Of Desire, Quest And Reminiscence – Justajoo Jiski Thi – Umrao Jaan
Set in Lucknow in the mid-19th century, the film Umrao Jaan (1981) is an example of perfection and elegance. Based on the novel Umrao Jaan Ada by Mirza Mohammed Hadi Ruswa, it showcases the poetry-loving culture of 19th century Lucknow, the mushairas and the Nawabi culture. Muzaffar Ali’s aesthetic treatment to the film enhances the beauty of the film. He has framed Rekha as Umrao Jaan like never before. As an actress, Rekha gave her career best role, bagging the National Award. The huskiness of her voice, the gracefulness of her dance and the sensuality in her eyes, breathed life in the character called Umrao Jaan.
Ameeran is abducted as a revenge over her father by a neighbour. She’s sold to an elite kotha in Lucknow, where she’s trained in music and dance and Ameeran is transformed into Umrao Jaan. She also writes her own ghazals and poetry. Umrao debuts in the society of elegant and cultured men who have an appreciation of music and dance and poetry recitations, with her own ghazal-mujra, Dil Cheez Kya Hai. The lyrics and her voice evoke attention of a passing young nawab, Sultan Sahib (Farooq Sheikh). Thus begins their relationship that is based on shared interests, music and poetry. They fall in love. And even if Umrao knows that she can be never be his wife, she’s hurt more so after knowing that he’ll be married to her long lost friend Ram Dei (Rita Rani Kaul). Giving way to her feelings is the ghazal Justajoo Jiski Thi, Usko Toh Na Paaya Humnein.
Every song of this film is a masterpiece. Khayyam is a wizard when it comes to soft, melodious music depicting deep emotions. And what more could one ask for if he’s backed up by a redolent and reminiscent Shahryar!! Asha Bhonsle is the queen when it comes to sweetness and sadness at the same time.
Rekha looks divine on screen. She depicts the role, of a courtesan who is emotionally unfulfilled, with aplomb. The feelings portrayed on screen seem somewhat like her own feeling in life. The tragedy of unfulfilled love. The atmosphere of sadness is created by the introductory sarangi followed by Asha’s soulful and poignant voice.
Justajoo jiski thi usko toh na paaya humnein
Iss bahane se magar dekh li duniya humnein
In search and quest of love, I’ve seen the entire world yet I did not get the one I desired for. Its the pain of a woman who has lost her love.
The sitar strokes sends one reminiscing about the good times. The sarangi again reminds you of the situation, as you watch Rekha’s expressions change from sad to gracefulness.
Tujhko rusva na kiya, khud bhi pasheman na hue
Ishq ki rasm ko iss tarah nibhaya humnein
Without bringing disgrace to you or shame to myself, I’ve kept the secrecy of our love intact and fulfilling the vows. She is proud of herself for doing this.
The recall with sitar again followed by sarangi to bring you to senses.
Kab mili thi kahan bichhdi thi, humein yaad nahi
Zindagi tujh ko toh bas khwab mein dekha humnein
Her life seemed like a dream, very unreal. She doesn’t remember where she met him or when they parted ways. It was just like seeing a dream. Watch Rekha’s tearfully intense eyes set on Farookh Sheikh as she calls him Zindagi
The intimacy in music shared by sitar and sarangi again. It is so well brought on screen too. The intimacy that had brought them together is now pinching her loneliness. The pitiful voice of Asha when she says –
Ae adaa aur sunaaye bhi toh kya haal apna,
Umr ka lamba safar, tay kiya tanha humnein
The helplessness when she sees that it will be a lonely sad life ahead of her. She says that she resigns herself to this long journey and will travel alone. The pathos and the plaintiveness is all that will remain.
The magic of Khayyam sets in the ghazal, he doesn’t make it sound gloomy. An added dash of tabla all along the song assures us that we don’t go in a depression instead we rejoice in this gem by him. A ghazal bursting with pathos yet it is so delightful like the unfulfilled love wanting for more.