Ghazals: My List of Favs – Part 1

When I first thought of writing something about my favorite ghazals from the movies, the question that struck me was whether I indeed knew what a Ghazal was! If you are like me (which I find highly unprobable! I am yet to meet a person with a brain the size of a de-hydrated pea!), you’d assume that every song that is sung with a croaking voice that laments, or a crooning voice that sighs at the lover’s sight is a ghazal, or better still – any song sung by the ghazal maestros such as Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhaas, Ghulam Ali, Abida Parveen,  Talat Aziz, et al would be a ghazal. As it is clearly evident, I am rather qualified to be an extra-terrestrial in a planet of MENSAns! And many would be interested to study my lack of things! 😛

Not withstanding the absence of nitties-gritties, I did the one thing am supremely good at – researching by surfing through the web! So if your jaws drop at the sheer brilliance of knowledge that flows from here on, rest assured you can be sure that it has its origins from the Cloud! For posterity, I shall even quote the sources, so if anything is not right, you know who to beat up, and for the accolades, I shall be plissed to accept chocolates and electronics! Muchas Muchas thunk you!

So coming back to the question of what qualifies a song as a ghazal…. before I get into it, if you are one of those weak hearted blokes (or blokees) who would faint the moment they realized that a lot of what they thought about ghazals was complete balderdash… I suggest you skip the below parts and directly move to the songs.  It was a surprise for me that nearly 90% of the songs I thought were Ghazals didn’t qualify to be one!!!!!!!!! (OK! so it wasn’t such a big surprise for you! But I still stand by the number of !s)

  • A Ghazal is a form of poetry that comprises of a set of couplets.
  • Each of the couplets are in themselves rather independent and can be considered to be Shers. The length of each of these couplets should be the same.
  • The length may be short, medium or long, but whatever it is, they should be the same.
  • The  concluding words on each of the Shers (or couplets) should be the same.
  • The word that comes before the concluding word across the Ghazal should always rhyme.  For example in the 2nd line of the first sher in the ghazal if the word preceding the concluding word is “nazar”, in the subsequent couplet, the word preceding the concluding word (of the 2nd line) can be “agar”, “magar”, “khabar”, “upar”… well you get the idea.
  • The ghazal may or may not contain the pen name of the composer in its conclusion.  The typical example that comes to mind are the compositions of Mirza Ghalib.
  • Also, the first para of the Ghazal must have the concluding word present in both its lines. For example consider the immortal song from Umrao Jaan – “dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye, bas ek baar mera kaha maan lijiye”.

After understanding these bare essentials of Ghazals, I set out on the task of closely observing the songs that I had hitherto classified as Ghazals.  And finally the remote corners of my brain started firing up with new realizations or Nirvaana experiences in Music.  And so, my readers are now gonna bask in this radiance.  Here are some of my favorite ghazal numbers. (Note:  They are in no particular order of preference for me. I just love them all equally in different circumstances and situations. Some of them may not confirm to the rules in the strict sense, but they are still there..because… well… for the simple reason that I love them!! 😛 ). Also for aesthetics I’ve included the youtube links to view some of the songs! Yay!!

Dil Cheez Kya Hai:  I don’t think there can be any other song so deserving of the opening honors.  Umrao Jaan was path breaking for more than one reason, and music was definitely on the top! While Asha Bhonsle provided the voice, Rekha’s captivating eyes provided the visual aplomb that sent hearts racing! Dressed in red, she is art in motion! The composition was by Shahryr and music by Khayyam.  The lyrics revel with tones of mild playfulness and wooing.
Is anjuman mein aapko aana hai baar baar
Deewaaro dar ko gor se pehchaan lijiye
In the video, when Umrao takes her composition to a Maulvi, you can hear the references he makes to the structure (Matla – the beginning of para) and corrects it.  Enjoy maadi 🙂

In aankhon ke masti ke:  Again from Umrao Jaan. This movie had made a mark for itself amongst the Classics of Indian Cinema. Based on a novel by Mirza Ruswa on the life of a girl who is kidnapped and made into a courtesan, Umrao Jaan gave staunch music lovers a lifetime treat.  Even the 2006 rehash pales in front of the brilliance of the original.  Needless to say, no Aish can ever take on Rekha! The myriad expressions she effortlessly brings out in this song is only matched by the lyrical beauty of the composition. The words garnished with chaste Urdu, flowing from the magnificent Asha Bhonsle have left me stumbling to find words that can describe this masterpiece of Cinematic work. Two lines stand apart in this composition for their poetic grandeur:
Ek sirf hum hi mai ko aankhon se pilaate hain
Kehne ko toh duniya mein maikhaane hazaaron hain

Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar:  Mahesh Bhatt is a maverick.  His movies used to stand out for their sheer quality in every aspect – acting, music, direction, screenplay and story.  Alas! these days they still do but for the lack of the same factors.  If there is one thing, history shall absolve him for the crap that is being dished out from his production these days, it is for the wonderful movies he gave earlier.  This song is from the unforgettable – Arth.  Jagjit Singh has rendered the voice for the composition by Kaifi Azmi, and music by Jagjit and Chitra Singh.  For those familiar with the story line, this song speaks of the love that one of the characters – Raj Kiran has for the main protagonist female played by Shabana Azmi, who is already married.  The song seeks assurance from the lover that there is atleast some semblance of Love that she feels for him.
teri ummeed pe thukra raha hoon duniya ko
tujhe bhi apne pe ye aitbaar hai ki nahin

Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho:  Watching Shabana fighting to hold back her tears and smile is enough to make any music lover fall for this song.  The depth of expression in this particular song is marvelous and goes to show how simple words can yet have a profound impact. The song is about holding back the emotions and hiding the pain behind the dazzle of a smile. Check out these lines for instance:
Ban jaayenge zeher peete peete
yeh ashq jo peete jaa rahe ho

On a side note it is rather sad that Raj Kiran on who the song has been picturized has been moved to oblivion and living in an asylum suffering from schizophrenia.  I hope life treats him kindly atleast during his last days.  Here’s the video:

Tum ko dekha toh yeh khayaal:  I’ve often marveled at the way Bollywood has integrated many parallels into it simultaneously.  It’s like a pot pourri!  This gem of a song is from the movie “Saath Saath” starring Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval. During the 1980s while the ears were assaulted by poor copies of English numbers and Bappi Lahiri-gone-crazy-music, there were also non-commercial and low budgeted movies such as Saath Saath, Ijaazat, which brought a wave of fresh breeze like music with them.  Saath Saath had amazing compositions in it from Javed Akhtar (ye tera ghar ye mera ghar.. being another one) and music by Kuldeep Singth.

Dil Dhoondta hai phir wohi: Another case in point that substantiates what I said above – the movie is Mausam starring Sanjeev Kumar and Sharmila Tagore.  The song has been sung by Bhupinder and Lata Mangeshkar, composed by the master – Gulzar saab and set to score by Salil Choudhry & Madan Mohan.  Another amazing song from this movie is “Ruke Ruke se kadam” sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar: This ghazal can never go unlisted no matter who would prepare the list. And here it is specially dedicated to Sushma!  I know how crazily she is in love with this song and here’s the video for the song specially for her! the movie is Aitbaar and the song sung by Bhupinder, composed by Farukh Kaiser & Hasan Kamaal, and music by Bappi Lahiri-in-his-sane-mind.

Honton se choolo tum:  There was a time when no Antyakshari would be complete without having sung this song.  The moment the letter “ha” would come, we’d begin to croon this song and soon the chorus of everyone would join.  From the movie, Prem Geet, the song is picturized on Raj Babbar and sung by Jagjit Singh who also composed the music. The ghazal was composed by Indivar.

Tere dar par sanam: Yet another amazing song from the Bhatt clan. Ofcourse cannot say much about the movie.  With the wooden acting of the ever forgettable Rahul Roy, the songs were the only saving grace of this movie and this particular song has remained a haunting tune in my mind.  The song has been sung by Kumar Sanu (one of the few numbers where his nasal singing isn’t really irritating) and music composed by Anu Malik, and the song was written by Qateel Shifayi.

Tum aaye toh aaya mujhe yaad:  Another great movie, great song and great singing dished out by the Bhatt family.  “Zakhm” was one of those rare comebacks that Mahesh Bhatt is famous for.  Again, this song is dedicated to Sushma, she really really really adores this song. Pictured on Pooja bhatt, this song has been sung by Alka Yagnik, composed by Anand Bakshiji and the music by M.M.Kreem.

“ye naina bin kaajal tarse barah mahine baadal barse
suni rab ne meri faryaad gali mein aaj chand nikla”

Hosh waalon ko khabar kya:  Though am not a really great fan of this particular number, it is nevertheless a great ghazal.  The ghazal is from the movie “Sarfarosh” picturized on Aamir Khan and the diva Sonali Bendre.  The ghazal has been sung by Jagjit Singh, composed by Nida Fazli and set to music by Jatin-Lalit duo.

So baccha logs, don’t run away. Yeh toh only trailer hai…. there’s more to come. I wanted to pool in the songs at random but somewhere midway decided to collect a few romantic ghazals and then some of the blues.  Ofcourse, if there are any other suggestions that you feel I’ve unjustifiably left out, pliss to let me know. 🙂

As promised here are the links that shall give you more idea about Ghazals: —–Amazing write up. Short and easy to understand. —– Quintessential. But doesn’t contain much about the structure or the intricacies of composition. —– Very informative and makes a good read.

1 comment

  1. A very comprehensive post on Ghazals. I guess all the ones you have mentioned in the post are in my all time fav list as well. I think that Arth, Gaman and Bazaar have been extremely instrumental in bringing Ghazals to the forefront in Bollywood.

    Loved the post Praveen! Cheers!

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