Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Of Associations Emanating From A Word. Humsafar : Persian-Urdu-Hindi Songs

Humsafar, in Hindi, means "life-partner" or "soulmate" or "travelling companion". As a word and a concept, it is extremely popular with the Bollywood community, from lyricists to music directors to filmmakers. Bollywood tended to use the romantic avatar, as shown by most songs presented in the "Hindi" section. Moving geographically West from Bollywood-Bombay, one gets to the origin of this word; Persian via Urdu. In other words, Iran via Pakistan; and here is where the sparks really fly.

This post presents 10 songs containing the word "Humsafar", in 3 different languages --- Persian, Urdu & Hindi. It also presents some associations emanating from "Humsafar" in its generalized version of "travelling companion".

Humsafar : Iranian Movie Industry-Bollywood

Iranian movies of the 1960's & 1970's borrowed from and/or were inspired by Bollywood. While this is not a secret, it is perhaps not widely known. As an example, consider the 1974 Iranian movie "Bandeh Khoda".
Here is the YouTube link for the entire movie.
Even though the movie is in Persian, Bollywood fans should NOT need subtitles to understand, One can spot the Iranian versions of Dharmendra, Hema Malini/Mumtaz, Zeenat Aman/Aruna Irani, Ranjeet/Shakti Kapoor, Nasir Hussein, Nirupa Roy, and Master Alankar/Raju.
The movie contains several 70's Bollywood cliches, such as ---
Over-the-Top-Villains, Songs & Dances, Racy Music, Child Artists, Elderly Mother, Elderly Benevolent Male, Hero wrongly accused of theft, Attempted Suicide on Train Tracks, Masala Chase in Climax, Snake scene in Climax, All-reasonably-ends-well, Police-(as usual)-show-up-after-villain-is-finished.
There is a major difference, watch the portion at the very beginning; time 1:40 to 1:45.
Viewing this small snippet, you will begin to get an idea of why the current Islamic Govt. of Iran considered 60-70 % of pre-revolution movies to be porn.

Clearly, post-revolution, Iranian movies have changed a lot; several critics may claim for the better.
Needless to say, the major exception is very well known and well documented.


1) Hamsafar (Iranian Movie Hamsafar 1975), Sung by Googoosh

Googosh (real name Faegeh Atashin) was a famous Persian pop singer and film-star in Iran of the 1960's & 1970's. Here she is with her then-husband, Behrouz Vossoughi, who was another superstar of the 1970's Iranian film industry. She was a great fashion & style icon for millions of Iranian & other Middle-Eastern women.
After the 1978-79 Iranian revolution, Googoosh and other female singers were banned (partial to total.); yet she continued to live in Tehran. mentions that the prelude of "Jab Tak Hain Jaan" from Sholay is inspired from Googoosh's song "Jomeh".

As you can see that earlier mentioned "borrowed from and/or inspired" works both ways.

(PS --- Harvey, it appears that RDB was a Googoosh fan.😊)

Humsafar : US-Iran

(From The Guardian)
As the famous saying goes, A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

A final thought & association, this Googoosh song hopefully represents US President Barack Obama's creative and controversial policy towards Iran.


Rather than write something of my own, I would like to point towards others more skilled & knowing; about Urdu, and about the Pakistani TV serial Humsafar ---

Undoubtedly, several volumes can be written about --
Humsafar : Pakistan-India
Humsafar : Pakistan-US
Humsafar : Pakistan-US-India

I will leave them to others.

HINDI --- 50's & 60's

Movie : 12 O' Clock (1958)

Movie : Purnima (1965)

Movie : Juari (1968)

Movie : Jaal (1967)

These 4 songs clearly demonstrate the classic Bollywood theme of romance, and focus on the "life-partner" or "soulmate" aspect of Humsafar.
Legend has it that at least one of the pairs (Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman), at least from the male side, wanted to be a Humsafar in real-life as well.
Legend also has it that another pair (Dharmendra, Meena Kumari), were partial Humsafars.

HINDI --- 60's Personal

Movie : Jewel Thief (1967)

Jewel Thief is the first Bollywood movie I saw outside India, at Tehran in 1971. The songs were still in Hindi, just the dialogs were dubbed in Persian. An Iranian colleague of my father bought Dev Anand's Jewel Thief cap (an approximate version) and proudly wore it.

Movie : An Evening In Paris (1967)

My Humsafar & me did almost the exact walk post midnight in Paris, from the Champs-Elysees to our hotel near Gare St. Lazare. We were ALL ALONE (saw absolutely no one on the way to the hotel), and this has to be one of the most romantic things we ever did.

Humsafar : US-Iran-France

Another facet of 1970's Iran was the prevalence of French at highest levels of Govt. & society. The last US ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, frequently spoke French to his Iranian counterparts. Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled to a Paris suburb (Neauphle-Le-Chateau), and it is from here that he triumphantly returned to Tehran in Feb 1979. 
(PS --- I hope Anu Warrier finds this interesting)

HINDI --- 70's

Sung by Mukesh & Lata Mangeshkar
Movie : Mere Humsafar (1970)

Since this is just the beginning of the 70's, this song is reasonably sedate. Were it not for Jeetendra, you could almost classify it as 60's song.  Do not give up hope, the Nasir Hussein directed Jeetendra Asha Parekh starrer "Caravan" is just around the corner. 😁

Movie : Dharam Karam (1975)

This is pure Grade-A 1970's Masala, the kind pre-revolution Iranian movie industry used to copy . No wonder the Iranians revolted, I suppose you would revolt too. 😊
(PS --- Harvey : This is probably the only RK movie whose music director was Pancham.)

What are your favorite Humsafar songs (in any language) ?

PS --- Be politically correct in commenting, and remember that  irreverent comments may attract fatwas. 😉