Song Sketch

Ajeeb Dastan Hai Ye – Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai – Strange Tale of Love

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Tales of betrayal are not new in Hindi cinema. In fact it has been a recurring theme over decades. Whether the betrayal is by a male or a female, this subject has formed the crux of the story in so many films. Though in the stories involving romance and love, there always has been a louder cry by the male protagonist when a female betrays and on the other hand, a female can be seen surrendering gracefully to the male betrayal. There are very few songs where the female lead is cursing her ex as compared to the male leads. But betrayal is never easy to handle. Forgiving, which is the best option, is also one of the most difficult thing to do. It sometimes takes longer to accept someone’s betrayal, leave alone forgetting and forgiving. Betrayals are best forgiven, not forgotten. Kaviraj Shailendra has a wonderful way of putting it –

Kisi ka pyaar leke tum
Naya jahan basaoge
Ye shaam jab bhi aayegi
Tum humko yaad aaoge…

This last stanza of the song subtly suggests that Karuna will never be able to forget him or the situation or what he did. Dr. Sushil Verma marries Kusum while he has always been in love with Karuna. Of course there are no promises between the two, no holding hands, no sweet nothings exchanged. They hardly talk throughout the film. But there’s a potent silence between them. They have both felt the vibe through exchange of glances. And when one day he comes back home married to Kusum, Karuna feels the stab. Sushil has certain obligations towards his family and that’s why the marriage. All this happens in a matter of a few days and unannounced which becomes more shocking for Karuna.

Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai (1960), a strange tale of betrayal and love, written and directed by Kishore Sahu. A tale about Karuna (Meena Kumari), a nurse, Sushil Verma (Raaj Kumar), a doctor and his wife Kusum (Nadira). The film had brilliant music by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri. It also had 3 Filmfare nominations – Best Director, Best Music Director, Best Lyricist. Out of the 3, Shankar-Jaikishan won the award. The music of the film had a modern touch in typical SJ style. This song in particular has become a timeless classic. Apart from the music, it is Shailendra who has done fantastic work. Shailendra’s words just like him were always sahaj and saral (simple but natural). He never needed extra words to build the atmosphere. With Shailendra, lyrics were always straightforward, just like him. They never sounded harsh or insulting but conveyed the message to the concerned person.

Ajeeb dastan hai ye
Kahan shuru kahan khatam
Yeh manzilein kaun si
Na wo samajh sake na hum

Karuna singing some thoughtful words at a boat party thrown in honour of the newly married couple. Trying to understand the situation. She’s in a dilemma. Not about her love for him but about the entire situation. Just when she thought that her life will at last be stable, it throws her into this strange situation. She cannot make head or tail out of it.
The song has a longish SJ style prelude with a prominent Spanish guitar, probably played by Anibal Castro followed by the drums played by Cawas Lord. This song might be the first of a kind where brushes were used on drums in Hindi films. The female chorus that follows resembles the choir style of singing and a set of violins joins the chorus. There’s also a beautiful accordion with the rhythm guitar at the end of the prelude. Enter Lata Mangeshkar with her crystal clear voice. Even while she’s singing, one can hear the chorus singing as Shankar-Jaikishan have used it as violin harmonies. The drums continue to play in the same manner throughout the song. When we are talking about the instruments, we can’t forget about the gorgeous trumpet played by Peter Monsorate.

Ye roshni ke saath kyun
Dhuan utha chirag se
Ye khwab dekhti hoon main
Ki jag padi hoon khwab se

That’s Shailendra’s way of reading the situation and trying to come out of the dream which felt real. Sitting at a distance from the married couple, Karuna is trying to assess the situation which suddenly changed her life completely. She’s trying to get a grip on herself in a very Shailendra way – Ki jag padi hoon khwab se!

Mubarakein tumhe ki tum
Kisi ke noor ho gaye
Kisi ke itne paas ho
Ki sabse duur ho gaye

After the assessment of the situation, it is all about accepting the situation. And Shailendra does it so gracefully. This, I find, is the most beautiful part of the song. It is very difficult to accept a situation like this but with Shailendra at the helm one need not worry about that. His words have beauty and grace together. He also inserts a hint of taunt in it which sort of ups the self respect of Karuna.
Guitar and female chorus with violins continue here too along with accordion pieces and drums.
And then we have the last stanza which has already been stated in the beginning. Just before the stanza SJ use muted trumpet and filler guitar. They also have used cellos and piano. It brings out the dramatics of the situation wonderfully.
Throughout the song Shankar-Jaikishan and Shailendra have maintained the casual approach towards the situation but the intensity is easily palpable through the instruments. Lata Mangeshkar also keeps her voice as a-matter-of-fact instead of going dramatic. The song has an easy flow throughout. Meena Kumari of course balances both casual approach and dramatics beautifully. The intensity on her face in every last line of the stanzas is worth noticing while she does a charade of casually singing at a party (although Shammi notices it).
For some trivia – Along with Shammi in the crowd, there’s the gorgeous Ruby Myers then there are junior artists/dancers – you can see Edwina Violette, Elsie, Teresa and Shirley in the background.
The song has a Hawaiian feel and seems to be inspired by Jim Reeves’ My Lips Are Sealed (1956).

Karuna and Dr. Sushil both are in troubled waters. A situation where they can’t help but let their lives run in a smooth manner without each other though in reality they long for each other. As Shakespeare has said – The course of true love never did run smooth.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

1 Comment

  1. Dinesh shah

    March 30, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Deepa , You have given a new life to this immortal melody by The Emperors name given to S.J by many Music lovers and equally justifying the lyrics of one n only Shailendra, Each and every word written by you makes one feel as if he is hearing the song in your words. Hats of to your elephant memory in mentioning the names of musicians who were the sphere heads in glorifying this song.
    I thank you with my heart for sharing and hope to read some more from your end .GBU thanks REGARDS DK

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