Abrar Alvi, Ashok Kumar, Bol, Dharti ke Lal, Guide, Gulzar, Guru Dutt, Ijaazat, Ishqiya, Kamal Amrohi, Khuda Ke Liye, Khwaja Abbas, Maachis, Madhubala, Mahal, Maqbool, Meena Kumari, Mughal-e-Azam, Naseeruddin Shah, Omkara, Pakeezah, Pyaasa, Raj Kumar, rekha, Shoaib Mansoor, Tabu, Teesri Manzil, Vijay Anand, Vishal Bharadwaj
The stage was set at the Prithvi Adda, for our 12th monthly Mehfil and we decided to celebrate one year of enlightening discussions on a variety of Urdu themes and topics, with some of the biggest director-writers from the last 6 decades of Indian cinema who have influenced the language, lehja and tehzeeb (form and style) of Urdu in Hindi films. The theme for the evening was to glimpse into the works of 5-6 master Directors who have also written their scripts and how they have influenced the evolution of the Urdu language in Indian cinema.
The evening began with the lilting song “Aayega aayega, aayega aanewala, aayega” (he who has to come will come, will come, will come) from the Kamal Amrohi written and directed 1949 thriller Mahal. This was followed by the magical moment from the Raj Kumar – Meena Kumari starrer, Pakeezah, with the unforgettable dialogue “Aapke pair bahut haseen hai, inhe zameen pe mat rakhiye, maile ho jayenge” (your feet are very beautiful. Do not place them on the floor or they may get dirty )– another Kamal Amrohi written-directed classic.
As Salim Saab explained, Kamal Saab’s use of Urdu was to add richness and flavor to the script, even if the actual Urdu words were not understood by the audience, but their contextual usage was enough to set the tone. He mentioned the word “Takhliyaan” which has been repeatedly used in the movie Mughal-e-azam, everytime someone left the room, thus establishing that the word is to be used when retreating, even if you don’t understand the word itself. Kamal Amrohi saab was a master at doing this. He was unlike any of the other directors we discussed, such as Khwaja Abbas with his unique stylizing and language in Dharti Ke laal, or Abrar Alvi saab in his Guru Dutt directed scripts. These writers brought Urdu closer to everyday usage, peeling off the elitist, courtly sheen of Urdu. Javed saab mentioned the Johnny Walker dialogue in Abrar Alvi-Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’ where someone asks him “Aapki tareef?” (colloquially meaning ‘Who the hell are you?’ though the word ‘tareef’ means praise or appreciation) and the response from Johnny Walker was “Jitni kee jaye, kam hai!” (however much you try to praise me, it will be too little). In this way, the use of Urdu was made simpler and more appealing.
We moved on to discussing Vijay Anand’s great works such as Guide, Tere Ghar ke Saamne and Teesri manzil. He was also famous for his brilliant song picturisations as seen in ‘O Haseena Zulfon Wali Jaane Jahan”. With this melodious tune in our heads, we decided to take a short break.
The second half of the evening began with the beautifully scripted films of Gulzar saab. A heart wrenching scene from Maachis (starring Tabu and Chandrachur Singh) and a complex scene of a chance meeting with a past relationship from Ijaazat (starring Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha) showcased Gulzar saab’s nuanced understanding of Urdu and his fine ability to bring a scene alive with the screenplay. This was followed by the scene and song “Mera kuch samaan”, also from Ijaazat.
The evening continued with discussions on contemporary directors like Vishal Bharadwaja and Pakistani Director, Shoaib Mansoor. Vishal’s written-directed films Maqbool, Omkara and Ishqiya (written by Vishal, directed by Abhishek Chaubey) have transformed Urdu’s style and form to suit today’s context and audiences. We saw scenes from all these films to get a flavor of his artistic style. The evening came to a fitting end with a beautiful scene from the film, Bol and a powerful performance by Naseeruddin Shah in a scene from Khuda Ke Liye, both written-directed by Shoaib Mansoor showcasing the impact and simplicity of this beautiful language.
Khwaja Abbas – Scene from the DVD of Dharti ke Lal
1. Machis – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsb4W-yAzFI
2. ijaazat – Scene 1 (Station scene)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByQKrPa8AHc
3. Ijaazat – Scene 2 (Mera Kuch samaan) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IdOKOQctBw
1. Ishqiya – Scene 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPQAFVnfFxM
2. Ishqiya – Scene 2- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itwjwSjmJaw
3. Maqbool – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjpHofETDp4