Smile Please!

“Laughing faces do not mean that there is absence of sorrow! But it means that they have the ability to deal with it”—Anonymous

The above is the response many thinkers offer to the thought that suggests people who smile and laugh more are lucky souls who have somehow escaped sadness and misfortune. It is in a similar vein that the poet Fana Kanpuri wrote a beautiful ghazal rendered by Begum Akhtar:

Mere chehre se gham aashkaara naheen

Ye na samjho ke main gham ka maara naheen

(Sorrow is not easily visible on my visage, but don’t conclude that I do not have sorrow)

Smiling through tough times is a test of character. But smiles and laughter also make for attractive faces, which is why films that have an absence-of-sorrow feel are generally visited more, never mind the success of many famous failed-romances that have come to the screen. It’s reassuring to see happy faces so much in control of their lives. Songs are so often important nodal points in the narrative, and with this formula of looking happy and cheerful intensifying in the past few decades, more and more films are becoming deprived of sad songs. The urge to show all-is-well is a huge shift away from the cinema of the golden years, which was often represented by features with multiple sad songs.

The middle-‘60s saw the creation in America of the now ubiquitous smiley which has shaped the way we share happiness, especially in the digital world. Later in India, the ‘70s brought in Rajesh Khanna’s “Pushpa, I hate tears”, in Amar Prem (1971), resonating with the generation of that time. In the same year, neighboring Bhutan formally rejected the idea of Gross Domestic Product as a measure of progress, replacing it officially with Gross National Happiness instead. More of that later; meantime, the Baywatch generation wants none of what they call rona-dhona either.

So, were people who came before Rajesh Khanna only weeping? Were we enjoying only sad songs till the ‘70s arrived? No! Cinema was also having a good time laughing, romancing, getting patriotic, praying, and articulating a gamut of other emotions that constitute normal existence. In fact, it is interesting that even in the golden era, there were several films which did not have any trace of sad songs in them. This is understandable for essentially comic films or romcoms like Haahaa Heehee Hoohoo (1955), Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Ek Phool Chaar Kaante (1960), Bewaqoof (1960), Half Ticket (1962), Pyaar Kiye Ja (1966), Padosan (1968), and Golmaal (1979). But this is also true for many plain love stories, whodunits, social or costume dramas, and whatever else constitutes non-comedies. Such features may have had a devotional number, a romantic song, a classical rendition, what have you, but these had no song to suggest sorrow. Let’s consider just one song from several such films, with the crew mentioned in brackets:

