Kucch aur zamana kehta hai: the freedom to not conform

[I had written this post in Oct 2020. Bollyviewer was going to add her signature screenshots with captions before posting it on this blog. I pondered if I should bother with them now. But having always enjoyed her style, I decided to give it a go.]

Azadi, freedom…what thoughts do these words bring to your mind? For me, it brings to mind open fields, blue and sunny skies, laughter, pleasure, feeling of contentment. Azadi can mean different things for different people. For some it could mean a safe roof over their head, for some others the opportunity to gain education and work in a desired field, for yet others it could mean the freedom to love the person of their choice, to live the way they please or even just the chance to frolic around without worry. For a lot of women the world over, and in India, it has meant a lot of these things together. Social conventions and age-old traditions have decreed that girls in India learn from childhood to mold their behavior and suppress their dreams and desires to please others. But how long can you keep telling a chained soul that she is free? Can traditions and social mores prevent the dreamer from dreaming or the rational from questioning? And what can be more beautiful to experience than freedom, once attained?

Keeping with the theme of this blog – I turn to the Masala movie songs to find expression to these thoughts and perhaps some answers. Unfortunately though, Bollywood movies (and thus, songs) tend to promote the maintaining of the status quo more often than challenging societal mores. Perhaps as a reflection of the society they are made in, Bollywood male characters get the freedom to ponder about their lives (e.g. Main zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya, Musafir hun yaron), the freedom to frolic with friends secure in the assumption that their friendships can endure beyond say, marriage (e.g. Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge, Koi kahe kehta rahe), the freedom to wonder about career choices (e.g. Papa kehte hai bada naam karega). Bollywood female characters, on the other hand, when wondering about life are mostly limited to thinking about their or their family’s honour (e.g. Duniya kare sawal to hum kya jawab de), when having fun with friends are limited to dreaming of a good husband coming their way (e.g. Main chali main chali, Mere mehboob mein kya nahin) and when wondering about career choices or celebrating their achievements are limited to running their households (e.g. Mai ghar ki rani hun ji).

But where there are rules there are exceptions too. And there are a few songs from Bollywood movies that beautifully express the thoughts of a woman’s mind while pondering life dilemmas or decision making, or bring to life the hopes and desires, and the joy of freedom, beyond just the waiting for a knight-in-shining-armor.

Kucch aur zamana kehta hai (Chhoti Chhoti Baatein, 1965)
Lyrics: Shailendra, Singer: Meena Kapoor

This song is actually the reason this post has come along. I have always liked this song. As a child I would listen to it on the radio and hum along. But even then I thought of it as an anomaly. This woman wasn’t singing for her love, she didn’t seem sad or happy, in fact she seemed a bit rebellious – that would mean that she is a “bad” woman, right? It took me years to appreciate the lyrics and even longer to appreciate how rare it was to hear a female voice, in mainstream cinema, questioning and commenting on society. This song beautifully expresses the dilemma of a young woman, who is realizing that the expectations society have from her is not what her heart actually desires. Rather than blindly following on with traditions, she is wondering which path she should take.

Kuchh aur zamana kehta hai,
Kuchh aur hai zid mere dil ki,
Main baat zamane ki maanu,
Ya baat sunu apne dil ki.

[What the society dictates,
Differs from what my heart insists,
Should the society I obey,
Or should I let my heart lead the way.]

Picture1

Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai (Rajnigandha, 1974)
Lyrics: Yogesh, Singer: Mukesh

Although the song is in a male voice (Mukesh), it is about a woman thinking of whom to choose as her life partner. She thinks she is in love with one and yet she is drawn to another. On the surface it seems a simple, and important, question – what kind of person do I want to share my life with? But this simple freedom is denied to many. Can a woman break away from the inhibitions of social conditioning, etched in her mind, and think of a second man? Yes, of course she can, as this woman is realizing.

