Saturday, May 18, 2013

Whose line is it anyway?

निगाह नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही तो हैं जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं 

If you are fond of listening to old Hindi film songs, chances are that you would’ve across the above lines at some time or the other. After all, this line has found its way into many songs right from the 50s to the 80s.

The oldest song where I encountered this line was from Lal Pari (1954). Composed by Hansraj Bahl, the song was sung by Shamshad Begum and the lyrics were credited to Asad Bhopali. The above couplet with a minor change was used as an opening line before the mukhda of the song started.

निगाह नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही हैं वो जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं 

सामने बैठ के जब दिल को चुराए कोई
ऐसी चोरी का पता ख़ाक लगाये कोई

Nigaah Neechi Kiye … Saamne Baith Ke - Lal Pari (1954) - Shamshad Begum - Hansraj Bahl - Asad Bhopali

In the very same year, this couplet found a place in another song. The film was Darwaza (1954), and the lyricist this time was Majrooh Sultanpuri. Nashad was the composer and Shamshad Begum the singer once again. Here again, the mukhda was worded differently, but the opening couplet was the same.

निगाह नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही तो हैं जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं

तुम्हें क्या है बहाने करो निस दिन के
कोई रतियाँ गुज़ारे तारे गिन गिन के

Nigaah Neechi Kiye … Tumhe Kya Hai - Darwaza (1954) - Shamshad Begum - Nashad - Majrooh Sultanpuri

Two years on, the line appears once again, this time in with a slight grammatical variation. Shamshad Begum, once again, sang this song for Vasant Desai in Toofan Aur Diya (1956). Hasrat Jaipuri was the lyricist here.

निगाह नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हो
तुम्ही तो हो जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हो 

दिल तुमने लिया है मेरी जान मेरा दिल तुमने लिया
दिल ले के बनो न अनजान मेरा दिल तुमने लिया

Nigaah Neechi Kiye … Dil Tume Liya Hai Meri Jaan - Toofan Aur Diya (1956) - Shamshad Begum - Vasant Desai - Hasrat Jaipuri

Just when you thought that this couplet had become Shamshad Begum’s closely guarded preserve, we heard Asha Bhosle mouthing the same line in Patal Pari (1957). And this time, the writing credit went to Sarshar Sailani. S. Mohinder was the composer.

निगाह नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही तो हैं जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं

घर कर के मेरे दिल में घर लूटा है घर वाले
तुम कितने सितमगर हो पत्थर के जिगर वाले

Nigaah Neechi Kiye … Ghar Kar Ke - Patal Pari (1956) - Asha Bhosle - S. Mohinder - Sarshar Sailani

It doesn’t end here, Pakistani film music was also not untouched by this immensely popular couplet. In the film Chaand Suraj (1970), Nashad created a tandem for the two bigwigs of Pakistani music - Noor Jehan and Mehdi Hasan. Unlike the other examples where it was used as an opening couplet before the mukhda, this couplet itself was the mukhda of the Pakistani song and another couplet was used as the opening. The lyricist this time - Shevan Rizvi.

उन्हीं को ढूँढ़ (देख) रही है निगाह-ए-शौक़ मेरी 
जो बन के अजनबी महफ़िल में आये बैठे हैं 

निगाहें नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही तो हैं जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं

Unhi Ko Dhoondh Rahi … Nigaah Neechi Kiye - Chaand Suraj (1970, Pak) - Mehdi Hassan - Nashad - Shevan Rizvi
Unhi Ko Dekh Rahi … Nigaah Neechi Kiye - Chaand Suraj (1970, Pak) - Noor Jehan - Nashad - Shevan Rizvi

Five songs already and it isn’t over yet. Let’s now turn back homewards. Year - 1974, Jaan Nisar Akhtar uses it again as an opening couplet in a song sung by Mohd. Rafi in Humraahi. Kalyanji Anandji compose this song with a longish mukhda.

निगाहें नीची किये सर झुकाए बैठे हैं
यही तो हैं जो मेरा दिल चुराए बैठे हैं

चुप चुप चुप क्यूँ बैठी हो
मैं भी अकेला और तुम भी अकेली हो
तुम सा हसीं देखा नहीं
मुझ सा जवान होगा कहाँ
ख़तरे बड़े है इन राहों में
आजा आजा ओ मेरी बाहों में

Nigaah Neechi Kiye … Chup Chup Chup Kyun Baithi Ho - Humraahi (1974) - Mohd. Rafi - Kalyanji Anandji - Jaan Nisar Akhtar

A jump of 15 years now. And it is Indeevar this time. The song in question is from Jaisi Karni Waisi Bharni (1989), sung by Mohd. Aziz and Sadhana Sargam, and composed by Rajesh Roshan

Negaah Neechi Kiye … Mehe Hue Tere - Jaisi Karni Waisi Bharni (1989) - Mohd. Aziz & Sadhana Sargam - Rajesh Roshan - Indeevar

Asad Bhopali, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Hasrat Jaipuri, Sarshar Sailani, Shevan Rizvi, Jaan Nisar Akhtar.Indeevar …

So, whose line is it anyway?

To me it appears that it is by some unknown poet, and the lines simply caught the fancy of the sub-continental film industry. I tried, but could not find out who is the original writer of this couplet.

What irony! Such a ‘popular’ couplet, yet the creator is unknown!!

P.S. Hindi Film Geet Kosh reveals that there may be at least two more songs with the same lines. One is a Talat-Asha duet in Sipahsalar (1956) and another a Lata solo in Satta Bazaar (1959). The versions that I have heard of these songs do not include these initial lines, though.

P.P.S - Deepak Jeswal has pointed out another song with the same line. In this song this couplet is used at the opening once again. The film is Laila (1984) and the lyrics are by Sawan Kumar Tak. Usha Khanna is composer, while Lata Mangeshkar is the singer.

Nigaahein Neechi Kiye … Aaj Sar-e-Mehfil - Laila (1984) - Lata Mangeshkar - Usha Khanna - Sawan Kumar Tak

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Interpreting My Poem - X

Here is another of my ghazals, translated and interpreted in English by Archana Gupta, with some of my views as well.

मरे ये जिस्म जो सौ मर्ग रूहों की है ये ख़्वाहिश

कि यौम-उल-हश्र तक हर सम्त जलवागर रहे आतिश
Even if the body dies a hundred deaths, it’s the soul's aspiration

May the spirit be seen in its glory, all around till the world's extinction

मर्ग = death, यौम-उल-हश्र = day of reckoning, सम्त = direction

A few slightly different interpretations exist:

Personally, I read it as a declaration of one's willingness to sacrifice even life itself for a calling/purpose/passion as many times as needed and a desire for the soul to be blessed with the same passion or spark (aatish) life after life till the end of time even though that spark may lead to early/untimely death each time Most interesting to note, in this context, is the indirect reference to reincarnation.

On a related note, the poet points out that the concept of yaum-ul-hashr has a couple of subtle nuances based on the faith one considers. Here is what he says, "Yaum ul Hashr is essentially an Islamic concept where everyone will arise from their graves and their deeds will be evaluated. Here 'aatish jalvagar rehna' is simply that good deeds are remembered. If you look at the Hindu tradition, yaum ul hashr may be considered as eternity and death is cremation, hence the relevance of 'aatish'. Everything turns to ashes after cremation, but embers (the impact of one's life) remains... it is here that the theme of reincarnation becomes more relevant."

He further points that generally, rooh or soul is considered to be something that remains alive after death - if one does not consider soul to be an entity by itself, it could still take the form of a person's name/fame or reputation. Death is unimportant, what is important is that people remember the person long after he is dead (jalvagar rahe aatish)

ख़िताब-ए-अहमक़ आखिर हम को है मन्ज़ूर जो तू दे

मगर अहल-ए-जहाँ को अब ख़ुदा तू कर अता दानिश
I shall not object if you call me an ignoramus or a clod

But please grant the world at large some wisdom, o God

ख़िताब = title, अहमक़ = dolt, अहल-ए-जहाँ = people of the world, दानिश = wisdom

There are two interpretations possible again and each assigns the speaker a very contrasting personality trait - he is either really conceited or extremely modest…

Viewed one way, it seems to be an expression of the poet not seeing eye to eye with the world in general. And I read the above couplet as the poet addressing the lord and saying "though you may think I am foolish for asking, I think you need to give some better sense to the world in general". This seems to be slightly conceited couplet when viewed thus.

On the other hand, the poet could also be saying "I'm too unimportant in the world, so if you choose to let me remain a fool, it won't matter. But the world at large needs more wisdom or everything is doomed". That of course is the "very modest" tone. So take your pick.

अगर हैं जिस्म में सौ ज़ख़्म वक़्त उनको भी भर देगा

न चारागर कोई ऐसा मिटाये दिल की जो काहिश
If the body sustains a hundred wounds, they shall for sure heal with time some day

There is no doctor though, to cure the angst of heart and keep it from wasting away

चारागर = doctor, काहिश = anxiety, decay, pining

Simple presentation of a simple sentiment that injuries to the body heal and have a cure in most cases but the wounds to the heart, while invisible, are much hardier and don't heal that easily.

अदब कहते हैं जिस शय को है सदियों से वो गुमगश्ता

यहाँ बोसीदा है ग़ैरत बची है हर तरफ़ फ़ाहिश
Honor, discipline and etiquette are things of past, lost since eternity

Dignity lies in ruin while the world is ruled by exorbitance and obscenity

गुमगश्ता = Errant, lost, wandering, बोसीदा = decayed, worn out, फ़ाहिश = exorbitance

Comment on the trend of living a decadent life that has emerged in the last couple of decades or so (specially in India) and bemoaning the loss of traditional values that formed the backbone of what we call Indian culture as well as that of personal dignity, I think, though it of course transcends the bounds of any geography and applies to all cultures and countries to varying degrees...

सुना है दोस्त तू जाता है महफ़िल में रक़ीबों की

ज़रा देखो मेरी क़िस्मत कि अपने भी करें साज़िश
My friend, I am told you frequent my rival's gathering and are seen in his company

Alas, my luck, my own loved ones think nothing of hatching a conspiracy

साज़िश = conspiracy

A complaint to a friend who socializes with a rival and almost a rueful accusation that he is perhaps conspiring against oneself.

नहीं शाम-ओ-सहर अब देखा जायेगा ये पागलपन

है ख़्वाहिश नींद की मुझ को मैं चाहूँ बिस्तर-ओ-बालिश
Can't bear these days and nights of unending insanity

Give me a bed and a pillow, sleep is now all I fancy

बिस्तर-ओ-बालिश = bedding and pillow

A thoroughly disgusted comment seemingly in continuation to some of the earlier ash'aar and a desire to get away from it all. Coincidentally, another ghazal I looked at also had a similar couplet and I made this observation there also that this kind of couplet contains a slightly darker meaning in the sense of a death wish also and could be interpreted in that light.

भला हासिल हुआ है कुछ जहाँ के आगे रोने से

कहाँ है शख़्स ऐसा जो हमारी सुन सके नालिश
Who has ever gained by wailing and whining in public's presence

Where is the one who can actually address our grievance?

नालिश = complaint

Very apt comment on general human tendency to complain and cry about one's misfortune or a mishap in life. It serves no purpose other than exposing one's vulnerabilities further and possibly giving people fodder for more gossip and ridicule. Second misra suggests it’s a wry comment on how there seems to be no one to "listen to" or actually do something concrete about people's grievances.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Adaptation of Kalidas’s Meghdoot by Bharat Vyas

Bharat Vyas was quite a prolific lyricist from the 1940s till the 70s. He was one of the few lyricists of his time who used shuddh Hindi in his songs. The language he used was literary, without being overly difficult. His style was poetic and very ‘visual’. His choice of words, even when the word was being heard in a song for the first time, never sounded forced or out of place.

In my opinion, one of the highlights of Bharat Vyas’ work as a lyricist is his interpretation of Kalidas’s Meghdoot in the 1959 film Kavi Kalidas. To extract the essence of the original Sanskrit text and translate into a simple, yet poetic language in a film song is no mean achievement.

Meghdoot is a poem in Sanskrit that tells the tale of an exiled Yaksha who requests a cloud to take his message to his wife at Alkapuri. For most part of the poem, the Yaksha gives the cloud directions to Alkapuri, describing in detail the things that the cloud would encounter on its way.

I can vaguely imagine Bharat Vyas’s thought process when given the task of writing a song summarizing the Meghdoot. He would have first selected the lines of the original that capture the essence of the poem and then translated them into the simplest of language, without compromising on the central idea. To make it more visual and more amenable to a film song, he would have developed the scenario further so that certain things that are described in a few words, or at the most a line, get a ‘story’ of their own.

Now let’s examine this process. In one of the lines at the very start of the poem, Kalidas writes

आषाढस्य प्रथमदिवसे मेघमाश्लिष्टसानुं वप्रक्रीडापरिणतगजप्रेक्षणीयं ददर्श …

[on the first day of the month of Ashadh, (the yaksha) saw a cloud embracing the summit, which resembled a mature elephant playfully butting a bank]

This line is descriptive. The scenario in the film warrants that Kalidas is shown creating the epic, yet donning the role of the yaksha while singing the song. A descriptive line like this cannot be uttered by the Yaksha. So what does Bharat Vyas do? He conveys the fact that the yaksha sees the cloud on the first day of Ashadh, by making his address the cloud as:

ओ आषाढ़ के पहले बादल …

Bharat Vyas also takes the reference to a cloud resembling an elephant in one of the later lines of the song:

चल ऐसे ज्यूँ गगन मार्ग में चलता हाथी

As the Yaksha is describing the path, Kalidas writes:

मन्दं मन्दं नुदति पवनश्चानुकूल् यथा त्वां वानश्चायं नदति मधुरं चातकस्ते सगन्ध: ।
गर्भाधानक्षणपरिचयान्नूनमाबद्वमाला: सेविष्यन्ते नयनसुभगं खे भवन्तं बलाका: ॥१०॥

[just as the favourable wind drives you slowly onwards, this chaatak bird, you kinsman calls swiftly on the left. Knowing the mating season, the cranes, like threaded garlands in the sky, lovely to the eye, will serve you]

कर्तुं यच्च प्रभवति महिमुच्छिलीन्ध्रामवन्ध्यां तच्छ्रूत्वा ते श्रवणसुभगं गर्जितं मानसोत्का: ।
आ कैलासाद्विसकिसलयच्छेदपाथेयवन्त: संपत्स्यन्ते नभसि भवतो राजहंसा: सहाया: ॥११॥

[having heard your thunder, pleasing to the ear, and which causes the earth to be fruitful, the ‘royal geese’, yearning for lake Manas, bearing pieces of lotus roots as victuals for the journey, will fly as your companions in the sky, as far as Mt. Kailas]

Very heavy duty poetry, this one. Bharat Vyas simplifies it, takes the key elements of the chaatak bird, the cranes and the royal geese, and pens:

मंद पवन और बाएँ चातक बोल रहा है
बाँध कतार बगुलियों का दल डोल रहा है
राजहंस भी उड़ते हैं पंखों को ताने ...

Moving on, the yaksha in Meghdoot mentions that the cloud will find some country women on the way. See how Bharat Vyas describes this, and then paints an alternate scenario showing the women dancing (something not described in Meghdoot)

जाते जाते तुम्हें मार्ग में मिलेगा मानव देश
जहाँ मोहिनी मालिनियों का मधुर मनोहर वेश

Kalidas describes further:

ब्रह्मावर्तं जनपदमधश्छायया गाहमान: क्षेत्रं क्षत्रप्रधनपिशुनं कौरवं तद् भजेथा: ।
राजन्यानां शितशरशतैर्यत्र गाण्डीवधन्वा धारापातैस्त्वमिव कमलान्यभ्यवर्षन्मुखानि ॥५१॥

[Then, entering the district of Brahmavarta, accompanied by your shadow, you should proceed to the plain of Kurus, evocative of the battle of warrior, where the one whose bow is Gandiv, brought down showers of hundreds of sharp arrows, just as you bring down showers of rain on the faces of lotuses]

Bharat Vyas interprets this as:

आगे तुम को मित्र मिलेगी कुरुक्षेत्र की भूमि विशाल
महाभारत के महायुद्ध की जहाँ जली थी एक दिन ज्वाल
कोटि कोटि जहाँ बरस पड़े थे रिपु दल पर अर्जुन के बाण
कमल दलों पर बरसे ज्यूँ तेरी बरखा के अगणित बाण

And then another detail scenario of women dancing in the rain (not described in Meghdoot)

Moving further on, Kalidas describes:

शब्दायन्ते मधुरमनिलै: कीचका: पूर्यमाणा: संसक्ताभिस्त्रिपुरविजयो गीयते किंनरिभि:।
निर्ह्रादी ते मूरज इव चेत् कन्दरेषु ध्वनि: स्यात् सङ्गीतार्थौ ननु पशुपतेस्तत्र भावी समग्र: ॥५९॥

[The bamboo canes filled with the wind sound sweetly. Victory over the three cities is celebrated in a song by Kinnari demi-gods. If your rumbling like a muraj drum resounds in the cave, the theme of a concert for Shiva will be complete]

Bharat Vyas transposes this in the context of the song as:

चल आगे हिमगिरि शिखरों पर जहाँ बाँस के वृक्ष महान
जिनके तन को छूकर छेड़ें पवन हठीला मीठी तान
जिनकी तान में तान मिला कर गातीं किन्नरियाँ गान
उस संगीत के साथ जलद तू जागे पशुपतिनाथ महान

This is followed by the scenario of Kinnars dancing and singing in Shiva’s praise.

After reading this, don’t you feel that this seemingly simple translation is a master’s work?

Now see and hear this song:

O Ashaadh Ke Pehle Baadal - Kavi Kalidas (1959) - Manna Dey & Lata Mangeshkar - S. N Tripathi - Bharat Vyas

REFERENCE: The Sanskrit text and the English translations are taken from this site.