Thursday, July 7, 2011


Long long time ago I used to be an active participant on the usenet group. During those times, there were often debates about who is/was the best lyricist for Hindi movie songs. There were many Gulzar fans, and were particularly impressed by his wordings in songs such as

हमने देखी है, इन आँखो कि महकती ख़ुशबू

Generally I think highly of Gulzar's poetry, but I was never particularly impressed with such phrasings. To me, they always seem very forced. Some find it confusing, others find deep meaning in them. Note that I am talking only about the refrain, the song has other marvelous lines - such as

नूर कि बून्द है, सदियों से बहा करती है !

But that's subjective. The real misconception is that Gulzar is the only expert of this style when it comes to movie lyrics. Far from it. He relies on it more than others, but examples abound in the works of other lyricist.

Here is one from महाकवी गदिमा - it will be a crime to call him a lyricist - who was both Sahir and Gulzar (and much more) for Marathi movies. Sahir is my favorite lyricist of Hindi Movies, but neither he nor Gulzar has done anything to be compared to a giant such as GaDiMa. To those unaware of Marathi literature, "गीत-रामायण" has made GaDiMa (Gajanan Digambar Madgulkar) the Valmiki of Marathi Poetry.

नसेल माहित तुला कधी ते,
रोज तुझ्या मी स्वप्नी येते,
त्या स्वप्नांच्या आठवणी
ह्या ओठां देशील का ?

It's not straight-forward to attach a simple meaning to this verse. My attempt at a very loose and literal translation (forgive me, I am NOT a poet). Feel free to do your own 'काव्य-रसग्रहण' !

You may be completely unaware,
that in your dreams, I always appear
Memories of those dreams
Would you please ...
Install on my lips ?

As amazing singer Asha Bhosle is - I think she was more than that in this song - she was just perfect. Listen to the mesmerizing short आलाप at the beginning. One of the best compositions by Baabuji - Sudhir Phadke. Very typical of his compositions, easy to hum, but not at all easy to sing.

I want to make two small observations here. Both about the other stanzas in the song.

First, the word "दिनांती" (meaning 'at the end of the day'). I am trying to remember any other song/poem with that word, but I can't. It's not that unusual a word - at least it should not be - but I cannot think of an example. If you know, please share it with me.

Secondly, and more interestingly the words "एकांती" and जवळी are repeated (their two occurrences are adjacent) in the song.  I do not know of any other songs that has such a feature. It's not just that they are repeated - first occurrence ends a phrase and second begins the next phrase. It's pretty smart.  Especially the line

मी येतां पण सलज्ज जवळी, जवळी घेशिल का ?

Sudhir Phadke is known for his pains-taking attention to poetic details. His tunes fit even the ह्रस्व-दीर्घ (short and long) pronunciations of the vowels ! So it's not Babuji taking liberties with the lyrics to fit to a tune. It's GaDiMa's deliberate word play.

The song is from the famous 1952 movie लाखाची गोष्ट by Raja Paranjape.

Previously ... GaDiMa-1

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