  • Musafirkhana (1955): Thoda sa dil laga ke dekh (Shamshad, Rafi/Majrooh/OP Nayyar)
  • Chhoo Mantar (1956): Main to baanke naino waali (Asha, Rafi/Jan Nissar Akhtar/OP Nayyar)
  • Johnny Walker (1957): Thandi-thandi hawa poochhe unka pata (Asha, Geeta/Hasrat Jaipuri/OP Nayyar)
  • Miss Mary (1957): Brindaban ka Krishan Kanhaiya (Rafi, Lata/Rajinder Krishan/Hemant Kumar)
  • Nau Do Gyarah (1957): Aankhon mein kya ji (Asha, Kishore/Majrooh/SD Burman)
  • Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957): Jawaaniyaan ye mast-mast bin piye (Rafi/Majrooh/OP Nayyar)
  • 12 O’Clock (1958): Tum jo hue mere humsafar (Rafi, Geeta/Majrooh/OP Nayyar)
  • Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958): Haal kaisa hai janaab ka (Asha, Kishore/Majrooh/SD Burman)
  • Dilli Ka Thug (1958): Ye raaten ye mausam (Kishore, Asha/Shailendra/Ravi)
  • Howrah Bridge (1958): Aiye meherbaan (Asha/Qamar Jalalabadi/OP Nayyar)
  • Police (1958): O o o o baby (Hemant, Geeta/Majrooh/Hemant Kumar)
  • Do Ustad (1959): Hum pe dil aaya to bolo kya karoge (Asha, Shamshad, Rafi/Qamar Jalalabadi/OP Nayyar)
  • Insaan Jaag Utha (1959): Chaand sa mukhda kyoon sharmaaya (Asha, Rafi/Shailendra/SD Burman)
  • Love Marriage (1959): Dheere-dheere chal chaand gagan mein (Rafi, Lata/Hasrat Jaipuri/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Basant (1960): Chori-chori ik ishaara ho gaya hai (Asha, Rafi/Qamar Jalalabadi/OP Nayyar)
  • Jaali Note (1960): Chaand zard-zard hai (Asha, Rafi/Raja Mehdi Ali Khan/OP Nayyar)
  • Singapore (1960): Ho raasa saayaang re (Rafi, Lata/Hasrat Jaipuri/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Opera House (1961): Dekho mausam kya bahaar hai (Lata/Majrooh/Chitragupt)
  • Vidya (1962): Pawan deewaani (Lata/Majrooh/SD Burman)
  • China Town (1962): Baar-baar dekho hazaar baar dekho (Rafi/Majrooh/Ravi)
  • Shikari (1963): Agar main poochhoon jawaab dogi (Rafi, Lata/Farukh Qaisar/GS Kohli)
  • Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (1963): Dil ka bhanwar kare pukaar (Rafi/Hasrat Jaipuri/SD Burman)
  • Ye Dil Kisko Doon (1963): Phir aane laga yaad wohi pyaar ka aalam (Rafi, Usha Khanna/Qamar Jalalabadi/Iqbal Quereshi)
  • April Fool (1964): Meri muhabbat paak muhabbat (Rafi/Hasrat Jaipuri/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Rajkumar (1964): Aaja aayi bahaar (Lata/Shailendra/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Ziddi (1964): Raat ka sama jhoome chandrama (Lata/Hasrat Jaipuri/SD Burman)
  • Do Dil (1965): Saara mora kajra chhudaaya tune (Rafi, Aarti Mukerji/Kaifi Azmi/Hemant Kumar)
  • Teen Deviyan (1965): Arre yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab (Kishore, Asha/Majrooh/SD Burman)
  • Suraj (1966): Bahaaro phool barsao (Rafi/Hasrat Jaipuri/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Teesri Manzil (1966): O mere sona re (Asha, Rafi/Majrooh/RD Burman)
  • Shagird (1967): Wo hain zara khafa-khafa (Lata, Rafi/Majrooh/Laxmikant-Pyarelal)
  • Dil Aur Muhabbat (1969): Haath aaya hai jabse tera haath mein (Asha, Mahendra/Shewan Rizvi/OP Nayyar)
  • Hasina Maan Jayegi (1968): Chale the saath milke (Rafi/Akhtar Romani/Kalyanji-Anandji)
  • Padosan (1968): Ek chatur naar (Kishore, Manna Dey, Mehmood/Rajinder Krishan/RD Buman)
  • Yakeen (1969): Gar tum bhula na doge (Lata or Rafi/Hasrat Jaipuri/Shankar-Jaikishan)
  • Sachcha Jhoottha (1970: Yoon hi tum mujhse baat karti ho (Lata, Rafi/Indeewar/Kalyanji-Anandji)
  • Raja Jani (1972): Duniya ka mela (Lata/Anand Bakshi/Laxmikant-Pyarelal)
  • Yaadon Ki Baraat (1973): Chura liya hai tumne (Asha, Rafi/Majrooh/RD Burman)
  • Nischay (1992): Kisi haseen yaar ki talaash hai (Kavita, Amit Kumar/Noor Dewasi/OP Nayyar)

None of the films above had any song that can be easily identified as a sad offering, even if these films may have had songs in what may not be clearly an undiluted happy mood. As for the Bhutanese idea of replacing Gross Domestic Product with Gross Domestic Happiness, referred to above, how fascinating! This approach lays more emphasis on a holistic approach to development, meaning the spiritual, physical and social health of its citizens, the nation’s culture, and the environment. This idea is working, and so, is gaining subscribers in several countries now.

