As India completes 61 years of freedom, and the loudspeakers in every neighbourhood blare
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
(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
(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
(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
Aye watan, aye watan - Shaheed
Aawaz do, hum ek hasin