Mohabbat hi na jo samjhe – Talat Mehmood

There are songs which are hardly recalled without a memory so strongly associated with it that I often wonder whether that song could have ever been heard elsewhere. One such song is “Mohabbat hi na jo samjhe” which clearly reminds me of H-467 (apartment number) with my National Panasonic stationed atop a wooden reaper L-angle stand in the corner. There my father would play Talat Mehmood songs for himself, though I strongly suspect he wanted us to hear them and have them play in our heads for decades to come. I don’t recall him ever getting into a protracted discussion about the merits of classical music (or anything, for that matter) but slowly infused our lives and consciousness with material which have, although I repeatedly deny it, influenced our tastes significantly. Sometimes I feel all I need is a son and a daughter (or two daughters) with whom I can revisit this entire world and recreate it for them without making it their world.

Shakespeare, Talat Mehmood, Ghazals, Yesudas and many more threads wove into the fabric of what I am without being all the fabric I have – like a beautiful butter-white silk stole floating in the air and when you thought that that was all, you find a glistening thread of gold woven into in, unknown till then, but surely there.

“Mohabbat hi na jo samjhe” is a ghazal where the poet has chosen (or was told) not to embed his name in it. Noor Lucknowi wrote this gem of a ghazal which at once satisfies the wants of a movie as well as of a poetry aficionado. The music director is C Ramachandra and the movie is Parcchaayin (Shadow).

Love in Urdu has several words which each focus on a different facet of it – mohabbat, ishq, pyaar, chaahat, aashiqui and much more. English too might conjure words to watch like love, affection, caring but they tend to make the intent clear. Clearly pyaar is placed on a higher pedestal in this ghazal. Some poets would regard mohabbat as being the epitome of love. The movie Aashiqui felt differently. Hence, I don’t think any translation could do justice to what the poet might have felt or wanted to say.

Mohabbat hi no jo samjhe, woh zaalim pyaar kya jaane

Nikalti dil ki taaron se, jo hai jhankaar kya jaaney.

For one who understand not passion, what would she, of love, know.

From the strings of the heart, what would she, of such music, know.

Usey to qatl karna aur tadpaana hi aata hai

Gala kis ka kata kyun kar kata talvaar kya jaane.

All she knew was to annihilate and torture

Whose neck and why it was cut, what would a sword know.

Dava se faayda hoga ke hoga zeher-e-kaatil se

Maraz ki kya dava hai, ye koi bimaar kya jaaney.

Would one benefit from salves or from the poison that kills

The cure to such ailment, how would any lover know.

Karo fariyaad sar takarao, apni jaan de daalo

Tadapte dil ki haalat husn ke deewaar kya jaaney.

Lament hoarse, bang your head against the wall, give up your life

Such a suffering heart’s anguish, what would the wall of beauty know.

This song sung in the silken voice of Talat Mehmood is beautiful in the way it lingers in one’s mind, humming in the slightest moment when all is still and none occupy it. Such is the fabric of this music that it fills my veins and brings warmth on a cold Winter evening.

5 thoughts on “Mohabbat hi na jo samjhe – Talat Mehmood

  1. “I don't recall him ever getting into a protracted discussion about the merits of classical music (or anything, for that matter) but slowly infused our lives and consciousness with material which have, although I repeatedly deny it, influenced our tastes significantly. Sometimes I feel all I need is a son and a daughter (or two daughters) with whom I can revisit this entire world and recreate it for them without making it their world.”

    Lovely observation/thought. I identify with it completely.

  2. Summer noons and moonlit nights nostalgia is this song from the watchman's radio unseen. Good translation.
    -Parvati

  3. Mohabaat hi na jo Samjhe, Wo Zalim Pyar ka Jane. I believe it means that when she can't understand my love towards her, how will she love me back.

  4. Thanks for posting your feelings about this song. The confluence of talents could not have been better – Chitalkar, Talat, Shantaram's movie, three great actors. Only the best music, as in this case, would suffice.
    What a melodious rendering. I saw it when it was released first, perhaps I was your father's contemporary

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