Shikwa in Bollywood | Songs Of Yore

Guest article by DP Rangan

(Our love guru DP Rangan, after exploring the ecstacy, agony and flippant sides of love, now explores another common aspect shikwa/shikayat, or ‘complaint’, ‘grievance’. Nay, Mr Rangan explains in the introductory lines that shikwa/shikayat is universal to human nature in all social interactions.

The 84-year young Mr Rangan is a man of unbounded zest for life. Such a person has to be an expert in love, as in so many other things. Thank you Mr Rangan for another excellent article. – AK)

When human beings in their evolutionary history crossed wandering stage and became a settled community, they designed rules and regulations to govern themselves to ensure equity in their day to day life so that the weakest among them could also coexist. With such close day to day dealings among themselves, friction arose from time to time. In order to get redressal of their grievances they had to formally lodge their shikwa/shikayat with the deciding authorities. This trait continues to prevail over aeons. There are several types of shikwa/shikayats.

At the lowest level, siblings have complaints against each other which has to be resolved by parents. In school, teachers/principal act as mediators. Neighbours do have grievances against each other and tend to settle it amicably, if possible. If the ‘shikayat’ is of serious nature, complaints are lodged with police. Where police apprehend people guilty of offences as robbery, and more serious crime as causing injury, murder, arson etc. cases, a sort of ‘shikayat’ are lodged with the appropriate level of judiciary. Politics sits at the top of the table in this aspect, with rival contestants in an election throwing mud over the other’s reputation by indulging in ‘shikayats’. This trait is commonplace in the current era. Development of internet and social platforms as twitter, telegram etc. has ensured vast reach of audiences.

Film producers were alive to this trend and wherever plot of the film allowed, this was freely indulged in. When film music became an integral part of cine production, lyricists were called upon to compose songs reflecting this tendency and thus was born a special category of songs with the addition of ‘shikwa’ / shikayat’ as an integral part of the song.

At the outset I was not sure of the correct interpretation of these two terms. They looked like synonyms. I asked my neighbour, a Hindi scholar, and he was not able to differentiate between them. Not satisfied, I approached the Encyclopedia of our blog – Arunkumarji and he readily obliged and earned my eternal gratitude. According to him the interpretations of the two terms are as under:

‘Shikwa’ – Soft way of complaining, e.g. between lovers etc. Reproach, censure, rebuke
‘Shikayat’ – Stronger way of complaining: Accusation, complaint

There are a few songs where scrutiny of lyrics will reveal an undercurrent of this sentiment running through. I am confining myself to songs where these two words form part of the song. With my rudimentary understanding of the lyrics, I do find that there is no rigidity in application of these terms. I will try to explain this as I proceed to post songs.

1. Aahein na bharin shikwe na kiye by Zohrabai Ambalewali, Noorjehan, Kalyani Das and chorus from Zeenat (1945), lyrics Naqshab Jarachvi, music Hafeez Khan

Yakub and Noorjehan were the main actors. This is one of the best all female qawwalis and sung very well as a group. The main theme of the song is to do with love. There is a spirit of bonhomie throughout the song. Rehana and Sashikala are in the lead. Both Cuckoo and Khursheed Akhtar alias Shyama (about ten years old at that time in her first appearance in films) can be seen in the video.

2. Tum aankho se door ho by Noorjahan & G M Durrani from Mirza Sahiban (1947), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Pandit Amarnath & Husnlal-Bhagatram

This is a distant duet with the heroine and hero lamenting over their separation from each other. Mirza (Trilok Kapur) cries in agony – Mujhe shikwa hai taqdeer se. This term appears appropriate in view of the prevailing atmosphere of melancholy.

3. Lut gayi ummedon ki duniya by Lata Mangeshkar from Jaltarang (1949), lyrics Sarshar Sailani, music Husnlal-Bhagatram

This film had six lyricists for just nine songs. Rehman, Geeta Bali and Shashikala were the main actors. This looks like two girls one boy conflict. No live video. One of the ladies is probably accusing the hero of ruining her world of hopes – Apnon ne barbaad kiya, kya shikwa karein begaanon ka sums up the song. Streak of sadness and despair runs through the song. Very well rendered by Lata Mangeshkar.

4. Shikwa na karenge na shikayat by Lata Mangeshkar from Zevarat (1949), lyrics Habib Sarhadi, music Hansraj Behl

This is one of the ten songs from the film. A song of complaint about the goings on in the world, and yet the singer will not protest against it. The last line talks about the entry and exit of human beings in the world crying.

