Nigahen Milane Ko Ji Chahta Hai

Nigahen MilaneHow I have been neglecting my blog! Summer is always a busy time for me; this summer has been no different. I’ve been busy first with family visitors and then with my own travels. And it’s not finished. My September is fully booked up with more travelling and more visitors, so I am taking advantage of this brief lull for this post.

My travels took me to India this time. It was a hectic schedule which included four cities in two weeks! This India trip was a font of inspiration for me; you’ll no doubt hear of them in future posts. My song choice of today is also triggered by this trip…but I will come to that by and by..

The first part of the trip was a get-together with a select group of alumni from my husband’s alma mater. They have been organising meets every two years for a while now. There is invariably plenty of reminiscing and reconnecting, eating and drinking, jokes and laughs and some tourism if the mood takes us. It’s nice to see the guys relax and be ‘boys’ again. When they are fooling around, its difficult to reconcile that one of them has been decorated with a Padma Shri, a number of them are Heads, Deans or senior academic members of some of the greatest academic institutions in India and outside, one is a policy advisor to a Head of State, another is an entrepreneur whose company is now worth more millions than I can count, one is a COO of an outstanding global tech company from India, another is an enterprise architect of a multi billion dollar company and yet another is a CTO of a large bank in India ….a high achieving bunch indeed!

One of the most entertaining parts of these get-togethers has been a themed photo-and-music presentation by my husband’s pal each year. As he is a veritable encyclopaedia of filmi music from the old-is-gold period, these presentations are always very enjoyable. This year there was a quiz based on the musical choices by the alumni members. It was fun to see how well they all knew each other as they invariably named the person by the song choice almost immediately!

That set me wondering, can I name one song by which people who know me will be able to identify me? After pondering a while it was evident that it was quite an impossible task to choose that one special song which has a strong connection with me. There is so much music out there, how can I name just one? Could you? However, I could short list a number of songs which have a great appeal in each genre that I listen to. My song choice of today falls into that short list for filmi music. The combination of Roshan’s admirable music, Sahir Ludhianvi’s beautiful words, Asha’s flawless rendition, Nutan’s lovely expressive face and the Qawwali style makes this quite irresistible to me. The song is so well known that I am sure you have heard it many times before. Still, join me now in listening to this song….

राज़ की बात है मेहफ़िल में कहें या न कहें
बस गया है कोई इस दिल में कहें या न कहें

rAz kI bAt hai mehfil mE.n kahE.n yA na kahE.n
bas gayA hai kOI is dil mE.n kahE.n yA na kahE.n

It’s a secret (rAz) matter (bAt), shall I say (kahE.n) it in (mE.n) this gathering (mehfil) or (yA) not (nA kahE.n)? Someone (kOI) has taken root (bas gayA hai) in (mE.n) this (is) heart (dil), whether I say it (kahE.n) or (yA) not (nA kahE.n).

The first couplet sets the mood of the song : a girl, newly in love, wonders if she shall talk openly about it. Qawwalis always include hand clapping to enhance percussion. It is lovely in this passage to hear the clang of the ghungroo (dancers’ belled  anklets) in addition to the claps.

निगाहें मिलाने को जी चाहता है
दिल-ओ-जाँ लुटाने को जी चाहता है

nigAhE.n milAnE kO jI chAhtA hai
dil-O-jA.n luTAnE kO jI chAhtA hai

My (implied) heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to share glances (nigAhE.n milAnE kO) (implied : with my loved one). My(implied) heart (jI) longs to (chAhtA hai) to lose (luTAnE kO) itself  heart and soul (literally dil=heart, jA.n=life).

Who can resist the glances of Nutan when she drags her arms across her face and peeps smilingly?  The theme of the song is the repeated phrase ‘jI chAhtA hai’ – what the heart longs for, yearns for. On an aside, isn’t it interesting that both in English and Hindi/Urdu, to ‘lose one’s heart’ works well to describe falling in love? And how different it is ‘to lose one’s heart’ vs. ‘to lose heart’!

