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And Then There Are None

This article is written by Mr. M.V.Devraj

Mohd Rafi with S.D.Burman and Guru Dutt

Mohd Rafi with S.D.Burman and Guru Dutt

Guru Dutt’s film Kaagaz ke Phool released in 1959 was the first full Cinemascope Indian film. This was considered to be a slow movie and was an initial flop. Guru Dutt, a brilliant filmmaker, was way ahead of his times. But when the film was later re-released, it became a cult film. The film won two Filmfare awards, one for its cinematography and the other for its art direction. Two lyrical gems, ‘Waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam’ and ‘Dekhi zamaane ki yaari’ written by the inimitable Kaifi Azmi and set to music by Sachin Dev Burman are distinct high points of the film.

The film tells, in flashback, about the failed marriage of Suresh Sinha (Guru Dutt) a famous film director,to Bina (Veena), due to social stigma attached to the profession of film making. Accidently Sinha meets Shanti (Waheeda Rehman) and she becomes a star in the films made by Sinha.They are both lonely and they fall in love. Eventually, due to pressures from Sinha’s daughter from his marriage, Shanti leaves him and goes away from his life. This leads him to alchohol, resulting in the slide-down in his career and a consequent decline in his wealth. In the final scene, Sinha, remembering his glorious past, dies in the empty film studio in the director’s chair, a lonely and forgotten man.

The plot is almost Dutt’s autobiography, and derives its powerful impact from the director/lead star’s extraordinary performance as the tragic hero. (Dutt’s marriage to Geeta Dutt was under a cloud following his romance with Waheeda Rehman). The film is full of pathos and anguish and the plot suggests that the star’s romantic life has been rejected by fate itself.

Listen to Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari

The full range of anguish, dismay, disgust and despair felt by the protagonist against the society at large and against his kith and kin is brought out superbly in the song ‘dekhi zamaane ki yaari’ sung by the one and only Rafisaab. The opening musical refrain Waqt hai meharbaan is repeated throughout the film. Kaifi Azmi, S D Burman, Rafisaab, Guru Dutt the Director and Guru Dutt the Actor have created a monumental masterpiece, which will remain so in the annals of Hindi Film Music.

The complete essence of the film, its theme, its flavour and its social message has been captured so vividly in one song and Rafisaab emits anguish, distress and pathos in the way only he can.
Are dekhi zamaane ki yaari
Bichhade sabhi, bichhade sabhi baari baari
Kya le ke milein ab duniyaa se, aansoo ke sivaa kuch paas nahin
Yaa phool hi phool the daaman mein, yaa kaanton ki bhi aas nahin
Matalab ki duniyaa hai saari
Bichhade sabhi, bichhade sabhi baari baari

I have seen society’s friendship
By n’ by all are separated
What I have from this world
I have only tears with me
I cannot even aspire for thorns
Though the garden was full of flowers.
This world is very selfish
By n’ by all are separated

Raat bhar mehamaan hain bahaarein yahaan
Raat gar dhal gayi phir ye khushiyaan kahaan
Pal bhar ki khushiyaan hain saari
Badhane lagi beqaraari badhane lagi beqaraari
Flowers are guests for the night here
Night goes and happiness is where
All these are pleasures of moment
Restlessness spreads every moment
This world is very selfish
By n’ by all are separated
It is a hair-raising experience to listen to the way Rafisaab has sung the line ‘pal bhar…saari’ – it has to be experienced and can never be explained.
ud jaa ud jaa pyaase bhanvare, ras na milegaa dhaaaron mein
kaagaz ke phool jahaan khilte hain, baith na un gulzaaron mein
naadaan tamannaa reti mein, ummeed ki kashti kheti hai
ik haath se deti hai duniyaa, sau haathon se leti hai
ye khel hai kab se jaari

Fly away thirsty butterfly,
You wont’ get honey here
Where grow paper flowers
Don’t feast on these flowers
Ignorant desire is in the mud
Vessel of hope is away rowed
This world gives with one hand
Takes away with hundred hands
This game is going on since ages
This world is very selfish
By n’ by all are separated
The last stanza of this great poetry is very powerful and Rafisaab sings it with such passion and pathos that one cannot help but shed tears at the plight of the protagonist. He is so dejected with life and disgusted with the society that controls our lives that he says even the vessel of Hope is flowing away in a stream.

Mohd Rafi with S.D.Burman and Guru Dutt

Mohd Rafi with S.D.Burman and Guru Dutt

To some, this may sound as abject pessimism; but looking from the point of view of an eternal sufferer whom the social milieu has caused pain at each and every step this statement comes as very poignant and heart rending. It also suggests that a true romantic must simply fly away from the clutches of social taboos and find pastures beyond the boundaries outlined by Society. It is a revolutionary concept coming from an Indian filmmaker in the late 50s.
Rafisaab effortlessly transcends from the low octaves of ‘dekhi zamaane ki’ to the high octaves in ‘ik haath se deti hai’. The voice modulation at different places in the song is so fitting and touching that one is left in awe of the singing prowess of the Emperor of Hindi Film Music. The song  reinforces an ultimate truism: Life is like a long journey; we meet several fellow passengers en route but each of them part ways from us sooner or later. And then, there are none (save self). Alas! There are none like Rafisaab!

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25 Blog Comments to “And Then There Are None”

  1. Anmol Singh says:

    One can feel the truthfullness of Rafi Sahab as a human being in the song “Dekhi Zamaane Ki Yaari”. No other singer could have sung this song with so much feeling and depth.

    Great Write Up.

  2. Imran Rustam says:

    Dear Mr. M.V.Devraj,

    Very Nice write up on my favorite song. No doubt this song can only be sung by our Rafi Sb.
    There are many moods in this song and Rafi Sb gave justice to all the moods.

    Long Live Rafi Sb.


  3. Narayan says:

    Dear Devaraj saab, Adaab Rafi !
    Atlast our wish was fulfilled with a great song reviewed meticulously… Thanks for fulfilling our Farmaish from the house of Rafi-Sachin-Kaifi…

  4. Siva says:

    Girish ji-thanks for informing about the name of film . It is one rare song which we do not hear often. I think one lifetime is not enough to explore the vast ocean of Rafi sahab’s songs. Being in Pune for last 12 years, I had the opportunity to listen to many of Rafi sahab’s Marathi songs as well. What excellent songs!! Is there any genre’ of music untouched by Rafi?

  5. girish prahalad says:

    Post 17 Siva ji
    The song “Poch kar ashq apni ankhno se” is from the Jeetendra starrer “Naya Raasta” . Music composed by N.Dutta and lyrics by Sahir

  6. Kavita says:

    Dear Periappa,

    I stole some precious 10 minutes out of my quota time to read your write up on my favourite singer of all time. And it was worth it! : )) The write up is very good, and I now want to hear the song again carefully to understand the subtle nuances that you have written about. Truth be told, it took me a while to recognize the song, and I don’t even recollect the last time I heard this song.

    Keep sending me more such posts, it sure is a welcome break to read such stuff. I would also love it if send me links to your previous posts.


  7. M V Devraj says:

    I am indeed overwhelmed by the very sweet sentiments conveyed through your messages.I owe to all of you my sincere gratitude.The knowledge that there are such knowledgeable and appreciative readers like all of you will certainly prompt and compel me to attempt to continue to share whatever little I know and whatever little I can write about.
    Mohanbhai,thanks for such lovely words.Coming from a person of your stature and intellect, makes me feel privileged.
    Murthysaab,many thanks.Actually it was ashishji’s request which hastened my article.
    Uttara,you know it,I value your comments very much.The three films,you have named can be seen again,again and again.They are genuinely classics.
    Hafeezji,a sincere thanks.I am glad that you liked what I wrote.
    Ashishji,this write up is dedicated to you.Your request compelled me to hasten to finish this piece.And I am glad you liked this.
    Vasudha,I cannot thank you enough over this page.Let me just say,your comments touched me.
    Thanks,bro Krishnan,you are bang on,I simply loved the ending-it just happened.
    How true you are Guruji,we are indeed very fortunate to have lived in the era when colossus like Rafisaab ruled the roost.Thanks for your lovely words.
    Anjaliji,Haquesaab,Anilji,a big thank you to you.Your words of appreciation are indeed like honey to this humble writer.
    Ravi,such nice words from a senior Rafi bakth like you made my day.thanks a million.
    Anoop,I am proud that I belong to a great Rafi group and I am indeed thankful to the Almighty that He made me a part of that group.
    Asha,Jay,it is readers like you who are the source of inspiration to writers.Many thanks for your loving words.
    Ajit,I am glad that you liked this post and that your Australian friend could comprehend and enjoy a Hindi film classic song ‘dekhi zamane ki yaari’.

    I bow before you all,my friends.

    M V Devraj

  8. Dr. Khaja Aliuddin says:

    Janab Devraj Saheb,
    Very interesting and excellant writing on a great song. Bahut khoob. It is very difficult to translate from urdu to english, but you did very well. Mabrook.
    With regards to all rafi lovers,
    Long live rafi sahab,
    Khaja Aliuddin,MD

  9. Siva says:

    Nice article Mr Devraj. There are certain songs only our farishta could have sung-Dekhi zamane ki yari, Yeh mehlon yeh takhton from Pyasa , O duniya ke rakhwale from Baiju Bawara , Caravan guzar gaya from Nai Umar ki Nai fasal are few such songs.
    One really wonders at the variety of moods that Rafi sahab creates through his singing. If these were , as one may term “pessimistic” songs, notice how he brings cheer with “Aayi hai baharen mithe zulm-o-sitam from Ram aur Shyam, Poch kar ashq apni ankhon se, muskurao to koi baat bane, sar jhukane se kuch nahin hota, sar uthao to koi baat bane(I do not remember from which film)

