Ajnabi, tum jaane pehchane se lagte ho

Most songs in any language end up being about love. Perhaps love provides some extra creative impetus for the penning and singing of songs. But if that is true, then the loss of love seems to be all that much more inspiring. Thus we have heartbreak Hindi-film style, circa 1965, in Ajnabi, tum jaane pehchane se lagte ho with Kishore Kumar from the film Hum Sab Ustad Hai.

I’ve never seen this film and I tracked down the video only when I decided to feature the song here. From what I can gather from the visuals and the credits for the film, Kishore Kumar is our hero who was once in love with the woman played by Lalita Kumari, who in turn is now married to the purposefully sinister looking Sheikh Mukhtar. The couple, likely on the behest of said sinister husband, is sitting at a restaurant with live music where our hero is the singer. Such provocative show-boating can only be countered in one way, with a cutting song of heartbreak that holds extra meaning for our former lovers, complete with dramatic reaction shots, music and camera pulls. And so it is that our song is set up.

The video continues as described above, with the couple suddenly leaving half-way, and our hero wandering the dark streets, continuing to croon for his loss. I’m sure not much more could be expected from what was at the time a fairly minor film. But the song itself is a great piece of work, dramatic music and all.

Kishore Kumar gives it his earnest all with his vocals, and the duo of Laximant-Pyarelal provide a tune with jazz-inspired bits that gives this song a very film-noir feel, especially in conjunction with the setting, the live band and the dark cinematography. Asad Bhopali pens the words, the main thrust of which are the strongest:

Ajnabi tum jaane pehchaane se lagte ho
Yeh badi ajeeb si baat hai
Ke nayi nayi mulaaqaat hai
Phir bhi jaane kyon
Ajnabi tum jaane pehchaane se lagte ho


Stranger, it feels like we’ve met before
It is an inexplicable feeling
That while we’ve only just met for sure
I can’t explain why
Dear Stranger, that it feels like we’ve met before

This is a fairly short song, but a very strong one that sticks in memory after even a few listens. I was glad to track it down.

Alternative links:

Also listen to …