I touched upon Indians not making it easy for others to appreciate their art recently. I then mused about the melting pot that is India, and how difficult it can be for Indians to appreciate their own regional arts. Hence I would like to experiment sharing my affection of a Marathi song, and see if music is indeed a universal language as they say.
The song is “Mana Tuzhe Manogata” from the Marathi feature film “Kalat Nakalat”, composed by Anand Modak and sung by the versatile Asha Bhosle. Not only do I love the song immensely, I think it can be a learning experience to examine how Modak uses the composition to express the meaning of Sudhir Moghe’s lyrics.
It helps to visualize as follows:
- Voice: Soul, the being expressing itself.
- Flute: Close Friend, representative of the Child in a person.
- Piano: Friend, who punctuates the entire vocal expression. It plays host to the whole scene.
- Violin: Friend, who enters the scene later, but is the most eloquently empathetic.
- Chorus: Group of empathetic friends.
मना तुझे मनोगत मला कधी कळेल का? Mana tujhe manogata mala kadhi kalel ka?
(Dear Mind, can I ever understand you?)
This question sets the context of the entire poem and song. Are we able to fully understand ourselves? Are we able to empathize with our deepest thoughts and emotions?
The mood of the song is introspection and sharing. Introspection invokes a panorama of thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies, etc. It typically happens in a situation of conflict, as in this movie drama of an extra-marital affair. The song provides a musical backdrop to this conflict, and its instrumentation evokes empathetic sharing.
The poem describes a being trying to understand itself, a soul addressing its mind. A soul, with a great magnitude of sensitive and often irreconcilable thoughts and emotions is wondering whether it can understand its mind. Usually, this is represented as a conflict between thoughts and emotions, mind and heart, but this song transcends all that. It does so by providing a harmonious backdrop to the interplay between the mind and heart, an intimacy between emotion and thought. Is this a dialogue between a thinking heart and an emotional mind?
तुझ्यापरी गूढ सोपे होणे मला जुळेल का? Tuzhyapari goodh sope hone mala julel ka?
(Can I be enigmatic and simple like you?)
Will I be able to make any complex thing appear simple, like you do? The soul is thus respecting the mind by saying that the mind can solve each and every mystery in the world. The descending order of notes reflects this ability of the mind.
The multiple notes of pari preface the word goodh (enigmatic) to highlight its complexity. The word goodh is in simple notes, highlighting the ability of the mind to simplify complex things. But, this simplicity is achieved only after traversing the complex notes of pari. Such is the action and capability of the mind.
The flute, a close friend, is the expression of the Child, adding emotional value to the voice. Whereas the voice has a relatively simple tune, the flute adds all the intricacies denoting the Child’s emotional convolutions.
The flute is a friend who understands not only what is explicitly conveyed, but also empathizes with what is shared emotionally. It says: “Yes, I understand how it must have felt”. It acts like a friend who resonates and encourages one to share further.
In the ending notes, it tries to anticipate the intense emotional experience that the soul needs to share and entices it into sharing further.
कोण जाणे केवढा तू व्यापतोस आकाशाला; आकाशाचा अर्क देशी, एका मातीच्या कणाला
Kon jaane kevadha tu, vyaaptos aakaashaala; aakaashaacha arka deshi eka mateechyaa kanaala
(Who knows how much you engulf the sky; you can extract the essence of the sky into a single soil particle)
Observe the helplessness in the notes of the words “Kon jaane” (who knows). This helplessness suggests that nobody knows.
When the tune reaches ‘aakaashaalaa’ (sky), it literally flies. It roams the sky. Its notes are like the flutter of a bird taking flight.
Meanwhile, the chorus is behaving quite empathetically, letting the soul know that it is understanding. It’s rising notes also anticipate, that the peak of the emotional expression, is yet to come. It anticipates the high notes, like a friend who anticipates what we’re going to say. This pattern of the chorus is repeated again with the same effect in the following stanzas of the song.
The stress and emphasis of the second line is in the word ‘ekaa’ (single). The word is given importance by its position in the meter and its low note, making it a fulcrum. The low note and emphasis on this word provide the necessary impact for the meaning of the line.
तुझे दार माझ्यासाठी थोडेतरी खुलेल का? Tuzhe daar mazhyaasaathi thodetari khulel ka?
(Will your door open, at least a little, for me?)
