When, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, I posted my list of songs addressed to the moon, I ended with a caveat: that was not the only post. There would be more. Because the moon is so popular a motif in Hindi film song lyrics, it’s not surprising that it is dragged into songs about the night (which, of course, is almost synonymous with romance); about the beloved (whose beauty is compared to that of the moon); and even about someone much-loved, not necessarily a love interest.
But there are also plenty of songs which are about the moon. Yellow, lost, crazed with love, wan, lonely: the metaphors applied to the moon are a dime a dozen.
Therefore, this list: ten songs that contain an adjective for the moon. Besides my usual restriction—that the song should be from a pre-1970s Hindi film that I’ve seen—I’ve imposed one more restriction: that the adjective for the moon must occur in the first two lines of the song.
Without further ado, therefore, onto the list.
1. Chaand bhi koi deewaana hai (Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani, 1968): Otherwise a fairly grim film about a family devastated because of the husband’s alcoholism, Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani was redeemed by an absolutely adorable romance between the characters played by Mumtaz and Sudhir. Their chemistry was so good, and their romance so well-written, that I’d gladly watch this film again just for them.
… and for this absolutely sublime song. Likening themselves to the moon and the waves, the two lovers describe these companions of the night. Especially the moon. A deewaana, maddened by love; and an awaara, a wanderer, who roams all through the night. Its sorrow unknown to us mere mortals, a companion through the night but always on its own, distant. Lovely lyrics, wonderful music (N Dutta’s) and a beautiful rendition by Asha Bhonsle and Mahendra Kapoor.
2. Chaand maddham hai (Railway Platform, 1955): Sahir Ludhianvi, while usually applauded for the brilliance of his anti-establishment, socialist poetry, also excelled at another form of poetry: the depiction of nature. Chaand maddham hai is an example of his prowess at describing nature, though here (as in several of his other poems, like Parbaton ke pedon par), the exquisiteness of nature is basically a setting for romance.
The moon here is dim, pallid. The sky is silent, the night all hushed and waiting: will her lover not come to her? She seems to know that he will not; he is lost to her, gone to another.
Sadly enough, this beautiful song is missing from Railway Platform, at least in the versions I’ve come across. I have no idea whether it was originally there and later dropped, but if it was, what a sad loss.
3. Khoya-khoya chaand khula aasmaan (Kaala Bazaar, 1960): My love for this song dates from back when I was a child and first saw it on Chitrahaar. Dev Anand’s character, wooing the lovely Waheeda Rehman, draws her attention to the night—the stars twinkling in an open, clear sky; the gentle breeze; the lost moon. All call for romance, all beckon. Will she not listen to them, at least?
The setting is beautiful, the music lovely, the lyrics and Mohammad Rafi’s singing—all excellent. What lets this song down for me is Dev Anand’s ‘dancing’, or whatever you’d call it. That excessively loose-limbed gambolling, those arms swinging bonelessly from side to side, always puts me in mind of an inebriated gorilla.
4. Chaand ek bewa ki churi ki tarah toota hua (Daag, 1952): The refrain of this song—Koi nahin mera is duniya mein—is probably the more well-known part of this beautiful lament from Daag. But this song actually begins with a description of the night, forlorn and miserable: and the very first line of that description is a description of the crescent moon: like the broken bangle of a widow. I think that’s such a brilliant simile (kudos to Hasrat Jaipuri for the lyrics): the sorrow and despair of a widow is reflected in her broken bangle, and the moon, compared to that symbol of misery, becomes symbolic of despair too. The rest of the song carries forward the loneliness through other similes and metaphors, but that broken bangle is so striking an opening…
5. Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi (Navrang, 1959): From the ‘lost’ moon (which I assume refers to a no moon night) of Khoya khoya chaand to the thin crescent, shaped like a widow’s broken bangle, of Chaand ek bewa ki churi ki tarah, to the half-moon. And here is the classic song about a half-moon: a man, devoted to his completely oblivious wife, adopts her as his muse and dreams up songs aplenty, visions in which he and his wife sing of their love. In this dream sequence, while the wife (Sandhya) dances with a whopping eight water-pots piled, one on the other, atop her head, the husband accompanies her in singing. The moon is half, the night is half gone; let not their rendezvous be left midway too.
