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The Bewitching Artistry of Raat Bhi Hai Kuch Bheegi Bheegi

February 28, 2023 | By

The intoxicating dance in tune with the rustic, enthralling music of Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi has a hypnotic effect on Shirish Waghmode.

Back in the thirties, when the talkies came along in cinema, the spoken word was the be-all and end-all of everything. The cinematography was shaky, the direction was patchy, and the acting levels were maudlin and affected. But as movie-making evolved, the spoken word became a link to the events that unfolded on the screen. What took centre stage was the song and the dance. The dances — visual celebrations in themselves, fed by the various sub-cultures of this vast land — became a huge draw for the audience to flock to the theatres. They whistled, made catcalls and even threw coins at the screen. Every now and then, a heady mixture of a great song and a great dance mesmerized the viewers, giving them an experience which became a part of their existence, to remain etched in their minds forever. One such masterpiece was Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi.

The desert is silent and quiet in the night. But today is different. The moonlight pours like a silvery waterfall on a dance floor. The stars are elbowing each other to get a better view of the same — the moon is ensconced directly above the dance floor leaving the rest of the night to stumble its way towards dawn. Because today Chameli Jaan (Waheeda Rehman) is dancing.

रात भी है कुछ भीगी-भीगी
चाँद भी है कुछ मद्धम-मद्धम, (2)

तुम आओ तो आँखें खोलें,
सोई हुई पायल की छम छम

Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi
Chaand bhi hai kuch maddham maddham (2)

Tum aao to aankhein kholein
Soyi hui payal ki chham chham (2)

And the chorus goes chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham. The refrain is echoed in the anklets of Waheeda as she dances fleet-footed around the glass floor, her reflection, in frantic pursuit of her dazzling beauty. The crowd is in raptures — the stars have paled and the moon is spellbound! The refrain keeps recurring, adorning the magic of the words that beckon invitingly —

किसको बताएं, कैसे बताएं,
आज अजब है दिल का आलम,

चैन भी है, कुछ हल्का हल्का,
दर्द भी है, कुछ मद्धम मद्धम

Kisko batayein, kaise batayein,
aaj ajab hai dil ka aalam

Chain bhi hai kuch halka halka
Dard bhi kuch maddham maddham

The question has been asked — Kisko batayein, kaise batayein and there is one in the crowd who believes it is for him and him alone! He is stricken by the ravishing beauty of the twinkle-toed Waheeda and every word that follows drives the dagger deeper into his heart. The strapping dacoit Jarnail Singh (Sunil Dutt), a veteran of many a skirmish, knows he has lost the battle before it began.

Raat bhi hai

तपते दिल पर यूं गिरती है,
तेरी नज़र से, प्यार की शबनम,

जलते हुए जंगल पर जैसे
बरखा बरसे रुक-रुक थम-थम

छम-छम, छम-छम, छम-छम, छम-छम

Tapte dil par yun girti hai
Teri nazar se, pyar ki shabnam

Jalte huye jungle par jaise
Barkha barse ruk-ruk thham thham

Chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham

The words are not just loaded with stunning imagery; they come steeped in laya and taal. They dance; they put you in a trance. The consciousness is slipping. There is an intoxicating haze before the eyes of the audience as they wonder – “Is this woman real, or is she an apparition?”

होश में थोड़ी बेहोशी है,
बेहोशी में होश है कम कम,

तुझको पाने की कोशिश में,
दोनों जहाँ से खो गए हम

छम-छम, छम-छम, छम-छम, छम-छम, रात …

Hosh mein thodi behoshi hai
Behoshi mein hosh hai kam-kam

Tujhko paane ki koshish mein
Dono jahaan se kho gaye hum

Chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham chham-chham

The dacoit is used to taking trophies, gold, valuables and money. But this time he is taking home a ‘loser’s trophy’. He has lost his heart to the beauteous incarnation of femininity and he is so happy for his loss! He is taking home a doll – a living doll, the most precious of them all. A doll that will make his bed, rear his children and give him the love and warmth only a loved one can.

The song leaves you bewitched and besotted. The white-attired beauty named Waheeda glides across the mirrored floor like a swan, glamorously preening and parading her skills. Sunil Dutt looks on, ramrod straight, with blazing eyes! The music of Jaidev is as rustic and mellifluous as a folk melody can be. Sahir plays with the words, which act like silver anklets, to add rhythm to his lyrics.

And about Lata? As soon as I get the opening alaap Raat bhi hai kutchh bheegi bheegi with the first “Raaat…” in place, I promise to summon up the courage to write about it. Sometimes mortals are rudely awakened from their belief that they can capture sublime level of the artistry on display. I am not even able to capture that. The song has a hypnotic effect on me. I am that mortal who lies frozen at my desk, listening to Lata sing…
Raat bhi hai kuch bheegi bheegi

Mujhe Jeene Do, 1963 / Jaidev / Sahir Ludhianvi / Lata Mangeshkar

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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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One thought on “The Bewitching Artistry of Raat Bhi Hai Kuch Bheegi Bheegi

  • N.S.Rajan

    An excellently written ‘Ode’ to a ‘Song’.
    “Raat bhi hai kuch bhigi bhigi” ranks among those few songs in Hindi film music that leave one perplexed about which aspect of the song appealed most to one.
    Was it Jaidev’s immortal composing ability, Sahir’s wizardry with words, Lata’s spellbinding rendering or Waheeda’s captivating expressions and dance?
    The B & W effect enhances the mystery.
    A ‘complete’ song, a pleasure always to listen to and, as rightly put by you, “Hypnotising” the listener.

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