21 April, 2012

THE NAVARASA and beyond

THE NAVRASA [a.k.a. Navaras / Navarasas / Nauras / Navras]

  1. The word actually originates from the Upanishads, a collection of Hindu sacred texts: Sanskrit origin: nine - “nava” + emotional state “rasa”
  2. Rasa is the experience and Bhaav is the expression
  3. A human mind can experience a wide range of emotions but are broadly classified into nine major or primary emotions or emotional states or expressions, commonly used in the context of the traditional classical performing arts in India & exhibited during music, drama, and the visual arts.
  4. Eight of these rasas were set forth in the Nātyashāstra (a two thousand year old treatise on the performing arts) while a 9th was added about 

FACTORS OR VARIABLES CONTRIBUTING TO RASAS IN RAAGAS: these can affect the mood, but still the raaga by itself would have an inherent effect on the mood when elaborated to bring out its characteristics. 
  1. Notes natural (happy) vs komal (sad)
  2. Pitch
  3. Tempo
  4. Words or Text
S #
Sanskrit Term
Principal Meaning
Further Meanings & related emotions
Curiosity, mystery, Surprise
Adbhut अद्भुत (wonder)
Tumne mujhe dekha (Teesri Manzil, 1966)
While most if us are lost in the wonder of his voice, Rafi could be vocally lost in the wonder of discovery in other ways – as this song highlights. "Tumne mujhe dekha hokar meherbaan"  – you can hear the joy and the wonder of a man who, contrary to his expectations, finds himself loved by his beloved.

Mera Dil Tadpa Ke Kahaan Chala -- Shabnam (1949) -- MD -- S D Burman, Lyrics -- Qamar Jalalabadi
Surprise is a brief emotional state experienced as the result of an unexpected event either pleasant, or unpleasant. Surprise represents the difference between expectations and reality, the gap between our assumptions and expectations about worldly events and the way that those events actually turn out.
In this song, the heroine is asking her lover where is he going after disturbing her heart. She wants to know whether what happened was love or was just some kind of game for him. She is surprised with his behavior and wants to understand him better.

There is one more song “Yeh kaun aaya ke mere dil ki duniya mein bahaar aayi” which also shows the element of surprise.
Bhakti भक्ति
spiritual devotion
After the 15th century, Bhakti (Devotion) considered as one, but it is more a theme that involves a variety of feelings. Also it is similar to Shanta rasa.
Duniya na bhaaye (Basant Bahar, 1956)
Like all classical-based songs, it starts out slow with a short alaap and a slow tempo that quickens pretty soon. Rafi starts out pleading for a place at God’s feet, since he does not like the world and soon the voice is soaring in an ecstasy of devotional fervour, with, of course, perfect control on the higher notes.

Anxiety, Worry, Uncertainty, Terrifying.
Bhayanak भयानक (horror)
There is no supernatural here, no mythical horrifying creatures, but the horror is no less palpable. It’s the horror of a man waking up to his own crimes of omission or commission. He is horrified by himself and wants nothing but the oblivion of madness. Rafi plays it with restraint, letting the lyrics and the emotions of his voice speak out the horror and self-disgust plus the added incentive of seeing Balraj Sahni acting the horror-struck man onscreen.

Aasmaan Se Door Tara Ho Gaya -- Darogaji (1949) -- MD : Bulo C Rani, Lyrics -- M L Khanna
The feeling of terrible is extremely bad, it could be strongly repulsive or unattractive or objectionable. It can also mean that the person is suffering through so much difficulties that he/she is feeling terrible from within.
Melancholy songs often try to capture this mood, with varied success. The heroine (played by Nargis) is dejected because she could not become one with the love of her life. She is sick and is extremely sad. She is identifying herself with a fallen star. The song moves and melts the heart of the listener.
Hasya हास्य
Humor, Sarcasm, the Comic, Happy.
Yak chatur naar

Chhuri ban kaanta ban (Jaali Note, 1960)
The song expresses some serious sentiments “This world constantly throws up surprises, so, My son, become a knife or a fork, but never a spoon (a euphemism for sycophant)”. But Rafi’s rendition turns what might be a serious examination of worldliness into a straight up comedic number! He takes his time to chew over every syllable, exaggerating every word, and taking such obvious delight in his rendition. The result is a hilarious song.

Tere poojan ko bhagwan - a humorous parody of a 1935 filmi bhajan (also ). A miser is exhorting his God (money!) to never leave his home, for he will make Him a big bank to live in. Rafi sings it like a serious bhajan with all the devotional fervour that he can summon, and the contrast with the hilarious lyrics and Om Prakash’s on-screen antics just serves to heighten the comedy.