वो तोहमत जिसे इश्क़ कहती है दुनिया
वो तोहमत उठाने को जी चाहता है

wO tOhmat jisE ishk kehtI hai duniyA
wO tOhmat uTHAnE kO jI chAhtA hai

That (wO) aspersion (tOhmat) that (jisE) the world (duniyA) calls (kehtI hai) love (ishk) – my heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to take on (uTHAnE kO) that aspersion (tOhmat)

Isn’t tohmat a lovely sounding word? The poet implies that the world views being in love as a crime, and to say someone is in love is slander, an aspersion, an allegation. And yet, the heart longs to be in love. Musically, this is composed very cleverly to bring attention to the lyrics. The phrasing of the first line goes as ‘wO tOhmat..duniyA’, ‘kehtI hai duniyA’, ‘wO tOhmat’, ‘jisE ishk’, ‘kehtI hai duniyA’ thus emphasising each part beautifully. The second line of the couplet becomes a chorus, the repetition adding weight to the words. And Asha is simply superb with the phrasing and connection between phrases, isn’t she? Listen to how easy she makes it look at 2:33! I bow my head in respect!!

किसी के मनाने में लज़्ज़त वो पायी
कि फिर रूठ जाने को जी चाहता है
kisI kE manAnE mE.n lazzat vO pAyI
ki phir rUTH jAnE kO jI chahtA hai
I (implied) found such pleasure (lazzat) in being coaxed (manAnE mE.n) by someone (kiSi kE) that (ki) my heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to sulk (rUTH jAnE kO)

How prettily the lyrics talk of the pleasure of making up after a tiff!! And isn’t Nutan amazing in her moment of ‘rUTHnA’ at 3:14? She makes me smile! The musical phrasing of this couplet follows the previous pattern.

वो जलवा जो ओझल भी है सामने भी
वो जलवा चुराने को जी चाहता है

wO jalvA jO Ojhal bhI hai sAmnE bhI
wO jalvA churAnE kO jI chAhtA hai

That lustre (jalvA) which is (hai) both (implied by bhI=also) hidden (Ojhal) and apparant (sAmnE, literally ‘in front’). My heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to steal (churAnE kO) that lustre (jalvA) (implied- for myself).

People in love do have a certain lustre about them, don’t they? Its as if the glowing of the soul is so much that it cannot be contained within one’s self and seeps out of your skin!

जिस घड़ी मेरी निगाहों को तेरी दीद हुई
वो घड़ी मेरे लिये ऐश की तमहीद हुई
जब कभी मैंने तेरा चाँद सा चेहरा देखा
ईद हो या कि न हो मेरे लिये ईद हुई

jis ghaDI mErI nigAhO.n kO tErI dId huI
wO ghaDI mErE liyE aish kI tamhId huI
jab kabhI mainE tErA chA.nd sA chehrA dEkhA
Id hO yA ki na hO mErE liyE Id huI

At the moment (ghaDI) when (jis) my (mErI) glances (nigAhO.n) caught sight (dId huI) of you (tErI), that (wO) moment (ghaDI) became (huI) a prelude (tamhId) to a life of pleasure (aish) for me (mErE liyE). Whenever (jab kabhI) I (mainE) saw (dEkhA) your (tErA) moon like (chA.nd sA) face (chehrA), whether (implied) it was Eid (Id hO) or (yA) not (nA hO), for me (mErE liyE) it became (huI) Eid.

At this point, there is a melody change and a change to a masculine persona both in the lyrics and it’s portrayal by Nutan. The poet points to that first glimpse as a prelude to a life of happiness and says that her moon-like face (a traditional simile for the beauty of a woman) makes everyday a day of festivity. For those unaware of the tradition, it is a moon-sighting which declares the start of the festival of Eid. What a romantic verse! I wonder, is it what a man would say or is it what a woman would wish her man would say? Again, the music director has cleverly made this section stand out before returning to the refrain of the previous couplet, thus returning to the feminine persona. Asha does an expert job of the swaras/sargam/solfeggio which follow.

