Aye mere pyaare watan, one of the most evocative odes to the Motherland, touches every heart. Shirish Waghmode revisits this unforgettable song in Kabuliwala.
Most patriotic songs are songs of arousal. A strident appeal to somnolent patriots to rise to the cause. To awaken the feelings that have been submerged. With words that are warnings of impending danger, of the perils ahead and the need to protect our Motherland from enemies. Most of them are like loud clarion calls – and justifiably so. They need to rekindle existing fires and light new ones in the minds of the young.
But there are some songs which stand apart. And this is one such and hence my favourite. It is the reflection of the deep sense of emptiness which is experienced by man who is away from his Motherland. Material gifts abound but the soul is impoverished. And from this emptiness springs this wail — what else can you call a child’s cry to draw the attention of his mother?
ऐ मेरे प्यारे वतन,
ऐ मेरे बिछड़े चमन,
तुझ पे दिल कुर्बान
तू ही मेरी आरजू,
तू ही मेरी आबरू,
तू ही मेरी जान
Aye mere pyaare watan,
aye mere bichhade chaman,
tujh pe dil qurbaan
Tu hi meri aarzoo,
tu hi meri aabaru,
tu hi meri jaan
It is fairly well known that this song was penned by Prem Dhawan on his first trip abroad — an occasion which typically sends people into raptures – singing the praises of the host, showering compliments all around and publicly endorsing the prosperity and progress — compared to their own country that they see all around them. But here is a simple soul — surrounded by the various flavours and fragrances, he reminisces
तेरे दामन से जो आये उन हवाओं को सलाम
चूम लूँ मैं उस ज़ुबां को जिसपे आये तेरा नाम
Tere daaman se jo aye un hawaaon ko salaam
Choom loon main us zubaan ko jis pe aaye tera naam
He goes to the most scenic spots, is enchanted by the wonders of nature and comes back to say
सब से प्यारी सुबह तेरी,
सब से रंगीं तेरी शाम
Sab se pyaari subah teri,
sab se rangeen teri shaam
And he attributes his love to the umbilical cords that still exists in his mind
माँ का दिल बनके कभी सीने से लग जाता है तू
और कभी नन्ही सी बेटी बनके याद आता है तू
Maa ka dil banke kabhi seene se lag jaata hai tu
Aur kabhi nanhi si beti banke yaad aata hai tu
He seeks the protective refuge of his mother’s love which he wants to return and he wants to protect the helpless girl-child, which his new-born nation feels like. But whatever the relation, the more they are remembered, the more the pain they cause –
जितना याद आता है मुझको उतना तड़पाता है तू
Jitna yaad aata hai mujhko utna tadpaata hai tu
A grown-up man but today he is like a lamb who has deserted his flock. His enthusiasm and excitement has waned. He is repenting the burst of adventurism that made him leave the warmth of his motherland –
छोड़कर तेरी ज़मीन को दूर आ पहुचे हैं हम
फिर भी है यही तमन्ना तेरे जर्रों की कसम
हम जहाँ पैदा हुये उस जगह ही निकले दम
Chhodkar teri zameen ko door aa pahunche hain ham
Phir bhi hai yahi tamanna tere zarron ki kasam
Hum jahaan paida huye us jagah hi nikale dam
Like a distraught child he wants to go back — back to the land of his birth — with one wish. He wishes to die in the land which gave him birth. Blessed is the land which breeds such patriots who are proud to carry the debt of their Motherland — every living moment, in every breath they take!
Oliver Goldsmith sums it up best in The Traveller –
“Such is the Patriot’s boast,
Where’er we roam,
His best, first, best, country ever, is at Home”
Prem Dhawan, who wrote the rousing songs of Shaheed like Aye Watan, aye watan, humko teri kasam shows his childlike bond with his motherland in this beautiful poem.
The music by Salil Chowdhury is minimalistic. It’s the magic of words moving on the wings of Manna Da’s voice and the cavernous sounds of the rabab! The few wandering Pathans, seek solace in each other’s company and listen to the song which brings them further from their land, but closer to each other! Known for their machismo, shedding tears is anathema for them – so they bleed.
They bleed within, suffering in silence the pangs of separation. In the still, starless night, they see the caravan of camels traversing the desert, the sandy dunes and the snowy peaks of the Hindukush and the towering Pamirs range. And they hope of returning to their birthplace, their Motherland.
And who better to convey this emotional turmoil than Balraj Sahani, playing Rahmat! His roughly hewn face, for a fleeting moment, displays the pair, the ‘child’ within and then the ‘man’ comes to life and takes over!
On the back of his successful directorial venture, Anand Math (1952), Hemen Gupta was hand-picked by Bimal Roy to direct this endearing tale of a 4-year-old girl Mini and a displaced Pathan peddler in Calcutta, based on the celebrated story Kabuliwala by Rabindranath Tagore, under the banner of Bimal Roy Productions. It was a tall order since Tapan Sinha’s Bengali screen adaptation, Kabuliwala (1957) had already won wide acclaim. But Hemen Gupta rose to the challenge, brilliantly recreating the world of the Kabuliwala and his relationship with the chatterbox Mini who reminds him of his daughter Ameena he left behind in Afghanistan.
Every filmmaker makes movies about his culture, his people, his surroundings. To make a movie about an outsider, an immigrant who is torn apart from his land, needs a visionary. And that’s what Bimal Roy was — versatility personified. Kabuliwala was Roy’s homage to the Bard in his centenary year, 1961.
Manna Dey, Salil Chowdhury and Prem Dhawan poured their artistry in this immortal melody. It remains, till today, one of the most evocative odes to the Motherland, ever.
Aye mere pyaare watan (Kabuliwala, 1961) Salil Chowdhury / Prem Dhawan / Manna Dey
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