Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ghalib in Hindi Films

I realize that the title of this post can be a little misleading. This is not about Mirza Ghalib, the 1954 film by Sohrab Modi that had Bharat Bhushan and Suraiya in lead roles. I am talking about how Ghalib’s poetry has been adapted in Hindi films. Again, not Ghalib’s ghazals that were used in that film., but about adaptation of his poetry.

While searching for rare Lata Mangeshkar melodies from the 40s and 50s, I came across a ghazal from the 1950 film Aadhi Raat, composed by Husnalal Bhagatram. The song went:

दिल ही तो है तड़प गया, दर्द से भर न आए क्यूँ
रोएंगे हम हज़ार बार कोई हमें सताए क्यूँ

रोते हुए गुज़ार दी जिसने तमाम ज़िन्दगी
उसको हँसी से काम क्या कोई उसे हँसाए क्यूँ

ऐ मेरे बदनसीब दिल देख ये तेरी भूल है
तू तो ख़िज़ाँ का फूल है तुझ पे बहार आए क्यूँ

आँख में आँसू दिल में ग़म जीने को जी रहे हैं हम
मौत से पहले ज़िन्दगी ग़म से निजात पाए क्यूँ

Dil hi to hai tadap gaya dard se bhar na aaye kyuN
RoeNge hum hazaar baar koi hameiN sataye kyuN


Rote hue guzaar di jisne tamam zindagi
Usko haNsi se kaam kya koi use haNsaye kyuN


Ae mere badnaseeb dil dekh ye teri bhool hai
Tu to khizaaN ka phool hai tujh pe bahar aaye kyuN


AaNkh meiN aaNsoo dil meiN gham jine ko ji rahe haiN hum
Maut se pehle zindagi gham se nijaat paye kyuN


Just read the opening and the closing couplets: they are clearly ‘inspired’ by Ghalib’s famous ghazal:

दिल ही तो है न सन्ग-ओ-ख़िश्त दर्द से भर न आए क्यूँ
रोएंगे हम हज़ार बार कोई हमें सताए क्यूँ

क़ैद-ए-हयात-ओ-बन्द-ए-ग़म अस्ल में दोनो एक हैं
मौत से पहले आदमी ग़म से निजात पाए क्यूँ

Dil hi to hai na sang-o-khisht, dard se bhar na aaye kyuN
RoeNge hum hazaar baar koi hameiN sataye kyuN


Qaid-e-hayaat-o-band-e-gham asl meiN dono ek haiN
Maut se pehle aadmi gham se nijaat paaye kyuN


I don’t know much about what the credits of this song said when it was released, so I am not sure if one can call it plagiarism. However, it is quite clear the seemingly tough words from the original were ‘toned down’ to ensure wider comprehension. Personally, I feel that by changing the words, the intent of the original is completely lost, especially in the last couplet. The philosophical mood and existential angst of the original got transformed into a very trite depiction of personal sorrow.

Interestingly, the song is written by Asad Bhopali, who shares his pen name – Asad – with the great Mirza Ghalib.

The brings me to another song, where one of Ghalib’s couplet was modified to form the mukhda for an otherwise original, and, if I might say, very evocative poetry. I’m talking about Gulzar’s Dil DhooNdhta Hai from Mausam (1975). The modification of the opening couplet was quite significant. Consider this:

दिल ढूँढता है फिर वही फ़ुर्सत के रात दिन (गुलज़ार)
जी ढूँढता है फिर वही फ़ुर्सत कि रात दिन… (ग़ालिब)

Dil DhooNdhta Hai Phir Wohi Fursat Ke Raat Din (Gulzar)
Jee DhooNdhta Hai Phir Wohi Fursat Kih Raat Din… (Ghalib)


There are two differences in the above line. Jee (जी) was changed to Dil (दिल), apparently on Madan Mohan’s suggestion. This does not change the meaning much, but let’s look at the other modification. Gulzar got rid of the enjambement that Ghalib’s verse had. Translated into English:

The Heart searches for days and nights of leisure (Gulzar)
The heart searches for leisure, so that day and night…. (Ghalib)

Ghalib’s she’r would not make sense without the next line, which is:

बैठे रहें तसव्वुर-ए-जानाँ किये हुए

Baithe raheN tassavur-e-jaanaN kiye huye
Translation: ...Keep sitting with the thoughts of the beautiful ones

And that is what makes Ghalib’s verse so beautiful. In true mushaira tradition, it leaves the first line open-ended so that you eagerly wait for the next line. That kind of anticipation is missing from Gulzar’s version as the first line is syntactically and structurally complete.

However, Gulzar’s modification works well in the context of the song, where his character is off on a vacation and sitting with the thoughts of the beautiful ones (तसव्वुर-ए-जानाँ) is not the only thing he is seeking, as the antaras (stanzas) of the song reveal. He’s looking for leisure when he could sit with the thoughts of the beautiful ones OR laze around and enjoy the winter sun OR sleep on roof tops on a hot summer night….

So here you get two instances, one where simplification makes the poetry seem pedestrian and another where modification adds another dimension.

I am looking out for more such adaptations of Ghalib’s poetry …