Of Faux Pas & Tight Spots

Yesterday, adiposity story poet, director & writer Gulzar celebrated is 73rd birthday. Thanks to his recent successes, he is one name who is still pretty reknowned amongst the young generation. These days, his Kaminey‘s Dhan Te Nan is quite popular. And earlier this year, he co-won the prestigious Oscar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)

Due to this, every radio channel worth its airwaves played his songs on their daily ‘oldie goldie’ programmes. By ten pm, I was furiously switching between four channels, simultaneously sms’ing to two friends the favorite songs (multi-tasking, eh!).

Well, as the frenzy endied, I thought I had to list out a few of his songs that the Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar has graced with her mellifluous voice; after all, both have immense mutual respect for each other. She has sung in most of his films. And he has directed her home production (Lekin).  The association started right from Bandini, when a young Gulzar wrote a lovely lyric about a love-lorn woman, based on  refrains from Radha-Krishna lovetale.  Mora gora ang lai le continues to enthrall listeners, old and new;  S D Burman’s frugal but fruitful music enchants.

(As always, this is a random list – not in any particular order, and since Mora gora ang lai le has been mentioned above, and deserves to be before any list,  it is not mentioned below).

Yaara seeli seeliLekin – A heart-stopping, breath-taking, wide-sweep & panaromic number that spans emotions ranging from pathos to fear to loneliness to numbness. The pain of the spirit caught between the material and the nether worlds finds a haunting echo in Gulzar’s words ‘pairon mein na saaya mere, sar pe na saayiin re, mere saath jaaye na meri parchhaiin re‘. Indeed, it’s said ghosts do not have shadows. But at a deeper level, it’s about not having a companion; its about loneliness. Having said that, let me admit, more than a lyric-based song, or even a tune-based one (after all, it’s a folk-tune resurrect; I have even heard Reshma’s similar number), it is purely and wholly Lata Mangeshkar’s song. She takes the track to an impossibly high altitude; and the alaap in the end is a crescendo designed and created to make your heart miss several beats!

Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din / Ruke ruke se qadam ruk-ke baar baar chaleMausam – Had destiny not meted out its savage blow that fateful July in 1976, I firmly believe Madan Mohan & Gulzar could have jointly produced several more such precious gems. Alas, that was not to be! In fact, Madan Mohan Saab couldn’t even live to enjoy Mausam‘s success. Latadi sang three lovable numbers- the faster version of Dil dhoondta hai, the pain-lashed Ruke ruke se qadam and the impish Chhadi re chhadi kaisi gale mein padi.

Thodi si zameen thoda aasman tinko bas ek aashiyan Sitara – Gulzarsaab‘s forte has been his imagery. The moon can be a pillow or a plate. The eyes can emit fragrance. The roads can curve and course. The sun can set like a ghoonghat being unveiled. Time will be a fruit hanging from the tree-trunks. Anything is possible with his pen. In Thodisi zameen, he conjures up a rustic household replete with ‘lepa hua chulha’, ‘chhota sa jhoola’ and ‘saundhi saundhi khushboo‘. My favorite lines are in the last stanza – Raat kat jaayegi din kaise guzarenge, baajre ke kheton mein kauvve udayenge…baajre ke sitton jaise bete ho jawan. And when Latadi squeezes in that extra sweetness, one can only listen with a tender smile and a fond heart; and yes, her little giggle is like the wind-chimes’ tinkle on a languidly warm breezy day.

Zeehal-e-musqin makunbaranjish bahaal-e-hijra bechara dil haiGhulami – Never mind that the song opens with a rather ungainly Huma Khan prancing on hot Rajasthani sand. Ignore her. Close your eyes and savor that angelic voice nimbly skipping over the high-pitched lines – Kabhi kabhi shaam aise dalti hai – immediately, one can visualize a stark orange sun dipping into the ochre desert expanse. Gulzarsaab‘s words are tricky here; one, he uses strict Urdu in the opening lines. Two, the song spans varying emotions through its four stanzas, and hence there is no single theme. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar are a rare combination; but this song (and the other solo Mere pee ko pawan kis gali le chali) shows that when great talents merge, they create magic. Zeehale musqin has been a childhood favorite, and I recall learning its full lyrics way back in 1984-85 when the film released.

