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Jai Hind : A feature on patriotic songs in Hindi films

"Talk of patriotic numbers and many more film songs of such caliber come to mind. Songs like Aye Watan, Aye Watan, Watan Ki Raha Main, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola(Saheed) , Apni Azadi Ko Hum (Leader), title track of 'Hindusthan Ki Kasam' and 'Kar Chale Hum Fida' (Haqeekat)  not only make one nostalgic but fill the heart with nationalistic fervor as well."

Tulsidas Mishra : August 3, 2008

Thanks to our belligerent neighbors, we would not be half as patriotic as we are otherwise. Incorrigible as they are, in regular intervals they howl along our frontiers. And what they witness in return is a supreme display of solidarity and patriotism. Soldiers lay down their lives. Civilians rise up, close ranks and come forward to extend both moral support and material help. And predictably enough, after a short resistance, the enemies buckle and back track, before a splendid spectacle of power and valor. And in such difficult time, to wake up the dormant patriot in all of us, Indian films and more particularly Hindi films have played a great role too.

As we all know, since its advent in the early decades of last century, Hindi film medium has developed not only as a mode of entertainment but as an alternative form of chronicle as well. So in all these years, it has both entertained the masses and championed the issues of the time too, both social and political. And along the way it has become fairly successful in playing the role of alert watchman, hollering 'Jagte Raho' in regular intervals. 

Hence not only during freedom struggle but during other wars as well, it has both commemorated victories and condemned the enemies of the people. So down the years, what we have reaped is a rich harvest of war flicks and a treasure of patriotic songs.

''Dekho Veer Jawano Apne , Khoon Pe Yeh Ilzaam Na Aaye,
Maa Na Kahe Ki Mere Bete, Waqt Pada  To Kaam Na Aaye''
(Anand Bakshi/Laxmi-Pyre/Kishor Kumar)

This was how a lame Rajesh Khanna exhorted the platoons of soldiers going to the battle field in J.Omprakash's  'Aakraman'. In this war flick of 1973, the enemies whom the sapoots were out to slay were Pakistanis. Only the issue was not Kargil but liberation of Bangladesh. So what we witnessed in Kashmir few years back was nothing but the repetition of the same old story.

But it was not always Pakisthan that provoked war frenzy in us. Before it, it was the prerogative of the 'firangs'. During the pre-independence days, Akand Bharat was the fondly cherished dream of the freedom fighters. Hence during the Quit India movement, Kavi Pradeep , a great patriot as he was, wrote ''Dur Hato Aie Duniyawalo', 'Hindusthan Hamara Hai' (Kismat, 1943). It is said that the producer of this film Sashadhar Mukharjee was very skeptical about the reaction of the British rulers. But Pradeep somehow persuaded him to include the song in the film. At the same time he convinced the British rulers that, the song was targeted at the Japanese and German who were foes of England at that time, due to 2nd World War.  But when the Indian freedom fighters lapped up the song and used it as a slogan against Britishers, the real design dawned on them. But then it was too late.

After the long drawn struggle, when India got the much awaited freedom, its euphoria stayed with the people well beyond a decade. Each successive anniversary was celebrated with increased enthusiasm and fervor. Films were made retracting the days of struggle and enumerating the dreams and ambitions of a young India.

In Anandmath(1952), Hemant Kumar set Bankim  Chandra's Vande Mataram to a racy and rabble rousing composition, (which was totally opposite to the slow, solemn classical composition that our radio stations play in the morning everyday.)  And Lata Mangeshkar from her side complimented Hemnant Kumar's chorus by singing it with feeling and a rare flourish.

Talk of patriotic numbers and many more film songs of such caliber come to mind. Songs like Aye Watan, Aye Watan, Watan Ki Raha Main, Mera Rang De Basanti Chola(Saheed) , Apni Azadi Ko Hum (Leader), title track of 'Hindusthan Ki Kasam' and 'Kar Chale Hum Fida' (Haqeekat)  not only make one nostalgic but fill the heart with nationalistic fervor as well.

But all the patriotic songs of the Hindi films don't sound like war cries. Hence before some critic dubs our film makers as jingoists, who advocate fervent nationalism and fierce fanaticism, he should think twice because they have a cache of cool compositions that neutralize the opprobrium.   Songs like Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhaon( Jagruti)  Jahan Daal, Daal Par (Sikandar-E-Azam), Mere Desh Main (Jigri Dost), Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawano Ka (Naya Daur),  are all meaningful and benign compositions. These songs not only highlight the great social traditions and moral values of our ancient civilization, but give   a glimpse of our history and heritage as well. And Chodo Kal Ki Baaten (Hum Hindusthani) deserves a special mention, because this can very well called one of the best compostion of not so prolific lady composer Ms Usha Khanna. The youthful and spirited playback singing of Mukesh is able compemented by handsome and gentlemanly presence of Sunil Dutt on screen. And the sleek use of mandolin and accordion in orchestration and the pleasant vocal chorus that support the lead voices have a heart warming impact.

