Door Papiha Bola

June 18, 2010

Your relationship with songs that moved you, that brought tears to your eyes the first time you heard them and every time you hear them, is deeply personal.  How can others relate to your experience?  And no matter how well you write it would be less than what you felt. 

Nida Fazli famously said:

Yun to har ghazal mukammal hoti hai
Par kalam se kaghaz par utarti hai to kuch kami rah jati hai.

The poetry was complete
When the poet first felt it.
It lost something
When he brought it down on paper.

(my rough translation)

How do I describe the feeling of wonder and trance when I first heard Balam aye baso more man mein coming from a distant radio ages ago when I was about 13.  There would be restless yearning not knowing when and how would I hear that song again. It was not until many years later that I became acquainted with the songs of KL Saigal, and several of his songs such as jhoolna jhulao ri, main baithi thi, suno suno hey Krishna kala, hori ho brijraj dulare and prem nager mein banaungi ghar main (Chandidas 1934) entered my list of Best of Saigal.  But balam aye baso more man mein (Devdas 1935), especially its opening notes of sarod (by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan – said to be the first use of sarod in a Hindi film song) always had a special place in my heart.

Listen to Jhoolna Jhulao Ri

Listen to Hori Hey Brij Raj Dulare

Later in the college hostel I would be drawn hypnotised every Thursday night to the common room radio by Lata’s abhi to main jawan hun which was the signature song of Radio Ceylon’s weekly programme Hamesha jawan geet. The programme would also end with this song which always left me enchanted and speechless.  The effect was, in fact, enhanced by its second signature song jab dil ko satave gham tu ched sakhi sargam, again by Lata (Sargam 1950, music C Ramchandra). I knew I had to wait for a week because for some reason that I could not understand, this song never came on any other usual programmes of old songs such as Radio Ceylon (7.30 AM every morning) or All India Radio’s Urdu service.  Gradually radio went out of our lifestyle and came Doordarshan, the sole channel for many years.  At some point of time they started a second channel DD Metro.  This had a weekly programme of old songs mostly of black & white era.  They had some rare gems, but abhi to main jawan hun remained elusive.

Soon Radio Ceylon, AIR’s Urdu service, DD Metro all became part of distant memory swamped by the explosion of channels and their soaps, reality shows and 24×7 news.   But abhi to main jawan hun remained a part of me even though tinged with sadness that I may not be ever able to hear it again.  Then a few years back a music lover friend gifted me a compilation of video clippings of old songs.  And would you believe it, it had the clipping of this song, when for the first time I discovered it was from the film Afsana (1951, music Husnlal Bhagatram).  I had erroneously believed it to be from Sargam, it sounded so much like C Ramchandra.  My joy on this discovery was almost like what Mahamahopadhyay Pandit Ganpat Shastri, the great Sanskrit scholar and curator of Travancore Oriental Manuscripts Library, Trivandrum would have felt on coming upon 13 manuscripts in 1912 of what he established to be plays of Bhasa, the revered and earliest known Sanskrit dramatist (these plays were lost to the Sanskrit world for about two thousand years until this discovery).

In the public mind Abhi to main jawan hun is synonymous with Malika Pukhraj.  But for me it would always be Lata’s song from Afsana. Ameen Sayani is regarded as the Sachin Tendulkar of radio announcing, and perhaps rightly so.  But for me, radio announcer would always be Manohar Mahajan presenting Hamesha jawan geet on Radio Ceylon every Thursday night in the late 60’s, which would start and end with this haunting melody.

Now I find that this song is more accessible thanks to the internet.  But that has not lessened the deep mysterious charm it had on me.

With so much of absorbing of the songs of yore from different sources and now from the incredible collections of internet, I started thinking that there could be hardly a good song which I had not heard.  But soon to my utter delight I was proved wrong.

