Romance of letters

June 16, 2016

LetterI don’t remember when I last wrote a letter. I can safely say no one writes letters these days – the one you wrote in long hand to a dear friend or family, on a piece of stationary, neatly folded it, put it in an envelope, glued it, walked over to the nearest red letter-box and pushed it inside its slot. Its arrival at the other end was an equally momentous occasion. Whether at homes, hostels, border posts or village squares, the scene was reminiscent of what happened several millennia ago when Uddhav arrived in Braj, carrying a letter to the lovelorn gopis from Krishna, who had left Braj never to return.

भेजे मनभावन के उद्धव के आवन की
सुधि ब्रजगांवन में पावन जबै लगी
कहै रत्नाकर गुवालिनि की झौरि झौरि
दौरि दौरि नन्द पौरि आवन तबै लगीं
उझकि उझकि पदकंजनि के पंजनि पै
पेखि पेखि पाती छाती छोहन छवै लगीं
हमको लिख्यौ है कहा हमको लिख्यौ है कहा
हमको लिख्यौ है कहा कहन सबै लगीं II26II

(As the delightful news of the arrival of Uddhav, sent by that Enchanter Krishna, spread like wild fire in Braj, (Ratnakar says), droves of gopis streamed out of their homes and ran in frenzy towards the home of Nand. Stretching and jumping on their dainty feet and straining their necks over each other‘s shoulder, as they sighted the letter, it acted as a balm to their burning heart. They started screaming “What has He written to me, what has He written to me, what has He written to me?”)
(From Uddhav Shatak by Jagannathdas ‘Ratnakar’)

Among the earliest lessons I remember from my school books is one about the khaki-clad postman who – winter, summer or rains – came every day. How the letter reached from the letter box to a place hundreds of miles away was one of the greatest wonders for me. A child’s imagination knows no bounds. I imagined a network of tunnels criss-crossing underground through which the letter popped out at its destination. By the time I cracked how the postal system worked, I was married, and after some time email was upon us. It was a greater wonder, but now we were two of us who could put our heads together to solve this mystery, and our thoughts went to Bansuria Baba.

Email ke DadajiWe are not particularly into Babas, therefore, I don’t remember how exactly Bansuria Baba landed at our place. But he waved his hand and plucked an orange from the air which, he said, was from Nagpur. Being sceptical, we asked him somewhat indelicately, could he bring an apple from Kashmir. Lo and behold, he waved his other hand and produced an apple. He said that after long years of Tantra-sadhana at Karu Kamakhya, he had brought under his command some spirits who did his errands and who could bring anything from anywhere instantly. The email was surely the ethereal spirits of Bansuria Baba, sitting inside the computer, who were shooting the electrons across ionosphere. Soon came Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangout and other video chatting platforms. We stopped bothering how these worked, because these were clearly even beyond Bansuria Baba’s ghosts.

Now WhatsApp has swamped our lives. I get messages ranging from ‘Good Morning’ to ‘non-veg’ jokes to politics to Bhagwad Gita to how to be a good human being, or how to be happy in life. In the family group, I know in real time that a niece in Mumbai made gaajar ka halwa for the first time, and wow, it looked so yummy, but there was another one in Bangalore feeling too lazy to cook, so she ordered Domino Pizza home delivery, and a nephew in Delhi had just got his boarding card and was now proceeding for security check. I am not a particularly gregarious person but I get about 400 messages every day. You can imagine the plight of a 20-30 year old of today, who on the average would have more than 400 ‘friends’. I know of a friend of my daughter, who has 3241 ‘friends’. She has to spend half her day cleaning up her mobile. However, there is a redeeming aspect about the new social networking protocol – you can ‘unfriend’ people.

Technology has made letters redundant. Now we are more connected. As for the emotional part of the letter, there are hundreds of emoticons and social media acronyms which can convey more shades of emotions than words ever did. Now you can respond to a joke in more than hundred ways ranging from an innocuous thumbs up to the ultimate ROFWL (Rolling on the floor with laughter). There are emoticon cakes, too, which you can send through WhatsApp on Anniversaries.

There was a time when the world leaders wrote letters, and wrote prolifically as they were aware of their place in history. Nehru’s letters to his daughter became a world classic, Glimpses of World History. Diaries and letters written by great authors are important part of their oeuvre. We read the letters of Ernest Hemingway, Guru Dutt and Van Gogh to understand them better. Today, the world leaders tweet. Who writes letters these days?

Letters have played an important part in several of our films. Mostly they are simple romantic letters to convey love. Often, the letters were intercepted by villains and replaced by a fake letter for some devious purpose. Some interceptions, however, proved very beneficial. In a familiar trope, the lead actors decide to sacrifice their love for a larger familial or social goal, resulting in the heroine marrying the hero’s elder brother who unfortunately lost his wife, for mothering the orphaned new-born child, or vice versa. The discovery of the letter in the nick of time saves three lives from disaster. But, some discoveries of letters brought untold miseries. In Sangam, Vyjayanthimala’s love-letter, without specifying ‘Dear who?’ fell in the hands of the wrong guy, and the circumstances compelled her to marry the boorish guy. Later, when the lover thought everything was clear, he wrote a reciprocal love-letter. The husband came back from dead and discovered the offending letter in good time, with disastrous consequences. In Nikaah, the poor lady was not even aware that what she had hurriedly put away in the wardrobe was a letter from her ex which would land up in the hands of her present husband. BR Chopra, however, was able to find a non-violent solution to this tangle. Devdas is, essentially, the tragedy of a letter written too soon. By the time Devdas realised his mistake and was filled with remorse, it was too late, because the letter had already landed in the hands of Paro. Her pride was pricked and the protagonists hurtled down the slope of self-destruction. Dilip Kumar’s letters had a habit of going awry. Earlier, in Andaz (1949), his letter was discovered too late, bringing calamity to all, because he forgot to tell Nargis that he had hidden a letter for her in the belly of the gift toy.

