Monday, July 22, 2013


On full moon nights there's a lot that is paranormal. There is a mystique in the air, moments in time as if suspended in mid air, buoyed by the rays of the moon. The iridescent web of moonlight envelops the Earth in a gossamer cloak. Everything is bathed in a celestial light. On top of that if it is a monsoon night, the interplay of rains and moon can lead to quite a crescendo of emotions. The effect can be electrifying.

It could lead to two things: Utter confusion or utter clarity. There are chances that on some such night the misty monsoon clouds scheme with Moon's very own mystery factory to lead your thoughts into a total mess. Your paramour may be right in front of you, yes, the one you were looking for all your life, yet you would find ways to distance yourself. The reality would be staring you in the eye, but you would avert your gaze and refuse to accept the writing on the wall. What ensued was sheer torture. To deny yourself that fulfilment, to sit on your higher ground, simmering with desire.

Yet sometimes such a night could bring amazing clarity. It was as if the magnificent moonlight had to be viewed through the prism of a tiny raindrop. It would not be a full-fledged rainbow that would be created but little colour coded messages of cupid that would come and strike you unawares. Keeping away was no more worth it. It was best to go with the flow. Accept the inevitable. We are tiny specks in this universe and the probability of two such specks meeting and connecting so well, against all odds, had a higher significance than you would care to accept. The universe had conspired to bring those tiny specks together. Universe or Twitterverse? Your guess is as good as mine!

Raj Kapoor-Nargis(Can there ever be a better onscreen couple?), Shankar Jaikishan, Lata ,Manna Dey all bring amazing synergies into the song. The lyrics are too pretty exceptional. A translation of this ethereal song by Hasrat Jaipuri:

This wet wet night,
This ethereal ambience.
There a mighty moon bright
Dazzles with its magnificence. 

Why is the moonlight now quiet
After lighting up this fire?
The mixed signals of the weather
Have put our sleep in a quagmire. 

A sapphire blue sky, a dainty breeze,
These moist buds as if comatose.
In this setting of idyllic ease
And fervent, free flowing prose,
Why is this heart losing patience?
Why am I not in a state of bliss?
Why this life seeks cadence?
As if there was something amiss. 

My heart seeks that impossible dream,
That I couldn’t find in broad daylight.
Or maybe I search for my lost sheen
In the dazzle of this night. 

Is there no one who remembers me
Even if by some stroke of chance?
He who would smile devastatingly
And instantly put me in a trance. 

And why is the moonlight now quiet
After lighting up this fire?
The mixed signals of the weather
Have put our sleep in a quagmire.....













Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Well, went for a long drive today, making some pretext to get some outdoors work done. The weather as some Twitter ladies say was 'Clooney Weather'. Which means cloudy weather, dangerous weather, irresistible weather and kinda reckless weather. Some parts of Delhi are simply beautiful to drive through. My favourite is the Chanakyapuri Diplomatic area, very well kept with lush green trees and flowers everywhere.

Once I was done with work at some offices there, I stepped out to see that a relentless downpour had started. Was not carrying an umbrella, it was getting late. So just said 'what the heck' and got totally drenched. Rain in India is greeted with such gusto. Suddenly everything and everyone starts smiling- the parched ground, the roads, the trees, the children, the peacocks. It's a feeling perhaps a Londoner can never understand or appreciate. Let Londoners do what they do best. We in this part of the world will always welcome rain with open arms. One has to concede that we have a rather long and sultry summer. Rain is like manna from heaven, replenishing the Earth, rejuvenating everything.

We have hundreds of songs about waiting for rains and even more celebrating rain. This is one of the most beautiful rain and monsoon songs by Lata. Shabana in her prime, a lush green Bengal countryside and nostalgia (ha ha don't they always go hand in hand)...... And yes I have to still learn how to tie a saree Bengali style. Need help Madhvi, Madhulika, Sushmita, Srijeeta and all those other Bong bombshells out there!

