The opening credit sequence of Gulzar’s Mausam (1975) takes us through the scenic beauty of Darjeeling. The music for this journey has a yearning about it – and yearning is quite the theme of the film and its songs. From the first words “Dil dhoondta hai” (the heart is searching), we slip into the nostalgic, compelling mood of the film. Someone, somewhere, somehow is searching for someone. The solo is an echo of a love that is lost but not forgotten.
Madan Mohan’s haunting music and Gulzar’s evocative lyrics ensure that we recognise the song later in the film when the characters Amarnath (Sanjeev Kumar) and Chanda (Sharmila Tagore) render a longer and livelier duet through playback singers Bhupinder Singh and Lata Mangeshkar.
This is when we see Amarnath and Chanda as young lovers 25 ago. Under the safe canopy of trees, they take long walks through green hills and look up to white peaks breathing clear air all around them. The camera captures the stars in their eyes, while the lyrics describe the reflection of stars on a dark terrace.
Such is the magic of that mausam, which now whispers all around a guilt-ridden, lonely, unfulfilled Amarnath as he walks the same way he did when he knew Chanda. From a distance, he sees himself and Chanda as young lovers, he hears their young voices and re-visualises their tender moments nestling in nature’s beauty. What is especially arresting about this sequence, which has faint traces of Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957), is that there are moments of complete silence that wrap around Amarnath before the song bursts in on him again.
Both versions of Dil Dhoondta Hai offset each other and deserve a secure place in audience memory.