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

March 4, 2017 | By and

There are some songs that rise high above the regular and become proverbial. Such is the everlasting magic of this exquisite ghazal from Adalat (1958) which says volumes more than simple words could ever convey. Anand Desai (in maroon font) and Antara explore the finer nuances of this quietly introspective ghazal, written by Rajinder Krishan, composed by Madan Mohan and sung by Lata Mangeshkar, which connects with the listener at a personal level.

Nargis in Adalat

When in the dimly lit mehfil, the aging, tired and visibly broken Nargis, picks up the first aalap, gently, she closes her eyes as the notes climb higher.

Majboor bahut karta hai yeh dil toh zubaan ko..
kuch aisi hi haalat hai ke hum kuch nahin kehte

This exactly is the dilemma with this extraordinarily beautiful ghazal. When you come to speak about this song, words fall short and yet there is so much to say.

When in the dimly lit mehfil, the aging, tired and visibly broken Nargis, picks up the first aalap, gently, she closes her eyes as the notes climb higher. The camera in an extreme closeup captures every bit of the pain – the shock of greying hair below the dark sari, the faded bindi, the lines of struggle on the face.

unko yeh shika-a-a-a-yat hai ke hum……
kuch nahin kehte

The words come out, soaked in anguish and you get the feeling she is wrenching the words out of her heart. Sitting in the middle of a circle of listeners and musicians, in a crowd yet alone and lonely – she is singing for them who have come to her kotha to hear her and yet you know she is singing for just one person, the “unko”.

apni to yeh aadat hai ke hum
kuch nahin kehte

The shot cuts to Pran, with sinister intentions written all over him opening the door for Pradeep Kumar who stops in his tracks as he is about to get out of his car. Pran watches Pradeep Kumar’s visible surprise at hearing something acutely familiar. Pran knows he has trapped his prey – his narrow, paan-stained smirk says it all.

Adalat 1958

Pran knows he has trapped his prey – his narrow, paan-stained smirk says it all.

For Pradeep Kumar, it is a stepping back into yesterday, once more. That voice, those words he had never forgotten, just pushed them back into a distant past. Suddenly, they burst through as a deluge of memories.

Madan Mohan picked Raag Malgunji and Taal Dadra to bring this ghazal written by close friend and famed lyricist Rajinder Krishan to a beautiful outcome. Remarkable is how he demonstrated so much respect and restraint in the musical arrangement to manifest the beauty of the Lyrics. Starting with two soft Sitar bridges in the intro at 0.27 and 0.34, he makes Lata pick the alaap almost as an A Capella until you strain to hear the underlying Santoor.

Then at 0.38 almost as if it was begging to start, the Dadra makes an off cue entry and plods sincerely all through. The Sitar plays its bridges after every …’kuch nahi kehte’ as if reminding us of its presence.

Just before ‘Majboor magar karta hai yeh dil zubaaan ko’, listen to the single slightly extended Sitar bridge [1.42 till 1.44]  and the unusual stretch of the word ‘Zuba…..aan ko’ with a Lachak and the Ghisa’s on the Tabla. Just beautiful.

unko yeh shikayat

The storm isn’t outside – it is raging within

kuch aisi hi haalat hai ke hum
unko yeh shikayat hai ke hum……
apni to yeh aadat hai ke hum
us par yeh inaayat hai ke hum

The Kaafiyas – Shikayat and Aadat followed by Shikayat and Inaayat add to the delightful rhythm.

The Radeef {refrain} builds the pattern – Kuchh nahin kehtey, Kuch nahin kehtey.

Listen to the soft almost unnoticed entry of the Sarangi {at 1.19 till 1.28} where it comes into play. An instrument immutable to a Kotha, the sarangi gets a full 9 seconds interlude just before “Majboor bahut karta hai yeh dil toh zubaan ko..[2]….kuch aisi hi haalat hai ke hum kuch nahin kehte …..”

Then Madanji throws a surprise in the next interlude beginning {at 2.19} on a Sitar the Sarangi plays an underdog for a full 9 seconds just before kehne ko bahot kuch tha agar kehne pe aatey….[2}

Madan Mohan with lyricist Rajinder Krishen

Madan Mohan with lyricist Rajinder Krishan

And then he surgically deploys a threat.

