Or, to be rather more lucid, songs that begin with the word ‘Jaa’ (‘go’).
This post sprang out of my post on ‘Aaja’ songs. Fellow blogger and friend Ava suggested that I might want to do a post on ‘Jaajaa’ or ‘Jaao’ songs, and that started me thinking: is jaajaa a word, just the way aaja is? Or is it jaa jaa (repeated for emphasis?), and so the core word is actually only jaa? A little online discussion took place between me, Neeru and Milind, and we came to the conclusion that jaa jaa is probably poetic license, a word repeated in order to fit the beat. Which I tend to agree with.
So, the word here is jaa. And these ten songs all begin with ‘jaa’ (and I’m being strict about this; no variations, like jaaiye or jaao). What or who is being sent away differs, but the crux of the matter remains: go. Go away. All these songs, as always, are from pre-70s films that I’ve seen. And they’re in no particular order.
1. Jaa jaa jaa mere bachpan (Junglee, 1961): This was the first song that popped into my head when I saw Ava’s comment with the suggestion for this post. Saira Banu debuts onscreen with this song in Junglee—a lovely young woman, skipping and dancing through the hills and valleys of Kashmir, telling her childhood to take itself away: she is now grown up, ready for love, waiting for it to come her way. There is no place here for her childhood; she is past those days.
I love this song (and, actually, all the songs of Junglee, except for the title song). The music is wonderful, the landscape is beautiful, and Saira Banu is so fresh-faced and lovely, she’s a pleasure to watch.
2. Jaa re jaa re ud jaa re panchhi (Maya, 1961): Though it was released in the same year as Junglee and featured another of my favourite actors—Dev Anand—Maya was very, very different from Junglee. This was the story of a wealthy but disillusioned man who takes a break from his privileged life in order to get to know what it’s like to be poor. In the process, he falls in love with a poor young woman—who, when she discovers his real identity (and the fact that he has, basically, been lying to her all this while)—sings this song. Telling him to go, to leave this vale of want and despair, to fly to more salubrious climes. Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics and Salil Chowdhury’s music are wonderful, and Lata’s rendition is perfect (at least to my untrained ears)—she goes really high without faltering or going all shrill.
3. Jaa jaa jaa jaa bewafa (Aar Paar, 1954): The better-known version of this song is the duet, the peppy and playfully romantic Sun sun sun sun zaalima, in which Shyama’s character sings “Jaa jaa jaa jaa bewafa” in response to her beloved’s pesky wheedling. Here, in the much slower, sad version of the song, she reiterates her stand: “Kuchh kiya na dil ka khayaal; jaa teri wafaa dekh li” (You paid no heed to my heart; go—I have had a taste of your fidelity). Despairing and heartbroken, this is a girl far removed from the one who went dancing and jumping among the cars and over them in happier times…
4. Jaa tose nahin boloon Kanhaiyya (Parivaar, 1956): From the garage to a home—and a not-too-unusual combination of a dance rehearsal in a domestic setting. Though, somewhat unusually, the dancer’s tabla player here, the man who’s egging her on to perform, is not her ustad but her husband. And the dancer/singer’s song is not just a song, too: it’s a playful reminder to her husband, of how she’s only going to take this much, and no more. All light-hearted and fun, yet loving at the same time.
Interestingly, another song in another film begins with exactly the same words: in Samrat Chandragupta, a song picturized on Nirupa Roy and Bharat Bhushan begins Jaa tose nahin boloon. I don’t like it as much as this one, though.
5. Jaa jaa re jaa saajna (Adalat, 1958): And, from the domestic setting of the previous song, to a completely different one: a kotha. From the mischievous banter between a woman and her loving husband, to the bitter cry of a woman who has been deserted by her husband. Madan Mohan gave Adalat a score far exceeding, in excellence, the film itself (which had more than its fair share of misunderstandings, mindless self-sacrificing, and melodrama). This song, while perhaps not as well-known as several of the others from the film, is a memorable one nevertheless. Slow, melancholy through much of it—and then, in the middle and towards the end, when the dancer whirls and takes up the song, suddenly turning fast-paced, very typically mujra-like.
6. Jaa ri jaa ri o kaari badariya (Azaad, 1955): And, back again, to a domestic setting. Rescued and brought to a family of loving strangers, Meena Kumari’s character is finally ready to go back to her own home—and, as a way of thanking her hosts for their generosity and kindness, sings them a song and dances them a dance. The song is all about telling the dark clouds to depart, because their thundering and their gloom makes her heart quaver—and her beloved isn’t around to soothe away those fears. Not one of the best-known songs of what was a stellar score (and, even more impressive, a score that was composed by C Ramachandra in a record two weeks), but still a lovely song.
7. Jaa ri sakhi saj-dhajke (Ghoonghat, 1960): Where there’s an Indian wedding, there are bound to be tears. Tears, of course, at the bidaayi, when the new bride bids farewell to her home and her family: but tears, too, of combined joy and happiness as the bride’s friends prepare her for the ceremony. Here, Asha Parekh is the happy bride and Beena Rai the woman with whom this girl’s fate has been oddly tied up. As she helps the bride put on her jewellery and daubs henna on the girl’s palms, the singer wishes her farewell. Farewell to one home which she will leave desolate, farewell to the friends who will miss her.
The song does have a slow, somewhat ponderously melancholic feel to it, but it’s not bad. And I do love one particular aspect of the picturization: the dancers, with lamps in their hands, who slowly whirl about the central figures of the two main actresses.
8. Jaa aur kahin ro shehnai (Shaadi, 1962): Another wedding song, and also, like Jaa ri sakhi, sung by a heartbroken singer. But this is not before the wedding; it’s after—and it’s sung by the bride. The pheras have been completed, the mantras read, so she is technically married; but her husband has been, willy-nilly, hauled off from the mandap by a greedy father who has suddenly realized he’s not going to get wealthy from this marriage. Bride? Wife? Neither? Our heroine (Saira Banu in one role I’m especially fond of, opposite Manoj Kumar) curses the shehnai, telling it to be gone. Since it cannot play celebratory music, it may as well wail. Wail, somewhere else, so that she may at least be spared that further anguish.
9. Jaa re Gokul ke natkhat chor (Laal Qila, 1960): Laal Qila could’ve been an interesting historical: it was set in the mid-1800s, when the East India Company was steadily taking over large swathes of India. The film did touch on Bahadur Shah Zafar, reduced to a mere puppet and bemoaning his fate; it did dwell briefly on the first war of independence—and that was it; the rest was boring, badly scripted and pointless stuff that had nothing to do with the Red Fort or what history was being made there. The only redeeming feature of Laal Qila was its lovely music (by SN Tripathi), especially Zafar’s ghazals. And this charming little love song, played out between Helen and an admirer, whom she addresses as a flirtatious Krishna, playfully telling him to go, to leave her alone.
10. Jaa re baadal jaa (Kailashpati, 1962): One of those many mythologicals that featured Jeevan as Naarad, this one was a recounting of the myths surrounding Shiv and Sati/Parvati, and the destruction of the asura Taarak. The music, by Avinash Vyas, was not memorable (bhajans, which comprised most of the songs, in any case do not really float my boat)—but it did have this lovely song. Parvati, locked into her room by a mother who does not approve of her devotion to Shiv, sings to a passing cloud (Meghdoot-like?) to carry a message to her beloved, reassuring him of her love for him. A beautiful tune, and beautifully sung.
These are the songs I chose to fit this theme. Which would be your picks?