Lullaby is the essence of raga!!

Sudhirendar Sharma*

Have you ever watched how a lullaby (लोरी) works on a toddler? Even during those early days of cognitive development, soulful melody by the mother (or Nanny or grandparents for that matter)  registers on the tiny mind of the child. I therefore suspect lullabies are the source of all Ragas (राग), because a lullaby is soulful rendition of emotions, and Ragas are but an act of theorising it into musical notes. I hope I am not off the mark in stretching my imagination. 

My sense is that a lullaby and sleep are directly correlated – a child needs the soothing influence to calm its nerves to fall into sleep. Even as an adult we seek such influences to work on us, to cut through the stillness of night and immerse ourselves into the world of our own. It is that time of the day when moods of love and sadness dawn upon us.

‘Dheere se aaja akhiyan mein’ is an old lullaby that has been used for generations. Based on Raga Pilu, and beautifully sung by Lata Mangeshkar, this lovely song is likely to sooth the child within no time. This lullaby is from film Albela (1951) and lyricist is Rajendra Krishan. This was one of those songs which worked as stepping stone to reach the peak of playback singing and establish Lata Mangeshkar as melody queen.  

Melodies hold us from falling apart on such emotions, and you begin to wonder – क्यों आग सी लगा के गुमसुम है चाँदनी, सोने भी नहीं देता मौसम का ये इशारा ( Opening lines ‘ye raat bheegi ye Mausam ka Ishara’). It is a crucial time when one tends to express oneself, one’s feelings and emotions, rather honestly. And, one yearns to be all by oneself during such time. Incidentally this song from film ‘Chori-Chori’ (1956) is based on Raga Kirwani and Shankar-Jaikishan gave the music.

It is not without reason that lyricist Anand Bakshi had transformed such moments into subtle feelings in words – ये समा समा है ये प्यार का, किसी के इंतज़ार का; दिल ना चुरा ले कहीं मेरा, मौसम बहार का. On their own, these words reflect only part of the ‘mood’. By composing it in Raga Kirwani, Kalyanji-Anandji turned it into a melody that lingers. Known to have its origin in Carnatic music, Kirwani is a ‘sampooran’ Raga with all seven notes in it. Subject to how the notes are arranged, this Raga gives melancholic, heart-rending, and sentimental feel. 

I also feel that a great musical composition throws challenges for the director, cinematographer, and the artist to do justification on screen. On screen, ये समां, समां है ये प्यार का is as sampooran (complete) as the raga. This song from 1965 movie Jab Jab Phool Khile’ is one of my favourites for the musical treatment by Kalyanji-Anandji, and soft but seductive picturisation has enhanced it further. मिल के ख़यालों में ही, अपने बलम से;  नींद गंवाई अपनी, मैंने कसम से has intoxicating effect. Though simple, the arrangement of words enrich the feelings.

Kalyanji–Anandji attained dizzy heights in the world of music after the stupendous success of this film but the duo didn’t hesitate from admitting that the ‘mukhda’ of the song was ‘inspired’ by the extremely popular bolero song ‘Besame Mucho’. Try listening to this 1940 song on YouTube, and you will note for yourself that but for the spirit of ‘Besame Mucho’, the rest is a completely original composition. 

With this brief on the Raga and its treatment I now leave you to enjoy this sensuous but sensitive song, suited for listening under dim lights after 9 PM. Every Raga, as you may know, is best suited for a particular ‘Prahara’ or प्रहर (time slot) of the day. Enjoy this sensuous lullaby, if I may say so.

*Sudhirendar Sharma is a environmental journalist and a development professional. His interest in music is related to his childhood that lay immersed in musical memories.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here