It is re-union time again! In masala-land, a re-union does not need a reason, but a rhyme (and music) is always welcome. When Madhu posted her Aankhen songs list, Anu also wanted to post about filmi eyes and I am always happy to join a song-n-dance party. So we planned our re-union party, with songs about eyes – Anu decided to bring Nigaahein songs to the party, Madhu opted for Nazar, and I settled on Naina songs.
The first naina (or nain/nayan/nayana) songs that sprang to mind were “Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim” and “Do nainon mein aansoon bhare hain nindiya kaise samaye”. They’re lovely songs but are naina and aansoon a made-for-each-other couple? While eyes and tears are inseparable in the actual eye, doesn’t naina form a poetic pair with anything else? Naturally, an important question like this needs to be answered for the good of humankind. So yours truly embarked on some serious research. After days and days of YouTube and Google searches, I have uncovered several other naina pairings, as well as different categories of naina.
The rainy naina
Also known as aansoon-bhare-nain. This is the most common category of naina, with the largest number of songs. There is always-monsoon-in-the-eye season in these naina. Pros: The weather forecast always predicts rain and is always right. Cons: It never stops raining.
While the best known examples of rainy naina are, of course, Nis din barsat nayan humare, Naina barse rim jhim, and Nainon mein badra chhaye, I wanted something relatively lesser known. It was hard to decide between Suraiyya’s Ro ro haare nain humare and Geeta Dutt’s Naino mein saawan man mein re phagun. Geeta Dutt won, because I thought her voice expressed the deep sadness characteristic of this category way better.
The lyrics set a sombre mood (Rain in the eyes, monsoon in the mood, Momentarily it burns and sets on fire), and yet, the scene is anything but. A visibly cheerful young woman (Geeta Bali) is reciting her latest verses to her equally cheerful sister-in-law (Azra?), while a random man outside the house seems unable to pull himself away from the song. As the song proceeds, the flashback tells it all – it is an entire story in a song and a 6 minute video! The song itself is a haunting lament of lost love and bygone days of happiness, with Geeta Dutt weaving her usual magic.
The magic naina
These naina can bewitch, spin spells and make people do things no normal person would ever do (see example below!). Pros: There is magic in the air. Cons: none really, unless you count a handsome Sunil Dutt as a drawback.
2. Naino waali tere naina jadoo kar gaye (Beti Bete, 1964)
This song sounds like it should have a Presley-ish Shammi shimmying (I apologise for the unintended pun) onscreen when it really is a Sunil Dutt in a chef’s hat. I wonder what the story is? Is he the household chef (is handsome, can cook and sings like Rafi? YUMMY!) romancing the underworld don’s lonely wife? (Aisi kahaani Bollywood mein mushkil hi nahin, na-mumkin hai.) Or maybe he’s been cursed by a witch that unless a princess kisses him in this atrocious hat, he can never be beautiful again?
The storage naina
Yes, really! Aankhen may be the man ka darpan (mirror of the mind), and eyes may be the windows of the soul, but naina can store useful stuff like mirrors and even Krishna himself (Baso more naiyanan mein nandlaal). Pros: Very useful extra storage. Cons: Wouldn’t be easy carting all this stuff around all the time.
3. Nainon mein darpan hai (Aarop, 1974)
While Hindi films are chock-full of romance-in-an-open-topped-car, bicycle romances are few and far between. And this is a really sweet romantic song. The lighthearted back-and-forth between the young lovers (if you can think of Kishore and Lata as “young lovers”!) is a joy to hear. And I love the picturisation – gorgeous greenery, and a romantic couple out for a ride on the family sedan. In fact, the romance looks so perfect that my Bollywood-trained-brain suspects that something really horrible is about to happen.
The kleptomaniac naina
These naina can steal, though they never seem to go for interesting heists, limiting themselves to stealing hearts and minds. Pros: Potential for heists through remote control (looks alone can steal!). Cons: Need burglary training to fully realize their heist potential.
4. Tere nayanon ne chori kiya (Pyar Ki Jeet, 1948)
“Your eyes have stolen my little heart, o stranger.” Corny sentiments and yet, Suraiyya’s lilting voice makes of it a thing of beauty. The movie stars Suraiyya opposite Dev Anand and from the lyrics it sounds as if Suraiyya is serenading Dev. Wouldn’t that be nice to see? I wish I could find a video of this song.
The emotional naina
These naina have “emoshun” and “ddrraama”. Pros: With all that emotion, they could be leads in a masala flick. Cons: Umm… none. Who doesn’t like melodrama?
5. Yeh jhuke jhuke naina (Bharosa, 1963)
A pair of shy eyes – the most prized accessory of the quintissential Bhartiya Naari. And Asha Parekh here is certainly the crème-de-la-crème of Bhartiya naari-hood – from her lowered eyes to her long, wavy tresses and the flowing ghagra-choli. Guru Dutt is certainly convinced that he’s met his happily-ever-after and Asha Parekh seems equally delighted with him. Psst… Asha, the best accessory is a well dressed man, and you should not settle for anything less than a Kapoor!
