Longing and separation in love. Missing someone when you are a distance apart but you feel the warmth at the very mention of that person. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. But only for those who believe in their love. It is difficult to bridge the gap of emotional connection and physical separation. Though separation and longing can be unbearable, overpowering or perilous sometimes, it also makes love stronger. But the pangs of separation stay there for a long time. These pangs almost become unbearable as the day begins to set in the evening. The dullness of the dusk, the lull of the world heighten the feeling of separation. That time when the day begins to merge with the dusk at the horizon. The blue marquee starts turning into a darker shade. Getting absorbed in that quiescence, the heart sings –
Neel gagan ki chhaon mein
Din rain galey se milte hain
Dil panchhi ban udd jaata hai
Hum khoye khoye rehte hain…
How beautifully Hasrat Jaipuri has assembled the thoughts of a person who is immersed in love, wanting to see her/his beloved is unaware of the events happening around. Amrapali (Vyjayantimala) is lost in the thoughts of her beloved Ajatshatru (Sunil Dutt). Amrapali is waiting for him. She’s so immersed in his thoughts that she forgets everything around her. She forgets her duty as the Raj Nartaki. She stands absent-minded in front of the darbar. Her preoccupied thoughts flow towards Ajatshatru. While she is reminded by one of her aides that she is supposed to be performing. Woolgathering, she sings, standing still instead of dancing. Her abstract singing puzzles everyone around including the King, the queen (Ruby Mayer) and Kulpati (Gajanan Jagirdar). But the pakhwaj in the background reminds her of her duties. And along she starts dancing albeit still abstract, with the strings of the veena. Vyjayantimala as Amrapali is an epitome of beauty and sensuousness. While Vyjayantimala made Amrapali immortal on screen, it was Shankar Jaikishan’s music which stood apart and mesmerized everyone. The film boasts of having all Lata Mangeshkar solos, except one which is rendered by the chorus only. This particular song is set in Raag Bhupali, which is known for soft melody. True to the nature of the Raag, the song tranquilizes the listeners with Lata Mangeshkar’s voice acting up as a sedative. Shankar Jaikishan have used minimum instruments to give it a mellow, soft effect. Veena, Pakhwaj and a few trebles of violins.
Jab phool koi muskaata hai
Preetam ki sugandh aa jaati hai
Nas nas mein bhanwar sa chalta hai
Madhumas jalan kalpaati hai
Yaadon ki nadi phir aati hai
Har mauj hum toh behte hain
Dil panchhi ban ud jaata hai
Hum khoye khoye rehte hain
At the interlude, which begins with aa aa aa aa aa is haunting. The enigma is increased by thumps of pakhwaj along with Lata’s voice. And the veena chords adding up to the charisma of romance. While the violins giving a touch of glamour to her eloquent dance.
Kehta hai samay ka ujiyara
Ek chandra bhi aanewaala hai
Inn jyot ki pyaasi akhiyan ko
Akhiyon se pilaane waala hai
Jab paat hawa se bajte hain
Hum chaunk ke raahein takte hain…..
Amrapali is so much in love with the soldier, she refuses to see the other side of him. His sole purpose is to conquer Vaishali. Even if he’s in love with Amrapali, he makes her as the shield to enter the palace. He followed conquest and expansion. And the kingdom of Vaishali was his only worry. He wanted to conquer the kingdom of Vaishali. While in love with Amrapali, he stayed with her, as a soldier. He was smitten by her beauty. When his identity was revealed, it was Amrapali who was arrested for being a traitor. Her beauty became the cause of her agony. Ajatshatru burnt the entire kingdom of Vaishali and fought a war which killed almost all the people. Almost everyone died in the massacre, except his beloved Amrapali, but when she saw the condition of her motherland, she renounced her love for him and renounced the world as well.
Amrapali, an enchanting tale of magnanimous beauty, clasped into a bondage, the queen of dreams who remained an enigma. Her love for Ajatshatru remained a mirage, an illusion and yet so real. Just as that line of the horizon, where the day and the dusk merge into one!!
Published on Vyjayanthimala’s birthday 13 August 2018
Deepa Buty lives in Nagpur, and writes beautifully. This is what her Facebook page says about her: “(She) Loves Dev Anand and music. Not sure in which order!” She is also a founder and admin of the music site SongPedia.