Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan

Posted on: July 6, 2020


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of atulsongaday.me, then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day :

4371 Post No. : 15705 Movie Count :

4329

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Hindi Songs in Bangla Films : 34
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‘Jalsaghar’ [(1958), Music Room] was Satyajit Ray’s third film (4th film in terms of the date of release). After the box office failure of his second film, ‘Aparajito’ (1957), Satyajit Ray decided to make a popular film which would cater to the taste of Bengali audience. ‘Jalsaghar’. the short story of Tarashankar Bandopadhyay was the basis for the film which had the popular subject of the declining fortunes of zamindars (landlords) who patronized arts and music. So, there would be scope for songs and dances which would attract the audience.

But how could a director of the stature of Satyajit Ray succumb to make a commercial film whose heart was attuned to making the intellectual films? So, the net result was that when ‘Jalsaghar’ (1958) shooting was completed, the popular subject of declining aristocracy became a serious subject. The popular music associated with such subject was turned into the hardcore Hindustani classical songs and a classical dance. In other words, the film took the shape of an artistic film and won the National Film Award, 1959 for the best feature film in Bengali.

It took quite a long time to search for a dilapidated palace in West Bengal for shooting the film. At last, someone from Murshidabad suggested Nimtita Rajabari in Murshidabad which suited well as a palace for a zamindar whose fortunes are on the decline. It was a great coincidence that later on, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay revealed to Satyajit Ray that his short story was inspired by landlord Upendra Narayan Chaudhury who stayed in Nimtita Rajabari. His descendants have now settled in Kolkata.

The film is available for viewing on one of the video sharing platforms in 10 parts with English sub-titles. While watching, I felt that the original film may have been edited to some extent. However, the continuity of the story seems to have been maintained. The film’s story is set in the mid 1930s and centres around Chhabi Biswas in the role of an aged music-loving landlord. He is present in almost all the frames of the film. Rest of the main actors like Padma Devi, Gangapada Bose, Tulsi Lahiri, and Kali Sarkar have subsidiary roles. The story as depicted in the film is as under:

Biswambar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) is an aged feudal landlord who lives in his dilapidated palace on the banks of a river. He has lost his wife, Mahamaya Devi (Padma Devi) and the only son, Khoka some years back when their boat capsized in the river during a storm. He has lost much of the land-holding due to the soil erosion created by the river. He has only one servant, Ananta (Kali Sarkar) and the Estate Manager (Tulsi Lahiri) to his company besides his horse and an elephant. To maintain his status as an aristocratic landlord, he indulges in lavish spending and pleasures like hosting concerts in his music room, high quality drinks etc. Much of his assets including the remaining land and jewelries have been mortgaged or sold.

While old Biswamber is resting in his room reminiscing his golden days as a wealthy landlord, Mahim Ganguly (Gangapada Bose), his neighbour and a neo-richman, visits the palace to invite him to attend his son’s thread ceremony. While Biswamber declines to attend giving an excuse that because of his old age, he has stopped going out of his palace. But this event reminds him of his son’s thread ceremony which he had conducted in pomp and show worthy of a landlord which included a grand firework in the night followed by a musical concert in his jalsaghar (music room) where all his guests were served choicest drinks. He also remembers that in the same night, his wife resented his spending on concerts too, by mortgaging her jewellery.

Biswamber also remembers that he had arranged a next musical concert on the day his wife and son were to return to the palace after the visit to her mother’s place, to celebrate the new year. This was also to show his might to his new-rich neighbour, Mahim even though for this, Biswamber had to sell some of his antique furniture and some more jewellery. While the concert was in the mid-way, he got the news that his wife and the son drowned in the river while returning on a boat.

After the death of his wife and son, Biswamber has been living in the palace alone with a servant to attend to him. His music room has remained locked for many years. He has become a recluse. He is in no mood to accept his neighbour Mahim’s personal invitation to attend his newly constructed house-warming ceremony and a dance concert. But it reminds him of his music room which has been closed for years. He orders his servant to open it at once. He spends some time inside the music room reminiscing of his glorious days.

In order to spite his neighbour, Biswamber decides to organise a dance concert of a famous kathak dancer from Banaras for which he spends his last cash reserves of Rs.500 for refurbishing his music room, arranging drinks to his guests and giving his last of the precious stones as a gift to the dancer. After the concert, though he has become almost bankrupt, a drunk Biswamber is very happy that he could effectively replicate his past glory to spite his neo-rich neighbour, Mahim.

However, as the night progresses, he observes that one by one the candles in the chandeliers of his music room are getting over, making the room dark. A frightened Biswamber linking the candle light-off to the end of his own life, calls his servant, Ananta who apprises him that the dawn is approaching. He would open the windows and the sunlight would make the room brightened. As the morning sun rises, in his last show of grandeur of his aristocracy, Biswamber mounts his favourite horse and rides at a faster pace away from the palace. But he is thrown out of the horse and dies at the banks of the river – the same river which is also responsible for the erosion of his land and the death of his wife and son.

The moral of the story is that though Biswamber knows that his fortunes are on the decline, he is not ready to adjust to the reality of the situation. Every effort is made to maintain his lavish spending even in the background of facing the adverse financial position. There is no need to compete in terms of prestige with the neo-rich, Mahim who has improved his economic condition by his business acumenship. On the other hand, Biswamber should have taken the clues from Mahim to diversify into some other business ventures. In both the cases – the decline of Zamindars and the emergence of non-Zamindar neo-rich, Satyajit Ray has very well explored human psychology of showmanship.

