Some perspectives on Jhumka gira re

March 8, 2012

JhumkasEvery 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.

Mathematician 1

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).

Mathematician 2

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.

Mathematician 3

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.

Police Officer

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! Smile

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 harvey March 8, 2012 at 1:48 am

If she wears a jhumka and walks with a thumka, the jhumka is bound to fall.

But not all husbands are caring like you and search for the fallen jhumka nainon me naina daal ke. They say “let it fall”.

Others are nice and bring it, which makes her feel all the more shy

And sometimes it is not found by him but someone else, might not be in Bareilly but under a neem tree

2 arvind March 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

anil,enjoyed the write up.

Ganga Jamuna song ……….dhoondo dhoondo re sajna more kaan ka bala………… it is the ‘job expected of a husband’…….better, one does it…………….

3 AK March 8, 2012 at 9:42 am

Searching the jhumka is not only a duty, it is so romantic doing it nainon mein naina daal ke. The husband would deny himself the pleasure only if the lady also co-operates in letting it go like Hema Malini, because they can do something better.

Letting the yaar bring the jhumka? It may be acceptable now, but back then the society would have been shocked.

If you find someone else’s jhumka, as a good citizen you should report it to the authorities, but Sadhna seems inclined to just keep it for herself.

Losing the bala and having the husband dhoondo it in this situation is still more pleasurable!

4 SD March 8, 2012 at 10:09 am

Absolutely well researched and most appropriate on Holi. Enjoyed thoroughly!
I wonder if similar exercise is warranted after recent UP election by rejected leaders, this time for elusive votes.

5 Ashok Vaishnav March 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

An exhilarating search for the jhumka’s meanings and romances.
“Haarvey”‘s chip-in has added the verve to mystique.

6 dustedoff March 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

What fun! A delightful post (and I especially liked the police officer’s take on the falling of jhumkas in Bareilly. 😉

P.S. @Harvey: A jhumka, I think, is different from a baala – a baala is round, whereas the jhumka (like the flower Sadhana holds in the Parakh song) looks like a mini chandelier.

7 Rajiv Yadav March 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

What a great way to look at Jhumka and beauty of the songs of Jhumka. If it was in today’s TV soaps , the wicked Nanad or Saas will ensure that lost Jhumka was discovered in no time so that there is no scope for naino se naina milane ka.

8 harvey March 9, 2012 at 12:26 am

“If you find someone else’s jhumka, as a good citizen you should report it to the authorities, but Sadhna seems inclined to just keep it for herself.”

But one tends to forgive Sadhana such small things, doesn’t one?

Thanks for your nice words, Ashok!

@ dustedoff: I agree completely with you that jhumka is surely different than baala. Sadhana/Lata does sing about a jhumka found under the neem tree. The flower she is holding in her hand is a Hibiscus flower of the species schizopetalus.
BUT it wasn’t I who suggested the song with the baalaa like chanda ka haala, it was Arvind! 🙂

9 Suja March 9, 2012 at 4:26 am

I had a nice giggle reading your post 🙂 Very enjoyable !

10 dustedoff March 9, 2012 at 11:02 am

@harvey: Oh, sorry about telling you that a baala isn’t a jhumka. As ash would say: “Hamka maafi de diyo“.

Thank you for identifying the flower! I did think it was a hibiscus, but I wasn’t absolutely sure. 🙂

11 AK March 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Thanks. I am happy you enjoyed it.

@harvey, dustedoff
Jhumka or bala, the fun in dhoondhoing is the same. By the way, the bala in Dhoondho dhoondho re sajnaa is actually a combination of a jhumka hanging from a bala!

@Rajiv Yadav
The saas, nanads have become very vicious and they would not stop at anything. Take a typical case Bade Achhe Lagte Hain (SONY 10.30pm). You have this young Mom (step-mom/saas that is), who married a much older industrial tycoon Kapoor with the sole purpose of capturing his empire once he dies, which happens soon after, most probably accelerated by the lady. There is the creepy Mamaji, i.e the Mom’s brother and her vile son Sid (Sidharth), the gang of three conspiring to sow poison in the married life of the stepson Ram Kapoor, who is simple hearted and gullibly worships the evil step-mom. At a joint-family ceremony the step-saas gives away the priceless neckless to bahu Priya, which for generations has ritualistically passed on from saas to bahu. As expected the necklace is ‘lost’, which is recovered from the middle class Sharmas, parents of Priya – in the meanwhile Mom had planted her equally poisonous daughter Nutts (Natasha) in the Sharma household as their bahu, whose sole purpse was to destroy the Sharmas. Priya and her family are shamed, they go to jail. Ram is devastated at this betrayal and becomes a mental wreck, he goes to an asylum. Mom and her gang now rule the Kapoor empire. (This is a real episode with a slight variation).

