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World of Letters: Where has it gone?

October 15, 2009 2:38:28 PM IST
Enkayaar, Bollywood Trade News Network
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October 9 is celebrated all over the world as World Postal Day, and this year to kindle interest in the young generation about the charm of the written words a special campaign is being organized by the Postal Departments to underline the virtues of letter writing. Indeed, letter writing has indeed gone out of vogue and it has been replaced by Tweets, SMS and electronic mail, which cannot come in the public realm after the users are gone as it would be password protected. Vital period of history and social development is in the danger of getting lost, as the individual views would not find any mention, as they are lost in the electronic maze.

Keeping in with the sentiments of the times, even the Hindi films have stopped singing paeans about the virtues of letter writing, and though Hollywood has graduated and made a love story revolving around exchange of e-mail, film being YOU'VE GOT MAIL, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan that gave a new perspective to development of romance based on e-mail. Interestingly enough it was a remake of 1940 film THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. Hindi films still have to do something on these lines.

Nevertheless, it indeed is an opportunity to traverse the path of letter writing in the hope that somehow it would pick up once again among the youngistan of our country. As a matter of fact, Hindi cinema is replete with songs eulogizing the art of letter writing, which is an indicator about the importance that was given to this craft. It would not be out of point to mention that based on the letters that were exchanged between Lady Edwina and Our First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Lal Nehru a film is now being made.

Last famous song that was written underlining the virtues of the written word was "Chitthi na koi Sandes", from the film DUSHMAN sung by Jagjit Singh. Before that the song that underlined the pathos and anxiousness of the lovers in succinct detail was from HENNA sung by Lata Mangeshkar, the song being " Chithiye pankh laga ke ud ja". A Smita Patil also condescended to enact the role of a courtesan as she got an opportunity to eulogize the importance of the written word, film being SHAKTI, and Lata Mangeshkar, again sang the song "Humne sanam ko khat likha".

The real journey of the art of writing through the songs evolved when Mohd. Rafi sang the song "Likhe jo khat Tujhe", the film was KANYADAN and Shashi Kapoor sang the song on the silver screen. Virtues of letter writing in the form of lyrics could not have been brought out in much finesse as it was done by Neeraj for PREM PUJARI, the song being " Phoolon ke rang se", sung by Kishore Kumar. It appeared as if Kishore Kumar had indeed lived those nuances being expressed through the lyrics.

While individual songs are in plenty, there also have been songs that have been sung as a duet and one of the most famous ones that immediately pops up in the mind is from the film " TUMHARI KASAM", the song being" Hum dono mil ke kagaz ke dil pe". In the modern times same duet was sung by Lata Mangeshkar and S.P. Balasubramanium for MAINE PYAAR KIYA, the song being " Kabootar ja ja ". In the modern context, this song tries to create the magic of the exchange of love messages through the pigeons, as was the convention during the middle ages.

Mahesh Bhatt's NAAM should be considered a milestone from the perspective of letter writing as the pain, loneliness, and the pathos of separation that a family experiences when a child leaves home, and the longing ness of the child to join his family, but practical compulsions do not allow him to do so, where succinctly captured in "Chithi aaye hai". One of the most famous songs sung by Pankaj Udhas in his career, Anand Bakshi wrote it.

There is indeed a long list of songs that underline the importance of the written word, and may be the time has now come to emphasize its importance once again, and there is no better medium than the world of Hindi cinema to do it. Hope somebody listens!

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