Letters are equally important in Hollywood, too. In The Letter (1940), Bette Davis is acquitted of the murder because she was able to buy back the incriminating letter which could have proved her crime. But she could not escape from the sin of having wronged two persons: her husband and the wife of the man she had killed. She meets an equally gory end.  In You Have Got Mail (1998) or its Indian adaptation Mitr My Friend (2002), the lovers (or spouses), fed up with the drudgery in their relationship, seek romantic outlet in online chatting sites by creating fake identities.  Luckily, they find someone charming, witty and sensitive, far superior to the jerk they were spending their lives with.  When they set up a meeting they find that their virtual charming, witty and sensitive partner was none other than their real boring, uncaring and insensitive partner.   The Internet helps rediscover their love for each other.  You can interpret this film as also debunking the emotional value of the traditional physical letters.

Both Hollywood and Bollywood have letters as integral part of many films, but Bollywood goes one step ahead in having letter songs which may not necessarily carry the story forward, but so what, Indian audiences need their quota of dance and songs. Let us enjoy some of the very best letter songs as a requiem for the letters that have gone out of our lives.

1. Afsana likh rahi hun by Uma Devi (Tun Tun) from Dard (1947), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

With this debut song, Uma Devi fulfils her dream of singing for Naushad. In another first, Dard was Shakeel Badayuni’s debut in films as a lyricist, which led to a long lasting bond between him and Naushad. This film is an intersection of a ‘Muslim social’ and a love triangle. Munawwar Sultana, in a joyous mood, writes a love letter to someone who has already fallen in love with Suraiya. This would later lead to a happy-sad long distance female duet Betaab hai dil dard-e-mohabbat ke asar se (Suraiya, Uma Devi). I start this post with a landmark Naushad song.

2. Badi badi paati likhwaiyan by Shamshad Begum from Khidki (1948), lyrics PL Santoshi, music C Ramchandra

This was the period when C Ramchandra was a worthy rival of Naushad and Shamshad Begum was the leading female playback singer. When the sainya is in pardes, , and it has started raining amidst thunder of black clouds, the lonely lady yearns he was near when leaving all shame aside she would embrace him openly, but now only long letters can soothe her little heart.

3. Chanda re mori patiyan le ja by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Banjaarin (1960), lyrics Pt Madhur, music Pardesi

Before the modern postal service came into existence, this role was performed by a variety of elements of nature and animal species. Pigeons performed this task during the middle ages. In mythology, swan was the carrier between Nal and Damyanti. Yaksha, cursed by Kuber and banished from his kingdom, beseeched the cloud to carry his message to his beloved (Meghdoot, Kalidas). Here is a beautiful song where the moon is being requested by the lovers to carry their letters to their beloved. It seems that this song escaped notice by veterans like KS Bhatia, Arvinder Sharma, Ashok Vaishnav, N Venkataraman and others in DP Rangan’s Romance with Moon when everyone was posting ‘chanda’ songs by dozens. However, this has appeared earlier prominently in the post on music director Pardesi in the series Forgotten Composers, Unforgettable Melodies. A Long Distance Duet of Separation (LDDS) which is a beautiful ‘moon’ song and even more beautiful ‘letter’ song. An immortal song by any measure which rises over its B grade film.

4. Phool tumhe bheja hai khat mein by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar from Saraswatichandra (1968), lyrics Indivar, music Klayanji Anandji

Let me post another sweet Mukesh-Lata duet and among the most famous letter songs.There were many trite metaphors around letter writing. One was Likhati hun khat khoon se syahi na samajhana. Black ink and red blood are so different that it was difficult to fathom why should the writer warn the recipient not to mix up between the two. However, flower for ‘dil’ is quite acceptable, especially when two flowers touching each other were used to convey expressions of love which were forbidden by censors.

5. Tera khat le ke sanam by Lata Mangeshkar from Arddhangini (1959), lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music Vasant Desai

Meena Kumari, who has been apparently waiting for the postman, becomes excited when she receives a letter. Normally, you would expect she would tear the letter and start reading it eagerly. But she starts singing that the letter has made her unstable – she tries to put her feet somewhere but they go somewhere else. But the song is so good that it does not allow such analytical thoughts to come in. Let us presume after she is done with the singing she would open the letter and read it.

6. Khat likh de sanwariya ke naam babu by Asha Bhosle from Aye Din Bahar Ke (1966), lyrics Anand Baxi, music Laxmikant-Pyarelal

Unfortunately its video is not available. But it is again one of the famous ‘letter’ songs. In the film it was picturised as dance song when the dakiya, besides delivering letters, was also called upon to write letters, even love letters when literacy level was very low, especially among women.

7. Ye mera prem patra padhkar by Rafi from Sangam (1964), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar-Jaikishan

Rajendra Kumar is confused whether to address Vyjayanthimala as Meharbaan, Haseena or Dilruba in a recital prelude before the song. Such lack of clear-headedness had already wreaked enough trouble for both of them. This letter would later make matters worse. But Rafi does a fine job for a letter which would have malefic consequences.

8. Likhe jo khat tujhe wo teri yaad mein by Rafi from Kanyadan (1968), lyrics Neeraj, music Shankar-Jaikishan

SJ-Rafi pairing come up with another excellent letter-song.

9. Phoolon ke rang se dil ki kalam se by Kishore Kumar from Prem Pujari (1970), lyrics Neeraj, music SD Burman

Neeraj betters himself in this nazm. SJ have declined, but SD Burman reinvents himself to remain fresh. Kishore Kumar is the new Rafi. Here is an absolutely outstanding song sung in a recital style at the end of the Golden Period.

10.  Sandese aate hain by Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Ratore from Border (1997), lyrics Javed Akhtar, music Anu Malik

At field stations, I believe, the traditional mail is still the only means which connects the soldiers to their family.  They wouldn’t be able to meet them until they go for their annual leave, which is again subject to operational requirements.  Therefore, the arrival of mailbag brings excitement and cheer, yet it brings back memories which are poignant.  But the soldiers cannot allow emotions to overtake them as they are there to fight the enemy.  Conveying these complex and conflicting emotions are the lyrics penned by Javed Akhtar, sung beautifully by Sonu Nigam and Roop Singh Rathore, and picturised brilliantly amidst the sand dunes of Barmer with each stanza leading to a connected flashback.

