The ultimate SD Burman: His pure Bengali songs

November 10, 2013

S D BurmanIn the radio era, when the faintest strains of Sun mere bandhu re or O re majhi mere sajan hain us paar fell into my ears from a distant radio, I would be inexorably drawn towards it, as if pulled by a magnet. SD Burman’s either of these two songs would tower over twenty other songs in a one hour programme. These songs were enough to give him an immortal place in film music; but he sang about a dozen more, such as Wahan kaun hai tera, Safal hogi teri aradhana, Doli mein bithai ke kahar etc. Harvey has written an excellent post on his film songs.

In the radio era, one also became aware of his non-film song Dheere se jana bagiyan mein, because Vividh Bharti had a half an hour slot at 2 PM for ghazals and geets of singers like Kamla Jharia, Malika Pukhraj, Jagmohan and Master Madan etc, as also of the well known playback singers, most of whom sang in this related genre. Many of these non-film songs achieved enormous popularity, at times far outstripping film songs. Dheere se jana was one such landmark of SD Burman. In the internet era I became aware of many more of his non-film songs, where he seems to be more exuberant, freed from the constraints of film-music. He was professionally trained in classical music and he was synonymous with folk music of rural Bengal. While his film songs number 15, his Hindi non-film songs are over 25, and range from classical to semi-classical (thumri) to bhajan to folk to romantic geets. I wrote on his Hindi non-film songs a year ago.

Further down the internet era, I stumbled upon the largest treasure trove of SD Burman – his Bengali songs numbering over 130, about 35 of which were adapted in Hindi, mostly by SD Burman himself in different voices – Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey, Geeta Dutt etc for films.   A few were also adapted by other composers.  SD Burman himself sang some of these Hindi adaptations in films as well as non-films. Most of these songs have achieved everlasting popularity, without the listeners becoming aware of their original source. I have also written on his Bengali songs and their Hindi versions.

That still leaves about 95 Bengali songs which to my knowledge have no Hindi versions. Therefore, I term them as pure Bengali songs. It is Bengali folk, which was the soul of his music. This is what he had absorbed in his childhood, and this was his natural habitat. Therefore, naturally it is in these songs that he is at his best. Not only because of their large number, but also because of their stunning beauty, any discussion on his songs is not complete without mentioning his pure Bengali songs.

I had set upon to make this year as SD Burman special, and I have already written a number of posts on him. I conclude the series with what I consider ‘the ultimate SD Burman’ – his pure Bengali songs, as my tribute to the great genius. Here I should tell the readers – if you like SD Burman (is there anyone who does not?), not knowing the language would not reduce your enjoyment of these songs one bit. Nevertheless, I have taken the help of a friend to provide meaning of some these songs.

(As I write this tribute to this great artiste from Bengal, who made Bombay his karmabhoomi, Kolkata is going berserk to pay tribute to an artiste of cricket from Bombay, who is retiring from international cricket.  It transpires that  Sachin Tendulkar’s father was a great fan of SD Burman, and named him after the music maestro.)

1.  Bone phagun mone aagun, lyrics Robi Guha Mazumdar

We saw in an earlier post how KL Saigal sat transfixed when he heard SD Burman sing Ami chhinu eka.  The song which does that to me is Bone phagun mone aagun.  There is a plaintive cry of hopelessness Ki kori aami ki kori (What can I do?) – no one can do it better than SD Burman.  ‘There is spring in the forests, but I am saddened with grief of separation’.   This is one song that illustrates that music transcends the barrier of language.  I am sure everyone who is fond of SD Burman’s songs would be mesmerised by this song.

Ki kori aami ki kori
Bone phagun mone aagun

Paley paley dahe mor bhigi bhigi jiyare
Na gouri haye baachibi
Ki kori aami ki kori
Bone phagun mone aagun

Sajani bol rajani bol
Tumi dere shaje re
Aami baere aami jaar boli
Jaley jaley kaandi ri
Ki kori ami ki kori
Bone phagun mone aagun

Eka phiri ami ghori
Biraha hoe shoteen re
Bone phagun mone aagun

Oh destiny! what to do?
Look at the apathy
There is spring in the forests and
Here my heart cries laden with the burden of grief
My eyes weep with tears
My heart cries in pain
What to do ?
What to do?
The forests dance with spring
And here I am, and here is my mind filled with the grief of separation


2Aankhi duti jhare, lyrics Gauri Prasanna Mazumdar

Ankhi duti jhare mesmerised me so much that I needed an erudite person to translate it for me. Here is its translation done by our Mr N Venkataraman. From its elegant wording, one could imagine how beautiful it would be in Bengali original.

