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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Shakeel Badayuni: Lyricist, the La Jawab! (Part-II The Duo's Peak)

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.


Thus continued Shakeel’s association with composer Naushad till his death during the course of which as his sole lyricist from Dard (1947) to Sunghursh (1968) he wrote lyrics for many more films—indeed 99% of his work in film industry was confined to Naushad—that included best films like Babul (1950), Baiju Bawra (1952), Amar (1954), Uran Khatola (1955), Mother India (1957), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Ganga Jamuna (1961), Mere Mehboob (1963), Leader (1964), etc.

Among them, Baiju Bawara is an award-winning musical-megahit film of 1952 directed by Vijay Bhatt, who, keeping in view the need for bhajans, etc. to flow with the script, initially wanted to take poet Pradeep but on Naushad’s suggestion and on  examining the kind of lyrics Shakeel wrote, he had taken him as the lyricist and the rest became history. And remember, this hitherto Urdu exponent, wrote all the 13 songs in such suddha Hindi that even classical singers of Hindustani too happily came forward to sing some of them. In fact, this is one film in which Shakeel’s poetic prowess excelled matching the sublime beauty of the very classical music that Naushad had heavily resorted to compose the songs for this film. The all-time melodious bhajan from this film that was composed in raga Malkauns, Man Tarpat Hari Darsan Ko Aaj (Today my heart trembles for a glimpse of Hari) is a prardhana supplication of a sishya, student  standing at his god like guru’s (Hari’s) hermitage—Tumare dwaar kaa main huan jogi (I am but a hermit at your threshold)—seeking with a Vyakul man, anxious-mind his kind-glance (hamari ore nazar kab hogi—when will you cast your glance at me), for he knows Bin guru gyaan kahaan se paau without a guru, where will I gain knowledge and so goes on his prayer: dijo daan hari gun gaauan grant me the alms that I may sing peons. Listening to this fervent prayer, his Hari’s eyes melt into tears. And no listener is an exception to this experience for such was the fort of the apt words that Badayuni studded the prayer with and of course, the silken vocals of Mohd Rafi.

As against the unflinching surrender of a devotee to his perceived god that we experienced in this song, we have another gem of a song in the film, O duniyaa ke rakhvaale! Sun dardbhare mere naale (Oh protector of this world! Please heed my woeful lamentations) where Badayuni’s protagonist defies his god so appealingly that even god could not turn his eye away without shedding a tear at his bhakta’s trauma. And notably, Badayuni succeeded in accomplishing this feat without resorting to elevated vocabulary. The injured bhakta accuses god of decking up the world with the two colours of hope and despair (aash nirash ke do rangon se duniya tuu ne sajayii ); creation of the storm along with the boat, separation along with union (naiyaa sang tuufaan banaayaa, milan ke saath judaayii) and perhaps being not able to reconcile himself with this duality and in that frustration, he even dares to allege god: betrayer (jaa dekh liyaa harjaayii). Frustrated by the plundered city of his love (O luut gayii mere pyaar ki nagarii,…), he, seeing, of course, metaphorically, the monsoon rains turning into fire, while the flowers have become embers (aag bani saavan kii barkhaa, phuul bane angaree) and the beautiful night becoming a snake, while the stars have turned into stones (naagin ban gayii raatsuhanii patthar ban gaye taare), appeals to god in that dejection thus: “Oh provider of life! Please take back this life from me (o jiivan apanaa vaapas le le jiivan denevaale). Thus, pelting Bhagavan with his accusations and mourning, as he nears the end of the song makes a marvellous confession: quismat tuutii aas na tuutii suffered misfortune without losing hope. That is the refrain of the lyric! Listening to the rendition of this song, one gets tempted to wonder if the lyricist is asking us to see through the apparent duality and lead the life with fortitude even in the face of misfortunes. The subtle suggestion of the whole lyric is: Never to give up hope. It is often heard that Shakeel Badayuni, unlike his contemporary lyricists of Hindi cinema, is not imprisoned himself in any ‘ism’ and that is well visible in this song, for the lyrics addressed to Bhagavan are steeped in fatalism, realism, and rational humanism.

Lastly, to highlight the rustic beauty of the khadi raw Hindi that Shakeel used in penning the lyrics that are meant for the saheelees friends of the female protagonist to tease her, I would like to draw your attention to these lines: Circling Meenakumari, they draw her attention to  the song: door koyi gaaye dhun ye sunaaye (Somebody is singing afar, letting me listen [that]) / tere bin chhaliyaa re baaje na muraliyaa re i(Without you my dear, my flute is not playing)/ … man ke andar ho pyaar ki agni (within heart there the fire of love) / …/ nainaa khoye-khoye ki are raamaa naina khoye-khoye  (eyes lost in dreams, Hey! Ram eyes lost in dreams) / … /  yaad kisi ki jab-jab aaye (Whenever [he] comes to memory)/  laage jiyaa pe teer (arrow hits the body)/ laage dil pe teer (arrow hits the heart) / … / aankh bhar aaye jal barsaaye (eyes swell up, tears roll down). What a simple and sweet expression! 

Continuing with this philosophy of reconciling with the duality in the world and as though advocating a kind of acceptance of it as the given, he wrote a beautiful song for Amar (1954) that needs a special mention. Starting with the recital of a couplet that tells us what has happened, O tamanna lut gayi phir bhi tere dam se muhannat hai / Mubarak gair ko khushiyaan mujhe gham se muhabbat hai, (Ah I have been robbed of all my desires, but your every breath I love / Let others be blessed with all the happiness, I am now in love with my sadness), he goes on questioning”, Na milta gham to barbaadi ke afsaane kahaan jaate / Agar duniya chaman hoti to veerane kahan jaate (Had sorrow not befallen my fate, where would the tales of my destruction have gone? / If the world was a blooming garden, where would the desolate deserts have gone?); Chalo achchha hua apno mein koi gair to nikla / Agar hote sabhi apne to begaane kahan jaate (It is good that there was a betrayer among my close ones / Had everyone been my own, where would the strangers have gone?); Na jalte shamma mehfil mein to parwane kahan jaate  (Had the flame not burnt itself where would the moths have gone?) and with it concludes his questioning as though with an acceptance saying, Tumhi ne gham ki daulat di Bada ehsaan farmaya / Zamane bhar ke aage hath failane kahan jaate (I am so grateful to you for giving me the riches of sadness / Where else would I have gone with begging arms?). Very rarely we heard such questioning in the film-world!

Incidentally, we see this streak of his thought process reflecting even in his songs written for Mother India (1957)—a film for which he wrote 12 songs—where he, perhaps in utter resignation to the fate  put those  stoic words in the mouth of that spirited mother, Nargis: Duniya mein hum aaye to jeena hi padega / Jeevan hai agar zehar to peena hi padega (If we have come into this world, then live we have to / If life is poison so we have to drink it) and never they were found giving up; Gir-gir ke museebat mein sambhalte hi rahenge (Falling again and again in troubles, shall keep going yet), with of course, retaining faith in ‘fair-treatment’ of the Khuda—gum jisne diya / gum jisne diya hai wohi gum door karega (Whoever has given us the sadness / Whoever has given us the sadness will also make it vanish). How effectively he draws our attention to the odds confronted by the individual and the nation that just got freed from the colonial rulers! This unflinching faith of Badayuni reflects once again beautifully in that colorful song:  Dukh Bhare Din Beete Re Bhaiya  (The days of sadness have passed) / Ab Sukh Aayo Re (Now happiness has come) / Rang Jeevan Mein Naya Laayo Re (It has brought new color in life) which, of course, ends in a realistic tone when the lyricist leaves a caution—a caution that alone enables the caravan to go on and on: Aaj To Jee Bhar Naach Le Paagal (O crazy one, dance as much as You can today) / Kal Na Jaane Re Kya Hoye (No one knows what’s in store tomorrow).

There is yet another all-time great vidai song that merits mention here: 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)—an emotion laden song sung by Shamhsad Begum accompanied by plaintive strains of shehnai that depicts a typical Indian wedding scene at every (maika) natal home—the scene of a bride biding goodbye to her home and migrating to in-laws. This, coupled with another similar song penned by same Badayuni and tuned by Naushad and sung by same Shamshad Begum earlier—Chhod Babul Ka Ghar, mohe pi ke nagar aaj jana pada….  (Leaving father’s home, today ‘am to head for my beloved’s town)—(Babul, 1950), are sure to remain fresh forever, for the marriage-bands are known to invariably play one of these two songs—songs that is a fusion of sweetness and sourness at every marriage hall.