11. Tere khushboo mein base khat main jalaata kaise by Jagjit Singh from Arth (1982), lyrics Rajendranath Rahbar, music Jagjit Singh

Jagjit Singh led the ghazal revolution with his mellifluous, easy singing in the 1970s and 80s when the genre was on decline. This was different from khayal-style of Mehadi Hasan and thumri-style of Begum Akhtar. His singing for the TV serial Ghalib made by Gulzar made it a great classic. Some of his ghazals, including Tere khushboo mein, left a tremendous impact in the Mahesh Bhatt film Arth (1982). I could not locate a video from the film. However, this video captures the mood of the ghazal perfectly

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dinesh K Jain June 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm

AK
A wonderful theme to choose, and excellent songs to go along with that. Enjoyed; thanks.

Afraid have two small quibbles too. One, no mention of the film whose very name is ‘Prempatra’, let alone including any of its songs! Despite Salil Chowdharie’s sweet music! I know none of the songs does mention a ‘letter’ in its initial wordings, but then the whole movie revolves around a love letter!

Secondly, Prem Pujari’s Phoolon ke rang se is among my all time favorites, but your link deprives one of the song’s video?

2 ksbhatia June 16, 2016 at 12:53 pm

AK ji;
A very refreshing theme with top of the chosen songs .

Chithi aye hai ayi ….as well as….ho ke majboor mujhe ….are the the two songs that immediately comes to my mind deserving inclusion.

Chanda re mori patiyan le ja ….is a fantastic song and scores among the best of the lot. I have some vintage song in my mind , I will post it when I am able to recall and find it on YT.

Over all a very interesting subject to dwell and dig upon .

3 KB June 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm

All good songs featuring Khat have been included. Nice to find song from Ardhangini in this.

4 Praveen June 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Wonderful theme and a beautiful collection.

“Chanda re mori patiyan le ja” is a lovely find

My personal preference being the 40s and 50s, was just wondering, the Golden era period till 1960 had only so much songs on ‘letter’? It always seemed to be a popular theme for a song

(PS : The movie Mitr is not based on You’ve got mail (which itself is a remake of the Shop around the Corner). The protagonists of You’ve got mail are not lovers or spouses – they consider each other enemies (or may be rivals) a la Pride and Prejudice)

5 Dustedoff June 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm

I’ve been thinking for years now that I should do a post on ‘letter songs’, but have never been able to find ten songs that I really like – so I’d given up on doing it. Just as well, because I wouldn’t have done justice to it the way you have, AK. Great post, and a fine collection of songs. A couple of them near the beginning were new to me, and Sandese aate hain has never been a favourite of mine.

By the way. The Shop Around the Corner itself was a remake of an even earlier film, starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson, named In the Good Old Summertime. It’s nowhere as good as The Shop Around the Corner.

And (since I can’t think of any letter songs from Hindi cinema other than the ones you’ve already posted) and because you have mentioned Hollywood, here’s an English-language song about letters that I like. Pat Boone’s Love Letters in the Sand:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EviXbSlbY-Y

6 mumbaikar8 June 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm

AK,
Good one! Afsana likh rahin hoon, tera khat leke sanam and phoolon ke rang se my favourite.
Agree with Bhatiaji “hoke majboor” comes to mind with” khat” though it appears in antara and not in mukhda.
You have mentioned Gulzar’s and Jagjit Singh’s Mirza Ghalib .
The serial had a beautiful Ghalib’s Ghazal with khat.
QASID Ke Aate Aate Khat Ek Aur Likh Rakhu :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kL2-mTNDhP4

7 N Venkataraman June 16, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Akji,
Thanks for another new subject from your luxuriant and fertile mind. Enjoyed reading your superb post. The selection of songs was admirable. As Bhatiaji as already stated,Chanda re mori patiyan le ja was the pick of the lot. True it escaped my notice while posting songs on the theme ‘Romance with the moon’. A beautiful song indeed. Tere khushboo mein base khat main jalaata kaise is another wonderful inclusion.
There are quite a few songs sung by Jagjit sing on this theme. Like Chitthi Na Koi Sandesh from the film Dushman (1998), Lata Mangeshkar has rendered the female version of this song. Pyar ka pehla khat likh ne me waqt to lagta hai is another song (NFS) by Jagjit Singh. But I think they do not fit the bill.

A small correction. Inadvertently, you have mentioned the name of the singer of the song Khat likh de sanwariya ke naam babu as Asha Parekh. Needs correction

Thanks once again

8 AK June 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Dinesh,
Thanks for your compliments.

As for your ‘quibbles’, I accept the omission of Prem Patra – it is surprising it didn’t have a ‘letter’ song. That was one reason for my miss. Phoolon ke rang se – my effort is to first find a good video link. If it is not available, or its audio quality is poor, I prefer to give the audio link.

9 AK June 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Ho ke majboor is an outstanding song. Still better is Main ye sochkar us ke dar se chala tha. We know you would pour out such songs from your Akshay Paatra.

10 AK June 16, 2016 at 5:02 pm

KB,
I am happy that you found the collection enjoyable.

Praveen,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. ‘Letter’ songs are not so common as, say ‘chaand’. It might be difficult to find ten more popular songs.

I would have to again see You Have Got Mail carefully. The essential ingredient I recall is the online chat and setting up a meeting. I have not seen Shop around the corner. Thanks for mentioning it.

11 AK June 16, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Madhu,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

Pat Boone’s song is a perfect romantic ‘letter’-song. Thanks for linking it.

Being a film expert, you could tell me how off I am in treating Mitr My Friend as based on You Have Got Mail. I have to now see Good Old Summertime too.

12 D P Rangan June 16, 2016 at 5:12 pm

AK you are really a genius. On such a common thing as ‘letter’ you have created such an interesting blog with all pithy sayings. You have really excelled yourself as you usually do on anything you lay hands on. Have heard most of the songs and listened to others for the first time.

