Song Sketch

Badi Der Se Megha Barsa – Namkeen – Withering Woes

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How would someone describe waiting? The wait that looks eternal. The wait that looks never ending. That wait for something which you know might not be for you. Wait overall is not easy. Be it for someone or something. But the longer you wait the longer you appreciate it after getting. Also the willingness to wait for things that we want, gives us the strength to wait. Sometimes the wait might be painful. All those minutes, hours, days, nights or even months and years you spend waiting seem so uncertain. You are unsure about the end result. One starts feeling insecure and becomes hesitant towards the approach in life. But wait is also hopeful. It is also full of opportunities if one takes it positively. Wait is there in every relationship. But the wait which involves romance is a glorified one. Apprehension, doubt, absence, distrust all these feelings are brimming to drown you. The future seems vague without your partner, companion and you feel disoriented. Waiting also teaches one to be patient. The wait is worth all the pain when finally love comes calling. And when this wait is over one might feel like dancing, rejoicing. It might give the feeling of heavy rains on a parched land.
But there are some who might flaunt that wait when it is over. The show off of that wait you have gone through to your partner might take the romance in your life several notches up. Of course the flaunt is merely a charade to spice up the romance. From here begins the roothna-manaanaa and all the banter. It will also be a treat if this charade of flaunt is in Asha Bhonsle’s voice.
Iss pehlu jhulsi toh uss pehlu soyi
Saari raat sulagi main aaya na koi
Baithi rahi rakh ke hatheli pe do ankhiya
Baithi rahi rakh ke hatheli pe do ankhiya
Jali kitni ratiyan
Badi der se megha barsa ho Rama
Jali kitni ratiyan

This wait of hers was like a scorching summer. Febrile and searing. Too uncomfortable and unbearable for her to sleep. She has waited eagerly for her beloved to shower his love. Awaiting for the moment to be united with her love, she has spent wakeful nights.
Namkeen (1982) by Gulzar is based on a short story Akal Basant by Samaresh Basu. The movie provides a sensitive and delicate approach towards people living in the rural,hilly areas in India. It highlights the day to day struggle of a woman Jugni/Jyoti (Waheeda Rehman) who was initially a nautanki artist and now stays away from the arc lights for the sake of her young daughters. She doesn’t want them to face the misery and distress of the life which she has already lived. Married to an alcoholic, Kishanlal (Ram Mohan), Jugni feels burdened with 3 young daughters. Kishanlal who is addicted to nautanki and the likes besides alcohol is keen on bringing his daughters on stage and earn money through them. Their struggles of everyday life brought out in a simple way. The daughters – flavours of life – Nimki (Sharmila Tagore) keeps the family together, ready to make sacrifices for it. Mithu (Shabana Azmi) though she can’t speak, it is her sweet approach towards life that makes her poetic, she writes poems. Chinki (Kiran Vairale) the spicy one of the lot, has more practical approach towards life. And last but not the least a young truck driver Gerulal (Sanjeev Kumar) who is their tenant and brings a new pleasant flavour in their lives. Jugni is all feeble and senile and keeps complaining all the time about her daughters. Though at times she loves to reminisce her younger, nautanki days. The greener days when she romanced Kishanlal. At the peak of her career, Jugni got invitations to stage performances in havelis and mansions. Her troupe, which included Kishanlal, a sarangi player, was a celebrated one. Recalling one such occasion to Gerulal, Jugni boasts about her nautanki career. Her love blossoming for Kishanlal and she awaits for the day she will settle with him in a domestic life.
Asha’s bewitching voice gives way to her thoughts –
Badi der se megha barsa ho Rama
Jali kitni ratiyan…

Her voice flaunts the pain she has gone through. She takes pride in that suffering and enduring. She is all set to show off (itrana in Hindi) her patience and Asha is exceptional when it comes to all nakhras and mannerisms. Pancham takes full care to shape her voice into that feeling proud mould with a saccharine crust. And she’s brimming with sweetness everytime she sings that word Megha. The first interlude has the concoction of sitar, sarangi and tabla. Gulzar being the director and the lyricist too conveys more than what is depicted on screen. While Waheeda seems to be in love with Ram Mohan, he is just leering at her while she dances. Gulzar hints towards their future and that is what actually happens. He leaves Waheeda Rehman with 3 daughters and wanders away from the family life.
Musically and lyrically Gulzar and Pancham have always been in tune with each other. They have given the required creative space to each other. Sending the ball in each other’s court. Waiting for each other to be at the creative best. This song is another beauty from their combination. By the structure of the song it looks like Gulzar must have written the lyrics first (I might be wrong) and sent the ball in Pancham’s court to be delivered all polished and scrubbed. A song about megha (clouds), monsoon. Kajri – a genre of semi classical folk from UP and Bihar is often used to describe the longing of a maiden for her lover as the black monsoon clouds cover the skies (as is the situation in the song). But instead Pancham takes complete liberty to tune it in Chaiti semi classical folk genre. A folk genre which is sung during the Hindu month of Chait (Lord Rama’s birth month). The lines in this particular folk end with the phrase O Rama, Hey Rama or Rama. They are addressed to him. And since Gulzar has the phrase O Rama at the end of its mukhda lines, Pancham forms the song on the base of Chaiti folk genre.
Girija Devi singing a Chaiti folk song –

Thoda sa tej kabhi thoda sa halka
Roka na jaaye mui akhiyon ka tapka
Jagi rahi leke hatheli pe bheegi ladiyan
Jagi rahi leke hatheli pe bheegi ladiyan
Jali kitni ratiyan
Badi der se megha barsa ho Rama
Jali kitni ratiyan

Just like the rain her tears are flowing through her eyes. Sometimes they just drizzle, sometimes there’s a heavy downpour. She can’t stop their flow. Staying awake the entire night she has tried to wipe them away with her hands but just can’t stop them. Imagine Asha flaunting this story with all those harkats. She is taking all her sweet time to narrate it. Some of those lines she renders dreamily, languidly just like the soft drizzle while some she hurries away with just like the heavy downpour.
But this romance of Jugni and Kishanlal is short lived just as the untimely rain. All that is left with her is the fading memory of those withering woes!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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