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5 April 2020

My Favourites: Songs of Sickness

I was mindlessly trawling YouTube to take my mind off the spectre of a global pandemic, when I came across this song from Sarfarosh. It begins with a ‘poem’ that Amar (Aamir Khan) quotes: 
Arz hai...
Dawa bhi kaam na aaye koyi dua na lage
Mere khuda kisi ko pyaar ki hawa na lage. 
Of course, he was talking about love but I thought to myself how appropriate these lines were to the current situation.  I seem to suffer from attention deficit disorder these days, so my mind then skittered to how many Hindi film songs talk of khoon-e-jigar or tadapta dil – and it occurred to me the medical interpretations of some of these lyrics would make for some interesting illnesses. 

Mann dole mera tan dole
Nagin (1954)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Hemant Kumar / Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
This is surely a case of Vertigo. I get it sometimes if I get up too quickly. mann and tan all swirl until it seems the whole universe is swirling around me. But Vyjayanthimala’s situation seems even more dire because she also seems to have Anxiety and Misophonia – a strong reaction to specific sounds; here, the sound of the bansuri or flute.
Man dole mera tan dole
Mere dil ka gaya qaraar re
Ye kaun bajaaye baansuriya

China Town (1962)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: Ravi / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
My grandfather always wondered – sympathetically, of course – whether Shammi Kapoor suffered from epileptic fits. (To be fair to him, that question arose whenever he saw Shammi dance.) I’m not too sure about that, but here, Shammi definitely suffers from Myopia. 
Baar baar dekho hazaar baar dekho
Ke dekhne ki cheez hai hamari dilruba
He has to peer a thousand times before he can really see his beloved. And like the deaf or hearing-challenged who think others around them can't hear either and hence speak very loudly, Shammi seems to think everyone else around him is short-sighted, too. Perhaps if he actually wore prescription glasses instead of that silly moustache?

Honeymoon (1960)
Singers: Sabita Choudhury, Mukesh / Music: Salil Choudhury / Lyrics: Shailendra
From misophonia to Hyperesthesia. The heroine (Sayeeda Khan) implores her beloved not to touch her: “Chhuo na chhuo na albele mere saiyyan
Main toh nazuk badan choomoon’.
Her body is too delicate to bear his touch. Surely, a person so sensitive to touch is going to have a problem just going about her everyday life?

Pehli Nazar (1945)
Singer: Mukesh / Music: Anil Biswas / Lyrics: Safdar Aah Sitapuri
Our hero (Motilal) seems to be suffering as much from masochism as he does from Heartburn. Don’t cry for me, he tells his beloved (Munawar Sultana), but don’t try to stop me either):
Dil jalta hai toh jalne do
Aansoo na baha fariyaad na kar…
There also seems to be strong vein of self-destruction; he’d much rather endure his condition than actually do the smart thing and seek professional medical help. Much like our next hero…

Main Chhup Rahoongi (1962)

 
Singer: Mohammed Rafi / Music: Chitragupt / Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
This is a solid case of Amnesia. Sunil Dutt has no clue who he is nor where. And as he is wandering about the streets at night, it is safe to say that he’s suffering from a loss of memory. But he also seems to be under a misapprehension that he’s not only dead, but had committed suicide, and seems to be wondering why he’s still wandering around. (I’d like to know the answer to that as well!)  
Mujhe na hath lagao ke mar chuka hoon main
Khud apne hath se ye knoon kar chuka hoon main
Phir aaj kaise main yaha hoon mujhe ye hosh nahin 
 
It might behove the wary onlooker to pay heed to his admonition not to touch him. The living dead are not very amiable companions.

Aag (1948)

Singer: Mukesh / Music: Ram Ganguly / Lyrics: Behzad Lucknowi
Mental health is really a huge issue among our leading men. Dilip Kumar had to seek psychiatric help after he internalised the tragic characters he played on screen. And here is his friend and colleague, Raj Kapoor, who seems to be going through a major Depression after his beloved leaves him. And the poor man is suffering from heartburn as well – no wonder he’s depressed!
Go muddatein huyi hain kisi se judaa huye
Lekin ye dil ki aag abhi tak bujhi nahin
I would have felt sorry(-ier) for him if, later, he hadn't decided to burn half his face in a fit of pique and misguided sacrifice. 

