Sometimes, it’s not only music that makes you feel the music. Sometimes there are rocks that make you hum to yourself a tune so close to your heart. This rock could be a tiny chunk off a huge red rock, or even a pebble on the shores of a roaring sea. Sometimes, it’s just a piece of useless string- that makes you feel the music in it, unsung and personal. Sometimes- just an old and wrecked gramophone; the muted music in it plays just for your ears to hear. Sometimes there is no music around. Yet you feel that it’s all around you. The creaking door, the wailing baby, the hawker on road, the honking cars, raindrops, bronze bells, footsteps, words, silence.

Have you ever got stunned by anything? It may even be something that was ever present in front of your eyes- still you had hardly noticed it. But sometimes, that something conveys everything that it had ever wanted to convey to you, you stay stunned in front of it! Like the photograph of Madhubala. Beauty, innocence, love, pain- everything at once in front of you. You do not know what is there to it. I’ve heard of people talk of great things about the Monalisa painting. May be I’m not intelligent enough to understand the painting. But Madhubala’s photograph- is my personal version of Monalisa!

In the movie’ Howrah Bridge’ (1958), her dreamy entrance to the mellifluous humming of Asha Bhonsle to the spell binding music of O.P. Naiyyar- still sounds haunting! ‘Aaiye Meherbaan’- is still a chartbuster, even after 52 years! As I watch her on screen, serenading Ashok Kumar, I think for a moment- ‘WOW! She was real’!

She is seen dreaming away her love in movie ‘Rajhat’ as she sings ‘Mere sapne mein aana re’. When she sings, we actually get a glimpse of her dream, as we see her visualizing her love in her dreams, and smiling to herself as she does it! We see her thinking of things she plans to do- like posing to be asleep, waiting for her love to wake her up, and we actually see it in her eyes. I get a feeling that she does not need music to convey that to us. Her presence is enough. The song ends with a beautiful tune in the raag ‘Hameer Kalyani’, and she swings in the swing that rhythms with the tune. The Hero stands next to her, admiring the way she swings. And we see her, through his eyes!

Achcha ji main hari chalo’, from movie Kala Pani (1958). How could Dev Anand be angry? Had it been me- well. But seeing her trying to say sorry, you feel like telling off Dev Anand for making her plead so much! But again, like us, we guess he enjoys the way she says sorry!

May be the role was so much like her, that Anarkali became Madhubala. Madly in love, defying the norms, punished for her love, slapped by the one whom she loved- with her health deteriorating through every step she took, it would be right if I say- She gave her life for ‘Mughal-e-Azam’.

When Anarkali sings ‘Mohe panghat pe’, it was not a courtesan singing it, but you see a Gopika in her, singing a song for Krishna- the divinity kept intact. Her expressions of a woman troubled by a naughty boy of Gokul- yet enjoying the troubles and taking pride in the troubles she’s being put through, nevertheless. When she sings the stanza- “…Nainon se Jaadu kiya..” just observe her expressions!

“…Mohabbat hum ne mana, Zindagi barbaad karti hai; Yeh kya kum hain marjaane se duniya, yaad karti hai; Kisi ke ishq mein duniya lutaakar hum bhi dekhenge…”

As Ustaad Bade Ghulaam Ali sings ‘Prem jogan ban ke’ , I only watch the feather grazing lazily over Anarkali’s face, her expressions changing each time her face emerges out of the touch of the feather! Thousands of unsaid and unexpressed things lying there in the depths of her heart. All that she could manage to say to Salim, she tries to say it through her eyes...

May be it was her will to live beyond her life- as she danced to the music of Naushad, Lata singing “Chup na sakega ishq humara, charon taraf hai unka nazara…”

-she was indeed all around, as was the music, as were the words , her life, her beauty, her silence…

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