Five songs that celebrate India; the Republic Day playlist

Republic Day 2022: Several patriotic songs remind us of our golden past and the sacrifices made by our ancestors.

Subhash K Jha January 26, 2022 12:52:17 IST
Five songs that celebrate India; the Republic Day playlist

Here’s a list of patriotic songs that celebrate the nation:

Ae mere Watan ke logon:

Lataji speaks on the most beloved patriotic song of the country: “Kissko pataa tha yeh gaana logon ko itna pasand ayega? (who knew the song would be so much liked by people?).When Ae mere watan ke logon was being created we never thought it would become such an imperishable patriotic anthem. I recall vividly that cold winter evening in Delhi when I sang the song as part of the Republic Day celebrations in front of an audience that comprised President S. Radhakrishnan, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and so many other distinguished guests. It was Pradeepji, the poet who wrote the immortal lyrics, who came to me and asked me to sing the song. I declined because there was no time to rehearse and prepare to sing it in front of so many distinguished personalities. You see, at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible. We had very little time to get Ae mere watan ke logon ready. Rather than do a rush job I wanted to opt out. But Pradeepji said if I don’t sing Ae mere watan ke logon he would scrap the idea. I agreed. But I suggested we format the song into a duet with me and Asha. But Pradeepji wanted it to be a solo. I insisted that we do it as a duet.Asha had even rehearsed for the song. But then days before we were to fly to Delhi she came to me and said, ‘Didi. I’m not coming to Delhi.’ I tried to convince her to change her mind arguing that her name had even been printed in the newspapers as one of the singers for Ae mere watan. But she was adamant.I told composer-singer Hemant Kumar who had orchestrated the whole Ae mere watan ke logon project about Asha’s decision to not accompany us to Delhi to perform the song. Hemantda also tried to convince Asha. Lekin woh nahin manee. Then it was left to me to rehearse alone for the song.Pradeepji told C Ramachandra who was composing the tune for Pradeepji’s words, about my predicament. C, Ramachandra informed us he had to be in Delhi at least 4-5 days in advance before our performance. So he was unable to rehearse the song with me. Instead, he gave me a tape of the number.I picked up the tune from the tape and flew to Delhi on 26 January with all the big names from the film industry. Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Shankar-Jaikishan, Madan Mohan...we were all in one aircraft. I was listening to the tape with C Ramachandraji’s rendition of Ae mere watan ke logon all through the flight from Mumbai to Delhi.I was accompanied by my best friend Nalini Mhatre.When we reached Delhi in the night I had a stomach ache. I asked Nalini how I’d sing in my condition. She told me not to worry, everything would be fine. On 27 January we reached the venue. I sang two songs. The Bhajan Allah tero naam followed by Ae mere watan ke logon. I was much relieved to get it over with.After I finished my two songs, I went backstage to relax with a cup of coffee unaware of what an enduring impact the song had created. Suddenly I heard Mehboob Khan Saab calling for me .He caught hold of my hand and said, ‘Chalo, Panditji(Jawaharlal Nehru) ne bulaya hai’. I wondered why he wanted to see me. When I went out everyone including Panditji, his daughter Indiraji, Radhakrishnanji stood up courteously to greet me. Mehboob Khan Saab said, ‘Yeh rehi hamari Lata.Aapko kaisa laga usska gaana?’ Panditji said, “Bahut achcha . Mere aankhon mein paani aa gaya’. They all complimented me. Then we were all invited to Panditji’s home for tea.Some of us from the film industry including Shankar-Jaikishan, Raj Kapoor, Mehboob Khan, Dilip Kumar proceeded to Panditji’s residence. While the rest of the entourage spoke eagerly with Panditji I stood in a dark corner by the corner hesitant to make my presence felt. Suddenly I heard Panditji say, ‘Lata kaha hai?’ I kept standing where I was. Then Mrs. Indira Gandhi came and took my hands saying, ‘I want you to meet two of your little fans.’ She introduced me to little Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi. They did Namaste and ran away.Then Panditji again asked for me. Mehboob Khan Saab came and took me near Panditji. Panditji asked, ‘Are you going to go back to Mumbai and sing Ae mere watan ke logon?’ I replied, ‘No, it was meant to be a one-off thing’. He wanted a picture with me. We posed for a keepsake and then I quietly left. I had to rush back because it was my sister Meena’s wedding in Kolhapur. When I returned to Mumbai the next day with my friend Nalini I had no idea that Ae mere watan ke logon had already become a rage. When we reached Mumbai the city and the media were buzzing with the impact that the song had made in Delhi, how Panditji broke down, etc, etc. I attended a film premiere for a Marathi film where I had composed the music and the following day left for Kolhapur for my sister’s wedding.Away in Kolhapur I had no idea that the song was taking over the nation’s psyche. Who was to know that the song composed for a Republic Day function would have such an enduring impact? Only Pradeepji had faith in the song. He had prophesied to me, ‘Lata, tum dekhna yeh gaana bahot chalega. Log hamesha ke liye issey yaad rakhenge.’ I didn’t take it that seriously.Since it was not part of a film I thought it would have a limited impact.Ae mere watan ke logon became my signature tune. No show of mine, no concert or event is complete until I sing Ae mere watan ke logon.I give full credit to Pradeepji for writing such powerful words. He wrote words that reverberated across the nation. We had just come out of a war defeat with China. Ae mere watan ke logon triggered emotions of great patriotic pride in every Indian.I regret that Pradeepji had not been called for the Republic Day function where I sang the song to immortality.If he was there he would have seen with his own eyes what impact Ae mere want ke logon had created.

Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tann saathiyon (Haqeeqat):

Kaifi Azmi wrote this song for the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1962 Indo-Chinese war. Jiyo Kaifi Azmi. Jiyo Madan Mohan. Jiyo Mohd Rafi! Haqeeqat director Chetan Anand wanted a patriotic song that mankind would remember forever. He got it. Mohd Rafi poured his soul into this paean to patriotism written by Kaifi Azmi for Chetan Anand's war film Haqeeqat. The long song is still so strong on sentiments, it moves listeners to tears every time. Madan Mohan loved composing desh bhakti songs. His other Rafi salaam to the nation was Meri awaaz suno in the film Naunihal composed when Pandit Jawharlal Nehru passed away.Says Kafi Saab’s daughter Shabana Azmi, “It is my favourite patriotic song. Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyonis the most definitive of all the patriotic songs. It gives me gooseflesh every time I hear it.My father and Chetan Anand were part of the same likeminded circle of friends. They believed cinema could change society.”

Mere desh ki dharti (Upkar):

Manoj Kumar who directed and starred un Upkar recalls, "Meri desh ki dharti ('Upkar') happened when lyricist Gulshan Bawra and I went to a shrine to pay our respects. When we returned from the shrine in the car, Gulshan was singing Mere desh ki dharti sona ugley... jawanon bhar bhar lo jholiyan... khushi se bolo boliyan? I kept quiet as he hummed these lyrics. Two-three years later when I made Upkar, I went to music composer Kalyanji and narrated the script. I called Gulshan home and told him the situation. I recalled the lyrics I had heard him hum near the shrine? It had stayed in my mind? I saw it as a great idea that needed to be improvised. But I didn't like the lines Jawanon bhar lo jholiyan, khushi se bolo boliyan.I removed it from my Upkar song. Instead we had Meri desh ki dharti sona ugley ugle heere-moti. Both Kalyanji and Gulshan were hesitant. They said the 'mukhda' of a song couldn't be of one line. But I was adamant. An hour later Gulshan, who was sitting in the next room jumped and said, 'This is great. Every filmmaker while writing a screenplay comes to a landmark point in the plot where he thinks a scene can be narrated musically. That situation is given to the lyricist and explained. That was how 'Mere Desh ki dharti' happened. I always had the lyrics first, then the tunes. Gulshan had written another song Har khushi hai wahan in Upkar. He couldn't write the whole song because he had to take my brother to college in Ajmer. Gulshan himself told the media that the second stanza of Har khushi hai wahan was written by Aziz Kaifi and Manoj Kumar. Gulshan Bawra and I were from the same village near Lahore (now in Pakistan). My chief assistant Sikandar was Gulshan's cousin. So we bonded much beyond cinema. Filmmaker Kewal Sharma, cricket player Manmohan Sood, Gushan, and I? We were good friends. Gulshan has only gone away physically. He was a wonderful man. He was a friend to everyone, never gossiped," Manoj Kumar recalled. Concludes Manoj, "Gulshan Bawra alive in every word of Mere desh ki dharti. That song is imperishable. When Mahendra Kapoor-ji, who sang Mere desh ki dharti, expired our former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would always be remembered for Mere desh ki dharti. It hurts to know so many people connected with that song - Kalyanji, Mahendra Kapoor, and Gulshan Bawra - are no more.

Jo samar mein ho gaye amar (non-film):

Every Indian knows Lataji’s Ae mere watan ke logon. How many know this equally beautiful peerless paean to patriotism composed by the great and underrated Jaidev? Jo samar mein ho gaye amar , written by Narendra Sharma , one of the most favourite poet-lyricists of Lataji, is a profoundly moving tribute to our soldiers who give up their lives to keep us safe. Narendra Sharma writes, “Laut kar na aayenge vijay dilane wale veer/Mere geet anjali mein unke liye nayan neer..” Wah! Lataji sings the words with emotions that cannot be gauged in words. In my opinion, this is a superior patriotic number than the rightly celebrated Ae mere watan ke logon. Why? Because the words are sharper and more devastating. The tune to this non-film song is exceptionally elegant. And Lataji has seldom sounded better. There is one more reason why this immortal Jaidev number is exceptionally special. Both the illustrious Mangeshkar sisters Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle have sung separate versions of the same Jaidev composition.

Mere Dushman Mere Bhai (Border):

J. P. Dutta's post-glasnost song of Indo-Pak unity sung with immense affection and anguish by Hariharan had Anu Malik pulling out all stops to create the perfect tune for Javed Akhtar's outstanding poetry on across-the-border brotherhood. Says JP, "It wasn't easy writing a song in Borderthat pleaded for sanity and amity between the two countries at a time when politicians were baying for blood. But I believe we needed a voice of sanity. I certainly didn't project anti-Pakistan sentiments in the Border. The film was born out of my anguished comprehension of a complicated and tangled relationship between India and Pakistan. We're brothers and yet we're enemies."

 

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