Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mora gora ang lai le (Bandini)

There's a saying in Hindi "पूत के पाँव पालने में ही दिख जाते हैं", meaning "Even in infancy you can tell what the child will turn out to be". With 'Mora gora rang lai le' as his first song as a lyricist*, a star was born on the horizon of Bollywood music industry - a star that will show others the way for decades to come.

Gulzar (at that time probably 26 or 27 years old) takes firm and assured steps as a first-time lyricist, not falling prey to either over-simplifying or over-complicating his words. The words used in this song are simple enough; the multiple layers, metaphors and complexity noticeable in the his later works not coming into play here.

Though the song is about a woman in love, secretly going out to meet her lover, Gulzar steers clear of the typical choice of words - pyaar, milan, dil etc. In a country besotted with all things fair, he chooses a novel path, making the heroine wish that she was darker, so she could go out to meet her lover in the night undetected (becoming one with the night).

The song turns out to be a winner, with just the right mix of naïveté in the lyrics, sweetness in Lata's voice and innocence in Nutan's expressions - and the formidable backbone of SD Burman's score.

Lyrics, and translation
Mora gora ang lai le, mohe shyaam rang dai de
Chhup jaungi raat hi mein, mohe pee ka sang dai de
[[Take my fair body away, and give me a dark skin
If it gives me my beloved's company, I am ready to be one with the night.]]

Ek laaj roke paiyaan, ek moh kheenche baiyaan
Jaaun kidhar na jaaun, humka koi batai de
[[While shyness stops me from going ahead; yearning propels me ahead, tugging at my arms
Will someone tell me, whether to go ahead or not?]]

Badari hata ke chanda, chupke se jhaanke chanda
Tohe raahu laage bairi, muskaaye jee jalai ke
[[The moon peeps at me from behind the clouds
May you get eclipsed, o evil moon, for mocking my misery!]]

Kuchh kho diya hai pai ke, kuchh pa liya ganwaayi ke
Kahaan le chala hai manwa, mohe baavari banai ke
[[I have lost something in me after finding you, and found something new in myself after losing a part of myself to you.
Where is my heart taking me to, now that I'm already crazy in love?]]

Blog author's comments:
1. My favorite line is "Tohe raahu laage bairi" - it has a very spontaneous and rustic feel to it. (In Hindu mythology, Rahu is an asura that causes solar or lunar eclipse.) The word 'Bairi' has a nice mocking tone as well.
2.* Apparently, there's some controversy regarding the first song written by Gulzar. (As pointed out to me by Raj Shekhar ji), but I'll stay out of it for now. :)


  1. Excellent one, once again, Kanu.
    Never knew this was his first song and what words he chose to describe the anxiety of the girl to meet her lover.
    Love the song for the elements you apty told, music, lyrics, acting and singing!!


  2. thanks Sam :)
    his words were outstanding right from the beginning. thank God he chose to be a poet instead of staying in the mechanics shop he was working at :)

  3. meri jaan..mujhe jaan na kaho........ was this not the first song....... but at any rate....... great writing by you as well

  4. @Sonu:
    No, that movie (Anubhav) came as late as 1971. This was 1963. People say he had some songs in some C-grade movies as early as 1960s.

  5. first song or not but a great song indeed !!
    and once again a lovely post by you
    keep up the god work

  6. Maza aa gaya, ji!!!

  7. Wow. I have heard this song so many times, but I didn't know it was a Gulzar song, let alone that it is his first. If I knew, I would have paid more attention to the words. It is a bit difficult because Nutan is so distractingly beautiful. :) Not one heroine today has her feminine grace and charm. And those twinkling mischievous eyes...

    Oh and great work as always Kanu.

    PS: I hope it is okay to call you Kanu. After having spent so much time on your blog, I feel like we are friends already. :)

    PPS: The first of four Gulzar books I ordered on Flipkart arrived yday - "Kuchh Aur Nazmein". Can't wait to read it.

    1. "Kuchh Aur Nazmein" has many poems in common with Pukhraj :(

    2. Oh. Well never mind. I'll gift it to my sister after reading it once. She is a big Gulzar fan too. :)

  8. ye kahani yanhi khatam nahi hoti hai. film bandani ke sabhi gane us samay ke samrat geetkar shailendra ji ka likha hua tha, par Gulzar ke bas yahi ek geet baanki sabhi geet par bhari pad gaya ttha. aur poot ne apne paon paalne mei dikha diye tthe.


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