Chhoti Si Baat is one of my favourite romantic comedies, if not one of my favourite films of any kind in any language. So, it is inevitable that the songs of the film also hold a special place in my heart. Na jaane kyun hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath, the closest thing the film has to a title track, is a slow and melancholy tune, but it never fails to bring a smile to my face when watched in the context of the film. Such a musical beast is worthy of mention here.
The film is about average office-going life in the Bombay of the 1970s (not all that different from today), which is what immediately sets it apart from the more fantastic films of the time. Amol Palekar plays a mild-mannered accountant who is very attracted to a woman he sees on the bus to and from work everyday, played by Vidya Sinha, but all he ever manges to do is follow her around silently, at a distance, never ever saying a word.
Afraid that he will lose her to the marginally more suave guy with a scooter, played by the ever entertaining Asrani, he enlists the help of Ashok Kumar, a mysterious helper of insecure lovers, to win her over. While our hero is away learning the tricks of romance from his new found mentor, our heroine, who has always been aware of his not so clandestine interest, pines after him through this song.
The visuals of this song are really what endear it to me. Shot almost entirely on the actual streets of Bombay, and in the buses, and in perfectly normal, drab looking offices, it has a charming normality to it that is rarely found on film. That added with the quietly hilarious training being imparted by Ashok Kumar to Amol Palekar makes this a song I love to watch. A time and a setting in which the hero is learning how to use chopsticks, play chess, and master table-tennis to impress the girl is simply too strange and heartfelt to not make this amusing, no matter the actual nature of the song.
The song itself is written by Yogesh, and sung by Lata Mangeshkar with good deal of emotion, in what was by then already not her most youthful voice. Salil Choudhury provided the music that veers vaguely towards the territory of wedding bands, making it all the more fitting for the seemingly mundane settings of the film.
Na jaane kyon, hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath
Achanak ye mann,
Kisi ke jaane ke baad, kare phir usiki yaad
Chhoti chhoti si baat,
Na jaane kyon …
I wonder why, life makes it so,
That suddenly this heart,
When they’ve left, remembers aglow,
The little things about them.
I wonder why …
A decent song made worthy by a quirky video from a much quirkier movie, directed by Basu Chatterjee.