English translation (by N Venkataraman)

Tears flowing from my eyes, I stay awake in solitude.
Like the bird pierced by arrow, my soul bleeds,
I stay awake in solitude.

The withered garland laments; where is thy beloved
To whom I bestowed everything, is she not mine (anymore)?
Alas, I am devastated.
In the veil of laughter, I mask my anguish.
Like the bird pierced by arrow, my soul bleeds,
I stay awake in solitude.

The rustling nascent leaves revive that waning tune,
The beloved who was near, had gone far away,
Yet I beckon her back, to my dream bridal chamber,
Like the bird pierced by arrow, my soul bleeds,
I stay awake in solitude.

My flute has long forgotten its melody
My amour has turned into deep hurt.
The lamp (hope) is extinguished, yet the night (life) still lingers
Like the bird pierced by arrow, my soul bleeds,
I stay awake in solitude.

3.  Tumi ar nei se tumi, lyrics Roby Guha Mazumdar

A time comes when things are not the same between the lovers.  ‘You are not the same anymore’.  Here are beautiful lyrics with their English translation followed by the song in SD Burman’s magical voice.

Tumi aar nei she tumi
Janina janina kano amon hoy
Tumi aar nei she tumi

Tomar chokher pata nachena
Nachena amaro potho cheye
Tomar paaye paaye mol baje na
Baje na amaro sharaa peye
Hashona hashona she hashi modhumoy
Tumi aar nei she tumi

Tomar shapero beni dolena
Dole na hawaro baashi shune
Tomar chokhe bijoli khalena
Khalena meghero gorjona
Gun gun gun gun koro na oshomoy
Gun gun gun
Gun gun gun gun koro na oshomoy
Tumi aar nei she tumi


Oh my love, you are not the same anymore
I don’t know why does this happen
your eyelashes remain still
They don’t move even while you wait for me
And, neither does your anklet respond when it hears me come.
Your laughter my dear is no more the same
You are not the same any longer.

Your plait doesn’t swing
It doesn’t reciprocate to the winds
There is no more sparkle in your eyes,
And it doesn’t respond to the thundering clouds in the sky.
Don’t keep humming unnecessarily
As you are not the same anymore.



4.  Ajo akasher patho bahi, lyrics Gauri Prasanna Mazumdar

Continuing the same mood of Shringaar of separation, the moon has come out in the sky, but the beloved is no longer there and the poet’s heart is crying in agony.  The only person who could have comforted in such a situation is the beloved who is not there.  Who could give expression to this pain better than SD Burman?

Ajo akasher patho bahi chand hoe che
Mor byatha toh dholi chaya deele
Dhaara madhobiro maal molakhani
Shapathero shithi toh gaello chede
Mor byatha toh dhoyi chaya chedhe

Shur jaeona bhule gaeche bhalobasha
Nahi jaani keno mone ja ache
Miloner shei rate chilo shehi paashe
Jodi tor shopno holo ei bhul
Nibhe jaano jete chaye dheere dheere
Mor byatha go dholi chaya tere

Chedhe keno dille ei shyamoloi tollai
Tumi jaano rakho gaecho obaella
Joto tuku kajo ache baki
Nahi jano kotha joto mone ache
Miloner shei rate chilo pashe
E hridoy kende  podhe bhuliya abhiman
Jege acho ogo tumi eshe fero
Mor byatha go chaya teere

Dhara madhobi pran malakhani
Shokoli shitite gaello chedhe
More byatha go dholir chaya teere

Oh my beloved! The moon has appeared in the sky
But I am so very depressed
That you whom I loved with all my might
Don’t forget that verse which I had written for you
My heart is crying with agony
Whom should I call for help!
Nobody, but I remember you my beloved ,
who made promises which were supposed to be broken
Words are indeed sweeping from my hand
Come my love! Come back to me
I say these words with utter grief
Now that you have left me I weep in anguish and at my own fate! 