I can think of only one song before Bhatiaji posts it.

Dakiya dak laya kushi ka paigam laya by Kishore Kumar. Have no idea about the film.

https://youtu.be/u3rOmrDdPz0

13 AK June 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Mumbaikar8,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation and the wonderful Qasid ke aate aate. The entire Ghalib serial was absolutely lyrical. Gulzar once said in an interview that no one knows that a creative work is going to achieve such greatness, बस ये हो गया, and he gave major credit to Jagjit Singh for the serial’s beauty.

14 D P Rangan June 16, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Got another link for the song. It is from the film Palkon Ki Chaon Mein (1977). Music score is by Laxmikant Pyarelal.

https://youtu.be/5_o5QotVYks

15 Siddharth June 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm

AKji,
Lovely post again.
It was great writing and waiting for letters. New technology does not provide that charm, although very useful.

Few more of Ghalib on khat with different dimensions –

Gair Phirta Hai Liye Yoon Tere Khat Ko Ki Agar
Koi Poochhe Ki Ye Kya Hai To Chhupaaye Na Bane

De Ke Khat Munh Dekhta Hai Naama-Bar
Kuchh To Paighaam-E-Zubaani Aur Hai

16 Anu Warrier June 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Technology has made letters redundant. Now we are more connected.

Yet, in a strange way, more isolated as well. There’s no intimacy, as indeed, how can there be, when one doesn’t even really know who one is ‘friends’ with?

Many of the songs on your list were part of my post bemoaning the death of actual letter writing as well. (Shameless plug here: http://anuradhawarrier.blogspot.com/2014/08/my-favourites-letters-in-song.html)

17 AK June 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

DP Rangan,
Thanks a lot for your very generous words. Daakiya daak laya was in my list, but I did not give much thought to the song. Now that I see its video, it perfectly fits with my theme. Thanks for mentioning it.

18 AK June 16, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Siddharth,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. The second couplet of Ghalib is beautiful. Thanks a lot for sharing it. Ghalib seems to have some fascination for letters.

19 AK June 16, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Anu,
I had read your wonderful post on letters and also commented on it. Then I had forgotten about it. Good for me, otherwise I would have been deterred from writing on this theme. Later I revisited it, and I find that though we are dealing with the demise of ‘letters’, our write-up is very different. On technology, it is so useful that while we could possibly do without ‘letters’, we can hardly survive in the modern world without the e-world.

20 N.S.Rajan June 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Good theme and selections. One number that ought to have found a place is ” Humne sanam ko ‘khat’ likha”, by Lata in ‘Shakti’ set to a beautiful tune and orchestral composition by the inimitable R.D.Burman.

21 Anu Warrier June 16, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Then I had forgotten about it.

AK, that happens to me all the time! 🙂 Besides, as Madhu said once, I think themes are fair game.

I agree that our intros are very different. I was just smiling at having common songs in our lists.

I agree that technology is useful. Where I draw the line is that we abuse the social media platforms. Internet anonymity allows much behaviour that wouldn’t have been tolerated in real life.

22 Giri June 16, 2016 at 9:11 pm

AK,
Your writing on the evolution of ‘letters’ to emails, tweets and WhatsApp messages is as interesting as the songs chosen on the topic.
A good post. As usual the regulars contribute to make it more interesting.

23 AK June 16, 2016 at 10:22 pm

Mr Rajan,
Thanks for the appreciation. Humne sanam ko khat likha is a very good song. It was in my shortlist. But I already had ten, and this belonged to well after the Golden Era, therefore, I gave it a miss.

24 AK June 16, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Thank you Mr Giri for the aplreciation.

25 arvindersharma June 17, 2016 at 12:17 am

AK Ji,
Yet another beautiful topic and lovely presentation with some of the best songs
My favorites of these are
Afsana likh rahi hoon
Tera Khat le ke Sanam and
Chanda re mori patiyan le ja
Letter writing is no more in vogue now but we are lucky to have a brush with some writings courtesy music.
Now I shall come up with a few which I feel should have a place here

Mukesh from Teesri Qasam,
Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamar
Chithhiya ho to har koi baanche composed by SJ

https://youtu.be/19jiyu3iPlZQpM

Sun le Bapu ye Paigham
Meri Chithhi tere naam by Suman Kalyanpur from Balak composed by Dattaram

https://youtu.be/arkqMZUiCLc

Bhagwan tujhe main Khat likhta
Par Tera pata maloom nahi sung and composed by Chitragupta from Manchala

https://youtu.be/5kHJgk0PMs0

Will continue with more…

26 AK June 17, 2016 at 4:49 am

Venkataramanji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation and the correction. After revisiting Anu’s blog I realise you were quite a romantic letter-writer. I should have requested you to write on this theme. I am sure you still have to say a lot on this. So whenever you are ready with a sequel you would be most welcome.

27 AK June 17, 2016 at 5:08 am

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamar is a beautiful song. Bhagwan tujhe main khat lights par tera pata nahi maloom is an interesting thought. This is a song of despair at the state of God’s creation. I remember a Habib Painter’s famous qawwali in which there is a similar line about ‘Bhagwan’s pata nahi maaloom’. This is a satire on everything being on sale in this world, and even the God would be sold off, but fortunately they don’t know his address.

हबीब ये दुनिया मंडी है
हर चीज़ यहाँ बिक जाती है
ऐ ख़ुदा बेहतर है कि तू परदे में है
वरना तुझको बेच डालें इनको मिल जाए तू कहीं
मगर ख़ैर तो है कि इनको तेरा पता नहीं मालूम

http://youtu.be/U4wf8PQY3X4

28 N Venkataraman June 17, 2016 at 1:08 pm

AKji,
I too had totally forgotten about this post by Anuji. I used to be more active then than now. Besides SoY I used to visit both Anuji’s as well as Madhuji’s blog. Within two years so many changes have occurred both in the mental and external sphere, life has become more demanding and wearier. SoY is a welcome diversion. Well thank you for jogging my memory back and also thanks for the offer for writing a sequel.

