Zindagi ke safar mein

Film: Aap Ki Kasam (1974)

Producer and Director: J.Om Prakash

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Singer: Kishore Kumar


Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo maqaam, wo phir nahi aate” is the song of a repentant man who has lost his wife because of his mistrust of her and as a result he has also lost her faith. So has he also lost a friendship…. It is not just the loss of wife or a friend…it is a loss of FAITH − the basic and the most important element of any relationship.


Composing a tune for such a unique situation seems a bit difficult, but for Pancham, well, he has tackled such situations so well that it sounds like a tune composed overnight. He has created this gem with Kishore Kumar and Anand Bakshi for J. Om Prakash’s classic tale of relationships Aap Ki Kasam (1974).


For Pancham it was not just the elements of nature that would inspire him to compose a song − it could be anything. For this tune, I believe he would have gone in to the psyche of the protagonist. Here is a unique situation, in a sense, and he had to capture in his tune the feelings, the sorry state of a repentant man – the various transitions he passes through after his life is devastated. Capturing these emotions as a sound and as a tune must be a tough job, but not for Pancham.


The song begins with the synthesizer and a crescendo of violins as this man boards the train…it  departs (usually from one station to another) from a station but for this repentant man it is leaving to take him nowhere…he travels aimless, directionless…thinking over how and why everything went wrong in his life. This feeling has been depicted through a musical expression.


The entire song is in the background as the man is absolutely speechless, rather wordless, and as if his soul is doing the talking and explaining to him the truth of life, which follows later in the antaras as well.


The opening bars of the song resemble those of “Tujhe jeevan ki dor se baandh liya hai,” a Shankar−Jaikishan number from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Asli Naqli. But the similarity ends there and this song progresses further on its own. The rhythm is rather slow paced, which is totally contradictory to the initial visuals of a fast-running train, or song!


The first interlude music evokes a feeling that is beyond explanation. The train changes tracks but the lonely man’s mind lingers on the same sorrowful thoughts. Feeling this emotion and expressing it musically was a cup of tea for Pancham. As the train enters the tunnel, the effect of vibrations created with the violins and vibraphone is the highlight of this song not because of Pancham’s techno-savvy approach but with this musical expression/sound effects he highlights (as the train enters the tunnel) that the man has entered the dark zone of life and returning to normal seems to be an impossibility.


The man has isolated himself from the world and keeps running away from harsh reality so much so that the sweet and fond memories of the past also sound very loud to him − the temple bells are used so perfectly that it achieves the desired effect. And how beautifully Pancham signifies the good old past with the flute and its progression!


In the third interlude, the time gap between the present and the past is expressed through the violins and tar shehnai. Followed by the use of the santoor that probably shows that no matter whatever happens but life blossoms again and keeps moving ahead. However, even though the world outside has changed drastically, for him time has stopped.


The coda is absent in the song as nowhere in the song Pancham has allowed the orchestra to supersede the flow of emotions. But this absence of coda is compensated by Kishore Kumar in the line “…woh …woh phir nahi aate.” And just feel the beautiful elevation of the word “maqaam” after the third antara. Both these improvisations add to the beauty of the song as though the man wants his beloved wife to return to him…knowing well she won’t…but his heart keeps longing for her return.


This song forms a stepping stone to another song “Main thak gaya hoon mujhe sone do,” which Pancham composed for Jabbar Patel’s Musafir (1984), the film that remains unreleased even today. But the difference between the song situations is that in the latter the protagonist has murdered his wife and is running away from the crime scene but his past does not leave him alone…it keeps following him.


With the whole song and its simple yet meaningful lyrics, the listener relates with the emotions of
the song.


This song, among numerous songs of Pancham, is evidence why the Pancham Era is called “THE GOLDEN ERA.”


Hemant Kulkarni