When versatility meets gentleness
By Gan Sharma
Hindi film music is firmly embedded in gentleness and romance. It is difficult to listen to the songs of earlier times without the beauty of love creeping into your heart. You go softer than you really are; you imagine what you can’t really have, and for a few beautiful moments, there is a suspension of the usual anxieties and fears that accompany us like shadows throughout our lives.
Dance is something we of the Indian subcontinent perform on stage; it is not something we do at home (except when we practice.) In the Western cultures, a couple would break into a ballroom dance whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today, I wish to write about one form of ballroom dancing – the waltz, and its intimate relationship with two of Mohd. Rafi saab’s very famous songs.
Indeed, the waltz has a very beautiful relationship with music. The Austrian music scholar, Max Graf once wrote, “If there exists a form of music that is a direct expression of sensuality, it is the Viennese waltz….”. If that were true, then there must be a symbiotic relationship between Rafi saab’s singing and the waltz. Both are the quintessence of sensuality; it would not be remiss of me to say that these two songs evokes sensuality of very high order, and both these songs are set to the waltz.
Curiously, both the music directors of these two songs had a superb knowledge of Indian folk music, which is usually not set to the waltz. That simply points to the versatility of these two greats, that’s all.
When a man and a woman are together, in love, and listening to these two songs (or, if they were dancing to the waltz!), their hearts, that are already contained in each other, make their souls meld too. While dancing, they are close together, the man leading (usually) with the gentlest of hints, either cheek to cheek or with her head on his breast, giving into each other their very being. Time stops still even as the beat continues, the cosmos is at a standstill as their feet move in complementarity.
1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3, the steps go; slowly maybe, or rapid, depending upon the mood, the ambience and the feeling that overpowers the two lovers. It could be very slow, as their bodies, taking direction and commands from their hearts, let the sensuality in through their pores and let the ocean of love wash over them, enveloping them in her smokeless flame. Or, it could be very rapid, frenzied; like the impatience of lovers who have waited for too long for physical union. Yet, the language of this wide range of emotions requires just three alphabets: 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.
Shankar-Jaikishen were the music directors of one of these songs. O-me-re, sha-a-he, khu-baa-an, an-an-an, sang Rafi saab in this beautiful song, his voice and his divinity dancing the waltz all on their own. Imagine this. You are meeting your lover after a long time. The separation has ended; you are in the closest of embraces, all the emotion of the moment contained in the head that is buried on your wildly beating chest. There is no need for a kiss, even; the proximity is enough, the tears of joy and the hunger to drink hers are enough, the wetness of her tears that drenches your shirt is enough. The world has stood still, also crying, to watch this beautiful moment. It is enough.
And then, Rafi saab’s O mere shah-e khubaa plays. Your hand goes around her waist, and the other extends to clasp hers, your cheeks meet, and the feet move of their own accord. You stay in the classic waltz “box” – it is enough, as if the expanse of the universe were a colossal waste, a supreme inefficiency of a wasteful, profligate Supreme. That “box” is enough. She is enough. One cheek each, making love to each other is enough. The other unoccupied cheek is a monstrous superfluosness. Rafi saab is enough.
You could spend hours staying in that “box”. But, having received the bounty of this extravagant Lord, you swing a little, zara jhoom lete hain aap. But you take a few feet on either side, that’s all; the frugality is not miserliness; for where she is, is the only universe worth caring about.
tum ho sehra mein tum gulistaan mein
tum ho zarron mein tum bayaabaan mein
maine tum ko kahaan kahaan dekha
chhupke rehte ho tum rag-e jaan mein.
A fleeting moment you both spare to acknowledge the truth of Shaliendra’s poetry brought to life by SJ’s unparalleled score. How true!! What are the vast spaces when even the tiny gaps between the two of you are utter waste; how can beauty of the unison of your movements compare with even your union?
The song comes to an end in about three minutes. You touch her hair, a questioning touch that asks, “phir se bajaaoon, sweetheart?”, without having to ask. A lateral move against your breast lets you know she is shaking her head “No”. You are surprised. Rafi saab ka gaana hai; khoobsoorat hai, tumhare jaisa, and you say no to repeating the song, you ask, not loudly, but in your heart.
She looks up, and whispers, “Guide”. You smile. She wants to dance the waltz again.
Reaching out, you roll the iPod’s wheel to the appropriate song, and SD Burman da’s genius complements the frenzy of the SJ number with the mildest romance, but nonetheless exhilarating in itself.
Te-re-e, me-re-e, sa-p-ne the song begins. They are painted with the same colours, my darling, you whisper, as the feet move again. 1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3.
Rafi saab is the only one who can be admitted into such a private moment between man and woman. He stays smiling, at ease, sits on the sofa and watches his children in love. With nary a crease on his brow, he sings:
tere mere dil ka, tai tha ek din milna
jaise bahaar aane par, tai tha phool ka khilna
o mere jeevan saathi…….
After a while, the euphoria subsides a little, and we leave these two beautiful people to their own devices; we have already invaded their privacy enough. But as they send us on our way so that they may drink of each other, in their own way, they don’t ask Rafi saab to leave. He is the gentleness they experience; he is the togetherness they feel; he is their love, he is their union. He is not separate from all these things. Where will he go? He lives in truth, beauty and love.
Just as surely as 3 follows 2, which follows 1, Rafi saab is part of their entire being. He is them melded; he is them fused. He is the waltz, the beat, the rhythm, the dance, the music, and the lovemaking. He is the soul of all that is beautiful.