Song Sketch

Ye Shaam Ki Tanhaaiyaan – Aah – Dusky Saga of a Broken Heart

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On a typical sullen autumn evening, when the trees are losing their leaves to the cold breezes and the drowsy paths are draped in the cozy blankets of fallen leaves; the mind spontaneously starts humming a melancholic number from the golden era of Hindi film music – Ye shaam ki tanhaaiyaan, aise mein tera gham…..

The song is a perfect portrayal of the grief of a heart burnt in love, that, come evening, inevitably surfaces.

The touching composition from the movie Aah (1953) is adorned by alluring music by Shankar-Jaikishan based on Raag Shuddh Kalyan and wonderful lyrics by Shailendra. Mesmerising rendition by Lata Mangeshkar is a cherry on the cake!

The song certainly makes you experience a gloomy evening around you, and you unknowingly start empathising with Neelu (Nargis), who is singing this song on the screen.

It begins to haunt you right from the prelude, which starts with a piece of sitar that sounds like a heavy heart beating in the memory of a loved one. While your heart also starts beating in consonance, a sharp piece of flute accompanied by robust dholak follows, and the dampened heart now starts throbbing … Not only hers, but also yours!

And the song starts in Lata Mangeshkar’s voice drenched in poignancy–

Ye shaam ki tanhaaiyaan, aise mein tera gham,
Patte kahin khadken, hawa aai to chaunke hum…

The dusk aggravates the pain of loneliness and the already distressed poor girl is startled even by the breezes and rustling of leaves. Expectant of the unexpected arrival of her loved one, as if she hears his footsteps in those subtle sounds.

Then starts an interlude with a heart-piercing piece of Hawaiian guitar, which takes the misery to the next level.

When you are in the company of a loved one, the time is winged. However, when one is waiting for the loved one who has been missing for a long time, it seems almost stagnant. Pouring her sentiments in the words, Shailendra thus describes her seemingly never-ending wait –

Jis raah se tum aane ko the, uske nishaan bhi mitne lage,
Aaye na tum, sau sau dafa aaye gaye mausam…

She has been waiting for him for such a long time that the path of his arrival is almost buried in the course of time. The seasons have arrived and gone hundreds of times – hundreds of years have passed – but alas, she continues to wait and he does not show up!

The intense piece of violin in the following interlude indicates that like any other pain, her agony is about to culminate into tears. His memories have already clouded her mind and just like the overwhelmed clouds in July, her eyes burst into tears. Holding his gift close to her heart, she says –

Seene se lagaa teri yaad ko, roti rahi main raat ko,
Haalat pe meri chaand taarein ro gaye shabnam…

Cherishing his memories in her heart, she has been weeping all night. The night is gone and the dawn has sprinkled dew drops all over. Looking at the dew drops, she feels as if the moon and the stars have shed tears out of immense pity for her. What a wonderful imagination by Shailendra!

Shailendra’s lyrics are always a brilliant combination of simple words and a strong poetic substance. This song, which efficaciously depicts the silent yell of a burning heart in just six lines, is a superb example.

So far as the musical aspects of the song are concerned – the music director duo, well-known for outstanding orchestration, has used comparatively less instruments in this song. Nevertheless, the orchestration kept at its minimum only uplifts the effectiveness by leaving a level playing field for the words and singing. Moreover, just look at the astonishing transition that Lata Mangeshkar has made in the texture of her voice – a voice soaked in sentiments of the heartbroken vis-à-vis her coltish voice in other light songs from the movie.

Last but not the least, young Nargis’ acting is so natural (as it was always) that you do not feel that she is acting. Besides, she was bestowed with sharp features and expressive eyes, which she has used optimally to express Neelu’s grief. She always gave that ecstatic essence in the characters she played.

All these outstanding elements put together make this song an invaluable and immortal gem from the golden era, which intensely expresses the agony of a lonely heart!

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