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Shakeel-Naushad: Classy Confluence, Seamless Flow – 1

December 25, 2018 | By

Shakeel Badayuni is considered to be one of the finest romantic poets of the previous century. And Naushad among the monarchs of Hindi film music. When they teamed up, the result was classic! Vijay Kumar pays a tribute to this inimitable confluence with an exploration of the music and poetry they created together. This is Part 1 of a 2-part series.

shakeel badayuni naushad

Shakeel Badayuni is considered to be one of the finest romantic poets of the previous century. Some even put him in the league of Ghalib. In his own words, his poetry that had love and romance for its source was integral to his being. It is for this reason that the words he penned invariably find an empathising connect. Shakeel never appears bookish. In the year 1944, as he approached Naushad for a job, he was asked to sum up his poetical skills, and he famously wrote:

Hum dard ka afsana duniya ko suna denge,
Har dil main mohabbat ki ek aag laga dengey.

But on the strength of little acquaintance that I have with his work, I will rather borrow from Rajinder Krishan to sum up the man: Chhupi huyi meri kaaya mein raakh kisi parwane ki. He perhaps had an innate understanding of love and its nuances, its hues, its strands. He seemed to have brought forward this understanding from his previous births!  In fact, when he turns a kavi, from a shayar, I get a strange feeling that he is Sayyad Ibrahim aka Raskhan reincarnate!  Like Raskhan, he seemed to have spiritually imbibed the lore of Krishna. Recall, in particular, the duet from Baiju BawraAkeli mat jayiyo Radhe Jaumuna ke teer, Tu Ganga ki mauj main Jamuna ka dhaara, the Shamshad number from MelaMohan ki muraliya baje,  the Lata number from Mughal-e-AzamMohe panghat pe Nandlal chhed gayo re, the Holi chorus from Mother IndiaHoli aayi re kanhai, or  that Rafi number from Kohinoor – Madhuban mein Radhika naache re.  Shakeel also seemed enamoured with the word murli/bansuri. Recall Aaj mere man mein koi bansuri bajaye (Aan) or Door koi gaye, dhun ye sunaye, baaje na muraliya re (Baiju Bawra).

Shakeel needed just one opportunity to entrench himself in the Industry. That came in the year 1947, in the film Dard. With Afsana likh rahi hoon (Uma Devi aka Tuntun) turning out to be a super-hit, Shakeel was taken note of as a major talent on the horizon.

Dard also heralded the emergence of the Naushad-Shakeel duo – an association that almost looks ordained – an association of the chosen ones to unshackle classical vocal music from a connoisseur driven exclusiveness and to take it to masses through the instrumentality of Hindi cinema.

Though younger of the duo by a clear three years, Naushad reached Bombay much earlier while still in his teens. In fact, his flight to Bombay, from Lucknow, was in defiance of both his father and the Islamic diktat that prohibited music. Naushad, though a devout Muslim, yet found the call of music stronger than the diktat.  To bolt at that age to pursue an intangibility called music will not ordinarily stand to reason unless one assumes that Naushad was born with music in his DNA; music permeated him and was the means and end of his existence.

Naushad was fiercely proud of his heritage and traditions including music.  He was purist too. If he were in politics, he would have crusaded for the khadi, such was his love for and commitment to the indigenous, to the home-grown. Fortunately, however, his interest lay elsewhere.  Music, rather classical music, beckoned him.

Naushad (Pic: Google Image Search)

Naushad’s adaptation of the classical for the films, for the masses, with Shakeel supplying words that were earthy and responsive to popular lingo, met with an unprecedented success as that instantly connected with and entertained the man in the street, who otherwise hardly understood the raga nuances and the orchestral technicalities. Yet Naushad was a classicist to the core and Shakeel a poet with an unflinching commitment to depth, to subtlety, and to quality.  With such confluencing of the geniuses, a distinct stream and style of vocal music emerged inevitably, wherein the verse was as important as the sounds of music and the lilt supporting it.

