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If I can just give to the world more than I take from it, I will be a very happy man. For there is no greater joy in life than to give. Motto : Live, Laugh and Love. You can follow me on Twitter too . My handle is @Raja_Sw.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day - Ten romantic songs from Hindi films

For someone who’s pretty crazy about old Hindi film songs, I’ve never posted a list here on any theme. I’ve only ever posted random songs as and when I felt like discussing them. And even these have been very occasional postings.

But I do read a few film blogs and they often have these “lists” – songs of a particular music director, songs in village fairs, songs in horse-driven carriages, and so on. I’ve always enjoyed these “list” posts – and added my bit in the comments sections of these blogs.

Today I felt like putting out a list of my own out there.And much like others place constraints on their lists, I have placed some on mine too. I find it more fun to make a list under constraints – while it might make the job more difficult on one hand, it actually helps in the song elimination process on the other.

My list is a list of soft, soulful, romantic songs where a male character is talking about, or talking to, a female character, describing her beauty and/or how much he loves her. In other words, something I know nothing about. ;-)

I know it sounds complicated, but I needed to do this to narrow down the type of song I'm considering here. Romantic songs come a dime a dozen in Hindi films, so I had to define some boundaries around them upfront. This means a song like “ehsaan tera hoga mujh par” (Junglee) does NOT make the cut. In fact, no “sad” song makes the cut.

Again, what’s soft, soulful and romantic can be a matter of debate. I used a simple rule for myself – would this be a song I’d consider singing to my love in my attempt to win her over? (Ok, ok, I know that ship sailed a long time ago ;-) but hey, this is just a lab experiment. J). If yes, then it qualifies to be considered.

Poetry has always been an integral part of my love for Hindi songs, so the songs I’ve picked had to be pretty high on the lyrics content. They didn’t need to use fancy Urdu words (which, btw, I absolutely love) but they needed to have something interesting in their lyrics. They needed to "talk" to me. I do recognize though that this is another subjective demand I’ve placed on my list.

Now, the clear-cut, indisputable constraints.

I’m limiting my list to one song per singer. That’s a massive tying of hands when you consider the number, and quality, of songs that get excluded just because ONE Kishore or Rafi song got picked. But that’s life. Ok, it isn’t but if life’s a bitch, so’s my list.

To add to the fun, I’ve decided to limit it to ONE song per music director. Much like the above singer restriction, that puts many beautiful songs out there in the cold (and my heart breaks at the thought) but I’m steeling myself.

I must be some sort of masochist because I wasn’t even satisfied with this level of tying of hands. I decided I'd restrict my songs to one-song-per-actor. So, Rajesh Khanna, for all his plethora of romantic songs, has no bigger bite at the apple than, say, a Raj Babbar.

And guess what? To make it even more interesting (or restrictive), I thought I’d limit it to one song per actress. So even favourites like Waheeda and Nutan are not favourites as far as this list is concerned.

Finally I added just one more restriction. Not that I have anything against female singers, but this would be an all-male list. If only because of the theme – it is the male praising the female, so even if the female so much as utters one word, the song is disqualified. Also, it would be a male solo, so duets like “huzoor is qadar bhi na ithra ke chaliye” are not allowed.

That’s it. I could have thought up a few more restrictions on myself but I thought this is a decent set to start with. To summarise:
1.       Soft, soulful, romantic song where the male character is describing the female character’s beauty or telling her how much he loves her
2.       High on quality of lyrics (subjective call, of course)
3.       One song per singer
4.       One song per music director
5.       One song per actor
6.       One song per actress
7.       Only male solos

I have also chosen to stay with a standard restriction that most impose on their lists – one song per film. With the thousands of films out there, it seems extremely unfair if one film were to grab more than one slot in a ten-song list.

The restrictions I have NOT imposed on myself (and I’ve seen on other lists) are (a) that I should have seen the movie and (b) period boundaries. My songs cover every decade from the 1950s to the 1990s.