5.  Ami soite pari, lyrics Roby Guha Mazumdar

In any art form karun rasa (pathos) is the ultimate in perfection.  SD Burman’s voice has the natural ability to convey pain. Here is one more which you would love without knowing a word of Bengali.  He was especially fond of  Jhan jhan payal baaje.  In this song also the word jhan jhan occurs, when his voice sounds like strumming of a string instrument, creating a magical feeling.

Aami shoite pari na bala
Mon nie chinimini shoibo na
Aami shoite pari na bala

Aami toh jenechi jhanjhat ke antar aane jhanjhaa
Aami toh bujhechi
Ei prithibi te neije manush
Mon jaa chai
Mili toh khushi hok
Oh! shoi te pari na bala
Aami shoite pari na bala
Mon nie chinimini shoibo  naa

Aami toh jene chi bondhur pothe melle
Na go kono bondhu
Aami toh bujhechi premer shindhu the jol nai kono bondhu
Tai nege khushi hoe je thaak thaak
Shoite pari na bala
Mon nie chinimini shopibo naa
Aami shoite pari na bala
Mon nie chinimini shoibo na

Oh Destiny !
I have lost to you
At the end I say that I cannot bear any longer
I have faced so many difficulties that it is impossible to count their numbers
I have not found the person of my heart
I have not yet tasted the nectar of friendship
For me love is a barren land
For me affection is a well whose water I have not tasted yet
I cannot bear the tyrannies any longer
And neither will I bear them!



6.  Biroho boro bhalo lage, lyrics Mira Dev Burman (wife of SD Burman)

Being away from the lover is painful but there is a unique ecstasy in that, because in  separation the yearning becomes more intense which bring the two closer.  “Separation from you oh my love feels ecstatic.  Even during this separation, my love for you resides in my heart.  Oh my love I’m in love with this separation from you”.  These beautiful lyrics are written by SD Burman’s wife Mira Dev Burman, an immensely talented person who wrote many songs, some of which she also sang with him.

Disunion with you, oh my love feels ecstatic.
During this separation, my love for you resides in my heart

Your mesmerizing persona has made a special place in my heart.
You take on new beautiful forms, and dance and sing every moment in there.
This separation would turn out to be so sweet, I had never known before
Oh my love I’m in love with this separation from you.

The pain of being away from you,
Has adorned me with a depressing colour (saffron)
But I have hidden my pain with the colour of joy (yellow)
I would not let this pain take over me,
Rather colour myself with the colour of pain

Separation from you oh my love feels ecstatic.
Even during this separation, my love for you resides in my heart
Oh my love I’m in love with this separation from you.



7.  Godhulir chhaya pathe, lyrics Ajoy Bhattacharya

When the sun sets in and it is not yet dark, it is time for the cattle to come back home kicking a dust cloud from their hoofs after them (गो-धूलि).  There are other sounds of birds and animals returning to their roost; the households start their evening chores of lighting lamps and fire in the kitchen.  The in-between time, i.e. godhuli creates a deeply philosophical mood. Can you think of any other singer sing the Song of  Godhuli as only SD Burman can do?


8.  Shyam roop dhariya, lyrics Sailen Roy

One of the Yaksha Prashna put to Yudhishthir was, “What is the greatest wonder?”  Yudhishthir replied that everyone knew that whoever has come to the earth has to go one day, yet everyone wants to live for ever.  Can anything be a bigger wonder than this?  This is a song which expresses a mystical attraction for death.  All the favourite imageries which defined the essence of SD Burman’s music – the river, boatman, flute – are here.   “The boatman who helps me cross the river, plays the flute, hearing which we are enchanted. Let me then walk to the Yamuna of death”.

Death has come in the avatar of Shyam (Krishna)
The bird soul just cannot be restrained
Let me then walk to the Yamuna of death.

The boatman who helps me cross the river,
Plays the flute, hearing which we are enchanted,
Let me then walk to the Yamuna of death.

Let the earthly body and earthly pride remain behind.
Death comes draped in all finery,
The mystic regards the earthly life as shackles on his feet,
He would never trade the priceless gem for a plain piece of glass,
It is the preponderance of the “I” that causes the problems,
Let me walk to the Yamuna of death.

