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14 February 2023

Ten 'Anti-Love' Songs

Courtesy: Pexels.com - Karolina Grabowska

Ah, February – the season of love. And Valentine’s Day – where love is measured by outpourings on social media. Exorbitantly prized red roses. Boxes and boxes of chocolates. Even Hallmark makes a killing, selling sappy cards. And me? I usually get more and more Grinch-like as the date nears.

It’s not that I am anti-romance. I am not. I do believe in love. Truly What I don’t like are made-up customs that mandate that someone should do something particular (and very expensive) to show you they love you. And on this one day, I find myself ranged on the side of the men against my tribe because the onus of a ‘successful’ romance seems to be on them (and their wallets). The gifts they buy, the flowers they send (in pre-Covid days, to the office), the meals they cook, how special they make you feel – in public – all measures how much they love the women in their lives.

I wouldn’t have minded if the reverse were true as well – that the women pampered their men just as much. For after all, if you love someone wouldn’t you want to do so, gender be damned? But mostly, all this seem to be for ‘show’ – for others to envy. [If you loved someone, wouldn’t you just tell them at home? Or in person, if you lived in separate residences?]

Forgive the rant but as I said, I seem to channel Grinch every time this holiday comes around. And while I am usually more sanguine over overt displays of ‘luvv’, channelling [or trying to] the spirit of ‘To each his own’, this year I decided that my inner Grinch needs appeasement. And so, a list of ‘anti-love’ songs. Mind you, these are not ‘Don’t love me’ songs like, say, Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badha’ [which is yet another theme I’m working on]; these are songs which wonder why people fall in love. They are sung by people who suffer from philomisia – apparently, that means a ‘hatred of love’. [Did you know there was a word for it?] Or perhaps they are just philophobic (afraid of falling in love)?

I am neither, but here is my curated list of anti-love songs for now. Enjoy!

Mohabbat kar lo jee bhar lo
Aar Paar (1954)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, Suman Kalyanpur
Music: OP Nayyar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

This is the song that sparked off this post. Kalu (Guru Dutt) is a taxi driver who, driving a pair of lovers somewhere, is tired of their PDA in the backseat. So, when they get out, he tells them they can love each other as much as they want but it’s a path marked by deceit. Go on, says the lady defiantly, complain as much as you want but perhaps you should stop living as well – isn’t Life filled with deceit? And so on and so forth, as other loving couples interrupt his anti-love tirade with why love, despite the pitfalls, is worth pursuing. Perhaps Kalu learnt his lesson from the club dancer (Shakila) who warns him, Babuji dheere chalna pyaar mein zara sambhalna/Haan, bade dhokhe hain is raah mein…

This version, the one in the film, is the longer one, with Suman Kalyanpur adding her voice to the pro-love brigade; the audio version is a Rafi-Geeta duet and reverses the order of the verses; Suman Kalyanpur’s verses, unfortunately, get the heave-ho.

Din hai bahaar ke
Waqt (1965)
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Mahendra Kapoor
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
Come, she urges her beloved, the days of Spring are here, let’s plight our troth. How can we, he demurs; he has much to burden him, Life is filled with sorrow and everywhere he looks, all he can see are people who are against their love.
Achha nahin hota yunhi sapnon se khelna
Bada hai kathin hai haqeeqaton ko jhelna
It’s not sensible to dream such dreams; what does she, a girl born in wealth and wrapped in privilege, know of the difficulties of dealing with reality? How does any woman fall in love with such a wet dishrag? [Easy enough I suppose, if he looked like Shashi!]

Tu ishq se dar
Gunaah (1953)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Snehal Bhatkar
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
I wonder whether the lyrics were written or the tune composed first – because it is such an odd song. But there’s no escaping the warning explicit in the lyrics – Tu ishq se dar! (Beware of love.) For, she says, there is no cure for love, and anyone afflicted with this disease will die. In fact, not one of them has survived.

[I can’t fill in any details other than that this film starred Geeta Bali. There’s nary a video clip to be found.]

Na karna kisi se mohabbat
Sabz Bagh (1951)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Gulshan Sufi
Lyrics: Aziz Kashmiri
Courtesy: Indianhfilhistory.com

Like Babuji dheere chalna, this, too, is an ‘advice’ song, warning the listener not to fall in love, for on that path lies deceit and betrayal.
Na karna kisi se mohabbat na karna
Mohabbat se haseen dhoke se darna
An obscure film starring Shekhar, Nimmi and Pran, Sabz Bagh also had another music director – Vinod.

