If the moon or moonlight has had a prominent place in Bengali and Urdu songs in the Indian subcontinent, the stars have not been very much behind. Think of tara bhora rate / tomar kotha je mone porhe bedonae, that soothing number from Abdul Jabbar. Or how do you deal with a song as intensely passionate as tarar desher rani aami from Ferdousi Rahman? These are sentiments that keep you going even as you move from youth to middle age to the eventual twilight of your life.
There is of course Tagore's akash bhora shurjo tara / bishwa bhora poran, sung perhaps most ardently by Debabrata Biswas. And remember tomar akash duti chokhe / aami hoye gechhi tara? That was in the 1960s, a period in time which even today is recalled for the glory of its music and movies. This talk of stars finding a place in Bengali songs cannot but lead you to that unforgettable number from Saiful Islam, one that has old-fashioned romance well up inside you: tumi shondhakasher tarar moto amar mone jolbe. Losing Saiful Islam was losing a whole world of music. He could have given us more of such grace in melody.
In Abdul Jabbar's ogo lajuk lota shudhu ei logone, you have this mention of stars in the lines e raat jokhon jochhona hoye ghuumer kotha bole / duur akashe tara jokhon shopon hoye dole / tomake shudhu tomake keno mone porhe. Try humming it. Old flames will light up the soul in you.
In Urdu or Hindi music, references to stars are aplenty. Mohammad Rafi's main ne chand aur sitaron ki tamanna ki thi remains emblematic of a shattered soul. Much the same can be said of Mukesh's tara toote duniya dekhe dekha na kisi ne dil toot gaya. With Lata, he sings the happy number wo chand khila wo taare hanse / ye raat ajab matwari hai. Back in the early 1960s, Pakistan's S.B. John sang tu jo nehi hai to kuchh bhi nehi hai. In the antara of the song, you have these sentiments coming up: wo aaye na aaye jami hain nigahen / sitaron ne dekhi hain jhuk jhuk ke raahen. In pre-1971 Bangladesh, there used to be a very lilting Urdu song which began thus, chand sitarey karte hain ishaare / aao chalen baadlon ke paas tum aur hum. That makes you remember, through Asha Bhonsle, the song aao huzoor tumhen sitaron mein le chaloon.
Mehdi Hassan's tanha thi aur hamesha se tanha hai zindagi registers somewhat of bitterness at one point with the line, suraj ko aansoo-on ke samandar mein phenk duun / jo mera bas chale to sitaron ko noch loon / jhoote hain sab chiragh andhera hai zindagi. But think of his famous duniya kisi ke pyaar mein / jannat se kum nehi, a song that carries the beautiful line: jalwe tumhare husn ki taaron se kum nehi.
Ah, but stars often lose meaning when love is dashed against the rocks by the waves of rejection. And that is when you hear Iqbal Bano's heart crack, through a pained rendition of pareeshan raat tari hai / sitaro tum to so jao…..
The writer is Executive Editor,
The Daily Star