Song Sketch

Mann Kyun Behka – Utsav – Midnight Musings

By  | 



A true friend or a confidante is difficult to find. There’s nothing more special than having a confidante. A type of person you can trust. No matter what you feel, what you say, what you do, you feel safe discussing it with them. Discussing with them, your personal problems, joys, sorrows, pains. A confidante with great listening skills rather than being just a passive listener. Responding to your innermost and deepest thoughts you express. Women bond a big way with their confidantes. It is not just for gossips but for sharing their thoughts on different subjects. This friend, a Sakhi or a Saheli is your 4am friend. She is there for you 24*7 as you are there for her. The bonding is mutual so is the trust. Whether it is love, relationship, society, family, your appearance, outfit, ensemble etc any subject for that matter, a Saheli is a harbinger of trust and faith. Sakhi…the word just reminded me of a Hindi poem by Maithilee Sharan Gupt….Sakhi Ve Mujhse Kehkar Jaate. It is about Queen Yashodhara, Gautam Buddha’s wife, saying all that is in her anguished heart to her friend. Gautam Buddha had renounced the worldly pleasures and walked away from the family life, leaving behind a grieving wife and a small son. This all in the mid of the night without informing anyone, not even his wife!! The grieving wife finds a kind of solace, expressing her feelings to her Sakhi. That’s the importance of a Sakhi. Though the relationship between a husband and wife is based on total faith and trust, it is the Sakhi who helps in testing times as these. But then, Sakhi is also about all that is craziness, those exchange of glances when you share a secret, giggling together for no reason (and giggling more when asked not to), pulling your leg when she knows you have lost your heart to someone, she is also a philosopher and guide on so many subjects. ‘Love’ happens to be one of the most lovable subject of discussions ‘in between the friends’. Bonding, sharing and caring. But do women bond over the same man? Bonding over their love for same man seems abnormal and unusual. But we have Aditi and Vasantsena in Utsav (1985) bonding over their love for Charudutta. Aditi and Vasantsena share this different but special bond where they feel free to discuss the man they love, the man in their life Charudutta.
Utsav (1984) 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. 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). Her tryst with Charudutta begins here when Charudutta’s wife Aditi (Anuradha Patel) is not at home. She, along with her son, has gone to visit her mother. Aditi is heartbroken when she finds out about their affair. But her anger softens as soon as she meets Vasantsena. They become good friends, so much so that they discuss the man they love. From romance to eroticism, Aditi and Vasantsena are deep into musings. Musings about love, romance and sensuality. Asking each other in a teasing way and waiting for the reply. A unique question answer pattern song written by none other than the famous Marathi poet Vasant Dev for which he got a Filmfare award. The song also happens to be one of the best from the MD duo Laxmikant Pyarelal. They have treated the song as subtly as it is written. The song can easily come under the list of minimum music maximum melody. And to top it all they have the singing sisters giving their vocals for this sensual number. The so called question answer session is initiated by the saccharine humming of Lata Mangeshkar.
Hmmm hmm hmm hmm
Mann kyun behka ri behka
Aadhi raat ko

Why is it that the mind and thoughts wander towards my lover at midnight?
And Asha Bhonsle is quick as a wink with the answer

Bela mehka hoooo
Bela mehka ri mehka
Aadhi raat ko

Because the midnight air is potent with the fragrance of jasmine flowers, making the thoughts potent. (Jasmine flowers are aphrodisiac in nature, hence the mention of these flowers. Jasmine flowers also help in sedation and relaxation).
The instruments heard in the background – the ghatam , their signature dholak and the slight tinkle of the ghungroos create that potent midnight atmosphere while the ladies are unstoppable.

Kisne bansi bajayi aadhi raat ko
Jisne palkein churayi aadhi raat ko….

