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Jaane Kya Dhoondti Rehti Hai: Of a World Where Love Is Incinerated

April 2, 2018 | By and

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.

Film: Shola Aur Shabnam (1961)

Director: Ramesh Saigal
Music: Khayyam
Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
Singer: Mohd Rafi

Raag: Mishr Pahadi
Taal: Dadra

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[1] 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.

Jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai begins as a cry of a despondent heart who finds his love reduced to nothing but ashes

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.[2]

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.

The team: Mohd Rafi, Kaifi Azmi, Khayyam

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.

Unaffected by Ravi’s adversities, Sandhya (Tarla Mehta) dreams of a life together

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[3] 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

Krishan Saigal’s camera catches the sensitive black and white hues, specially the effect of the lapping waves on Dharmendra’s face

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.

More to read

Khayyam: The Poets’ Musician

Waqt Ne Kiya – The Introspective Songs of Kaifi Azmi

Unko Yeh Shikayat Hai Ke Hum Kuch Nahin Kehte – When Silence Speaks Volumes

The Mesmerizing Moods of Jaane Kya Tune Kahi (Pyaasa)

The Tender Musical Tête-à-tête in Chupke Se Mile (Genius of SD Burman)

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After qualifying as a CA, I worked in the field of Investment Banking for around 18 years wth JM Financials and Kotak Mahindra and did a stint in the media with SONY. I now run a business advisory firm and I am an independent director on the Boards of companies. Music consumes a large part of my waking hours and keeps the fire in me alive.
All Posts of Anand Desai
Editor in Chief, Learning and Creativity; Consulting Editor, Silhouette Magazine. A former business journalist, Antara writes extensively on the changing trends of music, direction and filmmaking in cinema. Her articles aim to provide well-researched information on the legends of cinema for the movie and music enthusiast. She is also the Founder-Editor of Blue Pencil, a New Delhi-based publishing house. She edited and published Incomparable Sachin Dev Burman, the biography of SD Burman written by HQ Chowdhury. She has co-authored a chapter on Hemant Kumar's Bengali music in the acclaimed book The Unforgettable Music of Hemant Kumar, written by Manek Premchand. Her articles have also been published in and Antara is Editor-Creative Director of Wisitech InfoSolutions Pvt. Ltd.
All Posts of Antara Nanda Mondal

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12 thoughts on “Jaane Kya Dhoondti Rehti Hai: Of a World Where Love Is Incinerated

  • A Bharat

    You certainly picked a winner this time Anand Desai (and Antara). As Antara points out Khayyam does exactly what SDB did in Pyaasa -and in exactly half the time. The crescendo has exactly the same effect this time too. Well, you don’t need a Sahir every time. Kaifi is simply superb in his imagery. Visually Tarla was so new and believably fresh and her eyes echo everything the lyric implies.

    If you thought (with reasonable accuracy) that nothing could be as nostalgically poignant as the earlier “Jeet hi lenge” here’s the crushing answer. I read somewhere that Rafi had high fever when he recorded this song. Who knows? Thanks Anand & Antara for bringing to life this chingari out of the rakh of forgetfulness!

    1. Antara

      Thanks a lot Bharat ji!

      That Rafi Saab recorded jeet hi lenge in a state of high fever shows the kind of passion they had towards their craft.

      I find the way he emotes this song too raises it high, high…! He pours pathos, angst, anguish and love into it, in full measure. Immaculate rendition!

      Thanks again! Delighted! 🙂

  • Taiyeb Shaikh

    I’m speechless, again you mesmerised me. I read all comments too. Love to read again & again.

    It’s a classic Tribute to all the souls behind this song. In one of the article on Khayyam in Times of India it was mentioned Rafi had given 21 takes to perfect this song.

    The result is an immortal song. Thanks for reviving sweet memories. Wish you a great time.

    1. Antara

      Wonderful information Taiyeb Shaikh ji!! And thank you so very much for such kind words of appreciation… Deeply humbled. 😊_()_

      It’s a song that affects and shakes the soul. So very happy you liked our attempt at exploring it…

      Rafi Sahab’s dedication to his music is legendary. As Bharat ji mentioned above, he was suffering from high fever when he recorded ‘Jeet hi lenge baazi hum tum’… They took each song as a unique creation, a passion.

      1. Taiyeb Shaikh

        In the same article it’s mentioned that Asha Bhosle after hearing ghazals and it’s compositions went home and prepared herself for 8 days to record Umrao Jaan Songs. That’s the dedication.

  • Sneh Dhingra

    Wow.. I had missed such a great treasure here. What superb analysis of song, lyrics, singer and music. This has been a favourite for a long long time. I had picked this song and Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai as parallel songs because of their treatment of pace that escalates. Was pleasantly surprised that you also clubbed them together. Kudos to you, Antara; and to Anand ji for a great collaborative project!

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