The duo etched a major narrative in Hindi film music for a good part of ’40s and the whole of ’50s.  Their output spurred quality competition amongst MDs, each equally talented and each with a style of his own. The HFM’s golden period – fifties – appears centric to musicians and their respective styles.  Yet the truth of the matter is that their music thrived on the deep, meaningful, often philosophical, poetry created by equally talented lyricists. This will be evident from the fact that Naushad was on a down slope after the demise of Shakeel in 1970.  SJ too were down after the passing away of Shailendra in 1966.

However, there was an unmatched seamlessness in Shakeel-Naushad collaboration, owing much to they being from the same region, from the same socio-cultural milieu – Naushad was from Lucknow and Shakeel from the neighbouring Badayun.  They shared the tehzeeb and that had deep impact on their joint creativity. Tu Ganga ki mauj, main Jamuna ki dhara (Baiju Bawra) was symbolic both of the richness of their effort as also to its seamlessness. Every time I hear it. I end up with a half question: why Shakeel-Naushad creation sounds so sublime even though it is a love song like many others? Why it reminds me that peerless bhajan Chalo man Ganga Jamuna teer lent voice by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi?


Meena Kumari, Bharat Bhushan & Surendra in Baiju Bawra, 1952, Original Collage and Watercolours on cardboard (Pic: Osian’s Group)

Music heals. Shakeel-Naushad music healed better. Add to them a certain Mohammed Rafi. Their music in Baiju Bawra was Muslim input to a Hindu end, and sublime at that. The intensity of their effort must have brought down,  howsoever little, the mistrust between the two communities that were left ravaged and ruined by the partition. For instance Man tadpat Hari darshan ko aaj with Rafi singing it as he would have recited verses from the Koran, must have been so soothing to the collective Hindu psyche. The Shakeel-Naushad creativity promoted social cohesion and communal harmony even if by inadvertence.

The Naushad-Shakeel duo together created songs for over 30 films. Some of these songs have the claim to be the best or near best in their respective genres. I have listed a few here with a brief deconstruction of the lyrics of each. These are the scores I like but in no way suggest that they are to be deemed their best.

Dilwale Dilwale (Natak)

While Dard – the first film of Shakeel – is remembered more for the Uma Devi solo Afsana likh rahi hoon, I find the other one by her Dilwale dilwale (Natak) equally engaging not only for its singing but also for its words that seem to envision a time yet not on the horizon.

Dilwale dilwale
jal jal kar hi mar jana
tum preet na kar pachhtana
dilwale dilwale

Preet ki dil se aag uthe
aur dono taraf lag jaye
tan ko jalaye man ko jalaye
phir bhi na nikle haye
ek shama ho ek parwana
tum preet na kar pachhtana
dilwale dilwale

Rang rangili duniya mein hai
rang rang ke dhokhe
do din ki jeevan maya
isko na bitana ro ke
hans hans kar preet nibhana
tum preet na kar pachhtana
dilwale dilwale
jal jal kar

I have no idea as to the cinematic background of this song.  But it is a fervent appeal not to fall in love even if one has a heart raring to go (dilwale) – for love stokes consuming fire reducing the players to fire and fire-fly (ek shama ho ek parwana)!

In the succeeding stanza, Shakeel plunges deeper – rang rangili duniya mein hai, rang rang ke dhokhe – this  enchanting, alluring world has  myriad deceptions too;  but do not succumb and come to grief, for the life itself is a short fleeting illusion not  to be wasted crying: the refrain therefore – tum preet na kar pachtana!  But I love Shakeel’s final advice: do not fall in love but go through the motion of it happy-faced! I wonder if the young girls reclining against the young male bodies for poise, in moving metros, oblivious to the jostling fellow passengers around, are actually in love or just following Shakeel’s dictum: hans hans ke preet nibhana (par) preet na kar pachtana!

