Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mujhse pehli si muhabbat mere mehbuub na maang

Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote the poem "मुझसे पहली सी मोहब्बत मेरे महबूब न मांग". But it was Noor Jehan's celebrated voice, that shot his words to fame, as they rang across airwaves all over the world.

The first half of the poem mourns the love that once was, and is now lost. Delicately, Faiz weaves into words, the generous promises held in the folds of first love. When the resolution to every misery and misfortune lies in the embrace of that one lasting love. Steadily Faiz builds the sense of loss between the estranged lovers.

But Faiz was a crafty poet. The first half of the poem is simply an invitation; an invitation to be presumptuous. Faiz leads you on to imagine that this is just another poem about the aching tragedy of love. This is when the second half of his words, brutally bring to conclusion the real sentiments behind Faiz's writing.

Faiz was a poet and a marxist. The second half of the poem speaks of the grotesque and sickly face of life elsewhere. In the real world where years of exploitation by the rich have driven the poor to become a commodity; a disease; a sore that begs to be called 'life' too. The poet, despite trying, is unable to ignore this spectacle of suffering. He assures his sweetheart, that her beauty and her grace still hold the same place in his heart. But he is disillusioned now and knows that there are greater tragedies in life than the tragedy of lost love. There are far greater pains on earth that need relief; relief that is far more urgent than that of 'vasl' or 'meeting one's love'.

Here is the second half of the poem with word meanings included. For the complete poem, you can visit

मुझ से पहली सी मोहब्बत मेरे महबूब न मांग
अनगिनत सदियों के तारीक बहिमाना तलिस्म
रेशम-ओ-अतलस-ओ-कम-ख़्वाब में बुनवाये हुए
जा-बा-जा बिकते हुए कूचा-ओ-बाज़ार में जिस्म
ख़ाक में लिथड़े हुए, खून में नहलाये हुए
जिस्म निकले हुए अमराज़ के तन्नूरों से
पीप बहती हुई, गलते हुए नासूरों से
लौट जाती है उधर को भी नज़र क्या कीजे
अब भी दिलकश है तेरा हुस्न मगर क्या कीजे

और भी gum हैं ज़माने में मोहब्बत के सिवा
राहतें और भी हैं वस्ल की राहत के सिवा
मुझ से पहली सी मोहब्बत मेरे महबूब न मांग

vasl = union/meeting;

taariik = dark

bahiimaanaa = dreadful

talism = magic

resham = silk

atalas = satin

kam_Khvaab = brocade

jaa-ba-jaa = hither-thither

litha.De = covered/soaked in

amaraaz = diseases

tannuuron = ovens

piip = pus

naasuur = ulcer/a wound that won't heal

dil_kash = heart-warming

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An after-thought to Editing lectures

A wise man once tried to explain to a bunch of bambi-eyed students, why cinema was not a language but a meta language. This is what one of the bambi-eyed understood.

Learning a language (say Hindi) can teach you that nice weather can be expressed by words "achcha mausam". Learning a meta language can teach you how to lay down rules in a language so that a collection of symbols express a certain meaning. So a meta language will allow me to define a new language all together in which good weather can be called "sikka dum; dee da da". Also meta language will help me understand the structure of Hindi and why therefore should "achcha mausam" mean good weather in Hindi.

This mean that cinema or film language does not tell me that a montage means "xyz happened" or a fade in implies that "so much time elapsed" or a sound effect estabilishes "such and such facts"? Instead it teaches me to how to establish what a fade out could mean within the context of my film, what sense a certain shot would evoke in the audience as regards my film, what a montage sequence will come to mean strictly in my film.

The principle advantage of this school of thought is that if this is what the wise man really meant, then hah, I got his point; and if it isn't, then hah, I just came up with a film theory. (All smiles. Very happy. Dangerously skirting self-congratulations)