When The Darkness Prevails – Poochho Na Kaise Maine Raiin Bitayi – Meri Surat Teri Aankhein
Year 1963, Ashok Kumar had already reached the stage of been there, done that!! Topping the list of legendary actors. Along came a classic, sentimental film Meri Surat Teri Aankhein. Based on the Bengali novel Ulka by Nihar Ranjan Gupta. It is about the protagonist Pyare played by Ashok Kumar trying to find a place in a society that only welcomes beauty and good looks. It wrenches your heart, when in a scene, a lady screams at the sight of his ugly profile. He is so heartbroken, he finds solace in the darkness where nobody can see his ugliness. His foster father, played by Kanhaiyalal, tries to assure him that life is about the golden voice which he’s blessed with and not his appearance.
The delicacy of music by S D Burman and the intricacy of the words by Shailendra make the song so meaningful. With soul stirring music and lyrics straight from the oysters, they hold the song high up. An immortal song Poochho na kaise maine rain bitayi rendered by Manna Dey, S D Batish and Asha Bhonsle. The song is traditional and classical, based on Raga Ahir Bhairav. Subtle music lets Manna Dey’s voice take the lead. While Shailendra’s lyrics begin to take structure, it transforms the song from a lump to wailing of a broken heart.
Poochho na kaise maine raiin bitaayi
Ek pal jaise, ek jug beeta
Jug beete mohe neend na aayi
Its almost ages I haven’t been able to sleep, the agony in my heart is such, don’t ask me.
Utt jale deepak, itt mann mera
phir bhi na jaaye mere ghar ka andhera
tarpat tarsat umar gawanyi
The lamp in my house is burning bright and so is my heart. But the darkness in my life, in my world still prevails. The agony stays and the anticipation, expectation wasted my life.
Maintaining its melody, Manna Dey’s voice oscillates easily in this classically structured song. He makes the song look casual, aptly supported by the tabla beats. Shailendra touches the deepest agony in simple way, indicating the theme of radiance and darkness.
Na kahin chanda, na kahin taare
jyot ke pyaase mere nain bechare
bhor bhi aas ki kiran na laayi
The darkness in my life prevails in such a way that even the moon and the stars cannot help me out. My eyes bereft of any ray of light. So deep is the darkness of my agony, even the dawn doesn’t bring hope for me!!
Based on the same tune is another gem though in Bengali. Its a Nazrul Geeti. Aruno kanti ke go jogi bhikhari by the revolutionary poet, musician Kazi Nazrul Islam. Though there are stories that the Hindi version has been inspired by the Bengali version, the story goes that both the versions are inspired by the traditional bandish by Ustad Mushtaq Hussein Khan.
The intense pathos in the Raga capture the lyrics very beautifully. Manna Dey’s rendition almost purifies your soul. While listening to this song one gets immersed, totally soaked in it. The expressions on Ashok Kumar’s face do justice to the voice. The pathos and the poignancy is there to stay with him while the darkness prevails.