Film: Namkeen (1982)
Producer: Jayanti Malkan
Lyricist and director: Gulzar
Singer: Kishore Kumar
I had watched ‘Namkeen’ in college days with friends. The film made us to come out from the theater with a sad impact due to influence in every manner right from the story, direction, acting and music. When listened and watched this song in particular, created a disturbance in my mind considering the story situation, the treatment given to lyrics by the tune, the arrangement and finally, the taking…
A brief about the situation is, A Truck driver comes for some project where he is appointed and finds a place in a small village surrounded by the mountains. He starts staying in an old house which is owned by an old lady and her three unmarried daughters. Within a short time of staying together creates a soft, healthy ‘bonding’ among themselves. After few days, the truck driver gets an order to join the duties suddenly at another destination. He leaves that family in mixed emotions. His unexpected leaving them hurts a lot to those three sisters who are directly-indirectly involved in him. At the same time, the truck driver who also has emotional involvement with one of the sister, begins his journey noting a negative response from her. The situation is so well presented, specially musically through its composition, arrangement and obviously, taking and acting..
The intro-music with a lead of the group Violins and Cello, Reso-Reso, Madal and other rhythm instruments flows to a picturesque feel of starting of a journey of the truck driver through the ‘ghats’ and a long root. Just four notes of Guitar joins to the rhythm with combination of the ‘12-Strings Guitar’ and ‘Santoor’ strokes, catches the mood… The lyrics “raah pe rahete hain, yaadon pe basar karate hain.. khush raho ehele watan ab hum to safar karate hain…” perfectly tuned and the singer’s mellowed voice takes you not only to the journey, but also creates a stamp of the situation and mood and feelings, which the film Writer-Director wish to express. Specially, the notes to words “…ab hum to safar karate hain” emphasizes the character’s emotions of being sadly helpless and sort of his loneliness..
The blending of ultimate Lyrics, Composition, brilliant music-arrangement, voice modulation and expression has resulted in a master piece. Use of variety of instruments (which was always a rating speciality of R D Burman) with a decorating ‘contra-melody’ has added significantly, giving a true justice to so expressive words and the film situation.
As the veteran musician Mr Homi Mullan remembers the recording – usually rhythm arranger Marutirao Keer used to keep rhythm variety in the song, specifically different for ‘mukhda’ and stanza. The same treatment was in his mind for this song too and the rehearsals with Kishore Kumar were also went well. But when R D Burman arrived and he listened to the rehearsal, not only he suggested, but insisted Maruti ji, not to change the rhythm pattern. He was firm to keep only one pattern throughout the song. …and the result obviously sounded perfect, maintaining the constant mood and also the situation impact till the end of the song… (Homi ji played ‘urdu baaya’ in this song alongwith Mr Dubey, another master rhythmist. “The ‘Urdu Baaya’ name was also given by RDB looking at the style of playing the Dholak in a vertical position, like ‘urdu’ script writing starts from the Left”, adds Homi ji).
Another exiting and unimaginable part of the song not many (including me) had realised even after watching the song number of times, relates to the second stanza. When the truck is travelling in the heavy rains, it is surprising to know, the rhythm was deliberately ‘synchronized’ with the truck’s ‘Wiper’ movements… hat’s off to the imagination… ! The example was shared by Gulzar ji himself, during a special appearance in ‘panchammagic’ programme years before, to elaborate the deep involvement in such creations…
“During rehearsals, R D Burman added repeative only Two notes “saa-ma” for the use of a Chorus which also resulted in a different and nice effect. When this was suggested by RDB, the music arrangers were surprised as they felt the notes sounded odd considering the composition. RDB explained the film situation that the truck driver is on his way back to his home, and hence he felt to add those notes of the ‘raga Malkans’ to get the evening effect..” recalled Pt Ulhas Bapat who played Santoor in the song. And truly, though very little but very effective use of that ‘Chorus’ keeps a lingering feel and made a prominent impact.
And finally, Can be said on listening the song every time, from the lyrics itself,
“…raat din raahon pe hum… o sham saher karate hain…”
I am sure everybody who has watched the film and listened to the song deeply, must have experienced a ‘trans’ and disturbance in their mind, like I had… Kudos to the talents behind ‘Namkeen’, Writer-Director-Lyricist GULZAR, Composer R D BURMAN, singer KISHORE KUMAR, music-arrangers BASU-MANOHARI-SAPAN and all Musicians, who has gifted us one of the ultimate creation…. this ‘musical Gem’… !