The bird soul just cannot be restrained
The bird soul would without hesitation, discard the bodily dwelling
And given a chance, ascend upwards to the blue heavens,
Having first encountered the blue of the Yamuna of death
It would readily leave the wedding feast, leaving the forlorn groom.


9.  Ghate lagaiyo majhi dingapaan khaiya, lyrics Mira Dev Burman

SD Burman’s fondness for paan was legendary. Mr Arunkumar Deshmukh mentioned in my post on Lata Mangeshkar’s songs by SD Burman that whenever he was happy with her recording he would offer her a meetha paan. Who would know better of his foibles than his wife? Meera Dev Burman writes a light-hearted song, which SD Burman sings in his folksy style.


10.  Megha jhare jaye, lyrics Ajoy Bhattacharya

SD Burman was trained in classical music and could perform before the best.  When the clouds pour, they can bring joy and ecstasy. But they can also instil a mood of quiet reflection and serenity.  SD Burman at his classical best.


Acknowledgement: is a very good source for his songs, which helped me in my selection.  We should thank YT and the uploaders profusely for bringing these gems selflessly in public domain.  I would also like to convey my thanks to Mr HQ Chowdhury (Bangladesh), an authority on SD Burman, with whom I had some useful discussion.

I thank Venkataramanji for the translation of #2, and my friend who has provided the transcript and translation of some other songs.  Since now he is a naturalised resident of a Hindi speaking area for many generations, he also took the help of some other persons.  He did not provide the name of the persons who did it, so I am not able to thank them by name.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashok M Vaishnav November 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm

SDB’s ‘pure’ bengali songs is the only link that only can make the current series on SDB.

I am quite sure SDB fans would wish to whet their thirst of SBD’s tryst with other singers (not yet covered) on SoY.

Having said that, I would first switch over to listening the songs presented here and then join the discussion back.

2 n.venkataraman November 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm

At the outset let me express my appreciation for putting in the extra effort to bring out the essence of each of the songs (further to the translations/transcriptions). The lyrics is as important as the music and it rendition, in all these songs. Thank you for presenting the immortal songs of S D Burman, rendered in his inimitable style, and covering 5 decades of his career.

In the year 1961, due to heart attack, S D Burman did not give music in any Hindi film. However he recorded two Bengali non-film numbers in that year. You have presented both the numbers; Bone phagun mone aagun(#1) and Soite paari na bala(#5). Both the songs are mesmerizing, especially the way in which S D Burman has rendered the song, penned in free verse (#5).

S D Burman recorded the song Aankhi duti jhare(#2) and Ajo akasher patho bahi chand hoe che(#4) in the year 1950 along with 2 more Bengali non-film songs. I have repeatedly listened to the song (#2) during past few days and the lyrics and the rendition still lingers, especially the line Rudhirey Raangano aami, teer bendha pakhi. He brings out, exceptionally, the emotion contained in both the songs. The year 1950 was the turning point in S D Burman’s career.

In 1949, S D Burman was not very happy with his progress in Bombay and he had decided to leave Bombay. But at the persuasion of Ashok Kumar he decided to defer his return to Calcutta, after completing the music for Mashaal, The music and all the songs of Mashal(1950) were super hit. We should be grateful to Ashok Kumar, for forcing S D Burman to reconsider his decision.

Tumi aar nei she tumi(#3), recorded in 1956, is not only S D Burman’s one of the most popular songs, the unique style in which he had rendered this song takes us to a different plane.

Both the songs Biroho boro bhalo lage(#6) and Ghate lagaiyo majhi dingapaan khaiya(#9) were recorded in 1970. The first song (#6) begins with Raag Kafi and then switches to folk. The song (#9) is an excellent representation of Bengal’s folk music.

The remaining three songs Megha jhare jaye (#10), Godhulir chhaya pathe (#7) and Shyam roop dhariya (#8) were recorded in 1939, 1941 and 1944 respectively. Here we find vintage S D Burman, singing during his Calcutta days. In Song #10, S D Burman skillfully modifies Raag Malhar which he had learnt from Pt. Bhismadeb Chattopadhyay. Incidentally, that was the year Pancham was born.

Sachin Dev Burman was proficient in articulation of words in a song and also he knew in which syllable or sound the emphasis should be placed to bring out the magical effect. The song (#7) is a typical example of such presentation.

The year 1944 was also an important year in the life and career of S D Burman. In the year 1944 three Bengali films, for which S D Burman had scored music, were released; Chhadmabeshi, Matir ghar and Pratikar. The song Shyam roop dhariya (#8) was from the film Matir Ghar and the lyrics for the song was penned by Shailen Roy.

Here I would like to mention about two close friends of S D Burman. AjayBhattacharya and Himangshu Dutta. Both of them, like S D Burman, were from Comilla. S D Burman had rendered many songs penned by Ajay Bhattacharya and composed by Himangshu Dutta. Both of them were highly talented. Unfortunately both of them passed away at a very early age, Ajay Bhattacharya at age of 36 in 1943 and Himangshu Dutta at the age of 37 in 1944. The demise of two of his closest friends in succession, and added to it the lack of success in Calcutta might have caused him immense pain. Otherwise he was reluctant to leave Calcutta. I guess, S D Burman might have influenced Shailen Roy to pen the song Shyam roop dhariya for the film Matir Ghar (1944).

There is another song from this film, rendered and composed by S D Burman and penned by Shailen Roy which depicts similar sentiments.

Kaal Saagarey maran dolay

Here is a classical number, Momo mandire elo eke by S D Burman, lyrics Ajay Bhattacharya, composed by Himangshu Dutta, Year 1936

My tributes to Ajay Bhattacharya, Shailen Roy, Gouri Prasanna Majumdar, Rabi Guha Majumdar and Meera Dev Burman, for the excellent lyrics without which the composition could not have taken shape.

Thank you once again Akji for this wonderful post.

3 AK November 10, 2013 at 11:18 pm

Yes, I should clarify that it concludes the current series on SD Burman. There is so much more of him left that I may come back later.

4 mumbaikar8 November 10, 2013 at 11:59 pm

I second Ashokji , we have not yet had enough of SDB.
Regading today’s article, to register it totally I will convert it to mp3 plug it in my ears open my heart and then listen to it.
Will come back hopefully soon!
Thanks to you and SOY members for enriching me.

5 mumbaikar8 November 11, 2013 at 1:57 am

I wish I could edit my remark.
To register such songs I convert them plug my ears close my eyes open my heart and then drown.

6 AK November 11, 2013 at 8:17 am

Venkataramanji, I am happy that my selection and presentation has appealed a connoisseur like you. I should thank you profusely for your valuable additions with regard to each song. I wish SD Burman’s ‘official’ web-site had been less lazy and provided these basic information. They have listed Shyam roop dhariya as a private song. There could be some more errors as a reader Raunak mentioned in an earlier post. I didn’t find any way of contacting them. I hope someone there notices this, as providing the link here must be reflecting there. But one advantage of this error was that I added this beautiful song here. A very interesting feature of this song is that even though it talks about death, the tune is quite fast and peppy.

It is a pure coincidence that I have managed to cover five decades of his career. I had no clue about their period, and I simply selected the songs which held me spellbound. It is so sad to know that Ajoy Bhattacharya and Himangshu Dutta passed away so early, but they have given something immortal to the music lovers. I am feeling gratified that SoY has brought some of these gems to non-Bengali speaking fans. Raunak has also mentioned that he is planning to do a post on Himangshu Dutta-SD Burman.

7 AK November 11, 2013 at 8:22 am

At 1.57AM, SD Burman can have this effect. After you had edited your remarks, I didn’t have a heart to put commas, but we know what you mean. Looking forward to your revisit after you have heard the songs thoroughly.

8 n.venkataraman November 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

While referring to the song Shyam roop dhariya, you have mentioned that a very interesting feature of this song is that even though it talks about death, the tune is quite fast and peppy. I feel this song is an ode celebrating death. Although it is about death, the song did not drive me into a melancholic mood. Earlier in your introduction to this song you too wrote, ‘This is a song which expresses a mystical attraction for death.’ It was a beautiful song and so too the lyrics.
I too agree with Ashokji and Mumbaikar8 that there are more singers who have lent their voice to S D Burman’s compositions. May be this post is the last of this series ‘this’ year. I would request you to write articles on S D Burman’s association with Shamsad Begum, Talat Mehmood, Suraiya and Hemant Kumar, next year.

