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Monday, December 26, 2016

Shakeel Badayuni: Lyricist, the La Jawab! (Part-I Entry with a Bang)

August 3, 2016 marks the birth centenary of Shakeel Badayuni, an outstanding poet-lyricist of Hindi film world. Here’s a tribute to those memorable lyrics that he left behind for us to ‘let go of life’, nay ‘to fly towards a secret sky’ of love.

Sound penetrates the silence. And a sound that is musical soothes nerves. Conveys tranquillity. Calms the mind. To make it more effective, a musician uses two tools: the Raga that offers melody and Tala, the rhythm. Melody do convey the context of the mood. Yet, ordinary mortals fail to connect to it, for its theme—the abstraction—is too difficult to discern. That is where language seeps into music.

Once language becomes a part of raga and tala, it narrows down the music to a particular context, a theme. Once music is pinned down to a situation, time and place by beautiful words, we, the listeners instantaneously get connected to it. And that is what Shakeel Badayuni afforded to that famous Naushad’s film music. Or, should I say, he simply gave fragrance—like that of the rare attar—to Naushad’s artistry of combining melody with rhythm that drew people towards the magical effect that he had created in Hindi film songs.     

As I think of Naushad—the foremost music director of Hindi films, who is known to have infused Indian classical and folk music into film-songs adopting innovative orchestration that often included full orchestras including western instruments such as violins, brass horns—and his ever-fresh film songs, I inevitably end up wondering at the brilliance of Shakeel Badayuni, the successful and prolific song-writer for Hindi films. Indeed, whenever these two names and their musical creations flash in my mind I end up in an enigma: Who inspired whom to scale ever-newer peaks in Hindi film music?   

As the story goes, when Shakeel, an already accomplished Urdu poet, having come to Bombay in the late 40s in search of greener pastures, approached Naushad for an opportunity to check his poetic skills in the film-world, it seems he and AR Kardar, Music Director and Director of the film Dard respectively, asked him to describe his poetic skills in one line. And the poet’s response was:  Hum dard kaa afsaanaa duniyaa ko suna denge, har dil mein mohabbat ki ek aag lagaa denge.

And with it arrived the combination of Naushad and Shakeel Badayuni in the Hindi film-world hitting success in their very first film together, Dard (1947): Afsaana Likh Rahi Huan dil-e-beqaraar kaa (I am writing my saga of desperate love) / Aankhon mein rang bhar ke tere intajaar kaa (eyes reflecting the pain of my waiting for you). Though Uma Devi stole the show with this iconic song, it is indeed the other song that Suraya sang in that very film in which we encounter the real poetic intensity of Shakeel that had perhaps emanated out of his personal experiences of deprivation and the resulting dejection, frustration, and the muted anger against the almighty, which of course,  brightly reflects the plight of the film’s protagonist too: Beech bhanwar mein aan phansa hai / Dil ka safeena Shah-e-Madina (Heart, like a boat,  trapped in the center of the whirlpool, Oh Almighty!) … /Bekas ke ghamkhwaar tumhi ho (You are the consoler of the adrift) / Jo kuch ho sarkaar tumhi ho (Whatever is, you are the ultimate) / Dil ka sukoon jeene ka sahara (you are the relief of the heart and the supporter of the life) / Duniya ne sab chheena shah-e-madeena (World has stolen everything, Oh Almighty!). And this blazing intensity kept revisiting in many of his subsequent songs—Yeh duniya kaisi hai bhagawan yahan mar mar ke jiye insan (Diwana), O duniya ke rakhwaale (Baiju Bawara), Bekas pe karam kijiye Sarkar-e-Madeena (Mughal-e-Azam), and so on—enabling this combination of Naushad and Shakeel that ran for almost two decades to taste astounding success in the Hindi film-world.

