Hindi film songs have over the decades celebrated our freedom fighters, leaders, soldiers and even the common people who made supreme sacrifices to help our country become the powerhouse it is today. Anshula picks a few of her favourite patriotic songs.
Independence Day is a special time to remember those who laid down their lives to bring us our freedom and those who have protected and preserved it.
Let me talk about some Hindi film songs which celebrate our freedom fighters, leaders, soldiers and even the common people who made supreme sacrifices to help our country become the powerhouse it is today. When I hear them, my heart swells with pride for my country.
The first song I would like to pick is Chhodo kal ki baatein from the film Hum Hindustani (1960) sung by Mukesh. This song, written by Prem Dhawan and composed by Usha Khanna, tells us not to look back towards the paths we have crossed but to move ahead and see the goals we have to reach. In this new era, we will write a new story with new dreams, hopes and goals. Naya khoon hai, nayi umangein, ab hai nayi jawani (we have new blood, new hopes, new youth) says the song, which was written at a time when India had just completed 13 years of independence. Every heart had the hope to make the impossible possible as the song says, Chaaho to patthar par dhaan ugakar dekho (you can grow rice in rocks if you try).
The scene depicts all the symbols of modern, developing India. The lyrics of the song make our hearts and faces glow with pride and give us energy to build more Taj Mahals, reach for the moon, build dams on the rivers and move mountains of obstacles out of our way. Let’s work hard with honesty as our goal is sapnon se bhi pyaara Hindustan banayein (build India more beautiful than dreams).
Chhodo kal ki baatein (Hum Hindustani, 1960) Usha Khanna / Prem Dhawan / Mukesh
India had been free for just over a decade and the memories of the freedom struggle were still fresh. People who had participated in the Independence struggle laid their hopes on children and the youth to work for the country. As they are the new generation and the ones who will start a new era. The song Insaaf ki dagar pe, bachchon dikhao chalke from Gunga Jumna (1963), sung by Hemant Kumar, inspires children to keep walking ahead on the path of justice with truth as our strength. India is our country and we will be the leaders of tomorrow.
The song, written by Shakeel with music by Naushad, tells us that there should be justice for everyone and our steps should never falter. Respect humanity and be ready to sacrifice anything and everything for the nation’s honour, it tells us in the lines:
Tan man ki bhnet dekar
Bharat ki laaj rakhana.
Insaaf ki dagar pe (Gunga Jumna, 1963) Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni / Hemant Kumar
Similar sentiment is expressed in the song, written and sung by Kavi Pradeep – Hum laaye hain toofan se kashti nikal ke in Jagriti (1954). It is the voice of the freedom fighter narrating the story of their sacrifices and dedication to free our country from the shackles of British rule.
Another inspiring and motivational song from Jagriti and especially for kids and teenagers is Aao bachchon tumhe dikhaye jhanki Hindustan ki. I was in 2nd class when our music teacher taught us this song. It gave me a deep and very sweet glimpse of my India as every antara of the song encapsulates the history of our states and ends with “Vande Mataram”.
These songs encouraged and motivated the youth of the country as they were and still are the future who will be able to make the country once again the greatest in the world.
Aao bachchon tumhe dikhayein (Jagriti, 1954) Hemant Kumar / Kavi Pradeep / Kavi Pradeep
Manoj Kumar, popularly known as ‘Mr. Bharat’, had created some very patriotic songs. Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle in Upkar (1967) was about India’s growing prosperity. Hai preet jahaan ki reet sadaa in the film Purab and Pachhim (1970) portrayed our rich culture and contribution to world history while Dulhan chali celebrated 20 years of India’s independence. These songs described our rich and ancient heritage and culture, the histories, the beautiful lands and unity in diversity.
There were some very popular films made on the lives and sacrifices of the freedom fighters. Shaheed (1965) based on the life of Bhagat Singh had O mera rang de basanti chola (a song sung by Bhagat Singh) which is followed by the inspiring Aye watan aye watan humko teri kasam. These songs described the sacrifices, devotion and struggles of the freedom fighters.