5. Abhi sham aayegi niklenge taare by Lata Mangeshkar from Samadhi (1950), lyrics Rajendra Krishna, Music C Ramchandra

Ashok Kumar and Nalini Jaywant-starrer covering the period in the second world war in Burma where INA was raised by Subash Chandra Bose to liberate India. Ashok Kumar is a soldier of INA and Nalini Jaywant is a local lass. A chhed chhad love song, Nalini accuses Ashok Kumar of neglecting her and how emerging evening stars will complain about it. A sweet but sedate tune well composed by the maestro Chitalkar.

6. Shikwa tera main gaaun dil mein samaane wale, bhoole se yaad kar le by Talat Mahmood & Lata Mangeshkar from Anmol Ratan (1950), lyrics Deena Nath Madhok, music Vinod

The hero complains about the wrong accusation by the heroine of his neglect of her. In the last antara she threatens him with dire consequences which may fall on him in case she forgets him. A smooth flowing duet and the touch of Vinod is very much there.

7. Seene mein sulagte hain armaan by Talat Mahmood & Lata Mangeshkar from Tarana (1951), lyrics Prem Dhawan, music Anil Biswas

Ardent lovers Dilip Kumar and Madhubala are crying for each other because they are far apart from each other. A sensitive pathos laden duet sung very well. Anil Biswas gave out of the world music for the film.

8. Taqdeer ka shikwa kaun kare by Lata Mangeshkar from Poonam (1952), lyrics Hasrat Jaipuri, music Shankar Jaikishan

Kamini Kaushal bemoans the sad state of affairs and her broken love life and yet has no complaint against a cruel fate. Ashok Kumar was the hero and his feelings of guilt in this song sequence is realistic. There were many sweet songs like Oh bhole balma, jhoome jhoome dil mera.

9. Na shikwa hai koi by Lata Mangeshkar from Amar (1954), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

This film revolves around Dilip Kumar’s conflict between his love for Madhubala and his one night affair with Nimmi. Madhubala is worried about the attitude of Dilip Kumar towards her love for him. She does not complain about this.

10. Dil ki shikayat nazar ke shikwe by Lata Mangeshkar from Chandni Chowk (1954), lyrics Shailendra, music Roshan

Meena Kumari is expressing her love for Shekhar and the difficulty she faces in unveiling it. Meena Kumari, as usual, by her acting adds a zest to the song.

11. Mohabbat kar lo ji bhar lo aji kisne roka hai by Mohammad Rafi & Geeta Dutt from Aar Paar (1954) lyrics Majrooh Sultanpuri, music O P Nayyar

Guru Dutt is giving dire warning about consequences of failing in love and the ladies retort that he can complain to his hearts content and forsake this world if he is not happy about it. The duet is a banter between him and the ladies. O P Nayyar has given many more nice songs in this movie.

12. Bedard zamane se shikwa na shikayat hai by Lata Mangeshkar from Rishta (1954), lyrics Pandit Fani, music K Dutta

Nigar Sultana laments that she has to face frustration in love and accepts it as her fate and has no complaint against it. A song steeped in grief.

13. Shikayat kya karoon dono taraf gham ka fasana hai by Lata Mangeshkar from Kundan (1955), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Ghulam Mohammad

In this scene Nimmi is the grandniece of Sohrab Modi and is in love with Sunil Dutt, a student with nationalistic fervour (1942 quit India movement). Due to some misunderstanding Sunil Dutt leaves in a huff and the girl is singing in grief. Very good music by Ghulam Mohammad with a few more well-tuned songs.

14. Unko ye shikayat hai hum kuchh nahi khate by Lata Mangeshkar from Adalat (1958), lyrics Rajinder Krishna, music Madan Mohan

Nargis has put in a great performance as a reluctant courtesan, pushed into the trade by a cruel fate and Pradeep Kumar is her lover. Here a middle-aged Nargis is singing this song of grief as a piece of reminiscence. Madan Mohan had given divine music in the film. Another song in the film is, Yun hasraton ke daag.

15. Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa to nahin by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar from Aandhi (1975), lyrics Gulzar, music R D Burman

This duet belongs to the genre – Songs from Firmament – a topic on which I wrote a post some time back. While a middle-aged Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen are roaming, this song reverberates in the background. Each seems to realize the need for the other and it ends in their rapprochement.

I rest my presentation. I do find that both the terms – shikayat/shikwa – are used in an interchangeable way. It is difficult to ascertain which of them would fit in a particular situation. The lyricists seem to have no distinction between the two, probably because they may be related as synonyms. I have ensured that all the songs presented contain either term as part of the song. It is possible there could be other film songs which may convey this trait indirectly without the use of these two terms. I consider them a separate class and not belong here. Of course, blog followers are welcome to post such songs for enhancement of knowledge.

Acknowledgements and Disclaimer
The song links have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog claims no copyright over them which vests with the respective owners.

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