I will admit, not much thought has gone into this list. In fact, this list is a result of my having a comfortable seat in a near-empty AC bus today enroute to another part of town. I had a piece of paper – and a pen – with me. Since it was Valentine’s Day, my thoughts meandered in the direction of romantic songs. One thing led to another, and soon I had ten songs on my list, satisfying these conditions. (The main reason there's no restriction of "one song per lyricist" is, on the bus journey I was very confident of singer/actor/actress/music composer but not so sure about the lyricist for each song. And I got my list pretty much ready on the bus journey itself).

Please let me know what you think of the list. And of course, your own suggestions are most welcome. For many songs, I could myself think of alternatives – but the constraints helped in the selection/elimination process.

Ok, that was a LONG build-up, but let’s now get down to the business end of this post. The songs are in chronological order.

1) Ye hawa ye raat ye chandni (Sangdil - 1952). Talat Mahmood’s voice, Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics, Sajjad Hussain’s composition. Song picturised on Dilip Kumar, for Madhubala.

Talat Mahmood, in his silken voice, has sung many a melodious number but this is one that I fell madly in love with the very first time I heard it. I think the lyrics were what bowled me over rightaway – “tujhe kya khabar hai o bekhabar, teri ek nazar mein hai kya asar, jo ghazab mein aaye to keher hai, jo ho meherbaan wo qaraar hai, mujhe kyon na ho teri aarzoo, teri justaju mein bahaar hai”. Considering it’s for Madhubala, I think the lyrics probably come quite naturally. ;-)

2) Ae mere pyare watan (Kabuliwala - 1961). Manna Dey’s voice, Prem Dhawan’s lyrics, Salil Chaudhary’s composition. Song picturised on Balraj Sahni, Wazir Mohd Khan (thank you, Arunkumar Deshmukhji for the correction) for his country.

Ok, here the song is not being sung to a female character as such, it is being sung to and about a person's homeland. This is a song I really , really, REALLY, love. It is soft, it is soulful, it is romantic (in the sense of a person’s love for his country), it has lovely lyrics, it has everything. So when I was thinking of a Manna Dey song, this immediately came to mind. And however hard I tried to think of another one (I did think of “kaun aaya” (Dekh Kabira Roya) and “ae meri zohra jabeen” (Waqt) but this Kabuliwala song beats them, in my opinion. When I listen to “sab se pyaari subah teri, sab se rangeen teri shaam, tujh pe dil qurbaan” (and the way Manna Dey has sung this) its effect on me cannot be described. Just to clarify, this song isn't being sung for India, it's being sung for his home country, Afghanistan. Actually it doesn't matter - at a generic level, it's a song of love for one's country. 

So maybe I’m cheating a bit here (and please feel free to find me another Manna Dey song that could replace this one) but I’m sticking with this for now.

(EDIT:  One of my friends, Ava, has come up with a Manna Dey romantic song that satisfies all my criteria. Not only is it is a lovely song, it is also more in line with the theme of this post than the song I picked above. I am therefore including it in this blogpost as an additional song (not removing "aye mere pyar vatan" - don't have the heart to!). The fact that Madan Mohan is the composer of this song delights me - I don't need to feel that guilt anymore for not finding a slot for him earlier. (I really wanted to have "main nigaahen tere chehre se" in here but my own rules worked against me on that one)).

Here's Ava's proposal slotted here as 2a). Thanks Ava.
2a)   Har taraf ab yehi afsaane hain (Hindustan Ki Kasam - 1973). Manna Dey's voice, Kaifi Azmi's lyrics, Madan Mohan's music. Song picturised on Raj Kumar, for Priya Rajvansh).

3) Tum agar mujhko na chaaho to koi baat nahin (Dil Hi To Hai - 1963). Mukesh’s voice, Sahir’s lyrics, Roshan’s music. Song picturised on Raj Kapoor, for Nutan.