Kala Pani (1958)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi /Music: SD Burman / Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
If the hero of Aag isn't careful, this is how he will end up - an alcoholic immersing his entire life in goblet of liquor. Alcoholism is a very serious Hindi film illness, and while there are some who don't take any responsibility for their addiction, our hero seems to exult in it - 'Saagar mein zindagi ko utaare chale gaye', he sings, insouciantly, for all the world as if it's a blessing rather than a curse. Of course, if one could write like Sahir Ludhianvi and sing like Mohammed Rafi, all the while looking like Dev Anand, I guess it would be a blessing. 

Madhumati (1958)

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Salil Choudhury / Lyrics: Shailendra
Vyjayanthimala seems to be particularly afflicted in all her films. If it was vertigo in Nagin, here, it’s Arrythmia. Her heart seems to keep beating – too quickly, and in a very irregular manner! She doesn’t know why either.
Ghadi ghadi mora dil dhadke
Haay dhadke kyun dhadke…
She’s right to be concerned – arrythmia is a very serious condition that can even necessitate surgery. And if you thought that’s all the poor woman had to worry about (other than being kidnapped, dying while trying to escape being assaulted and having to come back from the dead so she can punish the villain), well, you might want to take a look at the next song…

Madhumati (1958)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey / Music: Salil Choudhury / Lyrics: Shailendra 
Of course, this happens before she develops arrythmia, but being poisoned by a scorpion sting is nothing to shake a stick at, either. Scorpion venom can be fatal and I doubt any physician worth his/her name would advise a person bitten by a scorpion to undertake such vigorous exercise. But of course, she seems to have gone to a vaid first, and one who prefers to mutter mantras instead of trusting to herbal medicine (at least) to counteract the venom. Obviously, it doesn’t work, and our heroine is in dire straits when her beloved comes home. One sight of him, and the venom leaves her body (and so, presumably does the scorpion). Score one to the power of love!

Jailor (1958)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Madan Mohan / Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
From poison to Burns, it appears that our Hindi film heroes and heroines really suffer for love. Here, poor Geeta Bali is the sufferer, observing – very factually – that burns patients get no relief or peace of mind. Hum pyaar mein jalnewaalon ko, chain kahaan aaraam kahaan? she sings; so true – if you have ever burnt yourself, you would sympathise. But then why the heck is she standing around singing instead of calling an ambulance or going immediately to the nearest hospital’s burns unit?

Tarana (1951)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Anil Biswas / Lyrics: DN Madhok
From serious illnesses and ailments like poison, burns, and mental illness, a slightly less-serious ailment – Insomnia or sleeplessness. (Not that continued insomnia won’t impact your health, but it’s a cumulative effect rather than an immediate one.) Dilip Kumar can’t sleep! And Madhubala decides that she doesn’t want to add insomnia to the man’s troubles. So, she tries to sing him to sleep, telling him not to worry because she’s sitting guard over him (Le moond le akhiyaan tanik zara, baithi hoon yahin main na ghabra). Yet, the man seems afraid to go to sleep. Or perhaps this is one time he's happy he has insomnia; after all, who would rather sleep than look at Madhubala?
 
Mera Saaya (1966)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Madan Mohan / Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
And here’s Sadhana going blind, or she will, soon if she doesn’t get that Cataract seen to! 
Nainon mein badra chhaye
Bijli si chamke haaye
Aise mein balam mohe
Garwa laga le…
If her vision is getting clouded (and she’s seeing flashes of light behind her eyelids), it’s way past the time she should have seen an ophthalmologist! Especially when she seems to need her beloved to lead her everywhere. Someone should warn her, though, that soaking her eyes in alcohol (madira mein doobi akhiyaan) wouldn’t do her vision any good.

Mr and Mrs 55 (1955)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt / Music: OP Nayyar / Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
This poor man is in dire straits. At least all the other characters on this list knew what was wrong with them, even though they didn’t seem to be doing anything constructive to treat themselves. But this man seems to have just discovered that he’s lost an organ – his liver. And why is he looking for it in his office, instead of hotfooting it to the hospital where he should ideally be on life support? My educated guess is that he was the victim of an illicit organ transplant operation, and has only now realised that while he was in hospital, someone stole his liver. (Hey, I haven’t spent a major part of my life watching Hindi films for nothing!) After all, he does say, “Abhi abhi yahin tha kidhar gaya ji.” Though, if I were his girlfriend, I would be saying a prayer for his immortal soul instead of asking him to file an F.I.R.

I have deliberately not included any songs that talk about sneezing or coughing, because I figured that none of us would want that, even virtually, especially now. As Aamir so perspicaciously observed, there aren’t any dawas for this illness and even duas don’t seem to be working. 


But Hindi film songs do seem to have plenty of ailments for the asking. Tell me, what ailments would you add to this list?

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