Sambhalkar ishq farmana
Pyar Ka Bandhan (1963)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Balbir
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi

Here, the positions are reversed. Be careful in love, warns Johnny Walker in a light-hearted qawwali, for everyone knows love is blind. Beware, lest you trip and fall. But Dhumal is having none of it. Whenever he sees a delicate arm, a sideways glance, he sees divinity in that visage.
Sambhalkar ishq farmaana, mohabbat andhi hoti hai
Kahin thhokar na khaa jaana mohabbat andhi hoti hai
Main jab tirchhi nazar nazuk kalaaii dekh leta hoon
Toh main bande ke suurat mein khudaaii dekh leta hoon

Husnwaalon ki galiyon mein jaana nahin
Sheesh Mahal (1950)
Singer: Shamshad Begum
Music: Vasant Desai
Lyrics: Shams Lucknowi

This is good advice from a young woman whose engagement has been broken off because her family has fallen on bad days. When Ranjana (Naseem Banu) realizes that Roopa (Nigar Sultana) the daughter of her employer has fallen for the doubtful charms of her erstwhile fiancĂ©e, Sundar (Pran), she tries to protect her from his wiles. But when his letter asking Roopa for a midnight assignation falls into Ranjana’s hands, she tries to obliquely warn the younger girl against doing something that would harm her and spoil her family’s reputation.
Zehar khaana magar dil lagaana nahin
Husnwalon ki galiyaan mein jaana nahin
…she pleads. Does Roopa listen? Ha!
Mohabbat bade kaam ki cheez hai
Trishul (1978)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar, KJ Yesudas
Music: Khayyam
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi

Sahir Ludhianvi got to dip his pen into the bitter dregs of cynicism to pen these lines for a morose Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), even as half-brother Shekhar(Shashi Kapoor) and Sheetal (Hema Malini), the woman he loves, celebrate love – and Life.

Mohabbat ki dam se hai duniya ka raunaq
Mohabbat na hoti to kuch bhi na hota
Life would be dreary indeed if there were no love. Vijay, battle-scarred and weary, sagrees.
Kitabon mein chhapte hain chaahat ke qisse
Haqeeqat ke duniya mein chaahat nahin hai…
Zamaane ke bazaar mein ye woh shai hai
Ke jiski kisi ko zaroorat nahin hai
There may be many love stories captured in books, he says, but there’s no such thing in the real world. In a world where relationships are transactional, no one needs anyone. And so begins the verbal jousting between them as to the value – or otherwise – of love in a person’s life.

The next few songs are from more modern films; perhaps the younger generation has learnt to be more cynical of this emotion? [I don’t think so, seeing their outpourings of angst on social media, but these films say otherwise.]

Is deewaane ladke ko
Sarfarosh (1999)
Singer: Alka Yagnik, Aamir Khan
Music: Jatin Lalit
Lyrics: Sameer

She wishes someone would tell him how wonderful love is; she can’t fathom why he would run away from the idea of love, and the closer she tries to get to him, the further he moves away from her. Have you ever seen the number of men who have been destroyed by love, he quips? Majnu, Raanjhna, Romeo, Farhaad… the list is endless. When she persists, he continues, this heart of mine is not a temple, nor a charitable inn… Just as she’s about to give up hope, however, he changes his tune (this must be the fastest change of heart, ever!) – in Spring, he says, thoughts must indeed turn to love. But it’s not in him to speak of it; if only she would read the message in his eyes…

Jaane kyon log pyaar karte hain
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Singers: Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

Aamir Khan again, though this time, he’s not teasing his beloved. His Akash is a man who runs from commitment, and though he’s attracted to Shalini (Preity), is fighting the knowledge that he’s in love with her (a fact, seemingly, that everyone else in his orbit realizes before he does.) Here, having run into Shalini again while in Sydney, they are renewing their acquaintance – their frequent meetings deepen their friendship. On one of these occasions, Akash wants to know why people voluntarily fall in love, only to realize that they have invited trouble into their lives.
Pyaar mein sochiye to bas gham hain
Pyaar mein jo sitam bhi ho woh kam hain
Pyaar mein sar jhukaana padta hai
Dard mein muskuraana padta hai
Zehar kyun zindagi mein bharte hain
Jaane kyun log pyaar karte hain

Shalini’s response is that everyone in the world falls in love, who know why he’s the only one who turns his back on it. A cheerful ditty that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Hey que sera sera
Pukar (2000)
Singer: Shankar Mahadevan, Kavita Krishnamoorthy
Music: AR Rehman
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

When you have two actors who are fabulous dancers, you can expect fireworks on screen. When the song sequence is almost a verbal duel, then it just adds snap and crackle to the mix. One of the finest dance numbers in ‘modern’ films, Hey que sera sera had Madhuri Dixit matching steps with Prabhu Deva, he of the liquid bones. In this song, Prabhudeva is warning young men and women about the dangers of falling in love.
Naujawaanon, baat maano
Kabhi kisi se na pyaar karnaBut, Anjali (Madhuri Dixit) is in no mood to listen; she believes in love, no matter the consequences…
Hey que sera sera, jo bhi ho so ho
Humein pyaar ka ho aasra phir chaahe jo ho
though that belief is shattered by the end of the song when she realizes that ‘her’ Jai – Major Jaidev Rajvansh (Anil Kapoor) – has lost his heart to Pooja (Namrata Shirodkar).
But in the meantime, she is embroiled in an argument about what love is, and isn’t – all in step with the very complicated choreography.

What do you feel about love and Valentine’s Day? And what songs would you add to this list? Add them in the comments below.

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