Mumbaikarji has posted one more song QASID Ke Aate Aate Khat Ek Aur Likh Rakhu by Jagjit Singh. Thanks Mumbaikarji for posting the Ghalib Ghazal. As I have mentioned in my comment there are quite a few songs sung by Jagjit sing on this theme. Here is one more “Khat” song by Jagjit Singh.

Woh Khat Ke Purze Udaa Raha Tha by Jagjit Singh, lyrics Gulzar
http://raagtune.com/song/6rksm9o7/Woh_Khat_Ke_Purze_Udaa_Raha_Tha.html

Sajanwa bairi ho gaye hamar, Chithhiya ho to har koi baanche is another nice addition by Arvinderji.

Here is another addition from a Pakistani film.
Jane Tamanna Khat hay tumhara pyar bhara afsana by Ahmad Rushdi, film Chand aur Chandni (1968), lyrics Suroor Barabankvi, music Shahabuddin
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xx6miq_jane-tamanna-khat-hai-tumhara-ahmed-rushdi_music

29 arvindersharma June 17, 2016 at 2:02 pm

AK Ji
Thanks for liking the songs.
The she’r in the qawwali you’ve quoted is very close to the Chitragupta song and very apt as well.
Venkataraman Ji
Thanks for your kind words and I remember a post by you where you came up with a very hilarious personal anecdote of your infatuation (please correct me if I’m wrong). It was followed by AK Ji’s ‘arre bangdu’ in Kishore Kumar style.
I’d greatly enjoyed it.
Now some more of Chithhi songs, old and near vintage.

Chithhiya dard bhari mera kahiyo sandesa by Geeta Dutt from Chakori composed by Hansraj Behi

https://youtu.be/uB48jJlQKBA

Kalam dawaat meri saswa ne rakh Di
Ab to chale Aao balam Chithhi kajre se likhi by Geeta Dutt from Firdaus composed by Robin Bannerjee

https://youtu.be/ORYD1MrhQ8M

Araz hai aapse…
Baalam aayega Chithhi aitwaar ki shaam talak aa jayega by Lata from Kismat Ka Khel composed by SJ

https://youtu.be/MuoLZke-95M

Main hoon akeli sang Na saheli
Chithhiya ri o patiyan ri

https://youtu.be/uB48jJlQKBA

30 AK June 17, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Venkataramanji,
I am happy that in spite of your personal difficulties you have kept up your engagement with SoY. Thanks for the addition of the two songs.

31 AK June 17, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Best of the lot is Geeta Dutt’s Kalam dawat meri saswa ne rakh di, ab to chale aao baalam chitthi kajre se likhi. Beautiful imagery and wonderful folk based tune.

Incidentally, the links of this song and Lata Mangeshkar’s song from Kismat Ka Khel have got interchanged. And the last link is repeat of the first song. Time to realise that mobile phone cannot do the work of a laptop.

32 arvindersharma June 17, 2016 at 8:02 pm

AK Ji
I was hundred percent sure that you would be liking the Firdaus song. It’s a recent find for me as well,
Regarding the repeat of the links and the resultant faux pas, my apologies. It happened because of my hurried posting as I had to leave urgently for a musical meet at a friend’s place, to which lyricist Rajinder Krishan’s son was invited,
And many thanks for your kind advice,
Par hum nahi sudharenge

33 ASHOK M VAISHNAV June 17, 2016 at 10:06 pm

even when one thinks of writing an e-mail, the attention goes off to very pleasing and engaging posts from some of the quite interesting blog site, like SoY.
And then we read and write our comments there insted.

34 ksbhatia June 17, 2016 at 11:17 pm

Arvinder Sharma , N Venkatraman [ji’s] ;
Thanks for the bunch of beautiful additions to the main theme …Romance of Letters . Frankly I was not sure the theme would fetch such number of songs . Let the efforts to dig the gems be continued .

Firdaus song composed by Robin Banerjee is new to me . A request to AKji to keep this MD in focus for inclusion in Forgotten MDs. He has given quite a number of melodies in B grade movies.

Here is a song which shows visuals of a number of romantic letters without uttering chithhi or khat.

Pal pal dil ke paas…….Kishore….Blackmail…..KA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMuRRXCuy-4

I think this song should fit the bill.

35 ksbhatia June 17, 2016 at 11:42 pm

AK ji;
I was recalling [ and wondering ] as to how many of our heroes of the vintage and golden era have played the role of a postman or a post master.
Here are a few :
Dilip kumar……Babul

Amar [Dilip’s father] ……Babul

I S Johar……..Goonj Uthi Shehnai

Rajesh Khanna…….[Film ?]

The readers may add to this listing.

AK ji , Exploring Hollywood side , I have a special liking of the song from ….The postman always ring twice….the movie I saw during I I T’s meet in Dec, 1965 under film festival . Here is YT version…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnejjGjfkdE

36 AK June 18, 2016 at 2:33 am

Ashokji,
The problem with the electronic media is the liberty people take with spelling, punctuation and language. As long as we write proper language we can still replicate the feeling of letters.

37 Neeru June 18, 2016 at 4:04 am

Lovely songs that remind you of a bygone era. There was something special about waiting for letters from friends and family. One of my uncles always carried a pack of return postcards, a small diary of addresses and was always writing letters whenever he had a few minutes.
Now of course all that has changed to emails as you so aptly describe the progression of electronic media. I have a pair of songs to add, the words khat or chithi don’t appear but the letter is very much there. From Babar,
Rafi and Sudha Malhotra penned by Sahir.
http://youtu.be/JSmeq0fqA50 and the reply
http://youtu.be/lwLQfg7_MEM or is it the other way around ? I have not seen the movie.
Sahir again, Ro ro ke tumhen khat likhati hun, aur khud pad kar ro leti hoon, from Dharamputra
http://youtu.be/F6Mvsdh_M2I

38 AK June 18, 2016 at 6:27 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Nice idea about the role of postman. A very cute picturisation of postman (VH Desai) and his assistant (Mumtaz Ali) is in Jhoola (1941). Could it be the first film with post office/postman?

