Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Dozen 'Piyas'

The List Series is a category of posts which contain, yes you are right…. a list! The list could comprise of anything – a list of songs, films, books, desserts, travel spots, pet peeves or even my version of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. In a nutshell, anything that catches my fancy.

Most of my music listening is on the iPod these days. I travel to work by bus and sustain the ordeal of a 75 minute commute purely on the crutches of the iPod. Usually, I listen to songs off various playlists. Sometimes when I get tired of playing songs in the same order, I navigate to the main songs list and start playing down from a random point. That is usually not a very fruitful exercise because not all songs are that good and one is usually clicking on the next button. However today I started playing songs starting with Piya. I was quite amazed at how one after other I got such compelling songs. So, friends, that prompted me to compile...yes another list. A list of a dozen handpicked 'Piya' songs from my collection.

The word 'Piya' is a colloquial version of the word 'priye' meaning beloved. Over the many hundreds of years of musical history the word has found a place of pride in the songs of love. There is a distinct preference of poets to use 'piya' or 'piyu' over other words such as 'priye'. The word has a nice musical ring to it and phonetically sweetens the song when used. 'Piya' usually accompanies the another equally ubiquitous motif in folk poetry... the papiha. The papiha belongs to the cuckoo species of birds and is also refered to as, yes... the brain fever bird (Not very surprising, if you are as obsessed with piya as the papiha is then you just might be suffering from brain fever!).

As a completely faltu aside, I am of the firm opinion that our folk poets were closet ornithologists. Their poetry is replete with motifs of winged creatures of various hues. Mor/morni(peacock), Koyel(cuckoo), Papiha(brain fever bird!), Chakor/chakori(does it really exist or is it mythical?), Hans(swan) and so on. The animal motifs are also there predominately hiraniya(doe), but few and far between. The birds are far more popular.

Ok, halt of faltu analysis, without any further ado, here is my selection. Please be noted, this is the list of songs from my iPod. So, if you think a good Piya song was left out, you are free to ensure that it finds its way to my iPod :)

Click on the link against the title to view/hear the song

1. Piya Milan Ko Jana : What better song than this to start the list. We have after all, embarked upon a journey to meet a dozen piyas. There is a caveat here though. This is not the stately Pankaj Mullick version from the 1930s, but the jazzed up remix (I offer my head for the guillotine) by Zubeen Garg. It is a delightful song, irreverently reverent of the original and zany and creative on it's own. Zubeen merely lifts the tune and the first line off Pankaj Mullick's version and gives it a completely different treatment. He introduces a chorus refrain and and fuses it with rock. I know this is getting to be completely unpalatable for the vintage music lover. But listen to it once. It is truly a great justification for the existence of remixes.
(Note *** See Below)

2. Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon : We all know of Renuka Devi of Dehradoon whose 'piya' forsaked the 'patloon' for a 'lungi' as he pined for her in far away Rangoon. We all know that when a man has four beautiful women hanging on his arm, he is certainly pining for his wife. This is a Shamshad Begum song all the way. She is spunky, robust and delightful. The song continues to delight generation after generation. Yours truly has been besotted since the beginning of time.

3. Piya Aiso Jiya Mein : Geeta Dutt sings this song with such feeling it is difficult to remain unaffected. The besotted wife lovingly dressing up in the hope that her husband will notice her. The song is romantic but with the undercurrent of pathos. The pathos of neglect and unrequited love. Geeta's expressive detailing of Hemant Kumar's tune is par excellence. The picturisation is the icing on the cake.

4. Piya Basanti Re: This song appeals for the delicious contrast between the voices of Ustad Sultan Khan and Chitra and the interesting fusion of the modern sound with the traditional strains.

5. Piya Mehendi Liyada : Since I live safely here in the US, I can fearlessly flaunt my UP Bhaiyya roots without the fear of my Panache (shes my car.. duh!) getting smashed. So here is a Kajri by Soma Ghosh, disciple and adopted daughter of the shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan saheb. This is a light-hearted folk version of the Kajri. Absolutely delightful.

6. Piya Tose Naina Lage Re : Any 'Piya' list is incomplete without the mother of em all piya songs - yeah this is the MIL of all songs. OK I get off the corny horse and say that it is impossible to listen to this song and not want to do a dandawat pranaam to Old Man. One marvels how one can be completely spontaneous and detailed at the same time. Burman Dada achieves just that in this song. I have written a long piece on Piya Tose Naina Laage Re for SDB.Net before here. But I am still discovering the song. For instance hear the tabla pieces in the 'Jag ne utare dharti pe taare' stanza, they emulate the sound of the ghungroos. The motif subtly repeats itself after every few bars (e.g after dharti pe taare) so much so that by the time Lata songs 'aa sajan payal pukare' the mind is already programmed to expect the 'jhanak jhan jhan jhan'. This song belongs to the rarefied plane of complete songs. Nothing is out of place. Sweeping vision, creative detailing, perfect singing, alluring lyrics, beautiful choreography, grand sets and perfect picturisation. It is truly a feather in the cap of anyone and everyone who associated with it.

