Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Ik raastaa hai zindagi

Posted on: September 15, 2010

This post is written by Santosh Ojha, a regular contributor of posts to this blog and a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movies and its songs

It has been one of those big mysteries of Bollywood which I have not been able to fathom yet. Just why did Kala Patthar not become one of the biggest block-busters of all times! Heck, it is not even among the top 50 grossers of 1970’s (it was released in 1979)

To start with it was the multi-starrer to beat all multi-starrers. I do not think any other movie has brought so many stars together in one film. The only notable exception being the recent film “Om Shanti Om” and that too in just one song only, “Deewangi, deewangi”.

The director of Kala Patthar was Yash Chopra, the man with the Midas touch, fresh from the successes of Deewar, Kabhi Kabhie and Trishul. Story and script were by the duo Salim-Javed who could do no wrong. Remember Sholay, Deewar and Zanjeer? They are the ones who created the angry young man persona of Amitabh Bachchan. Music was by Rajesh Roshan (Des Pardes, Doosra Aadmi and Swami fame).

The story was based on the Chasnala mine disaster of 1975 which was pretty fresh in people’s minds.

As far I am concerned this movie deserved to be a super-hit, but it actually did average business at the BO.

But first the story.


Kala Patthar is a story of migrants and refugees. Nearly all of them victims of their pasts.

Vijaypal Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, a disgraced shippee, is tortured by his past. He was court-martialled after he escaped the ship he was commanding when it began to sink. To escape his internal demons he takes a ride on a goods-train going all the way to the coal-mining area around Dhanbad.

Mangal Singh, Shatrughan Sinha, is also, “somewhat”, tortured by his antecedants. He, a convicted crook, needs to escape from the long arm of the law. He too takes a train to Dhanbad.

Ravi Malhotra, Shashi Kapoor, is also on a trip, except that he is on a mo’-bike trip. Just out-of-college after his studies in mining engineering.

Anita, Parveen Babi, a new-age journalist, and an old friend of Ravi’s, is there on the spot- at that mine near Dhanbad- on the invitation of the mine owner, Dhanraj Puri (Prem Chopra).

Dr Sudha Sen, Rakhi, is a dedicated young doctor at the local clinic. She has deliberately chosen a posting at this mining outpost as she wants to help the marginalized. (She had seen her father die in her village when she was young.)

Chhanno, Neetu Singh, lives in the village but we are not told where she has migrated from. She is that poor, parentless, village belle eking out a living selling talismanic finger-rings and other knick-knacks.

Each character so well-written, so well-etched.

There is a “reverse-migrant” doctor- Sanjeev Kumar in a cameo- who runs away from the clinic in just three months, he is so sick of it.

Even the relatively smaller characters, Yunus Parvez (the chief engineer), Parikshit Sahni (a truck driver), Manmohan Krishna (tea-stall owner), Bharat Saxena, MacMohan (miners) are given their clearly defined spaces, albeit small. Poonam Dhillon, Satyen Kappu, Iftekhar (Vijay’s dad), etc. etc., I could on-and on!


Vijaypal is on this major guilt after he has got court-marshalled; after all Captains are required to “go-down” with the sinking ship. This troubles him no end especially after his dad, a retired army officer, disowns him. Vijay takes that train to Dhanbad. He is the quintessential angry young man, but this time his anger is not directed towards the injustices heaped upon him or his family. He is angry with himself, he is seething with blind rage at his own cowardice. This makes him nearly masochistic, ever ready to embark on dangerous missions.

Witness the scene where, when confronted by a co-worker- a local toughie (Bharat Saxena)- he grips the sharp-edged knife held by the latter, wrenches it off his hands, chucks it and walks away nonchalantly.

The scene when he enters into the mine to rescue a fellow-miner even when he knows that his life is in danger.

In a classic scene at the clinic he refuses local anaethesia which his doctor (Dr Sudha Sen) wants to administer to ease his pain as she tends to the wound on his leg. She beseeches him to take the medication: “Why don’t you understand?” She bursts in English, she is so exasperated. Right comes this killer from AB, “Why don’t you understand? Pain is my destiny and I can’t avoid it!” In AB’s crisp English, of course.

Mangal Singh runs away from the law at a stone quarry where the prisoners are laboring with a cleverly executed escape behind a screen of smoke and rubble after he ignites the dynamite at the quarry. Destination: Dhanbad’s coalmines.

Vijay and Mangal loathe each other, it is very evident from the word “go”. The tension which builds between them is a highlight of the movie. The director holds the maar-peet between the two till much later, he just makes taut the already tense animosity between the two at each encounters of theirs’.

But it is not hatred across, romance is blossoming between Vijay and Dr Sudha, between Mangal and Chhanno. And of course Ravi has charmed his way into Anita’s life.

Dhanraj Puri, the classic villainous character, is plotting a watery graveyard for his miners. He has instructed his engineers to drill deep-and-deep ignoring the large body of accumulated water in the depths of the mines. Till one of the walls is breached and water floods in.

The good guys all come together and finally they win. The evil is vanquished.


Amitabh’s performance is A++ grade, no one else could have essayed the role of a man at war with himself. Seething with inner rage, his brooding eyes, his sullen looks. With weighty one-liners delivered in a manner in which only AB can. To wit, the one in English mentioned above.

Shatrughan Sinha has the role of a lifetime, written it seems, specifically for him, by the script-writers. The petty, uncouth, foul-mouthed ruffian, but, as it eventually turns out, with a heart of gold. The sparkling dialogues which the S-J duo has written for him are delivered with elan. Some of them are all-time classics:


Shotgun is playing a round of “teen-patti”, flush. He draws two Kings and one minor card. His opponent draws three Jacks. The opponent is flush -pardon the pun- with anticipation when he does a “show” bof his three Jacks. Shotgun non-chalantly “shows” the two Kings and tears into bits the minor card as he makes a grab for the cash on the table. When challenged to show his third card, he lets it slip in, he was the third king, “Teesra badshah main hoon.” (I am the third king)

His terms of endearment, or scorn, are unique.

