Punjabibynature|1965: The narrative of ‘Ragraa’ must end

  • Khushwant Ahluwalia, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2015 11:40 IST
The then prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and army officers atop a captured Pakistani tank.

Amongst the blazing guns and cannons in the 1965 war, there were patriotic songs and jingles that brought relief to the ear. Khushwant Singh shares what was sung and narrated on either side of the border.

One of the recommended songs was ‘Awaaz do, awaaz do hum ek hai’, a non-film song by Rafi

When one thinks of war, the mind automatically starts flirting with the words soldiers, guns, tanks, bombs, cannons and fighter jets. But ever thought of melody being part of war? Think of the melody of the patriotic songs, jingoistic jingles and slogans on radio and television providing that momentary relief and humour from the sound of the blazing cannons.

Frankly, I didn’t realise this facet of war till my father shared a couple of jingles that he had heard during the 1965 War days. Ironically, what he heard was on Pakistani radio as their radio waves would invariably find a way into India and viceversa.

Nevertheless, this set my mind pondering over the narrative of India and Pakistan during the 1965 war as these jingles and songs are usually highly reflective of the times they were sung in. Agreed that they can be condescending and full of xenophobia but they still reflect the times.
My search, unfortunately, did not yield anything much from the Indian side, but to my surprise I found innumerable patriotic songs and jingles from Pakistan, which are well documented in a blog. Was it that the then Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s slogan ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ (Hail the Soldier Hail the Farmer) enough to arouse fire in the Indian belly and there was no need for more?

Not fully satisfied with the outcome of my research, my quest to further my knowledge saw me posting a query on Facebook asking for patriotic songs or jingles from either side of the border. The post attracted considerable replies but most of the suggested songs had been dedicated to the Indo-China war.

One of the recommended songs was the ever inspiring ‘Awaaz do, awaaz do hum ek hai’, a non-film song by Mohammad Rafi. Sung during the 1962 Indo-China War, this song found great resonance during the 1965 war too. The other song that someone shared was a song by Punjabi folk singers K Deep and Jagmohan Kaur.

Zulfikhar Khan, a dear friend from Islamabad also responded to my post and shared a song of the famous Pakistani singer Noor Jehan ‘Ae watan ke sajeelay jawano meray naghmay tumaray lyea hain’. The post also had a note that it could also be applicable to the Indian troops since it was a generic patriotic song. Perhaps Noor Jehan’s best war rendition (the song brought her a lot of fame and transformed her image from that of a colourful lady to that of a patriot). Sadly, he had to share the song by changing the Facebook settings to hide it from my Facebook compatriots, lest they went into frenzy.

I also requested my father to recall the jingles he had heard on Pakistan radio. The jingles were condescending and smacked of religious intolerance but allow me to share what happened after.

‘Dhar Ragraa, dhar ragraa, bla ji hun dhar ragraa. Mukey ...da chagraa. Bla ji hun dhar ragraa. Aloo, gobi, choley kha kha, hoye eh javan. Ji kar mariye eko nara, hai nikal gayi jaan.’

However, when the real ragraa happened and the brave Indian soldier started dominating the war, the Pakistani radio according to my father was equally quick in taking a complete U-turn and changed its tune to ‘Faslaan khoob ooga beliyaa, rudge rudge kay khaa.’

It is the 50th anniversary of the 17-day long war on September 6 and many angles are being discovered, especially from the military aspect. Perhaps it is time for a human narrative – a narrative that promotes friendship and sheds hatred.

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