Why do we sometimes cry listening to our favourite old songs?

Last night, I got the desire to see 1952 iconic movie Baiju Bawra after five decades. As each song was played from ‘Jhule mein pawan ke aayi bahaar’ as Gauri and Baiju grow up, to ‘Tu Ganga ki mauj’, ‘Door koi gaaye’, ‘Insaan bano’, Bachpan ki mohabbat ko, ‘Mujhe bhool gaye saanwariya’, ‘Man tadpat Hari darsan ko aaj’ and ‘O duniya ke rakhwaale’; I felt the eyes and heart becoming more and more moist.

(Pic courtesy: en.wilepedia.com)
(Pic courtesy: en.wilepedia.com)

Why do we cry when we listen to old favourites? Is it because of our own memories associated with the movie and the songs? Is it because of mixed feelings: one of joy that we lived in the same era as Shakeel Badayuni (Lyricist) and Naushad Ali (Music Director) and Mohammad Rafi lived in; and other of sadness that they aren’t there now. As far as Shakeel Badayuni is concerned, I have several posts on him in my blog and all are very popular since I can see in the blog stats (eg, ‘Shakeel Badayuni – The King Amongst Lyricists And Poets – Part I’ and ‘Part II’, ‘Another Tribute To Shakeel Badayuni In The Month Of His Death Anniversary’, and ‘Immortal Ghazals Od Sahkeel Badayuni – Part I’). However, arguably the greatest Music Director of our era: Naushad Ali, is mentioned by me in only two blog-post on him (‘The Best Of Old Hindi Songs – Rafi, Shakeel, Naushad and Dilip Kumar Together’ and ‘Immortal Songs of Mughal-e-Azam’; in both the cases clubbing him together with Shakeel Badayuni)

Why do we cry? Oh, I will give anything to have those movies and songs again; flute was an essential instrument, there was simplicity, there was innocence and there was as Badshaah Akbar said in the movie: Azmat!

I was thrillrd to see that credits to Ustaad Amir Khan and DV Paluskar ranked ahead of playback singers Rafi, Lata and Shamshad Begum.

Why do we cry?

Does anyone have the answer? Well, I posed this question in my Facebook Group ‘Yaad Kiya Dil Ne’ (I had to make this group when in the last group ‘Dil Ki Nazar Se’ people started putting up frivolous posts. All my groups, on the other hand, are based on the principle of mutual-learning than merely groups for entertainment and socialising). Here are the responses from some of my friends on the group.

1. Nitin Shringarpure “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of Powerful feelings. It takes its origins from the emotions recollected in tranquillity” William Wordsworth, “Same is the thing with crying”.

2. Surekha Saini Well my reason for crying is a bit stupid. ..when I listen to these songs I start relating myself to the character n feel the same pain through lyrics n music the character must be feeling in that situation. …n I cry every time when I listen to. .Mann tadpat Hari darsan ko aaj…and..O duniyaa ke rakh wale. ..from my childhood so no chance of memories related to the songs…I mentioned both poetry n music. ..as a child I used to cry with no reason but now its lyrics n poetry n of course singing. ..n if I relate myself to the character means movie n the storyline come naturally. ..until I understand the film thoroughly how can I relate myself to the character. …actually mera dil mere dimag se jyada kaam karta hai. …

3. Raj Dutta When ever our Soul wishes to have a bath…it takes the body and the brain though a memory trip facilitated by sense organs mostly eyes and ears…the brain does some chemical locha and triggers and squeezes the tears ducts…moistening your eyes and sinuses…And lo the Soul is fresh again…sentimentally and temperamentally formatted…But my late eldest Tayyaji never wept even on the demise of his near and dear ones…When I once asked him the reason He in a shayrana andaz said, “Bahut roya hoon Ghame zindagi mein, Ab toh ansuon ne bhi mujhe bhula diya hai”…He had taken part in WW II.

Raj Dutta then put up a Pakistani song by Rahim Shah to explain this:

This only means one thing that the very songs that we rued kept us away from storyline and “avoidable” at that time when we used to see movies as children and teenagers, are actually the most wonderful memories of the movies of that time. And remember how we used to compare with Hollywood matter-of-fact, “professionally made” “no nonsense and no songs” movies?

There is no better way to express emotions than through poetry.

