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10 May 2018

Male Voices, Female Feelings

Once, a long time ago (it seems), I wrote about songs that were sung by characters other than the protagonists that expressed the latter’s feelings. Similarly, there are plenty of songs where the song, picturised on the heroine, is actually a male solo, with the male voice expressing the woman’s emotions. Keep in mind that songs like Chal ri sajni ab kya soche (Bambai ka Babu) and Kahaan jaa raha hai (Seema) which, while they are male solos picturised on female actors, are not quite the sort of songs I mean. These type of songs are lip-synced [or not] by male actors on screen, but are [in one case] a wish for a beloved's future happiness or [in the case of the latter] an exhortation to think her course of action through. 

These songs that I write about below are songs, whether in the background or lip-synced by a male character, that reflect the female characters' emotions; a female playback singer would have had the same effect. So why did the music directors choose to use a male voice? I’m not sure. Suffice it that it wasn't just one music director's conceit – as you can see from some of my favourite songs in this genre listed below, different music directors have played around with this theme. 
 
1. Kai baar yun hi dekha hai
Rajnigandha (1974) / Singer: Mukesh / Music: Salil Choudhury / Lyrics: Yogesh
Not really sad or maudlin, the lyrics take note of the confusion in Deepa’s (Vidya Sinha in her debut) mind. She’s in love with Sanjay (Amol Palekar in his first role in Hindi films) and they are planning to marry when she gets an interview call in Bombay. There, she runs into Navin (Dinesh Thakur), an ex-boyfriend. Her feelings are rekindled and now she’s torn between the two men
 Janoon na, janoon na uljhan ye janoon na
Suljhaaon kaise kuch samajh na paaoon
Kis ko meet banaaoon
Kiski preet bhulaaoon… 
It’s a song about choices, about the grass seeming greener, about a past lover and a present one, about loving two people at the same time, and the resultant confusion thereof. The question still remains why Mukesh should be expressing this confusion, but the song won him the National Award for Best Male Playback. 

2. Mera saajan hai us paar
Bandini (1963) / Singer: SD Burman / Music: SD Burman / Lyrics: Shailendra
 Another woman torn between two men, confused as to whether she should choose her past or her future; another male solo expressing those feelings while she finally decides her path forward. Are these unspoken words meant for the man who believed in her when the whole world was against her?
 Man ki kitab se tum mera naam hi mita dena
Gun toh na tha koi bhi avgun mera bhula dena
Mujhko aajki bida ka
Mar ke bhi rahta intezaar 
Because she’s making a choice based on who needs her rather than who loves her, deliberately squandering her chance at a new beginning. But as she explains: 
Main bandini piya ki
Main sangini hoon saajan ki
Mera kheenchti hai aanchal
Manmeet tera pukaar…   

3. Khush raho ahl-e-chaman
Main Chup Rahoongi (1962) / Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: Chitragupt / Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
A young woman, forced by circumstances (and emotional blackmail), to leave the only world she knows. She’s not only leaving her home and her village, she’s leaving behind the man she loves, after having promised never to reveal his name. How can she express her feelings? And to whom? She doesn’t even know what her future holds, only that her enforced silence will throw her into a life of ignominy and shame. 
Bhool jaana humein hum yaad ke qaabil hi nahin
Kya pata de ki hamaari koyi manzil hi nahin
Abhi taqdeer ke dariya ka to saahil hi nahin

 4. Kaise manaoon piyawa
Char Diwari (1961) / Singer: Mukesh / Music: Salil Choudhury / Lyrics: Shailendra
 The song plays in the background, but is reflective of the nervousness and anticipation felt by a new bride on her wedding night. I can’t really say I’m a fan of the lyrics which say ‘Kaise manaaoon piyawa gun mere ek hoon naahi’, even if it did capture the nervousness of a shy dulhan in
Saajan mere aaye, dhadkan badhti jaaye
Naina jhukte jaaye ghoonghat dhalta jaaye
Tujhse kyun sharmaaye aaj teri parchhaain...

But the music is divine. 

5. Mera jeevan kora kagaz
Kora Kagaz (1974) / Singer: Kishore Kumar / Music: Kalyanji-Anandji / Lyrics: MG Hashmat 
Archana (Jaya Bhaduri) falls in love with Professor Sukesh (Vijay Anand), a staunch idealist, and despite some initial parental opposition (she hails from a wealthy family), they get married. While her scholarly father (AK Hangal) is more than happy with his daughter’s choice, Archana’s status-conscious mother looks down upon him. Her well-meaning interference causes havoc in the young couple’s lives and soon, Archana and Sukesh separate. Forever, it seems. Archana, now single, and teaching in a school, keeps her emotional guard up, except when she’s in the company of children. Yet, her past is never far away from her thoughts, and as the film opens we hear the expression of Archana’s feelings about her life: her life is a scrap of blank paper – Jo likha tha aansuon ke sang beh gaya… what was written on it has been erased by her tears. Yet, whose fault is it?
 Ik hawa ka jhonka aaya
Toota daali ke phool
Na pavan ka na chaman ka
Kiski hai yeh bhool?
Kho gayi khusboo hawa mein
Kuch na reh gaya… 

