Article Marathi

10 evocative Sudhir Moghe songs: Anniversary special

Poet, lyricist, composer, writer, painter and anchor Sudhir Moghe, who was born on 8 February 1939, was a multi-faceted personality.

Suyog Zore

Born in small-town Kirloskarwadi in Maharashtra's Sangli district, Sudhir Moghe showed a keen interest in theatre from childhood. With his father a kirtankar (devotional singer) and an atmosphere of devotion and music at home, the boy quickly learnt by heart all the stotra (hymns) and prayers.

Moghe went on to write many books of poetry like Aatmarang (Self Coloured), Pakshanche Thase (Imprints of Birds), Ganyanchi Vahi (Book of Songs) and Shabddhun (Word Tunes). He also wrote several books like Anubandh, Nirankushachi Vaat, Kavita Sakhi and Gaanari Vaat.

A poet, lyricist, music composer, dialogue and screenplay writer, anchor for radio and television, and painter, Sudhir Moghe was indeed a multi-faceted personality.  It is well nigh impossible to summarize his contribution to Marathi literature and cinema in just one article. So here we focus only on the lyricist Sudhir Moghe.

Most of Sudhir Moghe's lyrics were unlike those of other lyricists who used to write complex and intricate rhymes, Moghe used simple lyrics but they still made a powerful impact on the listener. On the litterateur's 82nd birth anniversary, we list 10 of his best film songs.

'Ala Ala Wara' — Ha Khel Savalyancha (1976)

'Ala Ala Wara' is an iconic song that is etched forever in the memory of Marathi listeners. Composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar, the song is picturized on Asha Kale, the film's heroine. Those familiar with paddy farming will know that once the crop reaches a certain height it is uprooted and transplanted at a different place. Moghe uses this metaphor masterfully to show how women have to leave their beloved parental home after marriage and accept the challenges of life in a new home with new people. Anuradha Paudwal's soothing voice is a bonus.

'Ratris Khel Chale' — Ha Khel Savalyancha

'Ratris Khel Chale' is your ultimate go-to-sleep song. The number, which also became the title of a famous television serial, is a classic for the way in which Moghe beautifully expresses humankind's constant obsession with the moon and stars. Starring Dr Kashinath Ghanekar and Asha Kale, Ha Khel Savalyancha is a suspense thriller about a woman who is supposedly possessed by a spirit. Moghe explains the film's basic plot with just two lines: 'Abhaas saawali ha asto khara prakash, je satya bhaasati te asti nitant bhaas'. Roughly translated, the poet says the shadows are mere illusions in the lights, the truth you seek is just a creation of your mind. Hridaynath Mangeshkar's superlative composition is calming and haunting at the same time.

'Gomu Sangtina' — Ha Khel Savalyancha

This is yet another classic from Ha Khel Savalyancha (1976), a film whose entire album is a musical gem. The lion's share of the credit goes to Moghe's meaningful yet simple-to-remember lyrics. 'Gomu Sangtina' is a song about the playful banter between the characters of Dr Ghanekar and Asha Kale. The beauty of the lyrics lies in Moghe's use of specific adjectives from the Agri (a coastal community in Maharashtra) dialect, especially when the hero is praising the beauty of the heroine. Despite hailing from Sangli and completing his education in Pune, Moghe had vast knowledge of the various dialects in different regions of Maharashtra. 'Gomu Sangtina' is testament to that. This was also the first time popular Hindi and Bengali singer and music director Hemant Kumar sang a song for a Marathi film.

'Dayaghana' — Sansar (1980)

This is another masterpiece from Moghe. The film was about a prolific singer (played by Yashwant Dutt) who is at the height of his popularity when his alcoholism destroys everything and leaves him rotting in prison. The song, composed again by Hridaynath Mangeshkar, comes at the exact point in the narrative when the protagonist is at his lowest. The lyrics are about his realization of how his ego and his hunger for fame and wealth led him on the path to destruction.

Childhood, youth and old age, the three stages of life, have been explored by many, from the Bhakti poets of the mediæval era to contemporaries of Moghe. But few have captured the story so succinctly: 'Balpan utu gele, ann tarunya nasale, vardhakya sachale uralo bandi punha mi, Dayaghana.' (Wasted my childhood, spoiled my youth and now here I am, engulfed in sadness in my old age, O Merciful!). Suresh Wadkar took the song to another level with his evocative vocals that perfectly encapsulate the pain of a man who had and lost everything.

