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Friday, December 30, 2016

Shakeel Badayuni: Lyricist, the La Jawab! ( Part III - terminal phase)

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.


Ironically, though 90% of Shakeel’s writing for films was confined to Naushad, it was while working with Ravi for Guru Dutt’s film Chaudhvin ka Chaand that he wrote the all-time favourite song of music lovers, Chaudhvin ka chaand ho, ya afataab ho [Are you the full moon or the sun?] / Jo bhi ho tum Khuda ki kasam, la-jawaab ho [Whatever you are, by God you are peerless!”] that fetched him his first Filmfare Award (1961) for the best Lyricist. Shakeel Badayuni,  starting his description of the beauty of the heroine with no ostentation—to begin with referring to chaand (full moon), aftaab (Sun), kanval (lotus), sharaab (wine) reaches the zenith saying  Duniya-e-husno-ishq ka tum hi Shabaab ho you are the ultimate of the world’s beauty and love, which reminds us of Shakespeare’s Sonnet N0.18— “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate…”

This is one of the most haunting romantic ballads of Hindi cinema history that pays highest tribute to the gorgeous beauty of the female protagonist of the film in true tareef-(laud) tradition: zulfein hain jaise kaandhe pe baadal jhuke hue (your hair is like the cloud that is winding around your shoulder); Aankhen hain jaise maey ke pyaale bhare hue (eyes are like the goblet filled with wine); Chehra hai jaise jheel mein hasta hua kanwal (face is like a smiling lotus in a brook) /  Ya zindagi ke saaz pe chhedi hui ghazal (Or, like a sonnet tuned by the music of life); Jaane Bahaar tum kisi shaayar ka khwaab ho (My love you are simply the dream of a poet) and so goes on Shakeel’s praise that reaches the zenith when he concludes penning, Duniya-e-husno-ishq ka tum hi Shabaab ho (you are the ultimate of the world’s beauty and love). So fine imagery, and any wonder if Sahir Ludhiyanvi, his contemporary in the film-world, considered Shakeel Badayuni the best writer of this genera in the Hindi cinema!

It would not be fair on my part to end this discussion without talking about Ravi, that most underrated music director of Hindi cinema who composed this song so beautifully in raag Pahadi, the magical rendition of the song —there is warmth, passion, and soul in his voice —by Mohd Rafi and the brilliant picturization of the song by Guru. Incidentally, Rafi received his well-deserved first Filmfare award for this song.


There is yet another beautiful song that he wrote for Ravi in the very next year—Husnwaale tera jawaab nahin koyi tujh sa nahin hazaaron mein, (O beauteous one, matchless as you’re / there is none like you among thousands)for the film Gharana (1961) that was well rendered by that honeyed voice of Rafi. This romantic lyric that caresses the lady protagonist with such beautiful adjectives as: Tu hai aisi kali jo gulshan men, / saath apane bahar laai ho (you’re such a flower-bud in the garden / that brings spring in its wake); tu hai aisi kiran jo raat dhale, / chandni mein naahaake aayi ho (you’re such a beam which at the night’s decline /  has emerged after bathing in the moonlight);  yeh tera noor yeh tere jalwe, / jis tarah chaand ho sitaaron mein (this lustre of yours, your splendors as these, /resemble the moon among the stars); teri aankhon mein aisi masti hai, / jaise chalke huye ho.n paimaane, (such is the drunkenness of your eyes / as though the goblets are spilling over);  tere honton pe voh khaamoshi hai, / jaise bikhre huve ho.n afsaane, (your lips have such silence / as if fables are strewn all over); … teri soorat jo dekhle shaayar, / apne shero.n mein taazgi bhar le, (if a poet were to observe your countenance / he would fill them with newness); naghmagar dhoondle agar tujh ko, / dard bharle voh dil ke taaro.n mein (if a lyricist were to find you / he would stuff the chords of the heart with tenderness), earned him his second Filimfare Award as Best Lyricist (1962). 

His working with Hemant Kumar too proved to be highly fruitful. For, who would not like to listen over and over again the song that he wrote for the film Bees Sal Bad (1962), Kahin deep jale kahin dil / zaraa dekh le aa kar parwaanae (somewhere lamp is burning / as the heart somewhere else), sung by Lata so melodiously, more in a haunting voice. Shakeel’s obsession with ‘dard’ reflects in this haunting song too when the singer warning the protagonist, dushman hain hazaaron yahaan jaan ke / zaraa milnaa nazar pahchaan ke / kayi roop mein hain qaatil, confesses that naa main sapnaa hoon naa koyi raaz hoon / ik dard bhari aawaaz hoon. This haunting but simple lyrics fetched him his third consecutive Filmfare Best Lyricist Award in 1963, while Lata bagged Best Female Playback Singer award.

