Mischievous Nonsense!

When you are happy with yourself, or with your friend, or with the weather–whatever–but happy!

Probably the first Hindi film song laced with Punjabi words to become highly popular was Lara lappa from the film Ek Thi Ladki (1949). Lara lappa lara lappa laayi rakhda, Adi tappa adi tappa laayi rakhda is how it goes. Many of us have heard this song at parties or on the radio, and maybe seen it too. In the film, the heroine Meena Shorey explains to hero Motilal what the words mean: Lara lappa means false and evasive, and Adi tappa means unnecessarily quarrelsome. However, most people—including Punjabis who haven’t seen the film—do not think the words mean anything. Despite that, many of us enjoy the song so much that we sing along!

The chartbusting popularity of this path-breaker made the music fraternity of the time sit up and think. If a song could contain a dash of meaningless words—lending it an air of exotica—then maybe they had a winning idea on their hands. Raj Kapoor, starting to sizzle as a filmmaking-actor, was among the first to observe this phenomenon. Not to forget, he was also a singer with a great feel for music. He grabbed the baton, as if in a relay race, and enjoyed his run in the game, periodically offering meaningless words in his songs. In this his run, he often waved the RK flag, but sometimes someone else’s; his enthusiasm was so palpable, when he acted for others, they welcomed his musical views with enthusiasm.

All the words we can’t understand below are just gobbledygook; that is to say, nonsensical words. Here are just a few songs with a sprinkling of meaningless words that we associate with Raj Kapoor. The songwriter finds a mention. Do observe that these melodies waste no time in introducing the nonsense!

  • Ae ichak-beechak churr, dil ud gaya babu phurr (Kidar Sharma/Baawre Nain, 1950)
  • Ta ra ri, aa ra ri, aa ra ri (Shakeel Badayuni/Dastaan, 1950)
  • Maj gun gan gin tunna… o phir phur phaar chhin chhunna…Shama jali parwaana aaya (Shakeel Badayuni/Ambar, 1952)
  • Ichak daana beechak daana (Hasrat Jaipuri/Shri 420, 1955)
  • Loshe wai-wai…maine jo li angdaayi (Shailendra/Jagte Raho, 1956)
  • Ee ree ra raaka, aaka ki baaka (Qamar Jalalabadi/Do Ustad, 1959)
  • Dum-dum deega-deega (Qamar Jalalabadi/Chhalia, 1960)

There are several songs that have carried meaningless lyrics in their stanzas as well, but why go that far? Let’s continue looking at just a few songs where meaningless words decorate the refrain itself. But before that, let’s spell out now what we are not including.

Words that are in the vocabulary of specific fields are excluded here. So, we won’t take tabla or dholak bols, for instance, nor Kathak bols (example: Mridang baaje tir kit dhum, in Madhuban mein Radhika naache re). Not included too are all the yodelling notes, a Kishore Kumar speciality the singer offered in different ways over the years. We are also not using words that describe sounds, like chhanan, chham chham, jhanak or jhanan, generated by ankle-bells or ghunghrus (example, Jhanan jhanan jhanan jhanan ghungharwa baaje); San san san (the whoosh of winds) in songs like San sanan sanan, ja ri o pawan. These are onomatopoeic words that describe sounds of actions or things, and are found in multiple use. In the song Chhuk-chhuk-chhuk-chhuk rail chale, chhuk-chhuk is one more instance of a word describing sounds.

Here goes our list:   

  • Bogi bogi bogi, yo yo yo yo (Vishwamitra Adil/Hum Log, 1951)
  • Ele bele aa re (Shailendra/Kaali Ghata, 1951)
  • Tam tale to tam tale…aa gup-chup gup-chup pyaar karen (Rajinder Krishan/Saza, 1951)
  • Tumbak tumba…tera mera jod naheen (A. Kareem/Chaar Chaand, 1953)
  • Teriya teriya (PL Santoshi/Chalees Baba Ek Chor, 1954)
  • Ta ra ra ra rum mere dil mein sanam (Shakeel/Hoor-e-Arab, 1955)
  • Dhitang-dhitang bole (Prem Dhawan/Awaaz, 1956)
  • Ina meena deeka (Rajinder Krishan/Aasha, 1957)
  • Dig dig dig dig daiyya kahe meri naiyya (Kavi Pradeep/Chaandi Puja, 1957)
  • Ghumar ghumar ghoome (Rajinder Krishan/Samundar, 1957)
  • Chinchan papulu…chhoo na lena mujhe (Shailendra/Baaghi Sipaahi, 1958)
  • He baambo baambolo (Bharat Vyas/Mausi, 1958)
  • Chhupa-chhipi o chhipi aagad baagad jaayi re (Shailendra/Savera, 1958)
  • Jhuk jhuk jhola haaye (Kavi Pradeep/Do Behnen, 1959)
  • Sach hue sapne tere…jigi jigi jig cha (Shailendra/Kaala Bazaar, 1960)
  • Dig dig dig dig dig dig…haseenon ki sawaari hai (Rajinder Krishan/Love In Simla, 1960)
  • Ye aankhen uff yumma (Hasrat Jaipuri/Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai, 1961)
  • Gori zara batiyaan sunoji…ge ge ge geli (Majrooh/Jhumroo, 1961)
  • Chakai ke chakdam aaya deewaana (Sarwar/Pyaar Ki Dastaan, 1961)
  • Hmmm…la la roo la roo…mausam lehra gaya (Majrooh/Picnic, 1966)
  • Jhingapur takur takur (Gulzar/Ashirwad, 1968)

The good news is, nonsensical words are hardly mothballed now, even if the melody part is in the departure lounge, with the beats in the pilot’s seat. And of course the visual dimension is the key these days. Dhinka chika dhinka chika go Salman and Asin, with the boys and girls in Ready (2011), and Chin ta ta chita chita, sing Akshay Kumar and the boys to Kareena and dozens of acrobatic females in Rowdy Rathore (2012).

Many years ago, there was no Maharashtra and Gujarat. Together they were called Bombay State. The place was run by its moral Chief Minister, Morarji Desai. One day in 1956 his secretary was directed to invite some of those engaged in the making of the film CID to his office. The delighted visitors included the film’s producer, Guru Dutt, director Raj Khosla, composer OP Nayyar, and songwriter, Majrooh Sultanpuri.

“So then, this song in the film, Jaata kahaan hai deewaane, sab kuchh yahaan hai sanam…iska poora aarambh zara bataaiye”, the Chief Minister asked the guests, who were enjoying their tea. Responded Majrooh, “Aapne isko pasand farmaaya, nawaazish. Bol hain, Jaata kahaan hai deewaane, sab-kuchh yahaan hai sanam, Baaqi ke saare fasaane jhoote hain teri qasam, fee-fee, kuchh tere dil mein fee-fee, kuchh mere dil mein fee-fee, zamaana hai bura”. “Achha, sab-kuchh yahaan hai…” said the politician, “aur uske baad  fee-fee, uska arth?” “Ye to be-maayne hai saahab, sirf filler hai…ek literary ladki naheen, balki ek ordinary character ka khayaal hai” “Ordinary character ki soch ko badlo, Majrooh ji. Sorry gentlemen, this song will have to be removed for suggestive lyrics”. Shocked but still optimistic, Raj Khosla suggested, “Sir aapne humen chai pilaayi, magar khud naheen pee?” “Thank you for your concern, but I gave up tea nearly twenty years ago”.

His preferences were not quite public yet.


(Photos: Top, Ye aankhen uff yumma; above Jhuk jhuk jhola)

Originally published: 9th November 2014

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