“Jaane wo kaise log the” from Guru Dutt’s 1957 classic Pyaasa was inspired by the second line of the national anthem, according to a book on celebrated music composer S. D. Burman. Pyaasa is considered to be a benchmark in Hindi cinema. Be its story of a rejected but talented poet or its music, which represents some of the finest works on both lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi and Burman.
“Jaane woh kaise”, composed in Raga Bilawal is an epic of a tragic song, without being a regular tear-jerker. Its seminal status in the firmament of Hindi film music is not only because of its depth and poignancy, but also for its hummability,” write author-duo Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal in ‘S. D. Burman: The Prince-Musician’.
Burman had arranged the song with delicate piano notes that later became synonymous with Guru Dutt’s films.
“In a conversation with lyricist Pulak Bandyopadhyay, Burman had mentioned that the second line of the national anthem — Punjab Sindh(u) Gujarat Maratha Dravid Utkal Banga — had inspired the line, “Humne to jab khushiyaan maangi”.
“The reference to the national anthem is so subtle that unless someone points it out, it is next to impossible to spot a similarity.” Replete with anecdotes and memoirs, the book, published by Tranquebar, talks about various facets of Burman’s life, including his fallout with Sahir — who together forged one of the most successful musical collaborations of the 1950s.
As Pyaasa was on its way to becoming a classic in Indian cinema, a controversy was brewing between the two talented members of Guru Dutt’s team.
“Sahir, who was known to be brusque, once commented how his lyrics made the songs of Pyaasa unforgettable and also a commercial success. In a way, it was true because his straight-from-the-heart lyrics had created a paradigm shift in the way songwriters visualised tragedy in Hindi cinema,” says the book.
“But S D Burman, who had encouraged the young lyricist from Ludhiana and given him the decisive break in Baazi was pained by the high-handedness and refused to work with Sahir ever again,” it says.
Thus ended one of the finest collaborations in Hindi film music which extended to 134 songs spanning 18 films.