9 AK November 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm

My first reaction to Shyam roop dhariya was that there appeared to be some discordance between the lyrics and the composition. But I would accept your explanation.

I was conscious of the fact that some more singers are left who had significant association with SD Burman. Now with the readers’ demands, I have to cover them at some time.

I should also mention Momo mandir ele kelo was in my list of top ten for this post, but I realised he had adapted it as Manmohan man mein ho tumhi by Rafi, SD Batish and Suman Kalyanpur in Kaise Kahun (1964). He shows his prowess in the classical. I had mentioned he was on a different plane; I get the same feeling with regard to this song, even as its film adaptation is one of my greatest favourites.

10 Utpalendu Gupta November 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Thank you for the very interesting post on SD Burman’s “pure Bengali songs”. I am grateful for the immense pains taken by those obviously not too familiar with Bengali to locate the lyrics and even get them translated into English for the benefit of non-Bengali audience…

I grew up with SD’s Bengali songs while in school from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties. Those days my favourite Bengali singer was Hemanta Mukherjee who was at the peak of his singing prowess and popularity; yet his 78 rpm discs I could buy for Rs 4.40 apiece (base price 4.00 + 10% sales tax) while SD’s discs cost me Rs 4.95 (price 4.50 + 10%). Although very fond of SD, I didn’t understand why the gramophone companies priced him significantly higher than even Hemanta Mukherjee. Now I do.

Some of the Bengali lyrics appearing in English alphabet in this post are, for understandable reasons, not quite accurate. The song ‘bone phaagun, mone aagun’ I reproduce below in full, with free translation in English:

ki kori, aami ki kori –
bone phaagun,
mone aagun
(what to do, what do I do –
spring in the forest,
fire in my heart

poley poley dohe mor dhiki dhiki hiyaa re
(like ember burns my heart, slowly but surely)
hiyaa jodi hoy chhaai, baanchbo ki niya re
(if my heart becomes ashes, what is left in this life?)
ki kori, aami ki kori –
bone phaagun,
mone aagun.

shojonee go, rojonee go – ene de re chaandere
(o my friend, o the dark night – bring the moon to me)
ongo je ongaar hoye jwole jwole kaande re
(my body, like charcoal, keeps burning and pining
ki kori, aami ki kori –
bone phaagun, ..

ekaakini aami dori birohoy, shoteen re
(all alone, I dread this separation which is my worst enemy)
bondhu binaa rohi jeno jol binaa meen re
(without my beloved, I live like fish out of water)
ki kori, aami ki kori –
bone phaagun,
mone aagun.

Thanks again.

11 AK November 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Utpalendu Gupta,
Thanks a lot for the full transcript and the translation. I was aware these were not accurate. Would you like to fill up the gaps in some others too?

12 Subodh Agrawal November 12, 2013 at 7:55 am

This is amazing! All other posts, even the best ones were in a sense a fresh look at largely familiar territory with the occasional discovery. This explores a new terrain altogether and what a treasure you have uncovered for us! Can’t thank you enough for this.

Savouring each song at leisure. May come back if there is something worth sharing.

13 AK November 12, 2013 at 9:33 am

Thanks a lot. Knowing your fondness for SD Burman and his Bengali songs, I knew it would move you. This has been an amazing discovery for me too, and sharing with connoiseurs was an added incentive.

14 Anu Warrier November 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm

I understand Bengali a little, or perhaps I should say I’m acquainted with it, so it was nice to see the translations to help understand the nuances of the lyrics better. I have just made a playlist of these songs; I’m afraid I cannot add much to this discussion, so I will go away and enjoy the songs at my leisure.

Thank you for this post.

15 Soumya Banerji November 13, 2013 at 5:55 am

AK, Your series on SDB has been a revelation. I, being a Bengali, am familiar with all the songs here. But I was not aware of many of the little details concerning these songs. Thanks to you and all your knowledgeable visitors.

16 AK November 13, 2013 at 11:20 am

Thank you, Soumya. Appreciation from you means a lot to me.

17 Canasya November 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

AKji, what a wonderful way to finish off the first installment of SDB and his muses! We will take a rain cheque on your promise for more at another moment of your choosing.

