As India completes 61 years of freedom, and the loudspeakers in every neighbourhood blare desh bhakti
songs, my mind meanders to the songs which ought to be played. Before we think of the phnographic association with the freedom movement, let’s spare a thought for those who sowed the seeds for it – in cinema.
The first film to deal with this theme was Bhakti Vidur
(1921, silent), produced by D N Sampat, who owned Bombay’s Kohinoor studio. He also enacted Gandhi’s role in the film. Musical pieces were played from the orchestral pit – the songs were in Gujarati. The first talkie, with a strong political flavourwas Mahalaxmi Cinetone’s Seva Sadan
(1934). Sound cinema, naturally led to songs.
The first one to have a huge impact was the rousing Chal chal re naujawan
(1940), written by Pradeep (born Ramchandra Narain Dwivedi) and tuned by Saraswati Devi, the Parsi Khorshed Hinocher-Honji.
Three years later, Pradeep once again made his mark with Door hato aye duniyawaalon..Hindustan hamaara hai
To get past the British censors, Pradeep, within the song, wrote, Tum na kisike aage jhunkna, German ho ya Japaani
. The subterfuge worked. Pradeep was to reach his pinnacle with Aye mere watan ke logon
composed by C.Ramchandra and sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the presence of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Republic Day, 1963.
If I had to choose just one film with passionate partriotism– and songs to match, I would look no further than Shaheed
(1965) with its Sarfaroshi ki tamana
, mera rang de basanti and the superb Aye watan…humko teri kasam
– all written and composed by the under-rated Prem Dhawan.
Remember, even Mohammed Rafi received his baptismin patriotic songs through Watan ki raah mein (Shaheed
, 1948), co-sung with Khan Mastana. The 5 songs I would love to listen today are: Kar chale humfida
Watan par jo fida hoga
- Phool bane Angaare
Pyar ki raah dikha
- Lambe Haath
Aye watan, aye watan - Shaheed
Aawaz do, hum ek hasin