6. Daaman mein daag lagaa baithe
Dhool ka Phool (1959) / Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: N Dutta / Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
What happens when the man you love and who promised to be with you forever, jilts you in favour of a girl of his parents’ choice? What happens when you discover that you’re pregnant with that man’s child? The emotional distress of being jilted, the stigma of being an unwed mother, the desperation that comes from learning – as you go to your lover to make one last plea for his benevolence – that he’s getting married: indeed, his baraat is on its way as you stand in the shadows weeping for what might have been… 
Chaahat ke liye jo rasmon ko
Thukrake guzarnewaale the
Jo saath hi jeenewaale the
Aur saath hi marnewaale the
Toofan ke hawaale karke humein
Khud door kinaara jaa baithe… 
She excoriates him in silence for his perfidy while he passes unknowingly, uncaringly by. 

7. Aise mein tujhko doondhke
Bahu Begum (1967) / Singer: Manna Dey, Mohammed Rafi / Music: Roshan / Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi 
When Zeenat (Meena Kumari) happily agrees to a proposal of marriage brought by Mir Qurban Ali (Balam), she’s unaware that the proposal is not for his nephew, Yusuf (Pradeep Kumar) as she assumes, but for Nawab Sikander Mirza (Ashok Kumar). Discovering maamujaan’s perfidy on the very day of the wedding, Zeenat hurries to the nearby dargah, which was where she always met Yusuf. Surely Yusuf would be there? He’s not, but there are two qawwals whose qawwali just happens to reflect Zeenat’s state of mind. 
Tere khayaal tere tamanna liye huye
Dil bujh raha hai aas ke shola liye huye
Hairaan khadi hui hai doraahe pe zindagi
Nakaam hasraton ka janaaza liye huye 
Ab aise mein tujhko dhoond ke laa’un kahaan se main… 

8. Tum pukar lo
Khamoshi (1969) / Singer: Hemant Kumar / Music: Hemant Kumar / Lyrics: Gulzar
Nurse Radha (Waheeda Rehman) has been coerced into trying out the doctor's (Nasir Hussain) cockamamie idea to cure patients suffering from acute mania. His thesis is that by pretending to love a deranged man, Radha will be able to draw him out of the mental agony into which he's withdrawn. What the Colonel doesn't know is that, for Radha, the pretence became real - she fell in love with Dev (Dharmendra). The verses he sings...
Honth pe liye hue dil ki baat hum
Jaagte rahenge aur kitni raat hum
Muqtasar si baat hai tumse pyaar hai
Tumhara intezaar hai... tum pukar lo...
... are a blow to her anguished heart. If only he would call her; she's waiting for him. Only, she knows Dev doesn't love her. His heart belongs to another woman who has since returned to his life.  

9. Sun mere bandhu re
Sujata (1959) / Singer: SD Burman / Music: SD Burman / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Sujata (Nutan) is the low-caste foster daughter of a high -caste couple (Tarun Bose and Sulochana), fostered out of a sense of responsibility since her biological parents die in an epidemic. Brought up with affection, if not as their 'real' daughter, Sujata is nevertheless the lynchpin around whom the household revolves. Until she inadvertently puts a spoke in her mother's plans for her younger sister, Rama (Shashikala). Adheer (Sunil Dutt), the chosen groom, falls in love with Sujata instead. Not knowing that he's her sister's intended husband, Sujata is attracted to Adheer, but embarrassed to admit it. Adheer coaxes her into admitting she loves him. While she shyly smiles, and begins to admit her feelings, a boatman's song wafts across the air. 
Hota tu peepal, main hoti amar lata teri
Tere gale mala ban ke padi muskaati re
Sun mere saathi re sun mere bandhu re,
Sun mere mitwaa...

The verses reflect her feelings towards this man who knowingly accepts her for who she is.

10. Subah na aayi shaam na aayi
Cha Cha Cha (1964) / Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: Iqbal Qureshi / Lyrics: Neeraj
One of the few films in which Helen had a leading role (and a happy ending), Cha Cha Cha could have done with a better hero, less melodrama, and a not-so-convoluted story. However, after the lovers have been separated by caste and lots of self-sacrifice, and one's blindness is cured just in time for the other to be crippled, there's this song (one among many, many lovely songs). He's singing of his feelings in a temple not far away, and (my! how sound carries!) it appears that he's singing of her feelings as well: 
Kaisi lagan lagi ye tujh se, kaisi lagan ye lagi
Hansi kho gayi, khushi kho gayi
Aansoo tak sab rahan ho gaye
Arthi tak sab neelaam ho gayi

Duniyaa ne dushmani nibhaayi, yaad naa aayi
Subaha naa aayi, shaam naa aayi

Tum mil jaate to ho jaati poori apni raam kahani
Khandhar taaj mahal ban jaata, ganga jal aankhon ka pani
Saanson ne hathkadi lagaayi yaad naa aayi
Subaha naa aayi, shaam naa aayi

Of course, the power of music is such that, by the end of the song, she's able to run (not just walk) without her crutches.

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