Tears are also seen as a ‘release’ of emotions. Indeed, at deep and traumatic shocks, the docs get worried if the affected person does not cry. There are many theories about crying. One lovely one was given to us by Mukesh through Anand Bakshi and Laxmikant Pyarelal in 1967 movie Milan:

Mubaarak ho sab ko samaa ye suhaanaa
mai.n khush huu.N mere aa.Nsuo.n pe na jaanaa
mai.n to diivaanaa diivaanaa diivaanaa – 2

Hazaaro.n tarah ke ye hote hai.n aa.Nsuu
agar dil me.n Gam ho to rote hai.n aa.Nsuu
khushii me.n bhii aa.Nkhe.n bhigote hai.n aa.Nsuu
inhe.n jaan sakataa nahii.n ye zamaanaa
mai.n khush huu.N mere aa.Nsuo.n pe na jaanaa
mai.n to diivaanaa diivaanaa diivaanaa – 2

The other is the 1964 movie Hamrahi song put together by Hasrat Jaipuri and Shankar Jaikishen and Rafi for Rajendra Kumar:

Ye aa.Nsuu mere dil kii zubaan hai.n -2
mai.n ro_uu.N to ro de.n aa.Nsuu
mai.n ha.Ns duu.N to ha.Ns de.n aa.Nsuu
ye aa.Nsuu mere dil kii zubaan hai.n -2

Aa.Nkh se Tapakii jo chi.ngaarii, har aa.Nsuu me.n chhabii tumhaarii
chiir ke mere dil ko dekho, bahate lahuu me.n priit tumhaarii
ye jiivan jaise sulagaa tuufaan hai
ye aa.Nsuu mere dil ki zubaan hai.n -2
mai.n ro_uu.N to ro de.n aa.Nsuu
mai.n ha.Ns duu.N to ha.Ns de.n aa.Nsuu
ye aa.Nsuu mere dil kii zubaan hai.n -2

So then why did the eyes start becoming moist with the very first song: Jhule mein pawan ke aayi bahaar even though the song is nice, happy and romantic song in the movie Baiju Bawra?

Here are the responses:

Ritu Soni I cry sometimes because I connect with the lyrics and music to a very emotional and personal level and sometimes I cry as I feel where all this has gone.. The simple beautiful people and life.

Manju Saigal Mittal Tears r just an expression of emotion I think!

Surekha Saini Ravi ji. …its not necessary that u cry only when you feel sad or hurt…Hum log jab anandit hote hain tab bhi to aankhe chhalakti hain. …Ab main. ..Mann tadpat Hari darsan ko aaj. ..pe kyon roti hun….may be its my desire to see God…reason for crying while listening to a song varies person to person. ..

Vipan Kohli Much has been written by Surekha ji Raj Ritu Soni and Nitin Shingarpure about tears. Here’s Hindi poem on tears. I don’t know who wrote it but it appealed to me the moment I read it.

आंसू छंद नहीं होते हैं
आंसू नियम नहीं होते हैं

भावों की अनुभूति है आंसू, कभी ख़ुशी कभी गम होते हैं..
मैंने देखे सुख के आंसू, हंसते गाते झिलमिल आंसू

दुःख मे भी देखे हैं आंसू, दर्द भरे रोते से आंसू..
हुई बिदाई जब बिटिया की, छलक पड़े आँखों से आंसू

गौरव के पल आने पर भी, बह निकले आँखों से आंसू..
कभी किसी की मृत्यु हुई जब, बरबस बहते देखे आँसू

खुशियों के अवसर पर भी तो, रुक न सके आँखों मे आंसू..
दरिया कभी बनाते हैं आंसू, मोती सम पलकों मे आंसू

जार-जार रोते हैं आंसू, बार-बार आते हैं आंसू..
दिल ने जब भी रोना चाहा, सुख गए आँखों के आंसू

प्यार जहां इनको मिल पाया, छलक गये आँखों से आंसू..
सुख में भी आँखों मे आंसू, सूरदास के बहते आंसू

ऊँच -नीच का भेद न करते, नर-नारी के आते आंसू..
प्रियतम की चाहत है आंसू,
माँ नयनो मे ममता आंसू
भाई बहन का प्यार हैं आंसू,
जीवन का श्रृंगार है आंसू..