Lucknow Chalo Ab Rani -- Sansaar (1951) -- with G M Durrani -- MD -- E.Shankar Shastri, Parthasarathy and B.S. Kalla -- Lyrics -- Pandit Indra
Comedy, as a popular meaning, is any humorous discourse, song or work generally intended to amuse by creating laughter, especially in television, film, and stand-up comedy. Much comedy contains variations on the elements of surprise, incongruity, conflict, repetitiveness, and the effect of opposite expectations, but there are many recognized genres of comedy.
Traditionally, the comic songs of Hindi films have been mostly reserved for male actors like Johny Walker, Mehmood etc. Mohd Rafi sahab was a natural choice for most of the comic songs of Johny Walker. Geeta ji has sung some nice duets with Rafi sahab which are filmed on Johny Walker. But here is a standout song sung by Geeta ji for an unknown actress for the film Sansaar (1951). The co-singer is G M Durrani sahab and actor is Agha.
The song has all the ingredients: comedy, chhed-chhad, funny words. The song is very good to listen to and also very pleasant on the eyes.
Karuna करुणा

Compassion, Pity, Sympathy, Pathos
“Where art thee going, o fleeing one, its dark, enlighten yourself first”. The “fleeing one” in this case is a troubled teen (played by Nutan) who feels the pull of this compassionate voice as he tells her that life is a struggle and the victors are those who fall and get up to struggle again, not ones who never fall. A compassionate understanding of human troubles coats Rafi’s voice as it once again effortlessly brings forth the emotions demanded of it.

Tadapta Chhod Kar Mujhko -- Kisi Ki Yaad (1950) -- MD -- Hansraj Behl, Lyrics -- Moti BA
The feeling/emotion of “Pathetic” is having a capacity to move one to either compassionate or contemptuous pity. It can also mean as something or some one marked by sorrow or melancholy.
Geeta Roy, the definitive “Queen of Bhaav Gaayaki” conveys the emotions of helplessness and being pitiful to the perfection.
Raudra रौद्र
Irritation, Rage, and Other Violent Wrathful emotions.
Ya meri manzil bata (Rakhi, 1962)
Rafi was especially adept at expressing anger, his voice could slip into the high notes and quick enunciation of the angry man, with extraordinary control and with such great effect - like in O duniya ke rakhwaale which is probably the angriest lament in Bollywood! The song expresses anger in a more subdued form. Also an angry lament, this one has the fires of anger banked down and smouldering as the protagonist (Ashok Kumar) demands that fate either tell him his goal or take away his life. You can hear the anger get heated in a few places like when Rafi demands “De nahin sakta agar aaram ka ek saans bhi, paaon mere tod de, awaargi ko chheen le (if you cant give even one breath of rest, break my legs and take away my wanderlust).” But it always cools down to a baffled, sad sort of anger with Rafi’s voice-modulation doing a superb job of expressing the emotion, as always.
Meri Aan Bhagwan -- Toofan aur Diyaa (1956)- MD -- Vasant Desai, Lyrics -- Pandit Bharat Vyas
The feeling of being furious is to be full of fury, violent passion, or rage; extremely angry; enraged. A person can get furious for right reasons or for wrong reasons. The true character of the person is displayed when he/she is furious for the right reasons and is trying to argue with some one for good.
In this song, the child in the film is arguing and challenging with God. A person close to the child is sick and is fighting with his life. Hence the child is asking the God to listen to him and fulfill his wish (saving life of the sick).
The power and the depth conveyed in her voice is unmatched.
Shant शांत
Calmness, Relaxation, Contemplative, Meditative.
This song is sung in the voice of one who accepts the world as it is and is at peace with himself. The injustices, the quirks, the strange ways of the world - he sees them all, he marvels at the vagaries of human nature, but seems remarkably untroubled by everything. For all the searing indictment of human nature that the lyrics call for, it’s a remarkably quiet song with Rafi’s voice channelling the peaceful observer, without an ounce of the drama he normally brings to his singing.

Meri Jaan Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho -- Anubhav (1971) -- MD -- Kanu Roy, Lyrics -- Gulzar
Tranquility is the quality or state of being tranquil; calmness; serenity. It is the feeling of being content and at ease. Songs displaying the emotion of Tranquility or Shant ras are generally in slower tune, with low pitch and with minimal orchestration.
The song we have chosen is also having all these characteristics. It is set in the background of late evening/night with rain drops and a couple getting cosy. The song is a Kanu Roy signature song with minimal orchestration and relying mainly on the vocals. The words are spoken softly, almost like whispers.
There is one more song, in Bengali, which also conveys the calmness and content. “Nishi raat baankaa chaand akaashe” is a masterpiece in its own.
Shringar श्रृंगार
Romantic, Beauty, Devotion, Sensuality, Erotic Emotions.
Sau baar janam lenge (Ustadon Ke Ustad, 1963)
Rafi certainly was a master at expressing romance and the sheer number of his great romantic songs is a testament to that. Just listen to this haunting romantic number. It starts out slowly – with Rafi’s voice calling out like a Siren to his beloved. While she answers the irresistible pull of the magical voice, he brings out the well-worn vows of the romantic, and he makes them sound fresh and timeless. “You and I will be together, even if we need to be re-born a hundred times” - the words came out of Asad Bhopali’s pen, but the emotion is all Rafi and its no wonder that Shakeela is drowning in that voice or that she is startled to see that it came out of Pradeep Kumar!

