Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo, Farida Khanum (orig.) & Asha Bhonsle (recon.)

Perhaps the simplest, yet the most heart rending ghazal of the 20th century, AJKZNK (pardon me for making it sound like a film title - but agree with me, it has potential, na?) - the Yaman Kalyan - Rupak taal number leaves nothing to the imagination of the listener on the face of it. But isn't that the beauty, you wonder, when you listen to it. I first came across the song in Monsoon Wedding - the Meera Nair crossover.

"I HAVE to find this song," I thought. The original played fucking hard to get - and the internet, a spoilsport as usual. I found the CD in Twara's house! Her dad's a huge fan, and lent me his Collection. Talk about गोद में बच्चा गाँव में ढिंढोरा!

Listen to the number with your eyes closed and the lights off, let the dim light of your laptop pervade the calmness with a Breezer or green apple vodka-Tonic. And if you have a good pair of earphones, carry it with you on your next long trin trip too. It should be the last song you hear before you get off the train in the middle of the night on a little-known station, as the rain pours and and the cold seeps in.

Asha Bhonsle sang a reconstructed version a couple of years back in a private album. A fair deviation towards jazz, I prefer this one for its technical excellence and proximity to perfection. As a film singer, Asha obviously has the upper edge, but it stops being the artist's song and stands more on its own merit in the recent redo. Asha and the sound editor together seem to have polished the sharp edges into a more rounded piece.

The taal is in order, the aalaaps introduced by music arranger Somesh Mathur are fabulous and the minimalist beats as opposed to the thus-far-flurry of the sitar-tabla-harmonium is a relief, to say the least. While I wrote this piece, I was looking for the arranger's name and came across quite a few negative reviews of the song. The argument being "we are Indians", no saxophone for us, please.

Who said? It's such a perfect night song. It's the truly global make-out song for heaven's sake. The eternal song of parting - perhaps in the league of Chandni Raatein or Tanhaii, Aaj Jaane Ki is made for those who appreciate classical music in its beauty for technique, not the accompaniment of instruments and quality of voice and the eminence of a particular singer (or its lack).

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