It was December 2009 travelling from Mandapam to Rameshwaram and back by road that I had one of the most pleasant experiences of my life.  The driver had put on some old film music.  Nothing unusual in that except that the songs were not the too familiar super hits but some less heard gems, obviously compiled with great care by a music lover.  They were also my special favourites, and I asked the driver to convey my profuse thanks to the owner of the Qualis.  Then a song came which completely held me spellbound.  I could not believe that there existed such a beautiful song I had never heard before.  The song went:

Door papiha bola raat aadhi rah gayee
Meri tumhari mulaqat baki rah gayee
Mera man hai udas jiya mand mand hai
Badalon ke ghere mein chand nazar band hai
Badal aye par barsat baki rah gayee
Meri tumhari mulaqat baki rah gayee

Far away when the papiha sings
My heart sinks that the night is only half left
But alas our tryst has not even begun.
My heart is sad and I am feeling low
The moon too is held captive by the encircling clouds
The clouds came but they are yet to shower rains
Alas, our tryst has not even begun.

(my rough translation)

The song could be of Geeta Dutt or Suraiya.  Their voices are very distinct but this song seemed to combine the singing styles of both.  The driver could not help me as it was compiled on a pen drive by the owner.  Later browsing the internet I accidentally came upon this song and again my joy knew no bounds that I could now give it an identity by singer, film and music director.

Door papiha bola by Suraiya (film Gajre 1948, music Anil Biswas) captures every music lover’s tryst with a great song.  All great songs seem to beckon you from far away like a papiha’s song transporting you to another world. And when the song ends, the night seems to be gone too fast leaving you unsatiated and yearning for more.

(The songs Jhulana jhulao ri and Hori ho brijraj dulare are courtesy

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 n.venkataraman September 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Your reference to Ameen Sayani and Manohar Mahajan sent me gliding down the memory lane. I have heard that Sunil Dutt used to be an announcer in Radio Ceylon sometime during late late forties or early fifties, before he entered films. After partion his family had settled down in a village in Hayana and he came to Bombay to study in a college. At that time he was known as Balraj Dutt.

I enjoyed your article. I even watched some portions of the film “Amar Saigal ” I would like to know who played the role of Saigal in that film and who sung the songs ? Was it Saigal’s Voice or somebody else’s?

2 n.venkataraman September 15, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I have got hooked tour site. I have started visiting your previous postings. I will be bothering you with all sorts of silly questions and information.

3 AK September 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Mr Venkatraman, welcome to my old posts. This one was my special favourite, as it was effectively my very first post on the theme of Songs of Yore.

The Hindi Film Geet Kosh mentions the cast of Amar Saigal as G Mudheri, Tandon, JH Hafis, Pahadi Sanyal etc. Except the New Theatres stalwart Pahadi Sanyal, others are unheard names. It could be Mudheri since his name comes first. As for the songs, I believe they used Saigal’s original clippings.

4 n.venkataraman September 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Thank you . I should have realised that the songs where from original clippings. Thanks a lot

5 Subodh Agrawal September 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Where was this post hiding? How could I miss this? I am utterly charmed by the beautiful songs – specially the one that lends its name to the post. Nida Fazli has said what everyone who has put pen to paper, brush to canvas; or tried to sing has felt. What else are you hiding among the old posts?

6 AK September 15, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Subodh, then you must also listen to this, which became Abhi to main jawan hun for me more than Malika Pukhraj’s. It is because of this song that I still have fond memories of Manohar Mahajan, more than Ameen Sayani. The first notes of this song made me restless and drew me inexorably to the radio. It is just half a song, so beautifully composed by Husnlal Bhagatram. They were deservedly top composers in the period 1949-51, when they were overtaken by their proteges Shankar Jaikishan. You can clearly see from where have SJ got their style of orchestration.

You have been the earliest follower of SoY, I doubt if you have missed any. Door Papiha Bola is not only my story, but I am sure everyone’s romance with songs of yore.

Khushiyon ke din manaye ja..abhi to main jawan hun by Lata Mangeshkar from Afsana (1951), lyrics Gafil Harnalvi, music Husnlal Bhagatram

7 n.venkataraman September 20, 2012 at 12:52 am

” jab dil ko satave gham tu ched sakhi sargam, by Lata (Sargam 1950, music C Ramchandra)”.
What a wonderful song ?
Is this composition in Raag Jaunpuri ?