Dilwale dilwale (Natak, 1947) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Uma Devi

Kyun unhe dil diya, haaye ye kya kiya (Anokhi Ada)

Kyun unhe dil diya, haaye ye kya kiya gets my preference even over Aawaz de kahan hai.  And the reason for this has more to do with the song video than audio. I do not know if the song was shot indoor or outdoor, yet it impacts. I just love it. Bespectacled Surendra with professorial looks luxuriating behind the steering wheel of a temporarily dysfunctional car hitched to and following a bullock cart meandering through a passage decored on sides by natural green. But the Professor’s presumably myopic eyes will not, as he sings his heart out, leave his love – the beauteous Naseem – perched at the top of a hay pile, half-sunk and lazying in it and so covetously ensconced.

shakeel naushad

Bespectacled Surendra with professorial looks luxuriating behind the steering wheel of a temporarily dysfunctional car

This scene evokes a fantasy: if I could retrograde in time and replace Surendra! I too am myopic and I know for certain that I too have a heart! And Naseem is so much better than her daughter.

The song however confused me. Its two parts – one by Surendra and the other by Naseem/Shamshad – do not connect. Since this comes from the ace lyricist Shakeel, I knew it must be in furtherance of the story. Read the plot and gathered that while the Professor (Surendra) loves her, she does not reciprocate. In his part of the song, the Professor seems resigned that his love entreaties will not fructify. However, his submissions arouse Naseem out of her amnesia as her heart suddenly aches for the man she actually loves (played by Prem Adeeb).

Kyun unhe dil diya, haaye ye kya kiya (Anokhi Ada, 1948) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Surendra Nath and Shamshad Begum

Suhani raat dhal chuki (Dulari)

Suhaani raat dhal chuki
naa jaane tum kab aaoge
jahaan ki rut badal chuki 
naa jaane tum kab aaoge

Nazaare apani mastiyaan
dikhaa dikhaa ke so gaye
sitaare apani roshni
lutaa lutaa ke so gaye
har ek shammaa jal chuki
naa jaane tum kab aaoge
suhaani raat dhal chuki

Tadap rahe hai ham yahaa
tumhaare intazaar me
khizaa ka rang, aa chalaa hai     
mausam-e-bahaar me
havaa bhi rukh badal chuki 
naa jaane tum kab aaoge

The importance of this song will never be lost on the biographers of Rafi. This put Rafi in a higher orbit, gave him a position of primacy amongst the contemporary singers. It also loosened the trance like grip of Saigal over the male singing milieu.

This also, in my view, is one of the trilogy of songs – the other two being shaam-e-gham ki kasam (Footpath) and Ye shaam ke tanahaayiyan (Aah).  In each, the lover forlorn is distraught, pining, waiting in vain, symbolized by the night in descent.  In each, there is a resigned acceptance of the realities, and yet the wait!

Suhani raat dhal chuki (Dulari, 1949) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Rafi with Naushad on stage

Tarari Tarari (Dastan)

This Rafi-Suraiya duet perfectly lifts the on-screen in-motion chemistry of the overly clad yet sensuous Suraiya and apparently casual but in-love Raj.

Ta ra ri aa ra ri aa ra ri
ye saavan rut tum aur hum
dil naache re chham-chham-chham

Aankhon mein tum le
ke pyaar aa gaye
gulshan mein bankar

Bahaar aa gaye
dekho woh kaliyon ko aai hansi
baadal ki chhaayaa
mein naache khushi
tu hai to phir kyaa hai gham

Kahataa hai mera
dil chaliye wahan
har din ho saawan
hi saawan jahaan
hum-tum ho rimajhimkaa

Ik saaz ho
bas teri aur meri aawaaz ho
gaayen mil-mil ke haradam
ta ra ra ra ram ta ra ra ra ram

Purist Naushad Ali pulling a rabbit out of his hat – a song with unmistakable trappings of western music.  Shakeel is simple yet his words have a visual impact – the love seeking a perpetuity in elemental ecstasy! This Rafi-Suraiya duet perfectly lifts the on-screen in-motion chemistry of the overly clad yet sensuous Suraiya and apparently casual but in-love Raj. As I tune into it, I feel as if levitating, such is the audio-visual impact of this song.

For a song of 1950, it was ahead of its time by some distance.

