Song Sketch

Eyes Tell Candid Tale – Joothe Naina Bole – Lekin

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Adapting a short story to a full fledged film is always a challenge. And Gulzar does this with poise and aplomb. He conveys the prose as poetry on celluloid!!
Lekin (1991) produced by Lata Mangeshkar, directed by Gulzar is another good example of his adaptation. Based on a short story written by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Khudito Pashan meaning The Hungry Stones, Lekin brings out the despondency and seclusion of a desert, in a haunting yet beautiful manner. The original story was first published in 1895 and one of the best short stories by Gurudev.
It is a story of an unhappy ghost, Reva (Dimple Kapadia), who haunts the palace of Raja Param Singh of Jasod, which is now a government property. Samir Yogi (Vinod Khanna) plays curator of government museums and is visiting the palace for an assignment. This is where he meets the mysterious Reva. In further encounters with her, he’s more and more mystified and drawn towards her and her story. In one of these encounters, Reva tells him the story about her family, her father, her beautiful elder sister Tara (Hema Malini) who is a court dancer. The song Joothe Naina Bole is picturised on her. A beautiful bandish converted into a song by Hridaynath Mangeshkar.
It begins with a khayal by Pandit Satyasheel Deshpande. Beginning with a poignant Tanpura and his sonorous voice (he’s lip syncing for Alok Nath) –

Neeke ghum ghunghariya thumkat chaal chalat
The small anklets tinkle when she walks swayingly

Just when you think you might sink in his deep voice, Asha Bhonsle makes a stunning entry. Hear her entry into the song. Isn’t she sensational?

Joothe naina bole
Saachi batiyan
Nit chamkaave chaand kaali ratiyan
Joothe naina bole
Saachi batiyan

It is seen that the word Joothe is wrongly taken as Jhoote meaning liar. But Gulzar, the master player of words has something else in his mind. He means Joothe as in remnant food, ort or in other words already tasted earlier by someone else.

Here are the details directly from the horse’s mouth –

Jaanu jaanu jhoote maahi ki jaat
Kin sauten sang tum kaati raat
Ab lipti lipti banao na batiyan
Joothe naina bole
Saachi batiyan

I know how dishonest is my beloved. When I was spending sleepless nights looking at the moon, he was with some other woman. Those eyes which have seen the other woman already, are now looking at me, telling me the true stories of night. There’s no point in those sweet talks now.

The interlude give you an account of of those tales with bouncy dholak beats and a doleful sarangi. Don’t miss those gleeful ghungroos in the background. You are sure to tap your feet when the tabla beats barge in and increase the pace.
The song is based on Raag Bilaskhani Todi. A morning raag, a raag of pain, pathos and poignancy. The creation of Bilaskhani Todi, is attributed to Bilas Khan, one of the four sons of Mian Tansen. It was at Tansen’s funeral, that the grieving Bilas Khan composed this version of Todi, which became popular later as Bilaskhani Todi.

Bolo bolo kaisi bhaayi sanwari
Jis ko de di ni mori mundri
Ab bhini bhini banao na batiyan
Joothe naina bole
Saanchi batiyan

Did you really like that dusky complexioned so much? You gave away my finger ring to her as a gift. Don’t try to make pleasant, misty talks. Your eyes tell the tale of where you spent the night.

What brilliant piece of work!!

The song is also an excellent example of Gulzar’s brilliancy as a director. Choosing Kathak as the mode to tell the story. Kathak itself originates from the word Katha which means story. Gulzar and Hridaynath Mangeshkar recorded it in Padmaja Phenany Joglekar’s voice first, since Asha Bhonsle was not available and picturised it. Later Asha Bhonsle recorded the song in her voice by looking at the lip movements and the expressions of Hema Malini. And Hema Malini has depicted it so gracefully on screen. Mystique and angelic.
Enjoy the aural nectar, let it cascade and stay in your heart!!

Initially recorded version –

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan


  1. Vijay Jai

    March 28, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    You shed new lights on songs we generally tend to ignore. Thanks for enlightening us.

    • Deepa

      April 1, 2019 at 10:41 am

      Thank you so much for appreciating 🙂

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