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"Hawa mein urta jaye mera lal dupatta malmal ka, ho ji, ho ji" crooned a young Lata Mangeshkar for the movie Barsaat (1950), which was the maiden assignment for composers Shanker Jaikeshan, who had a long and fruitful career in store. The song was not picturised on Nargis or debutante Nimmi, the two leading ladies of the movie, but on a starlet Vimla. And you know why the dupatta didn’t appear red on the screen? The answer is simple: the movie was in black-and-white.
About the same time, Noor Jehan starred in a Pakistani movie called Dupatta, produced and directed by her first husband, Shaukat Husain Rizvi. The film had a lilting score by Feroz Nizami. There was a song which referred to flying but it had nothing to do with Noor Jehan’s dupatta. It was just that the singing star wanted to fly like a kite. The song that I am referring to is Mein bunpatang ur jaon, hawa ke sang lehraon.
While on film songs, one may like to add that there have been a number of dupatta ditties, but with terms like orhni, chunri, chunarya and aancha. The most melodious was Lata’s number in Dulhan Eik Raat Ki – Mein ne rang li aaj chunarya sajna tore rang mein. Only composer Madan Mohan could have made it as mellifluous.
On the other hand, the most impish number in the genre was Chor do aanchal zamana kya kahega, a duet by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle.Then there was Mehnaz’s song Aei shokh hawa anchal na urra, from the Lahore film Aaj ka insaan, but Runa Laila, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be bothered about the breeze lifting her dupatta in the song Hawa aanchal urrati hai, urrane do, from the Karachi film Jhuk Gaya Aasman.
Punjabi films also had similar songs. In a rare duet that Melody Queen sang with Nazeer Baig (actor Nadeem), she tells him to stop holding her dupatta Mundya, dupatta chad mera.The other Punjabi song that I can recall is Chunri kesari te gotey di dharyan (the chunri is saffron-coloured, while the borders are adorned with gota).
A Poorbi folk song is interesting too. It says Koi jug mug, jug mug howat hai / koi chunarya orhe sowat hai (The poet’s lady love is sleeping with the chunri all over her torso and the chunri is bright and dazzling). Truly a rough translation!In the movies of the good old days (pardon me for the convenient cliché), the heroine and her best friend often used to exchange their dupattas to establish sisterhood between the two. The question: why don't they do it now? Simple. Nowadays girls don’t wear dupattas in the movie
Aanchal is incidentally a favourite subject of Urdu poets, too. An unusual stand was taken by Majaz Lucknavi, when he advised a young woman to make a flag of her dupatta, Tere chehre pe ye aanchal bohat khoob hai lekin; tu is aanchal ko parcham bana deti to achcha tha. A typical hyperbole, highlighting self-pity, a luxury that our traditional poets indulged in quite often, is reflected in the couplet Na tawan hoon kafan bhi ho halka; Dal do saya apne aanchal ka
Sahir Ludhianvi, too, indulges in self-pity when he writes "Ashk behte rahein khamosh nigahon se aur tere reshmi anchal ka kinara na mile". The poem was later turned into a film song and velvety-voiced Talat Mahmood, whose voice was as silky as a silk dupatta, imparted poignance to the number from the movie Sone ki chirya. He was accompanied by Asha Bhosle, who hummed beautifully as Talat crooned his heart out.
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