Then came Mughal-e-Azam, where we witness Naushad and Sahkeel Badayuni at the zenith of their creative talent. Of course, while working on this movie they had a challenge too: a likely comparison with Anarkali, an earlier  film of the same theme that was highly successful with hit songs, which indeed might have acted as a great motivator for the duo. And they came up brilliantly: Shakeel wrote 12 songs for the movie and there sparkles his brilliance in all of them. Indeed, he reached his zenith as lyricist, for each song of this film is a microcosm of the cosmos.  Among them. pyaar kiyaa to darnaa kyaa? is the most popular song. It starts with a recital that is unique of this duo:  insaan kisii se duniyaa mein ek baar muhabbat kartaa hai (An individual only falls in love once in this world) / is dard ko lekar jiitaa hai, is dard ko lekar martaa hai (He lives with this pain, and he dies with this pain). This universalization of the statement, an individual living with the pain of muhabbat and dying with the same pain is something remains with me an enigma till date, for every muhabbat need not necessarily end up in dard, painThat aside, the rest of the lyrics serves the female protagonist’s so well and so regally, that the courtesan could stand with dignity of her muhabbat in the court, indeed could assert herself, questioning,  pyaar kiyaa to darnaa kyaa? / pyaar kiyaa koii chorii nahiin kii / chhup chhup aahe bharna kyaa? — If I have loved, then why must I be afraid? / I have simply loved; I have committed no theft / Then, why must I heave these sighs of pain in secrecy?, announces her …dil kaa fasaanaa/ jaan bhii le le chaahe zamaanaa—story of my [her] heart / even if the world takes my [her] life. Here, we must see the  defiance of the courtesan that sparkles in Shakeel’s words: maut vahii jo duniyaa dekhe / ghut ghutkar yuu marnaa kyaa?—If death is only accepted when witnessed by the world,/ then why must I die by suffocating alone? The lyrics literally reach crescendo when Anarkali proclaims, chhup na sakegaa ishq hamaraa / … / pardaa nahiin hai jab koi khuda se, / bandon se parade karnaa kyaa? — My love cannot be hidden, / If I do not wear a veil in front of God,/ why must my love remain veiled from society? that made Shansha to cast his eyes down, perhaps, in shame. Defying an invisible god as by Baiju is perhaps more easy than Anarkali defying a king that too on his face, and yet she did it—did make the king to silently put up with the reality, trembling in shame. That is the power of Shakeels’ lyrics.

Next, we see Shakeel entertaining a heart-wrenching dialog with khuda through the imprisoned Anarkali, as she first seeks audience with god thus:  Ai mere mushkil-kushaan fariyaad hai  / aap ke hote hue duniyaa merii barbaad hai—O my Savior! Heed this complaint / Though I am devoted to you, my world is being destroyed. Then she narrating her plight: gardish men hai taqdiir … / zakhmon se bharaa hai kissi majbuur kaa siinaa / … / tuuffaan ke aasaar hain dushvaar hai jiinaa—my fate revolves in a vicious cycle… / this helpless devotee’s chest is marked by many wounds / with signs of an impending storm, my life is in danger”, she prays, bekas pe karam kiijiye, Sarkar-e-madiinaa—please  have mercy upon this wretched soul, oh King of Madina [prophet].


Every song of this film is so well written that each one merits equal attention, but let me take you round one more song, listening which, eyes are sure to melt into tears, for it is the solo of Lata which is topped by melancholic Shehnai. Dragging her feet slowly towards her proposed living Samadhi (tomb), Anarkali silently sends her  dhadakte dil kaa payaam message from my [her] heart beats: khuda nigehbaan ho tumharaa / … / tumhari duniyaa se jaa rahe hai / Utho hamaraa salaam le lo / Uthe janaazaa jo kal hamaraa / kasam hai tumko, na denaa kandha / na ho mohabbat hamari rusawaa… —May god be your protector / I am going away from you / Get up and accept my salute / when my coffin is taken in procession tomorrow / promise me not to give it a shoulder / may our love never be disgraced.”

After Mughal-e-Azam, the creative talent of both Naushad and Badayuni appeared to have tapered off. Of course, there were flashes of brilliance in the later work of Badayuni, but it was mostly reflected in his work other music directors like Ravi and Hemant Kumar. But before I switch over to Shakeels’  work with other music directors, I must draw your attention to the  speciality of Naushad-Badayuni combination that treated the music lovers with an unique experience: they created a charming effect by preceding a song with a recital of couplet without tune as in Mughal-e- Azam where Madubala dares Shahenshah by a recital, Insaan kisi se duniya mein ek baar mohabbat karta hai/Is dard ko lekar jeeta hai is dard ko lekar marta hai, before she sings in his face Jab pyar kiya to darna kya. 


If you go back to their creations you come across many such delightful preludes:  Khushi ke saath duniya men hazaaron gham bhi hote hain….Mera jeevan saathi bichhad gaya (Babul); Akeli mat jaiyo Radhe Jamuna ke teer…Tu Ganga ki mauj main (Baiju Bawara); Chale aaj tum jahan se… O door ke musafir (Udan Kathola); O tamanna lut gayi phir bhi tere dam se muhannat hai  ….Na milta gham to barbaadi ke afsaana kahaan jate (Amar); Asir-e-panja-e-ahad-e-shabab kar ke mujhe…Hue hum jinke liye barbaad (Deedar) and indeed continued this  practice into their films too such as, Laaga gori gujariya se…Nain lad jaihain (Ganga Jamuna), etc.  And you would agree that there is a certain speciality, certain charm associated with these recitals. 

That is the dear delight that this combination —Naushad and Badayuni—had treated us with… that it had transported us into an undefinable joy!
                                                                                                                                    To be Contd....


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