A most poignant, painful, heavy moment for parents, in the Indian culture.There is a celebratory atmosphere all around,great food and ambience, people dressed in all the finery and amidst all this, two supposedly happy faces, which in reality are two hearts crying out in unison, but not a sob dare escaping their lips, for they are doing their duty, their kartavya towards their beloved daughter, by getting her married. They know it is the norm and that it should be followed, but what do they do about the swelling sea of emotions that is engulfing them as the moment of that final step of the young woman outside her parental threshold is inching closer??
Chal ri Sajni showcases all of this and so heartbreaking it is.The words by Majrooh Sultanpuri ji are powerful enough to move even the most stone hearted person and there’s not a dry eye around.
Chal ri sajni
Ab kya soche
Kajra na beh jaaye
The first Antara paints the picture of a duty bound but heart broken father, who is trying to come to terms with the fact that his little one has grown into a young woman and now stepping into a new world, that’s so far away from him. She will be out of his sight and also far away emotionally, what with newer people filling up spaces which were once occupied by her parents only. The mere thought of her being away from him, has left him drenched in tears and as a heap of helplessness, unable to alter the truth. His little girl is no more his alone!! And as he watches her move away from him, in every sense of the word, he is alone, away and aloof from the crowd that surrounds her, as is expected of him, to be the invincible one, not allowed to display his emotions in public.
Babul pachhtaye haathon ko mal ke
Kaahe diya pardes tukde ko dil ke
Aansun liye soch raha duur khadaa re
The second Antara describes the altering of her world with the ritual of nuptials. Gone are the carefree days of playing with dolls and friends, spending time on things according to her own will and wish when she was still in protection of the figurative Maa ka Aanchal, a completely protected, free life, free from the burden of duties…from now on, it will be a life that’s going to be dedicated to the household responsibilities and caring for others, with heaven forbid, no one to care for her or even pay attention to her small wishes or needs.
Mamta kaa aanchal gudiyon kaa kangna
Chhoti badi sakhiyan ghar gali angana
Chhoot gaya, chhoot gaya, chhoot gaya re
And then as she crosses the threshold indicating her crossing over to a world of uncertainty,as nobody can predict how a marriage will shape up in later years,there is a plethora of mixed feelings in the minds of the newly wedded youngster and her helpless parents, the threesome who are aware of the enormous turbulence in their hearts. Their world has changed..forever…It will never be the same again..”Us and Our child” or “Me and My Parents”..None of them can predict when they will meet again..And from now on, she will meet them in the presence of or in the shadows of the invisible presence of her husband, in laws, children and the tales of her new family, looming large…All that is familiar, all those she grew up with will go away in a different directions of too..(friends,sisters,brothers will be married as well and the emotional landscape will be altered forever)so, her world has changed, completely in these few hours!!
Dulhan banke gori khadi hai
Koyi nahi apna kaisi ghadi hai
Koyi yahan, koyi wahan, koyi kahan re
Mukesh has poured out his heart as he always did ,in such numbers,his voice echoing the feelings of all concerned, at the turning point in a young girl’s life. On screen we see Dev Anand leading Suchitra Sen to the doli, as the song plays in the background. Her feet are too heavy and she seems to be incapable of moving forward. She’s bidding adieu to her home.
Dada composed it in a heart-wrenching melody,and again the minimum of instruments are used,as if to bring out that wail,from a silently crying heart of the parents, especially that of the father..His use of the strings,and the Chinese blocks,the tabla,just barely there..But the inclusion of the Taar Shehnai by Pt. Dakshina Mohan Tagore is the work of a genius. It adds to the barely concealed, filled -with -sorrow-, cry from a shaken man, who HAS to send away his darling daughter, even if it’s killing him inside. Another highlight among the absolutely minimal use use of musical instruments is Dada’s use of Chorus. How clever of him to add the collective voice soaring at precise intervals, to add to the “inner wail” phenomenon during the Bidaai, as one pictures the wedding scenario, bustling with people and yet the chorus (the pitch and the notes used) signifying the motley group around, is in sync with the inner agony of that Mukesh’s pathos-laden voice conveys so heartwrenchingly.
I always think about the bygone era, when girls were married off, very young and mostly at faraway places and wouldn’t meet the parents for years, no means of communication or easy, quick, travel..How did they cope? The song highlights all these painful realities of yore..
Today too ,when we think of the line
Kahe diya pardes tukde ko dil ke
I feel, though parents may see and talk to the daughter and grand-kids on Skype or FaceTime, or whatever, if she’s faraway, or overseas it’s still not the same.The feel, the Ehsaas of your child being around you shall always be missed, sorely!!!