10 Most Romantic Songs in Hindi Cinema – Part II
If ‘abhi na jao’… is an argument about the value of being together, ‘accha ji main haari’… is equally sensuous argument about how difficult life can be without your partner.
Continued from 10 Most Romantic Songs in Hindi Cinema – Part I
Way back in 1967, Satyajit Ray, in an essay titled “Those Songs”, took an amused look at the practice of using songs in films. He wrote, “If I were asked to find room for six songs in a story that is not expressly a ‘musical’, I would have to throw up my hands and give up.
If I were forced, I would either revolt or go berserk. And yet six songs per film, per every film, is the accepted average, and at no point in the history of Indian films has there been an uproar against it except from a tiny highbrow minority who write about it in snickering terms in the pages of little magazines whose readership would barely fill a decent-sized cinema.”
Despite all criticism, songs have become such an integral part of feature films ever since the inception of cinema in India, that those handful of films that do not have songs actually become noticed for this unusual and “offbeat” experiment.
But such films (remember Kanoon and Ittefaq to name a couple?) can be counted on the fingers. The overwhelming majority of films have carried on the with the “songs-and-dances tradition” through the decades and continue to do so today.
In the concluding part of the two-part series, (the first part listed 5 eternal romantic songs), here are the remaining 5 songs that remain etched in memory, songs that every lover identifies with, songs that have portrayed love subtly, sensitively without brazenness.
Another quality common to all these 10 eternal romantic songs is that they had been seamlessly woven into the narrative of the film in a way that the story grew through them, unlike most film songs which are put in purely as a musical relief.
Waqt ne kiya, kya haseen sitam
This song from Guru Dutt’s celebrated Kaagaz Ke Phool breaks ground in many ways than one. The undercurrent of passion is apparent here and yet the two actors don’t even come close to each other. It’s a song of despair and yet there are no tearful adieus.
It talks of intense love and agonising separation and yet every emotion is expressed not in physical terms, but through a wonderful interplay of light and darkness which heightens the chemistry between Shanti (Waheeda Rehman) and Suresh Sinha (Guru Dutt) as also their helplessness.
In the wide expanse of the empty studio, where the sets of the film Devdas have come up, Shanti the lead actress and the successful director Sinha (who is going through a strained marriage) share a poignant moment which brings them nearly together and then tears them away.
A beam of light streaking in through the studio door almost plays the role of a line of demarcation between them as Shanti (dressed as Paro) and Sinha realise their deeply felt need for each other and yet find themselves bound by social norms.
Geeta Dutt’s melancholic voice echoes in the background “Beqaraar dil is tarah mile, jis tarah kabhi hum juda na thhe”, and the sun breaks through the studio roof, casting an ethereal beam of light between the two of them (a wonderful innovation in lighting created with the help of a pair of ordinary mirrors and sambarani to get a parallel beam).
Shanti and Sinha stand rooted to their ground but nothing can stop their souls from merging into one, into those rays of light. Sinha looks intently into Shanti’s eyes, her face glowing in the half light, trying to hard to control the storm raging within him.
As he sits helplessly down on the prop of a bullock cart, Shanti slowly walks away (“jayenge kahaan soojhta nahin, chal pade magar raah pata nahin…”), fully aware that the two are bound by social mores and not destined to unite.
The irony of fate takes on tragic dimensions. Kaifi Azmi’s deeply emotional lyrics, S D Burman’s soulful music and Geeta Dutt’s pathos-laden voice take this song to a level no other song has been able to reach.
Baahon mein chale aao
This song makes the grade purely because of its mischievous sweetness and smart handling. Countless love songs have been woven around the boy trying to seduce the girl and the girl shying away. But Hindi film directors have generally cried away from letting the girl take the initiative. This song from Raghunath Jhalani’s
Anamika audaciously ventures into taboo territory with Anamika (Jaya Bhaduri) trying her best to woo the hesitant poet Devender (Sanjeev Kumar) in her room in the dead of the night.
Anamika pretends to be fast asleep as Devender, feeling guilty from his earlier misbehaviour, steps into her room quietly to simply look at her for a moment. She playfully clasps his hand as he tries to tuck in the sheets and just wouldn’t let go.
An amused Devender looks on indulgently as Anamika, with her single-plaited charm and clad in an oversized kurta and lungi (borrowed from her heavyset host) beckons him seductively with the bold words, “Baahon mein chale aao…humse sanam kya parda”.