At this stage, Amit Lambah and Maj Vishwas Mandloi took opportunity to post some Aansu songs (the group is meant for that) such as:

“Teri aankh kay aansoo pii jaoon aisi meri taqdeer kahan”

“Tukde hain mere dil kay aye yaar tere aansoon, dekhey nahin jaate hain dildaar tere aansoo.”

“Rona kabhi nahi rona …chahe toot jaye koyi khilona”

I, therefore, realised that whilst I was looking for reasons as to why does one cry listening to old favourites, everyone has own reasons for the same. This thought itself was covered so nicely by Sahir Ludhianvi (I regard this as his best) in the 1961 Hum Dono’s most beautiful song:

कभी ख़ुद पे, कभी हालात पे रोना आया
बात निकली, तो हर इक बात पे रोना आया

हम तो समझे थे कि हम भूल गए हैं उनको
क्या हुआ आज, ये किस बात पे रोना आया

किस लिये जीते हैं हम किसके लिये जीते हैं
बारहा ऐसे सवालात पे रोना आया

कौन रोता है किसी और की ख़ातिर ऐ दोस्त
सबको अपनी ही किसी बात पे रोना आया

Vipan Kohli, at this stage, put up a most beautiful Punjabi song by Jimmy Shergil: Rona Chadita Mahi Mahi

Raj Dutta wasn’t to be left behind and put up: Aaj bahut roya main….

Here is a moistening of eyes of different nature as a tribute to all my friends on YKDN: Yaaro mera saath nibhaao roz aisi mehfil kahan:

Yaro mera sath nibhao roj aisi mahfil kaha
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna
yaro mera sath nibao roj aisi mahfil kaha
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna

rahe na kuch aaj sab luta do
dilo me jitna hai pyar baki
rahe na kuch aaj sab luta do
dilo me jitna hai pyar baki
rang ho jitne bhi yahi saja do
hogi na kal ye bahar baki
hasi ke chirag jalao ho gayi raat jawan
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna
yaro mera sath nibao roj aisi mahfil kaha
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna

kisi liye koi luta to gham kya
jine ko ek ye khushi bahut hai
kisi liye koi luta to gham kya
jine ko ek ye khushi bahut hai
mile na mile ek sanam ki bahe
mujhe tumhari basti basti bahut hai
dekho aise dur na jao pyar ka yahi hai sama
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna
yaro mera sath nibao roj aisi mahfil kaha
bhig jaye aaj palke aao hase itna
aao hase itna aao hase itna

And since it was the death anniversary of Talat Mehmood and since Patita is the movie of the title song of the group, I put up one more reason why aansu jhalak jaate hain.

Please enjoy: Hain sabase madhur woh geet jinhe…

हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत जिन्हें, हम ददर् के सुर में गाते हैं
जब हद से गुज़र जाती है खुशी, आँसू भी छलकते आते हैं
हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत

(पहलू में पराये दर्द बसाके, हँसना हँसाना सीख ज़रा
तू हँसना हँसाना सीख ज़रा ) – २
तूफ़ान से कह दे घिर के उठे, हम प्यार के दीप जलाते हैं
हम प्यार के दीप जलाते हैं
हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत …

(काँटों में खिले हैं फूल हमारे, रंग भरे अरमानों के
रंग भरे अरमानों के ) – २
नादान हैं जो इन काँटों से, दामन को बचाये जाते हैं
दामन को बचाये जाते हैं
हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत …

(जब ग़म का अन्धेरा घिर आये, समझो के सवेरा दूर नहीं
समझो के सवेरा दूर नहीं ) – २
हर रात की है सौगात यही, तारे भी यही दोहराते हैं
तारे भी यही दोहराते हैं
हैं सबसे मधुर वो गीत …



Manik Lakhkar Chava Awwww…. long discussion. Ravi, there is and can not be any remote control. One feels like crying… aansu bahane dijiye. Cry for some one with some one… the drop of pearls are too valuable…. for you, me for every one.

Evani Leela Aansoo aanaa matlab aatma parmatma ko chu rahi hai. Jab dil se dil ke taar juDte hain to jo bridge banta hai, wohi aansoo hote hain. Jab koi drishya dekha, kuch suna, kuch mehsoos kiya, kisi ki uaad aayi, koi kitab yaa kahani paDhi to aanssoo bhi chalakte hain, muskaan bhi khilti hai. Inn donon par jab sanyam nahin hai to samjho hum uss paramatma ke kareeb hain.

Evani Leela Phoolon ki khushboo bhi aapko rulasakti hai khushi se, bachon ki kilkaari bhi rulasakti hai. Manik Lakhkar Chava se poochiye jab humne inki poti par geet post kiye to kyon royi. Humne jab anniversary lar geet post kiye to kyon aansoo chalke?

Evani Leela Aansoo aur muskaan donon par jab hamara vash na rahe to hum saamne wale ke dil ke ander samaa gaye. Isi liye jab geetkaar ke shabd humen rulate hain to iska matlab hai, woh geetkaar hamare dil mein ufar gaya aur usne woh kaha jo hum khud kehna chahte the. Jab woh shabd hum tak pahunchte hain to hamare dil ke taaron mein jhankaar hoti hai. Wohi niyam sangeet ke liye bhi laagoo hota hai.

Amit Lambah “Jo hamne dastaan apni sunayii aap kyon roye….hamara dard o gham hai yeh issay kyon aap sehte hain, yeh kyun aansoo hamare aapki aankhon se behte hain….. qayamat aapke ashkon ne dhayi aap kyon roye .jo hamne dastaan aoni sunayi…..naa yeh ansoin rukke to dekhiye phir hum bhi ro denge, hum apne ansoo on mein chaand taaron ko dubbo denge, fanaah ho jayegi saari khudaayi aap kyon roye…

Evani Leela Maine ek baar ek choti si kahaani paDhi thi, jismein do sceintist shukr grah par pahunchte hainn wahan par ek hi praani dikha jo ek talab mein tair raha tha. Use ek sceintist ne dekha aur use chune ki koshish ki.par woh haath na aakar door door tairta …See More

This started another round of Aansu songs with Vipan Kohli suggesting that we have a Flash Fest on Aansu

Maj Vishwas Mandloi Jo hamne dastaan apni sunayi … aap kyu roye …

I reminded them that the other day Surekha Saini commented how at one time she was jealous of my comments on Evani Leela’s posts and comments.

“Now, take this post itself. All of us, in answer to the question ‘Why Do We Cry With Our Favourite Songs?‘ thought of this as an oopurtunity to put up Aansu songs. Some even suggested that we have an Aansu Fest here itself. Not Evani Leela. She responded with ‘dil se’ (something that she does in all her posts and comments, beautifully and brilliantly, in the wee hours of the morning after all the dust had settled down, as to why do we cry.

Now, you will understand, brothers and sisters, this special relationship of not just brother and sister but of love, dard, empathy, and emotions. I remember the time about two years back when her description of a song would be one or two words: eg, Song#1 and the first word of the song such as Aansu. However, I saw in her someone special, someone who feels deeply. The result is for all of you to see.

Evani Leela came up with a gem, at this stage that Aansu and Muskaan are two sides of the same coin. In her own words: “Maine yehi mehsoos kiya ki aansoo aur muskaan sikke ke do pehlu hain. Kisi bhi tarf dekgo sikke ki value kum nahin hoti. Haan yeh baat alag hai ki humari aankhen num hon to tapasya doosron ke aansoo pee saken to paramatma ka vardaan.

She put up a beautiful song by Shailendra from the 1959 Raj Kapoor Movie Anadi:

किसी की मुस्कुराहटों पे हो निसार
किसीका दर्द मिल सके तो ले उधार
किसीके वास्ते हो तेरे दिल में प्यार
जीना इसी का नाम है
किसी की …

(माना अपनी जेब से फ़कीर हैं
फिर भी यारों दिल के हम अमीर हैं ) – (२)
मिटे जो प्यार के लिये वो ज़िन्दगी
जले बहार के लिये वो ज़िन्दगी
किसी को हो न हो हमें तो ऐतबार
जीना इसी का नाम है

(रिश्ता दिल से दिल के ऐतबार का
ज़िन्दा है हमीं से नाम प्यार का ) – (२)
के मर के भी किसी को याद आयेंगे
किसी के आँसुओं में मुस्कुरायेंगे
कहेगा फूल हर कली से बार बार
जीना इसी का नाम है

So, ultimsately, I had dozens of excellent replies as to why do we cry when we listen to old favourite songs.

