Among the most introspective nazms in Hindi films, Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai from Shola Aur Shabnam (1961) rises high above the apparent, inflicting a stinging comment on the rich-poor divide in society. Anand Desai (in maroon font) and Antara explore the finer nuances of this smoldering song of catharsis, written by Kaifi Azmi, composed by Khayyam and sung by Mohd Rafi.
Director: Ramesh Saigal
Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
Singer: Mohd Rafi
Raag: Mishr Pahadi
Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai yeh aankhein mujhme
Raakh ke dher mein shola hai na chingari hai
Khayyam starts the song with a single brush of the Toca Chimes and a Santoor and then a Sarangi takes over briefly for 14 seconds. The asthyaee is almost an ad-lib and then a Flute breaks the monotony slithering into a bridge in the cross line between 0.43 and 0.46. The Flute continues playing this musical mischief all through the song.
There is a Komal Ga and Komal Ni in the antara, straying into the realms of Kafi or Bageshree. Check the last music interlude ga ma pa… dha pa ma… ga ma ma… sa ni sa with both the ma’s tivra and shuddh.
Khayyam’s magic is visible on the Guitar too. Notice the otherwise monotonous sounding strums – the basic scale is F, the dominant chord is F with a smooth transition to Gm and a Grace Dm / [ C] also in transition. The Guitar strums form the main rhythm all through the song.
Songs of a broken heart have many hues – anguish of separation, agony of betrayal, the pain of a doomed relationship – the expressions always touch a chord as simply put, the world loves a lover.
But sometimes, the song elevates itself from an individual’s world and encompasses a larger social context, broadening its canvas and enveloping into its folds larger truths. Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai yeh aankhein mujhme, written by Kaifi Azmi and composed by Khayyam in one of his earliest films as music director is a shining example of songs of this genre.
Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai begins as a cry of a despondent heart who finds his love reduced to nothing but ashes with no embers or flames left in it. He wonders what his beloved is still searching for in the remains that are now cold.
If you are wondering about the context of the song, it is the eternal rich-vs-poor divide. Ravi, a poor boy (played by a young, strapping Dharmendra) and Sandhya (Tarla Mehta), daughter of a Railway officer, are childhood sweethearts who get separated and lose contact when Sandhya’s father is posted to another city. When Ravi grows up and is looking for a job, he is hired by his friend Prakash (M Rajan) who is a rich but generous younger son of a prosperous timber merchant.
Prakash is engaged to Sandhya, the daughter of his father’s friend and adores her. Initially Ravi does not recognize Sandhya, until a recall of their childhood song (Jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum – Rafi / Lata Mangeshkar) connects them again and rekindles their love. However, they do not reveal this to others.
Oblivious to this, Prakash seeks Ravi’s help to woo Sandhya. Indebted to Prakash for giving him a job in his factory, Ravi is forced to sacrifice his feelings to make his friend happy and pleads his beloved to stop stoking the dying embers of his love and leave him alone with his memories.
ab na wo pyaar na us pyaar ki yaadein baaki
aag yoon dil mein lagi kuchh na rahaa kuchh na bachaa
jiski tasveer nigaahon mein liye baithi ho
main wo dildaar nahin uski hoon khaamosh chitaah
Kaifi Azmi paints a stark imagery of a cremation ground where dreams go up in flames, leaving nothing, nowhere. Equating himself to a silent pyre, he warns his love to stop holding on to her aspirations of a life together.
zindagi hans ke guzarti to bahut achchhaa thaa
khair hans ke na sahi ro ke guzar jaayegi
raakh barbad mohabbat ki bachaa rakhi hai
baar baar isko johchheda toh bikhar jaayegi
Rafi gently escalates the pitch as if trying to voice the complaint loudly. Krishan Saigal’s camera catches the sensitive black and white hues, specially the effect of the lapping waves on Dharmendra’s face from counter 2.35.
The M1 is possibly the shortest I have heard, and again on a Flute. Catch a 7-seconds Sanchari from counter 2.53. A different approach by Khayyam to use the asthayee and the cross line 4 times in the song and close it with the same. The cross line in this one is raakh ke dher mein shola hai na chingari hai.
Kaifi finishes with a flair that only he could.
arzoo jurm, wafaa jurm, tamanna hai gunaah
yeh woh duniya hai jahaan pyaar nahi ho sakta…
kaise baazar ka dastoor tumhe samjhaoon
bik gaya johwoh khariddaar nahinho sakta
At this point, Kaifi lifts the song up from an individual’s anguish, and takes it to a broader social phenomenon, with a stinging cry. Love is not for those who have to struggle to earn their daily bread. It’s a crime for the poor to nurse aspirations, commitments and dreams as the material world has its rules cut out sharply for the haves and the have-nots. In this market, the poor is never a buyer. His dreams and love have long been sold off on the weighing scale of survival and emotions. (Kaifi Azmi was an active member of the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) and the All India President of the Indian People Theatre Association (IPTA). His poetry, even what he wrote for films, reflected his convictions and beliefs many a time).
Kaifi’s stinging indictment of growing chasm between the rich and the poor reminds us of Sahir’s iconic ‘Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai’. The two songs and their situations are vastly different but the cry out has an echo. Love is not a poor man’s world. As Vijay Kumar puts it, “In bik gaya jo vo kharidar nahi ho sakata, Khayyam sounds so near to mere saamne se hata lo ye duniya… is so Burmanesque! The reason perhaps is that Khayyam is one music composer who thought that his music ought to facilitate a melodious unfolding of the verses in their truest meaning and sentiments – a music that also connected to the relevant period/milieu… Jaane kya dhoondhti rahati hain moves with the assumption that there is no fire left in the relationship, but soon discovers a hibernating ember that becomes a blazing fire of emotions as the poem concludes. The music/singing accordingly mounts, becomes furious with an impact that gives goose bumps – bik gaya jo vo kharidar nahi ho sakata!”
The song reaches a crescendo, as Rafi’s raised pitch shatters the quietness of the night. And then it drops ever so gently again, and this time Rafi picks up “jaane kya” with a slightly different note, more affectionately, as if he has moved ahead of his catharsis. Khayyam has been very economical in the arrangement giving full play to Kaifi’s pen and Rafi’s voice to create the pathos.
Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai became one of the biggest hits in the repertoire of the trio who worked on it – Khayyam, Rafi and Kaifi Azmi. Khayyam went on to score music to some of the best poetry written in Hindi films. But this introspective nazm remains one of the most heart-touching songs of love ever.
1. Ad-lib: singing freely without any music accompaniment.
2. Amongst the 7 notes in the Sargam, Sa and Pa are static notes. The other notes namely Re Ga Dha and Ni would be either Shuddh or Komal and only Ma could be Shuddh or Tivra. As regards Shuddh Madhyam that is the normal Ma, when its Tivra Madhyam then it is closer to Yaman.
3. M1 – M1 and M2, etc., are the musicians’ terms for Interlude 1 or 2 etc meaning Music 1 or Music 2 or 3. However, currently during stage shows they refer to as M1 or M2, etc.
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