Here's a translation of this beautiful rain song. You will notice how nature was such a huge part of people's lifestyle once. If you listen to nature, it gives all the answers. It is only when we alienate ourselves from nature and start living sterile, synthetic lives that the world looks dull and unexciting. So step out, enjoy the breeze, get drenched, splash in the puddles, smell a flower:

Oh! What happened in a moment!
In to a spin I was sent,
And there went my heart too,
As the gentle zephyr blew.
My dupatta calls out to the breeze
That the rains this year are such a tease.
My loved one brought in the rains and how!
It’s difficult to live without him now.

The gentle breeze lets ebb and bob,
A small sailboat of hope.
My earings dangle and throb
And quietly give me the dope,
That he will be here in a while.
Just call him with a loving smile.

In the gardens the flowers blossom.
They cling to me and help me fathom.
For they say tread slowly oh pretty girl!
Hold us and come along.
You will find him not before long,
The one who has you in a whirl.

Oh! What happened in a moment!
In to a spin I was sent,
And there went my heart too
As the gentle zephyr blew……….
My loved one brought in the rains and how!
It’s difficult to live without him now.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


This is another breathtaking song from the same movie as that Lata-Manna Dey duet I had put up. It is the epitome of tranquility. What solace, what calm you get from meeting someone who understands you completely! Someone who maybe knows you even more than you know yourself. These connections are perhaps pre-ordained.

Both these songs do give an exalted status to the beloved but what I feel is, love is often what you choose to make it. You can either keep looking here and there aimlessly all your life and reach nowhere. Or when you feel you have found that special someone, you can put all your energies into making it the purest form of spirituality, your inspiration and your purpose. It will give you so much peace and so much to look forward to each day, take it from me.

The only line I take umbrage to is again the 'Charanon Ki Dassi' bit.  But I am ready to overlook that in the wake of a startling composition and an otherwise sublime song. I am sure men by now know that no woman's a sole-mate if you don't make her your soulmate. Shoe fetishes set aside, there's a whole lot of women who feel deeply connected to their Jimmy Choos and Laboutins spiritually and can live with them happily ever after. But then some poor man even got stabbed with a stiletto by his girlfriend yesterday! Hey Ram! What has this world come to. I say shoo away those gory thoughts and just enjoy this Lata melody. It's sure to put all your priorities right ! :)

A translation of this ethereal song:

I have tied the string of my life with you, take it.
How will the storms of this world break it?

We could never be together and whole.
We are two bodies and one soul.
Even if there is darkness all around
Even if dark clouds surround
And raging thunder pours.
I’ll be yours, I’ll be yours.

Stay close, stay absorbed in my life.
Like the kohl that mingles in my eyes.
Your image is in my mind making me thine.
Your name and my heartbeat intertwine,
Bolstering, strengthening, making way.

I hunger for your sight each day.

I am
bestowed with this boon for infinity.
I found you as if I found divinity.
Now we will be together forever.
The colour of this mystic henna will never
Ever fade till the end of time.
I will be your soulmate and you mine.
I have tied the string of my life with you, take it….
How will the storms of this world break it?


Saturday, June 8, 2013


A lesser known Lata-Manna Dey duet, very touching, very earnest. The beauty of these songs and singers was the perfect ease with which they executed them. There were no gimmicks, no greed to out-do each other, each content and comfortable in his/her talent. The song too conveys a state of perfect syncronicity. Where is such commitment and depth of devotion today? Sometimes when I look at my parents' generation , I find their relationships so much more uncomplicated and easy. They had their roles etched out neatly and were happy within them. But we have to live with the curse of this age-competing, comparing and complicating. Yes, we as women are more emancipated today but this kind of humility too, as expressed in this song is so pure, so alluring. And fun is when it is reciprocated well. But such feelings should come from within, they can't be forced on anybody. Both the partners in a relationship have to work towards being worthy of such a beautiful and wholesome sense of respect, love and caring.