Ghungta gira hai …Koi mere maathe ki bindiya saja de re mai dulhan si lagti hun dulhan bana de re Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein – Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar once again sparkle their talents in this Meraj-directed film, starring Hema Malini (Meraj was Gulzar’s assistant, if I am not too mistaken). I love the thought in this song. A lady feels she is a bride, and wishes to be dressed up so. Once more, Gulzar’s impeccable imagery is at work – ‘aankhon mein raat ka kaajal saja ke’ and ‘mai aangan mein thande savere bichhadun’. It’s a short number; barely 3 minutes long, but it’s packed with solid feelings. And needless to add, Latadi (one of her low-pitch songs) sounds divine! When she whispers ‘mai dulhan si lagti hun‘, the heavens eagerly advance to color the universe in love!

Humne dekhi hai unn aankhon ki mahakti khushbooKhamoshi – This one has scorching lyrics. Let the relationship be unnamed, don’t assault it with a label. I loved the usage of ‘ilzaam’ here. As also the line ‘pyaar koi bol nahi pyar koi raag nahi, ek khamoshi hai…‘ Indeed, a very refreshing and practical take on love. Hemant Kumar’s music is an array of softly swaying violins that suit the song’s sombre mood.

Jahan pe savera ho basera wahin hainBasera – I was still in my knickers when (while watching the film on VCR), this song knocked my air out. Ever since, I haven’t recovered and it still tingles my inner core. I marvel that a human voice could go so high and yet remain so tuneful and melodic. Hats off to Latadi and RD Burman for pulling this feat off. It’s much later that I could look beyond its easy tune and superlative rendition, and comprehend the beautiful words as well. Na mitii na gaada, na sona sajaana, jahan pyaar dekho wahiin ghar basaana…so true!

Jiya jale jaan jale nainon tale dhuan chale Dil Se – Thematically, this song is Koi mere maathe ki‘s extension; a love-lorn heroine on the threshold of holy matrimony sings about meeting her beloved. In fact, full credit to Latadi to render lines like ‘honth sil jaate unnke narm hothon se magar’ with such grace that no one even fleetingly thought of it as distasteful. Gulzar’s wordings are immensely sensuous; he writes about a woman sensuosly rolling in the bed with desire, but what a way to present it – Raat bhar bechairi mehdi pisti hai pairon tale, kya karein kaise kahein raat kab kaise kate! The song’s ending is marvellous; and it is said Latadi didn’t really ‘sing’ that. She was rehearsing the alaap, and A R Rahman recorded it. Whoa! Now that’s humungous talent, indeed!

Yeh shahar bada purana hai / O dil banjaare khol doriyan / Mere sarhane jalaao sapne / Khud se baatein karte rahna / Ek haseen nigaah kaMaya Memsaab – However vague the film might have been, one can simply not fault its music. Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Gulzarsaab team up to create five top-notch Latadi solos. And Latadi delivers them with panache and style that only she can provide. Whereas in Mere sarhane jalao sapne she takes her voice low to give a very haunting and disturbed effect, however, in O dil banjaare, she simply opens it up and leaves it to sway over the musical notes, like an irreverent kite flying joyously but naughtily teasing a balmy zephyr. (Incidentally, I find O Dil banjaare the best of the lot). In Khud se baatein karte rahna, Latadi retracts her voice, clinging it to her heart, stingily, painfully. Gulzarsaab again borders the risque in Yeh shahar bada purana hai when he writes ‘Yeh jism hai kachhi mitti ka, bhar jaaye toh rissne lagta hai’. In totality, a very satisfying album…but yes, it truly grows on you. Initially, I had found it a bit disjointed. But over the years, I have become its ferocious fan.

Tere bina jeeya jaaye na / Aajkal paaon zameen par / Aapki aankhon meinGhar – It’s so difficult to decide the better of these three songs. Whenever I play Ghar‘s CD, I am forced to hear them in a row, one after the other. Having said that, I must confess I have a very special corner for Aapki aankhon mein – especially for that small laughter just before Latadi delivers the line ‘aapki badmaashiyon ke yeh naye andaaz hain’ – naughty, jovial albeit shy and taken-aback; all packed together in seven words. I am confident her rendition would have made Rekha’s work much easy. Gulzarsaab‘s favorite composer R D Burman does complete justice to his lyrics.