Jaanu na, jaanu na, uljhan ye jaanu na,
Suljhaaun kaise kuchh samajh na paaun,
Kisko meet banaau, kiski preet bhulaau!
Kayi baar yu bhi dekha hai
Ye jo man ki seema rekha hai,
Man todne lagta hai,
Anjaani pyaas ke pichhe, anjaani aas ke pichhe,
Man daudne lagta hai

[I don’t know, don’t know, this complication
How do I solve it, I cannot fathom
Whom should I choose my mate,
Whose love should I forget!
Oft has it also been observed
From these constraints in mind,
The mind starts to break away,
Towards unknown yearnings,
Towards unknown hopes,
The mind begins to sway]

Picture2

Pancchi banu udti phirun (Chori Chori, 1956)
Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri, Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

This song embodies the sheer joy of being free. When the mind is free of fears and inhibitions, everything looks beautiful, everything is possible. Play in the streaming waters, play with the spring, sing in the fields, and soar into the sky forging your own path.

Panchhi banun udati phiru mast gagan me
Aaj main azaad hu duniya ke chaman me
O mere jeevan mein chamka savera
O mita dil se woh gham ka andhera
O hare kheton mein gaye koi lehra
O yahan dil pe kisika na pehra…

[I’ll be a bird and soar into the joyous skies
Today I am free in earth’s paradise
O, in my life has sparkled a new morn
O, gone from my heart are shadows of woe
O, come sing in these green pastures
O, here the heart is not under anyone’s guard…]

Picture3

Aaj fir jeene ki tamanna hai (Guide, 1965)
Lyrics: Shailendra, Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

This is the self-realization of a woman who is discovering the freedom to follow her dreams. When your life has been lived as a series of compromises, when your dreams have been stifled to make you fit in with the expectations of society, life can seem like one long, dark night. And then suddenly, if the realization dawns that you can actually fulfil your dreams, then you just might want to die of sheer joy!

Kalke andheron se nikal ke,
Dekha hai aankhein malte malte,
Ho! phool hi phool, zindagi bahaar hai,
Tay kar liya aa…
Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai!
Aaj phir marne ka irada hai!

[Emerging from the darkness of my yesterdays,
I have observed rubbing the sleep from my eyes,
Hey! blossoms all around, life is spring,
I have decided…
Today I desire to live again!
Today I plan to die again!]

Picture4

Saat rango se dostana hua to yun hua (Dear Maya, 2017)
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil, Singer: Rekha Bhardwaj

This is a newer song and a favorite of mine these days. Like Aaj fir jeene ki tamanna hai, this melodious song also expresses the awakening of the realization in a woman of how beautiful and full of color life can be. But unlike the first, which is an expression of pure joy, this song is an expression of slow determination. And the realization that yes, life is beautiful but to embrace it and fully live it, you first need to embrace yourself.

Saat rango se, dostana hua to yun hua,
Maine bola zindagi,
Aaja khelenge phir khwabo ka, nighao se jua
Dhoop ko churaungi, chupaungi vaha, ho
Ik naya savera hai, chhupa hua jahan,
Dheere, dheere, savere ko jeeti jaungi,
Bheege, bheege, ujalo ko, peeti jaungi,
Maine khud ko aaj keh diya hai…haan!

[Seven colors have I befriended such,
That I called out to life,
Come let’s play a gamble of dreams with the eyes,
I will steal the sunlight, and hide it there,
Where a new morn is hiding,
Slowly, steadily, I will keep living the morning,
The dewy, moist, sunlights, I will keep drinking,
Today, I have said yes! to myself.]

Picture5

Love you zindagi (Dear Zindagi, 2016)
Lyrics: Kausar Munir, Singer: Jasleen Kaur Royal

Another assertion of the willingness to live and embrace life with its ups and downs. It is alright to let go at times and drift along with the events happening around you but do not stop yourself from setting off on unknown paths if the mood takes you or be afraid of suffering pain because of mistakes you might make. The fear of pain should not make you forgo the pleasure of laughter.

