Aaye Na Baalam

Ajoy ChakrabortyIt must be evident to my readers that I take a rather intellectual pleasure in songs and music. My mind buzzes with questions like : What does it mean? What mood is the composer trying to invoke? Why? Which raga is this? Why do I like this raga? Is there another song of the same raga I like or is this an anomaly ? When was this written? By whom? What was their life like? If it is devotional, what religious or philosophical idea does it convey? Does this make meaning to me? If its in a film, does it match the setting? Do the actors emote appropriately? Ah, so many questions! And so few that I know the answers to! But yet, it enhances my listening pleasure when I know at least a few answers.

But the truth is, music is most pleasurable, even to an analytical person like me, when its impact is so visceral that I stop asking questions or listening to answers. When I stand in the middle of the room, eyes unfocused, action forgotten, listening..or when my eyes fill, shedding hot tears for nameless things …or when I laugh aloud in sheer joy, waves of sheer exuberance engulfing my soul. The last is what happened to me when I heard Ajoy Chakrabarty’s version of the well-know and well-loved Thumri ‘Aaye na baalam’ a few days back. I re-listened a few times, and of course wanted to blog about it immediately!

 Thumris belong to the semi-classical genre, within the broader Hindustani Classical music. They can be interpreted as romantic or devotional. Like songs often featured in this blog, the mood is viraha, of separation from one’s beloved and the Nayika-Nayak are often Radha and Krishna. My today’s selection is written and composed by the Maestro of Maestros, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (1902-1968) in the Raga Sindhu Bhairavi.  His rendition is so well-known that many of you must already have heard it. If not, here is a clip below.

The rendition I have chosen for your listening pleasure is by the Maestro with the oh so delicious a voice, Ajoy Chakrabarty. This is a Maestro at play!!  There are touches of Ghazal style singing, a  different flavour of the raga thrown in to to spice things up, and a happy wander through the full chromatic scale like a child who has just discovered a keyboard! It is evident that he is enjoying himself thoroughly. And when Maestros play, is it any wonder that we ordinary mortals are engulfed in joy? Listen below to 18 minutes of sheer, unmitigated pleasure.

It is very interesting academically to listen to both versions; Ajoy Chakrabarty was the disciple of Munawar Ali Khan, son of the legendary Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

I am sure many of you readers in my generation are immediately reminded of the song with a similar refrain but entirely different lyrics from the film Swami (1977) sung by Yesudas. Here is a link for those who would like to listen to it.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

का करूँ सजनी आये न बालम
तड़पत बीती मोरी  उन  बिन रतियाँ 
आये न बालम
रोवत रोवत कल नाँही आये
तड़प तड़प मोहे राम कल नाँही आये
निस दिन मोहे बिरहा सताए
याद आवत जब उनकी बतियाँ
आये न बालम

kaa karoon sajni, AyE na bAlam
tadpat bItI mOrI un bin ratiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam
rOvat rOvat kal nA(n)hi AyE
tadpat tadpat mOhE rAm kal nA(n)hi AyE
nis din mOhE birhA satAyE
yAd Avat jab unkI batiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam

What am I to do, my friend, my beloved has not come. My whole night has passed in suffering without him, but my beloved has not come.
I keep sobbing, I keep suffering, but tomorrow comes not. Everyday when I remember him, I suffer with the pangs of separation. My beloved has not come.

Ajoy Chakrabarty’s slightly different version, with a couplet thrown in for good measure :

का करूँ सजनी आये न बालम
तडपत बीती मोरी उन बिन रतियाँ
आये न बालम
किस मुसीबत से बसे हम शबे-ग़म करते हैं
रात भर हाय सनम हाय सनम करते हैं
रोअत गावत कल नाँही आवे
निस दिन मोहे बिरहाँ सताए
याद आवत जब उनकी बतियाँ
आये न बालम

kA karoon sajnI AyE na bAlam
tadpat bItI mOrI un bin ratiyA(n)
AyE na bAlam
kis musIbat sE basE ham shabE-gam kartE hai(n)
rAt bhar hAy sanam hAy sanam kartE hai(n)
rOvat gAvat kal nA(n)hI AvE
nis din Avat jab unkI batiyAn
Aye na bAlam

Footnote (Raga ):

The scale of the Hindustani Raga Sindhu (or Sindhi) Bhairavi (or Misra Bhairavi, not sure if this right) are as follows :

Arohan : S rR gG mM P dD nN S’
Avarohan : S’ nN dD P mM gG rR S

Scale Hindustani

Yes, you noticed right, all notes of the sargam are present! This raga belongs to the Bhairavi That. I have read that if any Shuddha note is used in Bhairavi in which all notes are Komal (all lowercase notes except m), it becomes Sindhu (Sindhi) Bhairavi. It is a morning raga and it can display a whole range of emotions.