Iss mod se jaate hain / Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai / Tere bina zindagi se Aandhi – Like Ghar, another album I have to listen to in its entirety. It is well nigh impossible to pluck just one rose from this garden! However, another confession – Tere bina zindagi has a better edge, lyrically, since it captures the futility of a failed relationship so succintly; life moves on, but is that really life? So well stated. Singing wise, I believe, Latadi is absolutely remarkable in Iss mod se jaate hai; she sings the word ‘mod‘ wonderfully, stretching it out a little, giving it tiny ripples, and provides it through sound just the correct meaning to it. When she sings, noor aa hi jaata hai, otherwise Hindi film music would have been absolutely ‘bewajah‘! Once again, R D Burman at his sublime best.

Phir kisi shaakh ne phenki chhanvLibaas – Alas, the film never released. Mercifully, its music found a way out. One of RDB-Gulzar’s last outings together, Libaas is an out-and-out Latadi score, with her singing four power-punching numbers. Be it the subdued Sili hawa chhoo gayi or the regretful Khamosh sa afsaana or the mirthy Kya bhala kya bura, they are all top-league. In the last, Panchamda joins her for a small party. Gulzarsaab captures those carefree days once more- ‘saara din ghazalein pirona, raat bhar aawaargi’! My favorite, though, is ‘Phir kisi shaakh ne’; partly because I loved Ashaji’s Khaali haath shaam aayi (Ijaazat) and  inwardly yearned for Lataji‘s voice in that song. But thankfully, RDB has created a similar melody for Lataji in Phir kisi shaakh ne. Also, the song effectively speaks about fear of falling in love again after a doomed relationship : Hum toh bhoole hue the dil ko magar, dil ne phir aaj kyun humein yaad kiya!

Din jaa rahe the raaton ke saayeDoosri Sita – I have written on this song earlier here.

Chaand churake laaya hun chal baithen church ke peeche / Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota Devta – Oh, there we go again…RDB and Gulzarsaab, but this one is a little-known nugget, which has somehow slipped public attention. Else, Chaand churake laaya hun is a terrific track, light and frothy, about a couple meeting surreptitiously behind a church, sitting below a tree. One can only smile bemusedly at Gulzarsaab’s innovative lyrics. So straightforward, yet so deviant. You know what I adore in Lataji’s voice here? She sounds a bit ‘rondu’ (sorry, I couldn’t find a better way to describe, and trust me, its not wholly degrading), just the way Shabana Azmi sometimes looks.

Thoda hai thode ki zarurat hai Khatta Meetha – Oh, that every common man’s refrain, another Gulzarsaab triumph. As the song moves on various characters, each one’s desire finds a befitting verse. Latadi and Kishoreda sing this breezy Rajesh Roshan composition.

Yaad na aaye koi lahu na rulaaye koi / Ae hawa kuchh toh bata / Paani paani re khaare paani re Maachis – Another complete album. Vishal Bhardwaj zoomed his way up the charts in his debut, and Latadi was right there, supporting him. Paani paani re was quite a big hit (though the biggest ones were Chappa chappa charkha chale). My favorites – the lines ‘jungle se jaati pagdandiyon mein dekho toh shaayad paanv milenge’ (in Ae hawa).

Chai chhapa chhai chhapak ke chhai Hu Tu Tu – I adore the joi-de-vivre & playfulness in this song, and in Lataji’s voice. It’s as if she is having a blast, and she so efficaciously reflects the image of ‘paani mein chheente udate hui ladki’. But what is the ‘whistle-inducing moment’ in the song? When she says ‘janaab‘ – aah! She makes the words worth being words!

Tu mere paas bhi hai tu mere saath bhi hai phir bhi tera intezaar hai Satya – Taste honey or listen to this song. Same thing. A spirited track. Very light. Very energizing. Very melodious. Another Vishal Bhardwaj success.