Kuchh kehane pe tufan
Utha leti hai duniya
Utha leti hai duniya
Ab isape qayamat hai ke

Hum kuch nahin kehte

Notice the soft variation in the Dadra where Madan Mohan employs a Tak a Tirikit filler between Dha tin tin taa dhin dhin – a marvelous adaptation in Music. The use of the Triangle imbibes the piousness all through. The huge chandelier overhead rocks slowly as if on cue as Lata’s voice sharply raises the pitch with “tufaan utha leti hai duniya”. The storm isn’t outside – it is raging within.

And Lata’s closure is worth repeated hears – from 4.36 till 4.55 where she slows down to almost a dirge and stretches on the two words ‘kuch nahi keh…tey’ and ‘Shikaay….aat hai’ and in the latter one she almost raises the octave.

The beauty of these words lies in their ability to connect with the listener at his or her own level. You feel as if the words speak exactly what you would feel at some point of time when the world stops listening to you, when your words are picked up and swirled out of context, raising a storm that was never meant to be.

Says Sangeeta Gupta, the daughter of music director Madan Mohan, “In 1958, Adalat became a turning point as each song was appreciated by listeners and Madan Mohan’s peers alike. The Nargis-Pradeep Kumar and Pran starrer did not succeed but the music is remembered till today. The highlight of the score were the three ghazals, all solos by Lata Mangeshkar, which gave him the recognition of a fine composer of ghazals. Rajinder Krishan ji’s lyrics as always were inspiring for the  composer. An adlib version of Unko yeh shikayat hai also features in the film.”

adalat 1958

The adlib version in the Inter Collegiate Mushaira

Explains reputed music collector and writer Peeyush Sharma, “In the initial few reels of the film, there is a scene of an Inter Collegiate Mushaira where Pradeep Kumar is an anchor and Nargis, a participant. Here she recites, in her voice, Unko yeh shikayat hai ke hum kuchh nahi kehte (mukhra and first verse). Needless to say, the ghazal and the singer leave an impact. Years have gone with the lovers being estranged. Age has caught up for signs of age are now visible in the lines on the face and greying hair. Thus, many years later when Pran, the pimp, brings the now aged, Pradeep Kumar to this mehfil he is surprised to hear the same nazm being sung right from the moment he alights from his car in the street below.”

On screen we see Pran’s devilish eyes luring his prey up the steps, reminding us of a similar set up in Amar Prem in the later years in Raina beeti jaaye  where Madan Puri did a Pran-type enticing welcome to the unsuspecting hero who is drawn to the kotha purely because of the magic of the voice. Remember the famous dialogue, “Arrey Anand babu! Ayeeye aayeeye Anand Babu. Aap aur is mandir mein? Mujhe pehchana nahi?”

I once remember telling Rakesh Anand Bakshiji, a dear friend too, that these dialogues are so firmly embedded in the soul of this particular song that I am certain your Dad wrote them too as a part of the Lyrics. Bakshiji took pride in writing lyrics that synced with the Character, Screenplay and Dialogues.

Madan Mohan listening to newly recorded song at home with Lataji on his Akai Spool recorder.

Madan Mohan listening to newly recorded song at home with Lata Mangeskhar on his Akai Spool recorder. Pic:

Adalat was a home project for Pradeep Kumar, as the story and direction were by his brother, Kalidas. The direction of the film was average and could not make the film convincing, so was the cinematography by H S Kwatra. The film was given an A certificate by censor board and that adversely affected its box-office prospects. It released in November 1958.

There is more to the music of Adalat. “Though released on disc, the song Jaana tha hamse door bahaane banaa liye was deleted from the film,” says Sangeeta Gupta. “The song Jaa jaa re jaa saajanaa is in two different tunes and versions sung by Lataji & Ashaji. In the film they are joined. Originally these were released on records as two separate songs.”

Adds Peeyush Sharma, “Another peculiar fact is that along with R L Suri and Ghanshyam, who were regular assistants to Madan Mohan, in this film one finds Chic Chocolate as an assistant too. Chic was the well known assistant of C Ramchandra.”

