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31 December 2015

My Favourites: Songs of Hope and Encouragement

It's been a rockier than ever ride this year – filled with disasters, both natural and man-made, lots of sorrow and not much hope that things will get any better. In fact, they look like they might get worse. We, here in the US, are in the midst of the presidential primaries, and that hoary proverb about the gods first making mad those whom they wish to destroy seem to very apt. And just last week, an unexpected death shook fans of old Hindi films. Sadhana, that gorgeous actress of the silver screen, passed away on Christmas Day, leaving thousands of her grieving fans behind. Why do the deaths of our idols leave us bereft? It’s not as if we knew them personally, nor are we their friends. Yet, we feel an inexplicable connection to the roles they play on screen, and invest them perhaps with all the virtues of those characters. We see in them our own siblings, or our parents, or our own true loves. They are ours, they belong to us, their audience, their fans. They are family. 

When they die, they leave behind only a kaleidoscope of images, frozen forever in our memories – images of them as we knew them when, young and beautiful and ageless… and we grieve for what they were, and what they meant to us, and their loss hits us hard – perhaps because their deaths make us aware of our own mortality.

Life goes on, however, and despite it all, or perhaps because of it, people, ordinary people, put up their chins and get back to the process of living. And even if the humour is grim, they even manage to laugh. As the saying goes, the show must go on. Indeed, it will. Whether we go on or not. Because, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: 
‘This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

And so, here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite songs that talk of hope and encouragement. (And thank you, Neeru, for providing me with the impetus to write this post.)

1. Saathi haath badhana 
Naya Daur (1957)
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mohammed Rafi
Music:  OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
This was the first song on my list, and this is also the song that Neeru had mentioned that made her think of this theme. A man who sets out to carve a road that will help him win a race against a motor bus, a 'villain' who wants him to lose, villagers who are sceptical of his goal, a beloved who believes in the cause and in him... Coming just before the climactic challenge of man against machine, this song is the turning point of the narrative. As the man slogs on, alone, he is joined by his beloved, and then by the villagers who see in his perseverance, a hope for their future. Working on the principle of 'many hands make light work', they move heaven and earth (the latter, literally) to forge a path that will change their fortunes.  
Kab tak mehnat ke pairon mein ye daulat ki zanjeerein 
Haath badhaakar chheen lo apne sapnon ki tasveerein  

2.  Raat bhar ka hai mehmaan andhera
Sone ki Chidiya (1958)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Here is a song that speaks of hope - hope that the ill winds will blow away on the morrow, letting a new dawn bring with it a new beginning. It is both encouraging and hopeful, and in the film, brings the winds of change for the woman who, having lost all courage to withstand the depths of betrayal, and indeed of the travails of life even, decides to end it all. Pausing on the brink of disaster, it's a song of awakening, a song that tells a despairing woman that it's darkest before dawn, that the morning is near, and that a new life is awaiting her - if only she will take it. It’s a song that gives her the strength to draw back, and to live.
Raat jitni bhi sangeen hogi
Subah utni hi rangeen hogi
Gham na kar gar hai baadal ghanera
Kiske roke ruka hai savera
Raat bhar ka hai mehmaan andhera

3. Gham ki andheri raat mein
Sushila (1966)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Talat Mehmood
Music: C Arjun
Lyrics: Jaan Nissar Akhtar
When times are tough, everything seems so much darker than it is. Hope and despair war in this song. Even as one confides his distress, the other offers solace and a shoulder to lean on. It's always the darkest before dawn, but again, there is always a silver lining, and the latter advises him to hold out for a better tomorrow. 
While one queries, 'Khud hi tadap ke rah gaye dil ki sada se kya mila
Aag se khelte rahe hum ko wafa se kya mila', 
the other replies: 'Dil ki lagi bujha na de, dil ki lagi se pyaar kar
Subah zaroor aayegi, subah ka intezaar kar...'
Interestingly, this film, Sushila, certified in 1966, was released almost a decade later with another name 'Subah Zaroor Aayegi'.  