That makes one wonder about Bhutanese cinema, which is tiny, compared to India’s. They have just 7 cinema halls in the country, and a fledgling industry that makes a handful of films each year, sometimes carrying Buddhist messages. Wonder what their songs are like, and if they have any sorrow in them. The Bhutanese know of course, that Buddha has a gentle and serene smile on his face, in spite of having seen so many trials and tribulations.

Maybe the Buddha was the first person to respond to a Smile Please call, much before photography had been developed. Maybe we need to follow his example, especially when no cameras are around.

~~~~

(Originally published: 11 June 2017)

http://epaper2.dnaindia.com/index.php?mod=1&pgnum=1&edcode=131002&pagedate=2017-06-11 (page 11)

11 thoughts on “Smile Please!

  1. Another great article.. Definitely, songs with happiness and other emotions minus sadness, sorrow are more plentiful in HFM. Your list of movies with predominant happy songs is long all right.. to match the point.. The GDH for Bhutan and the “smiling” Buddha.. what a great thought!

  2. Another thought-provoking Sunday morning! It seems to me that we’re constantly lacking some sort of balance… in the days of the tragediennes and tragedy kings, we were told/taught to face every situation with a smile…and now, it seems, just as we learned how to do that, that our lachrymal glands have dried up… 🙂
    I do see this in every sphere of life. Ayurved teaches us that a balanced meal must consist of sweet, sour, salt, bitter, astringent and pungent in order to produce Rasa, and a balanced digestion. Yet, nowadays, in most homes, you see sorely unbalanced menus and meals. Are we, in the Technicolor and hi-tech age, actually becoming black-and-white and 2-dimensional in our thinking? Are we constantly striving for ‘happiness’ and equating it with ‘pleasures’, instead? Because isn’t true ‘happiness’ a quiet contentment that comes with making one’s peace with the sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and pungent experiences of Life? Including the sadness. I constantly hear young moms and dads go out of their way so that their offspring doesn’t ‘cry’… when our kids were growing up, I would visit their pediatrician – old-school doctor – who would make my perfectly ‘happy’ kids cry! When I protested, he would respond calmly “it’s good for their lungs!” I guess we’re raising a generation of people with very poor lung power! 🙂
    The captivating song you shared – one question – I see no money changes hands here, but does this couple qualify to being called ‘buskers’?
    Once more, hats off! Another way to look at Life through Film Music – art reflecting life? Life without tears? Aren’t they the flip side of the coin called Life? As natural as smiles and laughter? Why do away with them? What value would smiles and laughter be without the contrast that tears bring?
    Sorry, my apologies – got carried away… loved the Bhutan-angle. The Buddha-angle – what a thought, Manek! Buddha – the first person to respond to a Smile Please call! Delightful! _()_

    1. “Ayurved teaches us that a balanced meal must consist of sweet, sour, salt, bitter, astringent and pungent in order to produce Rasa, and a balanced digestion. Yet, nowadays, in most homes, you see sorely unbalanced menus and meals. Are we, in the Technicolor and hi-tech age, actually becoming black-and-white and 2-dimensional in our thinking? Are we constantly striving for ‘happiness’ and equating it with ‘pleasures’, instead? Because isn’t true ‘happiness’ a quiet contentment that comes with making one’s peace with the sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and pungent experiences of Life? Including the sadness.” Loved the lung power point too 🙂