And add Jahan Tum Le Chalo‘s  Shauq khwaab ka ho toh neend aaye na, we have quite a rich Gulzar-Vishal-Lata ouvre.

Dil hoom hoom kare  /   Jhuthi muthi mitwa aawan dole / Samay o dheere chalo –  Rudaali – She ‘hoom’ed  her way through the nation’s heart, and the song is no less  a neo-classic, mentioned with revere and remains till date a connoisseur’s treasure.  My special favorite is the percussion-and-santoor based rain number – Jhuthi muthi mitwa; Latadi’s voice is as refreshing as the first rains on heated earth.  The third best is the three-part Samay o dheere chalo.

And finally, I end this piece with the lines from Kinaara‘s song which actually symbolizes and summarizes Lata Didi, and nothing more is left to say  :  Meri aawaaz hi pehchaan hai … (and let me say, needless to say ‘gar yaad rahe‘ ). Thank you, Gulzarsaab for these immortal lines, and huge thank you Latadi, for singing such brilliant songs, in the way that only you can.

Yesterday, website like this poet, stuff director & writer Gulzar celebrated is 73rd birthday. Thanks to his recent successes, he is one name who is still pretty reknowned amongst the young generation. These days, his Kaminey‘s Dhan Te Nan is quite popular. And earlier this year, he co-won the prestigious Oscar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)

Due to this, every radio channel worth its airwaves played his songs on their daily ‘oldie goldie’ programmes. By ten pm, I was furiously switching between four channels, simultaneously sms’ing to two friends the favorite songs (multi-tasking, eh!).

Well, as the frenzy endied, I thought I had to list out a few of his songs that the Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar has graced with her mellifluous voice; after all, both have immense mutual respect for each other. She has sung in most of his films. And he has directed her home production (Lekin).  The association started right from Bandini, when a young Gulzar wrote a lovely lyric about a love-lorn woman, based on  refrains from Radha-Krishna lovetale.  Mora gora ang lai le continues to enthrall listeners, old and new;  S D Burman’s frugal but fruitful music enchants.

(As always, this is a random list – not in any particular order, and since Mora gora ang lai le has been mentioned above, and deserves to be before any list,  it is not mentioned below).

Yaara seeli seeliLekin – A heart-stopping, breath-taking, wide-sweep & panaromic number that spans emotions ranging from pathos to fear to loneliness to numbness. The pain of the spirit caught between the material and the nether worlds finds a haunting echo in Gulzar’s words ‘pairon mein na saaya mere, sar pe na saayiin re, mere saath jaaye na meri parchhaiin re‘. Indeed, it’s said ghosts do not have shadows. But at a deeper level, it’s about not having a companion; its about loneliness. Having said that, let me admit, more than a lyric-based song, or even a tune-based one (after all, it’s a folk-tune resurrect; I have even heard Reshma’s similar number), it is purely and wholly Lata Mangeshkar’s song. She takes the track to an impossibly high altitude; and the alaap in the end is a crescendo designed and created to make your heart miss several beats!

Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din / Ruke ruke se qadam ruk-ke baar baar chaleMausam – Had destiny not meted out its savage blow that fateful July in 1976, I firmly believe Madan Mohan & Gulzar could have jointly produced several more such precious gems. Alas, that was not to be! In fact, Madan Mohan Saab couldn’t even live to enjoy Mausam‘s success. Latadi sang three lovable numbers- the faster version of Dil dhoondta hai, the pain-lashed Ruke ruke se qadam and the impish Chhadi re chhadi kaisi gale mein padi.

Thodi si zameen thoda aasman tinko bas ek aashiyan Sitara – Gulzarsaab‘s forte has been his imagery. The moon can be a pillow or a plate. The eyes can emit fragrance. The roads can curve and course. The sun can set like a ghoonghat being unveiled. Time will be a fruit hanging from the tree-trunks. Anything is possible with his pen. In Thodisi zameen, he conjures up a rustic household replete with ‘lepa hua chulha’, ‘chhota sa jhoola’ and ‘saundhi saundhi khushboo‘. My favorite lines are in the last stanza – Raat kat jaayegi din kaise guzarenge, baajre ke kheton mein kauvve udayenge…baajre ke sitton jaise bete ho jawan. And when Latadi squeezes in that extra sweetness, one can only listen with a tender smile and a fond heart; and yes, her little giggle is like the wind-chimes’ tinkle on a languidly warm breezy day.

