Song: Mohuaye Jomechhe Aaj Mou Go
Album: Pooja Album (1974)
Lyricist: Gauriprasanna Majumdar
Singer: Asha Bhosle
In 1974, Rahul Dev Burman (Pancham) created four lovely songs for his Durga Puja album. The song Mohuaye jomechhe aaj mou go was written by one of the finest song writers of Bengal, Gauriprasanna Majumdar. I consider the song to be one of the finest Bengali songs ever sung by Asha Bhosle. Not only is her rendition perfect, but the tune, the orchestration, the atmosphere created – everything makes the song a winner. Pancham used this tune again in 1975 for the song Liyo na babu in the film Kahte Hain Mujhko Raja. However, the demands of the commercial Hindi film reduced the song to a weak mujara number. Also, Jaipur se nikli gaadi from the film Gurudev (1993) carried parts of the tune but could not create the magic that mohuaye jomechhe created. Pancham’s first takes were indeed the best!
Before I begin writing about the song, here’s what I learned about mahua from different sources on the Net:
The mahua tree is a common Indian tropical tree found in the central and north Indian plains. The mahua flower is edible and is used to make syrup for medicinal purposes. Yet another very important use of the mahua flower is as the raw material for liquor – an essential drink (also called mahua) that the Santhals of Santhal Parganas (Jharkhand and adjoining Birbhum district in West Bengal) and tribals of North Maharashtra consider as part of their cultural heritage. The tribal men and women consume mahua and sing and dance during festivities.
The theme of mahua intoxication (and the derived meaning of intoxication by love) is central to the song, and Pancham makes it clear that he will take the listener for a “spin.” The song starts with a very different use of the flute and immediately casts a spell on the listener – a spell of intoxication, of drunkenness, of a giddy ride. The flute is accompanied by drums and the maracas (?), the rhythm simulating the rustic feel brilliantly. And this great prelude takes us to Asha Bhosle’s starting words:
Mohua-ye jomechhe aaj mou go
Ho, kone-dekha meghe je oi, sona rong legechhe oi
Palki-te cholechhey kaar bou go…
The song tells us a story of love…that of a village girl who seems to be completely “drunk” with love – the intoxication of the mahua helping immensely! But before she sings about her love, she describes her village – most likely a Santhal village – where the mahua tree is now full with mahua flowers and the nectar they carry. She sings of the palki (palanquin) that carries a new bride. The lyrics deserve special mention here: it appears as though the clouds wear gold (sona rong legechhe oi) as they watch the bride (kone-dekha meghe je oi) – the gold reflected from the bride’s face! (Bravo Gouriprasanna Majumdar!) The intoxication is heightened by Asha Bhosle’s rendition of …cholechhe kaar bou go-oo-ooo – the way she makes the last word linger!
Janina to eki amaar aaj holo
Din aar na gune palasher aagune laage rong phagune
Tomake dekhe je aaj, chokhe chokh rekhe je aaj
Moner-i moyur naache chhou go…
The interlude music features the tar shanai and flute, followed by a stringed instrument that simulates the sounds of a similar string played by the Santhals, and carries the Santhal village atmosphere perfectly leading us to the first antara, where she sings, “I know not what has come over me today…” (janina to eki amaar aaj holo). Her rendition and the enveloping flute further enhance the dizzy feeling. She now starts to express her feelings under the influence of the love-mahua! This is the first hint that she is madly in love. She feels that the changing seasons no longer make a difference to her – the flame-red palash blooms and ignites the phagun month – probably it is phagun, the time of love, for her all through the year. Palash is also known as the flame of the forest…here again the song-writer scores a win – the palash flower blooms flame red in the months of February and March, the season of colors. The girl further sings, “Seeing you today (tomake dekhe je aaj, chokhe chokh rekhe je aaj), my heart dances chhau like a peacock (moner-i moyur naache chhou go).” Again, reference is made of the tribal dance chhau. Chhau is not strictly a Santhal dance, but Majumdar takes the liberty to use the musical-sounding “chhou go” to rhyme with the mukhada’s “mou go.” Amazing work.
Janina to eki amaar aaj holo
Koto shur-bahar-ay bhore mon ahaare, daake piu kahare
Keno khushi jaanena keu, prane aaj laage je dheu
Holo mon moyurponkhi nouko…
Again in the second antara, Asha sings, just like in the first antara, “I know not what has come over me today…” (janina to eki amaar aaj holo). Again, she sings about her feelings under the influence of the love-mahua. Lovely tunes fill the air as well as her heart (koto shur-bahar-ay bhore mon ahaare), and the little bird calls out to her love (daake piu kahare). No one seems to know the reason for the ecstasy, and her heart rides on love waves like a mayurpankhi boat (keno khushi jaanena keu, prane aaj laage je dheu holo mon moyurponkhi nouko)! (Another wonderful use of a metaphor by Majumdar.)
Throughout the song, Pancham tries to be faithful to the instruments and sounds you experience in a Santhal (or tribal) dance. He uses the percussions probably the way the Santhals play the Tumdak and Tamak drums, the flute like the Santhal flute Tirio, and the strings probably like the Phet Banam, which is a fretless four-stringed instrument played by the Santhals. Had there been 5.1 channel sound in the mid-1970s, Pancham might have created a surround effect (for the flute) using the technology. However, even with stereo his attempt works…the listener feels taken in by the flute, which immediately creates a feeling of being under an influence. Pancham uses the tar shanai brilliantly for simulating the village environment, something that he also did exceptionally in the title score of Sholay.
Truly, this Pancham-Asha-Majumdar mahua makes me forget myself every time I experience it!