Songs With Substance: Aey Bhai Zara Dekh Kay Chalo

| October 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Mera Naam Joker posterIn this series that brings alive simple yet soulful classic songs with their value-enhancing, life-affirming interpretations, we bring you the inimitable Manna Dey’s heart-felt rendition of Life-as-it-is and not as-it-should-be philosophy penned so succinctly by lyricist Shailendra and richly composed  by Shankar Jaikishen.

Aey bhai zara dekh kay chalo
Aagey hi nahi peechhey bhi..

Year 1970. Film—Mera Naam Joker.
Raj Kapoor in one of his eponymous role of a joker uses Circus as a metaphor for Life.

There are tomes of motivational and inspirational literature available on how to live life. But this song makes the art of living so simple to understand. Most of us are raised on auto-pilot with no navigational tools.The simple requirement is to have a compass of awareness 24×7. As kids are taught to look right-left while crossing a street one has to look within and around before taking any action. That is what is called awakening sense of discrimination.

Aey bhai zara dekh kay chalo
Aagey hi nahi peechhey bhi
Daayein hi nahi bayein bhi
Upar hi nahin neeche bhi
Aey bhai..

The major illusion a man lives with is about his being a mere body and not a soul.This is called Maya. Under the influence of Maya the man forgets that his stay in the body is temporary.Even this planet earth is not his permanent residence. His quest for possessions and more acquisitions is nothing but a bottomless pit. This outward disposition is what is world and being worldly all about.

Tu jahan aaya hai
Wo tera ghar nahi
Gali nahi,gaanv nahi, koocha nahi
Basti nahin,rasta nahin, duniya hai

Shakespeare remarked that this world is a stage and we all are mere actors with our precise entries and exits. But this simile of circus for the world is simply brilliant in its concept and expression.

Once Guru Nanak Dev was asked by the ruler of Baghdad what God does. Guru Nanak told him to first get down from his throne as the person asking a question is just like a student and the person giving an answer is a Guru who has to be accorded a higher place. The ruler understood and humbly got down from his throne and let Guru Nanak be seated on it. Guru Nanak closed his eyes and kept quiet for a while. The ruler repeated his question as to what God does after all! Guru Nanak in his ethereal wisdom replied that God does this much only- to dethrone a ruler and to make pauper a King. That’s what is beautifully portrayed in this verse where everybody has to go through ups and downs in life. Nobody is immune to this eternal phenomenon.

Aur pyarey duniya ye circus hai
Aur circus mein badey ko bhi
Chhote ko bhi, kharey ko bhi
Khotey ko bhi, dubley ko bhi
Motey ko bhi, neechey se oopar ko,
oopar se neechey ko aana jaana
Padta hai..

Whether God is a person or a faceless force ,it may be debatable. But one thing is for sure. His dispensation is indisputable. He is like a ringmaster in the circus. One gets results of what one works for. That’s how the destiny unfolds. The body needs food, shelter, clothing. One has to work for these necessities. Going beyond the needs the pursuit for more is nothing but the rat race that in its essence, is nothing more than feeding the senses for their transient pleasures.Oh, what all a man won’t do to satisfy these unsatiable desires!

Aur ring master kay kodey par
Koda jo bhook hai
Koda jo paisa hai
Koda jo kismat hai
Tarah tarah naach kay
Dikhana yahan padhta hai
Baar. Baar rona aur gaana yahan padhta hai
Hero se joker ban jaana padhta hai
Aey Bhai..

Most of us live desperate,cynical or fearful lives.All these are atavastic reactions for survival. But human being is supposed to be made in the image of God. He is born to struggle and fight his way through the obstacles and face the vicissitudes of life with courage and fortitude. Till he learns the virtues and dharma of life with understanding and wisdom he will keep weeping over his predicament and keep repeating the lessons unlearnt.

Girney se darta hai kyun
Marney se darta hai kyun
Thokur tu jab tak na khayega
Paas kisi gam ko na jab tak bulayega
Zindagi hai cheez kya
Jaan nahi payega
Rota hua aaya hai
Rota chala jayega
Aey bhai..

In one of a zoo the last cage  was kept empty with no animal in it. There was just a life size mirror hung at the far end of the wall. Above the cage it was written: “The most dangerous animal in the world”. It  eventually dawned upon the visitor that this dangerous animal is none other than him! If a man fuels his selfishness and greed he can go to any length to exploit his own fellow beings and manifest the animalistic tendencies with more ferocity than any being in the animal kingdom.

Kya hai karishma
Kaisa khilwaar hai
Jaanwar aadmi se zyada wafadaar hai
Khaata hai koda bhi
Rehta hai bhooka bhi
Phir bhi wo maalik pe karta nahin waar hai
Aur Insaan
Ye maal jiska khaata hai
Pyaar jisse paata hai
Geet jiskey gaata hai
Uskey hi seenay mein
Bhaunkta kataar hai
Aey bhai..

Life is a cycle of birth and death. It goes through essentially three stages of childhood,youth and old age like three hour circus show.After the show is over one has to leave the circus tent. Once the journey of life is over one has to bid adieu. No one goes along.All relations are left behind. One has nothing but eternal emtiness staring in the face.

Haan babu,ye circus hai
Show teen ghante ka
Pehla ghanta bachpan hai
Doosra jawani hai
Teesra budaapa hai
Aur uskay baad
Ma nahin,baap nahin,
Beta nahin,beti nahin
Tu nahin,main nahin
Ye nahin,wo nahin
Kuchh bhi nahin rehta hai
Rehta hai jo kuchh
Wo khaali khaali kursiyan hain
Khaali khaali tamboo hain
Khaali khaali ghera hai
Bina Chidiya ka basera hai
Na tera hai na mera hai…

Its remarkable how Shailendra managed to squeeze the reality of life in these few verses.How Manna Dey gave his master classical touch
to an otherwise pop song. Anyone absorbing this truth about life as circus can use this as a tool to navigate with acceptance his sojourn through so called Mrityuloka (the planet earth).


  • Manna Dey received National Film Award for best male playback singer for this song
  • Manna Dey wanted to be a wrestler as a young man. His other passion was football
  • Manna Dey considered Mohammed Rafi as the greatest singer India ever had. He envied him and lavishly praised him too
  • Mohammed Rafi remarked once: You listen to many singers including me, I listen only to Manna Dey
  • Mera Naam Joker was the showman Raj Kapoor’s most dear project that flopped at the box office
  • Rishi Kapoor made his debut with this film as a child artiste

Film: Mera Naam Joker
Writer: K A Abbas
Lyricists: Shailendra,Hasrat Jaipuri
Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishen
Director-Producer: Raj Kapoor

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Category: Songs With Substance

About the Author ()

Dhieraj Mohan is Hindi cinema’s keen observer. With earnest interest in its dynamics and constantly changing milieu he revels in dwelling on the discrepancies, idiosyncrasies,contradictions,masala and the formula that defines Bollywood.He is a poet and a screenwriter too,who simply adores Hindi cinema’s chameleon like traits.

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