We feel for the era gone by: our own as well as the era of the song, we feel for the Lyricists, Music Directors, Singers and Actors of those movies. We relive their emotions. We are touched by the simplicity and innocence in people as there used to be (Read: Hindi Songs And The Age of Innocence). There are many valid reasons.

I think, there is one more reason; and that is the great longing to belong (both emotionally and poetically) and call something one’s own: my own thoughts with which I relate to others who have similar (if not identical thoughts); someone who can understand my state of mind; something that I can call my own.

I am past sixty years of age now. And yet, at the end of  six decades of going through this world, are friends my own? No. Are relatives my own? No. Are my children I can call my own? No. Is there something I can call my own? Hardly. Songs and poetry are something that helped me build my own private world. I cry when I am reminded of this world, however small, where I was I and I am still I

I was in school when Trini Lopez’s number by the name What Have I Got Of My Own? was released. I later heard the song from pop-singer Ajit during Summer Festival in Shimla.

The lyrics of the song went like this:

What have I got of my own, my own?
What have I got of my own?

The castles I build when I lie in the sand,
Belong to a king in a fairy tale land.
The treasures I find, when I dream in my sleep,
Are gone in the dawn. not a thjng I can keep.
What have I got of my own, my o~own?
What have I got of my own?

The stars all belong high in heaven above.
My heart belongs to the one that I love.
The rivers that flow all belong to the sea.
What have I got that belongs to me?
What have I got of my own, my o~own?
What have I got of my own?

I hope someday before too long
My heart will sing a happy song.
I’m tired of being lonely, unhappy and sad.
I wanna have the things that other men have.
What have I got of my own, my o~own?
What have I got of my own?

Solo interlude

If I could choose one thing forever to hold,
I know I would never choose diamonds or gold.
Just give me one true love to be mine alone,
Then I’ll have all the things of my own, my own.
What have I got of my own?

I was embarking on my journey through life and hence everything appeared within reach, everything was to be owned, to belong.

Four and half decades later, I am not too sure if anything at all belongs to me. Of course religion and scriptures tell me that finally when we go, we don’t take anything with us. And yet, there is this innate desire to own, to possess, to relate to; to be a little more precious than a speck of dust.

My own.

What have I got of my own?

I cry when I realise that just like Baiju Bawra, Naushad, Shakeel and Rafi; everything will pass away and even the memories would get blurred. As Shakeel, Naushad and Rafi voiced in the 1948 movie Mela:

ये ज़िंदगी के मेले, दुनिया में कम न होंगे
अफ़सोस हम न होंगे

इक दिन पड़ेगा जाना, क्या वक़्त, क्या ज़माना
कोई न साथ देगा, सब कुछ यहीं रहेगा
जाएंगे हम अकेले, ये ज़िंदगी …

दुनिया है मौज-ए-दरिया, क़तरे की ज़िंदगी क्या
पानी में मिल के पानी, अंजाम ये के पानी
दम भर को सांस ले ले, ये ज़िंदगी …

होंगी यही बहारें, उल्फ़त की यादगारें
बिगड़ेगी और चलेगी, दुनिया यही रहेगी
होंगे यही झमेले, ये ज़िंदगी …

These personalities are still being remembered at least by some one like me who relives their and my own era through their songs.

Who would ever think of me….. a katra (drop of water) in the river?

© 2015 – 2016, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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  1. Aansoo dar asal aankhon ki muskaan hai.
    aur jab aankhon mein jhalakte hain to aankhen chamakti hain. Yeh bahut valuable hain. Isi liye har chhoti badi cheez ke liye waste mat karna.

  2. Just discovered your blog and am enjoying it immensely. In addition to Shakeel there are a few other writers that have penned memorable geet and ghazals. How can one not mention Sahir, Shailendra, hasrat, raja mehndi ali khan, majrooh, rajinder krishan, Kaifi Azmi et al. They have all written such beautiful and touching songs and poetry many of which do bring tears to one’s eyes. And the list is not complete. Younger people probably think highly of Gulzar and Javed. We have been blessed to have had such notable poets.

    1. I entirely agree with you Prithpal. As you must have gathered from my profile, I am not a full-time writer. I worked in the Indian Navy for 37 years and now I am in a corporate. I have so far written about my favourite poet and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni. I have also written about Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. I must write about Sahir, Majrooh, Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Hasrat, Shailendra….miles to go before I sleep.

      Thanks for your encouragement.