There’s a song I watched on TV when I was a kid. And I never recovered. I was done for life, I was doomed to become a hopeless romantic… not necessarily languishing in love, but constantly yearning for that glorious rarity, that wonderful element that our mundane lives lack – constantly searching for Charm.
Which song was it? Maybe you can guess. It’s one of those vintage evergreen classics that make you wonder if you were born fifty years later than you should have been, and whether the world you would find charming just went out of fashion after 1955…
1. A World without colours: There’s a special kind of magic in the black and white setting of this song! Coloured pictures are like our lives today, and like some of our music: short, sudden explosions of joy and glamour and then gone, poof! But those old B/W ones are like impressions in your memory, the essence of a time gone by, linking you forever to this era of cobbled-stone roads and beautiful street lamps…
2. A World where words still carry weight: Which means that the lyrics of a song are deeply meaningful, or, that poetry is valued, or, that people stand by what they say, or, that letters – handwritten, on real paper – still exist, or, that our words are actually bulky, in the shape of magnificiently old, dusty hardbacks… interpret this one in any way you want. Or in all of them.
3. A World where men are men… with moustaches, and valour and courage, and firm handshakes, not boys with ear studs and waxed chests. Where chivalry still counts for something, and when it’s raining, you’ll give your umbrella to the lady, but not share it yourself until she asks you to. And where courtship is still done wearing a suit, even if it’s only an old tweed jacket.
4. And women are women, and can carry off a gown or a dress with panache, or a saree with Nargis’ grace, and need neither tighter jeans nor shorter skirts to assert their femininity… ladies who kept their secrets, didn’t swear, and retained those last bits of demureness and shyness that are lost in the name of ‘empowerment’ today.
5. And simplicity is still valued: There is charm in simplicity, in wisdom and in modesty. There’s charm in the way a person might be comfortable with what he is, and not requiring a fake ‘attitude’ or false flamboyance. The way Raj Kapoor starts playing his mouth-organ and dancing is almost comical… but it’s heart touching. As is the simplicity of a world where dusk’s rain and humble umbrellas can still be considered beautiful.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’ll tell you: the song is the timeless ‘Pyaar hua ikraar hua’ from the 1955 movie Shri 420.
And watching it once again now, and reminiscing about an era that ended much before I began, I begin to think not all of it might be as far away as it seems. Yes, we might be in too much of a hurry to notice it maybe, but I think it is still all here, waiting and wanting to be discovered. Somewhere deep within ourselves, hidden, till the time that we truly realize what ‘Charm’ means.