Two of a Kind

The poet Saleem Kausar wrote an unforgettable ghazal which has been rendered by several vocalists from time to time, Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh included:

Main khayaal hoon kisi aur ka mujhe sochta koi aur hai

Sar-e-aina mera aks hai, pas-e-aina koi aur hai

Since aks means ‘reflection’, the poet is, in sum, saying, “Two people are thinking about me; while I appear in the mirror as a reflection for one, behind the mirror there is another me”.

This duality of personas reminds you of the recent #MeToo scandals which have cast a shadow on the characters of several powerful men in India, some of whom have been summarily dispatched from their TV shows, films and even responsible jobs. These exposes appear to be an effort to unmask and lay bare the dual identities of people who are one thing in public and quite another in private. They make you wonder about men like MJ Akbar, a journalist turned politician, and Alok Nath, an actor, in the news for serial sexual molestations. Perhaps that second line could fit them to a T: Sar-e-aina mera aks hai, pas-e-aina koi aur hai.

But this poem also has another beautiful line in it: Teri daastaan koi aur thi, mera waaqiya koi aur hai. In translation, the poet is saying that both our narratives are dissimilar. This thought makes you wonder if, in the aftermath of such allegations, accused persons like MJ Akbar and Alok Nath have exchanged notes with each other, their stories plotting different landscapes, of course, but the idea remaining the same: their misuse of position and power to sexually exploit women. In fact, in their private moments, some of the embarrassed men may now be wishing they had a kind of ‘Erase to History’ option as is found in Photoshop.

We leave these men with their scruples, and move to the world of poetry, where two different poets may offer different expressions of the same key idea somewhere in a song. It would be as if one poet expressed an idea, and later, another poet said “MeToo thinks that way, even if our narratives are different!”

Such humkhayaal thoughts from different minds make for a fascinating study. Consider the commonality of the following snatches of thoughts, brought to the table by two different poets.

On living for others:

Kisi ki muskuraahaton pe ho nisaar

Kisi ka dard mil sake to le udhaar,

Kisi ke waaste ho tere dil mein pyaar

Jeena isi ka naam hai…

(Shailendra/Mukesh/Anari, 1959)

Now compare it with this poem:

Apne liye jiye to kya jiye

Tu jee aye dil zamaane ke liye…

(Javed-Anwar/Manna Dey/Baadal, 1966)


Here’s another set of fraternal poetic twins. The leitmotif isLet each of us be happy in our own world’. Here are two of that kind:

Tumko mubaarak hon oonche mahal ye, humko hain pyaari hamaari galiyaan

(PL Santoshi/Parul Ghosh, Suresh/Basant, 1942)

And compare it with

Tumhen zindagi ke ujaale mubaarak, andhere humen aaj raas aa gaye hain

(Gulzar/Mukesh/Purnima, 1965)


How about praising someone else’s eyes? Here goes:

Teri aankh mein wo kamaal hai

(Anjaan/Rafi/Mr India, 1961)

Which is in good company with:

Teri aankhon ke siwa duniya mein rakkha kya hai

(Rafi or Lata/Majrooh/Chirag, 1969)


Let’s now go meet a narcissistic and self-confident woman praising her own eyes:

Bachke kahaan jaoge in nigaahon se

(Hasrat/Asha/Yakeen, 1969)

And compare it with

In aankhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaaron hain

(Shahryar/Asha/Umrao Jaan, 1981)


Let’s move on to the theme of ‘Keep moving in life’:

Nadiya chale chale re dhaara…tujhko chalna hoga

(Indeevar/Manna Dey/Safar, 1970)

And compare it with

Jeevan chalne ka naam, chalte raho subah o shaam

(Inderjit Singh Tulsi/Manna Dey, Mahendra, Shyama Chittar/Shor, 1972)


Yet another subject to receive an echo is the idea of ‘Everyone is a thief’:

Is duniya mein sab chor chor 

(Rajinder Krishan/Lata/Bhai Bhai, 1956)

And its humkhayaal line:

Humko haste dekh zamaana jalta hai…chor saari duniya humhi ko mat gher zara

(Majrooh/Rafi, Durrani/Hum Sab Chor Hain, 1956)


How about if you are feeling lonely when the weather is perfect?