Tarari tarari (Dastan, 1950) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Suraiya and Mohammed Rafi

Ye zindagi ke mele (Mela)

I find this Shakeel muse highly philosophical, very engaging. And now that I have slipped into the evening of my life, it engages more. Shakeel is dead objective when he contrasts the individual temporariness with the larger permanence:

Ye zindagi ke mele
duniya mein kam na honge
afasos hum na hoge
hogi yahi bahaare
ulfat ki yaadagaare
bigdegi aur banegi
duniya yahi rahegi
hoge yahin jhamele

Afsos hum na honge

I love the tinge of regret inherent in afsos hum na honge! Shakeel has mercifully desisted from ‘aatama amar hai’ doctrine that gives a comforting assurance of individual perpetuation even if in a form mutated. Shakeel skips mutations and instead talks of the essential macro-micro integrity:

Duniya hai mauj e dariya
qatare ki zindagi kyaa
paani mein mil ke paani
anjaam ye ke phaani

This is so beautiful an aphorism: I am but a speck in the larger creation! Shakeel reminds one of the celebrated Upanishadic conception:

पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते 
पूर्णश्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते

That is full; this is full.
This fullness has been projected from that fullness.
When this fullness merges in that fullness,
all that remains is fullness.

Shakeel too is referring to the separated speck merging in the whole – and losing itself, perishing, becoming non-existent or in popular lingo: mukti paa gaya!

Ye zindagi ke mele (Mela, 1948) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Rafi

More saiyan ji utarenge paar ho (Uran Khatola)

Uran Khatola has nine songs, each a hit, each enthralls even now – over sixty years since the film was made.  In the midst of some classy compositions, I pulsate a tad more with two scores that have verve, pace and exceptional flow – the first one is Mera salaam le ja... and the other More saiyan ji utarenge paar.

The cinematic execution of Mera salaam le ja is bizarre – the girls on the ground chasing and keeping pace with a flying plane while sending their love to the flier all the while! And even the machine obliges to the love entreaties as it comes down crashing.

Mera salaam le ja in Uran Khatola

I will put More saiyan ji utarenge paar ahead of the two though only by a whisker. The reason: the boatmen’s cry haiya re haiya that gives the song a distinct and gripping momentum. I love the way Shakeel’s poem is tethered to this.  It is akin to sakhi in Aaj mere man mein koi bansuri bajai (Aan) with sakhi serving as a point of lyrical, as also musical, repose in this equally beautiful song.

More saiyan ji utarenge paar, Shakeel does not miss on words – she beseeching the river to flow but placidly, to take her lover ashore, safely! The antara that engages me:

Taal, taliya duniya maane
dil ka saagar kohu na jaane
main jaanu ya mora yaar ho…..

The sea (of emotions) within – the sea unfathomable – shared only by me and my yaar! Yaar – sounds the odd word out, especially the language used here in the song.  But on a rethink, perhaps the most effective word, as, in the context, it betrays a sea of intimacy !

More saiyan ji utarenge paar (Uran Khatola, 1955) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Lata Mangeshkar

Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali (Mother India)

Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali
roye mata pita unki duniya chali

Bhaiyya behna ke dil ko lagi thes re
meri kismat mein jana tha pardes re
chhod kar apne babul ka aangana chali
pee ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali

Bhaiyya baba ne sukh mohe sare diye
more gaune me chand aur sitare diye
saath le ke mai sara gaganava chali
pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali

Koi gun dhang na mujh me koi baat hai
mori chudiyo ki laaj ab tore haath hai
tore sang mai jivan bhar ko sajna chali
pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali

The bidayi geet of Mother India by Shamshad is even better than Saigal’s babul mora.

One can see Shakeel pouring his heart out while penning this bidayi geet – the father in him taking charge of the poet. In three short stanzas, he gives words to the emotions of the girl poised to step on the demarcation of life called marriage.

Shakeel gives words to the emotions of the girl poised to step on the demarcation of life called marriage.