(Ironically enough, the moon that appears in the backdrop, painted onto an artificial sky, is not a half-moon but a crescent).
6. Chup hai dharti chup hain chaand-sitaare (House No. 44, 1955): Dev Anand seems to have had a fair number of songs about the moon picturized on him. There’s the song addressed to the moon (Dheere-dheere chal chaand gagan mein), to songs about the moon (Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahaan, Phir wohi chaand), to the songs in this list. Was that because Dev Anand was invariably a romantic hero (even in films where he was a bit of an anti-hero), and the moon is pretty much synonymous with romance?
Here, he’s the calm, quietly happy young man, waiting in the moonlight for his beloved. All about him sleep: the Earth is quiet, the moon and the stars are silent. It is just him, him and the solitude that surrounds him as he waits. What I especially like are these two lovely lines about the beauty of the moon: Nikhra-nikhra sa hai chaand ka joban, bikhra-bikhra sa hai noor ka daaman (The youthfulness of the moon is heightened; the veil of its light is scattered).
7. Chaand zard-zard hai (Jaali Note, 1960): Yet another Dev Anand song, and this time with one of my favourite actresses, the gorgeous Madhubala. Here, while others dance the night away, these two people, very attracted to each other, praise the moon. A yellow moon, golden and full, tinting the night and arousing a ‘sweet ache’ (that doesn’t sound as romantic in English as it does in the original Hindustani, ‘meetha-meetha dard’). Jaali Note didn’t have as good songs as did the other important Dev Anand-Madhubala film, Kaala Paani, but this is not a bad one. At any rate, it’s the only song I’ve come across which talks of a yellow moon rather than a white or silver one.
8. Aaj ki raat naya chaand leke aayi hai (Shaadi, 1962): Whoever did the art direction for this lovely song doesn’t seem to know exactly what a new moon looks like—or was Rajinder Krishan, who wrote the lyrics, not literally meaning a ‘new moon’ in the astronomical sense, but in a more metaphorical sense? Because Saira Banu’s character, a poor girl dumped at the wedding mandap after having been married, has been through some really miserable times, and has suddenly found happiness. Love, fulfillment, joy have come her way. Is that why the moon and the night, all at once, seem utterly new to her?
9. Woh chaand khila woh taare hanse (Anari, 1959): One of my very favourite songs picturized on Raj Kapoor. A bubbly Nutan plays the girl who, fed up with the diffidence of her beloved, teasingly points out to him what an absolutely gorgeous night this is—and how anybody (meaning, obviously, him, as he admits graciously) who doesn’t succumb to the romance of the night is an ignoramus. This is a ‘blossoming moon’: a full moon, perhaps? Its rays spread their arms, stretch out their veil across the star-studded sky, inviting the lovers to indulge in a little romance.
10. Chaand ko dekhoji (Chaand Mere Aaja, 1960): From one of the many Hindi films that actually had ‘chaand’ in its title (others include Chaand, Chaudhvin ka Chaand, Dooj ka Chaand, Chaand par Chadhaai, etc), this very melodious song describing a romantic night. Two lovers, played by Bharat Bhushan and Nanda, are out on a night-time rendezvous and call each other’s attention to the moon. How it drenches the atmosphere with intoxication, how it arouses a certain magic in the hearts of these two. There’s more: the moon is even supposed to encourage the lovers, egging them on by telling them that these are the days of their youth, their heyday: don’t let these days and nights go waste.
There is yet another important category of moon songs. Not songs addressed to the moon or songs describing the moon, but songs that compare someone to the moon. That’s up next (and it will be, I promise, the last of these moon songs).