The highlight of the film is the superb performance by Chhabi Biswas in the role of an aged landlord. The entire film lies on his shoulder. It may be worthwhile to note that in reality, actor Chhabi Biswas belonged to an aristocratic family. He has personally witnessed the downfall of aristocracy. With this background, it comes naturally to him to perform his role of a falling aristocrat. In fact, there is so much of a genuineness in his performance that those who have watched the film would sympathise with him at the end of the film notwithstanding the fact that it is his ego and the false prestige which are responsible for his downfall.

One of the scenes in the film which I liked the most is when Biswamber enteres his jalsaghar (music room) for the first time after keeping it locked for some years. He spends about 5-6 minutes inside jalsaghar without any dialogue and the background music, observing each and every item – portraits of his forefathers, each and every chandeliers, furniture and fixtures etc. This scene reminds me of a similar scene in ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959) when an aged Guru Dutt visits his studio and glances the entire studio, reminiscing of his glorious days as a successful director. He touches the camera and sits on his director’s chair in the dark studio never to get up.

Satayjit Ray has used the camera as well as the expression and gestures of the main actors to move forward the story of the film more than the dialogues. My guess is that of 100 odd minutes of the film, the dialogues in the film would have cumulatively consumed not more than 40 minutes. Ustad Vilayat Khan has used mainly Sitar and Flute for background music which goes well with the ambience of the palace as well as the genre of the story.

Like ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959), ‘Jalsaghar’ (1958) had also the same fate of failure at the box office. The reviews of the film after its release in India were mostly adverse. It was only after a couple of years when the film was released in the US and the UK, it received a cult status. Over a period of time, the film has been one of the widely discussed classic films of Satyajit Ray like ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959). In June 2018, the film was shown in the Siri Fort Auditorium, the only Indian classic film shown at Navras Duende World Film Festival.

‘Jalsaghar’ (1958) has two songs – both rendered in Hindustani classical raags. In addition, the film also has the 8-minute of Kathak dance by Roshan Kumari, the daughter of playback singer, Zohrabai Ambalewaali. I am presenting a traditional thumri ‘bhar bhar aayi mori ankhiyaan piya bin’ rendered by Begum Akhtar. The song is picturised on Begum Akhtar herself up to say 01:45 of duration. Thereafter, the actress singing the song is different until Begum Akhtar surfaces again towards the end of the song. However, the entire duration of the song is rendered by Begum Akhtar. The Thumri was set to music by Ustad Vilayat Khan.

The background of the song is that Biswamber Roy remembers his olden days when after the thread ceremony of his son, he had arranged a concert in the night in his jalsaghar where all the guests had been served with drinks. All the money spent for the event was raised by selling his wife’s jewellery.

The director’s camera captures many other details while the singer is rendering the Thumri. The camera pans over the entire jalsaghar to show the grandeur of the music room. The camera also captures other subsidiary activities simultaneously going on, both physically and mentally. The camera focuses on Chhabi Biswas who is shown to be listening very intensely. But behind the intensity, he is also thinking something else as his eyes remain static, probably remembering many such music soirees of the past. His neighbour, Gangapada Bose is inhaling snuff but at the same time, he is embarrassed as to whether any of the guests has noticed his action. The camera also captures him in trying to control his sneeze following inhaling the snuff and thereafter searching for a glass of drink.

This film, in my view, is a ‘must see’ for those who believe the films as the director’s medium and also for the excellent performance of Chhabi Biswas as an aged landlord.

Video Clip:

Audio Clip:

Song-Bhar bhar aayi mori ankhiyaan piya bin (Jalsaghar)(Bangla)(1958) Singer-Begam Akhtar, MD-Ustaad Vilaayat Khan

Lyrics

aaaaaa
aaa aa aa aaaa
aaa aaa aaaaaa
aaaa aaa aa
aaaaaaaaa aa
aaaaaaaaaaaaa
aa aa
aa aa aa aaaa
aaaaaaaaa
aaa aaa aaa aa
aa aa aa aa aaa aa
aa aa aaaa aa aaaa
ae bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan
piyaa bin
bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan
piyaa bin
bhar bhar
bhar bhar aa………yin
bhar bhar aa………yin
aa aa aa aaa aaa
ae ae ae
bhar bhar aayin aa aaa
bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan
piya bin
bhar bhar aayin
bhar bhar aayin
aa……yi
aa……yi mori ankhiyaan
bhar bhar aayin mori
bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan
piya bin

ghir ghir aayin…een een een…… een een
ghir ghir aayin..een kaari ee ee badariya aa aa
ghir ghir aayi..ee
aa…..aa….yi
ghir ghir aayin
o o ghir ghir
ghir ghir aa..yin een kaari ee badariya
dharkan laagi mori chhatiyaan
piya bin
dharkan laagi

2 Responses to "Bhar bhar aayin mori ankhiyaan"

Sadanand Ji, As usual your posts transport us to the theme right from the word GO. As I was reading, i remembered scenes of Sahib, Bibi, Ghulam, a near identical theme of dwindling fortunes of aristocracy

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Satish ji,
Thanks for your appreciation.
The films whether HIndi or Bangla, on the theme of the declining fortune of Zamindars with their lavish spending have their roots mostly in Bengali literature.

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