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Monday, October 31, 2016

Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyyaa ko baabul: Is it that only women pine for their native land?

As I keep listening to some of the old Hindi film songs, such as Pee ke ghar aaj pyaari dulhaniya chali / roye maata pitaa unki duniya chali (The bride leaves today for her beloved's house/ The father and mother cry, their world is going away); “Chhod Babul Ka Ghar, mohe pi ke nagar aaj jana pada….” (Leaving father’s home, today ‘am to head for my beloved’s town), that portray emotions of girls who, having married and left home, pining for what they have left behind—their childhood friends and those galliya, bageecha, lanes and gardens  in which they played together, that cool breeze of Savan ki puhara and that zhoola, mai ki pyar, swing and ma’s love and warmth and their yearning for all that related to their sweet natal home where they once lived an innocent and carefree life—I end up wondering: Is it that only girls/women undergo such pining for the native land and natal home that they have left behind?

For, how often I get  nostalgic about my own home in the native place, the school and college that I went to, the lush green paddy fields all around with canals flowing quietly to their brims, the lemon orchards and the sweet fragrance of their inflorescences, mango gardens and the cooing koyels cuckoos announcing the arrival vasant, the park behind the tank with the star-studded sky reflecting in its still waters in which I spent many summer evenings of my youth with friends talking about everything under the sky, that Bose road, Gandhi Chowk through which I walked for many years merrily chatting with Sridhar, YSR, Inumpudi, Lala, VRM, Swamy, Prasad, Hema … indeed I greatly miss those days which seemed would last forever, and long to revisit that
                        … land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highway where I went
And cannot come again.
And that makes my heart quiver—quiver in that longing for the days gone by and that home filled with lots of love and warmth which I left behind decades back.

What I mean to say here is: even boys/men too miss their native land and the home of their childhood. It’s, of course, a different matter that the fact of boys leaving their homes for distant lands, all in search of livelihood,  is a recent development, while the phenomenon of girls leaving their homes is in vogue ever since the institution of marriage came into existence. That could be one reason why most of these folksy kind of songs—“babul mora...; chale re sajani …”—hover around women pining for their mai ki ghar—natal home.  

In this context, let us take a look at one of the heart-wrenching songs of this nature that Asha Bhosle sang for SD Burman. Asha Bhosle, whom we often perceive as a savvy, sizzling, sensuous singer, has a huge repertoire of her own and is equally adept at pouring her heart out in emotional songs, though she gets such an opportunity rarely, for she is known to sing in lower register and cannot match her sister, Lata Mangheskar, who is known to sing in higher register.  

Taking advantage of her magical voice, SD Burman  made her sing this heart-wrenching song for Bimald’s film, Bandini— Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyyaa ko babul, Sawan mein lijo bulaay re (O father, do send my brother this year to fetch me during monsoon)which I believe she sang so impressively to perfection under his tutelage.  Asha Bhosle sang this song, taking the lyrics penned by none other than Shailendra that are throbbing with sentiment to the heart portraying the  emotions of a young woman who is longing for her natal home that she left behind and pining for her brother to come and fetch her home, so expressively.

Notice the gentle vibratos; the drawling of the words, ‘bulyare’ , bhijaayre,  ‘yad ayere’ , albeit softly, as though to show how yearning the woman is; feel the abrupt enunciation of ‘chalke’—in the line, chalke nayan mora kaske re jiyra— in contrast to the wringing of the word, ‘kaske’, perhaps, to make us feel the squeeze of the heart;   the lovely transitions from one phrase to the other, all in her usual low registry, pouring out the grief of the craving of a young woman for her bhaiyaa to come and take her to her babul’s home so expressively in her soft voice.

It’s by so brilliantly presenting a girl’s angst at her becoming a parayii—Babul thi main tere naajoonki paali (Father, I was brought up tenderly by you) Phir kyon hui main paraayi (why then, have I become an outsider)—an alienated one, to her own father who indeed brought her up so tenderly, Asha simply made it gem of a song!    The prelude of the song, if there is any, beginning with the strumming of  ektara …tring…tring…tring… that simply tugs at one’s heart—just sets the tone for the forthcoming pathos…   

Ab ke baras bhej bhaiyyaa ko baabul
(O father, do send my brother this year)
Sawan mein lijo bulaay re
(To fetch me during monsoon)

Lautengi jab meri bachpan kee sakhiyaa
(When my childhood friends return)
Dijo sandesaa bhijaay re
(Do send news)

Ambua tale phir se jhule padenge
(Swings will be set up again under the mango trees)
Rim jhim padenge phuhaare
(Light showers will fall )

Lautengi phir tere angan me babul
(will return again to your courtyard)
Savan ki thandee bahaare
(the cool breeze of monsoon)

Chalke nayan moraa kaske re jiyaraa
(my eyes spill over by the squeeze of my heart)
Bachpan ki jab yaad aayere
(when I remember my childhood)

Bairan javaani ne chine khilone 
(youth, my enemy, snatched away my toys)
Aur meri gudiya churaayi
(and stole my dolls)

Babul thi main tere naajoonki paali
(Father, I was brought up tenderly by you )
Phir kyon hui main paraayi
(why then, have I become an outsider)

Beete re jug  koee chittiyaa naa paatee
(Ages have passed without my receiving any letter)
Naa koee naihar se aaya re
(nor has anyone come from my natal home )

The lovely and poignant lyrics of Shailendra were set to a melodious tune by Burmanda in his signature folksy style, importantly, with least disturbance from the accompanying music—the interludes of soft flute and the melancholic violin phrases are brief, while the percussion instrument is sparingly heard. And incidentally, the song was picturised on the inmate of the jail while the heroin, Nutan craning her swan’s-like neck out to see where from the voice is coming, of course, and staying cool in utter resignation…  

In all, composing the song in raga Pilu, and thus offering Asha enough scope to evoke contrasting emotions of hope and sadness, Burmanda infused the tune with such pathos which are sure to seduce listeners into a magical trance. And for once, Asha Bhosle sang it so serenely sans her trademark verve and vivacity. Simply put, coming together, Shailendra, SD Burman and Asha Bhosle created a marvelous song that remains ever memorable. 

Image: courtesy, Google images        
Video: Courtesy


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