There is however another beautiful song in the same film that we never get tired of listening to penned by same Shakeel, Bekarar Karke Hume Yun Na Jaiye (Please do not go away like this making me restless) / Aapko hamaari kasam laut aaiye (for my sake, please comeback) that makes even the listeners bekarar—indeed teases us with innocent romance.  For, hardly in three stanzas, he enables the protagonist tell his love how beautiful she is (Aapki ada chura na le kahin— may they not steal away your elegance), and hence warns her not to go alone into a garden that is full of bumblebees, her fans (Koi aapko bana na le sanam— may one of them not make you their own) and finally woos her take him as her companion for life (Khair hai isi mein aapki huzoor—for your welfare, your majesty / Apnaa koi saathii dhoondh liijiiye—please find yourself a companion / Sun ke dil ki baat yun na muskuraiye—please do not smile upon hearing these words of my heart).


Then came Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, that noted film of Guru Dutt for which Shakeel Badayuni wrote lyrics for Hemant Kumar to compose in 1962. He wrote all the eight songs for the film and the notable among them are: Na Jao Saiyan Chhudaake Baiyan, Koi Door Se Aawaaz De Chale Aao, and Piya Aiso Jiya Mein Samaaye Gayo Re, all the three sung by Geeta Dutt. Of all these three, I simply admire the lyrics of Piya aiso jiya mein samaaye gayo re for the sheer beauty of imagination that they exhibit. Using the rural idiom of UP, Badayuni portrays the state of mind of the heroine that is hopefully looking forward to the arrival of her husband, so beautifully and poignantly: Her beloved has got so suffused in her soul that ki main tan man kii sudh budh gavaan baithii—I [she] lost the awareness of body and mind, wondering, har aahat pe samajhii vo aay gayo re at every sound that he has come, jhat ghoonghat men mukhda chhupa baithi—I [she] just hide my [her] face in my [her] veil; more angana men jab puravayya chali—when wind blew through my [her] courtyard, O daiyaa! dwaare ki khul gai kivaadiyaan—door of threshold opened, maine jaana ki aa gaye saavariyaa more—I [she] thought my [her] beloved has come jhat phoolan ki sejiya pe ja baithi instantly I [she] sat on the flowery decorated bed; I [she] maine sindoor se mang apani bhari—filled my maang with sindoor, and having O maine saiyaan ke kaaran sajaaya bedecked myself with finery, because of my beloved, and I [she] is dar se kisi ki nazar na lage—was scared lest someone cast evil eye, I jhat  instantly put nainan men kajaraa lagaa baithi kohl in my eyes.” What a romantic imagination and what a sweet expression, that too, using the rural idiom of UP! And before concluding, I could not refrain from saying here that Geeta Dutt had thrown out these cute and realistic lyrics with an urge in her mellifluous voice and Meenakumari was equally adept at emoting matching feelings through her beautiful face—and all the three putting their best  made this song a rare experience.   

Before concluding this rendezvous with Shakeel Badayuni and his contribution to Hindi cinema, I must draw your attention to the beautiful songs that he penned for ‘Do Badan’ (1966) for Ravi to compose music. Who can forget those memorable songs: Bhari duniya mein akhir dil; Nasseb main jiske jo likha tha; Rahaa  gardishon mein hardam mere ishk ka sitara renderd by the mesmerizing voice of Mohammad Rafi and that heart wrenching Lo aagayi unki yaad by Lata Mangeshkar? Of these, I love the song Rahaa gardishon mein hardam mere ishk ka sitara (the star of my love always remained in misfortune), not because as my friends accuse I love melancholic songs but because no one could have better worded the pathos of a lover who lost his love than Shakeel: “Ye hamaare badnasebe  jo naheen to aur kyaa hai / ke use ke hog aye hum jo naa ho sakaa hamaaraa” (If this is not my bad luck,   what else is it? / that I became a devotee of a person who could never be mine).

Besides his popularity as a successful writer of film songs, he is also an accomplished ghazal poet of the classical tradition. Indeed, connoisseurs of Urdu poetry often say that Shakeel Badayuni would be remembered forever merely for that one ghazal alone—Aye Mohabbat tere anjaam pe rona ayaaa (O love your outcome makes me cry) / Janey kyun aaj tere naam pe rona ayaaa (Today I don’t know why the mention of your very name makes me cry) / youn to har shaam sham ummidon mein guzar jaati hai (as it is every evening passed away in expectations) / Aaj kuch baat hai jo sham pe ronaa aayaaa (today something is there that the evening makes me cry)…  which was sung by that legendry ghazal singer, Begum Akthar.

As we come to the end of this narration, I am sure you could realize that Shakeel Badayuni is engaged all-through his life in giving words to the matters of heart alone—describing its emotional and sentimental experiences in choicest words. It is no exaggeration to say that he essentially remained as a poet of love. The passionate words that he has chosen to describe beauty, love—its Ujala/Andheri light/darkness, the cravings of the love-loran heart, its courage even to challenge the gods, its emotional responses to the grandeur of love’s failure, the scars of love,  the stoicism of the love-stricken souls that pray for the salaamat/aabad (welfare) of the other—romance and its radiance are so sweet and realistic that they often strike a chord nudging us to sail along the rhyme of his lyrics.

This great lyricist, aged 53, passed away in Mumbai on 20th April, 1970. But the poet in him, who beating the ‘personal’ stretched out to the ‘universal’ in presenting his love for love—jo dil se dil ko sunayatha—is certain to remain with us enthralling music lovers for ever.



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