  10. Ajit says:

    Great write up. The song was almost forgotten but hearing it brought back some great memories. The translation is spot on… It also resonated very well with an Australian friend who doesnt understand/speak Hindi. Well done and thanks for posting .Looking forward to more such thought provoking write-ups

    ” Life is like a long journey; we meet several fellow passengers en route but each of them part ways from us sooner or later. And then, there are none (save self). ” Alas! There are none like Rafisaab!

  11. Jay Iyer says:

    Devrajji, great writeup on a great song. was very absorbing. the translations of the song for novices like me was great. thanks.

  12. Anil Cherian says:

    Beutiful write up, Devraj ji. Congrats; looking forward to more articles from you.

  13. ASHA VIJAY says:

    Sir, Excellent Write up.. specially for ppl. like me who have not seen the movie.
    Thank you, for posting the Same..

  14. Anoop Kulkarni says:


    This is a fantastic article. This is a very intense song, and you have described the emotions of the protagonist so well.
    Hats off for coming out with this superb write-up.

    Thanks Devbhai, we are proud of you.

  15. Anwar-ul-Haque says:

    Dear Devraj ji,

    Great article on a great song from a great singer… How else can we express.

    Mnay thanks for providing such thoughts.


  16. Anjali Shandilya Srivatsa says:

    A Mesmerising song by rafisaab and a fabulous article describing the essence of the song sir….

  17. S.Ravishankar says:

    What a brilliant writeup about a movie that is considered a classic. The song that you have chosen is another excellent composition and flawlessly rendered byy Rai saab. You have beautifully explained the lyrics and the voice modulation of Rafi saab. Keep posting more such reviews sir.

  18. H.V.GURU MURTHY says:


    Wonderful. The song picturisation of Guru Dutt was unique. Just recall the long shaft of light during the picturisation of “Waqt Ne Kiya”. The combination of SDB and MR have given very meaningful songs from movies like Pyaasa, Kagaz Ke Phool, Guide, etc. apart from romantic songs in movies like Kala Bazaar, Kala Pani, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Ziddi, etc. We were lucky that we were born and brought up during this period.

  19. M V Krishnan says:

    Dear Raju,

    Your description of the pathos of an eternal tragedian like Guru Dutt is not only brilliant but also very emotional and touching. We mortals can only read what Guru must have undergone in his real life. This movie totally shattered him leading to his untimely death. This eternal song has been immortalised by your sensitive writing. What an ending! And there were none! Well done!

    M V Krishnan

  20. Dr vasudha Theertharam says:

    Devraj bhai
    you have time and again proved your brilliant capacity as a writer who can delve into the intricacies of feelings imbibed in a song.Thank you very much sir

  21. ashish kapoor says:

    dear devraj sir, i had been requesting every body for a write-up on this song.
    this song, in my opinion, is among the finest songs ever. nobody but rafi sa’ab could have done justice to this song, and he did. thanks sir for this brilliant article.
    ashish kapoor, , 09810087414, 09212587414

  22. mahmood hafeez says:

    yes ,,when Kagaz ke phool came the film was flop but the Song became hit ,,name the people with the film are all hit of there time but as said by you SD made Rafi to sing the great songs which not only shows singing quality but the meaning of the song with Rafi sahab’s feeling given in that,,,,enjoyed the write-up,,,ThankQ

  23. utthara says:

    Devrajji, kagaz ke phool is part of the gloomy triology __Pyaasa and Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam being the other two.
    The song __ Bichde huye sabhi bari bari __ with minimum orchestration __ gives full rein to Rafi saab’s singing prowess. You have captured the agony of the protagonist beautifully. The last para in your review is very poignant and encapsulates the song and the movie. A very touching tribute to Rafi saab. Thank you, sir


  24. A S MURTY says:

    Devrajji you have once again crafted an excellent write up. What a fantastic description of the film, the picturisation, the lyrics, the immortal musical composition and finally the divine rendering of the song ‘dekhi zamane ki yaari’ by rafi sahab. Long back, one of our friends from Delhi, ashish kapoor had wanted a full length write up on this very song and i am sure he will be too happy reading your article, just as i was going through the same. all kudos to you for coming out with such extraordinary write up. just keep us posted with such fabulous pieces every now and then. best regards.

  25. Gan sharma says:

    Dear Devraj ji,

    A brilliant commentary on a lovely number by Rafi saab. The depth of emotions in his rendering has been beautifully articulated by you: and you’ve done full justice to Kaifi Azmi saab’s poetry as well. Sadabahaar.


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