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The surprising origins of some much-hummed Bollywood songs

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  24 July 2017 12:00 AM GMT

I n any literary tradition, the works of even its less famous or forgotten figures are liable to crop up at some unexpected place. As in Hindi film songs, with which Urdu poetry has been closely linked from the beginning. While their soulful, stirring or soothing lyrics come from the creativity of poets from Sahir Ludhianvi to Gulzar, Majrooh Sultanpuri to Javed Akhtar, sometimes inspiration comes from elsewhere too.
And this has been the case right from the days of K.L. Saigal.
While New Theatres — where he began his carerr in what was then called Calcutta — could afford to draw on the services of established and origil poets like Syed Anwar Hussain ‘Arzoo Lakhvi’, some others found inspiration from long-foregone poets too. Take Pandit Sudarshan, with his rather doleful “Andhe ki lathi tu hi hai, tu hi jivan ujiyaraara hai...” for “Dhoop Chhaon” (1935).
As Saigal aficiodos will recall, it begins with a spoken couplet: “Dil ke phaphole jal uthe seene ke daag se/Is ghar ko aag lag gayi ghar ke chiraag se” — and while Sudarshan can take credit for the song, these lines were inspired by an 18th century prodigy.
Pandit Mehtab Rai “Taban” was 12 when he recited: “Sholaa bhadak utha mere is dil ke daagh se/Aakhir ghar ko aag lag gayi ghar ke chiraagh se” at a Delhi mushaira, impressing Khwaja Mir Dard, who was in attendance.
But at this point, it must be clarified that this is not plagiarism, but an accepted part of the Urdu poetic tradition where even one couplet, or even one line, may be used by another poet — as it is or modified appropriately — for another context.
Another major example is from Dilip Kumar-rgis starrer “Mela” (1948), which was also significant in bringing together a trio responsible for some still-cherished songs — music director ushad, lyricist Shakeel Badayuni and singer Mohammed Rafi. The film’s sigture classic “Yeh zindagi ke mele...” was, however, not entirely Shakeel’s brainchild.
“Yeh zindagi ke mele, yeh zindagi ke mele, duniya mein kam honge/Afsos ham honge...” derives inspiration from 18th century Faizabad master poet Mirza Mohammad Taqi ‘Taqi”, who had declaimed: “Duniya ke jo maze hai hargiz voh kam honge/Charche yahin rahenge afsos ham honge..”
The trend continued sporadically. In 1969, Majrooh Sultanpuri borrowed one telling line from Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s immortal “Mujh se pehli se mohabbat..” (already used fully in Pakistani film “Qaidi”) to make it the opening for Rafi-rendered “Teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein rakha kya hai..” for “Chirag” (1969) starring Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh.
Gulzar followed suit in “Mausam” (1975), using Ghalib’s couplet “Dil dhoondhta hai phir wahi fursat ke raat din/Baithe rahe tasavvur-e-jaan kiye hue..” to initiate the song of the me sung soulfully by Bhupinder and Lata Mangeshkar. (IANS)

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