At the same time professional relations too are mired with cut-throatism today. One can just take inspiration from these maestros who loved not fame, name or money but their music more than anything else. These were the true stalwarts. They loved their craft passionately. They competed only with themselves. That is the reason these songs still resonate with purity. One of those Manna Dey songs that totally moved me when I stumbled upon it a few years ago while actually researching Lata songs. Laxmikant Pyarelal composition and written by Bharat Vyas. Touching indeed....

A translation of this sublime song!!

You are the moon that illuminates the skies.
I am the dust of the Earth that aimlessly flies.
You are the God of love, my paramour.
I am a flower offered in your splendour.

You are a prayer and I am the priest.
I am thirst and you the nectar that quenches it.

You are the limitless borders of an ocean.
I am a little wave on the jetty.
You are the notes of classical music.
I am an incomplete symphony.

You are the body and I am your shadow.
I am an error and you the power to let go.

You are the radiance of dawn.
The vermilion sun on the horizon.
You have been the echo of my breath from the start,
The joyous peacock that dances in my heart.

You are a prayer and I am the priest.
I am thirst and you the nectar that quenches it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


In recent times there have been a few songs that have stirred up something inside me. I love the oldies, as I am sure everyone knows by now. There was a phase in the 90s when Hindi music wasn't cool anymore and got trapped in a strange cycle of khatiyas and takiyas, ILU ILUs and Baby babys.

That was the time when many of us switched loyalties and looked westward. Thankfully for me that phase also coincided with my college years when, as it is if you do not gravitate towards rock, you are a moron and misfit of some sort. And our college had the coolest rock band ever! Comprising mostly of students from the North Eastern states of India, where music comes naturally, the rock band belted out all from G N' R to Bryan Adams, from Springsteen to Metallica. Most of these guys played the guitar naturally, were comfortable with drums and had voices that set our college auditorium on fire. They were all laid-back, had longish hair, doing some or other form of (mild) drugs, lived bohemian lifestyles and were least interested in studies.  So it was but natural that they were our instant heroes! To us regular and rather straight jacketed North Indians, it was the opening of a whole new world. That is partly the beauty of India, that there are in fact so many sub-cultures region wise, that it takes a lifetime to truly understand and discover India. Needless to say our college jam sessions were legendary and great fun.

Coming back to the film music, in the last decade or so lyrics have made a great come back in Hindi movies. There are some really gifted lyricists such as Prasoon Joshi, Irshad Kamil, Neelesh Misra who have redefined lyrical paradigms, building moments of great imagery and imagination.

This song is a case in point. To be very honest I loved the music from the word go. With A R Rehman's music there is no other way. The picturisation even if with the gorgeous Nargis Fakhri, misses the point somewhere. And somehow the first phrase escaped me as it was wrongly written as 'Katiya Karun'. It was almost after a month of assuming it was some South Indian love phrase,  when one late night when I just couldn't sleep, I realised it was actually Punjabi 'Katteya Karun' as in spinning a yarn, as I was doing precisesly that night. And I thought wow! What a beautiful expression. The song, I feel is a milestone in adapting Punjabi lyrics to a passionate song. For, when it comes to the matters of the heart, Punjabi does it just a tad bit more. :-)


A translation of this beautiful song by Irshad Kamil. Pardon a few poetic liberties:
I spin your yarn
Every night
That is what I do all night
Spin fluffy balls of cotton all night.

As if my body were a spinning wheel,
And the love of my beloved-
Fluffy balls of pure white cotton.
I spin and spin and spin,
Till it’s a thread shiny and thin.
In your thoughts my days fly.
I live for you, for you I'll die.
I dance, I hop, and I measure the bales.
And whatever I compare you with,
It but fades and pales.
I go to extremes.
I am bursting at the seams.
I am exploding like pop corn
Abundant cotton like puffs of pop corn.
I am not afraid of the world now.
I live for you, I’ll die for you. 

