The Mute Songbird – Phir Se Aaiyo Badra Bidesi – Gulzar – R D Burman
Haunting enigma in the notes , child like innocence in the words, music that takes you on a journey to the foggy hill tops and the voice that is melancholy galore. Drifting on the clouds, are you? Add more to it…… the song is picturised in the hills, these hills are covered in mist – just the sort of place this song takes you to, even without the visuals.
Mithu (Shabana Azmi), who has only known despair and loneliness all her life, this very drifter is the ray of hope, happiness and love. It matters not to her that Gerulal is a truck driver who is in her village for a few days in passing; it matters not to her that he doesn’t even realizes she loves him. All that matters is that his presence is enveloping her life like the clouds envelop their village atop the mountain. She doesn’t overtly ask the clouds to bring back her lover, but it is understood, that when the clouds come again he will be there too. For his safe return, she would tie an amulet around his arm and put a black mark to save him from the evil eye.
Shabana Azmi comes out as a stunner in the song, she plays a mute character in the film. Without uttering a single word, she manages to convey so much. The tiny smile constantly playing on her lips is a dead giveaway of the state of her heart. Mithu writes poetry. In fact, as someone who cannot speak, her diary is her only outlet – It’s here that she writes of her woes and fears and of her dreams and hopes. She has only known a life of poverty and misery, living with her senile mother and two sisters, while barely making a living. Words, which she cannot speak but write, are her escape.
Needless to say, the trio of Pancham-Gulzar-Asha has once again succeeded in creating a song full of poignance. Gulzar’s words as well as Asha’s voice are at once full of hope and longing.