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Yet another rainy day and another unhappening Saturday evening. Had a long afternoon nap and feeling lazy to work on the paper. Thought of seeing a movie and planned to enjoy watching the rains melt into the guava leaves outside my windows. Hunted the sites, my video library and neighbour’s video library too, asking her “yaar koi movie hai toh de na! pak gayee hoon books ke saath baith ke”…but of no use. Could not find anything that could glue me for the next three hours. I was offered many Hollywood blockbusters and some new Bollywood flicks, but to no use. None could satisfy my boredom.

Finally, with some measure of irritation and half-hearted interest, put the chitrahaar cd which I had borrowed from Hemant. I had half expected anything there to keep this dangerous idle mind enagaged for some time. I had assumed that many of the songs must be so hackneyed that I will have to wake my self up from my siesta and keep forwarding them continuosly.

But gosh! The first song of the cd happened to be “Har fikr ko dhuen mein udata chala gaya, barbadiyon ka sokh manana fizool tha, barbadiyon ka jashn manata chala gaya” from the movie Hum Dono. The young Dev Anand literally “romances with life” in this song (also the name of his autobiography). Cool-suave, dashing, with a butt of cigar, he throtles the existential dilemma of life-death and defeat with ultimate nonchalance. I would name this performance as the romance of extremes where one enjoys living on the brink, not knowing what holds for him the very next moment. It’s a delight to watch a barebodied Dev Anand, putting on the soldier’s uniform bit-by-bit and imagining the reflection of his lady love (Sadhna) through the smoke of his cigar and imagining her face in the pond infront of him. The perfect calm and an admixture of an innocent smile and tensed eyes, should make any Hollywood actor ashamed in front of Dev saab. The lines when he sings chewing the cigar and the typical Dev tilt of head, “gham aaur khushi mein farq na mehsoos ho jahan, mein dil ko us maqaam pe lata chala gaya” … classic performance on classic lines! No one except Dev Anand is capable of such a dignity on such heavy lines. I have loved Dev Anand in all his movies, “ankhon mein kya jee…woh rupehela badal”, “hum hain rahi pyar ke…humse kuchh na boliye, jo bhi pyar se mila hum usi ke holiye…”, “tere mere sapne ab ek rang ke…”, but would rate him as 10/10 in expressing the philosophical dilemma of pure existentialism in that beautiful song from Hum Dono.

The other song which directly twanged a chord in the soul is the song from Nadiya ke Paar, “Jogi jee haan jogi jee…jogi jee dhire dhire nadi ke tire-tire” … you see a bubbly, endearing Sachin dancing with a troop of village lads…amazing performance…the simplicity of villages in India and the beauty of courtship in extended family systems. The song has no great ideals or ideologies, but is rooted to the soil, and that is the beauty of the entire number. You can smell the earth and feel the simplicity of these folks, something which is endangered in 21st century India.

Another song also included in the cd and was a personal favourite from school days. I heard that song after many-many years. It’s from Amitabh Bacchan and Jaya Bhaduri’s Mili. You don’t see any extraordinary action in that song, but you can see/sense the beauty of platonic love. The lines are suffused with romance and spiritual longing for a person who is on the brink of death, “jab main raton ko tare geen ta hoon aur tere kadmon ki ahat sun ta hoon, lage mujhe har tara tera darpan…aaye tum yaad mujhe gane lagi har dhadkan, khoosboo layee pavan, mehka chandan…” . The camera pans from the tall-silhoutte figure of Amitabh Bachhan standing in his balcony, watching the night sky and humming the haunting number to a pale-bedridden Jaya Bhaduri fighting last stages of cancer and then flashes at worried faces of Aruna Irani and Ashok Kumar. In my opinion the song epitomizes the pull of love at the threshold of death. There is no melodrama, no cacophonous crying-consoling…just a state of disturbing calm before an impending storm. Hats off to the lyricist, music director and performers!

One more classic instance of celluloid romantic moments is the very epitome of romance, Mr. Rajesh Khanna, romancing the Kolkatta prostitute portrayed by Sharmila Tagore in Amar Prem. The song, kuchh toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehna chhodo bekar ki baton mein kahin beet na jaye raina.” Heavily laden with jwelleries, a blue Banrasi and kohled eyes brimming with tears, a beautiful Sharmila Tagore lives to full the grandeur of tragic unfulfilled desire for Rajesh Khanna, a Bengali Bhadralok. The moments in this song seem to be straight away freezed from a novel.

How can one forget the gorgeous Madhubala challenging the great Prithivi Raj Kapoor in Mughl-e-Azam’s extravagant musical number “jab pyar kiya toh darna kya…chup-chup ahen bharna kya” … already pages and pages of film criticism has been written on this particular film. I don’t have to add much to it, except that one moment when the ravishingly gorgeous Anarkali snatches the sword from Akbar while smiling and looking straight into Saleem’s eyes, daring the great Moghul to pronounce her death. Booh! Raw passion at its very best…knowing that her punishment would be no less than execution, the lady just throws herself to the call of her instincts… and dances herself into thousands of mirror pieces in the Akbari-durbar. When one speaks of feminist uprisings, this moment of Indian cinema should be shown to the self-styled feminists. Decades ago, Madhubala did something which no conscious feminist can dare to do in our times. I can’t imagine myself not getting goosebumps whenever I watch that particular scene…

The songs that I chose here are not the only ones in our celluloid. From Gurudutt to Dilip Kumar to Raj Kumar (Pakeezah) to Rajesh Khanna, there has been something special in the tragic romance portrayed in our movies. These days we have become more pragmatic in our approach towards movies and towards life in general. The tragic streak has lost its luster to more earthly kind of love stories…no one wants to starve in love these days. Love has become just a part of many other ambitions — we now have corporate icons, kids from business families, underworld wars, etc, as motifs of modern cinema.

But romance cannot be completely denied…it still has its screen presence…of course, the forms of representation and atttitude towards “romance” has changed dramatically in our times…