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21 January 2016

My Favourites: 'What am I?' Songs

I had originally meant this to be the second of twin posts. You see, I spend quite a lot time thinking up different themes for my posts. But sometimes, I come up with what I think is a great idea, only to find that a) it's been done already, or b) I make a list, but I don't work on it quickly enough and someone else pips me to the post. That's what happened to this brilliant idea (if I do say so myself) of making a 'Who am I?' list. That theme 'I Am...' was done very well here. Nothing if not enterprising, I figured, why not post the 'second' part of my twin posts, anyway? After all, it was a variation on the original theme -  how people define themselves. (Plus, I'd already got my songs in place, and was too lazy to research another theme.) So, no, not 'Who?' but 'What?'  The part that comes after 'I'm Anu.' Something on the lines of  'I'm an editor', or 'I'm mad'. (Both of which, I must confess, are true statements.)

In the world of Hindi films, however, it is not that simple. You can't sing a song about being an editor. 'Main sampadak hoon' doesn't sound very lyrical, does it? But our Hindi film lyricists know how to make the banal sound poetic - 'I'm a wayward cloud', makes a man who is basically a vagabond, sound very interesting; 'I'm a flower' - not just any flower, but a budding one from the vales of Kashmir, is definitely refreshing, and if you're of a decidedly poetic bent of mind, 'I'm young, na├»ve, delicate, innocent...' ...the adjectives don't seem to end. There seem to be a plethora of such songs where people describe themselves in imaginative ways (in one, she describes herself as an 'atom bomb'); so here, is part two of my original idea.

It was a Raj Kapoor song that I came across in the recent past that brought this topic to mind. Interestingly enough, I found he had quite a few songs where he described himself by nature, rather than just by name. In fact, I came across so many songs picturised on Raj Kapoor that defined him as 'something' that if I'd dug a little harder, I'm sure I could have probably made a post based entirely on his songs. Instead of doing so, I decided to divide the post into two, the first part answering, Who (what?) is Raj Kapoor?, while the second is devoted to others, both male and female characters, who attempt to define themselves in some way, other than by their name. 
Awara (1951) 
Singer: Mukesh
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
When you think of 'What/who am I?' songs, this is probably the first one that comes to mind. It is that iconic a song. It is also probably Raj Kapoor's best known alter ego - the awara, the vagabond. It was certainly his most popular film world wide. In fact, when he introduces himself to Rita (Nargis) in the film, this is how he describes himself. He is an awara, a thief, and his job is to thieve. Chor hoon, kaam hai chori, he informs her casually, in one song, to which she replies equally casually, 'Dil ko churake kho mat jaana'. Little does she know that along with being a vagabond and a thief, he's also honest, and that she would do well to believe him. Why doesn't she, in fact, when he so proudly states that he is an awara? He has no home, no one to love or to love him, and it really doesn't matter - he's happy as a lark, free from all entanglements. And despite his trials and tribulations, he hasn't forgotten to smile...
Zakhmon se bhara seena hai mera
Hansti hai magar ye mast nazar
Duniya main tere teer ka 
Ya taqdeer ka maara hoon...

2. Main paagal mera manwa paagal
Aashiana (1952)
Singer: Talat Mehmood
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
Here, he is mad, even the world recognises his madness, his deewanapan. However, no one can understand the depth of that madness, that deewangi, who hasn't already loved and lost. So who is he, really? What does the world know, or understand, of his madness? It's not just his love, he too teeters on the edge of insanity.
Chhupi huyi meri kaaya mein
Raakh kisi parwaane ki...

For she's dead, only he cannot believe it; he will not believe it. He will not even hear of it. He will sing of this madness, even as the world looks on, mocking his wounds as is their wont. One of Talat Mehmood's finest renditions, and Madan Mohan's classic compositions, as well as one of my all-time favourites.

3. Main dil hoon ik armaan bhara
Anhonee (1952)
Singer: Talat Mehmood
Music: Roshan
Lyrics: Satyendra Athayya
What is he, here? A heart filled with just one desire, for someone to accept him. He knows he is not her social (or financial) equal, but he has all the wealth of his love to lay at her feet - if only she would recognise him for who and what he is.  
Yun mujhse nigaahon ko na chura
Tu aake mujhe pehchaan zara
Main dil hoon ek armaan bhara...

he pleads, before his song comes to an abrupt halt thanks to the applause of those who are assembled there. Not all, though. One man is insulting, recommending that he give up law (he is a lawyer by professon) and pick up the dholak. In response, he strikes a discordant note before singing the last verse, which promises that the glitter of wealth will be erased ere long, but his song, his melody, will remain forever. 

4.  Main hoon ik khalasi
Sargam (1950)
Singer: Chitalkar
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: PL Santoshi
Who is he? Why, a helper, of course, and his name? Bhim Palasi. (Funny, this song is not composed in Raag Bhimpalasi.) He recounts all that he is not - he's not a German or a Japanese, nor an Afghan or an Iranian. Neither is he a Turk or Baluchistani. What he is - apart from being a helper - is a resident of 'prem nagar', a lover of beauty, not a sadhu nor a sanyasi, but.... a khalasi named Bhim Palasi.  
Arre ishq ka main deewaana
Aur husn ka main parwaana
Main apne se anjaana

Aur duniya se main begana
Na sadhu na sanyasi
Mera naam hai Bhim Palasi  
Only C Ramchandra could compose a rock-and-roll song a song with a jig rhythm, and throw in the name of a classical raga in the same breath. 

5. Main aashiq hoon bahaaron ka  
Main Aashiq (1962)
Singer: Mukesh
Music: Shankar-Jaikishen
Lyrics: Shahryar
He is a lover - of nature. He is a carefree wanderer, roaming the strange shores of this young world. So he happily traipses the hills and vales, his voice lifted in sheer happiness. He has only one path - that of love, and if ever he finds himself alone and helpless on these wanderings, he finds solace in song, forgetting everything else.
Chala gar safar ko koi besahara
Toh main ho liya sang liye ektaara

Gaata hua kuch bhulaata hua
Main aashiq hoon bahaaron ka
Nazaaron ka fizaaon ka ishaaron ka
Main mastaana musaafir hoon
Jawaan dharti ke anjaane kinaaron ka...

That  - all of it - was Raj Kapoor. Now, to find out who the others are...

1. Hoon main ik naya tarana
Faraar (1955)
Singer: Geeta Dutt
Music: Anil Biswas
Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
She is a fresh melody, an unread storyshe is the intoxication of youth, a beautiful memory, she is there to set their hearts aflutter... and so she does. Especially the heart of one man, a revolutionary on the run, a feeling that is heartily reciprocated, though neither of them know it just yet. 
Meri adaayen mere bahaane
Koi na samjhe koi na jaane
Ik pawan jhakola ik udan khatola
Ik yaad suhaani (?) hoon main

Ik naya taraana, ik naya fasaana
Ik nayi kahani hoon main...
One of Dev Anand's lesser known films, he reunited with hi Baazi heroine in this tale of ideals, revolution, love and betrayal set in pre-partition India  

2. Main jannat ki hoor hoon 
Lal Pari (1954)
Singer: Geeta Dutt
Music: Hansraj Behl
Lyrics: Asad Bhopali

Considering this song is picturised on Helen, I can certainly buy her claim that she is a fairy descended from the Heavens, whose beauty will render men unconscious. I doubt anyone will dispute that claim, will they? (I cannot find a video clip of this song, unfortunately, but the film, as I remember it, was a fun watch. Of course, I watched it as a child.) 

3. Main hoon bhola byopari
Miyan Biwi Razi (1960)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Shailendra
Now, for a man who has to resort to becoming a hawker to meet his beloved. In a comedy of errors where two couples in love are forced to separate because of paternal conflict, it takes Mehmood (one of the ill-fated couples) to disguise himself in order to meet the woman (Seema Deo) he loves. He's just an 'innocent merchant' he pleads, and amidst his sales pitch, he manages to let her know that it is he. (Considering that all he does is remove a fake moustache stuck on top of his own, I wonder that she, or her father, didn't recognise him.)

Mr Qartoon MA (1958)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
It's not often that you find a man proudly claiming to be a cartoon, and his heart to be beating as loudly as the ring of a telephone. (Nor can I understand why the name of the film has to be spelled 'Qartoon'.) But the song is fun for all that, and the cast sounds even better - Johnny Walker, Mehmood, Shyama and Kumkum in the lead. And of course, Mohammed Rafi doing his bit to sound like Johnny Walker. (The only video of this song, unfortunately, is neither clear, nor does the audio sync with the lip-movements.)

5. Main Bangali chhokra
Ragini (1958)
Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi
Who is he? A Bangali 'chhokra' (a lad from Bengal). And she? A 'Madrasi' chhokri (a lass from Madras). Kishore Kumar, who appears to have bid good-bye to love (or so he claims) is being chased by Padmini, who claims she has fallen in love with him, in a song that is both humorous and romantic. She matches Kishore's comic timing, dancing up a classical storm. The costumes were both stereotypical as well as funny, because Kishore was a Bangali chhokra while Padmini was a Madrasi chhokri. (In terms of having been brought up in Madras, and living there for most of her life, I assume she would have described herself as 'Madrasi'.) Though neither of them were Bengali or South Indian, OP Nayyar's composition hit all the right notes, and Qamar Jalalabadi had a blast with the lyrics. It is hard to stop laughing when you hear lyrics such as:
Sach poochho toh mere dil mein pyaar illai-illai  
O Bengali, mera ho ja, kehti hai Miss Pillai 
Pappi tujhe pukarti Gangoli yaaram
Ki bole re?
Mera ho ja saajna phir beda paaram

(Padmini's pet name was 'Pappi' while Kishore Kumar was a Ganguly.)  

6. Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon
Jahan Ara (1964)
Singer: Talat Mehmood
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen 
He is the 'pleasure of her eyes, the 'pride of her affections', but he has been banished from the court for the crime of falling in love with a princess of the royal family. And now, he begs her not to banish him from her eyes as well. Mirza Yusuf Changezi (Bharat Bhusan), the princess's childhood friend, spends much of his time singing sad songs, while Princess Jahanara Begum (Mala Sinha) sheds tears. 
Mujhe aankh se toh gira diya
Kaho dil se bhi kya bhula diya
Teri aashiqui ka guroor hoon, 
Tujhe yaad ho ke na yaad ho...
Apparently, he forgets that royal princesses didn't have much of a choice either.

Ek Musafir Ek Haseena (1962)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
He's a 'pyaar ka raahi' - a traveller on the path of love, and begs that she let him rest awhile in the shade of her tresses. She's not to be taken in; he's a traveller who will leave her bereft on the morrow. It's his gaze, she says, for she's neither beautiful nor moon-like as he claims...
Dil kahe dekhta hi rahoon main
Saamne baithkar ye adaayen
Na main hoon naazneen
Na main hoon mahjabeen
Aap hi ki nazar hai deewaani
Main pyaar kaa raahi hoon

Tere zulf ke saaye mein
Kuch der thehar jaaoon...
I'd heard this song before, but it was only when I was researching songs for my post on missing songs, that I realised that it was from this film. Only, it was deleted - some say it was filmed and then deleted because the film was too long, while others claim it was never filmed at all. 

8. Motiyon ki ladi hoon main
Loafer (1973)
Singer: Asha Bhosle

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Mumtaz doesn't really believe in beating around the bush, does she? 'I'm a beautiful fairy' she insists. Not just that, she's a string of pearls, a flower-laden branch, a firecracker... 
It's just his good fortune that she's with him, and if he missed a chance, why, she's that time that will never return. She's all that. And more. (Of course she is! It's Mumu.)
Main kaun hoon teri pyaas hoon
Husn ki main adaa ek khaas hoon
Aaj kismat se main tere paas hoon
Main nikal gayi toh phir haath nahin aaoongi
Aisi ghadi hoon main
(He doesn't look in the least bit interested; I can't blame her for being miffed. The sight of Mumu in a red miniskirt should have raised his temperature by several degrees. Especially when she's not shy at all about telling him exactly how desirable she is, and how expectantly she's been waiting for him.)  

9. Main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon
Kabhi Kabhie (1976)
Singer: Mukesh
Music: Khayyam
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
He's a poet - his fame is temporary, his identity that of the moment, his youth, transient. He speaks but the truth - other poets have come and gone before him; they have recited their poetry, and sung their verses; they were a part of those moments, he's a part of this one. But tomorrow? Who knows? He, his voice, his verses, will all be separated from those who listen so eagerly to him today. It is ironical indeed, that not only do these verses resonate within the context of the film, where the lovers are separated forever almost immediately after this song, but Main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon was a song of foreboding. Mukesh, who sang this song, died that same year. 
Kal aur aayenge naghmon ki
Khilti kaliyaan chhoonewaale
Mujhse behtar kehnewaale
Tumse behtar sun-newaale
Kal koi mujhko yaad kare
Kyun koi mujhko yaad kare
Masroof zamana mere liye
Kyun waqt apna barbaad kare

10. Arre deewano
Don (1978) 
Singer: Kishore Kumar
Music: Kalyanji Anandji
Lyrics: Anjaan
In its own way, this song is as iconic as Awara hoon. How can one forget a man who proclaims loud and clear that he is the 'Don', the dreaded underworld gang leader who's wanted by the police of  eleven countries? A man, whom it is not only difficult, but impossible to nab? Only, he is not. The 'Don', that is. He's the Don's doppelganger. He has a name - Vijay. The 'Don' doesn't. (Or if he does, we aren't told what it is, anymore than we're told where he came from, or who his parents are, or what brought him to a life of crime. It's not important.) Vijay is a poor street performer from Benares. A police mole. And he's in the lion's den. It's amazing that the Don's gang members haven't caught on yet - the real Don wouldn't have done something as uncool as gyrate on a dance floor. Moreover, this man is hellbent on letting them know he's not the real McCoy. 
Arre tumne jo dekha hai, socha hai samjha hai jaana hai
Woh main nahin
Logon ki nazron ne mujhko yahaan jo bhi maana hai
Woh main nahin
You can't get more explicit than that, surely? 

So, who do you 'know'? And how do they describe themselves?

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