Aaj Kal Main Dhal Gaya-a Lullaby (Lori) from Rafi Sahab
Written by Sivanandam Palamadai
A lullaby (Lori in Hindi) is a soothing song sung to put a child to sleep. Each country in the world has its own rich tradition of lullabies. Our own country, with its great civilization and culture has a very rich collection of such songs from each region.
It is a universally known fact that lullabies are generally sung by a mother to make her child sleep. Lucky indeed is that child that has a father who can sing a Lori. And if that father has a voice like Rafi? Eternal bliss!!!
There are many Lori songs in Hindi film music (HFM) which are evergreen, generally sung by female singers. Lata’s ‘Dheere se aajari ankhiyan mein ’ is considered one of the best Lori ever composed and sung in HFM. There are of course many more from Lata whose sweet, soothing Loris can put even an insomniac to sleep!!
It is generally rare for a male singer to sing a Lori. There have been quite a few in HFM with Mukesh’s Ram kare aisa ho jaye in Milan, Manna da’s Tujhe suraj kahoon ya chanda in Ek phool do mali. Although many of them are very good, as always, Rafi sahib excelled in this genre of songs also. His golden voice can put to sleep a child and also soothe the nerves of a stressed-up adult. There are two such masterpieces –one very well known and the other one not so popular but I would rate the second one even better than the popular one.
Mein gaaon tum so jao from Bramhachari and Aaj kal mein dhal gaya from Beti Bete are two such soulful numbers that one can listen for hours together. The first one is very popular but the second one, is truly a masterpiece. Both are composed by Shankar-Jaikishen and written by that magician who can create poetry with simple words-Shailendra.
I was in real dilemma as to which song I should write about. After thinking for few days and listening to both these songs many times I decided to write this article on “Aaj kal mein dhal gaya”. Listen to this song first…….
Aaj Kal Mein Dhal Gaya from Beti Bete
The most striking feature of this Lori is that Rafi sahib has put his soul into each and every word. And what a grand but at the same time restrained orchestration by those two wizards-Shankar & Jaikishen!! And what a poetry from the pen of Shailendra! It is always very difficult for anyone writing about such evergreen melodies from those golden years. Where to begin –the singer? the music director? or the lyricist? All three are just made for each other.
I shall try to take each stanza and write on all these three aspects.
The song starts with that typical flourish of SJ –violins and piano complementing each other-Rafi sahab’s soothing, restrained voice takes over and sets the tone for the song with the two opening lines.
Aaj kal main dhal gaya, din hua tamaam
Tub hi so ja so gayee rang bhari shaam
So gaya chaman, chaman, so gayee kali kali
So gaye hai sab nagar, so gayee gali gali
Neend keha rahi hai chal, meri bahen tham
Tub hi soja so gayee rang bharee sham
Aaj kal mein dhal gayaa…..
Rafi sahib, in his inimitable style sings the above lines with the first rendition in a straight manner and then when he repeats them the second time brings in so much emotion that only a sensitive singer like him can get into the soul of the song.
This is the special touch of Rafi sahab that makes him a class apart. When it comes to bringing out the emotions in a song Rafi sahib is the leader. Shailendra’s rich imagination in “Neend keha rahi hai chal, meri bahen tham” conveys the essence of a Lori so poetically and at the same time in a language that even a common man can understand.
During the interludes the restrained, masterly usage of the violins, piano, flute reveals the genius of Shankar-Jaikishen. Since this is a Lori they have kept the orchestration so melodious and at the same time having their trade-mark grandeur of orchestration. Many critics felt those days that S-J used to embellish the songs with too much of orchestration but I feel this song proves that those critics were wrong.
Hai bujhaa-bujhaa sa dil, bojh saans-saans par
jee rahe hain phir bhi ham, sirf kal ki aas par
kah rahi hai chaandni, leke teraa naam,
tu bhi so jaa, so gayi, rang bhari shaam
aaj kal mein dhal gayaa…………
Here I should definitely mention about the positive tone in most of Shailendra’s compositions—jee rahe hain phir bhi hum sirf kal ki aas par. How true this is in everyone’s life and how simply he has conveyed this!
(You would find similar lines in the other Lori Mein gaaon tum so jao from Brahmachari-Par jag badla, badlegi ek din taqdeer humari; kal tum jab aankhen khologe , tab hogaa ujiyara etc…) Conveying great ideas in a simple manner that everyone would understand is a very difficult thing which was mastered by Shailendra.
kaun aayegaa idhar, kiski raah dekhen ham
jinki aahten suni, jaane kiske the kadam
apnaa koi bhi nahin, apne hain to Ram,
tu bhi so jaa, so gayi, rang bhari shaam
aaj kal mein dhal gayaa…………………
He ends the song with a final message that apnaa koi bhi nahin, apne hain to Ram . Rafi sahab’s rendition of jinke aahten suni, jaane kiske the kadam is a lesson in playback singing where he conveys the pathos with an excellent control over the tune
Now I come to the most interesting part about this song. There are totally three versions of this song. One is a solo version from Lata which is picturised on a kid; second a duet version of Rafi & Lata picturised on Sunil Dutt and Jamuna (actress from South) and the third is the solo version. I am not aware if the solo version appears in the film, but I feel that is the best one. The duet version is also good but it is without the interlude music. Lata’s duet version is excellent and matches Rafi equally. In the solo version of Lata, maybe due to the fact that it is picturised on a kid she might have underplayed the rendition.
For those curious to know what was the story of this film Beti Bete-it is about a poor father who loses his eyesight and then his job and as result his children are torn apart from each other. Later on they grow up and how they find each other forms the major part of the movie. The Lata’s version is sung when the eldest daughter sings the Lori for her kid-brother and Rafi-Lata duet version is when they have grown up. Many people may find it odd, but I generally do not like to “see” these songs much and hence I am very poor in remembering the actors/situations. My very personal opinion is that the best way to enjoy Rafi sahab’s masterpieces is to close one’s eyes and just get immersed in the vast ocean of melody…..
Now don’t you think any child that can listen to the Lori from the “mother” Rafi is very lucky?