“Your mischievous eyes say something and go silent… Sometimes they smile through the lashes, sometimes they silently oppress…” Just the sort of thing a smitten Bolly hero would tell his sweetheart? Wrong, this is a woman singing on the radio and our hero seems pretty certain she is singing for him! Or maybe she is just singing on behalf of a smitten guy and I have unnecessarily assigned it a gender-bender meaning?
All he wants is to sip the daaru from these frightened eyes. Well, I always suspected that Biswajit was a weird one, but I wouldn’t have thought that Hemant Kumar would help him in this odd quest. Has Waheeda Rehman slipped them a mickey? Or maybe she has wandered onto the sets of a weird movie and is desperately trying to find an escape route? That might explain why her nayan are so dare dare!
The combative naina
Yes, some naina are even capable of eye-to-eye combat. Pros: They bring dishoom to the table, and when added to the emotional naina, provide a balanced masala diet. Cons: Potential weapons of heart destruction.
8. Kaahe naina ladey is din ke liye (Jhamela, 1953)
Of course, the primary exemplar of this class is Nain lad jayihe to manwa ma, but I decided to go for this lesser known Lata gem which sounds much softer and easier on the ear. She is lamenting the day her eyes fought with the unfaithful one. The unfortunate encounter changed her life, and not for the better. Yes, well, Hindi movies are littered with tales of people brought down by eye-to-eye combat. Our nainon waali heroine should have worn glasses with anti-glare coating – it would have saved her all this heartache.
The wayward naina
The most difficult of all naina to deal with. They just won’t listen to reason, as their possessors find. Pros: Very independent naina, have the potential to do a lot of interesting things. Cons: With independence comes responsibility and these naina are responsible for a lot of romance and heartache.
9. Naina deewane ek nahin maane (Afsar, 1950)
Suraiyya is once again the nainon waali. This time she laments her wayward eyes that won’t listen to her and have been responsible for her losing her brain. I can sympathize with her. A brainless existence would be the pits. But Suraiyya, look on the bright side. You could appreciate Salman Khan films! And we will always appreciate your lovely voice.
The miscellaneous naina
And then there are naina that defy all attempts at classification. And yet, they are delightful and I would not exclude them from this list just because they don’t fit.
10. Nainan mere tumhri ore (non-film album, 1930s/1940s)
I was searching for a vaguely remembered 1940s non-film song (Nayana ghooghat mein na samaye – probably sung by Juthika Roy?) when I rediscovered this beautiful bhajan of hers on Atul’s song blog. It brought back memories of Vividh Bharti’s Bhoole Bisre Geet program. Once a week, they used to air vintage non-film songs, usually from the 1930s and 40s. The program introduced me to the likes of Master Madan, Juthika Ray, and the lovely non-film songs of Pankaj Mullick. I can’t in all honesty say that I truly appreciated these songs back then, but today, they evoke such nostalgia. And grown up me loves the songs, too. In this song, I love how Juthika Roy’s dulcet voice glides over the notes as she plaintively asks God why He has turned away from her. Her eyes are always turned towards Him! If I were God, I wouldn’t be able to resist this appeal.
11. Nain mile chain kahan (Basant Bahar, 1956)
These naina are causing a certain lady to be bechain (restless). Why? Coz she has spied Bharat Bhushan! Hmm… I feel restless when I see Bharat Bhushan, too, but not for the same reason, I suspect. He seems to have had a talent for starring in films with outstanding music (Baiju Bawra, Barsaat Ki Raat, Mirza Ghalib, Shabaab, and Basant Bahar, to name a few) and I’ve always wondered why filmmakers could not pick leading men as skillfully as they picked their music. But I digress… Back to the song. I have a feeling that even if the lyrics were gibberish, as long as Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey sang like this, with just this expression and tune, accompanied by this music, it would still be a lovely song.
12. Do naina tumhare pyaare pyaare (Shrimatiji, 1952)
“A pair of lovely eyes, they are like stars in the sky…” She (Shyama) cannot resist the appeal of the poetic compliment or the magic of that voice. (He may look like Naseer Khan but, hey, he sounds like Hemant Kumar!) Yes, she will readily go home with him. (This being the 1950s, there will presumably be the requisite “saat phere” before, else she will have a horrible life and an early death.) Hemant Kumar and Geeta Dutt could read the telephone book and it would still sound like poetry. So it’s not surprising that when they have lovely music and sweet lyrics to help them along, it turns into such a beautiful song.
13. Yeh naina yeh kaajal yeh zulfen yeh aanchal (Dil Se Mile Dil, 1978)
The naina in this case are part of an ensemble cast – the eyes, the hair, the aanchal, everything adding up to pure poetry. I have tried to analyse just what about this song makes it so appealing to me. Kishore Kumar circa 1970s is not my favorite, the lyrics are rather disjointed and the music is not remarkable. But they all blend rather well to form a simple song that is light and sweet.
These were supposed to be songs for a masala party and I have written up a research article! Some of these songs might work for a party, but most of them won’t. Can you give me a helping hand here? Bring me some party naina songs or help me discover new classes of naina? My research (and the party) is ongoing.