Today is the 108th birth anniversary of the legendary Sachin Dev Burman and the 95th birth anniversary of the very talented Majrooh Sultanpuri.
This was meant to be a list post – my top 10 songs written by Majrooh Sultanpuri and composed by Sachin Dev Burman. But as I shuffled my memory and started jotting down songs by this lyricist- composer duo, I couldn’t decide on the songs I wanted to list here. So I shall stick to just one song – which according to me is one of the best romantic numbers in Hindi Cinema.
Jalte Hain Jiske Liye Tere Aankhon Ke Diye (Sujata, 1959, Singer – Talat Mahmood): If you have read my previous posts, you would know that I like Sunil Dutt. What I have not mentioned is my obsession with Nutan which lasted a very long time! I have outgrown that obsession now but she remains one of my favourite Hindi actresses.
This song is from that wonderful movie from the fifties, Sujata. The movies made in the 1950s were charming because they had a story and most of them were rooted in the social milieu of those days. One needs to just watch those movies to realise that movies having a social theme needn’t be gory or depressing. Made in 1959, by the incomparable Bimal Roy, this movie tackled the issue of untouchability.Nutan plays an untouchable girl who is raised by a Brahmin couple. The couple have another daughter (played by Shashikala) and the hero is Sunil Dutt, a young Brahmin boy who is considered as a match for Shashikala but who lands up falling in love with Nutan.
Sunil Dutt expresses his love for a girl he should not even be looking at – forget serenading through this song. This song employs a favourite trope of film makers – the telephone. Love in the times of the telephone! This is the telephone song of Hindi cinema – a hero serenading the heroine through the telephone. Lyrics, music, the voice (the quiver in Talat Mahmood’s voice), the way this song has been filmed and then the acting. All of this come together to make it a perfect romantic number.
Mohd Rafi saab happens to be my favourite singer and I remember reading somewhere that Dada Burman wanted him to sing this song. He wasnt in favour of Talat saab because of that tremble in his voice. But luckily for us, Jaidev (his assistant then) convinced Dada Burman to give Talat saab this song. Thank god for that. However much, I adore Rafi, no one could have sung this song better than Talat saab.
Listen to how he sings with such gentleness:
dil me rakh lenaa ise
haathon se ye chhote na kahin
geet naazuk hai mera
sheeshe se bhi
toote na kahin
I particularly like the starting of the song with the focus on the telephone and how they show Sunil Dutt’s side profile before having a full shot. The way the lights light up behind Dutt – almost in synch with the words – Jalte Hain Jiske liye.
Look at the portraits behind Sunil Dutt – you have Gandhi, Tagore and Swami Vivekananda as he sings
dard ban ke jo mere dil me raha
dhal na sakaa
jaadoo ban ke teri aankhon me ruka
chal na saka
The liberal, educated Brahmin boy does not believe in the caste system and he is bold enough to express his love. Sunil Dutt does an amazing job in this song. He is gentle and very affectionate. Dreamy eyed and a tender smile playing on his lips through out the song, he comes across as a very likeable, confident, charming man who knows what he is getting into and someone who has the courage of his convictions.
Nutan is restrained and conveys the heartbreak very well. It starts with a twitch of the lip and then the tears start to flow. Flattered she may be, but she is aware of how this will be viewed by society and more importantly the family that raised her. Sujata longs for her foster mother’s whole hearted acceptance of her – and she does get it, after some melodrama, in the end. But at this stage she is fully aware of the repercussions this proposal shall have on her. Note that she doesnt outright bang the phone down. The conflict is very much there. She loves him too but is not prepared to go through with it.
I heard this song for the first time in a small town in Karnataka – I must have been some 8-9 years old and was visiting my grandparents during the summer vacation. My father, who was very fond of old Hindi film songs had played this song on a small cassette player. I have listened to this innumerable times since then…. and I still think that it is one of the most romantic numbers ever in Hindi film music.
Thank you Sachinda and Majrooh saab for the music and the memories…