As the notes climb higher, a jittery Devender tries unsuccessfully to quieten her with a “Ssshh…” But Anamika is least worried about waking up the household and pursues him mischievously, dragging him out on to the moonlit terrace till Devender manages to rather unwillingly leave her and go back to his room.
The scene is no great shakes when it comes to camera work (in fact there are some odd filler shots in between) but it is surely one to be remembered for the wonderfully playful chemistry between Jaya and Sanjeev Kumar apart from the song’s own richness of melody (RD Burman at his best) and Lata Mangeshkar’s sensuous rendition. And it shows how the potentially tricky situation of “girl seduces boy” can appear so intimate and innocuous without a tinge of unrefinement.
Abhi na jaao chhodkar, ke dil abhi bhara nahin
Perhaps all lovers have said this sometime to their beloveds, maybe aloud, maybe in their hearts because for every lover, the time spent with his love never seems enough.
This hugely popular song from Dev Anand’s Hum Dono touches a chord with every lover who has experienced the pangs of separating from his lover after a romantic rendezvous and wants to desperately steal a few moments more together.
As the evening melts into the night and Meeta (Sadhana) prepares to leave, Mahesh Anand (Dev Anand) starts humming softly, pleading her to stay some more, “Abhi na jaao chhodkar, ke dil abhi bhara nahin”. Meeta is caught in a quandary. She would like to stay but is worried that the night is deepening and the stars are out and she must get back home.
Each of them tries to persuade the other in a loving argument – Meeta (her concerned look clearly reflecting her dilemma) begs Mahesh not to stop her or she won’t be able to go at all and Mahesh argues that if she leaves him like this, how would she face the bigger challenges that life awaits them together.
The song, written by Sahir, composed by Jaidev and sung by Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhosle, masterfully brings to fore the eternal tussle lovers go through when calling an end to a romantic evening together.
Accha ji main haari, chalo maan jao na
Romantic film songs have had a genre of the “roothna-manana” songs but none of the scores of songs strung on this theme come anywhere close to the intense chemistry that this song from Kaalapaani creates.
Karan Mehra (Dev Anand, the archetypal city-slick romantic hero of the fifties) is annoyed at his girlfriend Asha (the gorgeous Madhubala with her awesome screen persona) who is trying every trick in the book to plead guilty, ask for forgiveness and woo him.
Asha’s every move is aimed at pacifying her angry lover – she flirts, wrinkles her nose, smiles coyly, flutters her eyelashes, folds her hands to beg forgiveness and even warns him that he won’t be able to walk even four steps without her but to no avail.
Karan claims he has seen through her love and can jolly well go it alone, walks away from her, mimics her plaintive appeals and plays hard to please. The “you-can’t-do-without-me” and “yes-i-can-thank-you” argument barely cloaks the obvious intimacy between the two and their intense longing for each other.
Majrooh Sultanpuri and SD Burman team up with Rafi and Asha Bhosle for this classic situation song. If abhi na jao… is an argument about the value of being together, accha ji main haari… is an equally sensuous argument about how difficult life can be without your partner. None of these songs hammer on words like “pyar”, “ishq”and “mohabbat” and yet love shines through in every frame.
Chingari koi bhadke, toh saawan usey bujhaaye
This song from Shakti Samanta’s Amar Prem, does not fall in the typical genre of love songs. Neither is this a “Milan geet” nor a “Viraha geet” nor a song about two people in love. Its rather a song about loneliness, about betrayal in love, about hopes being dashed, about despair and pain.
And yet this song perhaps best portrays the beauty of companionship in love, through the eyes of Anand Babu (Rajesh Khanna), a rich but lonely businessman caught in a loveless marriage and a golden-hearted prostitute Pushpa, who had been thrown out of her home by her husband and sold to a brothel.
Shot in an almost life-like set of the Hooghly river, with the Howrah Bridge framing the backdrop, the song explores how a quiet evening boat ride can turn into an introspective look at the vacuum-like emptiness of life.
The boatman ignites the “angeethi”, and the glowing embers inadvertently kindle the deep inner pain within Anand. Pushpa doesn’t speak a word but her attentive eyes and comforting hands give Anand the solace he had been looking for.
The boat bobs up and down on the sparkling river lit by the evening lights in rhythm with the song, uniting the two lonely souls in an unspoken intimacy of understanding and empathy.
RD Burman draws heavily from Bhatiali folk music to compose what can arguably be called Anand Bakshi’s best lyrics and Kishore Kumar sings with all his heart and soul.
If you need an example of how love makes one unload one’s innermost hurt and pain to one’s beloved without inhibitions, this song certainly makes the mark.
This article was first published in Dearcinema.com.
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