Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye Tho Kya Hai
This article is written by Ms. Utthara Kumari B, a member of the Baar Baar Rafi club in Bangalore.
There is one song of Mohd Rafi which I consider the best among his bests. This is one of those classics where the immortal Rafi sahab, the romantic rebel Sahir Ludhianvi, the song king S D Burman and the brooding genius Guru Dutt combined to make one of the most powerful song sequences in cine history. It is that thought-provoking song from the black-and-white classic Pyaasa. To attempt to review the song is a tall order. I have only poured out my feelings, I wouldn’t dare call it a review.
Yeh mahalon, yeh takhton, yeh taajon ki duniya….
yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai…
Wah kya lyrics, kya music, kya acting and above all kya singing! I have watched this song sequence countless times. Each time this song stirs me and I go numb with its tremendous impact. What Sahir had written 50 years ago, still holds good today – this cruel word has not changed.
Rich and pure, Rafi’s voice is tinged with the kind of magic that is guaranteed to get to the heartstrings. He stresses a word here or goes slightly high pitch there or drawls a word here with his andaz and adas he gives that something extra to the song.
Just one line Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaye toh kya hai. See how differently Rafi sings this line each time. It may sound monotonous… but he brings variations even in monotony. Only God can sing like that. The way he says `kya hai’ in a heavy drawl tells you what an unparalleled singer he is.
Listen to Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye
Guru Dutt after making frothy entertainers like Aar Paar and Mr and Mrs 55, stopped laughing, took life seriously when his relationships broke. His disillusionment is mirrored in subsequent films like Pyaasa, Kagaz Ke Phool and Sahib Bibi Aur Gulam.
I have outlined the film’s story to better appreciate this mind-blowing song. Pyaasa reveals a haunting and aching sadness. Guru Dutt plays Vijay, the frustrated and angry-with-society poet, a rebel without a pause. Rebellion yes, but self-defeating. Vijay’s growing disenchantment with the people and society is crushing. The defeated and broken man shuns the hypocritical society – a society which eulogises the dead and ignores the living.Â
Inspired by Sarath Chandra’s novel Srikant, Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa (1957) examines the plight of the poet in a highly opportunistic world. In a world where romance sells, Vijay’s realistic poems are too bitter and pessimistic. Shunned by family, girlfriend and society, a frustrated Vijay does everything to get his poems published, but in vain. Defiant, angry and heartbroken,Â Vijay rejects the society. The movie depicts an artiste’s struggles to make it in a man-made harsh world.
The song highlights the ultimate achievement of this all-time loserÂ – a slap in the face of the society. After a dead beggar wearing his coat is mistaken for him, his love Gulab, a prostitute, gets his poems published with her earnings. When Gulab finds Vijay is alive, she organizes a function to present the real Vijay to the world.
When the netas pay him handsome tributes believing him to be dead, Vijay rejects the society and Rafi brings to life Vijay’s disillusionment and his disgust and contempt for the hypocritical society.
Yeh mahalon, Yeh takhton, Yeh taajon ki duniya Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai!Â
(These palaces, these kingdoms, this land of power… What do I gain by winning this worthless world?)
Mere saamne se hataado yeh duniya! (Remove this world from my sight)
Now that the world is willing to accept him and his popular writings, Vijay has no desire to attain the world anymore. Why revel in a shallow world that ignores the living?Â
S D Burman’s tunes, Sahir’s profound poetry and Rafi’s intense singing bring this song alive in its stark reality.
In this riveting climax – inÂ cold black and white – you see the silhouette of Guru Dutt which gradually comes into focus and by the end of the song you see a larger-than-life Dutt. The reaction shots of each character,especially of Gulab (Waheeda Rehman), are captivating. There is the unforgettable image of Vijay standing in the doorway with a world-weary look on his face. Alone and dejected, he looms large over a morally bankrupt world.
The elite who lavish praises on him thinking he is dead, now throw him out when they realise he is alive.
Rafi proves why he is the best – the song begins as a murmur, gradually rises in tone and pitch and finally explodes into all frustrated glory -Â jalado jalado ise phoonk dalo ye duniya tumhari hai tumhi sambhalo ye duniyaÂ (burn this world, blow it out, take back your world, I care nothing for it).
Rafi pours all the pain, inner traumas, anger, frustration and disgust of Vijay – he makes you feel Vijay’s pain. That is the greatness of a singer. As the song reaches a crescendo, Rafi’s voice soars giving one goose bumps. The song, the singing, the words haunt you. It takes sometime to come back to earth.
Only Sahir could have written such a scathing commentary on the society.
Ye mahalon, ye takthon, ye taajon ki duniyaa
Ye inasaan ke dushman samaajon ki duniyaa
Ye daulat ke bhuukhe rivaazon ki duniyaa
Ye duniyaa agar mil bhii jaaye to kyaa hai
Yes, why do we need such a world which bows to the rich and treats the underprivileged with utter contempt?
The first stanza is almost inaudible. Yet, Rafi conveys a wealth of meaning with his slow murmur
Har ek jism ghaayal, har ek ruh pyaasi
Nigaahon mein uljhan, dilon mein udaasi
Yeh duniyaa hai yaa aalam-e-badhavaasi
yeh duniyaaÂ …
Here, the song rises a little in tone to show the disgust of the poet. And Rafi excels in conveying the udasi and uljhan. Each word falls like a heavy stone into the chilling silence.
Jahaan ek khilonaa hai inasaan ki hasti
Ye basti hai murdaa-paraston ki basti
Jahaan aur jivan se hai maut sasti
yeh duniyaa …
The song rises further in tempo in this stanza
Javaani bhatakti hai bezaar bankar
Javaan jism sajate hai baazaar bankar
Jahaan pyaar hotaa hai vyaapaar bankar
ye duniyaaÂ …
Here you see Rafi singing in a slightly higher pitch to show the injustice of the society where even human beings are treated like commodities.
Yeh duniyaa jahaan aadami kuchh nahin hai
Vafaa kuchh nahin, dosti kuchh nahin hai
Jahaan pyaar ki kadr hi kuchh nahin hai
ye duniyaa …
In this stanza, Rafi’s voice soars a little, hinting that the song is hurtling towards a shattering climax.
Jalaa do, jalaa do ise phoonk daalo ye duniyaa
Mere saamne se hataa lo ye duniyaa
Tumhaari hai tumhi sambhalo ye duniya, ye duniyaa …Â
The song ends with these soaring notes, which touch every cord in you, leaving you in helpless anger at the society.Â
I don’t want a world which doesn’t give a damn to a person or loyalty or friendship or love – a world where everyone is deeply hurt, faces only problems – where beauty is sold in open market – where death is cheaper than living.Â Â
What profound lyrics. Only Sahir’s pen could have come out with such bitter truths. The song is a telling comment on the commodification of people in the quest for money and power. Fifty years after the film’s release, today’s market economy too reflects this – where everything comes with a price tag.
S D Burman, the master, has given non-intrusive music. You only hear Rafi’s voice, the musical score is minimal. Dada’s music raises the song to sublime heights.Â
With four greats coming together – Rafi, Sahir, Burman and Guru Dutt – is it any surprise that this song – can we merely call this a song? – this musical soul-stirrer is considered the best in cine history?
In 2005, Time Magazine selected Pyaasa as one of the all-time 100 movies of 20th century.
Nargis and Madhubala were originally pencilled in to act but were too busy. Mala Sinha and Waheeda Rehman, relatively newcomers then, stepped in.Â
Waheeda’s character Gulab is based on real-life Gulabo, a prostitute whom Guru Dutt’s friend-director befriended once.