More notably when he addresses his lady-love, Chhanno:

Ai meri bholi banjaran” (Oh, my naïve gypsy woman!)

Ai meri gulshan ki bulbul.” (Ah, the sparrow in my orchard)

Referring to her derisive repartee to him to sell him bangles when he refuses to buy the tantric finger-rings: “Kyon fakeeron sey mazaak karti hai, balikey! Waisey ham kadey zaroor pehentey hain kabhi kabhi, lekin lohey key aur who bhi sarkari”. (Why do you joke with us mendicants, young lady! I do wear bangles, but those are made of steel, and are standard police department issue). As you would have guessed he means the handcuffs!

Haaayyy, aisa lagta hai ki ek saath chhey darzan choodiyan kanon mein chhank gayi hon…”, when she introduces herself to him as Chhanno. (When I hear your name Chhanno, I can feel the clink of six dozen bangles are ringing into my ears!)

To the others:

Arey o ullu key patthey, teri duty meir bhookh sey badhkar hai kya?” (Oh, you SOB, you think your duty is more important than my hunger?) Shotgun says to the truck driver, after he has just stopped the truck he was travelling in, just to spite AB who was a co-traveller.)

Abey o arthi key phool, ham apni line khud banatey hain, samjha. Abey hat”! (Oh you floral offering on a corpse! I make my own line, understand? Now you get lost!) Shotgun to a patient in a queue at a doctor’s clinic.

I could go on-and-on.

Salim and Javed have excelled in this movie. Hats off to them!

Rajesh Roshan, the music director has also done a wonderful job, with so many hummable numbers in the movie. The most enjoyable of all being “Ek rasta hai zindagi”. This Shashi Kapoor sings when he is driving to “Dhanraj Coal Fields” to take up his job. A classic Rajesh Roshan song with the typical beat of bongos. And very hummable.

Enjoy the song!



Song-Ik raastaa hai zindagi (Kaala Patthar) (1979) Singers-Kishore Kumar, Lata, Lyrics- Sahir Ludhianvi, MD-Rajesh Roshan


ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin
ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin
ye qadam kisi muqaam pe
jo jam gaye to kuchh nahin
ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin

o jaate raahi o baanke raahi
meri baanhon ko in raahon ko
aaa aaa aaa aaa
tu chhod ke naa jaa
tu waapas aa jaa

wo husn ke jalwe hon
aaa aaa aaa aaa
yaa ishq ki aawaazen
aazaad parindon ki
rukti nahin parwaazen
jaate huye qadmon se
aate huye qadmon se
bhari rahegi raahguzar
jo ham gaye to kuchh nahin
ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin
ye qadam kisi muqaam pe
jo jam gaye to kuchh nahin
aaa aaa aaa aaa

aaa aaa aaa aaa
hmm hmm
aisaa gazab nahin dhaanaa
piyaa mat jaanaa bideswaa re
aisaa gazab nahin dhaanaa
piyaa mat jaanaa bideswaa re
ho hamkaa bhi sang liye jaanaa
piyaa jab jaanaa bideswaa re
jaate huye raahi ke
saaye mein simatnaa kyaa
ik pal ke musaafir ke
daaman se lipatnaa kyaa
jaate huye qadmon se
aate huye qadmon se
bhari rahegi raahguzar
jo ham gaye to kuchh nahin
ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin
ye qadam kisi muqaam pe
jo jam gaye to kuchh nahin
ik raastaa hai zindagi
jo tham gaye to kuchh nahin
hmm hmm hmm hmm
hmm hmm hmm hmm

5 Responses to "Ik raastaa hai zindagi"

Absolutely fantastic!
The song AND the write-up.
I have always loved this song. It was one of my favourites when the movie was released and, to date, is one of my favourites of the 70s.

The write-up is just awesome, Santosh. Although I saw the movie ages ago (and do not remember the dialogues anymore), I can see the movie now unfolding in front of my eyes, thanks to your write-up.

I do remember scenes though. And I remember very much the tension between AB and Shotgun – that was very well built up in the movie.

I think the main reason the movie may not have done well is the last 30-40 min. If I remember right, it was all about the disaster in the mine, the rescue operation and all that. It went on for very long, it was very grim – and the Indian public may have switched off. In general, people want entertainment, they like masala stuff, they like dances, the movie had all this. And it had a good story building up. But that last 40 minutes were heavy stuff. I will admit even I got a bit tired of it.

I think this may also be the reason why The Burning Train (another mega multi-starrer) did not do well at the BO. Disaster movies in Hollywood did well (Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure..). In India, where movies are an escapist route for most of the population, they don’t want to see their heroes/heroines struggling in mine disasters!!! For some, it may even have been too close to reality.

Anyway that is my take on this.

The other songs of this movie are also quite nice (“baahon mein tere” comes to mind). But “ek raasta hai zindagi” is my favourite.

Thanks for this fantastic write-up and lovely song.


Raja, I agree with you that being a disaster movie did it in. The Burning Train example confirms your point.

Another nice song in the movie is “Jaggya, Jaggya…”


Yes, I remember this song now–it’s been 30 years. It’s very good. The other Rajesh Roshan songs I know about and like are his Julie songs.


Yes, “Dil kya kare” is a personal fav.

I wonder why he limited himself to just his brother Rakesh Roshan’s movies. And he has given reasonably decent music in these.




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This blog discusses Bollywood songs of yesteryears. Every song has a brief description, followed by a video link, and complete lyrics of the song.

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