Mere Desh Ki Dharti (Upkaar) - if Raj Kapoor was die hard optimist, Manoj Kumar is a hard core pacifist. Needless to say songs of their films like Honthon Pe Sachchai Rahati Hai, Mera Naam Raju (Jis Desh Main Ganga Bahati Hai) and Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada (Purab Aur Pachchim) preached non-violence and advocated peaceful co-existence. The above numbers extolled at the same time other virtues of this land of the Ganges and the Himalaya.

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When Showman Subhas Ghai made Karma, the country had come a long way since its independence. The freedom struggle looked like a far off event. A sepia tone memory – what to speak of that, even the euphoria generated by the Indo-Pak war of 1971 had long died down. Instead it was the aftermath of 'Operation Blue Star' and the assassination of Indira Gandhi – a difficult juncture of time for the country. The society was driven by terrorist activities and insurgence. The people were dazed and demoralized magnum opus could not have come in a more appropriate time. 'Karma' is a film where, led by a police officer, three reformed convicts fight traitors and terrorists. Ghai wanted to make it a protest film. So he conceived the song 'Aye Watan Tere Liye' as a slogan against violence, bloodshed and terrorism. Incidentally this song turned out to be a monumental chorus. Anand Bakshi's meaningful lyric and Laxmi-Pyare's lavish composition bracketed it among the all time best patriotic songs. Try these lines -

Hindu Muslim Sikh Isahi , Humkaram , Humnaam Hai
Jo Kare Inko Juda, Majhab Nahin , Ilzaam Hai .

Or that way give a look to these lines too.

Loot Rahen Hain Aap Wohh
Apne Gharon Ko Loot Kar
Khelte Hain Bekhabar
Apni Lahoo Se Holiyan

If the top stanza decries communalism, the second stanza is a poignant revelation of the absurdity of violence and bloodbath. And before one rips the present generation apart as a generation of denim clad, mobile flaunting, mobikers, one needs to hang on a while. Admittedly today's youths are more interested in Madonna and Michael Jackson than Mahatma. Admittedly they are crazy about mobile, mobike and other junk that money can buy for them. But it will be unfair to pooh pooh at their patriotism because of their fixation with pepsi, pizza and PC. And if they are out to buy desh bhakti as a consumer brand then the media-market nexus is equally at fault.

Otherwise , today's 'Bermuda Brigade' has its own body of songs , propagating spaghetti patriotism, like 'Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyaara Hai(Roja) , East Or West , India is the Best(Judwa) , It Happens Only In India(Pardesi Babu) and I Love My India( Pardesh).So what if the songs sound like 'hinglish homage' to Hindusthan, so long as they love their motherland, one can very well overlook the noise and nuisance of today's youths.

The roll call of patriotic songs will be incomplete without recalling the songs dedicated to Bapu. After Mother India, perhaps it is Mahatma, who is eulogized and venerated most by us Indians. No doubt the father of the Nation has inspired quite a few wordsmiths to wax lyrical. The most memorable are 'Suno Suno Aie Duniyanwalo Bapuji Ki Amar Kahani', De Di Hame Aazadi(Jagruti) and Sun Le Bapu Yeh Paigham(Baalak).

Along with film songs, a number of non-film patriotic songs also make rounds of radio stations and celebration pandals during national days. Songs like 'Jhanda Ooncha Rahe Hamara' , Saare Jahan Se Achcha and Hum Honge Kaamyab have by now become cult numbers.

And a song that deserves special mention here is Pradeep's 'Aie Mere Watan Ke Logo' sung by Lata Mangeshkar under the baton of C. Ramchandra. Pradeep wrote it in the wake of Indo-China war of 1962, to paying homage to the martyrs in the said'uncalled for ''war.   Pandit Nehru was so moved by this profound and poignant composition that it brought tears in his eyes. During recent Kargil conflict also the citizens paid homage to the slain soldiers quoting lines from this immortal 'shradhanjali' song.

As national songs these above numbers have entered our collective memories. And with their mass appeal and patriotic feelings, they are as good as many other film songs and generate equal nostalgia.

(Author is an FTII (Pune) graduate in Direction. He writes Hindi Poems, Articles and Analysis pieces on various themes related to the world of Cinema and Entertainment)

 

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