8 AK September 20, 2012 at 9:12 am

The mukhda does sound to me clearly as Jaunpuri. Rest over to Subodh. The song is, of course, outstanding. No wonder C Ramchandra – Lata combination of early 50’s became kind of cult, and we find many composers, such as Madan Mohan following their style. MM came into his own later.

9 n.venkataraman September 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Yes the Mukhda sounds like Jaunpuri. But in the sargam part Gandhar is used in the Arohan, whereas in Raag Jaunpuri Gandhar is not used in the Arohan, but it is very much there in Avarohan. May be, C Ramchandra was influenced by the Carnatic Ragam Natabhairavi, where gandhar is used in both Arohan and Avarohan. Ragam Natabhairavi corresponds to Asavari That. Rag Jaunpuri belongs to Asavari That.
C Ramachandra debuted in Music direction in a Tamil Movie in 1941 before moving to Hindi Movies. Vana Mohini (1941) is one of his successful movies. But I could not locate a single song from this film.

10 Subodh Agrawal September 21, 2012 at 11:40 am

You are absolutely on dot Mr Venkataraman. The opening part is unmistakably Jaunpuri/Asavari (I haven’t figured out the distinction. Pt Omkarnath Thakur was quite contemptuous of the difference.)

‘Chhed sakhi sargam’ – the ‘g’ in sargam is not only ga in aroha, but shudh ga. This makes the raga Devgandhar or Divyagandhar – nothing more than a variation of Asavari/Jaunpuri. It is very much like Jhulna jhulao of Saigal. ‘Koyal bo-le’; the ‘bo’ is again shudh ga.

AK, thanks for introducing me to Lata’s Khushiyon ke din manaye ja. It is beautiful.

11 n.venkataraman September 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm

Subodh ji,
In Asavari the Arohan is SA RE ma PA dha SA
and the Avarohan is RE ni dha PA ma ga RE SA, whereas
in Jaunpuri the Arohan is SA RE ma PA dha ni SA
and the Avarohan is SA ni dha PA ma ga RE SA.
In both the Raags the vadi is dha and samavadi is ga.
Both are Uttaranga Raags.
There are vakra sancharas like RE ni dha-ma PA dha-ma PA ga, which gives a special charm to Asavari .
But all said and done, I will have to agree with you that these two Raags closely resemble each other that even by dropping ni in Arohan, it is difficult to maintain the swaroops separately.
In Devagandhar the Arohan and Avarohan is similar to Jaunpuri, except the Swar Ri is not used in the Arohan.

12 Subodh Agrawal September 22, 2012 at 9:34 am

You are right Mr Vekataraman. This is what has to say:

“This raga is very close in spirit and substance to the R-only Asavari so much so that some musicians (for instance, Omkarnath Thakur) do not acknowledge any difference between the two. In recent times Jaunpuri’s dominance on the concert stage has virtually extinguished the shuddha rishab Asavari. A widely accepted point of departure in Jaunpuri concerns the komal nishad in arohi sancharis. Whereas in Asavari n is langhan alpatva (skipped) en route to the shadaj, that stipulation is relaxed in Jaunpuri. Still other minor areas of independence from Asavari are suggested, such as a higher weight for P over d. As in the shuddha rishab Asavari, R receives a pronounced grace of S. Whatever the case, Jaunpuri (and the ragas to follow) deeply embodies the Asavari-anga.”

The reference to R-only Asavari is to the raga with shudh re (north Indian terminology). According to this source the older form of Asavari, which is still heard often, is with komal re. Devgandhar has shudh ga in addition to the komal ga of the usual Asavari/Jaunpuri. ‘Jab dil ko sataye gam’ has used the shudh ga beautifully. This note shines like polished silver.

