A New Series on All Things Musical
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“Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.”
Shelley’s famous line was often quoted by my father when talking about the simple beauty of some of his favourite old Hindi film songs of yesteryears. He would then often sing a couple of lines from the old Talat Mahmood song that speaks of a similar sentiment - “Hain sab se madhur woh geet jinhe hum dard ke sur mein gaate hain”
This indeed is one of the most beautiful gems to come from the golden age of Hindi cinema. The poet speaks of the pain but speaks of it not with sadness and remorse, but rather as something that has to be won over with a spirit of equanimity inside and an act of smiling outside.
Just this past week when re-watching – I have lost the count how many times I have watched this film – an all-time favourite film of mine, Guide, I was once again mesmerized by the song that I believe is a highly rare gem to come out of the Hindi cinema. I am speaking of the song – “Piya tose naina lage re” sung in the beautiful voice of Lata Mangeshkar.
Am I biased? Sure I am.
But any lover of old Hindi film music will agree with me that this song is indeed quite a masterpiece…not just the delightful and lovely lyrics, the breezy and smooth composition, and the melodious and sweet singing but also the graceful dancing and careful filming of the whole song sequence. As I sat on my favourite reclining chair and watched and then re-watched this, I felt this strange sense of joy….the kind one feels when face-to-face with something very beautiful, something very pure and lovely. No, I am not saying that everyone will or should feel something similar when listening to/watching this song and dance sequence. But I can’t deny that I did.
There is no trace of sadness whatsoever in this song. It is a happy, light-filled number that speaks of the joy and beauty of love - of being in love, of moments of separation, of anticipation of union – and speaks of all that in one of the sweetest and softest compositions by Sachin Dev Burman. (A few details about the song may be read here).
The song doesn’t speak of any sad thought, though it definitely speaks of the longing for the beloved.
The song doesn’t speak of the pain of separation, though it definitely speaks of the joylessness of celebrating any festival with the beloved being far away.
When listening to this song again just now, I am thinking perhaps Shelley only got it partly right.
What do you think?