My blog posts come about in odd ways. Some are suggestions or recommendations from blog readers, or from friends. Some strike me as I go through life. Some are serendipitous—a video appearing on the sidebar in Youtube while I’m watching something else. And some are like this: an idea which strikes two people at almost the same time. Anu and I don’t always see eye to eye (pun intended), but more often than not, we look at things in exactly the same way.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that Anu’s ‘zulfein’ songs post gave me the idea for an ‘aankhen’ songs post (and, even less surprising, that Anu had already thought of an ‘aankhen’ songs post too). Or that, as I was publishing my post, I thought, “I should do a post on either nigaah or nazar next.” Or, that Anu should send me an e-mail later the same day, in which she wrote: “Perhaps I should do ‘Nigahein’ as a complementary post.”
Anyway, to cut a long story short: Anu and I decided we’d do twin (but not quite; look-alike, as in Hum Dono or Mujrim, might be a more appropriate description) posts. And then Anu suggested we ask our third soul sister, Bollyviewer, if she’d like to join the party as well: with a post about nayan/naina songs. Bollyviewer, good sport that she is, agreed. So here we are, with a trio of song lists. Head over to Anu’s blog to read her post on nigaahein songs, to Bollyviewer’s for her post on nayan/naina songs—and read on for my list of ‘nazar’ songs.
‘Nazar’—like ‘nigaah’—means glance, gaze. It can also, like nigaah, imply a viewpoint, an opinion. In Hindi cinema, and when it comes to film songs in particular, nazar invariably ends up being related to romance: just as eyes meet and two people fall in love, so is it with the nazar. Glances meet and stay locked. Or shy away, and look through lowered lashes… there are situations aplenty, and songs to match.
So, without further ado, the songs. Each of these has the word ‘nazar’ (or its variations, such as ‘nazron’ or ‘nazrein’) in its very first line. And each song is, as always, from a pre-70s film that I’ve seen.
1. Zara nazron se keh do ji (Bees Saal Baad, 1962): Waheeda Rehman’s village belle is engrossed in trying out the sights of a sugarcane ‘gun’ when her date turns up. And he, already utterly besotted, sets about telling her to make sure her aim is right; she mustn’t miss the target. But he’s not referring to the imaginary gun; he’s referring to that sharp gaze of hers. And not just her gaze, he goes on to tell her: mazaa jab hai tumhaari hara adaa qaatil hi kehlaaye: the fun is in every little gesture and every feature laying people low, left, right and centre. The entire song is a paean to the perfection of this woman, who without any weapons, is able to ‘kill people’—the pleasantest death possible, as her admirer would testify.
Biswajeet isn’t a favourite of mine, but Hemant is, and this song is a delightful one.
2. Najar laagi raja tore bangle par (Kaala Paani, 1960): A flirtatious song, even one sung by a tawaif to a prospective client, can be full of references to nazar, and yet have nothing of about the meeting of the nazar (or, as Nalini Jaywant’s tawaif pronounces it, najar). No; it’s all about how her gaze has fallen on the home of this man, and how it has made her decide that if she were granted a wish, she would wish to be allowed to be a part of this house. As a creeper of chameli, clinging to it. As a songbird, singing constantly in its environs. As a bride, by his side. All because of her najar falling on his home (and, presumably, him). No great lyrics—as the derisive shaayar Dev Anand’s character is pretending to be points out—but great music.
(Incidentally, my husband hates this song. Years back, on a weekend trip to a small heritage hotel called Fort Uncha Gaon, we ended up sitting at a hotel bonfire for the evening’s entertainment. This was provided by a group of local folk performers, consisting of a couple of men and three children. They were fine while they sang folk songs; then they sang Najar laagi raja tore bangle par, and while they didn’t sing it badly, the children—who were the dancers—danced vilely. My husband always remembers that, and how abysmal it made the evening).
3. Nazron ki dil se, dil ki nazar se (Anari, 1959): The link between the heart and the eyes: gazes meet, and the heart is won over. Gazes meet, too, and speak volumes without anything being actually uttered; and that is how love grows, how love is sustained.
While the music and the lyrics of Nazron ki dil se, dil ki nazar se are beautiful, what I also especially like about this song is the way it’s picturized. In keeping with the words, the movements of the two lovers are very slow, very gentle. They speak with their eyes: you can see the affection, the love, as they look at each other; it’s almost as if the holding of hands at the end of the song has already happened through their eyes.
4. Chaandi ka badan sone ki nazar (Taj Mahal, 1963): Two qawwalis jostled for space on this list. One was from Barsaat ki Raat, a film that’s almost synonymous with qawwalis: Pehenchaanta hoon khoob tumhaari nazar ko main. The other was this, and it won its place in this list not just because Pehenchaanta hoon khoob doesn’t really begin with those words (and therefore, technically, doesn’t have ‘nazar’ in the first line), but also because this is such a good qawwali.
A body of silver, a gaze of gold, sings the besotted lover; and on top of that, this genteel fragility… and the woman he adores berates him for insulting her, for having the temerity to presume he can even open his mouth before her. And so it continues, he praising her to the skies, comparing her to heaven while she alternately dampens his ardour and hints that she is not above returning that passion.
A superb coming together of great talents: Sahir’s lyrics, Roshan’s music, the voices of Manna Dey, Asha Bhonsle, and Suman Kalyanpur.
