Song Sketch

Dusk Reverie – Saanjh Dhale Gagan Taley – Utsav

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Utsav (1985) is a celebration of love, passion and sensuality. Starring Rekha – the dark Southern beauty and Shekhar Suman. There have been many mythological and historical movies which have tasted success. But the movies belonging to Ancient India or the medieval period are hardly seen or if at all they haven’t tasted success at the box office, though they are winners musically. Utsav is one such film, another being Amrapali (1966) starring another Southern beauty Vyjayantimala with Sunil Dutt.
Utsav, a period movie with authentic costumes and stunning sets. Based on the 6th century Sanskrit play Mrichhakatika by Sudraka derived from earlier incomplete work Daridra Charudutta by Bhasa. A love story set against the backdrop of political upheaval during the Gupta period.

We have Vatsyayana – the author of Kamasutra (played by Amjad Khan) narrating this story to us. The makers of the film Shashi Kapoor and Girish Karnad have added this feature to the story, it doesn’t exist in the original one!!
Vasantsena (Rekha) is the royal courtesan or the nagarvadhu of Ujjayani. She is pursued by the evil and lascivious Samsthanak (Shashi Kapoor) whom she keeps avoiding. On one such night she is running away from him thus hiding herself in the bylanes of the city, with a cloak. It is during that time she hears a deep in love rendition by Charudutta (Shekhar Suman) and is attracted towards the voice first.

Saanjh dhale gagan taley
Hum kitne ekaaki
Chhod chaley nainon ko
Kiranon ke paakhi

As the dusk sets in, I feel so lonely. The wings/birds of light are leaving my eyes.
The eyes are symbolised as the birds, representing light or life. So the birds leaving eyes can mean the eyes are dreamy and heavy because of boredom and sleep.
Charudutta’s wife Aditi (Anuradha Patel) is not at home. She has gone to visit her mother. Charudutta being lonely, is singing. Though the song is the outcome of his thoughts, it is actually prolepsis in nature. The anticipation of the situation he is about to face.

Laxmikant Pyarelal’s treatment to this musical album is very different from rest of their works. This song is based on Raag Bibhas which is a morning raag. But here it features the late evening mood or dusk time. Raag Bibhas is known for its heavy nature. You can feel that heaviness or the intensity as Suresh Wadkar sings……specially the words gagan taley or kiranon ke paakhi. While he is singing, you can hear only the matka or the ghatam in the background and this enhances the heaviness of the words and his voice. One can actually feel the intensity of Charudutta’s love.
At the interludes, the strings of veena surprise us. Veena, I think is very rarely used in HFM. The flute as if pulls us into those lonely evening thoughts of Charudutta which are spiced with tabla tarang and garnished with the soft manjiras.

Paati ki jaali se jhaank rahi thi kaliyan
Gandh bhari gungun se magan hui thi kaliyan
Itne mein timir dhansa sapnile nainon mein
Kaliyon ke aansoo ka koi nahi saakhi

The buds were peeping in through the mesh/net of leaves. Those buds were intoxicated by the scent of flowers brought in by the bees, humming all the way towards the buds. Just then the dreamy eyes were enveloped by night and the darkness around. There is no witness to the state of buds in the morning when dew drops are formed over them. Aansoo here doesn’t mean tears, it means the dewdrops on the buds in the morning. It is saakhi and not saathi. Saakhi means saakshi or the witness.
Marvellous lyrics by Vasant Dev!! What an imagination!!
So the exact meaning, we see the anticipation of thoughts. Rekha is peeping in through his house and is intoxicated by his singing, the yearning words. She is hypnotised by him. Thus intoxicated she becomes dreamy. Nobody is going to notice this condition of hers throughout the night into the wee hours.
At the interlude here, santoor brings in all the intoxication with the swarmandal caressing the thoughts. Second stanza also has the tinkles of jal tarang along with the matka.

Jugnu ka pat odhe aayegi raat abhi
Nishigandha ke sur mein keh degi baat sabhi
Taptaa hai mann jaise daali ambvaa ki

Soon the night will come wearing the cloak of fireflies and it will tell everything it needs in the voice of blooming scented tuberoses. Here again, night wearing the cloak of fireflies means when the sky is enveloped by stars, just as Vasantsena is seen with that cloak and is wearing all the shimmering gold jewellery, which do seem like fireflies. And she will tell that she wants from Charudutta. But she yet to come in front of him. So he says – in my heart there will be that yearning and passion for love. Why daali ambvaa ki? Mango tree/fruit/leaves are aphrodisiac in nature. In ancient times it was used to make love potions!! Hence the lyricist has referred it as – Taptaa hai mann jaise daali ambvaa ki!!

Rekha, an absolute image of sensuality, is deeply in love with Charudutta at the end of this song. The intensity of his love said aloud in this dusk reverie!!

Vasantsena comes to know that Charudutta’s wife is not at home. Thus, she takes the opportunity to spend the night with him. Making him fall in love with her. What follows is a series of tender, amorous moments. Both spending days and nights with each other. When she finally returns to her abode, she has to, since she is the courtesan, she is still experiencing the intoxication of her tryst with Charudutta. The song which follows is the aftermath of their heavy love making. The song can be very well called as the tandem of Saanjh dhale or an extension of it. The female version is rendered by Lata Mangeshkar, which brings forth the female psyche.

Neelam ke nabh chhaayi
Pukhraaji jhaanki
Mere toh nainon mein
Kiranon ke paakhi

She is sharing the story of their night together with the inmates of her abode.
The sky was like sapphire, dark blue (as it is usually at midnight). Pukhraaji jhaanki is the moon, which was yellowish like the topaz and it stood still, motionless in the sky like a tableau, gleaming. But my eyes were bright, glistening, full of life with his love.

Kaise soyi hogi kali
Jaise soyi meri lali
Kali hili, um hun
Kali dauli na na
Ghuli ghuli benjaniya
Sapnon mein ek kali
Itne mein mor pankh paras hua

She slept like a small child cocooned in arms and was deep in dreams, dissolved. Just then she was touched as lightly as a one would with a peacock feather – Mor pankh paras – peacock feather touch. At this her friends start to tease her.

Kahan kahan pe chhua ri
Zara isse toh bataa ri
Gaalon par? um hun
Baalon par? na na
Itne mein mor pankh paras hua palkon par
Jaadu se phool bani ek kali champa ki
Sach iske nainon mein
Kiranon ke paakhi

They teasingly ask her about his touches on her cheeks and hair, but in turn she answers that it was on her eyelids that she was kissed lovingly. And thus I bloomed with love and care. Her friends see that brightness still in her eyes and realise that indeed she was in love deeply – Sach iske nainon mein kiranon ke paakhi.

Champa ke paaon mein
Ghungroo ug aaye
Tehani ne taal diya
Thirak thirak lehraye
Bhanware ka gandh geet saat suron waala
Sudh par aane ka hosh kise baaki
Hum sabke nainon mein
Kiranon ke paakhi

She bloomed as delicate and beautiful as a champa flower. She was happy, ecstatic and felt like dancing freely just for herself, this time. And it was all because of the support of Charudutta’s love and care. It was his intoxicating song which still made her go dizzy with happiness.
And her friends again sing joyously – where’s the need to come back to your senses now, with your ecstatic tales of love even we feel like being in love – Hum sabke nainon mein kiranon ke paakhi – We too wish that we get a true love like you got and let our eyes too shine bright with love!!

A dusk reverie and its aftermath which is spread like a sweet intoxicating foliage!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


  1. Ajay

    December 5, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Distinctive description of the mellifluous songs. Vasant Dev’s words are wonderfully elaborated. Laxmikant-Pyarelal have used two famous musicians Mr. Narayan Mani and Mrs. Sita Devi to play the VEENA for all “UTSAV” songs.

  2. Sadanand Shivagunde

    August 8, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Beautiful. Thanks.

    • Deepa

      August 10, 2019 at 8:15 am

      Thanks a lot 🙂

  3. Siddharth

    August 18, 2019 at 1:52 am

    What beautiful interpretation.

    • Deepa

      September 3, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks a lot 🙂

  4. Rana

    September 12, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Splendid effort for a wonderful भावानुवाद! An enthusiast here, this composition kept knocking for many years now, despite its first hand meaning, it always felt the song – lyrics to be flat and dry without what and where it is attached to, in the backdrop. Apparently, with some classical text in the lyrics, reasonably flavored with Sanskrit, many do struggle to get a proper grip, even while translating. With a greater tribute to Raag Vibhas, salutes and tribute to Late Vasant Dev Ji, almost flawless Suresh Wadekar Ji and melodious and unique Lakshmikant Pyarelal Ji, and all great artists, who excel to bring the song and some space-time to life! Let alone, once again, your effort and presentation, all worth applause. Best wishes ahead.

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