Last week, I was listening to a nazm rendered by Mehdi Hassan, Duniya kisi ke pyaar mein jannat se kum naheen, Ik dilruba hai dil mein jo hooron se kum naheen. I was hearing it for the umpteenth time, and marvelling at the extraordinary expression that Mehdi saab breathed into this song, set so well in raag Bhopali. It is a poem that from start to finish praises someone sky high (Waheed Murad praising Zeba in Pakistani film Jaag Uttha Insaan, 1966), and the poetry is wonderful. However, something in the words struck me as odd. One of the stanzas went thus:
Bhoole se muskurao to moti baras paden
Palken uttha ke dekho to kaliyaan bhi has paden
Khushbu tumhaari zulf ki phoolon se kum naheen
This was written by Dukhi Premnagri (real name Wahaj Mohd Khan). Now I am nobody to hold a candle to this writer, who had also penned the lyrics of a few other songs. Urdu poetry is not my forte, much less my profession. But I wonder why he wrote Bhoole se muskurao to moti baras paden. Wasn’t this an unexpected jab in the middle of what was otherwise a song of out-and-out romantic praise? It was like telling the lady she smiled beautifully, but oh she smiled only when she condescended to. Would he perhaps have praised her better by writing instead, say, Jab jab bhi muskurao to moti baras paden? The words Jab jab mean whenever, perhaps consistent with the poet’s thought here, and they don’t add up as a left-handed compliment, a remark that says something nice about a person but can be seen as an insult as well.
But if this was a case of missing the mot juste, a few songs of romantic praise have had writers offer over the top imageries. Consider Rajinder Krishan’s thoughts for Rajendra Kumar singing to Waheeda Rehman in Dharti (1970): Khuda bhi aasmaan se jab zameen par dekhta hoga, Mere mehboob ko kisne banaaya sochta hoga. The creator awed by his own creation! And Hasrat Jaipuri went further in Shammi Kapoor’s lofty praise for Sadhana in Rajkumar (1964):
Is rang badalti duniya mein insaan ki neeyat theek naheen…
Nikla na karo tum saj-dhaj kar, imaan ki neeyat theek naheen…
Now look at this:
Main kaise khuda-hafiz keh doon mujhko to kisi ka yaqeen naheen
Chhup jao hamaari aankhon mein Bhagwaan ki neeyat theek naheen…
Incidentally, we are talking about romantic praise here, and not any other kind. These other kinds exist too. For example, it’s a mother being praised high in Usko naheen dekha humne kabhi par iski zaroorat kya hogi, Aye maa teri surat se alag Bhagwan ki surat kya hogi (Majrooh in Dadi Maa, 1966). The Almighty sits in the skies in all religions, and they all sing praises to Him. Think of Parwardigar-e-aalam, tera hi hai sahaara…har iltija ne teri rehmat ko hai ubhaara (Akhtar Romani/Hatimtai, 1956). Songs of cosmic wonder also praise Him so often, for instance in Ye kaun chitrakaar hai (Bharat Vyas/Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, 1967).
And while we are looking at romantic flattery, this is not about the normal kind. For example, we are not talking about praise that is found in songs like Chitra Singh’s Tu naheen to zindagi mein aur kya reh jaayega (Iftikhar Imam Siddiqui/Arth, 1983). Our story engages with very high praise. The kind that, were we the recipients, would probably make us blush. The sort of compliments that many of us would consider over the top.
Who doesn’t like flattery?
Everyone loves flattery, but such kind of eulogy can be dangerous, in that it can divorce the receiver from his connection with reality. Do think of the poetry offered by SH Bihari in Ek Musafir Ek Hasina (1962). Says Joy to Sadhana: Bahut shukriya badi meherbaani meri zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye, Qadam choom loon yaa, ke aankhen bichha doon, Karoon kya ye meri samajh mein na aaye. Aware of the perils here, she responds thus: Mujhe dar hai mujh mein ghuroor aa na jaaye, lagoon jhoomne main suroor aa na jaaye, Kaheen dil na mera ye taareef sun kar tumhaara bane aur mujhe bhool jaaye. But of course that’s what he wants, to hypnotize her!
Joy was in fact featured in many songs of praise. We saw Asha Parekh take him skywards through Majrooh’s visual imagination in Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon (1963): Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein tasweer hai ik anjaane ki, Khud dhoond rahi hai shamma jise, kya baat hai us parwaane ki! Easy catch, he didn’t have to worry about pitching at all, the lady was already a believer!