5. Shokh nazar ki bijliyaan dil pe mere (Woh Kaun Thi?, 1964): My favourite of Madan Mohan’s scores for any film, Woh Kaun Thi? is known mostly for the songs that Lata sang—especially the memorable Lag jaa gale. But there’s this song too, sung by Asha Bhonsle and lip-synced by Praveen Choudhary, which is a stunner. Also come-hither, as Lag jaa gale was, but in a completely different way. This is a woman who has long (but silently) been in love with her colleague; now, with his wife dead in a train crash, she finally summons up the courage to let him know. This is not the confident, come-and-love me seductiveness of a woman married to a man; it is the rather more covert pleading of a woman not certain of how her confession will be received. Go on, make me swoon over your gaze; let lightning fall on this heart of mine every time you smile, she sings. His smiles encourage her, but by the end of the song, he seems to realize that his good-natured camaraderie has been misinterpreted.
6. Dekhke teri nazar beqaraar ho gaye (Howrah Bridge, 1958): One of the very few films from the 50s and 60s that actually had the guts to feature a heroine who was a dance girl (and that too in the Western tradition, not a tawaif), Howrah Bridge tends to be known for two other club song-and-dance sequences: the sultry and sublime Aaiye meherbaan (Madhubala was never more gorgeous), and the fast-paced Mera naam Chin Chin Choo, picturized on Helen. This song, slower but still seductive, is as wonderful as those, in its own way. Madhubala, dancing with Herman Benjamin and Abe Cohen (and another dancer, all of whom look—even when they’re supposedly ‘imprisoning’ her—as if they were handling her with kid gloves). Ashok Kumar, watching on, though not with much interest, and looking ready to leave any moment. As he eventually does, to her humiliation and disappointment.
7. Main teri nazar ka suroor hoon (Jahanara, 1964): A doomed love between a princess and a commoner. A poet, who knows that the woman he can never marry—just because she is a Mughal princess, and is not permitted to marry anyone—sings of his love to her, through a poem. He reminds her of all that he is to her: nazar ka suroor: the comfort, the pleasure of her gaze. Aashiqui ka guroor, the pride of her fascination, of her love. Even if they can never meet, even if he must stay away from her, of this he is confident, and he tells her so: tere dil mein main bhi zuroor hoon, I know that I am in your heart. A poignant, heartbreaking song of a love that is powerful and deep, but never can be. And sung with so much feeling by the inimitable Talat.
8. Unse mili nazar ke mere hosh ud gaye (Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan, 1968): Personally, I don’t see why any woman would find her senses flying out the window just because she locked gazes with Rajendra Kumar, but then, there’s no accounting for tastes. Saira Banu’s character in Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan certainly thinks this man is quite phenomenal—just looking into his eyes has given her enough of a song to take her through coming home (a women’s hostel); having a leisurely bath and shower; getting ready for bed; and even, dreamy-eyed, remembering those glorious moments of their first meeting.
I like the music and rendition of this song, even if the two lead characters aren’t among my favourites. Plus, the way the song ends puts it on par with Yeh chaand sa roshan chehra as a song that ends very dramatically.
9. Ek nazar bas ek nazar (Munimji, 1955): My ‘aankhen’ songs list was crowded with songs picturized on Dev Anand, or from films in which he had starred. One was Aankh khulte hi tum, from Munimji. Here, then, is yet another song from Munimji, picturized (as was Aankh khulte hi tum) on Nalini Jaywant. This is a happier song: the lovers are together, and all is seemingly well on this cozy little outing in the forest. She tries to attract his attention (with unabashedly seductive moves—languorously lifting her arms, letting her hair down almost to his face, letting her eyelids droop in a way that makes her nazar very sultry). Telling him to look at her once. Just once, and that will be all. He is more than happy to oblige, and the last verse of the song (before Pran’s villain appears sneakily on the scene, gun in tow) becomes a bidding to look once at the camera.
10. Jaan-e-man ek nazar dekh le (Mere Mehboob, 1963): And, to end this post, a song that echoes, in its very first line, the words of the previous song. My beloved, look at me, just once. The situation, however, is very different. Far from the romantic little rendezvous of the Munimji song, this is a social occasion: a song sung at an engagement. Sadhana and Rajendra Kumar’s characters are betrothed. Her friends gather to celebrate, and her best friend Naseem Ara (Ameeta) sings a song. What the heroine does not know (though her uncomfortable fiancé does) is that her friend’s song does not merely give expression to the feelings of the young lovers, but to her own, too. She is in love with this man, and has believed him to return that love, until her illusion has been shattered.
Naseem Ara’s song is, on the surface, teasing, flirtatious. It is only in unguarded moments that you see the pain in her eyes, and it is only in the last verse—Ji mein aata hai yahi, chheen loon tera sanam; lekin ae mast adaa, maan ehsaan mera, main har jazba-e-dil tujhpe qurbaan kiya (I feel like snatching away your beloved, but my beautiful friend, accept this favour of mine; I sacrifice each emotion of my heart for your sake)—that she says what really is in her heart. And says it with such mischievous light-heartedness that the blushing bride-to-be does not realize that this is, indeed, true.
And, as for the aankhen songs post: there are loads more out there that fit this theme. Which are your favourites?