Sad and Soulful

by apoorvmat

I have been fond of music for as long as I remember. And – right from the start – I was attracted to what most people would call soulful numbers. Sad songs.

Growing up, my cousins would be perplexed by my preference for the second song on side B of the audio cassette, rather than the more peppy numbers. For Music Society functions in college, I was more likely to sing a slow, romantic number than a Kishore Kumar chartbuster. And at Joka they named me ‘Rajinder’ (after Rajendra ‘Jubilee’ Kumar who made it big in Bollywood by singing – on screen – some of the saddest songs ever written) for my taste in music.

Perhaps it was the introvert in me who related more to such songs. Maybe it was an escape from all the ‘noise’ around me. Or maybe I was just a sad person 🙂

I have been thinking about my fascination for sad songs again – particularly those from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I realize that it’s the poetry that I find most appealing. It’s the words that pull at me, and make me their own.

For me there are broadly three clusters of such songs. One that describes or professes a philosophy of life. The second that uses the emotions of a character in the movie to narrate something that is fairly universal. And the third type is the one that just breaks your heart because of the way in which the pain is described.

Some examples of songs in the first cluster would be:

–          Kisi Ki Muskurahaton (Anari, Shailendra)

–          Kasmein Wade Pyar Wafa (Upkar, Indivar)

–          Zindagi Ke Safar Mein (Aap Ki Kasam, Anand Bakshi)

–          Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera (Guide, Shailendra)

–          Ek Pyar Ka Naghma Hai (Shor, Santosh Anand)

Here the lyricist was afforded (within the context of the movie of course) a free license to express themselves. A deep, universal, and timeless philosophy is conveyed in a simple and elegant manner. The characters on screen that sing these songs are essentially messengers. If these songs were published outside of Bollywood’s umbrella as Hindi / Urdu poetry, they would have probably won Sahitya Academy awards.

In the second type of songs, the on-screen character carries the philosophical (and often painful) message on their own shoulder. The lyrics, at least to begin with, relate to specific themes within the movie, but invariably (and often very beautifully) veer into the same philosophical domain of the first type of songs. Some examples would be:

–          Kabhi Khud Pe (Hum Dono, Sahir)

–          Main Zindagi Ka Saath (Hum Dono, Sahir)

–          Mera Jeevan Kora Kagaz (Kora Kagaz, MG Hashmat)

–          Dukh aur Sukh Ke Raste – the ‘sad’ version of Abhi Na Jao (Hum Dono again [!!!], Sahir [on a rampage!])

–          Kuch to Log Kahenge (Amar Prem, Anand Bakshi)

And finally the heart-breaker. Some examples:

–          Doli Mein Bithaai Ke Kahaar (Amar Prem, Anand Bakshi)

–          Jo Humney Dastaan (Woh Kaun Thi, RMA Khan)

–          Ye Kya Jagah Hai Doston (Umraojaan, Shahryar)

–          Duniya Kare Sawaal / Kya Jawaab Dein (Bahu Begum, Sahir)

–          Tootey Huey Khwaabon Ne (Madhumati, Shailendra)

Of course – in all these categories of songs – the music directors and the singers played their part. Of course they did! But I call out the lyricists, the poets, because they are the least celebrated group from that time.

So. What are your favorite “sad and soulful’ songs in these categories? Or otherwise? Do you, perhaps, have another category?

Let me know 🙂

(Originally written in June 2012 as a Facebook ‘Note’)