4. Hain sabse madhur woh geet jinhe 
Patita (1953)
Singer: Talat Mehmood
Music: Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra
This song, inspired by Shelley's Ode to a Skylark, even makes use of one of its stanzas: 'Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught, Our sweetest thoughts are those that tell of saddest thought', which Shailendra inverted into: Hain sabse madhur woh geet jinhe, hum dard ke sur mein gaate hain, Jab hadh se guzar jaati hai khushi, aansoo bhi chhalakte aate hain... Grief is part of life, and one would be foolish to think one can escape it, he lovingly explains; tears overflow not only during times of great sorrow, but also that of great happiness... so why not keep grief aside and learn to laugh?      
Pehloon mein paraye dard basaake
Hansna hansaana seekh zara...
Here, too, is talk of the darkness of the night melting away under the brightness of a new dawn: 
Ab gham ka andhera ghir aaye,
Samjho ke saveraa door nahin
...and a loving touch, an encouraging smile, go a long way to making things less dire than they seem. 

5. Dukh aur sukh ke raaste
Hum Dono (1961)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Jaidev
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Unconditional love probably looks like this. In a refreshing departure from the man-woman relationships usually portrayed on-screen, here, while the characters are flawed in their insecurity, there is also belief in each other, a love that can withstand life's obstacles, trust that their love will prevail. Once, a long time ago, or so it seems, he had asked her, Ke zindagi ki raah mein, jawan dilon ki chaah mein, kai maqaam aayenge, jo hum ko aazmaayenge...  Well, the time has come to face that challenge, and she's more than up to the task, only, won't he confide in her? She's offering her love, her trust, her comfort, and he, quietly, takes solace in her touch, in her proximity, as she softly offers her support: Khushi mile humein ke gham jo hoga baant lenge hum
Mujhe tum aazmaao toh zara nazar milaao toh,
Ye jism do sahi magar dilon mein faaslaa nahin
Jahaan mein aisa kaun hai, ki jisko gham mila nahin

6. Raahi manwa dukh ki chinta
Dosti (1964)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Here, the comfort is slightly different. It's not that troubles will pass; no, troubles are here to stay; it's happiness that, like the shadows, spread and fade in their lives. So why not accept their fate, and find their happiness and support in their friendship for each other? 
Door hai manzil door sahi pyaar hamara kya kam hai
Pag mein kaante laakh sahi par ye sahara kya kam hai
Hamraah tere koyi apna to hai
o…, sukh hai ek chhaanv dhalti, aati hai jaati hai, 
Dukh toh apna saathi hai...
The story of two disabled youth who support each other through their travails of their life, Dosti established Laxmikant-Pyarelal as music composers to watch for, following their resounding success in Parasmani  the year before. RD Burman played the harmonica for the duo in this film.   

7. Ye waadiyan ye fizaayein
Aaj aur Kal (1963)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
This is different from the songs that have gone before, in that he's coaxing her out of her wheelchair, offering her the hope that despite her handicap, there's still beauty in this world. If not for him, if not because of his encouragement, perhaps because the hills and vales are calling out to her, perhaps for the very silences that call out to her, for the waves that beckon her, for the blessings of every heart that loves her... 
Mera kaha na suno inki baat toh sunlo
Har ek dil ki duaayen bula rahi hain tumhe
Khamoshiyon ki sadaayen bula rahi hain tumhe
Ye waadiyan ye fizaayein bula rahi hain tumhe... 
Will she, who hasn't stepped out of the wheelchair for over five years, learn to trust him, to trust herself?  