'Phite Andharache Jaale' — Lakshmichi Paoole (1982)

'Phite Andharache Jaale' was originally a  poem by Moghe which was later used in the film Lakshmichi Paoole (1982). The lyrics here have a visual quality to them. Here, too, the poet uses simple words to describe the beauty of nature. The way he describes the dawn, a daily phenomenon, with simple lyrics makes it easy to understand and enjoy even for the layman or a child who may not possess vast literary knowledge. Probably that's the reason Maharashtra's educational department decided to include this song in the school syllabus. Lata Mangeshkar's soulful singing and Sudhir Phadke's unforgettable tune make this song an earworm.

'Dis Zaatil Dis Yetil' — Shapit (1982)

This song, from a film dealing with rural poverty and exploitation, is again an example of Moghe's command over the various dialects of Marathi. A peasant couple (played by Yashwant Dutt and Madhu Kambikar) who struggle to make ends meet despite their hard slog await the birth of their first child. Moghe's lyrics, written in a dialect used in rural Western Maharashtra, capture the excitement and trepidation of the couple who wonder whether the child will bring them luck and whether it will have a better life than the one they have endured. Sudhir Phadke's composition and Asha Bhosle and Suresh Wadkar's singing make this song a classic.

'Shambho Shankara' — Thorali Jaau (1983)

Picturized on Asha Kale, 'Shambho Shankara' from Thorli Jaau is a bhoopali (a devotional song sung at dawn) with music composed by Sudhir Phadke. Moghe was asked to write this song by director Kamlakar Torne. The challenge, however, was that while bhoopalis usually invoke Ram, Krishna or Vitthal, Torne wanted the poet to write one for Shankar or Shiva. Moghe took up the challenge and wrote such a beautiful bhoopali that could move even an atheist. This was one of the early hits of Anuradha Paudwal, who is now well-known for singing devotional songs.

'Ekach Ya Janmi Janu' — Pudhcha Paool (1986)

We don't often get to hear ghazals in Marathi cinema, which is why this song is even more special. This is one of the many memorable classic compositions by music director Sudhir Phadke. Women in India still face humiliation and torture in the name of dowry and customs. Pudhcha Paool is the story of one such woman. Sudhir Moghe's lyrics express her dream of living life on her own terms, a distant dream for millions of women in India even today. Asha Bhosle's rendition brings the pathos out beautifully.

'Bhannat Ran Wara' — Kashasathi? Premasathi (1987)

Sung by Suresh Wadkar and Uttara Kelkar, this is an evergreen song from  Kashasathi? Premasathi. The speciality of this song is that Sudhir Moghe himself has composed the music for this romantic number. Initially he had written the song for another film called Nagin. Music composer Bhaskar Chandavarkar was supposed to set it to tune, but for some reason that never happened. Later, when Moghe was asked to write songs for Kashasathi? Premasathi, he decided to use this one by adding another verse to it. Through various metaphors on nature,  the lyrics speak of the transitional phase from adolescence to adulthood.

'Sanj Ye Gokuli' — Vazir (1993)

'Sanj Ye Gokuli', sung by Asha Bhosle, is a song about the serene beauty when the sun is about to disappear behind the mountains. In his book Ganari Vaat, Moghe has shared a fascinating story behind this song. It was initially written as a poem with just two stanzas for a special programme titled Kovale Kavya Ithe Jamate on the national broadcaster Doordarshan for GD Madgulkar's first death anniversary. Later music composer and singer Shridhar Phadke decided to use it as a song in Vazir and asked Moghe to write one more stanza because it was too short for a full-length song in a feature film.

Moghe was initially reluctant, but upon Phadke's insistence he agreed to do so. However, even after spending many days trying to write the third verse, he couldn't crack the lyrics. Then he suddenly thought that instead of trying to write the third stanza, why not I write something that blends in smoothly between the first and second? And that was how the second verse, 'Parvatachi dise dur rang, kajlachi janu daat regh... (That distant mountain range that looks like a thick line of kohl) came to be written. So, technically, the second verse in this song was written last. The song is picturized on Ashwini Bhave.