This is a song I used to like a lot before I saw the movie. And then, I really fell in love with it. Before I saw the movie I had imagined this to be a serious, sad song where the hero is venting out his frustration at his failed love – the lyrics would suggest as much. But I discovered I was completely wrong – it is a light-hearted song, sung early in the movie at Nutan’s birthday party (at least I think it was her birthday party). Raj Kapoor has only recently met Nutan and he is flirting with her. And she is responding in her inimitable style.  

Ah, Nutan! This was the movie which made me fall madly in love with her (this, and Tere Ghar Ke Saamne and Paying Guest, all of which I saw within a week of each other). I SO love Nutan when she is not in her “mera pati mera devta hai” roles – and she is lovely in this film. I cannot have a romantic songs list without a Nutan number in it, so this is it. And can I see myself singing this song? Sure I can! Now to find a Nutan to sing it to. ;-) Or a Madhubala or Waheeda. ;-) 

4) Ye nayan darey darey (Kohraa - 1964). Hemant Kumar’s voice, Kaifi Azmi’s lyrics, Hemant Kumar’s own composition.  Song picturised on Biswajeet, for Waheeda Rehman.

This is another song that I consider very high on the soft, romantic scale – and even Biswajeet cannot spoil it for me. :-)  I was toying between this and “zara nazron se keh do ji” (Bees Saal Baad) but I thought Waheeda  Rehman is better picturised here, so this song won it. 

In fact, though this list is an all-male list, since the object of affection is female, she does play a role in influencing my choice of song.  The very presence of Waheeda is good enough reason for me to pick a song. Or a movie.

5) Tum agar saath dene ka waada karo (Humraaz - 1967). Mahendra Kapoor’s voice, Sahir’s lyrics, Ravi’s music. Song picturised on Sunil Dutt, for Vimi.

Between them, Humraaz and Gumraah have a whole host of soulful, romantic songs penned by Sahir 
Ludhianvi. Amongst them, this song perfectly fits my requirements – I love the lyrics in this song. “Main akela bahut der chalta raha, ab safar zindagani ka kat-ta nahin” has such a “real” sense about it! And no, it's NOT autobiographical. ;-) And then the praise “maine khwabon mein barson taraasha jise, tum wohi sangemarmar ki tasveer ho, tum na samjho tumhaara muqaddar hoon main, main samajhta hoon tum meri taqdeer ho”. Sahir’s always been right up there for me as a lyricist – and he absolutely nails it here for me. Very soulfully rendered by Mahendra Kapoor, I might add.

6) Ye jo chilman hai (Mehboob Ki Mehndi – 1971). Mohammad Rafi’s voice, Anand Bakshi’s lyrics, Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s music. Song picturised on Rajesh Khanna, for Leena Chandavarkar.

Some may be surprised that I picked this as my Rajesh Khanna romantic song pick. But I love, love, love everything about this song – and while it also means no other Rafi saab song gets picked, I just could not bring myself NOT to pick this one. Look at it – it’s just perfect. Rajesh Khanna is at his buttoned-kurta best, his mannerisms are just about right, not OTT (those were still early days for him), Leena Chandavarkar is oh-so-sweet, the typically Muslim setting is just beautiful – and the lovely lyrics by Anand Bakshi are beautifully given shape by LP. What’s not to love?

So move aside “o mere dil ke chain”, this one deserves its place in the sun. It’s been behind a chilman of its own for way too long.

7) Pal pal dil ke paas (Blackmail – 1973). Kishore Kumar’s voice, Rajinder Krishan’s lyrics, Kalyanji-Anandji’s music. Song picturised on Dharmendra, for Raakhee.

I think I might just have escaped the censure that was awaiting me all this while for being more than halfway down my list and not coming up with this one. For this is for many THE most iconic romantic song of them all. And I’m not putting this up here just to conform (heaven knows I’m no conformist!) – I really, really love this song. I know I say this about every song but I can’t help it.

This song has everything I’m looking for – soft, soulful lyrics, wonderfully composed by K-A and sung as only Kishore Kumar could. I’ve sung this song a million times – this is my favourite travel-cum-loneliness song, I tend to sing it A LOT. Years ago, when I would return from work by local train in Mumbai (Bombay) at the late hours of 1.30 or 2.00 a.m, this song would give me company. Everything about it is just perfect!

