Ranjish Hi Sahi: How Sad Bollywood Songs Make Life Bearable


Ranjish Hi Sahi: How Sad Bollywood Songs Make Life Bearable

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


grew up with a mother who was a huge fan of sad songs. Our house had an exhaustive collection of music; most of it was compilations of sad songs. In a 12-cassette set of Mohammad Rafi songs, at least 10 were filled with sad songs. Growing up, there were two songs my mother was particularly fond of: One was Rafi’s “Rang Aur Noor Ki Baraat”, in which a despondent Sunil Dutt sings at the wedding of his lover Meena Kumari, telling her, in ever so slightly passive-aggressive tones, how he is letting her go. He has come to the wedding to give her his couplets as the last present, “Ye mere sher mere aakhri nazraane hain,” he sings and Aai gently sobs with him.

“Raat Aur Din”, the second song, is heavy with melancholia. A lonely Nargis Dutt who suffers from a split personality disorder, one of old Bollywood’s favourite maladies, sings it. While no lover can cure her loneliness, she hopes. My mother loved this song so much that she taught it to me for a singing competition in school. I stood second, probably because the astonished judges were wondering why a six-year-old was singing this song. What does she even know about the “andhiyara” she sings about?