Most poetry is an echo of your own heart, your own feelings.  Getting into the skin of a situation and writing from the heart of another character is not only tough, it is often repetitive, and it can become tiring and has the potential to rob you of creativity.  Poetry in films is tough to write because it has to stick to meter, scene and situation.  But poets like Majrooh, Sahir, Shailendra, Hasrat Jaipuri, Rajinder Krishan, Shakeel and so many others, have done this remarkably time and again, and have left behind invaluable gems for us to delve into again and again.  I salute each and every poet who has achieved this remarkable feat and come out in flying colors.

Kuch aise geet hoten hain jo classics banke reh jaate hain…they are those which become a part of your psyche because of the circumstances when you heard the song the first its nostalgia or its deja vu.

Doston, the beauty of poetry in its original language is always the best and more often than not, any attempt at translating it, is limited by the right choice of words that can convey the same depth of feeling.  I have simply tried to do an English transliteration of two gems from Rafi Saab’s treasure trove of songs.

Ab kya misaal doon main tumhare shabaab ki

FILM:  Aarti

YEAR: 1962

ACTORS:  Pradeep Kumar, Meena Kumari

MUSIC:  Roshan

LYRICS:  Majrooh Sultanpuri

Ab kyaa misaal doon main tumhare shabaab kee
Insaan ban gayee hai kiran maahataab kee

Tell me, to what can I liken your beauty 

You are the moonbeam that (the beauty of) a human embodies..!

In describing the woman he loves and admires, he puts her on a pedestal.  There is the aura of worship devoid of possessiveness. There is a distinct respect in the lyrics, all of which Rafi Saab has captured in his voice..  The use of the word “Insaan” is a tad surprising when referring to the beloved…perhaps this was done to suit the meter of the lyrics..

Chehre mein ghul gayaa hain haseen chaandni kaa noor
Aankhon mein hain chaman kee jawaan raat kaa suroor
Gardan hain ek jhukee hui daalee gulaab kee

Your face lights up like the brilliance of the moon rays

Your eyes intoxicate like the vernal flora of the dark

A turn of your neck is like the swaying of a rose stalk…!

The line – Gardan hain ek jhukee hui daalee gulaab kee – is so beautiful.  We have heard the descriptions of swan-like neck and doe-eyes when praising a woman, but this line has so much more delicate beauty because by comparing her neck to the stem of a rose, the poet is also saying that her face is as beautiful as a rose…the way the poet has conceptualised this line simply takes my breath away..!

Gensoo khule to shaam ke dil se dhuaan uthhe
Chhoole kadam to jhook ke na phir aasmaan uthhe
Sau baar jhilmilaaye shamaa aaftaab kee…

Dusk is smitten with envy by your open tresses

Heaven kneels to touch you, then rests at your feet

(Then looking at you) a brilliance of a hundred suns erupts..!

Gensoo khule to shaam ke dil se dhuaan uthh
e – Bikhre zulfon ke baare mein, shayaron ke kaafi kuchh likha hai, par is janaab ke jazbaton ko bhi padhiye… comparing her open hair not only to the smoky evening, but also hinting at something more darker and deeper in the heart of nature, like jealousy….  yet when you hear Rafi Saab singing it, even jealousy becomes complimentary…!

Deewar-o dar kaa rang,  yeh aanchal,  yeh pairhan
Ghar ka mere chiraag hain, bootaa saa yeh badan
Tasveer ho tumhee mere jannat ke khwaab kee

The colours on the wall (of my home), the drape of your robe

It’s your bud-like presence that lights up my home

If heaven is my dream, you are its very essence…!

The poet’s thoughts have come down to terra firma and much closer to a real life situation… he is not dreaming here, but talking of reality.. his house, his home and how she is the centre of his very life… 

The humming at the beginning of this song is the magical entry of Rafi Saab that makes this song so special… its casual like a doodle yet completely in sync with the mood of the evening.  Aur is humming ki kya misaal doon..!

The second song I have chosen is a masterpiece from the movie Nausherwan-e-Adil (Nausherwan, the righteous). The movie starred Sohrab Modi in the title role as the ruler of Iran and Naseem Banu as Mallika-e-Iran.  Raaj Kumar is his son, Naushazaad, who is in love with a Christian girl, Marcia (Mala Sinha).  This song has left an indelible impression on my heart since I was very young.

The movie had the cream of the best songs, each a gem, the brainchild of a musical genius called C. Ramachandra.  Standing out among several sparkling light Lata solos and duets was this intense solo by Rafi Saab…Yeh Hasrat Thi Ke Is Duniya Mein has remained with me ever since I saw this Raaj Kumar-Mala Sinha historical drama more than 30 years back.

The bare longing and stark yearning in Pavez Shamshi’s lyrics finds a stirring voice in this Rafi Saab high-voltage classic.  Deftly enhanced by C.Ramachandra’s baton, this song is without a doubt one of my all-time favourite tragic numbers of Rafi Saab…

Yeh hasrat thi ke is duniya mein


MOVIE:    Nausherwan-e-Adil

YEAR:     1957

ACTORS:  Raaj Kumar. Mala Sinha. Sohrab Modi, Naseem Banu

MUSIC:     C. Ramachandra

LYRICIST:  Parvez Shamshi

Yeh hasrat thi ke is duniya mein bas do kaam kar jaate

Tumhari yaad mein jeete tumhare gam mein mar jaate…


If there was only one wish, one desire

Dreams of you would I aspire

To but live in the want of seeing you

Or be consumed by grief’s fire..!

Yeh duniya doobti, toofan aata is qayamat ka

Agar dam bhar toh aankhon mein meri aansoo thehar jaate …

Would not the world have drowned

In my sorrow limitless abound

Had my tears ceased to flow

And doomsday marked its ground..!

Tumhari yaad aa aakar mere nashthar chubbhoti hai

Vagarna dil ke saare zakhm itne din mein bhar jaate…

Your thoughts close upon me

Dagger-like thorns deepen my pain

Time has power to heal broken hearts

Had not my tender scars opened up again..!

Kahaan tak dukh uthayen teri furqat aur judaai ke

Agar marna hi tha ek din na kyon phir aaj mar jaate…

The pain of separation too much to bear

A life without you full of despair

If a will of my own define my life

Death I would embrace without a care…!

Let me conclude by saying that the emotions that are awakened by listening to a Rafi Saab song are expressed straight from the heart and the knowledge of English is not at all necessary to understand it.  Every word that Rafi Saab utters is like a pearl..his diction is God given..! I personally do not even think The Master put any effort to make it sound like it ultimately did.  I feel God made it sound so..!


Bina Krishna