Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan
Singers: Mohd. Rafi, Geeta Dutt
Every now and then some news concerning Bombay (now Mumbai!) brings back countless memories of that ever- expanding, ever- bustling city where I spent best years of my youth. It somehow also always triggers the memory of that unofficial anthem of the city –
Aye Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan; Zara Hatke Zara Bachke; Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan!
Over the years, looking at disturbing things like growing pollution and population adding to criminalisation and corruption in that city, the light-hearted, fun-filled lyrics have taken a more serious and sinister meaning.
Picturised on the late comedian Johnny Walker, this catchy song captures the essence of Bombay in satirical but succinct manner. Mohammed Rafi and Geeta Dutt’s feisty singing is just perfect foil for this frolicky O.P. Nayyar- tune embellished with that famous Tum-tum (horse-cart) rhythm and a lively harmonica interlude. Composed for the 1956 film CID, this song has still retained its popularity and its words still remain as relevant.
Look at the subtle social commentary Majrooh makes through this supposedly lightweight film song. Through the lines –
Milta Hai Yahan Sab Kuchh; Ik Milta Nahi Dil; Insaan Ka Nahi Yahan Naamo-nishaan,
he is lamenting about loss of human intimacy in spite of availability of practically everything in this city. Isn’t it a fact? And what about the further lines- Kahin Satta, Kahin Patta, Kahin Chori, Kahin Race
/Kahin Daaka, Kahin Faaka Kahin Thokar Kahin Thens/
Bekaaron Ke Hain Kai Kaam Yahan
Aren’t these perfect observations on various illegal vices lurking there to lure empty hands without jobs, empty stomachs without food and empty minds without a direction?
Later in the song, Majrooh’s words assume further cynicism when he pinpoints the double standards of hypocrisy and hierarchy prevalent there by saying –
Beghar Ko Awara Yahan Kahte Hans-Hans; Khud Kaate Gale Sab Ke Kahe Isko Business.
(Oh, here they’ll deride the poor and homeless as vagabonds but if the rich cut each other’s throats, it’s called business!)
Actually what this song says about Bombay applies to almost any big city in the world- all sprawling concrete jungles-devoid of any emotions but full of temptations; teeming with self-centered materialists without any concern for social justice and equality.
After painting such a dark picture of the city in an outwardly breezy manner, Majrooh ends the song on an endearingly warm and positive note when Geeta Dutt’ s silky voice calmly assures–
Aye Dil Hai Aasaan, Jeena Yahan, Suno Mister, Suno Bandhu Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan.
She is almost saying- ‘Come on mister, let’s not carp about the obvious. Just get on with it and it’s so easy to live here. It’s Bombay – my beloved Bombay!’’
That’s the real Bombay- spirit- taking the life as it comes, without fuss, with cheer! That’s why it survives tragedies and turmoil without a tremor. That’s why I still love Bombay- my Bombay! Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan!