The songs with the maximum impact of emotions, particularly those of resentment, pathos and anger, often have a pitch that starts slow and gains momentum to end up in a crescendo. Perhaps, as the song has to get under the listener’s skin, it starts with a gentle touch, almost a caress, then moves on to a little pressure, then a scratch, an itch and finally a puncture – there, under the skin.
Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai…Many a mortal must have succumbed to these lines in times of angst, of betrayal, of loneliness, of sheer pain.
Sahir’s words could have emanated from his own situation in life, where he was born to a zamindar, but had to live in poverty under his mother’s care, a mother who was forsaken by the father.
Apparently, the start of the song mentions takhton, mehlon, taajon which refer to an era prior to independence. Sahir had penned the song pre-1947 and was used in a movie, Pyaasa in 1957. None of us noticed that the takht, the mehal and the taaj were all gone. The song rose high above that. The angst in the song refers to what may be considered as the heights to achieve in life… Sahir tore all these things to shreds – as also the “enemy of humans” Society, the hungering for wealth.
So aptly Sahir says, Rafi sings and Guru Dutt emotes on screen with a face that has little expression and is often framed with half the face in light and half in shade – denoting the two sides of the coin we face in life.
The song is beyond a complete discussion. Every time one listens to it, a new perspective makes an appearance. The final antara is so loaded with passion, fervour and fury… “Jala do issey phoonk dalo yeh duniya.. Mere samne se hata lo yeh duniya”.. And the climax… “Tumhari hai tum hi sambhalo yeh duniya”. And the irony is that in the scene, Guru Dutt is thrown out of the chamber by Rehman’s goons.
S D Burman’s contribution links all the aspects together, so that the music supports the whole exercise, staying subdued, yet very effective.
Originally written on 15 July 2018
Sneh Dhingra (nee Khanna) was born in Delhi to an Army Officer father; consequently, she spent time in several cities, going to school at Patna, graduating in Physics major from Meerut, and also living in Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur before migrating to Canada, where she has lived since 1975. She is currently based in Ottawa.