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Thursday, June 16, 2016

aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein … Shankar-Jaikishan’s atypical tune of endearing delight!

In the late sixties, grabbing the first job offer received from APAU, I landed at RARS, Rudrur.  The research station was a stone’s throw away from the village amidst lush green sugarcane fields alternated with hillocks and scrub jungles. It was a quiet place. Labs, farm and staff quarters are all located in a single estate. Right behind the quarters, there was a hillock—indeed rows of hillocks covered by scrub jungle. Coming from coastal plains, I found the hillocks, the jungle around them and its desolateness quite interesting and amusing.  

Excited by the new surroundings, and for the first time being alone and accountable all to myself, I think I went wild: after office hours, I used to go on short hikes into the woods abutting the stationclimbing trees, trekking in the surrounding hillocks, walking through the rolling green downs, and  whatnot. Really had all the thrill of leading a kind of adventurous life that I had not tasted hitherto except to read in western magazines/novels. This newfound thrill continued even after my marriage. Thankfully, the institute allotted me and another colleague—a good friend of mine from Bapatla campus, Murthy—a quarter with four rooms. We settled our families, each occupying two rooms meandering through the common veranda and lived like in old-style joint family but with two hearths. The farm still had the Nawabi charm—enjoyed the charm of servants carrying out our household chores with adab (respect). Being freed from such mundane labour, my wife too used to join me in hiking into the woods/trekking the hills and all that. Occasionally, my friend and his wife too used to join us.

On one such trip to the hilltop on a moonlit night, we all four of us sitting on flat rocks lying close by engaged in a kind of chitchat, while the transistor placed on a nearby rock blared film songs. As I was comforting myself in my usual style of reclining on the rock, while my wife sat by my side, and staring at the star-studded sky, suddenly, a melody that wafted through the cool breeze caught our ears. Its prelude was very romantic—the interplay of violin and piano accordion duly accompanied by the easy lilting stride of Shankar-Jaikishan’s (SJ) signature waltz beats producing an impression of dream-like sensation, indeed created a right tempo lulling all of us into a rhythmic romantic mood and as we were slowly sucked into the music, we heard the young sweet voice of Lata cooing beautiful words … indeed beautiful lyrics flew out:
aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein  
(Come, let us make love under the blue sky)
 aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein
Hil-mil ke pyaar ka iqaraar  karein
(Cuddling each other, confess our love)
aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein …
Then the interlude: the interplay of violin and piano duly accompanied by waltz beats played on piano accordion made us literally swing along with Lata, as she surged forward reaching a higher octave with her ‘craving’ for …
ye sham ki belaa ye madhur mast nazarey
(This evening twilight, this sweet and rollicking ambience)
baithey rahein ham tum yunhi baahon ke saharey
(wish we sit along in the arm of each other)
woh din naa aayein intazaar hum karein 
(do not wish that we ever need to wait for each other )
aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein
Interestingly, while starting the second line “antara:  “baithey rahein ham tum …” she sang the word baithey in a quivering tone—perhaps to give the right expression to the ladylove’s intense longing to sit with her lover . What an ethereal singing!

Followed by the pleasing interlude, Hemantda took over from Lata in a more supplicating tone—as indeed Lata herself once said: “Hemantda’s voice gives a feeling that a certain saint was soulfully paying his oblation to the God in the temple”—as though he was giving words to their current state of mind with the sole motto of offering his love all the needed assurance, but in stark contrast to Lata’s surging voice and the solace, quite soulfully:
do jaan hain ham aise milan ek hi ho jaaein
(although we are two separate beings, we wish to become one)
dhoondha karein duniya haemin ham pyaar mein kho jaaein
(the world would search for us , but we are lost in love)
bechain bahaaron ko gulzaar ham Karen
(we shall convert the restless springs into blooming  gardens)
            aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein

As music connoisseurs say, when it comes to singing a song set at night time, there is no better voice to set the tone than Hemantda’s  and that’s what we cherished—a kind of a serene beauty like that of the fully flowing Ganges in the plains—while Hemantda sang his part pretty softly …

Then Lata took over passionately praising her lover, indeed with a gusto…
tu maang ka sindoor tu aankhon ka hai kaajal
(you are the sindoor, vermilion, of my parted hair and kajol, lampblack, of my eyes)
then commands him in a tone that was loaded with lots of longing…
le baandh le daaman ke kinaron se ye aanchal
(please tie my scarf to the hem of your shirt)
and her prodhatva, full grown stature of a girl, reaches its zenith as she then pleads with him…
samaney baithey raho shringaar ham karein
(please sit before me, I shall get decked up )

Then sliding into a lower octave, as Lata sweetly trails off the mukhada
“aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein
Hemantda joins her to the  end and together they sang…
aa neele gagan tale pyar ham karein…
throwing the listeners into an undefined silence.

As the bowing of violin terminated, and as the real beauty of the contrast in the singers’ voices—surging honeydew voice of Lata vying with that silky soft voice of Hemantda—and the simple lyrics of Hasarat Jaipuri infiltrated the inner mind, we were lulled into a trance… It took some time for all the four of us to come out of that trance—that silence which encircled us …  

This vintage song of 1954 from the not-so-popular film, Badshah, is an astoundingly pleasant expression of raga Bhimpalasi. Since this raga, as the music lovers say, starts with “ni sa ma”, it is so pleasant to listen to and so well suits a romantic song like the one we are talking about. Bhimpalasi is indeed a rare pick for SJ who are otherwise known to compose their songs often in raag Bhairavi—incidentally, Jaikishan adores raag Bhairavi so much that he even named his daughter Bhairavi—in which they indeed doled out many popular songs.

Coming to this song, rightly digressing from their known pattern of using too huge an orchestration, SJ made a cool presentation of the languid romance evoked by the touchy lyrics of Hasrat Jaipuri. The composition may seem slow, may even miss SJ’s signature vitality, but unusually overflows with tons of sweetness and spirited romance, and as it creeps in it takes over the mind space of the listener—–creating goose bumps for music lovers.  That’s what makes this song unique.

Simply put, this dream composition haunts the soul and mind. What an enchanting melody!

Courtesy of & thanks to:


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