घर आतिशों के बीच भी क़ा’इम था और सबात
शबनम बरसने जब लगी ये कैसे जल गया
(Amidst all the fires, the house stood intact on its own
How could then only a few drops of dew burn it down)
Juxtaposition of heat and cold (in all its variants) is a common device used by poets to establish a paradox or oxymoron. Jigar Moradabadi put dewdrops and fire side by side in this couplet:
ओस पड़े बहार पर आग लगे कनार में
तुम जो नहीं कनार में लुत्फ़ ही क्या बहार में
(Dew drops on bounty of spring light a fire in my embrace
A spring without you in my arms is bereft of all grace)
Allama Iqbal, in his nazm Sair-e-Falak, turned a commonly held belief/concept on its head to create a contradiction. Though not strictly a paradox, he established hell, which is conventionally believed to be burning and hot, as a freezing cold place that would embarrass even the coldest of places. (I call it “not strictly a paradox”, because in Islam, one of the pits of hell – Zamhareer - is indeed known for its freezing character).
खुन्क ऐसा कि जिस से शर्मा कर
कुर्रा-ए-ज़म्हरीर हो रू-पोश
(It was so cold that being embarrassed by it
The coldest of places was concealing its face)
ये मक़ाम-ए-खुन्क जहन्नुम है
नार से, नूर से तेही आगोश
(This cold place is called Hell
It is deprived of fire and light)
When it comes to lyrics of Hindi film songs there is no dearth of this paradox of heat and cold. In fact it can almost be a called a cliché when it comes to usage of paradoxes and oxymorons in lyrics, next only to probably ‘sounds of silence’.
Let’s explore how various lyricists have used this in Hindi films…
In this song from Brandy Ki Botal (1939), the lyricist talks about fire trapped in the water inside a bottle (भरी है आग मतवाले तेरी बोतल के पानी में…).
In this song from Jhoola (1962), Rajinder Krishna is curious how the water has caught fire (आग पानी में लगी कैसे…).
Hasrat Jaipuri talks about cold sighs causing heartburn in this song from Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (दिल जलाने के लिए ठंडी आहें न भरो…).
Majrooh laments the ‘burning’ of solitude in the cold weather in Teen Deviyan (उफ्फ कितनी ठंडी है ये रुत, सुलगे है तन्हाई मेरी…)
Shakeel Badayuni used this too as an oxymoron - ठंडी आग
Another common variant of this paradox is where moon or moonlight, conventionally accepted as ‘cold’ is seen causing a burn. For example, Prem Dhawan in this song from Private Secretary talks about moonlight causing heartburn (जा जा रे चंदा जा रे, तेरी चाँदनी भी मेरा जियरा जलाये…).
In Stree, Bhart Vyas went a step ahead and even made this more explicit by specifying that although the moon is cold, it burns the body (ये चन्दा शीतल कहलाता फिर क्यों मेरे अंग जलाता…). He goes further and talks about full moon night turning to fire (… आग बनी पूनम)
Another very common usage in Hindi film songs has been of the relation between monsoon/rains (सावन) and fire (आग). Although it had been used before by other lyricists, going by the sheer number of times he used it, one could say that this imagery was almost patented by Anand Bakshi. Here’s one example from Amar Prem (1971) (सावन जो अगन लगाये उसे कौन बुझाये)
Among all the lyricists who have written songs for Hindi films, if there is one name that is almost synonymous with the usage of paradox/oxymoron, it has to be Gulzar. If you pick up any song of his at random, chances are that you will find at least one instance of a paradox. So it is only natural that this paradox of heat and cold is amply visible in his oeuvre as well. In this song from Aastha (1996), he finds ‘drops of fire’ to be colder than ice (बर्फ से ठंडी आग की बूँदें…).
This was just a random sampling of a few songs written by different lyricists. There are surely countless other examples of this paradox in Hindi film songs.