The peak arrives poignantly, the voice expressing a yearning desire to let the soul get a glimpse of the mind! The notes are as if a futile, yet persistent attempt is being made to open an automatically closing door. There’s helplessness in the tone, expressed also by the pauses in the voice as if taking a breath before trying to push the door open. The task seems impossible, unachievable.
The piano arpeggio takes off from where the voice left, and completes the emotional expression. It also returns the ear to the main note, forming a bridge or circle.
The flute continues acting as a friend, also inviting the Violin into the scene. It implores the Violin into joining its empathetic understanding. The Violin enters, reservedly, as if saying, “Yes, I am trying to understand”.
कळीतला ओला श्वास, पाषाणाचा थंड स्पर्श Kaleetla ola shwaas, pashanaachaa thanda sparsha
(The wet breath in a flower bud, the cold touch of stone)
तुझ्यामध्ये सामावला वारा काळोख प्रकाश Tuzhyamadhye samavala vaara, kalokh, prakasha
(Within you are encompassed wind, darkness, and light)
The notes span and traverse the scale, expressing how the mind encompasses everything in the universe – all dimensions of nature.
तुझे अरूपाचे रूप माझ्यापुढे फुलेल का? Tuzhe aroopaache roopa mazhyapudhe phulel ka?
(Will your formless image blossom in front of me?)
The soul is helplessly trying to understand the mind. It is yearning to comprehend and formulate the formless mind.
Now, even the so-far-reserved Violin understands the saga. It reaches the peak of its emotional expression. It becomes completely overwhelmed by emotions, languishing in them, as if reaching to the Chorus for support.
The soul is desperately trying to calm the Child in itself.
खुळा ध्यास आभासांचा पाठ्लाग कोणासाठी Khula dhyaas aabhasaancha paathlag konasaathi?
(For whom, this idiotic unremitting contemplation and pursuit of sophistry?)
तुझ्या मनातले आर्त माझ्या मनी ढळेल का? Tuzhya manaatale aarta mazhya manee dhalel ka?
(Will your intense longing yield to my mind?)
The poetic climax! While the soul has been addressing the mind so far, here, it is also referring to a mind of its own! This is symbolic of the fact that though there may be conflicts between them, the soul, mind, and heart are entwined together in an inseparable fashion. The listener is cajoled into this discovery, by the piano arpeggio. It is as if that this was what it was trying to convey since the beginning!
The film doesn’t feature the complete song – rather, it uses it in two sections for two scenes. As far as I know, a soundtrack album was never released, hence the song is not publicly available in its entirety as a single song (you can listen to 2/3rds of the song here). I was fortunate to get the full version but have split it into sections to respect copyrights.
Round and round
On shaky ground
The mind whirls
But one is bound
To one’s ground
To escape this cage
Needs an adage
No need to cry
One is born to fly
Personality is like a rose
Everyone likes it
It attracts for a couple of days
And is then thrown away
Character is like chlorophyll
Not many know about it
It’s not visible
But it sustains life on earth.
Therefore I breathe
Therefore I live
To live or not
That is the question
To breathe or not
That is the dilemma
Moments of panic
That are tragic
I am lethargic
There’s need of some magic
To be stable
I am hurt
But I won’t be curt
The situation does hurt
Who’ll clean up the dirt?
I will try
Not to cry
It’s about time
For me to fly
I can hear what you say
I sense we’re in a bind
I can touch what you say
So what if I’m blind?
I understand you
Better than most others
Engulfed in your hair
Smelling the flowers
The perfume of your hair
Lifts me out of despair
The darkness everywhere
Asks me, do I dare?
Am I fit to be your lover?
Blind, willing to bend lower
This is what tears me apart
Our love, will it have a start?
In pursuit of a dream
Hoping you will understand
About to spill over the brim
My shaky conscience; it can’t stand
If I were a tear in your eyes
I would lie on your cheeks and die on your lips
But if you were a tear in my eyes
I would never cry in fear of losing you
(Composed by a friend)
Start of a space race
What a disgrace
Amidst all the pace
Who lost their face?
His dreams shattered
Ayn Rand published
The world awoke
A railroad at heart
Yet, a work of art
Beneath a burden
Refused a pardon
Became a guardian
Acted like in a disco
Much like a fresco
His life exalts
Like single malt
In space, rollickin’
Became a Senorita
Mir space station
An unsavory destination
Can man have affection?
