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Updated: Aug 9, 2022

If you had to pick one thing that lifts your mood instantly or gives you a vibe that you have been missing for a while, what would it be?

For some, it’s a book; for others, sweets and pastries; a good walk or work-out for the real enthusiasts, and music with a big M, for me.

I remember a time when as a young girl, I would urge my parents to buy booklets with the lyrics of Hindi film songs transcribed in Malayalam. That is how I got more familiar with the Hindi songs I heard on Vividhbharati and learned to croon a bit, in those years. I sang without knowing what the songs really meant, picking up only the words (I could speak Hindi) and never grasping the meaning or the beauty of the lines.

“O saathi re…tere binabi kya jeena…” I never asked what ‘binabi’ meant. Just sang what was printed in the booklet. ‘Pal pal me yeh kya o gaya…o mey gayi…o mann gaya…’ ‘Dil to hi dil, dil ka ek baar kya keeje…’

There were discrepancies galore in the lyrics.

I didn’t know that it wasn’t ‘pal pal mey yeh’ and ‘dil ka ek baar’ but ‘Pal BHAR mey yeh..’ and ‘dil ka AITBAAR’. The dummies who had prepared the book hadn’t cared either. They must have transliterated as they heard them.

It was long after that, when I started to know life, write poems and began to recognize the literary mores that went into writing that I started following the songs for the meaning they conveyed as much for the melodic suppleness they provided to my soul.

From giving me deep insights about life and its vagaries to taking me to the intoxicating realms of love and its romantic and spiritual manifestations to creating phenomenal imagery of nature, the words in a song have been a means of great comfort and contemplation for me - in times of joy, despair and the smudgy spaces in between. There is great solace and sublimity in the poetry of our film songs and the colorful tapestry they create in our hearts.

‘Jeene ka bahana koi nahi, marne ka bahana doondhta hai..’ (Mausam)

‘Pyar ko pyar hi rehane do, aur koi naam na do..’ (Khamoshi)

‘Mey zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya’ (Hum Dono)

‘Atmavil mutti vilichathu pole…’ (Aarnayakam)

‘Arriyathe…arriyathe…ennile ennil nee..’ (Oru katha, oru nuna katha)

and scores of other songs that have moved and swept me off.

What could have inspired the lyricists to think in such glorious ways, I wondered. What could have made them pen lines that combined with a scintillating tune stirred our soul at its core? Why do some lines make me stop in my tracks with their stunning profundity? I wanted to explore the beauty, pathos and subtleties of poetry in Indian Film music.

With this objective, I began to listen to one song from my list of favourites every day before going to sleep, diving deep into its lyrics and soaking in its fervour and flavour. The more I listened to them intently, the more I wanted to write about them so that their essence circulated in my veins and became a part of me.

And of course, what use is my writing if it can’t be shared for the greater good and pleasure of people?

Coming soon – KHAYAAL – random thoughts (a blog) based on the lyrics of some of my favourite film songs in Hindi and Malayalam. Stay tuned.

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