Friday, July 15, 2011

One Song at a time: 43. Na toh caarvan ki talash hai

(Sahir Ludhianvi)

I don't think there could have been better locality than Boiguda in Secunderabad to grow up in , for it was the most cosmopolitan of all localities. A locality which was populated by Tamilians, Telugus, Anglo Indians, Marwadis and Hindi speaking folks. Populated by the rich marwadis, the middle class government servants and slum dwellers. Populated by Hindus, Jains, Muslims and Christians. Everyone was a friend. And festival ours. As kids we loved festivals for they brought with them things to eat. Thus at an early age I had tasted multiple cuisines. Of all the cuisines, I have a special affection for the Muslim cuisine. (And Telangana cuisine,especially the Bagar Annam)

We used to attend Muslim weddings especially to eat. Most of us were pure vegetarians and special care was taken by our friends to ensure we got only the vegetarian stuff. The biriyani, the double-ka-meeta and what not. I still remember the wedding in the family of our local 'Dada', Jahangir Khan. His brother Basheer took care of us by constantly telling us, "Don't worry dear. I am here". That world was lost when I moved out of Secunderabad to Chennai and then to Bangalore.

Not only I but the Hindi film world also lost out on such a world quite some time back. In an earlier era, there were lot of charming Muslim socials and historical that were made and many of them achieved tremendous success. Sample: 'Mughal-E-Azam', 'Pakeezha'. Later, due to various reasons, the Muslim social just vanished from the screen. In an excellent and insightful article @umujahir examines this phenomena. Do read this incisive article.

And when it comes to Muslim socials, can that wonderful form of music, 'Qawali', be far behind? A naturally energetic musical form which can put you in a trance. It has been put to good use in Hindi films and none did it better than Roshan Nagrath. It is generally agreed that the best qawali in films is 'naa to caarvan ki talash hai' from 'Barsat Ki Raat'. I don't think anyone will debate this conclusion. 

The song is an enduring classic and rightly so. It is stupendous on multiple counts. The sheer melody which Roshan coats it with  separates it from the other qawalis. The way  tension is created and resolved in the song (observer Rafi's entry). Sustained excitement throughout this very long song.  Darbari Kanada touch. Excellent singing. And to crown it all, the wonderful poetry from the pen of Shair Ludhianvi.

The words of the qawali also show us a much needed attribute in current times, the friendship amongst various religions. If you observe the lyrics carefully, the first part of the song has a strong mix of Urdu words, the 'charaagar' imagery is from the traditional Urdu ghazals. ("illaz hai koi to maut hai". Wah. What a line.) Towards the end the song yields way to Hindu imagery. And here Sahir completely eschews Urdu and uses only Hindi words!!! Very subtly done which you will miss if you don't observe  keenly. 

Let's watch the video now. Lot of effort has gone into the picturization and it shows. While the main singer remains sober, watch out for the antics of the side kick. Very enjoyable.  Singing credit: Manna Dey, S D Batish, Mohd Rafi, Sudha Malhotra and Asha Bhosle. 

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