My “now” song: Baabul moraa naihar chhooto hi jaaye

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a storyline, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music—it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, etc. This becomes my “now’”song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My now song is the immortal melody in Raga Bhairavi, “Baabul mora naihar chhooto hi jaye”. A popular song in Hindi films, mehfils and among thumri singers, many renderings are available to listen too. Some of the more popular ones are by Jagjit and Chitra Singh, Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and K.L. Saigal. And it was Saigal’s version which really made this song popular.

But the version I like and am sharing with you here is sung by Alisha Chinai to the accompaniment of L. Subramaniam’s violin.

I like this version for the jugalbandi of Alisha’s haunting melody, so unlike her other (better known) popular numbers, and for L. Subramaniam’s violin, with both artistes reinforcing and complementing one another, as well as the sombre mood of the song.

This lament was written by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Nawab of Awadh when he was exiled from Lucknow by the British Raj after the failed Revolt of 1857. In this song, the Nawab uses bidaai (bride’s farewell) from her babul (natal home) as a metaphor for his own banishment from his beloved Lucknow, to far away Calcutta, while he spent the rest of his life.

Do listen to the version I have given here and also the versions by other artistes (you can listen to their version by clicking on their names). Which one did you like?

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25 thoughts on “My “now” song: Baabul moraa naihar chhooto hi jaaye

  1. I am partial to K.L.Saigal and Jagjit Singh versions in that order. But I liked this song for the violin and as you have rightly pointed out, Alisha’s ‘hatke’ rendering of this song.

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  2. Saigal and Bhimsen Joshi versions are the ultimate. Many have sung this and you may like this juagal bandi by Girija Devi and Shobha Gurtu….

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  3. From Pianists to Thumri singers, Carpenters to Rag Bhairavi, the range of your ‘now’ songs is startling. I wouldn’t say I could listen to the others, but I was smitten by Alisha alright.

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    • What to do, Umashankar, I am like that only :-D

      Though I do listen to different genres of music, my formal and informal training in Indian classical music brings me back to raga based melodies. And Bhairavi is timeless and this Alisha/L Subramanian’s jugalbandi is refreshing indeed.

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      • Sudhagee, there is this song I love; don’t know exactly which raga it is based on:

        सुनियो जी, अरज म्हारियो, बाबुला हमार….

        Also, those based on Shivranjini always get me.

        Then I am smitten by a wide range of English singers of various hues. So I am also quite like you!

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        • Suniyo ji is a mishra raag and has shades of both Bhup and Kalyan/Yaman. I like Shivranjani too, though I prefer the Carnatic version to the Hindustani one.

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    • You are welcome, Deepak. I didn’t know about this myself till I watched this video. The picture of the entrance to the Bada Imambara in Lucknow for this song intrigues me and that led me to do this research. :-)

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    • It is a beautiful song and very poignantly rendered by Alisha. I always feel that sometimes we creative people get stuck in a particular genre. I wish Alisha had continued with this type of singing. The pathos just touches the heart, doesn’t it?

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  4. Fab is the only word to use. My morning is made with Bhimsen Joshi’s rendering which I listened to next. Thanks for such an exciting blog and such links.

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  5. Liked this comment on the comment “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”. Thanks WordPress, “I’ll check my coffee providers if it was spiked coffee that caused my thank you comment to suspect my sobriety”.

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