12 Anand Ahlawat March 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

it is very interesting and colourful songs to me and my ear. listen this songs I back to my college days or my young age i like it ……..

13 Sathya saran March 11, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Loved the economist’s perspective. And the physicist was dead on!

14 Subodh Agrawal March 21, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I read this three days back, and since then I have been trying to come up with something witty enough to go with the post and its comments. I give up. You have raised the bar too high!

The comments on this post have added to its enjoyment. I think the best part of songsofyore is the small and cozy community of music lovers that has developed around it. We don’t know each other except by name (or pseudonym) but our shared interest gives us a feeling of belonging. Thanks for being the nucleus of this lovely community.

15 AK March 21, 2012 at 11:51 pm

I am flattered Subodh! When I wrote this piece I had in mind. I thought you would give some new perspectives.

You are right. The best thing about Songs of Yore is its community of readers who are joined by a common bond, i.e. love for our precious heritage of old film music.

16 Gaby March 24, 2012 at 2:13 am

What is it with Sadhana and jewellery:) In 1961 she finds a jhumka and in 1965 she loses it in Bareilly ki bazaar and then in 1966 gets her baalam to get her the chandrahaar she saw in in her sapna!

Maine dekha tha sapne me ek chandrahaar by Lata Mangeshkar from Gaban (1966), music SJ

17 Samir March 25, 2012 at 10:54 am

Can I add algorithmic spread traders to the list of professions intensely interested in analyzing & profiting from fallen jhumkas ?
As the economist astutely observed that “jhumka gira re has to be read as something like ‘Gold falls in ***”; our spread trader realizes that gold prices have fallen, while silver prices are still at their earlier levels. In other words the spread (difference) between gold & silver prices has decreased. Believing this spread will revert back to usual value, our trader will buy Gold Futures & simultaneously sell Silver Futures. If, as the trader expects, the spread goes back to its usual value (i.e. increases), he/she makes money.
This is critically dependent upon whether the said jhumka is made of gold or silver (I am currently assuming that jhumkas are NOT made of platinum/palladium etc.). If the jhumka was made of silver, then the trading strategy is the exact opposite — Buy Sliver Sell Gold. Hence we need the services of the Bayesian & Probability Distribution mathematicians to estimate whether the “fallen jhumkas” were of gold or silver. Some reasoning under uncertainty type AI scientists would also be helpful.
It would clinch the case if the trader knew which of these songs were sung after “jhumka gira re”, was it

O mere sona re from Teesri manzil


Chandi ki deewar na todi from Vishwas

The first implies the jhumka was made of Gold (so Buy Gold Sell Silver), and the second implies the jhumka was made of silver (so Buy Silver Sell Gold).
However, if any of these songs were sung

Koi sone ka dilwala from Maya

Sona lei ja re from Mera Gaon Mera Desh

Na chhoon sona chaandi from Bobby

it implies that the jhumka could be made of both gold & silver. Hence no spread trading strategy is possible.

LOL at your wonderful review.

18 AK March 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Her jewellery obsession does Sadhna no good. She finds someone else’s jhumka, and instead of doing the right thing by reporting it to the authorities, she greedily keeps it for herself. She loses it in Bareilly, poetic justice! She has restless nights, her sleep disturbed by Freudian dreams of assortment of jewellery items like chandrahaar. Thou shalt not covet a jhumka that doth not belong to thee.

I had taken for granted that jhumkas would be always made of gold. But now that you mention it, there is no reason why they can not be made of silver. Come to think of it, you are better off with silver jhumkas, at least you can sleep in peace. With gold prices what they are, you would have do-gooder youth volunteers keeping you awake with their night-long vigil – जागो सोनेवालो (Wake up you gold-owners, burglars are on the prowl!)