In my times and the times earlier, especially in rural India, It was, for a girl, a journey in the unknown, potentially hazardous and traumatic. The society in general and the family in particular hardly did anything to prepare her for the event, Instead and unfortunately, hammered in her head notions weird and indubitably wrong: that sex is a dirty word, that the very thought of it is a sin, and that pati (husband) is parameshwar! Ironically, however, one night, the so called suhaag raat, the poor innocent girl was left to suffer the ‘dirtiest sinful’ action on the part of a man deemed parameshwar! Deep shock and trauma often followed, and by the time she understood that parameshwar was a mere mortal and cohabitation an existential requirement, she was through her prime often begetting in the inter-regnum a child or two without experiencing the womanhood in its true sense. For some girls, the first night might have been a silent rape, for they were forbidden, by their own people, to raise a hue and cry.

Shakeel knew it all and encapsulated that in one sentence: Meri churion ki laaj ab tere haath hai. She knew, her virtuosity would be of no avail, nor the bounties and the gifts she brought along. And her vulnerability is almost palpable as she pleads:

Koi gun dhang na mujh me koi baat hai
Mori chudiyo ki laaj ab tore haath hai

Meri churion ki laaj ab tere haath hai – this was the most critical part of the marriage that went by the name of a girl’s fate. If the man was good, love-eased her into normalcy, took her along, the togetherness blossomed, otherwise a perpetual nightmare for the girl.

Meri churion ki laaj ab tere hath hai – it is Shakeel’s shukti on the status of married women not in too distant a past. Fortunately, times have changed for the better at least on this point.

Pi ke ghar aaj pyari dulhaniya chali (Mother India, 1957) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Shamshad Begum

Holi aayi re kanhai rang chhalke (Mother India)

My favourite Holi song.  I am just possessed by its flow, its beautiful words in popular lingo delivered with a grip and aplomb by Shamshad – all ensconced in Naushad’s soulful desi lilt.

I love this number for another reason. It invariably transports me to days when I was young – when Holi was but another name for a whiff of freedom, when the otherwise rigid and regimented society consciously looked, on this chosen day, the other way to the indiscretion of those young at heart, to their romantic forays and advances, to their indulgences – allowed the flush of surging emotions to pass for the colours of Holi. Jaane kahan gaye woh din! In fact, in this age of the Individual, with society progressively becoming marginalised in handling man-woman relationship, Holi too is losing out as an event looked-forward to. Instead, the distinctly elitist Valentine Day that dares an overt and unabashed confession to love, or whatever that may be, has fast caught the fancy of this generation in a hurry. Holi is in the real risk of getting reduced to an annual ritual and eventually dated. Alas!

mohe bhaye na harjai rang halake

Holi aayi re kanhai is a song of the lovers, of the seekers, and also of those circumstanced un-complemented, unquenched in love, hopelessly.

Each antara in this Shakeel poem is a gem. I cannot resist commenting on at least one:
Chhoote na rang aisi rang de chunariya
dhobaniya dhoye chahe saari umariya
ho man ko rang dega sanvariya
mohe bhaye na harjai mohe bhaye na
mohe bhaye na harjai rang halake
suna de zara bansuri
Holi aayi re kanhai
rang chhalake suna de zara bansuri

Give me a love-hue that is time defying – and comes the rejoinder – the loved one will imprint your inner being! What follows is a quip, a finality and the punch line: Mohe bhaye na harjai rang halake – I resent the seek-all flippancy! Shakeel’s use of harjai rang halke for womanizers is exceptional – the reflection of a genius! And then the refrain to the effect: enchant me my beloved, for I am brimming in this season of love!

Holi aayi re kanhai rang chhalke (Mother India, 1957) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Shamshad Begum

Chundariya katati jaaye re (Mother India)

This is no ordinary song. It is a statement on the plight of our farmers, their uncertain existence often dehumanising. The situation now is no better, has only worsened with frequent farmer-suicides not even considered worthy of news headlines.

Consider each para of this remarkable poem – each expression emanating from the damning stark realities on the ground.

The first stanza:

Chundariya katati jaaye re
umariya ghatati jaaye re 
kaam kathin hai jeewan thhoda

pagla man ghabraaye

Shakeel laments the haplessness of the farmer

Shakeel laments the haplessness of the farmer, the battle he cannot possibly win or is losing progressively: a daunting task to be achieved with ever diminishing resources and, alas, the time too is running out!