Love you zindagi, Love me zindagi
Kabhi hath pakad ke tu mera chal de, chal de
Kabhi hath chuda ke main tera, chal doon, chal doon
Main thodi si moody hoon
Tu thodi si tedhi hai
Kya khoob ye jodi hai
Teri meri…
Aane do aane do
Dil mein aa jaane do
Keh do muskurahat ko Hi, hi, hi, hi
Jaane do, jaane do
Dil se chale jaane do
Kehdo ghabrahat ko Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye-bye

[Love you life, love me life
At time you can hold my hand and lead the way
At times I will let go off your hand and walk on
I am somewhat moody,
You are somewhat twisted,
What a pair that is,
Yours and mine…
Let it come, let it come,
Come into your heart,
Say to the smile,
Hi, hi, hi,
Let it go, let it go,
Let it go from your heart,
Say to fear,
Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye-bye]

Picture6

Dil hai chota sa, choti se asha (Roja, 1992)
Lyrics: P.K. Misra, Singer: Minmini

I was attracted to this song, at first, mainly because of its pleasantly rhythmic music score (by A. R. Rehman). But there is more to it. This song is a beautiful expression of unfettered hopes and dreams of a young girl. One who is unaware of any restrictions or of any difficulties she might have to face in life. And why should it be any other way? Everyone should be free to dream – dreams are the basis on which your new realities are built.

Dil hai chota sa, choti si asha,
Masti bhare man ki, bholi si asha,
Chand taron ko chhune ki asha,
Aasmano mein udne ki asha…

[In this small heart, is a small hope,
In my impish mind, is an innocent hope,
To reach the moon and the stars is my hope,
To fly in the skies is my hope…]

Picture7

BA MA PhD BT BCom BSc (Adhikar, 1954)
Lyrics: Prem Dhawan, Singer: Asha Bhosle

Bollyviewer introduced this song to me. The song itself is not a favorite of mine, but the lyrics are interesting and very relevant to this list. I remember how in the last two years of school everyone had suddenly become serious about their career plans and there were loads of discussions on which study to follow next. For us, science stream students, it had appeared that the choices were limited to engineering or medicine! Now two decades on, settled in a career of choice (neither engineering nor medicine!), I still have the feeling sometimes, what next? Are there other jobs out there that I will really enjoy doing? The women in this song, after completing their education, are pondering different career choices, including the choice of being a home maker (that being a ‘choice’ specially for women!). Every job, as they put it, has its own drawbacks. But they are educated and it is up to them to take up a job of their choice and contribute to society (and nation building as in the song).

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., B.T, B.Com., B.Sc.,
Degree lekar baithe hai sab, karenge kya ab socho ji!

[B.A., M.A., Ph.D., B.T, B.Com., B.Sc.,
We have the degrees, now is the time to think what we will be doing next!]

Picture8

I had loads of fun searching for these songs and writing about them. But I could not reach the magic number of 10 – not that that is a must! But surely there must be more songs that can go on this list? Can you help me find them?

13 thoughts on “Kucch aur zamana kehta hai: the freedom to not conform

  1. What a great list! So many of my favourite songs of this theme are here (and a special shout-out to Kuchh aur zamaana kehta hai: I love that one. 🙂 BTW, also a big thank you for doing the screen caps and captioning them – that really brought a smile to my face. Oh, and made me think of Bollyviewer. She must be so proud of you. Hugs.

    Here’s one more song that I love, celebrating the freedom and ambition of women. Hum panchhi mastaane, from Dekh Kabira Roya:

    • Thank you Madhu! For your comment, for the hugs and for the song you’ve recommended. It is such a co-incidence (or is it really?!), that the song you have recommended is also one of the songs Bollyviewer had recommended, when I had discussed my list with her. We had had a long discussion – it’s a lovely song and picturized in just the right way – look in what a carefree manner these two women seem to own the streets of Bombay. But I hadn’t included it in the list because I thought the lyrics suggested that their ambition is finding love “Hum panchhi mastane, Ek hi dhun hai, ek hi manzil, Pyar ke hum deewane”. But perhaps that’s nitpicking!