      About your question, how do I know the song “Hum pe dil aaya to bolo kya karoge?” is sung by buskers, since no money is been seen changing hands. It’s like this. In some songs, buskers receive money after the act (the song in this case) is over. It’s like passing a hat around, so we cannot see it here. In other cases, it’s implied, not just by their clothes, but other factors. For one thing, the performers are not in love, looking at each other. They are looking towards the public in general. Also, this couple here has no role in the film otherwise, they are just brought in here for these three-plus minutes. And hello, that harmonium, to lug it around, slung on your shoulder! The reward better be money, if not Madhubala herself 🙂

  3. manekbhai – abh kyaa boloon – you have truly mastered the art of putting all your readers into a basket and you are holding the basket yourself – so every sunday we pop out get high on your article comment and we are back into the basket – we are yours. 🙂

    aap manthra mughdha kardethey hain. no not with some mazaak. serious stuff maaaaaan. now see todays article – look at my concentration – when i was reading i was smiling and feeling so happy – waah kyaa likhaa hai – lekin ithnaa saaraa likhaa ithney kum lineon mein kee ma- konpuse hoon. 🙂

    what to address. 🙂

    gross domestic happiness – apnaa desh mein yeh chamathkaar tabh hogaa jabh ” gau maathaa bolney lageygee insaanon kee bhaashaa – bhai agar kisiko mujhey khaakey achhaa lagthaa hai toh khaaney doh naa – ismein harjaa kyaa hai “. 🙂

    bhutan makes movies as per the feel of the people – if the people are generally happy doing their work and praying to buddha – they have no time for movies and song. 🙂

    yes the very moving point made by the poet that the fact that i always laugh does not mean that i have no sorrows. 🙂 – W O W – now that is something which will truly shake you up. 🙂

    every son of a gun has his own bowl of problems. 🙂 there are moments when he will cry and is sad. if movies show a mix of all that happens in life – we call it a happy family story. 🙂

    very well essayed manekbhai – your articles are slowly entering deeper into the skin of the subject. 🙂 keep it up – aajkaa class achhaa lagaa – mainey kaafee kuchh seekhaa. 🙂 ek dinn aap mujhey bhee achhaa likhnaa sikhaa hee dogey. 🙂

    stay blessed manekbhai – 🙂

  4. Happy songs were well accepted,in the ’50s & ’60s.Yet the Zeitgeist was such that the sad songs carried the punch. I remember that in those days a sad song would ‘impress’the judges of a light music competition ,and it would get more marks,so much so that we kids wuuld trot out a long list of drearily sad songs.Many of the MDs imbued more musical quality into their ‘sad’songs,and they became more noticeable for their musical value.Thus ‘Bachpan ki Muhobat ko’was more noticeable,than ‘Jhoole mein pawan ke’,
    ‘Taqdeer ka Fasana’,more than ‘Lagi Mast Nazar ki Kataar’,and so on.Maybe that the feeling that viccisitudes of life bring out the resilient fibre in humans must have been what was the driving force behind such trends.Quality that was more lasting & enduring must have been valued more,and less importance ascribed to frivolousness.
    Nowadays,the Hedonistic materialist drives holding sway,those trends might be slowly paling away into disuse.

    1. About sad songs, look at your observation: “Maybe the feeling that vicissitudes of life bring out the resilient fibre in humans must have been what was the driving force behind such trends. Quality that was more lasting & enduring must have been valued more, and less importance ascribed to frivolousness.” So beautifully said PC, I think beautifully said!

      1. But doesn’t that equate sadness with “quality’ and smiling with being frivolous? Is it really that black and white? I am a great advocate of smiling. But smiles definitely become more ‘real’ and precious for having experienced tears also. I am just wary of being in judgement of smile – sometimes they come at great cost to the wearer; at others, with a fierce, ‘resilient’ resolve!

  5. A big Smile on a Sunday Morning on reading the article Smiling Buddha too would have been happy on discovering why he smiles inspite of all the Sorrow. Sad songs in Hindi films sorry nowhere to be found Is it because Today’s generation life is so unfulfilled/sad that they seek Happiness/Joy in their films/so called Songs of today

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