8) Tu is tarah se meri zindagi (Aap To Aise Na The – 1980). Manhar Udhas’ voice, Nida Fazli’s lyrics, Usha Khanna’s music. Song picturised on Raj Babbar, for Ranjeeta Kaur.

I remember that by the time 1980 came around, Hindi movies had begun to take a different path altogether. Those were the days of big-budget multi-starrers. Or Amitabh Bachchan towering over all others. Or South Indian producers coming back into Hindi films on the back of Jeetendra and Rekha.  Or it was disco. In all this, there was the occasional song – which had none of these frills - that stood out  purely on the strength of its melody.

One such song was “Tu is tarah”. The first time I heard it, I could not recognize the voice (Manhar). All I knew was that I fell madly in love with it. (Yes, I do tend to fall madly in love with a lot of things quite often J). It was a reasonably popular song (and had three versions of it), so it would play on radio quite often. Those were the days before the internet, so you couldn’t just google or youtube it. I used to wait to listen to this song.

As with all my other songs here, the lyrics of this song are just beautiful. I can listen to this song again and again (yes, I’ve listened to this too a million times) and never get bored. In a list of soulful, romantic songs, this song can proudly claim its place in my top-10 list.

9) Chhupaana bhi nahin aata (Baazigar – 1993). Vinod Rathod’s voice, Rani Malik’s lyrics, Anu Malik’s music. Though the song is sung by Vinod Rathod, it's effectively picturised on Siddharth, for Kajol.

This song might come as a surprise for many, but in a film with superhit songs, this is the one which is most often forgotten. I have always liked this song and I think it deserves to be better-known. And since I did not set any period constraints for my list – and this song satisfies all my required criteria – I have no qualms throwing it in here. 

The lyrics are actually quite good to listen to – I remember they impressed me quite a bit when I first heard the song. “Hatheli pe tumhaara naam, likhte hain mitaate hain, tum hi se pyar karte hain, tum hi se hi kyon chhupaate hain”. The travails of a guy unable to confess his love to the girl he loves. Been there, done that. (No, just kidding! ;-)). Writing on hatheli (palm) and all that. Sheesh! :-) Nice lyrics though.

(I find sites where this song is attributed to Pankaj Udhas whereas I always thought this was sung by Vinod Rathod. And not just in the film but also playback. Can somebody please clarify the situation? Maybe the Pankaj Udhas version was a non-film version?)

10) Hoshwaalon ko khabar (Sarfarosh - 1999). Jagjit Singh’s voice, Nida Fazli’s lyrics, Jatin-Lalit’s music. Picturised on Aamir Khan, for Sonali Bendre.

Another song from the 1990s that stands out in a decade known more for catchy music than lilting, romantic melodies. But when you get Jagjit Singh, you know you are going to get sanity in the midst of any insanity that’s happening all around him. This is a delightful romantic number, with fun picturisation on a playful Aamir Khan and Sonali Bendre. I never tire of watching it  – and since it meets all my criteria - I thought it brings up very nicely the end of my list. Am very happy to have Jagjit Singh on my list – somehow a list of supposedly “soulful” songs without a Jagjit number in it doesn’t quite seem right.

So how did you like my list? I thoroughly enjoyed making it – though I must admit there were times when I wished I’d relax my rules just a little bit. (Not having “khilte hain gul yahaan” or "jeevan se bhari teri aankhen" because Kishore was already “taken”, for example. Or "main nigaahen" because Rafi was "taken".) And it seems like sacrilege to not have even one song of Naushad, SD Burman, Shankar Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, OP Nayyar or RD Burman. But that’s how it turned out for me and, all things considered, I’m glad I didn’t break the rules – and yet managed to come up with ten songs that I’m quite happy with.

Let me know what songs you’d have liked to have in your list. Of course my constraints don’t apply to you, so feel free to enrich this post with your suggestions.