Zeehal-e-musqin makunbaranjish bahaal-e-hijra bechara dil haiGhulami – Never mind that the song opens with a rather ungainly Huma Khan prancing on hot Rajasthani sand. Ignore her. Close your eyes and savor that angelic voice nimbly skipping over the high-pitched lines – Kabhi kabhi shaam aise dalti hai – immediately, one can visualize a stark orange sun dipping into the ochre desert expanse. Gulzarsaab‘s words are tricky here; one, he uses strict Urdu in the opening lines. Two, the song spans varying emotions through its four stanzas, and hence there is no single theme. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar are a rare combination; but this song (and the other solo Mere pee ko pawan kis gali le chali) shows that when great talents merge, they create magic. Zeehale musqin has been a childhood favorite, and I recall learning its full lyrics way back in 1984-85 when the film released.

Ghungta gira hai …Koi mere maathe ki bindiya saja de re mai dulhan si lagti hun dulhan bana de re Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein – Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar once again sparkle their talents in this Meraj-directed film, starring Hema Malini (Meraj was Gulzar’s assistant, if I am not too mistaken). I love the thought in this song. A lady feels she is a bride, and wishes to be dressed up so. Once more, Gulzar’s impeccable imagery is at work – ‘aankhon mein raat ka kaajal saja ke’ and ‘mai aangan mein thande savere bichhadun’. It’s a short number; barely 3 minutes long, but it’s packed with solid feelings. And needless to add, Latadi (one of her low-pitch songs) sounds divine! When she whispers ‘mai dulhan si lagti hun‘, the heavens eagerly advance to color the universe in love!

Humne dekhi hai unn aankhon ki mahakti khushbooKhamoshi – This one has scorching lyrics. Let the relationship be unnamed, don’t assault it with a label. I loved the usage of ‘ilzaam’ here. As also the line ‘pyaar koi bol nahi pyar koi raag nahi, ek khamoshi hai…‘ Indeed, a very refreshing and practical take on love. Hemant Kumar’s music is an array of softly swaying violins that suit the song’s sombre mood.

Jahan pe savera ho basera wahin hainBasera – I was still in my knickers when (while watching the film on VCR), this song knocked my air out. Ever since, I haven’t recovered and it still tingles my inner core. I marvel that a human voice could go so high and yet remain so tuneful and melodic. Hats off to Latadi and RD Burman for pulling this feat off. It’s much later that I could look beyond its easy tune and superlative rendition, and comprehend the beautiful words as well. Na mitii na gaada, na sona sajaana, jahan pyaar dekho wahiin ghar basaana…so true!

Jiya jale jaan jale nainon tale dhuan chale Dil Se – Thematically, this song is Koi mere maathe ki‘s extension; a love-lorn heroine on the threshold of holy matrimony sings about meeting her beloved. In fact, full credit to Latadi to render lines like ‘honth sil jaate unnke narm hothon se magar’ with such grace that no one even fleetingly thought of it as distasteful. Gulzar’s wordings are immensely sensuous; he writes about a woman sensuosly rolling in the bed with desire, but what a way to present it – Raat bhar bechairi mehdi pisti hai pairon tale, kya karein kaise kahein raat kab kaise kate! The song’s ending is marvellous; and it is said Latadi didn’t really ‘sing’ that. She was rehearsing the alaap, and A R Rahman recorded it. Whoa! Now that’s humungous talent, indeed!

Yeh shahar bada purana hai / O dil banjaare khol doriyan / Mere sarhane jalaao sapne / Khud se baatein karte rahna / Ek haseen nigaah kaMaya Memsaab – However vague the film might have been, one can simply not fault its music. Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Gulzarsaab team up to create five top-notch Latadi solos. And Latadi delivers them with panache and style that only she can provide. Whereas in Mere sarhane jalao sapne she takes her voice low to give a very haunting and disturbed effect, however, in O dil banjaare, she simply opens it up and leaves it to sway over the musical notes, like an irreverent kite flying joyously but naughtily teasing a balmy zephyr. (Incidentally, I find O Dil banjaare the best of the lot). In Khud se baatein karte rahna, Latadi retracts her voice, clinging it to her heart, stingily, painfully. Gulzarsaab again borders the risque in Yeh shahar bada purana hai when he writes ‘Yeh jism hai kachhi mitti ka, bhar jaaye toh rissne lagta hai’. In totality, a very satisfying album…but yes, it truly grows on you. Initially, I had found it a bit disjointed. But over the years, I have become its ferocious fan.