Who do you think played that intoxicating flute at this odd hour? The one who stole sleep from your eyes.
What lovely playfulness in the song. It not only lightens the conversation but makes it very aesthetic in nature without getting gaudy.
After the playfulness of words, the music at first interlude soothes and relaxes you. Just like the affect of jasmine flowers aphrodisiac yet calming and relaxing. The interlude though doesn’t have all the traditional Indian instruments. LP give an unexpected surprise. With the regular ghatam, ghungroo, swarmandal, they insert toto at 1.29 making the song haunting in nature. And Lata and Asha again burst with their tease –

Jhanjhar jhamke sun jhamke ho
Jhanjhar jhamke sun jhamke
Aadhi raat ko…
Usko toko na roko, roko na toko, toko na roko
Aadhi raat ko…
Laaj laage ri laage aadhi raat ko
Dena sindoor ki sau aadhi raat ko
Bela mehka ri mehka aadhi raat ko

My anklets tinkle at midnight, can you hear them? What if everybody hears? (Indicating their love making) But Vasantsena instead says she shouldn’t feel awkward since she’s his wife (her way of accepting that Aditi will always remain his wife). Their love which is as intoxicating as the fragrance of jasmine flowers and Aditi realises that Charudutta has become a better lover after some tutoring from Vasantsena, which eventually makes their married life more worthy.

The second interlude has santoor along with the other instruments indicating the tender moments between a couple. Likewise LP have given Lata’s mature and experienced voice for Vasantsena and Asha Bhonsle’s naive yet disquisitive voice to the inexperienced, innocent Aditi. Check out the way they treat that main phrase of the song – Aadhi raat ko in different ways.
Baat kehte bane kya aadhi raat ko
Aankh kholegi baat aadhi raat ko
Humne pi chandni aadhi raat ko
Chand aankhon mein aaya aadhi raat ko
Bela mehka ri mehka aadhi ko…..

Don’t worry if you cannot express yourself in words during these wee hours, your eyes will express all your feelings without any barrier. And it’ll be a heady feeling, like sipping the moonlight and eyes shining with love as bright as the moon. All this while the jasmine flowers bloom at midnight.
For the last stanza LP give a surprise by restricting the interlude (merely 2-3 seconds) to a few strums of swarmandal. Telling signs of the question answer session coming to an end. While Vasant Dev summarises all the fears of physical cravings and desires in subtle words.
Raat gunte rahegi aadhi baat ko
Aadhi baaton ki peer aadhi raat ko
Baat poori ho kaisi aadhi raat ko
Raat hoti ho, raat hoti shuru hai aadhi raat ko
Mann kyun behka ri behka aadhi raat ko
Bela mehka ri mehka aadhi raat ko

This stanza is about reaching the zenith of desires, which is hunger, thirst, pain happiness all happening simultaneously. Condensed form of all desires. So LP have kept the initial few lines of the stanza without any music. This midnight decides the merits of half spoken desires, those pangs of half spoken desires which are eager to reach the crest of togetherness. This midnight which is just a beginning of a fulfilling relationship at its prime.
The music composers have treated all the 3 stanzas in a different way. The beginning of the stanzas show how these midnight musings between the 2 ladies reach the crescendo with the help of subtle, beautiful lyrics. First stanza is all about the vicinity of the lovers, the 2nd stanza is about setting the rapport between the lovers and the 3rd is about crowning the carnal desires between the lovers.
Director Girish Karnad has picturized the midnight musings, between Vasantsena and Aditi, very aesthetically. The song depicts Shringar ras perfectly. Vasantsena is initially seen adorning all the ornaments and Aditi helping her out with the dressing. That is how the exchange of thoughts also take place. Vasantsena asking, Aditi answering or Aditi trying to learn from her in a way. The next half of the song has Aditi adorning those same ornaments and Vasantsena helping her. Exchange of roles too. Both women adopting the roles which they cannot in real life, but they desire to be that woman. Aditi as the sensual seductress and Vasantsena as the simple wife to Charudutta.
What makes the song a special one besides its music, singers and the overall treatment? Its open mindedness towards sensuality and physical desires, just as the movie itself. The complicated yet uninhibited midnight thoughts mused between the mellow Aditi and the sensual Vasantsena bringing out the essence of love.

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

1 Comment

  1. Ajay

    December 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    An Excellent Writeup, Describing Extremely Melodious Song and it’s features.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *