When Lyrics Overwhelm the Music

Sudhirendar Sharma

I have come across quite a few musical compositions that are known more for their lyrics, and less for their musical score. In such cases, the power of lyrics seems to have overwhelmed the musical notes. Music, in such instances, ended up lending support for the lyrics to flow and create impact. It gelled so well that we miss the music for the lyrics. Yet, the music held strength on its own despite being overawed by lyrics. 

Let me provide few examples. Who would have forgotten Sahir’s memorable poetry मैं ज़िन्दगी का साथ निभाता चला गया, हर फ़िक्र को धुएँ में उड़ाता चला गया (film: Hum Dono), Shahryar’s elegance in सीने में जलन आँखों में तूफ़ान सा क्यों है, इस शहर में हर शख़्स परेशान सा क्यों है (film: Gaman), or Naqsh Layalpuri’s endearing तुम्हे हो ना हो, मुझ को तो इतना यकीन है, मुझे प्यार तुम से नहीं है, नहीं है (film: Gharonda). But what seems to have been overlooked is that composer Jaidev had rendered all these songs, but is rarely remembered for his compositions. Jaidev didn’t get his due.

Jaidev did bag three national awards for his music, yet he could not break into the commercial world of cinematic music. There were stalwarts like Naushad and Shankar Jaikishan to contend with, and he could not be part of any production house camp to create an impact. Yet, in the crowded world of cinema he did leave his memorable footprints. 

I am not sure how many of you remember ये दिल और उनकी निगाहों के साये, मुझे घेर लेते हैं बाहों के साये (film: Prem Parbat). Jaidev composed Jaan Nisar Akhtar’s verses in raag Pahari for an enduring appeal. Jaidev’s classical training under Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and assistantship under SD Burman came handy, but he could not create a distinct identity for himself despite some good work. 

I would imagine that Jaidev’s work was partly overshadowed by Khayyam, as there were some musical similarities in their work. Yet, Jaidev’s compositions for films like ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’, ‘Gharonda’, ‘Gaman’ and ‘Dooriyan’ stand out on its own. I will not be doing justice if I were to miss his work for Sunil Dutt’s ‘Reshma aur Shera’. This ambitious film didn’t do well at the box office though.

तू चंदा मैं चांदनी, तू तरुवर मैं शाख रे तू बादल मैं बिजुरी, तू पंछी मैं पात रे (film: Reshma aur Shera) is a multi-textured complex composition that blurs the distinction between the ‘mukhda’ and ‘antra’.  If you haven’t heard or seen this desert song before, I would encourage you to do so. You may notice that years later Khayyam tried to create something similar in his ‘Razia Sultan’ composition ऐ दिल-ए-नादां, ऐ दिल-ए-नादां, आरज़ू क्या है. I will leave you with Balkavi Bairagi’s rich poetic composition under Jaidev’s music.


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