Main gaoon tum so jao, scanned by MV Devraj

On the occasion of the death anniversary of the one and only Rafisaab, I wish to write about one of his soulfully-sung songs.

Take the name of Shammi Kapoor and we see before us the debonaire, flamboyant and volatile star. In most of the films in which he has acted he has come across as the romantic and carefree character and one does not readily associate Shammiji with sentimental and emotional roles. But that is precisely what role he had played in Brahmachari (1968). He is an orphan and he cares for other orphaned children and takes them under his charge. The story is about how he manages these children and saves the life of the actress (Rajshree) who tried to commit suicide due to a broken marriage alliance. The film was a box office hit and won several Filmfare awards. It was the Best Film, it won the best Music Director Award for Shankar Jaikishan, the Best Male Play Back Singer Award for Rafisaab (for Dil Ke Jarokhein Mein), the Best Lyricist Award for Shailendra for ‘Main Gaaoon Tum So Jao’ and the Best Actor Award for Shammi Kapoor. I wish to discuss Shailendra’s award winning song ‘Main Gaaoon’.

This song comes twice in the picture. First time when Shammiji wants to put all the children to sleep on a happy occasion. The typical orphanage with multi-layered beds and children with different habits and styles make the viewer one with the crowd. Rafisaab starts ‘larallala larallara laralla…’ and the listener is instantly transported to a dreamy world.

Mai gaaoon tum so jaao, sukh sapnon mein kho jaao says the first line. What a beautiful thing to say to small children, about how to forget this world!

The interlude music is very simple and yet enchanting with the whistling effects adding to the sleepy environment. The day has been very hard and heavy for the children and the night looks to be long too but the world will change for the better, and children dream of that changed world, so sings Shammiji.

When you wake up tomorrow you will see a bright light and the morning will bring you all happiness and do not put out those rays of hope, so sings Rafisaab. Listen to the way Rafi Saab sings ‘so jaao’…and the way Shammiji acts that part. It is a classic ‘made for each other’ scene.

I love to go on singing during my entire life, I feel like taking care of all your tired hands so that all you children will one day sing my song, so say Rafisaab and Shammiji.

The second time this song happens in the film is a sad occasion. All the children have tears in their eyes and the morrow is expected to usher in sorrowful tidings in their lives. Shammiji sings the same song to tell the kids that they all should go to sleep and dream of a better tomorrow. The song is slow paced, Rafisaab is pathos personified, and Shammiji enacts one of his most sentimentally charged roles. It is impossible to say whether Rafisaab has acted during the song or whether Shammiji has acted for Rafisaab. The song is so brilliantly synchronized that it is not possible to distinguish the singer from the actor and vice versa. Rafisaab and Shammiji do make us all cry while watching or listening to this song. It is very difficult for anyone to conceive that an out and out entertainer like Shammiji who had ruled film fans with his yahoos and aiyyayya suku sukus can make the viewers cry. But cry we will when we see Shammiji’s acting during this song and the manner in which Rafisaab brings out the grief. If one listens carefully, the minute differences in the tone, voice, the tenor, and the changes in the sentiments between the two parts of this song will surface. It’s a masterpiece!

The beauty of Shailendra’s lyrics, Shankar Jaikishan’s music, Rafisaab’s rendition and Shammiji’s emoting is that the song has become an ode to all destitute children of the world that they all should have dreams full of hopes and that a brighter future awaits them. We all live on hope…

Jee karta hai jeete jee
Main yunhi gaata jaaoon…

(This essay was written on 31st July 2016)

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MV Devraj is a Chartered Accountant who shuttles between Bangalore, India and Jakarta, Indonesia.

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