पिया तोसे नैना लागे रे,
When Wahida Rehman, one of the most accomplished actor-dancers, resplendent in the finest jewellery, unveils her lovely face we can imagine a handful of love-lorn men in the audience let out a sigh.
‘પિયા તોંસે નૈના લાગે’ એ ગીત પરદા પર આવે અને વહીદા રહેમાન ઘૂંઘટ ખોલે ત્યારે પ્રેક્ષકોમાના કેટલાય પ્રેમભગ્ન પુરુષોની હાય સંભળાય
And then the real extravaganza unfolds. I know of friends who watched the classic movie Guide a dozen times just to gawk as she writhed and curved her lissome body. It is the same Wahida, taunting Dev Anand as she dances to the tune of ‘Mose Chhal Kiye jaa’ and we are left feeling sorry for him to have erred in embezzling money from her earnings by forging her signature.
The huge sign of ‘Vidaybhavan Varshikotsav’ hints at some ordinary fare of the customary ‘rangarang kaarykram’ that we are led to attend at the mandatory annual school functions. The crowd of boisterous children are ready to burst into whistles but the principal must have given them a stern warning of rustication. The politicians and other prominent citizens occupying the front seats are suitably impressed with the opening moves, one of them actually threatening his neighbour to keep his mouth shut.
Wahida too obliges them by throwing the bouquet, in double-quick time, back to the Gandhi-cap wearing local politician, like playing ‘passing the parcel’. The guy in question manages to take a whiff before throwing it back in her direction.
After 2 minutes, the camera zooms on to show the trademark smile of our Dev Anand, in the company of Wahida, (don’t you wish you were there with her?). She is now transformed into a village girl, sans that heavy jewellery. The number of her fellow dancers swells as well.
At this point, the antara
भोर की बेला सुहानी, नदिया के तीरे
भर के गागर जिस घड़ी मैं चलूँ धीरे धीरे
तुम पे नज़र जब आई, जाने क्यों बज उठे कंगना
that you hear is probably not in the song released for the audio music industry. But that was the norm in the sixties and seventies, when the die-hard – first week- first show- fans would watch the movie several times just to hear the stanza smartly removed for the cinema-non-goers – a common ploy to make people go and watch the movie again and again.
Fast forward 4 min 30 seconds later in the song, she poses the same question, जानेक्याहोअबआगेरे? again, directly to the sleeping frame of Dev Anand, who is presently content with just flashing his copy-right smile and gently holding her hand (The only other mannerism missing here is his unimitable, vigorous movement of his head a couple of time as if saying, ‘I like that’; or perhaps he didn’t have a clue to her question)
Hold your breath, Wahida is now back with another set of jewellery and costume! All the other dancers, likewise. She now sports a longer braid, if you care to notice.
The stage is now a riot of Holi colours, frolic and gaiety, with colour water-guns, spraying powdery colours all around. (What if some dancers are allergic to the colours ? Shut up! Will you? We don’t have the time to get into all that!)
बिन तेरे होली भी न भाए
Why? Where is the hero? Hiding behind some hay-stack, smiling ear to ear?
After 6 minutes and thirty something minutes, she is back in a simpler but exquisite village-girl costume.
Ok, now comes the ultimate test of the heroine. Is she comfortable in the scalding rays of the cool cool moon?
There! She orders the moon to stop circling around.
रात को जब चाँद चमके जल उठे तन मेरा
मैं कहूँ मत करो चंदा इस गली का फेरा
आना मेरा सैयाँ जब आए
चमकना उस रात को जब
मिलेंगे तन-मन मिलेंगे तन-मन,
‘Let the moon, appear later at night when my paramour arrives…’ Then, you may ask, ‘what will happen’? Sh.Sh..Sh.., Some questions are best left unanswered, you know what I mean.
Alas, the dance ends for you and me. The ageless hero, sporting a tie this time, is seen applauding vigorously, once again flashing his trade-market smile, of course. This smile is for the ladies in the audience who were at best, busy admiring the jewellery.
And who is that white dude who barges onto the stage from the right and garlands the dancer? Who cares, as long as he does not hug her ?
Now let us come to the finer nuances of the song itself.
First of all, let me address the eternal question from the handful of knowledge gatherers. Which raga is this? It is always safe to declare that it is based on raga Khamaaj, giving an allowance here and there for straying into other notes.
I like the flashes of violins striking together for that electric effect that go like:
Pa Saa Pa ….Re Ga Sa
Pa Saa Pa ….Re Ga Sa
Pa Saa Pa ….Re Ma Ga Sa……
I am not sure who plays the sitar in the song but the strokes are brilliant.
A fast tempo Rupak taal gels very well with the over-all tempo of the energetic dance sequences.
On a hindsight, one gets a feeling that the more than the story by the celebrated novelist, R K Nayaran, Wahida Rehman’s dances enliven the narratives. Her passion for dance overrides her duty to be subservient to the whims of her nerdy husband who prefers to spend most of his time in the pursuit of his passion of unearthing unknown caves and occasionally indulging in debauchery as a relaxant – with other women, what do you think?
Setting and performing this song on my Pratham Tarang has always been a challenge of a different kind. The adaptation of my strokes to mimic the electric effect produced by the battery of violins is just one such challenge. You can see how I employ a reverse stroke (equivalent of the daa stroke of Sitar) for the effect.) to mimic that.
The first antara begins with a soft and delicate ‘o o o o …aayi holi aayi …’ melody sung by the incomparable Lata so lovingly! And this delicate piece has to be played instantly after the heavy orchestration-filled end of the first interlude, Uff!
On return to the mukhada after the first antara, the short tabla solo defies the tabla accompanist to mimic that.
Come to the beginning of the second interlude where a flute makes an appearance suddenly, followed by a jerky meend of the sitar ,again to be followed by the mellifluous melody of Late ‘ raat ko jab chained clamake..’. You know, this opening line of the antara invariably spurs the audience – especially the ladies- to sing along with a gusto. There is some mysterious, secretive longing for ‘someone’ when the chaand is in full glory and it does not matter if her legally wedded companion is seated next to her. It’s ok yaar!
The solo tabla piece is absent in the second return to the mukhada, except that both the tabla and the singer raise their volumes several notches to a telling effect. The dance being a classical dance has to end with a simple tihaayee. ‘Piyaa…ho ho piyaa,,ho ho piyaa ho piyaa, ho o o o o piyaa tose …’
Well this turned out be a lengthy blog piece but how else could I do justice to this iconic song otherwise?
Till the time we meet again for the next song…… Bye.