मुलाक़ात का कोई पैग़ाम दीजिये कि
छुप छुपके आने को जी चाहता है और
आके न जाने को जी चाहता है

mulAkAt kA kOI pai.gAm dIjiyE ki
CHup CHupkE AnE kO jI chAhtA hai aur
AkE na jAnE kO jI chAhtA hai

Do send (dIjiyE) me (implied) a message (pai.gAm) of (kA) a meeting (mulAkAt), for  my heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to come (AnE kO) meet you (implied) secretly (CHup CHup kE) – and (aur) having come (AkE), my heart (jI) longs (chAhtA hai) to not go back again (na jAnE kO).

With another melody change, the music comes to the concluding verse. The final longing is that for her to be with her loved one forever. There is a melancholic air to the melody of this last phrase, for this is a dream which may or may not come true. The first two lines have a staccato feel; I am not sure I like the phrasing with  ‘ki’ and ‘aur’ dumped at the end of the previous phrases instead of the start of the phrase in which they belong.

I hope you enjoyed this walk-through of one of my favourite songs from Hindi films. I would love to hear from you about the one song above all (if possible) that you would choose as yours.

4 Comments

Filed under Asha Bhonsle, Bollywood 60's Music, Bollywood Music, Qawwali

4 responses to “Nigahen Milane Ko Ji Chahta Hai

  1. Ramesh

    I would have never guessed that this would be one of your favourite songs, almost to the extent of being identified by it. Somehow from the music and choices you feature in this blog, I would have thought differently !!! Of course lyrics with poetic and intriguing allusions would catch your fancy I know🙂

    Nice song , of course. And I’m sure neither Sahir Ludhianvi nor Roshan could articulate all the intricacies of the poetry and the music as you have done !

    I don’t think there can be a single song or a small set of songs that can be readily identified with anybody. What the classmates are doing is probably alluding to some song that in their younger days somebody was obsessed about, or would sing completely off key in the bathroom !!

    Hey take it easy. If you are being too busy, write a short breezy post, minus the research, or simply post a song that you are humming at the moment. Music to my ears, is now for other ears too :):)

    • Hi Ramesh, Thank you for your kind words🙂 Its hard to choose favourites but if I were to select the top 10 from Hindi Films, I would indeed include this lovely song….. I should actually conduct that exercise for Carnatic songs and see what I end up with🙂 An Abheri, a Hindolam, a Bhairavi come immediately to mind….You are probably right about the guys remembering song connection from their hostel days, but there was also a modern one in the ‘most hated’ category (Himesh Reshamiya!).
      I’ll try and keep up with my blog🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  2. I sometimes wonder if so much thought actually went into the song composition!

    But everything you write seems logical and sensible … and we mustn’t forget that Sahir and Roshan were titans of their time, and Nutan was probably even more intelligent than pretty (which is saying a lot!)

    And what’s one to say of Asha’s singing? Even during her Didi’s heyday she often conjured something that her Didi couldn’t have matched or equaled.

    Please attempt such an analysis at least once in 3 months. I absolutely enjoyed it. It was fun to read and most illuminating.

    • I sometimes wonder if so much thought actually went into the song composition!

      Probably not🙂 When critics go on about art and read all kinds of meaning into it, I wonder if they are quite right in their heads!! And see what I do🙂

      and we mustn’t forget that Sahir and Roshan were titans of their time, and Nutan was probably even more intelligent than pretty

      I think Sahir was quite a genius with his pen…the poetry in Kabhi Kabhi, for example, left such a mark on our whole generation, didn’t it?? And Roshan was a genius too though I am not really familiar with his music from the fifties. And as for Nutan, she was a jewel of those times. As for Asha, I confess I always liked her more than Lata…So, for me, the combination in this song is quite alluring..

      Please attempt such an analysis at least once in 3 months. I absolutely enjoyed it. It was fun to read and most illuminating.

      Thank you Srinivas, from you its high praise indeed🙂 I will indeed try and do more filmi music posts..

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