Aaj Sajan Mohe Ang Laga Lo -- Pyaasa (1957)- MD -- S D Burman, Lyrics -- Sahir Ludhiyanwi
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In the philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.
This song from the film Pyaasa is sung by a Jogan in the background and the main characters, poet Vijay and Gulabo have only conveyed the message through their facial expressions. The song is supposedly sung by Radha for Lord Krishna, but perfectly displays the emotional turmoil in the minds of Vijay and Gulabo.
This song is considered as the epitome of Shringaar rasa by many critics and writers.
Vatsalya वात्सल्य
parental love

O nanhe se farishtey (Ek Phool Do Maali)
Parental love is usually the province of women in Bollywood. Amongst tons of mother-child songs, in Hindi films, one sung by the male of the species is rather rare. 
Babul ki duaayein leti ja – a quintessential bidai song.
Veer वीर
Pride, Confidence, Bravery, Heroism.

Vande mataram
Apni aazaadi ko ham
As the camera pans over the dead and the dying on the battlefield of the India-China war, Rafi’s voice rings out clear and pure, exhorting the living on the behalf of the fallen men to take care of the country as “we (the fallen soldiers) have sacrificed our lives and our bodies”. A patriotic song in the heroic vein, it gives voice to the heroic sacrifices of the dead soldiers while managing to bring home the brutality of war, as well!

Har Zubaan Ruki Ruki -- Baaz (1953) -- MD -- O P Nayyar, Lyrics -- Majrooh Sultanpuri
The characteristics of Heroism is pertaining to the character of a hero in size or concept; daring; noble: a heroic ambition. The person , a hero, has the capacity of displaying the character or attributes of a hero; extraordinarily bold, altruistic and most importantly determined.
The mental strength, nerve, boldness, daring, willpower and the leadership transmitted through this song is an extra-ordinary effort in the film. The lyrics, the tune, the music, the setting, the characters, the chorus and of course the singer take this to a very high level. This song has also been discussed in great details in another post here on our website.
Vibhats वीभत्स
Self-Pity, Odious


Can one think of any other song that exemplifies disgust so well? “This world of glitter and privileges and suffocating rituals, so what if one does get it?!” The powerful lyrics are Sahir Ludhianvi’s, a poet’s disgust with a worthless materialistic world.

Ja Ja Bewafa Kaisa Pyar Kaisi Preet Re -- Aarpaar (1954) -- MD -- O P Nayyar, Lyrics -- Majrooh Sultanpuri
Odious or the Bibhatsam rasa conveys the feeling of deserving or causing hatred. Once you realize the true character of a person, you can start feeling hatred against him/her. The hatred could also be caused due to misunderstanding or miscommunication.
In this song, the heroine is all upset with the hero as he did not keep his promise. She is calling him a liar and a cheater in love. The way this song is composed and sung, it is indeed a lesson for playback singing. The rest of the songs in the film have so much of “wajan” (stress) on the words, but in this song the words come more like whisper from a broken heart.

Kahin Toh

Most of Mirabai’s songs
MIXED rasas

AR Rahman uses three rasas in the title track - मस्ती है मस्तानों की दिल्ली दिल्ली / Masti hai mastaanon ki Dilli.
Dilli male vocals are in veer (courage) ras - the male vocals sound like an assembly chanting ‘Dehe Shiva Var Mohe‘. They’re assertive without being aggressive, proud without being cocky, and are delivered with the assurance of stating the obvious.
The French and Hindi female rap - probably in adbhut (astonishment) ras. There’s a sense of wonderment and novelty in there, at this utterly cool and new and weird place that is Delhi.
And now the यह है दिल्ली मेरे यार, बस इश्क मोहब्बत प्यार / Yeh hai dilli mere yaar, bas ishq mohabbat pyaar - in shringaar ras, the expression of love, compassion, and erotica. Except that the love is being expressed not for a person but for an entire city. So the refrain is weird and incredible because it’s shringaar ras in a setting of veer and adbhutam ras, which we’re not used to. But it’s doubly weird and incredible because even as shringaar ras, it’s very fulfilled shringaar ras – Tanvi Shah acknowledges that Delhi is full of love, and accepts this. She doesn’t want or look forward to anything more.

Bakhuda tum hi ho from Kismet Konnection - awesome because it too brings in adbhut ras with the shringaar ras, but it’s still very much about unfulfilled love – look at the कैसे बतायें तुम्हें, और किस तरह यह, कितना तुम्हें हम  चाहते हैं? Line.


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