7. Piya Ke Aavan Ki : From one exhilarated plane to another. This is ustaad Amir Khan saheb singing a thumri in raag Khamaj from the Bengali film Kshudita Pashan. I find myself completely inadequate to even begin describing the beauty of this piece. I shall leave you to your own devices!

8. Piyu Pal Na Laagi Mori Akhiyan : Since we are in the rarefied zone now, let me offer the song that is the Sartaj Geet in my iPod. The song that has the highest playcount of 95 times. The redoubtable Pandit DV Paluskar, the redoubtable raaga - Gaud Sarang and this timeless bandish in the raag. I have heard the recording of this bandish in many other voices but Paluskar Sahab's magnetism has remained peerless. One can never get enough of it.

9. Raat Piya Ke Sang : Let us completely switch moods from sublime to sensual. Hindi films since the days of yore have usually been reticent about depicting any kind of erotica. The fear of the likes of Asha Parekh, Sushma Swaraj and their predecessors like Morarji Desai have historically scared writers and film makers behind nodding roses, swaying palms and pecking birds. But once in a while the composer of yore would get fearless and come up with some good old erotica in the mould of classical Indian literature. This song comes from unexpected quarters - composer Jaidev and singer Meenu Puroshottam come together in a sizzler of a song. Meenu Purshottam is so strongly influenced by Asha Bhosle that this song becomes a tribute to Asha's hold over this genre. Jaidev's treatment remains classy and evolved even in a genre which is not a part of his staple. Not to be missed!

10. Piya So Milan Kaise: While we are on Jaidev, here is Jaidev in his element. A soulful Meera Bhajan sung by Asha Bhosle. It is rare, very rare when Asha Bhosle lets go of her self and her earthy ties. This is one of those occasions. Very few composers took Asha to that exhilarated plane. Hats off to Jaidev for doing it consistently. The instrumental pieces in this song are extremely inspired and compliment the singing beautifully.

11. Piya Sang Khelo Holi : This is a ripe and succulent fruit of Burman Dada's creativity in its autumn years. Songs like these reaffirm the legend that SD Burman's creativity never saw an autumn, even in the autumn of his life. The song bubbles with the spirit of spring and the spring festival of Holi. The swaying rhythm of the tabla and the swish of the pichkari, the delightful 'dhin na ka nak dhin' of the chorus, Lata's lush vocals and Majrooh saab's earthy lyrics they all work together to make this song a stand out. Such is the chemistry between the various elements of the song that the chorus, orchestra and the lead vocals all seem to be playing Holi with each other. Have you ever heard of the heroine being referred to as a 'Gende ki kali'? That is what Majrooh calls her in this song. And that in a way is an apt characterisation of this song. Like a marigold flower this song is bright, earthy, strongly fragrant and easy on the eyes(ears).

12. Piya Tune Kya Kiya Re: All lists end with the greatest of them all . So this list has to end with SDB(here on MPA there is no dispute of his being the bestest). So here is Sachin Dev Burman enjoying himself playing around with Piya, Kiya, Jiya, Liya, Diya. Yes the official lyricist is Anand Bakshi (who else would do such tukbandi) but I am of the firm opinion that when it came to Burman Dada's singing, a lyricist had to detach himself from his poetry like a programmer would do with open source code. Old Man sang whatever suited his whim at that particular moment. A lyricist had little hold over what would catch his fancy and how he would chose to pronounce it. Remember mooonsafeeeeer tu jaanyega kahannnnnHere he deviously leaves us on a merry guessing game as to what he actually sang(I suspect that's how he ensured repeat value for his songs). There are many choices

Piya tune kya kiya re
Kiya tune kya piya Re
Liya maine kya diya re
Diya maine kya kiya Re
Piya tune kya diya Re

All? some? none?, the choice is yours. And I could swear I also heard

Piya tune kya piya re

Or maybe I am just high on a dozen shots of the 'Piya' potion...... time to wind up and head for bed. But before I go may I opine(for the last time on this post), at the end of the day whatever he sings, however he pronounces, the magic that SDB creates in this song is such that one can unabashedly admit ....tere bina laage na jiya re. Feel free to replay!

