Every married man encounters this experience quite often – you are all dressed up to go to a wedding, you go out to take out your car. The dear wife should have by then locked the house and come to the driveway. But you wait and wait, yet there is no sign of her. You go in to find out what the matter is. She is crouching on the floor and searching desperately for something under the carpet, cushions, in nooks and crevices. Some tiny attachment, a screw or a latch, which lets the earrings or danglers hold on to the ear, has slipped off. You barely suppress your smile, when she flares up, what is so funny about it, don’t you think you should help me in finding the damn thing? As a dutiful husband you also go down on all the fours to join her in the search.
The jhumkas made in Bareilly were particularly prone to this problem – they would fall off in market places. It happened in the thee 1960s (Asha Bhosle, Mera Saya, 1966, Madan Mohan). It turns out it happened in the 40s too. You have this frothy Jhumka gira re from the film Dekhoji (1947). The lyrics are raw and straight from the soil, and who else but the full throated Shamshad Begum to give expression to the unrestrained joy in this folk song. The only other singer who could do justice to this song was Zohra Ambalawali (recall her Ankhiyan mila ke jiya bharma ke from Rattan). I love the lyrics सैंया ढ़ूढ़े रे नैनों में नैना डाल के – if you have to crouch on the floor to search the jhumka, do not make a long face, do it nainon me naina daal ke.
झुमका गिरा रे झुमका गिरा रे
झुमका गिरा रे बरेली के बाज़ार में
झुमका गिरा रे
सास मेरी रोए ननद मेरी रोए
सैंया रोये रे गले में बैयां डाल के
झुमका गिरा रे
जेठ मेरा ढ़ूंढ़े जेठानी मेरी ढ़ूढ़े
सैंया ढ़ूढ़े रे नैनों में नैना डाल के
झुमका गिरा रे
सैंया मेरा गावे बहन मेरी गावे
सैंया गावे रे गले में बाजा डाल के
झुमका गिरा रे
Jhumka gira re Bareilly ke bazaar mein by Shamshad Begum from Dekhoji (1947), lyrics Wali Saheb, music Tufail Farooqui
I have some friends who share the same passion for old film music. They were delighted to hear the Shamshad Begum version of Jhumka gira re. They are from different academic and professional backgrounds. They gave me different perspectives on the song.
He said that different cities would have different probabilities of defective jhumka pieces depending on the tradition of workmanship there and training facilities for skill upgradation. Now the fact of the jhumka falling in Bareilly does not a priory mean that it is a product of Bareilly. This becomes a question of conditional probability which has to be solved by Bayesian methods of finding the probability of event A, given B, i.e. P(A|B).
He said that falling jhumka is an event of very low probability, but if it happens, the loss is significant. Such an occurrence typically follows Poisson distribution, whose mean is the same as variance. So to arrive at any definitive conclusion we have to study the number of falling jhumkas in a given time across cities on a long time series of data. In the absence of any such data any adverse inference about Bareilly would be mathematically wrong.
This friend of mine had also acquired an MBA degree from a reputed institute. His analysis was that this is a simple case of defects in manufacturing process. The cause of defects has to be segregated into chance causes and assigned causes. The chance causes follow a bell shaped normal distribution. The challenge is to use the tools of statistical quality control, as W Edwards Deming did for Japan, which had equally poor reputation for quality, but soon transformed into a Mecca for high quality with SQC. By shifting the mean towards left and narrowing the standard deviation, you can say with 99.97% confidence level that in a batch size of a million jhumkas, the number of defective pieces would fall within the range 10±1.03.
He said that this song was commissioned by the Ministry of Education for teaching science to school students. No, that beats me! He said, look at the words Jhumka gira re carefully. It is not utha re even though it fits in the meter perfectly. We all know earth’s gravitational pull ensures that the jhumka can only come down and not go up. But what about Newton and apple? There was a problem with garden and apple – Adam and Eve, and the original sin etc. Government did not want the impressionable children to get ideas. So they were looking for a cleaner example. Considering the ubiquitous appeal of film music, they invited proposals from renowned music directors. In an open competition Madan Mohan won in a close finish against Shankar Jaikishan’s Hae gazab kahin tara toota (Asha Bhosle again, Teesri Kasam).
His view was that jhumka is a metaphor for gold whose rise or fall is seen as the most authentic indicator of the state of the economy. So jhumka gira re has to be read as something like ‘Gold falls in Dubai’ or ‘Sensex falls in Dalal Street’ or ‘Nikkei falls in Tokyo’. The country was passing through great turmoil in 1947. The entire productive capacity of the country had been diverted towards British war efforts causing great deprivation to the people. Then why such a peppy foot-tapping tune? He said the British in their last days had become extremely touchy about anything that may remotely be a reflection on their governance. A few years back they had egg on their face when Door hato ae duniyawalo Hindustan hamara hai (Amirbai Karnataki, Kismat, 1943, Anil Biswas) slipped past the British censors. Churchill was so furious that he summoned the then Viceroy Lord Linlithgow to London to give him a severe dressing down. Churchill was not satisfied with his mumbling explanation. He unceremoniously sacked him and sent the no-nonsense Field Marshal Wavell as Viceroy. It was risky to take any chances with the edgy British officials, so the composer camouflaged the sad song (notice the poignant words Saas meri roye nanad meri roye/ Saiyan roye re galey me baiyan daal ke) in a peppy tune. Then why should Madan Mohan do it in 1966? Same reason. Lal Bahdur Shastri died under mysterious circumstances in Tashkent where he had gone for a Kosygin-mediated dialogue with Ayub Khan post Indo-Pak War. The new PM Indira Gandhi was buffeted by the party Syndicate, and it would not be until a few years when she would throw their yoke and emerge into her own. The economy was in poor shape, the fruits of Green Revolutions were still some years away, and India still was on ship to mouth under PL 480. In this scenario Madan Mohan did not want to aggravate the sense of despondency, and composed it as a street dance song by a moll of a gang of dacoits.
This friend of mine has been an upright, hardworking and diligent police officer. He had a stint as SP of Bareilly during those days. He took it upon himself as a mission to solve this riddle. He found out that it was not a chance event but the handiwork of a gang of sharp tricksters, who would snatch away the jhumkas so deftly that the lady would not feel anything. His paper titled, The case of falling jhumkas: Bareilly police model of solving a serial crime without a clue, which he presented at the National Police Academy is now regarded as a classic. Scotland Yard uses it as a generic model to solve heinous serial crimes, and now they have almost got rid of serial crimes such as necktie murders which afflicted them once upon a time (Frenzy, Hitchcock). As a proof of his success, he said, now they sing Gir gaya jhumka girne do (Kishore Kumar Lata Mangeshkar, Jugnu, 1973). They don’t care. They know, firstly it won’t happen, if it happens the Bareilly police would crack the case and restore the jhumka to them.
PS: Recently I happened to pass through Bareilly when I stopped by Ramu halwai’s tea stall. Ramu while making the tea started singing Jhumka gira re Bareilly ke bazaar mein. I was aghast. Had the Bareilly blight surfaced again? I briefly narrated to him my friends’ perspectives. He was flummoxed. He said this is a traditional folk song which they had been singing for generations.
Happy Holi to all!