Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mixed Metaphors... aur Gulzar

All the lyrics are from memory. Hence, pardon the errors! And that also explains why all the lines are in isolation.

Why do I so like Gulzar?
Because, in addition to the sensitivity & romanticism, Gulzar lends a quirky undertone to the poetry of the Hindi film song. He mixes metaphors, conjures up strange examples and cooks up a delicious khichdi with the most unusual ingredients.

While every Hindi lyricist is talking about “Jheel si neeli aankhen”, Gulzar malapropism-ed the beautiful eyes of the beloved with “Aap ki aankhon mein koi mehka hua sa raaz hain…” That a mystery could be fragrant and that the fragrance can be SEEN is so unusually ‘cool’!

On the other hand, he comes up with a wonderfully nostalgic set-piece of “Jaadon ki narm dhoop aur aangan mein lait kar, aankhon pe khnichke tere aanchal ko…
Imagine the winter sun, lazing on the verandah and an aanchal (couldn’t think of any English equivalent!) to shield your eyes… I know my wife will kill me for this but I was thinking of “Feluda Shomogro” to shield the sun!

And these warped metaphors come in a flood…

* Aa dhoop maloon main, tere haaton mein… Fiza.
The pleasurable act of rubbing sundrops on to her face.

* Ek baar waqt se, lamha gira kahin. Wahan dastaan mili, lamha kahin nahin… Golmaal.
A moment dropped off from the tree of time. And blossomed into a legend.

* In umr se lambi sadkon ko, manzil pe pahunchte dekha nahin… Gharonda.
These streets – seeming longer than life itself – never end up reaching anywhere.

* Saanjh ka dulhan badan churaye, chupke se aaye / Mere khayalon ke aangan mein, koi sapnon ka deep jalaye, nazar na aaye… Anand.
As evening approaches, his bride hides herself. And somebody unseen inflames memories in my mind.

* Muskuraon kabhi to lagta hain, jaise honthon pe karz rakha hain… Masoom.
When I smile, it feels like a debt on my lips.

All these come out of Gulzar’s reminisces (currently being serialized in Filmfare) – which is full of lovely stories about his workings with the other genius of his times – RD.
The most touching is of the one during making of Ijaazat.
When Gulzar had first come up with the lyrics of Mera Kuchh Saamaan, RD read through the ‘text’, flipped the page and asked, “Dialogues to badiya hain, lekin lyrics kahan hain?
When told he was holding it in his hands, he threw the notebook back at Gulzar and said, “Aisa paagalpan nahin chalega… Yeh lyrics hain? Kal Times of India uthake le aogey aur kahoge issi pe dhun banana hain…

The poignancy of the story probably lies in the fact that the tune for Mera Kuchh Saamaan is a brilliant one… completely spellbinding in its way of linking ‘blank verse’!
And of course, Gulzar’s steadfast refusal to let his broken-up lovers to give back their dil-s. Instead his heroine asks to return 116 chaand ki raatein… geeli mehndi ke khushboo… jhoot moot ke shikvein kuchh…
116 moonlit nights could end up being a statistic if we are not made to realize that there is someone who has actually counted every night of togetherness.
And then, he follows it up with Ek khat mein mein lipti raat padi hain… when a beautiful girl breaks up and asks for all her letters to be returned, isn’t she actually asking for all those nights to be returned? All those nights she spent in writing those letters?

From his quirky high-art, Gulzar (by his own admission) entered popular idiom with Maachis. Chappa chappa charkha chale was the first Gulzar song to be played in auto-rickshaws.
With Bunty aur Babli, he not only reclaimed all the auto-stereos, but made the ultimate transition to the discos as well! And in doing so, he doesn’t stop at mixing metaphors. He mixed languages as well…
Babli claims “raat din taaron mein jeena veena easyyy nahin”! Ash feels your eyes “personal se sawaal karti hain”. The arrival of a lover “garmiyon ki loo hain”. When she speaks, it has the fragrance of liquor – kimaam ki khushboo.
And in between all this, Gulzar throws in a mosaic of Old Delhi… “Ballimaran se Daribe talak, teri meri nishaani Dilli mein…” Where else would dreaming lovers in Chandni Chowk go – except from streets with tailors to streets with jewelers.
And of course, aficionados would be interested to know about Kucha Ballimaran’s most famous resident… Mirza Ghalib.
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