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Magic of Night



It can only be done by Gulzar, and as far as the introduction of new idioms and conventions into the language of love is concerned no one can come near him. He again showed it with such a finesse in Kaminey where with the song” Raat ke dhai baje”, he has introduced new meaning about what constitutes night. Night after 12.00 p.m. in most of the films generally connoted noir, but with this song, he raised the bar for beginning of the games of love to 2.30 p.m. probably factoring in the social realities of the present times, more so in the metropolitan cities. In the metropolitan cities it is mostly around this time i.e. 2.30 p.m. that love starts making waves, what with people returning from work not earlier than 10.30-11 p.m. and getting caught in the processes, around this time only the couples indeed get the time to kindle the power of love between themselves. The social change that Gulzar has brought in through this song is symptomatic about the observant power that he has of the present times.

Before Gulzar shifted this barometer love used to blossom in the nights but specificity of the time was not such precise and it generally hovered before 12.00 clock in the night. Gulzar had himself underlined the magic of night in Ghar through the song ” Phir wahi raat hai, raat hai khwab ki”, though the song seems to transcend the barrier of the night, the fluidity of the

One of the foremost stars that have capitalized on the virtues of night to profess his love for the beloved has been Dev Anand. It all started with “Hai Apna Dil to Awara”, in BAAT EK RAAT KI, which probably would be the first romantic songs sung on the local train, the last local of its times that used to leave VT around 11.30 p.m. or so. It was followed up by ” yeh Raat ye Chandni phir kahan” in JAAL and ” Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum”, from PATITA. Or for that matter ” Khoya Khoya Chand in KALA BAZAAR, which could capture enchant and mystique of the night in such subtle and endearing manner. Shot in sepia tones against the backdrop of a clear sky, the swaying of the tall trees also seemed to beckon Waheeda Rehman not to go and let the night weave its magic between the eyes of the two romantics. These songs again underline the fact that as the night progresses the intensity of romance starts its progress on an upward trajectory.

Right from the time of black and white era, night, as it progresses has been equated with the opportunity that it unfolds for the lovers to let the latent passions bloom and proliferate without inhibition. The same sentiment was encapsulated in a succinct manner in 1961 Razia Sultan, the song being “Dhalti Jaye Raat, kehle dil ki baat”, a song filmed on Nirupa Roy and Jairaj. With bar being raised so high by Anand Bakshi in 1961, when Kamaal Amrohi decided to make Razia Sultan the invocation to the enigma of night to stoke the passion of love ought to have been of a higher quality than what Anand Bakshi had written, as now it was Hema Malini who was playing the role of Razia Sultan. Kaifi Azmi stood to the challenge and   “Choom Kar raat sulayegi to neend aayegi”, from Kamal Amrohi’s Razia Sultan, emerged as one of the most passionate songs about glory of night and anticipation for a lover, and this song indeed has to figure in all time great lists of songs sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Lata Mangeshkar capitalizing on the vocal prowess that she has, crooned another ode to the mystique of night through Julie’s song, ” ye Raaten nayee purani” in which the play of piano in the interludes added mystique to the song.   Interestingly enough most of the songs of night have been based on the western musical instruments like guitar, piano, saxophone etc., a sort of affirmation so to say that night as a notion is indeed a concept seeped in the western nuances. The exceptions do exist, e.g. “Raat ka sama jhoome chadrama”, which was an ode to the tremendous possibilities that the magic of night lays out, set to the classical Indian musical instruments from Ziddi, incidentally again a Dev Anand starrer emphasizing the belief that the films in which Dev Anand acted in one form or the other paid tribute to the importance that night has for setting the tone and mood for romance.

Another master piece set in classical tone for a film of historical era was “Tumhe Yaad karte karte Jayegi Raen Saari”, was again an invocation to the pain and pathos of the beloved for her lover.

It is not that Kaminey was the first film where Gulzar changed the notions of night with reference to the changing social norms; he had penned a master piece on the beauty of night through lyrics for film Ghar, Kishore Kumar rendering the song, set to the tune by Pancham, “ Phir wahi raat hai Raat hai khwab ki”, and probably for one of the rare times in the history of songs it was not the beloved who was not able to cope up with the night alone, it was the lover who was not able to spend the night alone, was trying to cope with it by invoking the past memories of the nights that had been spent together.

Another ode to night where the futility of not being able to meet once and for all was underlined in a succinct manner by Gulzar was in “Roz Roz Aankhon tale” from the film Jeeva and for a change it was Amit Kumar who was weaving the miasma of the mystique of night along with Asha Bhonsle, Pancham holding the baton for the score. This was the magic of Gulzar that even in a film which has dacoity as the theme, which Jeeva had, Gulzar can bring in moments of passion, longing ness, separation, anticipation, invocation, all packed in a verse. Gulzar had presented the futility of the night in a different context for a lover who had lost its moorings, faced with the social realities of the life in Mere Apne whose song, “Koi hota jisko apna hum apna” is a song where an individual is trying to come with his realities. May be this could have served  as the reference point to Jawed Akhtar when he wrote the song “ So gaya ye jahan so gaya Aasma”, in Tezaab, which is again an angst of the misguided bunch of youth trying to find their moorings from a society that does not have any use for them.

Incidentally, it also has been one of the apparent paradoxes of the Indian film industry that the films which had dacoity as the theme had one of the most beautiful songs that could ever be written.

The beauty of night and the shifting of its bar over a time span is indeed one of the most beautiful chapters of the world of Hindi cinema whose parallel would be difficult to find. Gulzar should take major credit for underlining its importance and giving it contexts over different time frames factoring in the social realities of the times as they keep on evolving.

By: Suman Rai

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