Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.” These words by American lyricist Yip Harburg ring true when you are serenaded by any of your favourite songs.
We asked some passionate music lovers about the songs that define their different moods and emotions. Here’s what a few good experts, lovers all of Bollywood’s melodies, shared with us... Enjoy!
Jerry Pinto is the author of Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb
I believe that it is almost impossible to judge lyrics out of context. A song always has so much going for it, so many memories tied to it. “Here I come and there you hum,” says Raju Bharatan in his book on Lata Mangeshkar.
The tune is a huge crutch and can often cover up weak lyrics. And then there is the movie itself: few unsuccessful films leave any music behind but equally few successful films have unsuccessful music. And yet so many of the songs I have loved, I remember in tandem: can I separate the delicate beauty of Supriya Pathak and the gentleness of Farooque Shaikh from 'Dikhai diye yoon' and 'Phir chhidi raat baat phoolon ki' from Bazaar (1982)?
Or the face and adas of Rekha in Umrao Jaan’s 'Yeh kya jagah hai doston' or even the sudden perfection of Asha Bhosle’s singing, a perfection we had not noticed before that?
1. Seene mein jalan, aankhon mein toofaan (Gaman, 1978).
Muzaffar Ali used Shahryar’s poem with great respect and to great effect to emphasise the alienation of his hero – “aaina hamein dekh ke hairaan sa kyon hai?” I also feel that most lyricists pay attention to the first few lines or to the lines they think will ‘catch’ and patch the rest of the song together.
2. The qawwali in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) holds for me as a perfect dialogue between the pragmatic and the romantic. It is sung exquisitely too so that the two versions of Teri mehfil mein kismat aazmaakar hum bhi dekhenge... in the voices of Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar are inflected differently; the first with suggestiveness and the second with yielding. And there is the cold “kisi din yeh tamaashaa muskuraake hum bhi dekhenge” with that close-up intensifying the predestination of the words.
3. There is the lovely Shokhiyon mein ghola jaaye from Prem Pujari (1970) that defies its stupid picturisation; there’s Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se which I also love for the way the words move.
4. And for their huge denunciation of modern society those two songs from Pyaasa (1957): Jinhe naaz hai Hind par woh kahan hai? and Yeh takhton, yeh taajon, samaajon ki duniya. From the same film, for its yearning: Aaj sajan mohe ang laga lo.
5. From Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam (1962), the magnificent Na jaao saiyyan, which marks the descent of the suhaagan, Piya aiso jiya mein samaay gayo re to the solipsism on the floor of her own bedroom, making drunken love to a bottle.
When Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam was submitted for the Oscars, the academy wrote a letter to Guru Dutt saying a woman who drinks was not a permissible taboo in their culture
6. There’s the politically charged, Aap ki dua se sab theek-thaak hai from Mere Apne (1971) and the elegant dismissive cynicism of Kuch to log kahenge from Amar Prem (1972).
A thousand songs in my head. I have been unfair, unfaithful. (As told to Aasheesh Sharma)Aamir Raza Husain is a playwright, author and director
1. Jaane kahan gaye woh din (Mera Naam Joker, 1972). It always manages to make me nostalgic, particularly about the development of Lucknow, the city from where I come. I used to go back to the city every year, but I don’t get the time to do that now.
In the beginning of O haseena, the person on the drums is Salim Khan of the duo Salim-Javed
2. When you talk about the mood and emotion of romance, I used to hum a host of songs for my wife, mostly sung by Rafi and picturised on Shammi Kapoor, such as O haseena zulfon wali from Teesri Manzil (1966). These are just a couple of songs at the top of my mind among many other favourites such as Hum bekhudi mein tum ko from Kaala Paani (1958) and Main zindagi ka saath from Hum Dono (1961). (As told to Aasheesh Sharma)
Ajay Bijli is the chairman and managing director of PVR Limited
I can’t think of any anecdotes related to songs, but some stir up memories of the time in my life when they released. Some still stir up my emotions when I listen to them or hum them.
1. I’m quite a romantic, and sing Oh mere dil ke chain (Mere Jeevan Saathi, 1972) to my wife.
2. Yeh jeevan hai (Piya Ka Ghar, 1972). Another Kishore Kumar number, this song is a slice of life, not too sad, not too happy. My mom really likes it.
3. Ajj din chadheya (Love Aaj Kal, 2009). Although it’s a slow song, I love it for its positivity.
(As told to Veenu Singh)
Sanjay Manjrekar is a former India cricketer and commentator
“I can listen to songs sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeskhar all day. Kishore Kumar is my God. But his number Phoolon ke rang se (Prem Pujari, 1970) is my all-time favourite. It is romantic and mellow, and the lyrics by Neeraj and the music by Sachin Dev Burman do tremendous justice to Kishore’s haunting voice.”
(As told to Aasheesh Sharma)
Bhaichand Patel is the author of Bollywood’s Top 20 and Mothers, Lovers and Other Strangers
After seeing Giselli Monteiro’s screen test, Imtiaz Ali’s wife suggested he cast her for the role of Harleen in Love Aaj Kal
1. Ajeeb dastan hai yeh (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai, 1960). On my first serious date, I bought two balcony seats for the movie at Roxy in Bombay. After the interval, I nervously put my hand on hers. She immediately withdrew hers. Later, we had cold coffee at The Parisian as we listened to the juke box. The film was forgettable but the song has endured. Karan Johar paid tribute to it in Bombay Talkies (2013).
2. Jaayein toh jaayein kahaan (Taxi Driver, 1954). Dev Anand and Talat [Mahmood] at their best. Hear it in the wee hours of the morning, lights dimmed, with a glass of cognac.
3. Gore gore, o banke chhore (Samadhi, 1950). This rousing number composed by the versatile C Ramchandra can get everyone on the floor. (As told to Veenu Singh)Surender Mohan Pathak is a bestselling Hindi detective fiction author
1. Mata o mata, jo tu aaj hoti (Ab Dilli Door Nahin, 1957). I lost my mother early. This song reminds me of her.
2. Munna bada pyara, mummy ka dulara (Musafir, 1957). When I became a father in 1971, I could instantly relate to this song. Now my son is 41 but I still love it.
3. Dil ki umangein hain jawaan (Munimji, 1955) Dev Anand’s charisma is unstoppable.
4. O bichhde hue saathi (Hulchul, 1951). It reminds me of the time when my girlfriend and I stayed away from each other in 1964.
5. Mere mehboob qayamat hogi (Mr. X in Bombay, 1964). Kishore’s voice and the lyrics are haunting. (As told to Aasheesh Sharma)From HT Brunch, September 8
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