A few days ago, I chanced to see an interview of the Queen of Songs, Lata Mangeshkar, on TV. It was a great show, with the interviewer leading us through different generations of Hindi film music, each of which has seen Lata as the crest jewel in the crown of songs.
She talked of various music directors that she worked with, their specialities. She talked of Lakshmikant-Pyaarelal, the duo, who she referred to fondly as “children”, who had grown up in front of her, as part of her family….She talked of C Ramachandra and sang a para of the song “Ai mere watan ke logon” – a song that is said to have brought tears to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehrus’ eyes….
And talking about the all-time-great music director RD Burman, she related a touching incident.
This was about a song that RD wanted her to sing. What a duo, RD and Lata! She agreed to do it, but had to go off to USA for some tour. No sooner she was back, RD called her and reminded her about the song. But then she had to go to Delhi for some other work…
And RD passed away before she could record that song.
But he had already set the music, and so Lata did the song later. She related how difficult it was for her to sing that song, especially becoz the words were so poignant…
It was the song “Kuch na kaho” – from the movie “!942 – A love story”…
That song has been humming itself in the background of my mind, since the time I saw that interview…Here’s a para of that song, and a free translation that I have attempted…It is not a literal translation…Just something that I felt…an approximation…a reason to rhyme….
Kuch na kaho, kuch bhi na kaho – 2
Kya kehna hai, kya sunna hai
Mujhko pata hai, tumko pata hai
Samay ka yeh pal tham sa gaya hai
Aur is pal mein koi nahin hai
Bas ek main hoon, bas ek tum ho
Kuch na kaho, kuch bhi na kaho
Don’t say a thing, don’t even sigh!
What’s there to listen, what’s there to cry!
You know it as it is, and so do I!
The commerce of time
Has taken a pause;
Except for a lone coin
Our world is empty, a loss;
‘Heads’ you, ‘Tails’ I,
What gain in toss?
Don’t say a thing, say nothing at all!