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

November 30, 2022 | By

Kachchi hai umariya is a fabulous picturisation of a woman, who slowly throws away her inhibitions and yields to her urges. Shirish Waghmode explores this song from KA Abbas’ Char Dil Char Rahen (1959).

Meena Kumari in Char Dil Char Rahen

Meena Kumari in Char Dil Char Rahen

She stirs uneasily in her sleep. Her eyes flutter open. There is a stillness in the air and darkness lies heavy on her cottage. The only light is the moonbeam seeping in through the thread-bare walls. But wait, there is a sound, which reaches her. No, not just a sound – a beat, a thumping pulsating beat which wakes her up from her uneasy slumber. The beat is unyielding, its tempo unforgiving as it begins to possess her being. She must surrender to it.

Quickly, she pulls her mirror box, wipes her face. A distant way ward flute plays on, goading her. She slips on her bangles, her anklets and a large bindi adorns her forehead. With one sweep of her dupatta, she is out in the open where hordes of men and women are already dancing to the drumbeats, chanting Govinda Govinda as if intoxicated. She joins the dance and a full throated plea emerges from her parched lips,

कच्ची है उमरिया, कोरी है चुनरिया मोहे भी रंग देता जा,

मोहे भी रंग देता जा मोरे सजना, मोहे भी रंग देता जा

पग मोरा बहके अंग मोरा दहके

कभी तो सुध लेता जा, कभी तो सुध लेता जा मोरे सजना, कभी तो सुध लेता जा |

There are many outstanding aspects to this song but none more remarkable than the lyrics. This is one of the most erotic, suggestive songs conveying a longing, a burning desire, a call to her mate, but it is couched in such a language that you do not suspect anything at the first hearing, not in a prudist era, when women were not even supposed to admit to such feelings, leave alone express then in public. But the lyricist is a con artist. He has slipped in dynamite but in a box of breadsticks and no one has a clue to the fireworks she is lighting!

अगन लगाये, लगन लगाये ये, मदमाती घड़ियाँ,  ये मदमाती घड़ियाँ |

तन भी सम्भाला, मन भी सम्भाला, सम्भले न नैनों की झड़ियाँ,

गायें मोरी सखियाँ,  रोये मोरी अँखियाँ, कभी तो सुध लेता जा |

Every word she utters has only one emotion – desire. But behind the simplistic words, lie meanings are expressed so subtly, which so cleverly, the unsuspecting crowd is left to marvel at the singing, the dancing, while the messenger goes scot-free. Sending a message loud and clear – only for the chosen one to hear!

There is more –

कह भी न पाऊँ, रह भी न पाऊँ

प्रीत का दर्द छुपाके,

रंग रस बरसे, जिया मोरा तरसे

तपन बुझा जा आ के |

चाहे कौन सुख है, मोहे तेरा दुख है

कभी तो सुध लेता जा, कभी तो सुध लेता जा |

And the refrain goes on. I am sure none of the wise men of the moral brigade of those times could really figure out the mayajaal that the lady was weaving around them. The delicious skullduggery that was being practiced – कभी तो सुध लेता जा must have meant the tiredness after dancing – कोरी है चुनरिया  मोहे भी रंग देता जा must have sounded a Holi celebration. But thank God this gem has slipped out of their clutches and remains shining. Its lustre undimmed!  A fabulous example of erotic poetry.

The lyrics by Sahir are a smouldering hotbed of longing, and Meena Kapoor’s sensuous vocals add fuel to the fire. Meena Kumari goes from a sleepy maiden to a flaming seductress!

The way the director KA Abbas has filmed this song is riveting. It’s a fabulous picturisation of a woman, who slowly throws away her inhibitions and yields to her urges! Fifty shades of grey are visible in the dusky light and two ladies take this song to a sublime level —  Meena Kumari and Meena Kapoor.  The eyes, the body language of Meena Kumari, convey longing want and desire so uncharacteristic for an actress who has traditionally shunned these roles. And Meena Kapoor, is a far cry from her soothing – kuch aur zamana kehta hai is breathtaking.

Watch this song, you will savour it, treasure it and never tire of it! This is a lady who speaks her mind and let’s her body do the talking! Atta Girl!

Kachchi hai umariya (Chaar Dil Chaar Rahein, 1959) Anil Biswas / Sahir Ludhianvi / Meena Kapoor (The song begins at 1:36:37)

More to read

Kahaan Ja Raha Hai Tu Aye Jaanewaale

The Two Worlds of Jalte Hain Jiske Liye

Umad Ghumad Kar Aayi Re Ghata – Euphoric Celebration of Rains


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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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