Tere bina jeeya jaaye na / Aajkal paaon zameen par / Aapki aankhon meinGhar – It’s so difficult to decide the better of these three songs. Whenever I play Ghar‘s CD, I am forced to hear them in a row, one after the other. Having said that, I must confess I have a very special corner for Aapki aankhon mein – especially for that small laughter just before Latadi delivers the line ‘aapki badmaashiyon ke yeh naye andaaz hain’ – naughty, jovial albeit shy and taken-aback; all packed together in seven words. I am confident her rendition would have made Rekha’s work much easy. Gulzarsaab‘s favorite composer R D Burman does complete justice to his lyrics.

Iss mod se jaate hain / Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai / Tere bina zindagi se Aandhi – Like Ghar, another album I have to listen to in its entirety. It is well nigh impossible to pluck just one rose from this garden! However, another confession – Tere bina zindagi has a better edge, lyrically, since it captures the futility of a failed relationship so succintly; life moves on, but is that really life? So well stated. Singing wise, I believe, Latadi is absolutely remarkable in Iss mod se jaate hai; she sings the word ‘mod‘ wonderfully, stretching it out a little, giving it tiny ripples, and provides it through sound just the correct meaning to it. When she sings, noor aa hi jaata hai, otherwise Hindi film music would have been absolutely ‘bewajah‘! Once again, R D Burman at his sublime best.

Phir kisi shaakh ne phenki chhanvLibaas – Alas, the film never released. Mercifully, its music found a way out. One of RDB-Gulzar’s last outings together, Libaas is an out-and-out Latadi score, with her singing four power-punching numbers. Be it the subdued Sili hawa chhoo gayi or the regretful Khamosh sa afsaana or the mirthy Kya bhala kya bura, they are all top-league. In the last, Panchamda joins her for a small party. Gulzarsaab captures those carefree days once more- ‘saara din ghazalein pirona, raat bhar aawaargi’! My favorite, though, is ‘Phir kisi shaakh ne’; partly because I loved Ashaji’s Khaali haath shaam aayi (Ijaazat) and  inwardly yearned for Lataji‘s voice in that song. But thankfully, RDB has created a similar melody for Lataji in Phir kisi shaakh ne. Also, the song effectively speaks about fear of falling in love again after a doomed relationship : Hum toh bhoole hue the dil ko magar, dil ne phir aaj kyun humein yaad kiya!

Din jaa rahe the raaton ke saayeDoosri Sita – I have written on this song earlier here.

Chaand churake laaya hun chal baithen church ke peeche / Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota Devta – Oh, there we go again…RDB and Gulzarsaab, but this one is a little-known nugget, which has somehow slipped public attention. Else, Chaand churake laaya hun is a terrific track, light and frothy, about a couple meeting surreptitiously behind a church, sitting below a tree. One can only smile bemusedly at Gulzarsaab’s innovative lyrics. So straightforward, yet so deviant. You know what I adore in Lataji’s voice here? She sounds a bit ‘rondu’ (sorry, I couldn’t find a better way to describe, and trust me, its not wholly degrading), just the way Shabana Azmi sometimes looks.

Thoda hai thode ki zarurat hai Khatta Meetha – Oh, that every common man’s refrain, another Gulzarsaab triumph. As the song moves on various characters, each one’s desire finds a befitting verse. Latadi and Kishoreda sing this breezy Rajesh Roshan composition.

Yaad na aaye koi lahu na rulaaye koi / Ae hawa kuchh toh bata / Paani paani re khaare paani re Maachis – Another complete album. Vishal Bhardwaj zoomed his way up the charts in his debut, and Latadi was right there, supporting him. Paani paani re was quite a big hit (though the biggest ones were Chappa chappa charkha chale). My favorites – the lines ‘jungle se jaati pagdandiyon mein dekho toh shaayad paanv milenge’ (in Ae hawa).