Aye watan aye watan humko teri kasam (Shaheed, 1965) Prem Dhawan / Prem Dhawan / Mohd Rafi
Samadhi (1950) based on the war for freedom waged by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army and Shyam Benegal’s Bose: The Forgotten Hero (2005) had the anthem of the INA — Kadam kadam badhaye ja khushi ke geet gaye ja.
Anandmath (1952) had the best ever version of Vande Mataram, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar and composed by Hemant Kumar. Even after so many other versions, this is still the most popular one. These songs inspire millions of people to take pride in our country.
Vande Mataram (Anandmath, 1952) Hemant Kumar / Bankim Chandra Chatterjee / Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar
Songs dedicated to our soldiers and their untiring sacrifices that have allowed us to enjoy our azadi and prosper, have been equally popular. Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon, Ab tumhare havaale watan saathiyon, from the film Haqeeqat (1964) brings tears to our eyes. It portrays the heart-touching cries of the soldiers saying now it’s time for you to take up our places, friends, never let any enemy disturb or hurt our motherland. Always protect her from any kind of storm just like we protected her.
Kar chalein hum fida (Haqeeqat, 1964) Madan Mohan / Kaifi Azmi / Mohd Rafi
Lata Mangeshkar’s deeply moving non-film song Aye mere watan ke logon zara aankh mein bharlo paani, written by Kavi Pradeep and composed by C Ramchandra is still considered one of the most beautiful odes to our soldiers. It says, “Hey the people of my country, bring tears to your eyes for once for those who sacrificed themselves for the country and remember their stories.” Chitthi aati hai humein tadpati hai from Border (1991) is also a touching song about how the soldiers, stationed far away from their families, miss their loved ones.
Aye mere watan ke logon (Non-film) C Ramchandra / Kavi Pradeep / Lata Mangeshkar
Along with celebrating the bright and beautiful side of freedom, poets wrote about the unfulfilled dreams of the people and the freedom fighters. Jinhe naaz hai hind par woh kahaan hai, written by Sahir Ludhianvi in Pyaasa (1957) portrays the sadness of broken dreams and asks ‘where have the people who had pride in our country gone’. The song, composed by SD Burman and sung by Mohd Rafi, says Yeh kooche yeh badnam ghar dilkashi ke, yeh lut-te huye caarvan zindagi ke, talking about how the subjugation and prejudiced view towards the woman has still not changed. The woman is still insulted, molested, and burnt for dowry.
In the new millennium, film songs have encouraged and motivated Indians to reach for higher goals and make their place in the world. The title song of the film Chak De! India, sung by Sukhwinder Singh, Salim Merchant and Marianne D’Cruz, written by Jaideep Sahani with music by Salim-Suleiman says, every vein in my body is saying, ‘C’mon India, let’s do something. Enough of all this big talk, now it is the time for action’. It cries, Koi to chal zidd phadiye, doobe tariye ya mariye (Take a stand, either do or die). The song inspires us to “roar like a lion”. Even if anyone tries to pull us back or if we slip or fall, we must go for our goals. This song reflects the picture of India in the 21st century. Today we are the fastest developing country of the world and we can achieve whatever we want. Although the song is picturised on the woman’s hockey team, it motivates everyone in all facets of life.
Chak de India (Chak De, 2007) Salim-Sulaiman / Jaideep Sahni / Sukhwinder Singh, Salim Merchant, Marianne D’Cruz
I would like to conclude with the song Janani from the film RRR (2022). This is a song dedicated to the motherland and makes a vow of protecting her from any and every kind of storm, disaster and problem. This song carries with it the emotions the soldiers and their loved ones have for their motherland for which they are always ready to sacrifice their lives. These are emotions you have to feel deep in your heart and soul.
In our 77th year of independence, these songs, which reflect the changing face of India, prove that our love for our country has remained the same. We have to work very hard to take our nation forward and make India the best in the world.
Janani (RRR , 2022) M. M. Kreem / Varun Grover / M. M. Kreem, Chorus
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