8. Ye safar bahut hain kathin magar
1942 A Love Story (1994)
Singer: Shivaji Chattopadhyay
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Inspired by Faiz Ahmed Faiz's ghazal 'Hum par tumhari chaah ka ilzaam hi to hai, Dushnaam toh nahi hain, ye ikraam hi toh hai', Javed Akhtar's pen flows with the warmth of solace, as Rajjo grieves the loss of her father, unwittingly betrayed by her lover, Naren. Shubhankar, himself in love with Rajjo, can only lend her his shoulder to cry her heart out, and plead: Nahin rahnewaali ye mushkilein
Ye hain agle mod pe manzilein
Meri baat ka tu yakeen kar
Na udaas ho mere hamsafar...
She will be his co-traveller for some time now, but she will never be his. His words are as much for himself as they are for her, as they travel along a dangerous path.  

9. Ruk jaana nahin
Imtihan (1974)
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
What's a man to do when, full of ideals, wanting to do the right thing, and make something of the young people he's teaching, is wrongly accused of sexual harassment? He has much to lose, this man, and the charges are enough to cripple him, both mentally and emotionally. But he needs to find the spirit to fight these charges, if he is to win back his pride, his self-respect, and his beloved. And so, in the background, rings a sliver of hope, as he talks himself into standing up for his beliefs, his principles and... himself. 
Saathi na kaarwaan hai ye tera imtihaan hai
Yun hi chala chal dil ke sahaare
Karti hai manzil tujhko ishaare
Dekh kahin koyi rok nahin le tujhko pukaar ke
O raahi, o raahi, 
O raahi, o raahi
Ruk jaana nahin tu kahin haar ke
Kaanton pe chalke milenge saaye bahaar ke

10. Kuch to log kahenge
Amar Prem (1972)
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Singer: Kishore Kumar 
Amar Prem's protagonists were people whom society disparaged - one by choice (Anand Babu), the other, through circumstance (Pushpa). The latter, inured though she is to her life as a prostitute, is still hurt by the insults hurled at her by the so-called 'respectable' members of society. Anand Babu, however, comforts her; if Sita could be vilified by society, who is she, Pushpa, to be above that? Kuch reet jagat ki aisi hai
Har ek subah ki shaam hui
Tu kaun hai tera naam hai kya
Seeta bhi yahan badnaam hui
Phir kyon sansaar ki baaton se
Bheeg gaye tere naina
Kuch toh log kahenge
Logon ka kaam hai kehna 
People will talk; let them. The same people who berate him for coming openly to a whorehouse, and insult her for being a whore, are hyprocrites who sneak into brothels under the cover of darkness. 

11. Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi
Singers: Mukesh, Asha Bhosle
Music: Khayyam
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
The adaptation of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment gave Sahir Ludhianvi to write some stinging verses condemning the state of a free land, disillusioned with its freedom a decade after it had gained its independance. Sahir was - quite rightly - seen as the voice of a disenchanted youth, and he made full use of his immense talent to articulate the end of hope for a better future. Yet, in the same film, he left us with a sliver of optimism - perhaps that new dawn they talk of will arrive, and with that, our trouble will end. Perhaps when that dawn arrives, everyone will be equal. Ever the socialist, he wrote with a renewed optimism: 
Maana ke abhi tere mere
Armaanon ki keemat kuch bhi nahin
Mitti ka bhi hai kuchh mol magar
Insaanon ki keemat kuchh bhi nahin
Insaanon ki izzat jab jhoothhe sikko mein na toli jaayegi
Wo subah kabhi toh aayegi... 

Some day...

Even so, in keeping with the spirit of the season, I leave you with that hope - Woh subah kabhi toh aayegi... For as Lord Tennyson wrote: 
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,  
Whispering 'it will be happier...' ” 

And because, as a wise bear says, 'An adventure is about to begin...'

Can you think of any other song that would fit this theme? Songs that encouraged you to take that step, songs that gave you hope that there is still something to live for? Please feel free to add them in the comments.

To all my readers, with deep gratitude for being my readers, I wish you all a very, very Happy New Year. It's a time for new beginnings, new choices, new paths forward. It's time to bid good bye to the old, and welcome in the new.  

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.”
 –  JRR Tolkein                     

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