  2. What a lovely post, bollyspektator. And what great captions! I love the way you linked each caption to the next. I can just visualise bollyviewer sitting up there, grinning her head off, drink in hand, raising a toast to you! ❤️

    Would Aaj main upar, aasmaa.n neeche from Khamoshi fit the theme?

    Aaj main upar aasman neeche
    Aaj main aage zamana hai peechhe
    Tell me o khuda ab main kya karoon
    Chaloon seedhi ke ulti chaloon

    or
    Maine kaha phoolo.n se from Mili?

    mausam mila wo kahin ek din mujh ko
    mausam mila re
    maine kaha ruko khelo mere sang tum
    mausam bhala ruka jo wo ho gayaa gum
    o maine kaha apnon se
    chalo to wo saath mere chal diye
    aur yeh kaha jeewan hai
    bhai mere bhai chalne ke liye

    And since we have crossed over to the modern ear, how about this one? Masakali from Delhi-6?

    The lyrics go: Zara phank jhatak, gai dhool atak/Aur lachak machak ke door bhatak/Ude dagar dagar kasbe kuuchhe nukkad basti mein/Itdi si mud,ada se ud/Kar le puri dil ki tamanna/Hawa se jud, ada se ud/Phurr phurr tu hai heera panna re…

    • Thank you Anu! 😊

      And such interesting recommendations. Yes, I think they all fit the theme. I really like Aaj main upar…it is such a joyous, carefree song. A bit on the lines of Aaj fir jeene ki tammana hai, isn’t it? I haven’t seen the film. Do you know in what context it was sung?

      The song from Mili – that’s a really well known one. But I would never have thought of it in this context! I have it filed in my head as a children’s song. I remember wishing fervently, as a kid, that I had one of those lacy, white “frocks” that the girls are wearing in this song. Somehow my parents never seemed to agree. But indeed, there is some of life’s philosophy hidden in the lyrics of the song.

      And Masakali. This was a new one for me. I have listened to it (and watched the YouTube video) multiple times since you’ve linked it here. The lyrics are apt for the list here. But I doubt if I could have made out the words, had you not written them down. And I get it that the idea of freedom and the imagery of birds flying are intrinsically linked but there are just too many pigeons in this song…And the worst is, I’m not able to make up my mind if I like the song or not! I guess, I have to just go back and research some more.

  3. Aaj mein upar is actually sung just when she’s goes back to singing after having stayed away for so long. I don’t remember the exact details of the scene, however.

    Yes, Maine kaha phoolon se is a song sung to kids, but it does have a lot of Mili’s philosophy
    contained within.

    As for Masakali, it took some time for it to grow on me. So I hear you. 🙂
    But I eventually grew to like it.

  4. Beautifully written post. I so enjoyed reading it. I will definitely revisit it for the unique theme and the lovely song selection! For now, I have two suggestions, but I’m not sure if either of them fit the theme. Still, no harm in trying 🙂

    Suno Gajar Kya Gaaye (Geeta Dutt from Baazi)

    Ga Mere Man Ga (Asha Bhosle from Lajwanti)

    • Good to see you back ritikaghosh96, and thank you for the positive comment and your suggestions.

      Based on just the lyrics, “Suno Gajar Kya Gaye” would fit the theme. It is an uplifting, wake-up call to take action… but the way it is filmed, it feels like the woman is just the messenger and the call is only intended for the male character. “Ga Mere Man Ga” is a melodious song. But (sorry, again a ‘but’!) for me it embodies the typical female martyrdom, of which Hindi films are full of. The kind of sentiment that glorifies suffering and prevents a woman from taking control of her life and changing things.

      I do hope my caveats to the song selection have not put you off and I will see you back with more comments and suggestions! 🙂

      • Hello, your responses have definitely not put me off, they have just made the process of thinking about apt songs, even more challenging and interesting! Both points for my suggested songs make sense to me, and have convinced me to do deeper research. 😉

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