Khamoshi (1970) – Hemant Kumar – Hemant Kumar – Gulzar
There are songs that are soft in tonal quality, instrumentation, the words et al. Like that lori in ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haath’, “Main gaaun re tu so ja”. There are songs that are soft-voiced with muted or minimalistic instrumentation, like the one “Kaise kahun main baat jiya ki saanwariya” (Gehra Daag, 1963). Lata Jagtiani pointed out the shy Rajendra Kumar on the screen as well, which makes it visibly soft too. The words, however, do have ‘sound’. They aren’t “quiet”.
Then there are songs like this one–actually, I think this is the only one of its kind that I know of where even the whistling has a quietly haunting effect. The instrumentation is not loud. But neither is it soft. The singing has an almost confusing effect–an ethereal effect. Haunted, calming, not sad, not happy. The words? The words are a confession, a waiting, a desire, a desolation all combined together. All the factors together create one half of this song. The other half is completed by the visuals. Was ever another song shot like this one? Amazingly the two songs that haunt me with their visuals, both have Waheeda Rehman! This one and ” Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam” (Kaagaz Ke Phool, 1959).
The humming, the long flight of stairs, the unhurried gait, Waheeda Rehman’s eyes, ‘Meghdoot’ in her hands, a solitary tear rolling down her cheek, the expression on her face, the back of the singer, her hesitation to put down the book, pick it up again–has she decided she’s going to be ‘the Meghdoot’ (the cloud messenger) for this yaksha (Dharmendra)? Taking his message (of love) to his real lady love? The sense of hopelessness in her face, as she swings the door shut and climbs down the very stairs she just climbed. More than anything, as she goes away the difference in the two lonely figures. The vast aloneness of the building in that shot as she climbs down the stairs, the ‘sannata’ there a contrast to the expectancy in the words he sings and whistles
“dil behel to jaayega iss khayal se
haal mil gaya tumhara, apne haal se
raat ye qaraar ki beqaraar hai…”
Maybe this song is not really gentle–there’s a tornado of emotions here…maybe this song’s not soft either, there’s that whistling… but why does it feel like it softly and gently haunts and enchants me, with its expectation, its desolation, its confession?
“honth pe liye huye dil ki baat hum
jaagte rahenge aur kitni raat hum
mukhtsar-si baat hai…tumse pyar hai…
tumhar.a.a.a intezaar hai….”
Originally written on 26 January 2018
Monica Kar received her BA in English Honours from the University of Delhi. She now lives in St. Charles, Missouri, where she wears several hats, including doing voluntary work as an educator and homemaker.