth) of poetry and literature. One is fated to die for the love of the other. 

I have no clue who the 'singers' on screen are. If any one can identify them for me? 

Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi (1960)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra
A doctor-nurse love story that derails in the middle before it meanders to a contrived happy ending, Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi's  Sushil Verma is a reputed surgeon, who is in love with Karuna (Meena Kumari), a nurse in his hospital. She returns his affections, and indeed, is a great favourite with his mother and his little sister as well. Unfortunately for the lovers, Sushil's mother feels indebted to the man who had paid for her son's medical training. On a family trip to Kashmir, she emotionally blackmails Sushil into marrying Kusum (Nadira), his patron's daughter. When they return, Karuna is devastated. But professional that she is, she continues with her job, keeping her distance from her now married love. Only, his newly-wedded wife is not having any of it. And Sushil, unhappily married, working so close to the woman he really loves, is finding it difficult to pretend, when his personal life is on the rocks. 
And one day, as Sushil walks on the beach, he finds street entertainers singing a happy, romantic song; to him, the lyrics seem to mock his desperation and his loneliness. 
Dekhte dekhte kya se kya ho gaya
Dhadkanein reh gayi dil juda ho gaya
Jaane kahaan gayi dil mera le gayi,
Woh jaane kahaan gayee jaane kahaan gayi

The song is 'sung' on character actor Raj Kishore, and I would be happy if someone identified the woman playing the harmonium.

7. Aaj sanam mohe ang laga lo
Pyaasa (1957)
Singer: Geeta Dutt
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
On the face of it, a Bhakti geet, Aaj sanam mohe ang laga lo is also a song of conflicting emotions - of a deep, devoted love, of hope, even despair. Vijay (Guru Dutt) is a man who has lost all - his lady love (Mala Sinha) has left him for another, no one wants to publish his poetry, his family berate him for being unemployed and useless. Two lonely souls have found kinship, but for one of them, friendship is not enough. Gulabo (Waheeda Rehman) has begun to love the embittered man whose poetry she has always admired. At one - weak - moment, Gulabo yearns to confess her love, but she is a prostitute, a 'fallen' woman, and she hesitates. Her emotions are mirrored by a jogan who's singing of a devotee's yearning to be united with the Lord. Sahir's lyrics were earthy and sensuous on the one hand, and very pure and sublime on the other (this is particularly true of the devotional songs of the Bhakti movement, where the Lord is seen as the devotee's beloved) - it depends on whose perspective you're listening to - the jogan's or the prostitute's. 
Aaj sajan mohe ang laga lo
Janam saphal ho jaaye
Hriday ki peeda 
Deh ki agni
Sab sheetal jo jaaye... 
Filmed on Waheeda aspiring to a higher plane of love, with Guru Dutt on the terrace of a building above her, the song was lip-synched on screen by an actress named Ashita. 

Mr & Mrs 55 (1955)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultapuri
If you had any doubt about Mohammed Rafi's versatility, just listen to him in Mr & Mrs 55. He sings Ae ji dil par hua aisa jadoo for Guru Dutt, moves on to Jaane kahan mera jigar gaya ji for Johnny Walker, and then,  Meri duniya lut rahi thi picturised on an unknown artiste, who plays a qawwal in the film. Bowing to his (married-to-him-for-convenience) wife's aunt's (Lalita Pawar) exhortations, Guru Dutt's Pritam has finally acquiesced to letting his wife divorce him. Because he believes that Anita (Madhubala) doesn't love him (though she's fallen in love with her husband), Pritam decides to let her have 'proof' that he's unfaithful; 'proof' that the aunt will manipulate in order to persuade Anita to consent to the divorce. 
Having deliberately destroyed his own happiness, Pritam is walking back home when he hears some street performers singing about the destruction of their world, of their happiness. It resonates with him as he faces a future devoid of all happiness, a life without the woman he loves dearly... 
Kaarvaan dil ka luta baitha hoon manzil ke qareeb
Main ne khud kashti dubo di jaake saahil ke qareeb
Kya main karta kya main karta
Main sharaab-e-ishq se madhosh tha

Kabuliwala (1961)
Singer: Manna Dey
Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
Based on Rabindranath Tagore's short story of an Afghan villager who comes to Calcutta to eke out a living and is unfortunately jailed for murder, it starred Balraj Sahni as the titular Kabuliwala Abdur Rehmat Khan - the man from Kabul. He stays with his brethren in a boarding house in Calcutta. When the migrant workers relax after a hard day's work, they are beset by thoughts of their homeland. Khan misses his little girl, Amina, though he's made friends with a little Indian girl, Mini, here in Calcutta, bestowing on her all the paternal love he cannot give his little daughter.
One evening, one of the men begins to strum a rabab, which prompts another (Wazir Mohammed Khan) to give voice to their collective longing for their motherland, which encapsulates both a mother's heart and a daughter's memory.
Chhodkar teri zameen ko door aa pahunche hum
Phir bhi hai yehi tamanna tere zarron ki kasam
Hum jahaan paida hue
Us jagan pe hi nikle dum
Tujh pe dil qurbaan They hope to return to their homeland to die, an emotion that is felt by everyone who is present in that room, Khan, in particular.  
Suhagan (1964)
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
This is an unusual song in that here, the song the character hears not only reflects the singers' desires, but also makes the unseen listeners realise what they're missing. Vijay (Guru Dutt) is a college professor who is (was?) happily married to Sharda (Mala Sinha). An unfortunate accident leaves him with a weak heart that cannot bear any shock, and what's more, the doctors insist that he should not be allowed to have any conjugal relations with his wife, a fact that everyone in the family - except Vijay - know. (Sharda is begged not to tell him.) It is therefore, not surprising that Vijay is extremely upset by his wife's seeming coldness towards him. As relations between them fray, Vijay becomes increasingly withdrawn. One night, he spots his neighbours (Who are they?) getting amorous on the neighbouring terrace. 
Dil ke kareeb aa jaa mere naseeb aa jaa
Aa meri jaan hai tu saanson mein tu sama jaa
Honthon pe naam tera 
Ulfat hai kaam mera 
Teri kasam...
While they sing of their love, and the romance of a moonlit night, Vijay - and Sharda - are torn. Both by the emotions that are evoked in them by the love and desire in the words of the song, as well as his sadness at what he sees as her rejection, and her turmoil at what she's - silently - forced to go through.

I once wrote that Hindi films had songs for every situation. As this post shows, Hindi films were also very good (at times) at creating a situation for a song. What songs can you think of where the song is sung by one character, but it is the feelings of another character(s) that is the focus of the song?

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