This beautiful dirge of a song, it amuses me, annoys me, moves me, I love it. It was the mellifluous Sudha Malhotra’s swansong at the ripe old age of 23. If she had hung around, she’d have given the Mangeshkar Family Singers a run for their money. Rumour has it that her scandalous affair with poet and the lyricist of the song Sahir Ludhianvi (who was freshly single and on the rebound from none other Amrita Pritam- boy, did he get around!), came under much heat and forced her into marriage and an early retirement. Sorry, but this is the kind of history, social studies lesson that rocks my world, not, is Padmavati real or not.
Now , maybe because she’s the lyricist’s paramour or more interestingly, the genius composer of the song, Sudha gets two verses in the three verse song, whereas the Big Gun Mukesh gets one measly, weakly written verse in the middle, where unsurprisingly, he manages to sound sullen and defensive and Sudha gets the fiesty last word. I haven’t seen the film ( Didi, 1959) but the unusual ghazal is atypically a dialogue between a woman, Shubha Khote and her absentee lover, Sunil Dutt. While slightly passive-aggressive- tum mujhe bhool bhi jao toh teh haq hai tumko, meri baat aur hai maine toh mohabbat ki hai, she goes on to demand some value for her emotions and confusion. The lover appears in a dream and proceeds to mansplain ( I swear) why love is puny in the face of Jan Kalyan and Seva. A short course in, well, He’s Just Not That Into You. I love the articulate, conversational tone between equals, instead of the usual Chod Gaye Baalam or Chand Phir Nikla, Magar Tum Na Aaye variety of lament.