Sunday, June 30, 2013

Memory and songs

The human memory is an incredibly complex and marvelous thing. Not least of which is the fact that it is reconstructive and not a mere mechanical retrieval of stored "imagery", and that we humans can indulge in this thing called meta-cognition, and can ponder over the fact that we are thinking about thinking. Thinking of one memory can bring up several others, which may not even appear related to each other. And so it came to be that I heard a song on the radio while driving to work, which brought back memories of a cup of coffee, which made me think of the photos I had taken of and at the coffee shop, and so on.

There's no shortage of songs on memories in Hindi movies. I wanted to see if I could remember some of the more memorable songs on memories in Hindi movies. And thus this post.

The entire playlist:

Yaad na jaaye

This song has perhaps the best opening cinematography in this list - the camera zooming in on a balcony, into the room, onto a desk lit by a lone lamp, a figure crouched over his chair, staring at a photograph. The background music is like that played at a wake, and basically sets the tone for the song and the movie itself. The words are simple yet striking, and Mohd Rafi's voice evokes the mood of eavesdropping in on a pining lover's private lament, unable to come to terms with reality,
"याद ना जाए, बीते हुए दिनों की
जाके न आए जो दिन, दिल क्यूँ बुलाए उन्हें।"
Movie: Dil Ek Mandir
Music Director: Shankar Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra
Singer: Mohd Rafi

Woh bhuli dastaan

Madan Mohan was perhaps that unappreciated genius of Hindi music who continues to amaze with his sheer brilliance even today. Not one but two songs on memories from the same movie, and each a beauty. The pitch and tone of both are different, and yet relentless in their intensity. To this soulful music is Rajinder Krishna's words giving the song body, each stanza is a marvel of poetic expression rarely if ever matched since -
"हवा में ज़ुल्फ़ लहराई, नज़र पे बेख़ुदी छाई,
ख़ुले थे दिल के दरवाज़े, मुहब्बत भी चली आई,
तम्मनाओं की दुनिया पर जवानी छा गई|"
Movie: Sanjog
Music Director: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Singer: Lata

Aaj purani raahon se

This is another Mohd Rafi gem, and a Dilip Kumar - Naushad - Shakeel Badayuni - Mohd Rafi quartet combo. Let no one call out to me from paths left behind, let no pain of the past sing out to me. Or so goes the song.
Movie: Aadmi
Music Director: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Singer: Mohd Rafi

Bhuli hui yaadon

Why do memories haunt us so? Why do they cause us so much pain? Why can't they leave us and let us be? "कब तक मैं जीयूँगा यूँही ख्वाबों के सहारे". Madan Mohan wields the baton here, and the opening prelude is exquisite, leading up to the pathos of the opening line.
Movie: Sanjog
Music Director: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Singer: Mukesh

Beete hue lamhon ki kasak

College graduations have been a big leitmotif in Hindi movies, the scenes of sweet partings and sorrowful unions, and have steadily become increasingly risque and vulgar over the years (from the innocent tere pyaar ka aasra in 1959 to the mini-skirt dressed flirtings of koi mil gaya in 1998 to the unbridled soft-porn-homophobic garbage of disco deewane in 2012). This song from the movie Nikaah is a sweet, clean, and evocative gem, especially the line, "फूलों की तरह दिल में बसाए हुए रखना, यादों के चिराघों को जलाये हुए रखना, लम्बा है सफ़र इसमे कहीं रात तो होगी ।"
Movie: Nikaah
Music Director: Ravi
Lyrics: Hasan Kamaal
Singer: Mahendra Kapoor

Hui shaam unka khayal aa gaya

That time of day, when the day has come to an end, and the night beckons. Along with dusk come the memories of a loved one. The clarinet adds a touch of the blues to this song, Laxmikant Pyarelal were in the beginnings of their creative output and had not yet diluted their quality to compete in the rat race of numbers, and Mohd Rafi was at his effortless peak in 1968.
"वोही ग़म जिसे हमने किस किस जतन से निकाला था इस दिल से दूर
वो चल कर क़यामत की चाल आ गया|"
Movie: Mere Humdum Mere Dost
Music Director: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singer: Mohd Rafi

karoge yaad to

While this movie has some of the best songs of the 1980s, including such gems as "dikhayee diye yun" and "dekh lo aaj humko" and "phir chidi raat", this song stands out for the "quiet" way in which Bhupinder has sung it, and for the words, especially the last stanza, 
"गली के मोड़ पे सूना सा कोई दरवाज़ा 
तरसती आँखों से रस्ता किसी का देखेगा 
निग़ाह दूर तलक जाक़े लौट आएगी " 
Movie: Bazaar
Music Director: Khaiyyaam
Lyrics: Bashar Nawaaz
Singer: Bhupinder Singh

dil dhoondta hai phir wohi

Gulzar takes off from Mirza Ghalib's famous Urdu sher, "dil dhundta hai", and Madan Mohan and Bhupinder turn it into a twentieth century classic.
Movie: Mausam
Music Director: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Gulzaar
Singer: Bhupinder Singh

Beetey dino ki yaad, satati hai aaj bhi

This song, by Mohd Rafi, never made it to a movie soundtrack. The music is certainly arresting, but it is the lyrics that grab you, especially the opening stanza -
"बीते हुए दिनों की याद, सताती है आज भी,
क्या वो ज़माने फ़िर कभी वापस नहीं आयेंगे,
क्या हम तमाम उम्र यूँही रोये जाएंगे| "
Movie: Non-movie
Music Director: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Singer: Mohd Rafi


Woh Jab Yaad Aaye

The debut movie of Laxmikant Pyarelal had some of their finest compositions, and this song is perhaps the crown of that movie. The movie has long been forgotten, but the words will live on - "कई बार ऐसा भी धोखा हुआ है, वो चले आ रहे हैं, नज़रें झुकाए|"
Movie: Parasmani
Music Director: Laxmikant Pyarelal
Lyrics: Asad Bhopali
Singer: Mohd Rafi, Lata

© 2013, Abhinav Agarwal. All rights reserved.