Thanks for the very nice song from The Postman Always Rings Twice.

39 AK June 18, 2016 at 6:35 am

Neeru,
All of us have such family lores of letter-writing. Those days are gone for ever.

Babar‘s pair of songs feature letter very prominently. Deserve to be counted as letter-songs.

A recent song in which ‘letter’ figures very lyrically is Gulzar’s Mera kuchh saaman tumhare paas pada haiAur mere ek khat mein lipati raat padi hai.

40 N Venkataraman June 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm

Arvinderji,
#29
We Geminians wear different masks/hats at different times. I think you were referring to my comments in the article posted by Akji on Mukesh-Anil Biswas sometime in middle of 2014. My comment in the post by Anuji on letters, mentioned by AKji, was also during the same period. There was one more post by Anuji on Ghoda-Gadi songs, which was also posted in 2014, where my comment was on similar jest. May be that was the period of catharsis. Atleast I could provide some entertainment to a few. Thanks Arvinderji for the recall.

I thought there would not be many songs on letters. But you have given Bhatiaji enough reasons for worry. Kalam dawaat meri saswa ne rakh Di was a nice song, enjoyed the lyrics, composition and singing. Araz hai aapse was also good. Thanks for the additions.

41 Ashok Kumar Tyagi June 18, 2016 at 1:02 pm

AK ji.
A LOVELY ARTICLE, studded with beautiful songs.
Thanks.

42 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 18, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Vasantrao Deshpande singing ‘Main patiyaan likh bheji’, a bandish in Maru Bihag:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhMaIdnBrYE

Unfortunately, Veena Sahasrabuddhe’s recording of the same raga which featured the bada khayal ‘Patiya le jaao pranav piya ke paas’ has been yanked off YouTube by HMV on copyright grounds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDGWd_CrpX8

If I am not mistaken, this bada khayal was composed by the late Pt. Balwantrai Bhatt ‘Bhaavrang’, a prolific composer and one of the artiste’s gurus, in honour of his guru, Pt.Omkarnath Thakur, referred to as ‘Pranav Piya’ in the bandish.

43 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Two renditions of the chaiti ‘Patiyaa na bheje o rama’, the first by Kalapini Komkali and the second by Malini Rajurkar:

http://www.anandway.com/article/340/Chaiti-by-Kalapini-Komkali,-Patiya-na-bheje-ho-rama

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQKJBQx-yCA

44 ksbhatia June 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm

N Venkatraman ji;
Include me also as Geminian [ 25th.may 1946] . Being Sikh I wear Turban. One thing for sure , we all are having common interests.

45 Shalan Lal June 18, 2016 at 3:27 pm

AK
I wonder email is counted as a letter or a remnant of the letter and similarly the twitters?
I wonder as well if you have received my email sent on the last Wednesday.
The film “Aah” of RK is not mentioned. It starts with the titles rolling in the format of letters coming out of the decorated box and wonderful confusion of letters and the riot in the post office and many other incidents. The film “Aah” is a king of the romances full of letters.
The film Mahal of the Bombay talkies has sting in the tail in theform of letter towards the end of the film.
The film “Shakuntala” 1943 of V. Shantaram is not mentioned. There is a beautiful song the singer actress Jayshri sings “Kamal Hai Mere Samane” Music by Vasant Desai. Shakuntala uses the leaf of the lotus to write her love letter. She uses the stem of the lotus as a pen.
The letter is mentioned in the original Sanskrit play of Kalidas of fourth century A.D. or perhaps Mr Deshmukh may know exact date of Kalidas. This could be the first letter in Indian culture.
The post is very essence of the romance and “ksbhatia” will have a field to find many songs associated to the letters.
Shalan Lal

46 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Shalan Lal,

V.Shantaram made another film based on the Shakuntala story in the early 60s. It was called ‘Stree’ and starred his 3rd wife, Sandhya,as Shakuntala and himself as Dushyant. In this movie, Shakuntala sang ‘O Nirdayi Preetam’ in Lata’s voice and C. Ramchandra’s tune set largely in Raga Dhani while writing her love letter on a lotus leaf.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB5c7ICzfO8

47 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 19, 2016 at 12:15 am

‘Haay haay ek ladka mujhko khat likhta hai’ from Kachche Dhaage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqbVd5bZVac

Isn’t the guy Moushumi Chatterjee is cavorting with, Ritesh Mukherjee, her husband in real life?

48 AK June 19, 2016 at 12:17 am

Tyagiji,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

49 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 19, 2016 at 12:26 am

The best plug for the efficacy of the pigeon post: ‘Kabootar ja ja ja’ from Maine Pyaar Kiya.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCEov6F32jg

50 AK June 19, 2016 at 12:27 am

Ashwin,
I had been wondering that there should be quite a few bandishes on ‘patiyan’ in classical/semi classical genre. Thanks for posting Vasantrao Deshpande’s piece. It is sad that Veena Sahasrabuddhe’s has been blocked. There must be some audio links available somewhere. I suspect Chanda ri mori patiya le ja might be based on a traditional composition in Durga.

51 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 19, 2016 at 12:30 am

‘Chitthiye’ from Henna:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1XYAylpqE4

52 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 19, 2016 at 12:32 am

AK,

‘Chanda re mori patiyaan le ja’ is in Pahadi and not in Durga.

53 Mahesh June 19, 2016 at 12:47 am

AK ji,
Once again a refreshing change. Many Thanks.
I always love to add something from 40’s and 50’s, but as you have said, it’s difficult to add another dozen to the list.
I have seen (on cassette covers) KL Saigal with a brush pen. Not sure if there is a song.

Has this been posted above.
https://youtu.be/nJrysmaxUOE

Lastly, Mukesh in Pushpanjali

https://youtu.be/HZ7Hexge7jE

54 AK June 19, 2016 at 1:54 am

Shalan Lal,
Whether email/twitter can be counted as ‘letter’ depends on the cotext. Your emails are more than letters. Yes, I have received your mail. But I was waiting to return home from vacation for giving a detailed reply.

