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Why Hindi Film Songs
are Not Accepted as Literature?
|by Tejinder Sharma|
Hindi literary pundits have always looked down upon Hindi film songs as writings of lower class. These lyrics have never been granted the status of literature. Although Hindi literature does have a genre termed as Geet, but Hindi film songs are not given any space in that genre. It is a fact that if the genre of Hindi Geet is surviving at all, it is in films produced by Bollywood.
Recently I have had discussions with a few literary scholars on this subject. And the reply I got was, "These days the quality of songs has deteriorated so badly. Yes old songs were different. They were good." The question still remains unanswered as to why the songs penned by Shailendra, Shakeel, Sahir, Kaifi Azmi, Raja Mehndi Ali Khan, Bharat Vyas, Rajinder Krishan, Majrooh, Neeraj Anand Baxi, and Indeevar are not granted the status of literature? At the same time, is it not worth asking that are the present day crop of literary poets any competition for Nirala, Pant, Mahadevi, Bachhan, Muktibodh, Nagarjuna and Agyeya?
In a programme held at the Nehru Centre, London I put a question to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma as to why did his team with Hari Prasad Chaurasia stop providing music for Hindi films? He was honest enough to admit that films have fixed and repetitive situations; and there is a lot of restriction in creating music. They do not find it suited to their nature. They are creative artists and feel suffocated in this sort of restrictive atmosphere. Inadvertently he admitted that it was a difficult task working under the conditions prevalent in the Hindi film industry.
Truly said! But, is it not true that our past masters like Naushad, S.D. Burman, C. Ramchandra, Madan Mohan, Shankar Jaikashan, Laxmikan Pyarelal and Kalyanji Anandji used Indian classical music as well as folk to create immortal music in an atmosphere which is suffocating for some of the other artists. Music of Baiju Bawra, Basant Bahar, Mughl-e-Azam, Anarkali, Nagin etc. will live for centuries to come?
Coming back to the lyrics, it will not be out of place to say that Hindi film songs have almost replaced folk songs used for most of our religious festivals as well as social functions. It is more relevant for the Pravasi Indians whose only inter-action with India is through the Bollywood films and songs. Right from a child's birth, and then the Hijra songs, songs in praise of motherhood, friendship, love, marriage, Vidaai, Rakhi, Diwali, Holi, and death are all given expression by the film lyricists. Shakeel Badayuni has written three different Vidaai songs for films and each one competes with the other for the top slot - Chhor Babul ka ghar (Babul), Pee ke ghar aaj (Mother India) and Babul ki duaayein leti jaa (Neel Kamal). This much, for the restrictions that the film world puts on creativity.
Ever since Hindi literary poets have become influenced by the pseudo Marxism, the Hindi poetry has become mono-thematic. Today's Hindi poetry always protests. It has become more like a pamphlet of political theory rather than an expression of genuine creativity. The Gurus of literature have started dictating to the writers as to what is expected of them. And the writers also write to please these self-proclaimed Gods of literature. Everybody is aiming at getting into a particular group and become famous, whereas in cinema, the only judge is the audience. They have the right to reject and accept any song. The audience prefers those writers and lyricists who create a communication with them. They are not interested in a literature in which writer is talking to himself. Literary writers have totally forgotten about love for the nation. They do not celebrate spring or autumn. There is no optimism left in their thought process.
Pandit Narendra Sharma, once commenting upon the poetry of Dushyant Kumar, said, "Anger is temporary, protest is temporary, love is everlasting." The Hindi film songs cover the theme of love in its totality. Love for God, for the lover, for humanity for the country; they all find expression in the Hindi film songs.
Today's poets have forgotten to celebrate, to be happy and share happiness. They have forgotten eight of the nine RASAS. We cannot find decent Hindi poetry or short stories on the theme of love. Whereas every singly film lyricist has created numerous songs on this theme. In fact all the facets of Hindi film songs would require a full thesis and an article cannot do justice to it. Hindi film songs cover all the nine RASAS mentioned in the Sanskrit Natya Shastra.
Hum aaj kahin dil kho baithey (Majrooh; Andaz), Unko ye shikayat hai ki hum kuchh nahin kehtey (Rajinder Krishan; Adalat), Pyar hua iqraar hua hai (Shailendra; Shree 420), Pyar par bas to nahin hai mera lekin phir bhee .. (Sahir; Soney kee chidia), ye shaam mastaani (Anand Bakshi), Rajnigandha phool tumharey (Yogesh), Haaye jiya roye (Prem Dhawan - Milan (old), Hamne apna sab kuchh khoya (Indeever; Saraswatichandra), Bechain Nazar Bechain jigar (Jaan Nisar Akhtar; Yasmin), Nain so Nain naahi Milao (Hasrat Jaipuri; Jhanak Jhank Payal Bajey), Naina Barsein Rimjhin Rimjhim (Raja Mehndi Ali Khain; Who kaun thee), Dhire Dhire machal ai dile beqaraar (Kaifee Azmi; Anupama) - These all are a examples of a few love songs that can compete with best of poetry ever written in Hindi.
Rajinder Krishan, Shailendra, Sahir, Shakeel and Anand Bakshi have been the greatest exponents of the art of film lyrics writing. They wrote for films; wrote quality lyrics; their songs were meant to be situational and yet be true to the situation of each individual. People at large could identify themselves with their songs. When they wrote for the poor and the underdog, they understood what was written for them and hummed them in their hour of distress. This certainly cannot be said about majority of Hindi literary poetry. The mazdoor and the kisaan for whom the poetry is written do not understand it at all.
It is not that in today's scenario there is a dearth of good songs. Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Nida Fazli and others are still providing us with songs that can easily be called standard literature. We have to remember that even in literature, for each good poet there is a hoard of crap printed year after year. When we compare, we must compare the best of the literary world with the best of the film world.
It is high time that Hindi film songs should be made a part of the education system of Indian schools, colleges and universities. They need to be dealt with seriousness and should not be treated in a casual manner.
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09/23/2012 08:31 AM