Monday, March 21, 2011

Kise pesh karun

These past couple of days have gone in a nostalgic haze – revisiting songs we loved when we were younger. What a wonderful thing youtube is. I took one trip down today to enjoy songs from this 1964 film called Gazal. Before my time, but I saw it on trusty old Doordarshan. Given my affinity for Sunil Dutt, old film music, the ghazal, Sahir Ludhianvi and black and white cinema, what was not to love?

So many things to say about these songs that I don’t know where to begin. The music is by the melodious Madan Mohan, the poetry by Sahir and the movie features the wonderfully emotive Meena Kumari and an earnest Sunil Dutt. A love story, mostly.

The protagonists meet, banter and woo in poetry and song. When I heard it again, I yearned for the song to be an integrated part of the film again – not a disconnected ‘item’ number, not an elaboration on happiness or grief or drama that is already happening, not entertainment but song as conversation, song as advancement of the story. And when it takes the form of ghazal, subhan allah!

Ejaz – our hero, the atheist revolutionary poet – is taking a leisurely stroll on the banks of the Yamuna in Agra when he hears a voice longing for love. Kise pesh karun, she is singing, to whom shall I present these gifts of verse, these brimming feelings? These warm breaths, the secrets my lips hold, the inky darkness of my tresses?

Koi humraaz to paaun, koi hamdam to mile,
Dil ke dhadkan ke ishaarat kise pesh karun

To whom, the promptings of this beating heart?

Ejaz is delighted. Later, at a mehfil that Naaz Ara is also attending, he uses her radif and qafiya to put his own spin on it. See how Sahir converts everything that was soft and feminine in the first version into something robust and very masculine. To whom shall I present the heat of my feelings, these searing nights and days?

And see how Meena Kumari listens to the poetry being recited… multi-layered responses flitting across her expressive countenance. Her outrage at being plagiarised, then her indignation at being countered by this audacious young man, then being moved by the tributes he’s paying her and finally agitation that he is repeating her very own couplet back to her – by now she has figured that he’s too talented to want to rip her off, what he’s doing is appropriating it, syncing his own explosive feelings with hers. This was the stuff of the old Muslim socials – to fall in love with a beloved you haven’t laid eyes on yet.

Things go wrong as they are apt to do in love stories and Naaz Ara is marrying Akhtar Nawab (the suave Rahman who, poor man, always seems to be put in the position of hankering after someone else’s woman). Ejaz is singing at her wedding. The same radif and qafiya; something like their song. Ye mere sher mere aakhri nazrane hai… it is one final gift of poetry.

Madan Mohan alters the mood dramatically. And Sahir alters the form – this is not a ghazal but a variation that filmi shayars (for instance, also Shakeel Badayuni) achieved. The first lines form a couplet but the following ones have three lines, of which the first two rhyme and the third takes on the radif and qafiya of the first matla.
Like so:

rang aur noor ki baraat kise pesh karun
ye muradon ki haseen raat kise pesh karun

kaun kahata hai ki chahat pe sabhi ka haq hai
tu jise chahe tera pyar usi ka haq hai
mujh se kahde main tera haath kise pesh karun

There are other ghazals in this movie but that’s for another time.  However, I must say how much I miss the Muslim Social. The delicacy involved in all social transactions, the shayari, the use of hijab and purdah as delicious plot devices… it makes me sigh. Koi lautade mere beete hue din…


Sunshine said...

hahhhaa yeah Rahman was such a standard fixture.. i miss the muslim socials too.. remember mere mehboob and its confused romances? and that other one mehboob ki mehndi had awesome songs as well.. jane kyu log mohabbat karte hein.. aaah.

Sheetal said...

Rash: wasn't he though!
Mere Mehboob was fab, Chaudvin ka chand, Mere Huzoor (which I don't think I've seen). and Leena Chandavarkar's sharara in Jaane kyun.. heh full nostalgia.

Ludwig said...

What a superbly "curated" post, Sheetalam. This was just too lovely. Thanks.

> I must say how much I miss the
> Muslim Social. The delicacy
> involved in all social
> transactions, the shayari, the
> use of hijab and purdah as
> delicious plot devices… it makes
> me sigh. Koi lautade mere beete
> hue din…


Sheetal said...

Thank you, Kiddus!

leenah. said...

Why hadn't I read it before! damn!
Loved it Sheetal. LOVED it!

Sheetal said...

Thank you, Leenah! :) So happy you liked it.