Sylvan songs: Bollywood’s ode to nature

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06/08/2018

Sylvan songs: Bollywood’s ode to nature


Nature has always been a noble teacher. The greater the time spent with nature, the wiser a man becomes is an adage known to sages who spun everlasting “testaments” of knowledge. The lap of nature enhances our aesthetic sense and every poet from Kalidas to Shakespeare and Ghalib to Anand Bakshi has benefited from the aroma of the flowers, trees and foliage to create magnificent verses of immaculate beauty and serene contentment.

Amidst the golden rays of the setting sun, I saw the mighty trees frolicking in joy to the rumble of the dark clouds invading down the mountains and it reminded me of Sahir Ludhianvi’s magical song “Parbaton Ke Pedon Par Shaam Ka Basera Hai” (“Shagoon”). It is wherein Sahir has distilled the essence of the achromatic hour between fading light and enveloping darkness of a grey evening with an unusual use of “Surmai Ujaala Hai, Champai Andhera Hai”! Like all lovers of nature and poetry, riveting lines from Victorian literature and haunting melodies of Hindi-Urdu songs certainly magnify my joys of life.

In a vein similar to Robert Frost’s “The Woods are lovely dark and deep, But I have promises to keep” yet immensely more sensuous, Sahir had captured the magnetic effect of mountains to ignite embers of romance with his delectable lines “Ye Parbaton Ke Daayre, Ye Shaam Ka Dhuaan” (“Vaasna”). The sylvan gifts of mountains, rivers, flowers and forests have always stirred fragrant verses of romances but Hindi film poets have even drawn spiritual insights to comic smiles from their environment. So while a river made Shakeel Badayuni write the mesmerising “Nadiya Mein Uthaa Hai Shor, Chhaayee Hai Ghataa” (“Babul”), it gave Indeevar courage to emulate the running waters as he expounds with “O Nadiya Chale Chale Ye Dhaara…, Tujhko Chalna Hoga, Tujhko Chalna Hoga” (“Safar”). But just as Sahir drew extraordinary eloquence from a silent river journey to pen his unforgettable “Kashti Ka Khamosh Safar Hai, Shaam Bhi Hai Tanhai Bhi” (“Girlfriend”), the forest made Shailendra roar in robust humour about “Jungle Mein Mor Naacha Kisee Ne Na Dekha” (“Madhumati”).

Song sequence from “Arzoo”

While men have written immortal lines on paper, none has been able to sketch the subtle “poetry of colour” that nature depicts on its wide and broad canvas. Just as a pristine landscape or the expanse of the blue skies awes us with unparalleled shades and designs; Bharat Vyas echoes our own ecstatic wonderment about the “Great Painter” with his song “Ye Kaun Chitrakaar Hai” (“Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti”). In a style that is uniquely Sahir’s mastery, “Ye Waadiyaan Ye Fizaayein Bula Rahi Hain Tumhein” (“Aaj Aur Kal”) pays a backhanded compliment to nature’s precious bounties while actually serenading a love ballad to his beloved. It is so finely crafted by Sahir yet so gracefully mounted by music director Ravi that the entire gorgeousness of nature comes alive in Rafi’s golden voice.

Flowers are however the much loved sylvan product for film lyricists. And rightly so as flowers not just symbolise everything from fragility to tranquillity and laughter to tears in “life’s garden” but also give a special meaning to every occasion in human lives. Shakespeare may have described his beloved’s beauty as “A woman’s face with Nature’s own hand painted” but Hasrat Jaipuri scores no less when he exclaims “Ae Phoolon Ki Raani, Baharon Ki Malika” (“Arzoo”). It is a master stroke of a genius that says immense in few words about the dazzling aura and magnetic face of a woman something that Farooq Qaisar also does with equal competence with his phenomenal “Chaman Ke Phool Bhi Tujhko Gulaab Kehte Hain”; one of the few songs which takes the name of a specific kind of flower just as is done by Yogesh with his lilting and sugar coated “Rajnigandha Phool Tumhare” (“Rajnigandha”).

With flowers dominating the ceremonial occasions, it is no wonder that a song like “Baharon Phool Barsao” remains a perennial favourite of the masses till date even after five decades. This Hasrat creation is an example of how nature’s company bestows us its exalted wisdom and why simplicity of words and images, apart of course the mellifluous rendition, have provided an extraordinary sheen to this romantic song. Just like each colour of the spectrum has its own quality and utility, Neeraj’s “Phoolon Ke Rang Se” (“Prem Pujari”) and Kaifi Azmi’s “Mile Na Phool To Kaanton Se Dosti Karli” (“Anokhi Raat”) are spectacular songs that depict how flowers are used by two brilliantly gifted minds to convey diametrically opposite emotions and metaphors.

Probably since flowers are easy to touch and fondle, the number of songs on the subject too outnumber the other earthen bounties. Some that readily come to mind are “Phool Tumhein Bheja Hai Khat Mein” (“Saraswati Chandra”), “Khushbu Hun Main Phool Nahin Hun” (“Shaayad”), “Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka Sabka Kehna Hai” (“Hare Rama Hare Krishna”), “Phool Ahista Phekon” (“Prem Kahani”) and “Ye Kali Jab Talak Phool Ban Ke Khile” (“Aaye Din Bahaar Ke”). What is praiseworthy is that songs related to birds and bees, the caretakers of mother nature, also abound in films and out of several extraordinary gems, the few that easily come to lips are “Aaj Udta Hua Ek Panchhi” (“Gehra Daag”), “Panchchee Banoo Udti Firoon Mast Gagan Meain” (“Chori Chori”), “Titlee Udee” (“Suraj”), “Bhanwara Bada Nadaan Hai” (“Sahib Biwi aur Ghulaam”) and “Ek Tha Gul Aur Ek Thi Bulbul” (“Jab Jab Phool Khile”) which haunt us with nature’s variety and immensity.

As concrete jungles smother landscapes and mountains, songs of sylvan character are going out of musical vocabulary; so who can now have fragrance of sand and rain? But as man’s greed denudes trees, trashes landscapes and ravages river and water beds, it is a chilling thought that one day we may be borrowing Anand Bakshi’s immortal lines “Jab Jab Bahaar Aayee…Mujhe Tum Yaad Aaye” (“Taqdeer”). But crying then for trees, flowers, mountains or rivers might be too late, they might be lost forever!





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