28 Aug 2011

Hindi Film Lyrics: A Restless Javed Akhtar


After the breaking up of his iconic scriptwriting pairing with Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar went on to write lyrics for Hindi films, starting in the 1980’s. He also, reportedly had a fling with alcoholism, where things went to such a point that he had to finally take a decision if he wanted to dip further or do away with the habit. Did this occur before or after he debuted as a lyricist, only Akhtar can confirm. Presently, we are the distant music-loving, document-making folk here.
We talk here of the use of the word betaab in Javed Akhtar’s lyrics. The first noticeable instance was in Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005). The nautch girl of the 19th century gives voice to her live of comfort, and how she utters to A R Rahman music:
Ke ek chuban thi jo jiski kami thi
Ke phoolon ke sejo mein main to pali thi 
na betaab din the, na betaab raatein
(If there was an absence, if was of a thorn,
I was brought up on a bed of flowers,
neither were the days restless, nor the nights…) 
While the ‘restless days’ refer to life,  ‘nights’ presumably the girl’s wrapped message to her admirers.
Cut ahead to Rock On (2008), a boy, no, a 'men band' film with two songs of the Shankar-Ehsan-Loy soundtrack reserved to women, one of them goes in the opening lines…
aankhin mein jiske
koi toh khwab hai,
khush hai wahi jo
thoda betaab hai
(In whose eyes 
there is a dream, 
the one who is 
happy, is a little restless...)
The song appears in the closing credits, like an epitaph to the film’s ‘Live your dream’ theme.    

In proximity to the time of writing this post, we sample this year’s S-E-L soundtrack of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, where one of the trio of the Spain road trip keeps a dairy for his poems, one of them comes as a voice over, in the last scene, as slow motion, the three friends evade death at the Bull Run, Pamplona, Spain:
Dilon mein tum apni beetabiyan leke chal rahe ho 
Toh zinda ho tum   
Nazar mein khawabon ki bijliya leke chal rahe ho
Toh zinda ho tum
Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise azaad rehna seeko 
Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehro mein behna seeko 
har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahe 
har ek pal ek naya sama dekhi nigaahen
Jo apne aankhon mein hairaniyan lekhe chal rahe ho 
toh zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni beetabiyan leke chal rahe ho 
Toh zinda ho tum   
(If you carry restlessness in your heart,
You are alive
If there is the lightning of dreams in your eyes,
You are alive
Learn to be free like the breeze,
Like a river, learn to flow with the waves,
meet every moment with open arms,
every moment the eyes see new worlds
If you who carry amazement in their eyes,
You are alive
If you carry restlessness in your heart,
You are alive )

So much for betaabi...