I have posted on Gulzar and his poetry umpteen times. Most of these posts dealt with his poems around adult emotions and themes. This post is about some of Gulzar’s poems written for/about children. I believe, this man can articulate adult emotions so deftly because the child inside him has always been alive. Very rarely do we see an artist who can consistently produce work which appeals to all ages.
I am listing some of my personal favorites of Gulzar’s poems written for this incredibly neglected audience in Indian movies and television.
From the movies:
Lakadi ki kaathi
Movie: Masoom Composer: R D Burman Singers: Gurpreet Kaur, Vanita Mishra, Gauri Bapat
Ask any kid who grew up in the 80s and even the 90s to list one song that comes to their mind when asked about a children’s song from Hindi movies – 9 out 10 would go for this song from Shekhar Kapur’s Masoom. I simply love the combination of the rhyming words, and how they play with each other. They make this song so much fun on your tongue (of course RD’s composition is timeless too): Ghoda-Hathauda-Dauda, Sabzi mandi-Ghamandi-Thandi, Charbi-Arbi. On a side note, notice how the young Urmila over enunciated her movements even then!
Saare ke saare
Movie: Parichay, Composer: R D Burman, Singers: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle
Do re mi’s Indian version you might say. Yes and no! The concept is the same, but the execution is original. Gulzar and RD create sheer magic with this song, there is a touch of optimistic sadness along with the generally happy feel of the song: Papa nahi hai dhaani si didi, didi ke saath hai saare. If you have seen the movie, you know what I mean. To write a song such as this one is tricky, it can easily become deliberate since it has to fit the concept of weaving a song around the seven suras/sargam. Gulzar’s words are anything but forced, they flow seamlessly to RD’s infectious rhythm. It is hard to not have a smile plastered on my face whenever I listen to it.
Masterji ki aa gayi chitthi
Movie: Kitaab, Composer: R D Burman, Singers: Shivangi Kolhapure, Padmini Kolhapure
An absolute riot of a song, filled with nonsensical wordplay which is apt for the kids of the age depicted in this song. While most of the words are innocuous, a touch of fascniation for the adult world has crept in (these are pre-pubescent boys afterall) : jogi and his jogan, zarda paan, mustaches, underwears, etc. The morose kid who says “VIP Underwear Banian” has me in splits every single time.
Movie: Khubsoorat, Composer: R D Burman, Singers: Rekha, Sapan Chakravarty
Rekha does a fine job of this “fantasy-rule bending world” song from one of my favorite Hrishikesh Mukherjee movies. The song fits perfectly in the narrative too, where Rekha plays a character of a rabble rouser in a household which is governed under strict “Kaayda”s (rules) by the matriarchial character played by Dina Pathak. The song takes the theme of the movie and applies to a no-rules candy land type place. Kids will certainly be amused by the candies on trees and the flying fish ideas, but adults can derive metaphorical fun by applying it to breaking the rules that come along with growing up – familial rules, societal rules, workplace rules, etc.
O pappad waale
Movie: Makdee, Composer: Vishal Bharadwaj, Singer: Alaap Mazgaonkar
After RDs sad demise, there weren’t any more children’s songs from Gulzar until Vishal Bharadwaj arrived on the scene. The Gulzar-Vishal pairing although not as smashing as his pairing with Pancham, has produced some memorable tunes. This song along with the next three listed here are from movies directed by Vishal. This song (along with Tesoo below) are about a gang of kids generally going about their harmless fun at the expense of some characters in the village.
Movie: Makdee, Composer: Vishal Bharadwaj, Singer: Upagna Pandya
Which kid does not wait for the “chhutti” from school? The word itself sends butterflies through every school going kid’s entire being, the excitement is unbearable and has no comparison with any other form of excitement. The song plays on this magical word and world of “chhutti”. Be it the daily “chhutti” after the school closing bell is rung, or the “ravivar ki chhutti” or the “chhuttiyan” of festivals or the much awaited and cherished “garmiyon ki chhuttiyan”. You grow up and no other “chhutti” ever feels the same again.
Neeli aasmani chattri
Movie: The Blue Umbrella, Composer: Vishal Bharadwaj, Singer: Upagna Pandya
Gulzar invokes wonderful imagery in this song. Sample these lines where he calls the umbrella nothing but a sliver of the blue sky: