Bombay Showcase

A playlist of eternal love songs

Radha Rajadhyaksha  

So Valentine’s Day is here again with all the attendant hype and hoopla (though no indignant remonstrations yet from sanskari saffronists). What better day than this to look back at the love songs that have stood Hindi cinema in such good stead over the decades?



Bollywood and love songs are as inseparable as Siamese souls with OCD. Indeed, ‘love song’ is somewhat tautological here: in the thousands of numbers composed since the first one was sung on screen in Alam Ara , 90 per cent are about love. We’ve soaked in songs on first love, unrequited love, unspoken love, ecstasy, heartbreak, separation; had our fill of lovers mooning about ishq, chand, raat and judaai . But beautiful as many of these are, few say something about love that’s out of the box.



So, is there a different spin one can put on love? Yes, a few lyricists have.



‘Tum agar mujh ko na chaho to koi baat nahin/ Tum kisi aur ko chaahogi to mushkil hogi.’



Sahir Ludhanvi nails a common, yet rarely expressed sentiment: ‘I can deal with you not loving me; what I cannot handle is you loving another.’ The verses all expand on this. ‘Ab agar mel nahin hai to judaai bhi nahin/ Baat todi bhi nahin tum ne, banayi bhi nahin/ Yeh sahara hi bahut hai mere jeene ke liye/ Tum agar meri nahin ho to parayi bhi nahin’ . The piercing pangs of jealousy, that inevitable companion of desire… but expressed so light-heartedly.



From the same poet comes another beauty: ‘Chalo ek baar phir se ajnabi ban jaayein hum dono.’ The yearning for blissful amnesia, an excision of the lover’s being from memory (which, incidentally, decades later, was the theme of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a far more literal way). Sahir’s entreaty, of course, wasn’t about science fiction but grace : ‘Woh afsana jise anjaam tak laana na ho mumkin/ Use ek khoobsurat mod de kar chhodna achcha’ . Five decades after it was written, the song remains a classic.



Nuanced and delectable



‘Tumhe ho na ho, mujhko to itna yakeen hai/ Mujhe pyar tum se nahin hai, nahin hai’, possibly the only song in Hindi cinema which is diametrically opposite to all the ‘mujhe tum se pyar hai’ songs while saying much the same thing. In this beauty by Naqsh Lyallpuri, there’s confusion about a nascent emotion, an effort to convince oneself that this isn’t love. However, here’s the crux: ‘Mujhe pyar tumse nahin hai, nahin hai/ Magar maine yeh raaz ab tak na jaana/ Ki kyon pyari lagti hain baatein tumhari, main kyon tumse milne ka dhoondoon bahana…’ Nuanced and delectable.



‘Mujhe tum yaad karna aur mujhko yaad aana tum.’ A pair of lovers separating temporarily emphasise that they will not forget each other. Fine. But the real surprise is in the verses, where the man exhorts the woman to not pine or be lonely: ‘Zara logon se milna tum, zara hansna-hasaana tum’ . She, in turn, tells him the same, with a more startling punch: ‘Agar ladki tumhe koi mile jo khoobsoorat ho/ Tumhari dosti ki shaayad usko bhi zaroorat ho/ Agar woh paas aaye, muskuraaye, muskuraana tum.’ Yes, the refrain reiterates ‘Magar main laut ke aaoonga yeh mat bhool jaana tum.’ But the sentiment in this playful Javed Akhtar lyric is amazingly cool for the 1980s.



‘Main akela apni dhun mein magan zindagi ka mazaa liye jaa raha tha.’ This gem from Amit Khanna is sung on screen by a confirmed bachelor reluctant to accept that he could be in love with the woman who left him, and puts down his missing her to mere force of habit . ‘Tumhaari aankhon ki masti, tumhaare baalon ki khushboo/ In se mujhe kya hai haasil, phir bhi… yeh hai meri aadat mein shaamil.’ True, the song is an adaptation of ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face’ from My Fair Lady , but it’s a great adaptation; it also, while retaining a wee bit of the misogyny and arrogance of Henry Higgins’ outburst in the original, allows for some contemplative soulfulness.



A universal feeling



‘Tu is tarah se meri zindagi mein shaamil hai.’ This Nida Fazli sparkler gives form to a universal feeling: if you’re in love, the entire world brightens up. ‘Yeh aasmaan, yeh baadal, yeh raastein, yeh hawa/ Har ek cheez hai apni, jagah thikaane se/ Kain dinon se shikaayat nahin zamaane se.’ It’s likely the sentiment has been articulated in other songs but not half as eloquently as Fazli did.



‘Tum kamsin ho, naadan ho, naazuk ho, bholi ho/ Sochta hoon main ki tumhein pyar na karoon.’ Where heroes usually exult about possessing a girl of ‘solah saal ki jawani’ and ‘kamsin umariya’ , here’s one who appears hesitant to corrupt the innocence of his underage object of affection. This Hasrat Jaipuri lyric expresses an unusual sentiment for sure.



‘Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de, tadapta hua jab koi chhod de.’ A certain old-fashioned nobility marks Indivar’s beautiful lyric in which the hero tells the woman he loves that she can come to him after other men break her heart: the pathway to his heart is always open for her. ‘Darpan tumhe jab daraane lage, jawani bhi daaman chhudaane lage/ Tab tum mere paas aana priye/ Mera sar jhuka hai, jhuka hi rahega, tumhaare liye.’ In a patriarchal, youth-obsessed world, this is really something else.



‘Tum mujhe bhool bhi jaao to yeh haq hai tumko.’ In this song, Sahir echoes the sentiment in Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s iconic poem ‘ Mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang ’: romantic love is all very well but it pales in comparison to a higher love, compassion for the sufferings of humanity. Where Faiz avers ‘ Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein mohabbat ke sivaa ’, Sahir’s immortal words go: ‘…Bhook aur pyaas ki maari hui is duniya mein/Ishq hi ek haqeeqat nahin, kuch aur bhi hai/ Tum agar aankh churao to yeh haq hai tumko/ Maine tumse hi nahin, sabse mohaabat ki hai.’ No one says it quite like this poet.



‘Humne dekhi hai un aankhon ki mehekti khushboo.’ The love song that flummoxed everyone with its sensory mix-up way before synesthesia became a common term. Vintage Gulzar, this exquisite lyric is also memorable for its quasi-mystical definition of love: ‘ Pyar koi bol nahin, pyar awaaz nahin/ Ek khamoshi hai, sunti hai saha karti hai/ Na yeh bujhti hai na rukti hai na thehri hai kahin/ Noor ki boond hai sadiyon se baha karti hai/ Sirf ahsaas hai yeh, rooh se mehsoos karo/ Pyar ko pyar hi rehne do, koi naam na do.’



Indeed. And on that spiritual note, Happy Valentine’s Day.



The author is a freelance writer and editor



(This copy has been edited for a factual error post publication)

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 5:27:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/a-playlist-of-eternal-love-songs-on-valentines-day/article8236296.ece

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