Chai chhapa chhai chhapak ke chhai Hu Tu Tu – I adore the joi-de-vivre & playfulness in this song, and in Lataji’s voice. It’s as if she is having a blast, and she so efficaciously reflects the image of ‘paani mein chheente udate hui ladki’. But what is the ‘whistle-inducing moment’ in the song? When she says ‘janaab‘ – aah! She makes the words worth being words!

Tu mere paas bhi hai tu mere saath bhi hai phir bhi tera intezaar hai Satya – Taste honey or listen to this song. Same thing. A spirited track. Very light. Very energizing. Very melodious. Another Vishal Bhardwaj success.

And add Jahan Tum Le Chalo‘s  Shauq khwaab ka ho toh neend aaye na, we have quite a rich Gulzar-Vishal-Lata ouvre.

Dil hoom hoom kare  /   Jhuthi muthi mitwa aawan dole / Samay o dheere chalo –  Rudaali – She ‘hoom’ed  her way through the nation’s heart, and the song is no less  a neo-classic, mentioned with revere and remains till date a connoisseur’s treasure.  My special favorite is the percussion-and-santoor based rain number – Jhuthi muthi mitwa; Latadi’s voice is as refreshing as the first rains on heated earth.  The third best is the three-part Samay o dheere chalo.

And finally, I end this piece with the lines from Kinaara‘s song which actually symbolizes and summarizes Lata Didi, and nothing more is left to say  :  Meri aawaaz hi pehchaan hai … (and let me say, needless to say ‘gar yaad rahe‘ ). Thank you, Gulzarsaab for these immortal lines, and huge thank you Latadi, for singing such brilliant songs, in the way that only you can.

We all know what it means. And I am sure no one can say they haven’t had their own small embarrassing moments – you know, page the kind where you dash off a quick email stating ‘heartiest condolences’ at your friend’s uncle’s demise! Or, caries where you wish a person ‘Happy’ festival, when it is actually a martyr’s day of some prophet or guru!

In one classic instance, my ex-colleague G started to extol on the dumbness of a lady in front of an important official. As soon as he opened his mouth, I knew we were in serious trouble and kicked him hard on his shin below the table, and hurriedly broke in firmly stating that the lady was truly very hard working. She was now the wife of the official we were sitting with!

In another incident, a colleague called out to an abundant-attitude-charged peon as ‘Oye Vice President, come here’ – only to see our company’s Vice President alighting from the elevator from the opposite end!

I have been through several such moments – in fact, they keep recurring at alarming regularity, right from my childhood. One incident I recall from my school days is when our biology teacher was giving a lecture on vitamins and minerals and their importance on our health. To her question on naming some sources of food having multiple vitamins, several hands were raised, including mine. She chose me. With all sincerity and seriousness I answered – guess what? – ‘Complan’; seeing her dropped jaws, and that incredulous look, and hearing the classmates’ suppressed giggles , I knew I had goofed up big time. My ears reddened, and they continue to be so whenever I think of this incident.

In school yet again, in a Hindi essay, I had used the Punjabi word ‘chitti’ (white) instead of the correct one ‘safed’. The loud red circle on the word is still etched sharply in my memory’s notebook.

I have been in such jobs where I have to take double precautions where protocols are concerned I am forever on my toes lest I stamp on some raw egoes.

Perhaps for us ‘the common people’ these moments would not account to much, beyond a few embarrassing memories, but when the people in power or position make such errors, it can have huge repercussions, (though sometimes pretty amusing too). We know of Mr. Bush calling the English Queen being a century old, or some such thing. And when one senior Indian actor called Nepal as being ‘once part of India’ it created quite a furore in the Himalayan nation.

So what’s been your biggest faux pas?