After the erudite commentaries by N Venkataraman ji, Utpalendu Gupta ji, and others, there is scarcely anything that I can add. Let me just mention one of his songs that I had always liked very much for its ‘hummability’ – SDBs songs, despite their universal mesmerizing appeal, are not the easiest to hum for non-Bongs. But the song, ‘Jhilmil jhilmil jhiler jole’ by Mohini Chowdhury, has simpler words — many of them (such as jhilmil jhilmil/ jhirjhir jhirjhir/ kalkal kalkal) reduplicative and onomatopoeic — that make the lyric as charming and musical as a lullaby. And SDB’s smooth, undulating rendition — in contrast to his usual relatively large variations in pitch — recreates the inviting limpidity of a cool, calm, placid lake.

18 AK November 13, 2013 at 4:38 pm

With the readers’ demands, I have no option but to treat this as the last of the ‘first instalment’. Venkataramanji has also narrowed the window that I have to do it next year! But let me tell you it has been absolutely delightful, more so because there are so many rasiks to enjoy it with me.

Jhilmil jhilmil jheeler jole is also one of my top favourites. You have given me a new insight to appreciate it because of onomatopoeic words. Immediately, Ghan ghamand ghan garjat ghora came to mind.

19 mumbaikar8 November 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

SDB is sublime in Bengali.
Thanks for giving us this experience.
Even though I could follow may be 10% of it, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I found song # 5 very different from all his songs, more than pathos I found it impish I wonder why?
Song # 3 gave me feeling, of having heard it before,
after a long struggle got a breakthrugh.
This song from Paying guest is very much similar.
Have a listen, is it similar or its just my dimagi khalal?

20 AK November 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I went over #5 again. The reason could be while his voice and the sarangi create a sense of pathos, the tabla beats might create a contrary impression.

Oh, #3 Mukhadaa absolutely. But he changes the antaraa entirely. Yet it belongs to my earlier category of the songs he adapted in Hindi. Geeta Dutt’s song was new to me. Thanks a lot.

21 Utpalendu Gupta November 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm

mumbaikar8 has rightly noticed the jestful twinkle-in-the-eye “pathos” of song #5.

The fist antaraa runs thus:
aami to jenechhi jhanjhaate prem antare aane jhanjhaa
(I now know that love is messy and blitzes the heart like a storm)
aami to bujhechhi prithibite nei dibaa-nishi chaay mon jaa
(I now realise the world does not have what my heart longs for day and night)
taai niye khushi hoye je thaake thaak – oh ho ..
(whoever may be happy with that [not me !] )

The word “jhanjhaate” (troublesome, messy) is akin to the Hindi word “laphdaa” (a noun, whereas jhanjhaate is an adjective). It is light-hearted and colloquial, hardly the stuff of serious poetry. So is the exclamation”oh ho” equally un-poetry-like.

The unmistakable suggestion is that the pain of unrequited love the lover is talking of exists only in her fertile imagination; in reality she is happily in love. Her mocking dismissal of love being the route to misery is only a pretence, as if the love she feels isn’t enough and there is always room for much more.

SD captures the mood superbly both in the tune and in his rendition, with a voice that evokes “pathos” while the lilt of the tune and the accompanying tabla merrily betray the inner playfulness. The performance is so flawless that even a (presumably) non-Bengali mumbaikar8 couldn’t miss the duality inherent in the song. I must appreciate mumbaikar8’s keen sense of perception.

A note to Mr Vankataraman’s excellent commentary on November 12: The “mukh” of song #5 is indeed in free verse; in both the antaraas, however, the lines rhyme.

22 AK November 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Utpalendu Gupta,
Thanks a lot for the excellent explanation which so much enhances our understanding of the song. I was so charmed by the sound of jhan jhan sounding like the strumming of a string instrument that even jhanjhat sounded very musical to me. I am also a big admirer of Mumbaikar8 for all the things she has added on SoY. Mr Venkataraman is, of course, a pro.

23 mumbaikar8 November 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Utpalendu Gupta,
Thanks for the explanation and the appreciation.
All credits to the master SBD, for conveying different emotions so distinctly to a non Bengali like me.

24 Jignesh Kotadia January 4, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Today’s His 20th death anniversary….2 decades passed so quickly. It’s still very fresh in my memory when ‘1942 a love story’ was rocking on top at ‘Philips top ten’ in 1994 after his demise

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