Mere words, with trepidation
A pale blue dot
In an ordinary spot
What have they got?
Freedom? Dictatorship? Democracy?
These may be human constructs
But the doomsday if Atlas really Shrugged
Is there for all to see
On top of all this assorted mix
Was Krish Ashok, a lover of Asterix
Dressing it all up with salsa
Using his inimitable Jalsa
This eclectic mix of characters
Reminds me of Lagaan
And that’s why on Independence Day
I say, Mera Blogosphere Mahaan!
(PS: For benefit of non-Indians, Mera Blogosphere Mahaan means My Blogosphere is Great!)
Again, something I’d written long time back, in 1990, to be precise. All criticisms welcome!
What do I write about?
The mountains, lakes, skies;
Or birds, flowers, and the like?
Here I am, amongst my daily troubles,
Wanting some peace of mind
Thought I would write a poem
But what do I write about?
I wonder what poets possess
That makes them poets
I wonder how their creativity
How mischievous language is!
It completely describes an entity
As complex and vague as the poetic mind
By simply calling it poetic!
Is poetry born out of
Joy, Grief, and other such
Intense emotions only?
Or can this be called a poem
If I consider it to be?
I now suspect
That it needs great concentration
For a poet
To write a poem
That there is a superior logic
Behind the rhythmic passages
Of a poem
Poetry is a means for the poet
To let his imagination
If we invent norms
Regarding what constitutes a poem
Would it be a restriction
Which may destroy what it’s trying to preserve?
For some, a poem is simply
A rhythmic, lucid passage
Why can’t prose
Not possessing lucidity of words
But of thought
Be called a poem?
I can better appreciate rhythm and lucidity
Than in words
How I wish I could write a poem
Of my many enchanting thoughts
Without suffering from the curse
Of being compelled to use language
Whose words do not always rhyme…
I am now catching a glimpse
Of the poetry
That is in the world
How wonderful is the fact
That I am conscious
Am I not the poetry of Nature?
But then I wonder
Who is the poet of Nature?
Which itself is sheer poetry?
Does poetry require a poet?
Which leads me to think
Does a poet ever create poetry?
Or does he simply catch
The already existing poetry
Finally, what is poetry?
Which, I think
Everybody should decide for oneself
If they can
The lucidity of ideas in a poetic work
Transcends the superficial rhythm
Of its words
I think the best example
Of what I intend to say
Is best exemplified
In this work itself
Which has been a poetry for me
The lucidity of thoughts
And the logic of the thinking mind
Combined with the flavor of romanticism
Surpassed the absence of rhyme
To create this poem?
PS: This just goes to prove that I’m not a poet by nature, irrespective of my amatuerish attempts!
There are some truths you figure out yourself without needing to study them elsewhere.
I learnt a bit of yoga when I was a child, and while doing pranayama, learnt that the left nostril leads to the right part of the brain and vice versa.
Some years later, I bought the book Whole Brain Thinking, and discovered the individual strengths (or shall we say personality traits?) of the left and right hemispheres of the brain. (For an excellent summary of what whole brain thinking is all about, see this article by John Adams)
Well, connecting the dots, I deduced the following principle:
When one is breathing through the left nostril, the right brain is active, and vice versa.
I decided to put this to the test and here’s what I found:
1. Yoga’s ancient adage about the nostrils connecting to the other side of the brain has been proven by science.
2. My hypotheses is held up both by yoga and what’s now called ‘alternative’ medicine or therapies.
I’ve tested this hypotheses of mine practically several times, and it turns out to be true without fail. What I have not been able to achieve is what the yogis preach: change the dominant nostril at the first sign of any physical or mental disturbance. Whenever I try that, not only do I not succeed, I get more frustrated and upset!
A few asides:
- Spiritual comes from the word Spiritus, which means breath in Latin
- In the movie Out of Africa, Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) bemoans how the foot has never been appreciated by the poets. I think the same is true about the nostrils. Consider this: Each day, the nose cleans about 10,000 litres of air, which has to be filtered and air-conditioned, to the, um, taste of the lungs – 80% humidity and 35 degrees Centigrade. It is no mean feat!
By the way, this is finally my 100th post. A very grateful thanks to all my readers – here’s some celebration to go along with it!