13 n.venkataraman September 22, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Mr Subodh Agarwal
Thank you for the enlightening and lively discussion. You have rightly pointed out that the use of Shuddha Gandhar has enhanced the beauty of the composition. Whatever be the name of the Raag used in both the compositions both of them are superb.
There are three types of Devagandhar.The first two types are Shadava -Sampoorna and the third is Sampoorna-Shadava type.
In the first type the Swaras used are SA, RI, ga, ma, dha, ni.
Both in the Arohan and the Avarohan Komal ga is used, but RI is not used in the Arohan.
In the second type Ri is used in the Arohan and both the gandhars are used only in the Avarohan. So it was also known as Dwi-gandhar.
In the third type both Re and GA are used in Arohan and in the avarohan ga is used, but ma is omitted. This was also known as Dwi-Gandhar.
Once a week, few of us (all music lovers) get together at the Lakshman Sitaria Sangeet Kendra, where we exchange thoughts and notes. None of us are experts. We have (only) a fleeting knowledge of classical music. Our reference point is the 80+ years old Masterji, who had the good fortune of learning Sitar from the little known Late Lakshman Sitaria. I am only sharing the knowledge that I have gathered from Masterji and others.
Thank you for introducing to me the site
PS: I am using MA to indicate Prati madhyam.

14 n.venkataraman September 28, 2012 at 3:35 pm

In my quest to know more about Jaddan Bai, I got hold of a book written by Kishwar Desai. There I found this interesting piece of information about Dilip Kumar’s singing ability.

Dilip Kumar says ‘ In the house there was Jaddanbai,………..I have never seen her films, but I had heard some of her songs. They were songs of an earlier period, ghazals.’
Dilip Kumar has a sensitive, melodious voice and he sings a haunting ghazal which recalls his time at Chateau Marine, ending with lines:
Zindagi ke lutf aur bandanawazi ke mazey
pooch us bande se jo bande ka banda ho gaya.
(All the joy of life and pleasure from relationships
you can only ask that person who belongs to someone)
Dilip continues ‘ This was her style of singing. She liked my singing too, and often encouraged me to become a professional singer, to sing for movies. I said speaking these film dialogues is no less of a strian, kya kam aafat hai………………’
I have seen your latest post ” Best songs of 1955- Wrap up 2″.
It must have a arduous task. I will be going through the write up soon. It will take some time. I join you in wishing Lataji on her birthday.

15 n.venkataraman September 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

AK ji
My response was to your last comment made in you post “Twin Songs: a front runner and a laggard”. sorry for the mix up.

16 jignesh kotadia February 18, 2013 at 1:03 am

Perfect selection of song to start this blog. I wonder at the 2 yrs gap with its 1st comment ! The song is really amongst those songs which can induce what u hv said ‘trance’ Akji. ”Gajre” has 2 more such trance making songs of lataji. Experience to listen just 18 yrs old litl girl’s voice is difficult to put in words.
It is something like that instance when Krishn opened mouth and maiya yashoda saw whole Universe in it, similarly when swayam devi saraswati (lataji) opens her mouth and initiates,
”preetam aaaaa…..preetam aaaaa….hooo preetam aaaaa” i can feel the completeness of music in it.
Lataji’s those 2 masterpieces from ‘gajre’

1. Preetam tera mera pyar
Gupchup kya jane sansaar

2. Baras baras badli bhi bikhar gayi
Ab kab aaoge baalma
Anilda were really in top gear in 1948-52, and ‘gajre’ and ‘anokha pyar’ were the obvious beginning of 24 carat golden era.

17 jignesh kotadia February 18, 2013 at 1:12 am

Preetam tera mera pyar

18 jignesh kotadia February 18, 2013 at 1:19 am

Baras baras badli bhi bikhar gayi

19 AK February 18, 2013 at 3:58 pm

This was one of my earliest posts. Much later SoY regulars came across this post. Therefore, you find many familiar commenters who came later to this post. You have added some real Anil Biswas-Lata Mangeshkar gems. Specially Baras baras badli bhi bikhar gayi. Thanks a lot.

20 D P Rangan September 8, 2015 at 9:41 pm

Mr. Venkataraman I have one song of Vanasundari sung by PU Chinappa and a lady – Namaste oh Namaste, which used to be played by Radio Ceylon at the concluding stage of Tamil broadcast close to 7 pm daily. I am available at If you send me an e mail I will post the song to you.

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