After the success of Dard, came that super-hit movie Mela (1948), for which Shakeel, proving his ability to write for every occasion, wrote  all the 12 songs for the film, notable among them being: the most popular song by Mukesh that describes the eager heart of the protagonist that gales  in the anticipatory meeting with his sajan, the beloved, Gaye ja geet milan ke tu apni lagan ke / sajan ghar jaana hai (sing songs of meeting your loved one, your devotion for her, you are heading for lover’s home); the haunting duets, Dharti ko aakash pukaare (Sky is calling the earth) and Mera dil todne wale mere dil ki dua lena (You, the betrayer of my heart, carry the wishes of my heart ); and finally that Rafi’s song which is so steeped in philosophy, Ye zindagi ke mele, duniyaa men kam na honge / afasos ham na honge (fairs of life, will never fall short…but am sorry that I won’t be there…).

Dillagi (1949), a romantic-tragedy that was based on Emile Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, is another film of the late 40s that proved the combination of Naushad and Shakeel highly successful. Who can forget the simple but mellifluous lyrics of the duet that Shyam and Suraya sang for themselves—Tu meraa chaand main teri chaandani (you are my moon and I am your moonlight) / main teraa raag tu meri raagini (you are my song and I am yours)/ nahin dil ka lagaanaa koi dillagi, koi dillagi (to fall in love is no mischief, no mischief)/ …  saath hi jinaa saath hi maranaa (together we must live,  together we shall die)/ …  pyaar ki murali hardam gaae teri lagan ki geet (the flute of love must always sing the song of your assosiation)/ … Jab tak chamake chaand sitaaren dekho chute naa saath (so long as the moon and stars shine, our association shouldn’t break). Following this, Shakeel subtly warns the prospective lovers of the world at large with another song: is duniya mein aye dilwaallon dil ka lagaana khel nahin (O sweet-hearted of world, it’s no play to fall in love) / ulfat karna khel hai lekin kar ke nibhaana khel nahin (to love is a game but to fulfil it is no game…).  

Then came Kardar’s film, Dulari (1949) with that unforgettable song of Rafi, which instantaneously made him the most sought after male playback singer for the next two decades. The lyrics that capture the angst of waiting, that too, indefinite waiting—Tadap Rahen Hein Ham Yahan, Tumhare Intazaar Mein—of a lover for his beloved to join him with such pretty expressions: Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki (The pleasant night has waned!),  Nazare Apni Mastiyan, Dikha Dikhake Sogaye (sceneries, having thrown away their intoxicating beauty fallen into slumber!), Sitaare Apni Roshani, Luta Lutake Sogaye (Stars, relentlessly showing their light, have fallen asleep!),  Har Ek Shamma Jal Chuki (Every candle has burnt to extinction), Khisan Ka Rang, Aa-chala Hai, Mausam-e-bahaar Mein (The hue of autumn is coming over the season of blossoms!),  yet I don’t know Tum Kab Aavoge (when you will come!). What a sweet pain and how aptly captured by Shakeel! 

This is followed by Deedar (1951) that established Dilipkumar as tragedy-king of Hindi film-world, with 12 songs, all written by Shakeel hovering around the theme of ‘unfulfilled love’,  which  yet wishes for the best to the deserted love thus: Huwe hamm jinke liye barbaad (for whose sake I’ve been ruined) / voh hamm ko, chaahe kare na yaad (even if she doesn’t think about me), Jeevan Bhar Unn Ki Yaad Mein, Hamm Gaaye Jaayenge (for the life time, I,  in her memory, will go on singing); Meri Kahani Bhoolne Wale, tera jahan aabaad rahe (O, you the forgetter of my story, let your world be prosperous). A similar sentiment is expressed by a female protagonist of the film in the song, Ley ja meree duwaye ley ja pardes jane wale (O traveler, take my blessings with you), of course, pleading  bhula naa dena dil se meree wafaye not to forget my [her] love,  for  tu hee suhag meraa, too hee singar meraa, you are my everything and you alone is my adoration, and assures Kar lungee jindagee bhar mai intzar teraa to wait for him lifelong, while of course wondering,  Sunate hain yeh sitamgar, duniya nahee kisee kee / Jisne bhee kee muhabbat, dushaman huyee usee kee—about the  tyrants who are for no one and the world that often turns against those who indulge in love, fears: Aisa naa ho key sajan ham tumse mil naa paye—It shouldn’t happen that I will not meet you! Aren’t these lyrics well capturing the yearning for and pain of love? 
(to be contd....


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