Aah is based on emotional mix-up caused by letters. Thanks for mentioning it. A much later film, Saajan with Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt and Madhuri Dixit used a similar theme. Thanks for referring to Kamal hai mere saamne. It is a beautiful song. Ashwin has completed the picture by referring to its later derivative O nirdayi preetam. Now it is obvious there are a large number of ‘letter’ references in films, without the word appearing explicitly in lyrics. My search for song was confined to those in which the word appears in any form.

Kalidas’s dating: Without meaning to preempt Arunji, your date is correct according to the modern (read Western) historiography. But there is a strong lobby of Orientalists (who would be regarded as Right-wing fringe) which assigns greater antiquity to Kalidas, at least by about 500 years. This extends to all names and periods such as Shankarachrya, Aryabhatt, Varahmihir, and of course the epics and puranas. In short, except the main anchor date of 326 BC in Indian history, and post Mughal/British period which are not very amenable to fights of imagination, every name and event can be pushed back hundreds or thousands of years. Therefore, you should not be surprised if a traditional Sanskrit scholar from Banaras ascribes Kalidas to 2nd to 5th century BC.

55 AK June 19, 2016 at 2:16 am

Ashwin,
The raga of Chanda ri mori patiya le ja – I accept what the experts say.

Thanks for the addition of the well-known film songs, and more so for the Chaiti, Patiya na bheje wo Rama. Kalapini Komkali’s rendition takes you back to Pt Kumar Gandharva. It is sad that his son Mukul Shivputra went haywire. His songs on YT show he was a great genius. Any idea if he is in circulation?

56 AK June 19, 2016 at 2:19 am

Mahesh,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. I never took a great liking for Pankaj Udhas’s Chitthi ayi hai. But Mukesh’s Duniya se jaanewale is beautiful. Thanks a lot for adding it even though ‘khat’ appears in the second line.

57 Gaddeswarup June 19, 2016 at 8:29 am

Lots of letters but the song does not mention letter, I think. https://youtu.be/72PA9_pSZuM

58 AK June 19, 2016 at 10:04 am

Gaddeswarupji,
Thanks for mentioning Lunchbox, a lovely film with letters sent through lunch boxes.

59 Shalan Lal June 19, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Ashvin Bhandarkar @43

Thanks very much for reminding the heart tearing song from the film Stree music by C.Ramchandra.

Sadly I missed to see the film. But one thing about Shantaram that he was at right age of being Dushyant and also one or two wives plus going on for a younger woman.

I hope the film was very succesful.

Shalan

60 Shalan Lal June 19, 2016 at 6:24 pm

AK @ 54
Thanks for your reaction. I loved “Aah” very much with its Devdas ending. But later on perhpas fifteen years back RandhirK changed the Devdas ending and made it a comic ending where after the Muksh Tonga Song accident happens and RK and Nargis meet together and get married and the end was Nargis pampering RK with her love.

There are three pop songs I remember in the vocie of Elvis
1) Return to sender
2)Love letters Straight from the heart
3) Oh Mister Postman.

All lovely songs.

Shalan

61 arvindersharma June 20, 2016 at 6:10 pm

AK Ji
The second comment of mine was one in fact I was thinking of as my Aakhiri Khat in this post.
But again I find myself lucky to discover a few quality NFS, and here are the Links
Aaj is Khat me Nayi baat by Rafi composed by Iqbal Hussain and penned by Aish Kanwal

https://youtu.be/DZXnFxbp9Zc

Tumi Chithhi likhe bhule gaye by Manna De composed by Probhash De and penned by Pulak Bandhopadhyaya

https://youtu.be/KZmkoQzo7y8

Chithhi leikhachhi nishi ratri by Runa Laila details not known

https://youtu.be/UlciK7fVQzQ
I will request Venkataram Ji to throw light on the
two Bengali compositions posted above
Have found a few more, of a different variety and will come once more, at least

62 AK June 20, 2016 at 8:14 pm

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Now it transpires there are a large number of ‘letter’ songs outside films. Thanks for posting such nice songs.

63 Rahul Muli June 21, 2016 at 11:18 pm

You missed a gem by Panchamda from Rampur Ka Laxman
“Gum Hai Kisike Pyar mein” It is as good as, if not better than some of the songs included here.

64 AK June 22, 2016 at 9:38 am

Rahul
Very good song. Generally, I do not venture beyond the 60s. This post did have some songs of the later period which were top of recall.

65 ksbhatia June 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

AK ji;
There has been interesting incidence in way back history when messages thru medium, other than the post ,were used to convey the romantic connections . For instance ,
1. letter hidden in flower [kamal] sent thru water channel….I think there was one scene like this in Mughal E Azam …
2. Letter hidden in a flower bouquet
3. Letter / message sent thru bird [ kabooter]
4.Message conveyed thru animal [Deer].
There could be many more ways of communications which can be explored further .

I am posting a song which fits in above catg. @4 .

…..Kehna ek diwaana teri yaad mein…..Rafi, Lata….Laila Majnu…MM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWWvSD0ntbA

66 AK June 23, 2016 at 1:00 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Very true. I have made a brief mention of the elements of nature or animal species being used as carrier of letters.

