Song Sketch

The Damp Moon – Sili Hawa Chhoo Gayi – Libaas

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The song starts with the notes of the flute. It reminds one of water flowing effortlessly, without any noise. It takes you on a soulful journey inching little by little, gently rowing through the streams of life towards that shiny yellow moon which has perhaps become wet due to the splashes of the river water.

Similarly the song progresses in a way that one feels as if a beautiful girl is getting dressed in front of the mirror. Slowly and steadily she picks up each ornament and wears it on her body while keeping one eye on the mirror so as to take a look at the effect each piece is giving out. The process is complete and she has attired herself completely.. she has worn her Libaas…

The song is from the movie Libaas(1988) which remains unreleased till date due to its controversial topic; although the album released later on after the death of R.D.Burman, its music composer. Burman was popular to have lived his songs before completing them. Same goes for the lyricist Gulzar. Each note and each word of this song falls like a dewdrop on the fresh morning leaves and stays there till the sun finally dries it up. It lives the entire life.

This song has been one of my favourite and has literally made a place of its own in my head, my heart, my soul. It has travelled with me along all these years and it has been through my journey along with me.

Sili hawa chhu gayi
Sila badan chhil gaya
Neeli nadi ke parey
Geela sa chaand khil gaya

The dewy air touches me and
Scrapes my dank, moist body
And the same very moment
A wet moon blossoms
Across the blue river

There comes a point in the interlude when the entire music stops for a moment and it feels as if everything has come to a momentary halt, just to take a breath. Or maybe time has given us a moment to look back and see till where we have travelled or to look forward and wonder where we are going along, where our heart is leading us.

Tum se mili jo zindagi
Humne abhi boyi nahi
Tere siva koi na ha
Tere siva koi nahi

The life which you had gifted me
It hasn’t blossomed because
I haven’t sown it yet, for
What life would be without you in it

The girl says to her beloved that she has not accepted the gift of life that he had given her because without him, beyond him there is no life. There is just dank, dark empty space. What a way to describe longing!

Who else but Lata Mangeshkar could have done justice to such a song! Her voice gives the much needed third dimension to it; first two provided by R.D. and Gulzar.

Jaane kahan kaise sheher
Leke chala ye dil mujhe
Tere bagair din na jala
Tere bagair shab na bujhe

Look where my heart has led me to
I have wandered along without you
Unanchored in the night
Without you the dawn refuses to break in
And the night refuses to depart

There is serenity in this song which is almost on the verge of being a haunting melody. The minimum use of instruments lets the melancholy free and it flows throughout the song searching its own little streams and rivulets just like the water of the river.

Jitney bhi taye karte gaye
Badhte gaye ye faasale
Meelon se din chhor aaye
Saalon si raat leke chale

No matter how much we walk
The abyss between us gorges further
I left my mile-long days behind
While the night has
Stretched itself into years

The yearning of the two souls is so candidly put in front of us, yet it does not in any way sound raw or obscene. It paints a picture of two people so in love with each other that they do not care what others might think of them or their love. They know that they cannot unite, yet their confession of love stands tall in front of each other.

Without you, beyond you there is nothing. Only the dank, dark empty night.


  1. Subhash

    September 15, 2019 at 12:08 am

    Very well.said..I felt a heavy sigh in
    my heart gave out when latajis rendering touched my ears..

    No words to describe…this is called divine.. rd burman the God and gulzar the magician

  2. Ram Bhavanashi

    June 29, 2020 at 1:49 pm

    OMG, I’m blown inside out! what a poetic justice of review. The command over language that is as lyrical as the song itself. Kudos to the reviewer. The song has been my favourite too from the day I listened to this over a decade ago…

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