Note : Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Indian Classical Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the ornamentations are a very important part of a raga.


Filed under Ajoy Chakrabarty, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Hindustani Classical Music

17 responses to “Aaye Na Baalam

  1. shoote


    Its a lovely rendition by Ajoy Chakrabarty. I have heard of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Shab. I am leaving for U.S.A to visit my daughter and grand son. I may not have access to system there.. I am a regular follower of your blog. I’ ll return during September. If possible i’ll visit your blog. If not so long till september.

    • Thanks for being such a regular reader and commenter, I really appreciate your interest. I am glad you liked AC’s version, I found it fabulous! Have a wonderful holiday in USA, you are going in a great time of the year. I too will be very busy with my travels so will not post as frequently, and so you will easily be able to catch up when you return 🙂 Bon Voyage!

  2. Filmbuff

    Thanks Suja for sharing the diff versions of this thumri. I liked the Bade Ghulam Ali version. We must thank “swami” for popularising this thumri among the common folks. Incidentally your yesudas link led me to hear/see some more beautiful yesudas songs on youtube like “teri tasveer ko seene se laga rakha hai” from Sawan Ko Aane Do and “Shyam rang ranga re har pal mera re” from Apne Paraye. You must be on your tour – hope u r having a fab time!

    • Hi M, the BGAK version is of course a classic but AC version is brilliant for its playfullness, which we seldom get in Indian classical music. And yes, I am still in Paris, my last day here. It was a museum-hop-till-i-drop trip and I really am dropping! But how exhilariting it was to see my favourite artists!! Worth all the exhaustion….

  3. Ramesh

    Wonderful. When I saw the title I thought you were posting about the Yesudas song which was what first came to mind !

    When maestros play indeed we mortals are bathed in joy.

    • Glad you liked it Ramesh; when I found it by chance and heard it, I was so affected by the joy of it! Its nice to share that will all you fellow music lovers 🙂

  4. Hello Suja, I’m back to your blog after a long while, this time via Google!

    Incidentally, I downloaded both of these versions last week and have been listening to both of them since. I’ve played the Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Sahab Khan version in loop for hours and have listened to it at least 50 times in the past week (No exaggeration)! It’s not leaving me at all!

    I heard the Ajay Chakraborty version later, when I was still in heavens with the original “tarpat biti mori, raam.” I found it too “light” and liked it for only those parts that were much like the original. But later, I found this version too quite enjoyable. But for sure – the original is going to be with me for life!

    And I knew the Yesudas song, but somehow didn’t dare to give it a chance while I’m still in a spell with Ustad Sahab!

    • Hello Ganesh, good to see you here after all this time, welcome back 🙂 You made me laugh, because I too get obsessive about music and have to listen for hours before the need for a certain song or raga leaves my system! Yes, BGAK is addictive and amazing bit I was much attracted to the AC rendition too – it’s a different feel altogether, yes a bit light but amazing! And though the filmi version is good enough in its own sphere, there is no comparison with the original. Glad you enjoyed the music, cheers, Suja

  5. Anoop

    Eternal bliss………………………

  6. T Vijay Sankar

    is the song tere tasveerko sene se in saawan ke aanedo film also composed in sindhubhairavi raga?

    • No, it doesn’t sound like Sindhu Bhairavi at all! As I am mostly unfamiliar with Hindustani Ragas, I did a quick search; it seems its based on Kedar. Knowing other songs based on this raga, it sounds as if this may well be correct.
      Cheers, Suja

  7. Abraham Veliyathu

    How can I get the midi file for Ka karun sajini (by Yesudas)? If any midi file is available , I am interested… veliyathu@gmail.com

    • I am sorry for the late reply. Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your question. I am sure a search in google will get you something!
      Cheers. Suja

  8. Annesha Singha

    Awsome classics…love it…

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