Monday, December 22, 2014

Seeli Hawa (Libaas)

[Contains spoilers] [Long post]
"Kitne kam logon ko ye baat samajh mein aati hai ki dhun bana lene se hi gaana nahin ban jaata. Tumhare apne lafzon mein, use nourish karna padta hai, uski parvarish karni padti hai. Ghanton aur pahron tak nahin, balki kai dinon tak gaate rahna padta hai. Tab jaakar uski chamak nikalti hai. Tumhari peeth peechhe kaha karta tha, aaj tumhare saamne kah raha hoon - tum jitne bade creative fankaar the, utne hi bade craftsman bhi the."
(Few people understand that creating a tune alone doesn't make a song. In your own words, a song has to be nourished. A few hours won't make it, it has to be sung for days - only then does it really shine. I used to say this behind your back, today I say this to your face - Not only were you a creative artist, you were just as big a craftsman!)
[-Gulzar, about RD Burman]
And thus a song was nourished for days, and allowed to ripen; so that when we reaches us, it lights up not only our brains, but our very hearts. And like a fine wine, it has not only stood the test of time, but gotten better with it. RD Burman, boss, what a musical genius you were indeed! And knowing how you had the perfect tune, not letting it go overboard with instruments, but allowing the mellow voice of Lata Mangeshkar transport us to the neeli nadi and letting us go inside the happy-yet-pained heart of the heroine - brilliant indeed. 

I have wanted to do this song for a long, long time; but was avoiding as I had not watched Libaas. Fact is, I have still not seen the movie, and I'm basing my interpretation of this song on the short-story Seema (also by Gulzar) on which the film is based. (available in a book called "Raavi Paar").

The stage is set thus:
Sudhir (Naseer) and Seema (Shabana) are married - Seema to Sudhir, and Sudhir to the theater. So devoted is Sudhir to his theater that he views Seema first as an actress and then as his wife. ("Seema, theater sirf tumse hi nahin, mujhse bhi jyada important hai.. Hum donon baad me aate hain, aur theater pahle"). Seema ends up finding love in TK (Raj Babbar), Sudhir's happy-go-lucky friend. But is she really in love with TK or just running from the unrelenting demands of Sudhir?

The way I see it, it's the story of Seema as she tries to come to terms with herself and find peace within. Sudhir and TK are just instruments in taking her journey forward. She loves Sudhir, but feels suffocated by his overbearing persona. When she is with him, it feels as if her own identity is fading away. And while TK lets her be, she finds herself thinking of Sudhir more and more. Like a lot of us, she is not absolute. She is still sorting out her confusions and that's what makes her so real

"Ghar mein rahti thi to ghar bore karta tha, theater mein ho to theater bore karta hai.. Hamesha wahaan rahna chahti ho jahaan nahin ho, aur jahaan ho usse kabhi khush nahin ho. You always want to be somewhere else, not where you are... and you don’t even know where you want to be!"
[-Sudhir, about Seema]

Anyway, I was hugely disappointed when I saw in the trailer (posted below), that my favorite song was picturised on Seema and TK. In my mind, I always thought that the song would be picturised while Seems thinks of Sudhir ( + admittedly, I don't much care for Raj Babbar)

So, now that my year-old belief has been turned on its head, I try to interpret this song as well as I can.

Lyrics, and translation:

Seeli hawa chhoo gayi, seela badan chhil gaya
Neeli nadi ke pare, geela sa chaand khil gaya

[[A dampened moon blooms beyond the blue river
At a time like this, even a misty breeze chafes my skin]]

Tumse mili jo zindagi, humne abhi boyi nahin
Tere siwa koi na tha, tere siwa koi nahin

[[I have not shared with anyone the life that you've given me
There was no one but you, there is no one but you]]

Jaane kahan kaise shahar, le ke chala ye dil mujhe
Tere bagair din na jala, tere bagair shab na bujhe

[[Where does this heart of mine takes me to?
Neither a day lights up, nor does a night put itself out without you]]

Jitne bhi tay karte gaye, badhte gaye ye faasle
Meelon se din chhod aaye, saalon si raat le ke chale

[[The closer I try to come, the farther away I feel
Leaving behind days long as miles, I carry with me nights that feel like years]]

[[Kanu's comments: This antara I feel reflects Seema's inner turmoil. The more she's trying to get in touch with herself, the harder it seems. When she was with Sudhir, each day seemed to go on forever under Sudhir's tyranny; but now the nights seem to last forever without him. Earlier she didn't have the peace of mind, now she can't find the peace in her heart.]]


  1. nice read !! loved the interpretations and the background you gave. btw I have Raavi Paar in my office drawer :D .. will read Seema

    my fav lines are "jitne bhi tay..."

  2. all songs of the movie are awesome.
    typical gulzar signature.

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  6. I knew about this blog, but probably never visited. I should have had. This is a treasure trove of Gulzar songs with fantastic notes by you.

    I am not bothered by who it was picturized on as much as I am about how it was picturized. The camera, editing, and direction (Gulzar himself) fail to do justice to the song here. The same is true for all songs of Ijaazat and Masoom, too.


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