67 N Venkataraman June 28, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Arvinderji,
This is in response to your comment (#61).
Listened to both the Bengali songs posted by you. Very contrasting lyrics and melody. Tumi Chithi Likhe Bhuley Geley by Manna Dey is a nice song. Mrinal Bandopadhyay was the composer of this song and not Probash Dey, as mentioned by you. Mrinal Bandopadhyay was a well-known composer, lyricist and singer. He was an A-grade classical artist of AIR. Besides Manna De, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and many well-known artists have lent their voice to his tune(s). Probash Chandra Dey was the younger brother of Manna Dey. If my memory serves me right, this song was part of an album recorded by Manna Dey in 1988. There were 8 songs and all the songs were penned by Pulak Bandopadhyay. Provash Chandra Dey scored music for four songs, Mrinal Bandopadyay composed music for two and Ratul Mukhopadhyay scored music for the rest of the two songs.
Pulak Bandopadhyay was a much sought after Bengali lyricist. The song is about the first letter that his sweet heart wrote but forgot to seal the envelope (assume that the letter was lost). Hence he could not know the contents of the letter and only got blamed/ blemished (?) as a result. Thus the lyrics/song goes on.
The other NF song by Runa Laila Chithi leikhachhi nishi raithe, written by Mukul Choudhury and set to music by Alam Khan, was in east Bengal (Bangal) dialect. Both of them and the song were new to me. Nothing noteworthy by way of lyrics or melody. Here it is about the letter the lady-love wrote during night, lighting a lantern, so that she could send it by the morning post, expecting the letter to reach her husband/lover by the next dawn. The lady (most probably residing in a village) laments how he is able to stay alone in the hell (Dhaka city) and at the same time suspects that the slut next door must be adding colour to his life and the lamentations of the lonely lover continues.
I hope I have thrown enough light on the two Bengali compositions than sought for!
Before signing off I would like to add that that the song Aaj is Khat me Nayi baat tume likhta hoon is a melodious song, much superior, both by way of lyrics and melody. I might have heard it before, not sure, sounds familiar. However both the musician and lyricist name were new to me. Thanks for uploading the song.

68 Hans June 29, 2016 at 1:44 am

Very well written post. Though in the matter of songs more research has been done by Sharmaji. He has not only included my favourite from Amar Singh Rathod (chithiya ri or patiya ri), but has also given some new songs and the best of them is the Geeta Dutt song from Firdaus.

I discovered the song ‘sandesh mera paake’ from Veer Ghatotkach (1949) sung by Rafi and Mohan Tara and it has been a favourite since then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjTVsLgyF5E

Another favourite is ‘saat samandar par se’ from Taqdeer by Lata and others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSE02xgZn5E

There have been some films in which incidents relating to a letter defined the story. Dinesh mentioned Prem Patra. This film I like very much. Parveen Chaudhary, whose father is the benefactor of Shashi Kapoor forges a love letter in Shashi’s hand and despatches it to Sadhana. This is the focal point of the story. But, sadly their is no song about the letter.

Another film which comes in this category is Devar. Here Deven Verma is the cousin of Dharmendra and brought up by his father plays the villain. Both of them go to see each other’s bride. Deven Verma likes Sharmila – who was actually childhood mate of Dharmendra – and to get her writes two letter to the parents of both the brides, one against himself and the other against Dharmendra. By this incident, both brides get exchanged. Later there are tragic events in Dharmendra’s life and ultimately he gets to know Deven’s conspiracy. It is in this situation the song ‘baharon ne mera chaman lootkar’ is picturised. Though this song is not about a letter, it immediately follows after Dharmendra comes to know about Deven’s letter and there is indirect reference to the incident in one of the antaras.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MglMFDaHiYo

69 Dinesh K Jain June 29, 2016 at 6:42 am

Hans, my recollection of Prempatra is that there is this love letter which comes in the hands of Sadhana, and she somehow comes to believe that this was written by Shashi Kapoor to her, a fellow medical student. There was a prelude to it in which Sadhana was shown as being firmly against any kind of misbehaviour, and so she takes the letter to the principal complaining against Shashi, and this leads to he being penalised and rusticated (or possibly denied a scholarship for higher studies abroad). Sadhana later feels both contrite and also develops soft feelings for Shashi, who meanwhile goes blind in a lab accident (in London?), and then returns home, and both happen to live in the same house…

70 AK June 29, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Hans,
Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Sandesa mera paake – what a song! It is such songs which I treasure as great discoveries to be highlighted on SoY. Thanks a lot. I am still racking my brains trying to recall a Naushad/Khemchand Prakash composition which seems to have a similar tune.

If we consider theme, there would be a large number of films based on letters, some of which have been mentioned in the main post and the comments.

71 Hans June 30, 2016 at 9:49 pm

Dinesh,
Your recollection is quite correct, except two things. Shashi was a doctor and Sadhana was medical student. Also, after his return he lived with Prem Nath his friend and Sadhana visited him in the name of her cousin (with whom Shashi was engaged), who was not interested in Shashi because she had started liking another person and her family was not interested in marrying her with a blind person.

The film is available on youtube and you can refresh your memory.

72 Hans June 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

AK,
I always think that a lot many highly talented female singers in hfm like Mohan Tara, Sulochana Kadam, Surinder Kaur etc. moved out of the scene due to family committments and we lost a lot of variety. In fact, of all the main female singers it was only Lata who did not have any family constraints.

Regarding theme of letters you are correct. There are a number of films with such a theme.

73 N Venktaraman July 5, 2016 at 9:37 pm

Hansji & Dinesh Ji,
I would like to add that Prem Patra( 1962) and its Bengali Version Sagraika (1956) were based on the story written by Nitai Bhattacharya. Similar to the movie Love Letter (1945), where Alan was writing to Victoria for Rogers, Sagarika was writing the letters for Basanti to Arun. The music for the Bengali version was composed by Robin Chatterjee. Here too there is no song on letter.

Hansji, happy to see you back and thanks for posting the song Baharon ne mera chaman lootkar .

74 Ashwin Bhandarkar July 7, 2016 at 12:26 am

AK,

A belated response to comment #55 – yes, Mukul Shivputra is still in circulation. He has a loyal set of followers/patrons and thanks to their efforts – and if one is lucky to get an invite, for many of these are private mehfils – one gets to listen to him off and on. I have listened to him once – around 6 years back – and I liked his singing. He is supposed to have given a ‘mind blowing’ concert a few months ago in Pune but I did not have an invite, so I could not attend it.

75 AK July 7, 2016 at 12:50 am

Ashwin,
Thanks for the information. Later, I found some YT links of his songs. Terrific voice he has.

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