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Chal Ri Sajani Ab Kya Soche – Torn Between Two Worlds

January 17, 2023 | By

Chal ri sajani ab kya soche is synonymous with the bidaai, the heart-breaking moment of departure when the bride steps across the threshold into an unknown world. Shirish Waghmode revisits this classic created by the SD Burman-Majrooh-Mukesh team and emoted in perfect sync by Suchitra Sen and Dev Anand along with Nasir Hussain (the father) and Achala Sachdev (the mother) for Raj Khosla’s Bombai Ka Babu.

Marriages are made in heaven, they say, but are solemnised, for obvious reasons on earth, and what a sea-change marriage ceremonies have undergone. From the ghunghat-laden bahu walking with leaden feet, to the foot tapping bride not afraid to flaunt her jewellery and her figure — it’s  been a jaw dropping and clothes shedding journey alright!

But in Indian marriages it all freezes in slow motion at the culminating moment — the bidaai. The realization that the moment has come to cut the familial cord and step into a new life causes an avalanche of emotions in the parents’ hearts and a  tsunami of tears for the daughter of the house, who is about to step over the threshold! It is here that many comforting hands pat her back, and urge her to move on to her new destiny. Poet Majrooh’s words give that touch of reassurance, urging her towards a new life. Gently the words flow —

चल री सजनी अब क्या सोचे,
कजरा ना बह जाये रोते रोते

In a creative touch, the director Raj Khosla put this song in the background of the bidaai ceremony. It gave him the leeway to allow the singer play the observer, to unravel the storms that rage in the hearts of all present, and still remain detached. Since his eyes are not full of tears, the observer can see and feel the pain, the longing, and the pangs of separation. His eye first catches the father of the bride –

बाबुल पछताए हाथों को मल के,
काहे दिया परदेस टुकड़े को दिल के

This is the moment he had prayed for and yet today he is gutted when his daughter is set to leave the house, the daughter who has been an integral part of his existence. “Why did I give my daughter away”, he screams silently — आँसू लिये, सोच रहा, दूर खड़ा रे

The tears take over, drowning the turmoil as he stands alone. He accepts what has come to pass, with a helpless surrender to Fate. He had prayed for the inevitable and the inevitable has now come to pass!

The mother, is not bound by any such self-restraint. She is a woman and a mother. Seeing her daughter step out of her life, she breaks down in a flood of tears and alongside, a deluge of memories rush through her mind —

ममता का आँगन,
गुड़ियों का कंगना
छोटी बड़ी सखियाँ,
घर गली अंगना

The growing up years — as an infant glued to her mother; as a child exchanging dolls and their ornaments with friends who stay with each other through the difficult growing years. The courtyard had resonated with their voices, the secrets exchanged in hushed whispers. The lane reverberated with their laughter, the house watched them grow —

छूट गया, छूट गया, छूट गया रे

It’s like a cinema reel snapping. The lights come on. It’s all over!

And now he glances at the bride — a lonely figure at the crossroads of life — on an island of her own. She looks back and finds a family with which she has to severe all bonds — wipe out her identity as their offspring and make a clean break. On the other side is a destiny which beckons, a future that awaits, without any revelation of its true colours. For a moment she is frozen like a suspended particle, torn between two worlds, all her near ones strewn around, so near and yet so far —

दुल्हन बनके गोरी खड़ी है
कोई नही अपना कैसी घड़ी है
कोई यहाँ, कोई वहाँ, कोई कहाँ रे
चल री सजनी अब क्या सोचे

If watching this song moved you to tears I can assure you, you are not alone. When so many creative people plot and conspire, to reduce you to tears, it is best to surrender. We have the usual suspects — Mukesh, SD Burman and Majrooh Sultanpuri, armed with the Bengali Missile — the wondrous Suchitra Sen to demolish all resistance! Dev Anand’s understated performance speaks for us — he is a mute, helpless spectator to her lonesome journey, trying hard to control his suppressed emotions.

Majrooh is a mind-reader in the disguise of a poet. How else does he empty the secret cupboards of peoples’ hidden memories and put them in verse? Every father and mother can vouch that these are the very thoughts they harboured during the bidaai. And that’s what makes him an everyone’s poet! SD Burman in his minimalistic style, lets the song flow tunefully and then leaves an imprint with his masterly use of the chorus. It’s just magnificent! Mukesh’s voice is at his emotional, heart wrenching best. His voice is of a man in control advocating for courage — but when he utters the words,

कोई यहाँ, कोई वहाँ, कोई कहाँ रे

The listener, the singer and the world go to pieces. But in this turbulence a light shines — the angelic visage of Suchitra Sen! The Porcelain Beauty who communicates with her eyes, the quiver of her lips and the pain writ large over her flawless face!

The Lord may have made everyone in His own image, but some like Suchitra Sen have reaped more, much more, than others!

Chal Ri Sajani Ab Kya Soche - song analysis

Watch the song on YouTube 

Film: Bombai Ka Babu (1960)
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singer: Mukesh
Cast: Suchitra Sen, Dev Anand, Nasir Hussain, Achala Sachdev
Director: Raj Khosla


More to read

Kachchi Hai Umariya, Kori Hai Chunariya: Passion Comes of Age

Kahaan Ja Raha Hai Tu Aye Jaanewaale

The Two Worlds of Jalte Hain Jiske Liye

Main Dekhoon To Sahi Duniya Tumhe Kaise Sataati Hai

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Shirish Waghmode is a member of the family that ran the music store, Maharashtra Watch & Gramophone Co, Dadar(W), Mumbai for a record 91 years! From 78 RPM to EPs and then to LPs and then from cassettes to CDs & DVDs, they have been witness to every milestone that technology wrought. Shirish is passionate about Marathi, Hindi and English music in equal measure and has been a public speaking coach and a compere (two shows of Jagjit Singh being the crowning glory). He enjoys writing about music.
All Posts of Shirish Waghmode

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13 thoughts on “Chal Ri Sajani Ab Kya Soche – Torn Between Two Worlds

  • Joy Christie

    Since long I have been reading song analysis of Shirish Bhai our dear friend. I feel the kalam kagaz, syaahi and Shirish bhai are made for each other. A very detailed write up which tempted me to see the song again right from Shemaroo film collections. The last conversation is so very touching.

    The thought process of Sachin Da is always a lesson for music hearing people. Sachin Da and Khayyam sir always used to give importance to the lyrics. Here too I am sure he must have been very strict. We hear only Taar Shehenai of Dakshinimohan Tagore (was addressed fondly as “ Dukhi Babu”). Taar Shehenai, soft fillers of bamboo flute, Chinese temple Blocks and most prominent the chorus voices of males and females. Females in a bit higher pitch and males in corresponding low pitch (because male chorus at higher notes sound unpleasant). Note that there is no use of violin section. No group violins , no cellos , no violas. Just Taar Shehenai , Bamboo Flute and chorus.

    The rhythm according to meter is Dadra just simple soft tabla.

    Sachin Da nurtures a song like a mother caring her daughter before she conceives a child. That utmost care Sachin Da takes for his songs, singers and arrangements. At times we hear the Taar Shehenai on leaf pieces, sometimes as fillers and sometimes playing a very small phrases of harmonies. But listen carefully there no prominent harmonies throughout. The heart of the bride is expressed by Taar Shehenai and the greetings (specifically different type for bride’s parents) are conveyed by female and male chorus.

    Still can write a full-fledged article on the perspectives of Sachin Da 😊But this is enough. Majrooh is always at his Best. Sachin Da has recorded very few songs with Mukesh but each song was a gem.

  • Antara Nanda Mondal

    Beautifully penned Shirish ji – you have aptly captured the subdued turbulence that rages beneath the surface. Chal ri sajani is by far the best bidaai song ever – perfect in every way. A visual and aural experience that never fails to bring on tears.

  • A Bharat

    A beautifully caught moment of time. Extremely feelingly written.There are any number of Bidai songs in Hindi films but nowhere else do we find this extraordinary power to capture and move the listener’s heart. And as he says Suchitra’s lovely face is too unreal to be real- yet all too real as the bride.

    1. Balbir Singh Khattar

      Much as that is desired and helps those unfamiliar with the nuances of a language, things do get lost in translation. It is my view that writing in original is far easier than translating it.

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