Enrapturing eyes

Last week I had commented on a nazm (poem) by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, extolling the beauty of eyes.  A friend wrote to inquire if the nazm was in fact, not a love poem but a protest lyric since its latter verses continue along the lines that:

… Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein muhabbat ke sivaa … there are sorrows in this world, far beyond the anguish of love
Raahatein aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siwaa … There is more to happiness than the relief of reunion …
… Laut jaati hai udhar ko bhi nazar, kya keeje? … my eyes cannot look away, what should I do?
Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn, magar kya keeje? … Your beauty still allures, but what can I do? …
… Mujh se pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang … so my love, do not ask from me the love we shared before

While an extract is reproduced here, the complete nazm by Faiz does reflect the poet’s concern for prevailing worldly sorrows and injustices besetting humanity, which surely must overshadow a lover’s allure.

Dr. Ali Madeeh Hashmi, grandson of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and author of “Love and Revolution: Faiz Ahmed Faiz the authorized biography” recently wrote that “Faiz once revealed the reason that his poetry appealed to so many and it is a simple one. He said “what you say or write will only resonate with another person if it is in their heart too”.  And he quoted a verse from his ideal, (Mirza) Ghalib: Main ne ye jaana ke goya yeh bhi mere dil mein hai (“I realised that this, too, is in my heart”).”

I digress.  Aankhen (Eyes) remain a favourite subject of poets and writers and many beautiful compositions readily come to mind.  I am particularly fond of these two songs.

Sung by the inimitable Manna Dey, this love song was penned by Kaifi Azmi and set to music by Madan Mohan for the 1973 “war” film Hindustan Ki Kasam.  Nearly five decades ago these artistes had highlighted love over war-mongering, just as they do now to circumvent the venom that is being spewed today:

Har taraf ab yahi afsaane hain The legend around town now, is that …
Hum teri aankhon ke deewane hain … I am enamoured of your eyes
Itni sachchaayi hai in aankhon mein There is such honesty in these eyes (that)
Khote sikke bhii khare ho jaayen Even fake coins appear transformed
Tu kabhi pyaar se dekhe jo udhar If you were to only lovingly glance thither …
Suukhe jungle bhi harey ho jaayen … even barren forests will turn verdant
BaaG ban jaayen, jo viiraane hain … wildernesses will turn into gardens
Ek halkaa sa ishaara inkaa Merely a sign/hint from these eyes …
Kabhi dil aur kabhi jaan lootegaa … sometimes steals my heart, other times robs me of my (very) life
Kis tarah pyaas bujhegi usski How will a lover’s thirst be quenched
Kis tarah usska nashaa tootegaa … how will his intoxication be quelled
Jiski kismat mein yeh paimaane hain … the one (favored) with these wine-goblets (of your eyes)
Neechii nazroN mein hain kitnaa jaadoo Downcast eyes have such magic …
Ho gaye pal mein kayi kaabU jawaaN … that in a moment cause many restraints to come alive
Kabhi utthne kabhi jhukne ki adaa … the coquetry of raising and lowering the eyes
Le chali jaane kidhar jaane kahan … … causes (the besotted) one to wander, directionless
… Raaste pyaar ke anjaane hain … the path of love is unexplored
Hum teri aankhon ke deewaane hain I am enamoured of your eyes
Har taraf ab yahi afsaane hain That is the legend around town now

Here is another beauty composed by N. Datta, written by my favourite lyricist/philosopher/poet Sahir Ludhianvi and soulfully crooned by Mahendra Kapoor for the 1961 movie Dharmputra.  The movie dealt with the partition of India and highlighted religious fundamentalism for the first time on Indian screens.  This melodic composition acted as a balm for frenzied minds half a century ago and still generates a soothing, comforting mood even if the lyrics are not understood.

Bhool saktaa hai bhalaa kaun yeh pyaarii aankhen Who can forget these lovely eyes
Rang me dubii huyee niind se bhaarii aankhen Tinged with the colour of sleep-laden eyes
Merii har saans ne har soch ne chaahaa hai tumhe I have loved you through each breath, every thought of mine
Jab se dekhaa hai tumhe tab se saraahaa hai tumhe Since I first set eyes on you, I have lauded you
Bas gayii hain merii aankhon mein tumharii aankhen Your eyes are now entwined with my eyes
Tum jo nazron ko uthaao toh sitaare jhuk jaayen When you lift your eyes, the stars bow down
Tum jo palkon ko jhukaao toh zamaane ruk jaayen When you lower your eyelashes, time/ages come to a halt
Kyoon naa ban jayen in aankhon kii pujarii aankhen Why can (my) eyes not become the worshipper of your eyes
Jaagtii raaton ko sapnon kaa khazaanaa mil jaaye On wakeful nights, a treasure of dreams is found
Tum jo mil jaao toh jiine kaa bahaanaa mil jaaye If I have you, it gives me the excuse to live
Apnii kismat peh karen naaz hamaarii aankhen My eyes take pride in my fate (what I have)
Bhuul saktaa hai bhalaa kaun yeh pyarii aankhen Who can forget these lovely eyes
Rang me dubii huyee niind se bhaarii aankhen Tinged with the colour of sleep-laden eyes

Next week, I will conclude with the last of my favourite songs on the power and love of “eyes”.

But, for now let us learn to look deep and sincerely into the eyes of the person we speak to and mean what we say.  We are allowing them an ingress into our soul.

6 Replies to “Enrapturing eyes”

  1. Lovely post Pankaj.

    I too wanted to respond to your post on Mujse pahelisi Muhobbat – to me it is one of the finest examples of the interaction of political outrage with the personal – in fact the first line of the poem is stridently says that to the beloved – – “don’t ask of me …..”

    Have you seen this?

    Warm regards,




    1. Thanks a lot, Mohamed.  Trust your “musical journey” is lilting along in India!Yes, I had earlier seen/heard Zohra Saigal reciting this nazm by Faiz; she was an amazing artiste!  Another good stage and movie actress Surekha Seekri has also recited this nazm.Warm regards


  2. Even bad poetry, it is said, often springs from genuine feeling. As for poets like Sahir and Faiz, the music of their words seems to emerge from the eternal fountainhead of Truth. Thank you for enhancing my understanding of Urdu shayars and shairi.


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