Another everlasting ghazal in Adalat is Lata Mangeshkar’s Yun hasraton ke daag mohabbat mein dho liye while Zameen se hamein aasman par (Rafi and Asha Bhosle) is remembered as one of the most romantic duets. Says Peeyush Sharma, “Rajendra Krishan was a man of all seasons. He could write all varieties of songs. In this film he is the lyricist, screenplay and dialogue writer.”

Adalat may not have left its mark at the box office. But for its ghazals especially, it has carved out its place as a milestone in Hindi film music.

More to read in The Song Story

When Cinema Matched Music Beat by Beat: Nadiya Kinare in Abhimaan

Love is… Claiming Rights: Teri Zulfon Se Judaai to Nahin Mangi Thi

The Mesmerizing Moods of Jaane Kya Tune Kahi (Pyaasa)

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


Creative Writing

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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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11 thoughts on “Unko Yeh Shikayat Hai Ke Hum Kuch Nahin Kehte – When Silence Speaks Volumes

  • A Bharat

    A nice emotional exploration of a sensitive song by our indefatigable duo!

    Actually the journey into Shayiri by the outstanding pair of MM and RK began practically with the beginning of the MM canon. As early as 1952 we have the heart breaking “Main pagal mera manava pagal” (ASHIYANA).

    Then the terrific scores of Gateway of India and Dekh Kabira Roya. And who can forget the scene of a despondent Geeta Bali at the piano singing “Hum pyar me jalnewalonko chain kahan aaraam kahan” in Jailor. Even after Adalat the list keeps moving all through the 60s. Rajendra Krishen was at his best when writing for MM as for C Ramchandra or Hemant Kumar.

    1. Antara

      Thank you Bharat ji,

      “An emotional exploration of a sensitive song by our indefatigable duo” – great feedback from a person who is himself a knowledge powerhouse of music 🙂

      The songs you have mentioned indeed are all time favourites, especially ‘Hum pyar mein jalnewaalon ko” – i listen to it every other day as it is in my phone.

      Behlaaye jab dil na behle, to aise behlaayein” – what expressions and such a connect they establish immediately along with the exquisite music.

      Thank you again for the ‘wow’ comment 🙂

  • Silhouette Magazine

    Some comments on this article received on Facebook:

    Khantha Mahadevan: Surgically precise and delightful analysis of a great favorite.

    Vijay Kumar: A song deconstructed holistically, in its larger cinematic background. Beautiful piece of writing.

    If one considers the words sans the music, those will almost pass for a routine conversation in the lingo of the man in the street. That in fact is the strength of the lyrics – the words not overwhelming the end – which is to convey the pith and substance of wisdom that owes itself to often encountered existential strands. But it is the music of MM that universalizes the acceptance of this wisdom beyond its cinematic context. I have seen people taking recourse to the mukhada of this ghazal to extricate themselves out of difficult and uncomfortable deliberations in formal meetings.

    Anand Desai: Vijay Kumarji MashAllah! And Madanji respected the lyrics to an extent that he let the singing be dominant through the and the Music as an excellent supportive unobtrusive non dominant Crutch

  • Sriram Shanmuganathan

    Great analysis of a great song. Well done Anand and Antara

    Another brilliant song of Madan Mohan/Rajinder Kishen is from the film Jailor
    Hum Pyar mein jalne waalon ko .. picturised on Geeta Bali

  • Bimal Chadha

    RK -M.M. were unsurpasable as a lethal combo.
    Two very good family friends, RK used to stay with us the season on Poona races.
    Dad taught me the nuances of fine ghazal appreciation and singing through such ghazals.
    Anand, a gifted man, a connoisseur, through his deconstruction of the ghazal, brings about the finer tonal appreciation of Music.
    An Israel hit n run tactic, leaves you stunned !

  • Bimal Chadha

    And most certainly Antara for collating and weaving the story together as a pleasant narrative.
    Such posts besides being ‘hatke’ are mind stimulating to read the views of the experts.
    ‘Izzhar-e- Kamtari hota hai’
    Full electronic power to those magical fingers and minds

    1. Antara

      Thank you so much Bimal ji,

      “An Israel hit n run tactic, leaves you stunned !” – Trust you to come up with such a wonderful description of Anand ji’s music analysis 🙂

      Thank you for appreciating the narrative. The song is very well picturised with some striking symbols and performed excellently on screen and thus made it easier for me to pen a few thoughts.

      Thanks again! Grateful 🙂

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