Monday, January 17, 2011

Songs on the theme of maajhi - a thing of the past?

Let me admit once again, I'm a diehard fan of old Hindi movie songs and I shall remain so forever - seeking refuge in them in my highs and lows. While the lyrics guide and advise me, the music soothes me and the voice of the singer takes me to a different level! And what if the actor is my favorite - then I transcend into a different world. On one such late evening, I happened to listen to some songs - coincidentally some of them had references to maajhi, the symbolic saviour in most of the Hindi songs. I felt like recollecting all the songs I know with this theme and here they are. I hope you enjoy listening and viewing them as much as I did.

O re maajhi...mere saajan hai us paar... it is one of the classsics from S.D. Burman (from the movie Bandini) that set me thinking about the beautiful compositions on maajhi – the boatsman or yachtsman who sails a boat. The river flows steadily and the tranquil waves add to the mystical quality of this scene. The maajhi is the quintessential bard who sings eternal truths, sends inspirational messages and helps us cross the hurdles. Most maajhi songs are based in Bengali ethos, with remakes of popular Bangla folk songs.
Let’s take the song, Maajhi naiya dhoonde kinara, from the movie Uphaar.
Interestingly, like we see in this song, maajhi is rarely the protagonist in the movie or a participant in the events, he’s usually an objective onlooker, plays a crucial role when the male or female protagonist is caught in some problem. The songs indirectly express the thought processes of the protagonist rather impersonally giving advice, sharing knowledge on the significance of the event or the critical moment in their journey.
The song O maajhi re...apna kinaara nadiya ke dhaara hai from the movie (Khushboo, music R D Burman, lyrics Gulzar) is profoundly reflective in mood. The symbolism is obvious where life is compared to a journey in a boat - we neet to sail through it smoothly, reach the other end and not get caught midstream. Majhi ensures that the boat reaches safely and it is not left midstream or majhdhaar.
In songs like O maajhi chal... (from the movie Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke.. sung by Mohd.Rafi  - lyrics by Anand Bakshi  and music by Lakshmikanth Pyarelal)  and Nadiya chale chale re dhaara  (from the movie Safar) we get to see the motivational aspects of a journey in a boat, the river that flows, the metaphor of waves, the undulating moments of life and so on.

Door hai kinara (from the movie Saudagar sung by Manna Dey, music and lyrics by Ravindra Jain) is about the difficult times in one’s life and how one should face them. How we should have a balanced outlook and carry on or even have a never-say-die attitude.
Though Chingari koi bhadke, to saawan use bujhaaye (from the movie Amar Prem) is not directly addressed to the maajhi the beautiful picturization of this song lends it a distinct identity.  The lyrics bring out several ironies of life as we can see in these lines Majdhaar mein naiyyaa doobe, to majhee paar lagaaye, maajhee jo naaw duboye use kaun bachaaye? And we start questionning on the same lines! The impact of the lyrics is hypnotic when they are sung by Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey.
 In fact, most of the maajhi songs evoke a benign feeling, almost equating the role of the ordinary boatsman to the role of the almighty in guiding, steering, leading and saving us from trouble.


Uday Shankar said...

In my search for a translation of the great song "Door hai kinara" I bumped on your site. Great work. I also blog but occasionally. Is there a chance of getting the translation in English of this song?

P.Uday Shankar

Madhuri Dubey said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. In case I come across a translation I'll inform you.