But for the time being,
In my love’s lively, lonely little barn,
Every night I spin your yarn.
Fluffy white balls of cotton I spin,
That’s what I do all night.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013


Lata is the prima donna and there is no denying that. But the two voices that come closest to my heart are those of Asha Bhosle and Geeta Dutt. I have always enjoyed listening to and singing their songs. One reason is that I am an untrained voice and couldn't handle Lata songs to save my life. But I get by Asha and Geeta ones, who were the voices of the sirens and the nymphs. If Lata was the conventional, dignified, solid voice of a heroine, Geeta Dutt's voice was the first choice when unconventional or quirky characters were supposed to be portrayed. Here for instance Waheeda plays a street walker with a heart of gold, but oh so graceful and bewitching even in that form. The silent chemistry between Guru Dutt and her is so evident and all encompassing. Waheeda's enigmatic face, her hypnotic eyes, the subtle interplay of light and shadow, Sahir's minimalistic lyrics that say nothing yet say a lot and S D Burman's evocative music that again uses that unique instrument that sounds like the wild song of crickets on a monsoon soaked night, giving allusions to a natural, unmasked mating dance of the senses, give this song a special allure and make it a classic. Also the little line that she hums in the beginning is indeed another gem of a song in a different tune, sung by Mukesh and Asha, worth listening to in original.

A translation of this rather minimalistic but brilliant song by Sahir. Talk about economy of words!

Dunno what you said
Dunno what I heard
But something transpired.

There was a sensation
There was a shiver
Many dreams woke up
Something transpired

My eyes lowered and rose
My feet tread gingerly and froze
I acquired a new gait
Something transpired

My tresses curled at the shoulders
A fragrance emanated
Many secrets were set free
Something transpired....

Monday, February 18, 2013


Another classic song in a waltz setting composed by Shankar Jaikishan from that mesmerising psychological thriller, Raat Aur Din. It's all about unfolding all the layers of the heart, letting go of fears and inhibitions and taking life head on. Can't find a good enough video though I remember Nargis was not her best looks-wise, this being her last movie. But there was a very dashing young Feroze Khan waltzing with her. It's a great song to just listen to on a silent night as this. The crickets making that sound outside. The arch shaped moon hangs like a silver swing for imaginative flights of fantasy. Darkness is not the absence of light, but an opportunity to feel 'touch' without the distraction of 'sight'. Ha ha now before I let my loony crab mind go berserk, let's just move to Lata's songs with Manna Dey as I think I am already done with her best ones with Rafi. Nargis looked ok. She had put on a lot of weight by then. Nothing compared to her earlier Raj Kapoor movies but yes, it was a woman's role not a girl's. Hats off to these women who defied to be put into yardsticks measured only by a 24 inch waist or a size zero. In their own elegant, understated yet confident way, these movies and actresses were more progressive and liberated than the ones being churned out today where women are given little to offer than cameras gazing over bare mid-riffs, perfect abs and bossoms with little clue about what goes inside a woman's mind.

A translation of this sublime song by Shailendra. Pardon a few poetic liberties:

Open the knots of your heart,
And all the layers that keep us apart.
Don’t stay quiet, come along.
For God’s sake let’s sing a song.
We are not strangers anymore, you see.
Oh! Come, come close to me.

Let the hearts meet this instance.
Let all constraints pass.
Let all chasms and distance
Drown in this glass.
I will smile into your eyes happily
If you promise to smile back at me.

We are no more ‘you and me’ it seems.
We have become something else.
Lost in the sparkling realm of dreams
We dance to these enchanting bells.
We need not ask anyone for direction
And may not tell them our destination.

Tomorrow someone may ask us
What happened to you yesterday?
Our hearts instruct us to move on thus.
Let us not look back today.
Let’s not call or try to find
people who are left far behind.

But do open the knots of your heart
And all the layers that keep us apart.
We are not strangers anymore, you see.
Oh come, come close to me…