The second stanza:
Dukh dard sahen banjaare
bhaiyya dhoop mein dekhen taaren
din raat bahaayen paseenaa ham

kuchh haath na aaye hamaare
hamari saari mehnat maayaa

thagwa thag le jaaye

A most poignant commentary on our farmers – I till the land, I sweat, I toil and yet I am landless (on my own land)! I am being duped of the fruit of my labour, my possessions. Look again at the expression: thagwa thag le jaye. Thagwa lekar jaaye would have served. This is intended – to underscore the coercion inherent in the loot.

hamari saari mehnat maayaa
thagwa thag le jaaye

The third stanza:

Dharti pe kitne baaramaase
beet gaye re aake Rama
beete gaye re aake 

Duniya ke liye hai leelaa teri
hamre bhaag mein phaake Rama
hamre bhaag mein phaake

Kaagaz ho to baanch le Rama
bhaag na baanchi jaaye

Shakeel has questions implicit in it: why abject acceptance of poverty and want in the name of destiny; and why destiny is so consistent in bestowing only penury and hunger to the poor?

Last stanza:

Sansaar mein tere loot machi
aur jaan ke pad gaye laale 
ab rok janam ki chakki re

sansaar chalaane waale 
kaal padaa hai roti kaa

aur duniyaa badhti jaaye

This is a stand-alone stanza, almost. Shakeel’s concern takes into its sweep the whole mankind and its survival. Ab rok janam ki chakki re – control population before the humanity turns into a self-destruction, all its development indices notwithstanding! If Shakeel had known that water underneath was drying up, raising the scary specter of water-riots, he would have replaced roti by paani in the last sentence!

This poem of Shakeel is not as celebrated as Sahir’s Utopian muse Woh subah kabhi to or Shailendra’s optimism Nanhe munne bachche, for Shakeel is firmly perched on the rock of distressing realities – he is not selling dreams!

Chundariya katati jaaye re (Mother India, 1957) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Shamshad Begum

Read the rest of this exploration in Shakeel-Naushad: Classy Confluence, Seamless Flow – Part 2

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Born in 1950, Vijay Kumar’s ancestral roots were in Uttar Pradesh. He took early schooling in Ludhiana, Punjab; secondary school and college education in Kanpur; a post-graduate in Statistics, and much later, obtained a law degree from the Delhi University. A government job brought him to Delhi, where he had the opportunity to handle national policies on education and culture. His last professional engagement was in the Ministry of Tourism, where he was the Director, heading the division responsible for the promotion of education and skills specific to the tourism sector. Vijay Kumar is a recipient of the National Hospitality Education Award 2011-12, in recognition of his contribution towards skill development initiatives for the tourism and hospitality sector. His early childhood was shaped by a familial milieu that was quasi rural, with songs and music for every occasion. His mother had a good memory for Kabir and Tulsidas and she recited them. This music sensitization mutated into a love for the Hindi film music as he grew.
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3 thoughts on “Shakeel-Naushad: Classy Confluence, Seamless Flow – 1

  • Anoop Gadodia

    Their’s was a perfect bonding.
    You have executed a difficult task in selecting the songs.
    Please don’t take it otherwise, i wish to post my comments:

    1. Chalo mun Ganga Jamuna teer was rendered by D.V.Paluskar whom i call Divine Paluskar.
    2. Mohe panghat pe was a traditional ‘cheez‘ developed as a film song.
    3. I guess opening portion of Mera salaam leja is in voice of Shamshad Begum.
    4. Holi aayi re had one more beautiful stanza.It is on 78 rpm disc.
    5. The correct line is — Jundariya kat ti jaaye.

    Waiting eagerly for part 2.

    Anoop Gadodia

  • Anoop Gadodia

    The correct line is –JUNDARIYA kat ti jaaye re.
    I had got it corrected in reprint of Geet Kosh vol.3 (Hamraaz).
    In UP JWAR is called Jundari. You can see in film, they are cutting Jwar.
    This is typical example of UP connection of the Duo.

  • Dilip Apte

    This is invaluable treasure Vijay Kumar. What a fantastic write-up. I have to share it. I wish you seriously put your pen to paper and convert these essays into a book. I am an ardent fan of your writings.

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