Mausam hai jawaan noor mein doobe hain nazaare…kaash tum mere paas hote

(Asad Bhopali/Asha/Tower House, 1962)

And its twin:

Kitni jawaan hai zindagi kitni jawaan bahaar, aise mein koi aaye kaheen se kar le humse pyaar

(Rajinder Krishan/Rafi/Shehnai, 1964)


Here are a couple of poems invoking divinity for strength:

Hum ko man ki shakti dena

(Gulzar/Vani Jairam/Guddi, 1971)

And its dual:

Itni shakti humen dena daata

(Abhilash/Pushpa Pagdhare/Ankush, 1986)


Under someone’s magical spell?

Akhiyaan bhool gayi hain sona, dil pe hua hai jaadu tona

(Bharat Vyas/Geeta, Lata/Goonj Uthi Shehnai, 1959)


Kisi ne jaadu kiya main karoon kya

(Shailendra/Mukesh/Chand Aur Suraj, 1965)


Now, how about one on someone coming into a room and one’s heart goes aflutter?

Ye kaun aaya ke mere dil ki duniya mein bahaar aayi

(Sahir/Geeta/Baazi, 1951)

And its emotional soulmate:

Ye kaun aaya roshan ho gayi mehfil kis ke naam se

(Majrooh/Lata/Saathi, 1968)


Curses can come from everyone, but they sound scary coming from poets:

Jalta rahe tu hardam mujhko jalaane waale

Phir main hasi udaoon sun-sun ke tere naale

(Asad Bhopali/Balbir/Khul Ja Sim Sim, 1956)

While its companion is:

Mere dushman tu meri dosti ko tarse

Mujhe gham dene waale tu khushi ko tarse

(Anand Bakshi/Rafi/Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, 1966)


Then the humkhayaal idea comes to us for an ardhangini as well:

Ye jee chaahta hai kisi din main teri nigaahon ki saari udaasi chura loon

(Rajinder Krishan/Asha/Amar Deep, 1958)

And its poetic echo here:

Tum apna ranj-o-gham apni pareshaani mujhe de do

(Sahir/Jagjit Kaur/Shagun, 1964)


On the rich versus poor divide:

Ghareeb jaanke humko na tum mita dena

(Jan Nissar Akhtar/Rafi, Geeta/Chhoo Mantar, 1956)

Its fraternal twin being:

Mehlon ne chheen liya bachpan ka pyaar mera 

(Prem Dhawan/Lata, Mukesh/Zabak, 1961)


Enchanted by someone? Think of

Teer ye chhupke chalaaya kisne

Ye meettha-meettha jaadu jagaaya kisne

(Asha/Qamar Jalalabadi/Phagun, 1958)

To set it up against this one:

Ye kisne geet chheda

Dil mera naache thirak thirak

(Shailendra/Mukesh, Suman/Meri Surat Teri Ankhen, 1963)


Consider these having to do with Coming of Age:

Rama kaahe main itni jawaan ho gayi

(Rajinder Krishan/Asha, Usha/Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, 1970)

Which isn’t too different in thought from

Aaj main jawaan ho gayi hoon

(Anand Bakshi/Lata/Main Sundar Hoon, 1971)


It’s interesting to see how different writers had honed their craft so well as to be able to offer different imageries for the same idea. There are many thoughts with three or four, even more different expressions, but we will save them for another day.

In conclusion, one can only end with the immortal lines from the pen of the genius Sahir:

Jab bhi jee chaahe nayi duniya basa lete hain log

Ek chehre pe kayi chehre laga lete hain log

(Lata in Daag, 1973)

Even as across the border in Pakistan, the wonderfully-voiced Mehdi Hassan had rendered something similar in Saza (1969), to the poetry of Qateel Shifai:

Jab bhi chaahen ik nayi surat bana lete hain log

Ek chehre pe kayi chehre saja lete hain log

As for “MeToo thinks that way” idea, we will revisit it soon, with three or more poets giving us the same thought in different words. Do watch this space.


Originally published in DNA Jaipur page 13, on 25 November 2018

Featured image: Anita Guha in Ghareeb jaanke

7 Replies to “Two of a Kind”

  1. What an essay – all people who love Hindi film music are aware that different poets express their thoughts on similar topics in not very dissimilar ways – and yet, I doubt if any of us could have connected this aspect of poetry writing to the #MeToo movement or thought about a feature in Photoshop while writing this.
    As always, Manek, your thoughts startle while your knowledge, research and style of writing inspire!

  2. Beautiful Sunday read!! Fa always inspires and how ? I know that feeling while discussing music with her.
    Loved the way you began the essay. Uffff. I’m glad my Sunday will be spent pondering on the songs which might come under this topic.
    Thank you for this lovely essay ?

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