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Tu Mere Pyar Ka Phool Hai — The Agony of an Unwed Mother

September 17, 2023 | By

BR Chopra’s Dhool ka Phool, in a microcosm, reflects the plight, and the predicament of an unwed mother. The seminal composition in the film — Tu mere pyar ka phool hai encapsulates her anguish in the sensitive yet powerful words of Sahir Ludhianvi. Shirish Waghmode revisits this ode to the child born out of the wedlock.

dhool ka phool song

Back in the 1950s, for a single mother with a child born out of the wedlock — the shame and the fear of society’s reaction hung like a Sword of Damocles especially in not so liberal countries like India. The plight of a one such woman is the heart-rending dilemma of Dhool ka Phool, a gutsy movie standing apart — from the period films, family dramas, romantic tales and sob stories — that populated the screens in those times. And who better to voice the pain of the trapped woman than Sahir?

This distraught mother looks at the tainted face of innocence in her hands and whispers in his ears –

तू मेरे प्यार का फूल है
के मेरी भूल है
कुछ कह नहीं सकती
पर किसी का किया तू भरे
यह सेह नहीं सकती

Tu mere pyar ka phool hai
Ke meri bhool hai
Kuchh keh nahi sakti
Par kisi ka kiya tu bhare
Yeh seh nahi sakti

The song begins by establishing the “fait accompli” — the single mother has braved the first hurdle. She has given birth to the child! In many societies, the moral police and the keepers of faith (all self-appointed, of course) have readymade, time-tested solutions for the unwed mother. The newborn is hurriedly given up for adoption or, abandoned in an open space or a doorstep, or left in a jungle to be a feast for the wild beasts.

But this woman, now having repulsed the pressures to deny her, her motherhood, is beset with a huge challenge — how to bring up her child. She thinks of the baggage the child has to carry all his life.

मेरी बदनामी तेरे साथ पलेगी, साथ पलेगी
सुन सुन ताने मेरी कोख जलेगी, हाय, कोख जलेगी

Meri badnaami tere sath palegi
Sath palegi
Sun sun taane meri kokh jalegi
Haaye kokh jalegi

My infamy will be a constant companion, my child, all your life. It will never fade, will grow like a poisonous weed. The taunts hurled at you will make my womb shrivel with shame, rage with the fire of guilt.

काँटों भरे हैं सब रास्ते
तेरे वास्ते जीवन की डगर में
कौन बनेगा तेरा आसरा
बेदर्द नगर में

Kaanton bhare hain sab raaste
Tere vaaste jeewan ki dagar mein
Kaun banega tera aasra
Bedard nagar mein

It is a path strewn with thorns. My child, who will lift you up and protect you from the hurt and the distress that awaits you, I wonder and I grieve!

dhool ka phool

पूछेगा कोई तो किसे बाप कहेगा
बाप कहेगा
जग तुझे फेंका हुआ पाप कहेगा
हाय पाप कहेगा

बनके रहेगी शर्मिंदगी तेरी ज़िन्दगी
जब तक तू जियेगा
आज पिलाऊँ तुझे दूध मैं
कल ज़हर पीयेगा

Puchhega koyi to kise baap kahega
Baap kahega
Jag tujhe phenka hua paap kahega
Haaye paap kahega

Banke rahegi sharmindagi teri zindagi
Jab tak tu jiyega
Aaj pilaun tujhde doodh main
Kal zehar piyega

What will you answer to those who enquire about your father? His whereabouts, his absence? The world will readily castigate you as a discarded outcome of a shameful liaison. Your life will be a story of shame spent dodging the sling-shots of social martinets. The moral brigade will rise as one, putting aside their own execrable follies to target you. I have suckled you at my breast and fed you milk, my child, but tomorrow you will have to survive the venom that awaits you!

Unlike many film songs that enhance their appeal by moving outdoors, this one stays indoors. In a dank, cheerless room where no streak of light enters, no gust of wind blows in. Nothing that could come in the way of the guftagu between the infant, and his determined mother. Even the elements stay away, as the two together, map their hazy, uncertain future.

Mala Sinha puts in a surprisingly emotional performance, with love, helplessness, and rage reflected on her face as the movie progresses. A great takeaway from her Pyaasa experience, perhaps!