Jago sonewalo from Bhoot Bangla

About trading strategy, I spoke to a friend of mine who is a finance whiz-kid with Goldman Sachs (I do not know whether they have Silverman Sachs too on the Wall Street). He agreed that whether the jhumka is made of gold or silver makes a vital difference on the position you take. But, he proceeded, in either case you have to have a projection of the price, for which the best model is still the Black-Scholes model based on second degree partial differential equations. Before he could write down esoteric equations on paper, I ran away from him.

I am a simple music lover. My genius friends and readers have thoroughly confused me. 🙂

19 Personal Concerns March 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm

This is an amazing post!

It was the first time I got to listen to the Shamshad Begum song!

Thanks a lot for sharing this!

20 Personal Concerns March 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Only today I attended a docu show on Bareilly and the researchers mentioned that there is nothing famous about the Jhumkas of Bareilly. Rather the city is famous for its Soorma and Manjha (the special thread used in kite flying)

21 AK March 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm

@Personal Concerns
Welcome to this site. Once I heard Shmshad Begum version, its tune so gripped me for days that I had difficulty in recalling Asha Bhosle version’s tunes.

It is interesting to know that Bareilly is not famous for jhumkas.

22 Anu Warrier April 8, 2012 at 8:50 am

Nice. Just nice. 🙂 Since harvey has already brought in a ‘new’ song into ‘Songs of yore’ , let me share a song where Madame wants a new haar and a <nau lakha at that!

23 Hans December 27, 2014 at 7:51 pm

My parents went to watch Mera Saaya when it was released without telling us the real reason. But, when they came back they told us the truth. In those times in Haryana, cinema was called ‘khel’ by the old timers. He told us about this ‘jhumka gira re’ song being based on some folk song, the lyrics of which he used to sing from time to time. He told us that this was a very popular folk song and was sung in Haryanvi. I dont know from where it originated, but in my childhood I have heard females singing some Haryanvi folk songs based on the same tune. When I saw this Dekhoji song by Shamshad I remembered my father’s words. Recently I found a song sung by Miss Dulari, who was from Peshawar. I give here the link

Jhumka gira re bareli ke bazar men by Miss Dulari

24 AK December 27, 2014 at 8:17 pm

What a song! It must be earlier than Dekhoji‘s. Thanks a lot. Internet has made of us aware of the inspiration for many songs.

25 Shalan Lal February 19, 2015 at 12:01 pm

This article is very funny in the style of the old English humorists Jerom Ke Jerom famous for his “Three men in a Boat” and the American writer Mark Twain who often used the tool called “Reductio ad absurdum”. Originally it came from Greek mathematics used to prove geometrical and other speculative philosophical theories.

In literature it is a ridiculous palaver built to amuse the readers or listeners. Many political speakers have used it to flatten the opponents. It is full in the present day politics in England. Present day Prime Minister uses it in his weekly bout with his Labour opponent at the weekly Prime Minister’s Question and Answer. In the old time Winston Churchill used it very successfully.

Ludicrousness is the heart of it. Marx Brothers were masters in their films. Baburao Patel of the FilmIndia was the supreme master of the absurdity in his lead articles and Questions and answer column and also elsewhere.

R.K. has used something like that in his films like Shri 420, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Bahti Hai, Mera Naam Joker etc.

In his article AKJi has achieved it very successfully as almost all readers were amused and pleased with it.

But perhaps the writer and the readers might have not read the in-between subtle meaning in between the lines of the song. (Lines are important as Mr. Venkatraman showed in his comments on the “very serious review” of Sangam.). As they all were caught up in the Nonsensicality and the Absurdity of the waterfall of the argument or arguments.

This song has a sexual implicitness. Both the songs mentioned, Jhumka gira re and Dhundo dhundo re saajana have the same subtle teasing eroticism.

26 D P Rangan September 22, 2015 at 2:23 am

Have been reading postings from beginning starting a week back after AK was kind enough to give me the initial link. All along it has been series of discussions on songs from classic period in various dimensions. It is no doubt wonderful and revelling. Beware of THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS. Suddenly like a bolt from the blue this brilliant flash from AK has made deep inroads into all readers and invigorated them into giving full reign to their imagination and caramba what refreshing postings to glean through.

27 AK September 22, 2015 at 7:32 pm

DP Rangan,
Thanks for your appreciation. I am gratified that you are catching up with all the posts so diligently.

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