The next year he was on Shakeel’s page and turning it on for Saira Banu in Door Ki Awaaz (1964): Husn se chaand bhi sharmaaya hai, teri surat ne ghazab dhaaya hai…Aadmi kya hai farishton ke behek jaayen qadam. O my, my! The visuals tell us Joy was succeeding here. They came together in the same year again, in Aao Pyaar Karen (1964), where we saw him praise her with Rajinder Krishan’s poetry: Jahaan tu hai wahaan phir chaandni ko kaun poochhega (with its Kisi ko muskuraake khubsurat maut na dena). Saira and Joy paired again in Saaz Aur Awaaz in 1966, and here’s how he flattered her, with help from Khumar Barabankvi: Tum ishq ki mehfil ho, tum husn ka jalwa ho, Ya saaz-e-muhabbat par chheda hua naghma ho. Her hypnotized response? Ik baar phir kaho zara. Clearly, she was gone.
n an attempt to identify the top songs of praise in Hindi cinema down the decades, earlier this week we did a poll among strong music lovers, both online and not so. They had to try keep lyrics more than other elements at the center of songs. 50 people participated in the survey which let everyone add their own titles, and we all elected our multiple choices. Totally 90 songs were on the table. The ages of these strong music aficionados ranged between 35 and 77 years. Here is our popularity rating of the top 30 songs of high praise, beginning with the most popular:
- Aap ke haseen rukh pe aaj naya noor hai (Anjaan/Baharen Phir Bhi Ayengi, 1966)
- Ye chaand sa roshan chehra (SH Bihari/Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964)
- Aankhon se jo utri hai dil mein (Majrooh/Phir Wohi Dil Laaya Hoon, 1963)
- Ab kya misaal doon main (Majrooh/Aarti, 1963)
- Chaudhvin ka chaand ho (Shakeel/Chaudhvin Ka Chand, 1960)
- Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen (Indeewar/Safar, 1970)
- Jo baat tujh mein hai (Sahir/Taj Mahal, 1963)
- Roshan tumhi se duniya (Indeewar/Parasmani, 1963)
- Tumhi mere mandir tumhin meri pooja (Rajinder Krishan/Khandaan, 1965)
- Chandan sa badan (Mukesh) (Indeewar/Saraswatichandra, 1968)
- Bahut shukriya (SH Bihari/Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, 1962)
- Tumko dekha to ye khayaal aaya (Javed Akhtar/Saath Saath, 1981)
- Tere husn ki kya taareef karoon (Shakeel/Leader, 1964)
- Tum jo mil gaye ho (Kaifi Azmi/Haste Zakhm, 1973)
- Teri pyaari pyaari surat ko (Hasrat/Sasural, 1961)
- Jaan e bahaar husn tera (Shakeel/Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, 1963)
- Chaand aahen bharega (Anand Bakshi/Phool Bane Angaare, 1963)
- Deewaana hua baadal (SH Bihari/Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964)
- Ye mera prempatra padh kar (Hasrat/Sangam, 1964)
- Tum gagan ke chandrama (Bharat Vyas/Sati Savitri, 1964)
- Kitni haseen ho tum (Qamar Jalalabadi/Ye Dil Kisko Doon, 1963)
- Do naina matwaare (Pt Bhushan/My Sister, 1944)
- Teri aankhon ke siwa (Rafi) (Majrooh/Chirag, 1969)
- Ye aankhen uff yumma (Hasrat/Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hai, 1961)
- Mere jeevan mein kiran ban ke (Pradeep/Talaaq, 1958)
- Chehre pe khushi chha jaati hai (Sahir/Waqt, 1965)
- Paon chhoo lene do (Sahir/Taj Mahal, 1963)
- Hontthon pe hasi…kya baat hai is jaadugar ki (SH Bihari/Sawan Ki Ghata, 1966)
- Kaisa jaadu balam tune daara (Majrooh/12 O’Clock, 1958)
- Chaand sa mukhda kyoon sharmaaya (Shailendra/Insaan Jaag Uttha, 1959)
It’s interesting that not all songs were of one person praising another. In some of these, both the actors were singing paeans to each other, in a Mutual Admiration Society kind of way. Meantime, the results threw up a couple of interesting things: First, our top three songs were composed by OP Nayyar. Could this mean Nayyar loved the idea so much, he was himself telling filmmakers what songs he preferred? Second, much of the praise is offered by men. Wonder how that can be curated in cultural terms.
These were the best songs of praise according to our study, which, even if not executed in the most scientific way, must surely be at least a fair barometer of music buffs’ choices. Perhaps you will know some more songs. Maybe you can even write good praise. Why, if you are wealthy and keen, you may even hire a professional research agency to find us the best results. I for one am surprised that Ishaaron ishaaron mein dil lene waale (SH Bihari/Kashmir Ki Kali, 1964), while in the list, didn’t find its way into the top 30 songs of high praise. Even with lines like these: “Maana ke jaan-e-jahaan laakhon mein tum ek ho, hamaari nigaahon ki bhi kuchh to magar daad do, Bahaaron ko bhi naaz jis phool par tha, wohi phool humne chuna gulsitaan se”
Originally published in DNA Jaipur on 01 April 2018, but moderately changed and significantly enlarged to accommodate late results of the poll, even before this publishing. http://epaper2.dnaindia.com/index.php?mod=1&pgnum=1&edcode=131002&pagedate=2018-04-01