Tu mere pyar ka phool hai (Dhool Ka Phool, 1959) N Dutta / Sahir Ludhianvi / Lata Mangeshkar

For centuries, we have talked about our glorious culture and traditions in glowing terms. But then little attention has been paid to the ruthless atrocities perpetrated on women. A child widow or an unwed mother, brought out the beast in ordinary people, as they believed, or were made to believe, by the keepers of tradition that they were purging the society of evils. As Hemingway put it, they were — Puritans in public, perverts in private.

Dhool ka Phool, in a microcosm, reflects the plight, and the predicament these women were made to live with. It shows a rare sensitivity in its treatment of the subject and the songs are the articulate wheels that take the story forward.

The love songs in Dhool Ka Phool are utterly delightful — remember that duel in college poetry contest, Tere pyar ka aasra chahta hoon or that humming duet Jo tum muskura do? But the seminal compositions are the two which stand out — Tu mere pyar ka phool hai and the song that celebrates being human above everything else:

Tu Hindu banega na Mussalmaan banega
Insaan ki aulaad hai insaan banega

br chopra

BR Chopra

And so many years later, we cannot but shout out the name of the producer B R Chopra, who courageously broached the taboo subject of an unwed mother and an unwanted child. Salute to these visionaries on celluloid who made the entertainment-driven Hindi films look inward!

I cannot resist stating my unstinted admiration for  trailblazing cinematic contribution of B R Chopra. Born in 1914, he completed his MA in English Literature and worked for a Film Magazine ‘Cine Herald’. After Partition the family moved to India and BR, an outlier to the film industry, decided to become a  filmmaker. His initial forays did not meet with success. After making Afsana and Naya Daur, which met with box office success, he felt he should make movies that reflect the deep-seated blemishes of the society. In 1958, he made his first clarion call to the collective conscience of cine-goers by making Sadhana,  a withering peep into the life of a prostitute. After this seminal venture earned plaudits from commoners and connoisseurs alike he boldly carried on the crusade of exposing the lesions and lacerations that women in our society had suffered for ages; that was Dhool Ka Phool, a scathing expose of the plight of a woman, scorned and reviled for no fault of hers.

(The views expressed are personal)

More Must Read in The Song Story

Chal Ri Sajani Ab Kya Soche – Torn Between Two Worlds

Apni Kahaani Chhod Ja: Leave a Story That Will Be Retold

Jaane Kya Dhoondti Rehti Hai: Of a World Where Love Is Incinerated

When Cinema Matched Music Beat by Beat: Nadiya Kinare in Abhimaan



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Shirish Waghmode is a member of the family that ran the music store, Maharashtra Watch & Gramophone Co, Dadar(W), Mumbai for a record 91 years! From 78 RPM to EPs and then to LPs and then from cassettes to CDs & DVDs, they have been witness to every milestone that technology wrought. Shirish is passionate about Marathi, Hindi and English music in equal measure and has been a public speaking coach and a compere (two shows of Jagjit Singh being the crowning glory). He enjoys writing about music.
All Posts of Shirish Waghmode

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2 thoughts on “Tu Mere Pyar Ka Phool Hai — The Agony of an Unwed Mother

  • Kersi N. Mistry

    Fine article on a song that can still stir the emotions. You are right in stating and underscoring the plight of the unwed other and her offspring but there was often a salvatory benefactor around the corner. In this case the great Manmohan Krishna who steps in as benefactor, and was often the mouthpiece of poets like Sahir-sahab. His role was immensely powerful even as he mouthed “tu Hindu banega na musalman banega…”, in an attempt to stir the conscience of the moviegoers and radio listeners…(all is never completely lost!).
    Your tribute to Chopraji is deeply felt but one wishes you had mentioned the ingloriously ignored Dharmputra, which was BR’s gift to his countrymen, a gift that was unceremoniously ignored but which will remain a conscience rouser, as long as there rightminded people. Thank you for this.

  • Arindam Banerjee

    Very articulately done Shirish ji. Thank you for choosing this beauty of a song – Sahir’s expression of the sorrow of an unwed mother stands out – which somewhat got overshadowed by the other more popular and catchy numbers of Dhool Ka Phool. This film of the 50’s decade was ahead of its time. BR Chopra has always been known for bold and off beat subjects that highlighted prevailing social issues and women’s plight in this male dominated society. Superb read.

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