Ok one last 'Piya' sparkler before I really retire for the night. Consider it as a non-competing entry as it is in Bengali. No, you don't need to know Bengali to enjoy this song, I don't! SD Burman sings 'Dushtu Papiha Bole Piya Piya'. No more descriptions for this song. It speaks for itself!

*** - Searching You Tube for the Pankaj Mullick version of Piya Milan ko Jaana, yielded this (click here). It is from 'Meri Behen/My Sister', not 'Kapal Kundala' the film in which this song appeared. The 'My Sister' version is by some female voice. The music director for both films was Pankaj Mullick.

*** - One song I would have loved to see on this list song is 'Mera Piya Ghar Aaya', the sufi song made famous Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. but alas! I don't have that song in my collection.

Readers' Selection
I invite your choicest Piya song to add to this list. The rules of the game are explained here

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------Acknowledgements : A big thanks for Archisman Mozumdar (Archieda) for passing on the Ustad Amir Khan recording. Also thanks to all contributors to RMIM Commemoratives through which a lot of these songs have made their way to my collection.


  1. How about "Piya Piya Piya Mora jiya pukaare" from Baap Re Baap...As far as piya duets go this has to be at the top.
    Dont really think anyone can beat the way KK and Asha just breeze through the song...yodelling and singing off cue and all that put together.

  2. A very comprehensive list indeed!! If we remove any restriction of where the word "piyaa" occurs as long as its in the first line of the song, the below two songs rank at the very top of my 'piyaa' list:

    - papiihaa re mere piyaa se kahiyo jaa (Parul - Kismet - AB)
    - mai.n jaanatii huu.N tum naa aaoge kabhii piyaa (Ameerbal - Leela - CR)


  3. Lots of great "piya" songs, but one that's been doing the rounds of my brain recently is "thandi thandi sawan ki puhaar, piya aaj khidii ki khuli mat chhodo" from Jaagte Raho. Listen to it and perhaps you'll finally abandon your misguided notions about Asha's "lack of soul, purity of expression," blah blah.:-D

  4. @ Srinivas : Remember I said, this is a list of songs in my collection. I actually don't have a digital copy of this song anywhere. A great contender for our 'delightful dozen' nevertheless!

    @ anonymous: Beautiful suggestions. Parul Ghosh's voice is a welcome addition to any list

    @ Shalini: That is a stunner from Asha Bhosle, I admit that. Though I will also add that it is a rare stunner :). Actually the song never came on the radar because the Piya is not prominently in the first two words. This song is a top contender for my 'Saawan' list that shall hopefully materialise before Saawan is gone :)

  5. Hi,

    First, my all time favourite is piya tose naina...

    Many thanks for including DVP song. Many people do not know how truly captivating it is.

    Thanks again for pointing to Soma Ghosh Kajari...had never heard of her.

    Pankaj Mullick song should be there with many people and I am sure some one will endorse it. Its simplistic beauty is such that I have heard my very reticent father singing it since 1950's and very recently I heard a 9 years old boy singing it perfectly, never knew where he might have found it.

    Vinayak Vaidya

  6. One of the recent 'piya' songs that I liked was from Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi - Shobha Joshi's "Na Aaye Piya"

  7. One of the recent 'piya' songs that I liked was from Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi - Shobha Joshi's "Na Aaye Piya"

  8. gr8 collection additions are-----
    1-piya re piya re--nusrat saab
    2-mere piya re koi jaake kehdo\
    3-jo tum todo piya
    4-piya ke milan ki aas--thumri
    5-yaad piya ki aaye--thumri
    6-piya kaise miloon tujhse
    7-main piya teri tu maane ya na maane
    8-piya ka ghar hai ye
    9-pihu bole piya bole
    10-aaja piya tohe pyar doon

  9. does 'absence of Piya' qualify too?

    then...why not "Piya bina piya bina"?

    Also, I can see that you have flexed the rules slightly by including that important variation - Piyu (Shouldn't DVP be non-compete too?)

    In which case, the 'Piyu' to end all Piyus would be Salil's "Bole peehu peehu bole papiha" from Ek Gaaon Ki Kahaani...rarely, in HFM, do you come across something as exquisitely beautiful as this song.


  10. I found your blog through the youtube link for Ustad Amir Khan's 'Piya Ke Avan Ki'..I've linked it on my blog (with credit to you, ofcourse). It is such a beautiful song. I've been listening to it the whole day. Thank you so much for uploading it.

    btw, Great list! Can't think of any other 'good' song, that the others haven't mentioned