Listening to : Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963)

Meri Surat Teri AnkhenWould anyone reject a child because of its perceived ugliness? I am not convinced. Yes, India is a country where perfect little infant girls have been abandoned or killed in the past. Yes, it is a country where disabled children have also suffered the same treatment. Yes, it is steeped in the racism of skin colour so I am not astonished at the equating of dark with ugly, much as I disagree with it. This has been the cross for the dark skinned Indians to bear from pre-historic times when the light skinned, Causasoid Indo-Aryans migrated into Northern India, displacing the dark-skinned Australoid Dravidian locals. Yet, a first male child of middle-aged parents being rejected just because of skin colour? That wouldn’t happen. Once I accepted that, the rest of the film was easier to digest.

The script is not too bad and has good character development. The climax however is very poorly scripted. The movie’s message आदमी रंग रूप से नहीं, उजले मन से ख़ूबसूरत होता है  (a man is made beautiful not by colour or form but by an enlightened mind) is a good one and the movie is true to this message. At the end, Ashok Kumar says to his mother ‘सच तो यह है की मेरी सूरत को तेरी आँखों से किसीने नहीं देखा’ accounting for the title.

Ashok Kumar is very good at displaying the angst of someone who suffers from low self-esteem and the negative bias of society.   I so love his diction and dialogue delivery! However, at 52, he is much too old to play this part of a 25 year old. In scenes where he addresses his screen parents, he looks older than them!

Asha Parekh is young and glowing in a role which demands little of her.  Pradeep Kumar is adequate as a dissolute (well, not really)  man but I have great resistance in accepting him as the good-looking brother. Again, he is too old at 38 to play a young man. Is that Iftekhar in a non-police-office-or-military-chap role? I can hardly believe my eyes!

The music is by S.D.Burman, with credited support from R.D.Burman. The album is a credit to SD’s genius which is well matched by Shailendra’s lyrics. 

  • Poocho Na Kaise – Manna Dey. Based on classical music in Raga Ahir Bhairav, it has become a classic in itself. Manna Dey shines in displaying his roots in classical music in this superb song. See footnote for lyrics. Iconic.  Open-mouthed smileRed heartRed heart
  • Tere Bin Soone – Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar. A slow, meditative song sung perfectly by Rafi and Lata who show that they have a talent equal to Manna’s in classical ragas. This one is set to Raga Piloo. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Tujhse Nazar Milane Mein – Asha Bhonsle. A club song which has some nice instrumentals but the melody didn’t appeal. Sad smile
  • Naache Man Mora – Mohammad Rafi. Another excellent classically based song in Raga Bhairavi. Asha Parekh displays her dancing talents in this good Kathak number. Its a pity we don’t see much of this lovely classical dance form anymore in films. Open-mouthed smile
  • Tere Khayalon Mein – Lata Mangeshkar. A not very scintillating solo. Sad smile
  • Yeh Kisne Geet Cheda – Mukesh, Suman Kalyanpur. I really liked this rather old-fashioned duet. A lovely melody! Open-mouthed smile

Click here to listen to the whole album.

My choice for the day is of course Poocho Na Kaise by Manna Dey.

I have included the song below for the Kathak performance by Asha Parekh.


Footnote (lyrics) :

पूछो ना कैसे मैंने रैन बिताई
इक पल जैसे इक जुग बीता
जुग बीते मोहे नींद न आयी (पूछो)

इक जले दीपक इक मन मेरा
फिर भी न जाये मेरे घर का अँधेरा
तडपत तरसत उमर गंवाई (पूछो)

ना कहीं चंदा ना कहीं तारे
ज्योत के प्यासे मेरे नैन बेचारे
भोर भी आस की किरण ना लाई (पूछो)

pooCHo na kaisE mainE rain bitayI
ik pal jaisE ik yug beeta
yug beetE mohE neend na AyI

ik jalE dIpak ik man mErA
phir BHI na jAyE mErE GHar kA anDHErA
tadpat tarsat umar ganvayI

nA kahIn chandA nA kahIn tArE
jyOt kE pyAsE mErE nain bEcharE
BHor BHI As kI kiraN nA lAyI

Do not ask how the night passed
An eon passed in an instant
But even an eon did not bring me sleep

A lamp burned, so did my mind
still the darkness of my home did not fade
A lifetime passed in suffering, in longing

Nowhere do I see the moon or stars
My poor eyes thirst for light
Even dawn did not bring a ray of hope

6 Comments

Filed under Bollywood 60's Music, Manna Dey

6 responses to “Listening to : Meri Surat Teri Ankhen (1963)

  1. Poochho na kaise and naache mann mora are really good ones. I also know ‘ye kisne geet chheda.’ I’ve never heard the others, and never got the opportunity to watch Asha Parekh dancing on naache mann mora! In fact, I’m as ignorant of the old films (not music) as you’re of the latest ones🙂

  2. Arindam Sengupta

    @Ganesh Dhamodkar: check out

    for the song & dance scene.

    The description there on the video adds another interesting detail: the tabla accompaniment for the song was given by the legendary Pt. Samta Prasad!

    @Suja-di: just got redirected here from a reference by Srinivas-da in ISI Friends on FB. Never knew you’d set up this fine blog! Look forward to many hours of enjoyment, TIA😀

    • Hi Arindam, Hope you enjoy some of the posts🙂 Lots of it is carnatic music, not probably to your taste but I do write on filmi music, thankfully something most of us take an interest in to a lesser or greater degree. Thanks for reading🙂

  3. Rumi

    When I am listening to a song while doing something else as is most often the case, my mind somehow does not concentrate on the lyrics – except for occasionally catching a turn of phrase that catches my attention. And therefore reading the translation was a delight in itself even though I know Hindi myself !

    • Thank you Rumi! I don’t ofren include lyrics and translations of songs in my posts but this is such a classic, with such heartfelt poetry, that I just had to write them out !!

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