And then there are tight spots where squeezing out seems an impossible proposition. Or, a situation that makes you uncomfortable but can do nothing about it. One February Saturday evening, while in Nepal, I was in this very high-profile meeting. Two senior government officials and I were discussing a business deal at Kathmandu’s well known Annapurna Hotel. We had ordered coffee and pakoras. I forwarded some solid points about our company with full enthusiasm, my voice in a taut pitch, and hands flying wild in emphasizing gesticulation. As I finished one more important argument, I tapped the table with force and with a flourish, picked up a piece of pakora and placed it in my mouth. Immediately, I realised my folly and felt a fire burning within, literally. I had eaten a ‘green chilli pakora’; and could feel smoke coming out of my ears (the kind that happens in cartoons)! The two eyed my reddened face amusedly.

But all I could do, is offer a wan smile, and as quickly as possible, gulp a glass of chilled water.

Or there are tight spots when your memory suddenly decides to go for a quick stroll. In fact, this is a common occurrence since I usually either remember the name and not its face, or (and worse), I recognize the face but forget the name totally. Once, a colleague from another department rushed up to my seat with an enthusiastic smile and an eager hello. My heart sank into my worn Mochi shoes. As it lay frozen there, I shook my numb (and dumb) brain into action. But zilch. Zero. Cipher. Like a stubborn ass, it drove into the ground a hole – and I could have wholly & happily joined the two italicized words to describe myself. I mumbled some inane small talk (So how come here today? Thankfully, not to meet me. What’s new? Alas, nothing that gave away who she was. All well? Yeah, for her. But not for me!); after a few more seconds of ‘ummm’ and ‘err.s’ I squeezed out by making some silly excuse (albeit with an earnest face). A while later, I pulled another colleague to a corner to obtain the correct information! Phew!  Finally, a while later, I cornered the colleague and had a more meaningful dialogue.

Mostly,  in such situations,  one has to think not on his feet, but ‘from his feet’ and allow them to take you as far as they can,  if possible.   But I guess, it’s these somewhat small and silly but often amusing  memories that keeps one ticking.

Comments

  1. Haha good post yaar…there have been numerous incidents like these especially ..the forgetting the name wala or when this girl we disliked from school married one of our friends and so on…

    Once such incident comes to mind only because it happened so very recently. While B was in India, I was manning our Gas station (Btw we are now proud small business owners of a gas station in ummrica- we really need to catch up).

    Anywho, so it was later in the night like after 10pm or so and I was at the counter. This one guy comes in almost jumping up and down, looks frantically in all the aisles of our store, turns around looks at me, takes another look at me, decides he doesnt wanna say anything and runs away again looking..then after a futile search he comes up to me and asks me “hey, where do you guys have condoms?” I point him to where they are and all is well. He comes to the checkout counter and looks around- we have some caffiene stuff – the likes that wake you up and all displayed at the register. he picked something up that looked like Red Bull packets/protein powder sachet like. So while checking him out I casually ask him, “so does this stuff really work, like actually work?”

    he looks at me weird and says “umm yea it does, it really does. Sometimes even after you are done and you wanna go to bed you feel like its still working, you know what I mean?” and then he chuckles. And I am like wtf? Ofcourse, then I look at what he actually got – they were stamina pills for increased sexual activity and I asked a customer in our store “if it ACTUALLY worked!”

    talk about faux pax…god knows what he thought of me when he left the store! never been so embarrassed!

  2. :)) good post…

    Years ago, me along with my parents had gone out of station for a week and my cousin bro had accompanied us. It was the first time, he had gone away from his parents. He was missing his dad and hence he wrote a letter to his dad…at the end of the letter, instead of saying “My pranams to you dad” he had actually written saying “My ashirwad to you dad”…his dad (my uncle) read the letter and any one can imagine what would have happened to my cousin bro…:))

  3. Sweety’s comment reminded me of one of my letter that I wrote to my cousing when I was in 5th Grade..

    At the end instead of .. Yours, Gaurav
    I wrote,
    Yours,Gwalior (name of the place i belong to)!!

    He is still keeping that letter safe!

  4. Kaushie – Gold aapka ji 🙂

    ROFL @ that. I wonder what the guy was thinking ’bout u :-p

    Zoya – thanks. That was actually very embarrasing for all of us standing there.

    Sweety – Ha ha … Freudian slip? :-p

    Gaurav – 🙂 he he