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

Nagri meri kabtak yoonhi barbaad rahegi

Posted on: March 14, 2012

This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

I just cannot believe that a song of 40s which I had completely forgotten over four decades, suddenly started rolling in my mind last month when a group of a political party workers came to my house to canvass for their party candidate from my area for the municipal election last month. The song was‘nagari meri kab tak yuhin barbaad rahegi’ from MAN KI JEET (1944).

I had no occasion to listen to this song either over the radio or YT in the intervening period. Then how did I come to know about this song? Here lies the tale which I would like to share with the readers of this blog at the cost of this article becoming somewhat lengthy.

I would not have met Bachchubhai but for my passion in those days (late 60s-early 70s) for collecting 78 rpm gramophone records of old Hindi film songs. Aware of my interest in collecting such records, one of my office colleagues took me to Bachchubhai who was a hawker selling second hand items like transistors, radios, some electrical goods and gramophone records among other things. His hawking place was on a footpath of a street located behind Sir Phirozeshah Mehta Road in Mumbai’s Fort area.

My first impression about this man in the first encounter was not a pleasant one. With his choicest abuses in every alternative sentence he spoke and pushing back half folded sleeves of his kurta by both the hands during conversation looked to me to be a man with combative trait. After some introductory talk, he took me to a place below the stair case of a building, just behind his hawking place, where a heap of second hand 78 rpm records was stored. Of the hundred odd records he gave me to go through, I got some records of good songs which cost me Rs. 3-4 as against the then retail price of Rs.6.50 for a brand new 78 rpm record. That made me to visit him again.

I visited him once in 3-4 days. Whenever I did not buy any record after searching from his heaps, he would lament with his usual choiciest abuses telling in general that today’s generation had no knowledge about the songs of bygone years. He was not a smart salesman like his counterparts in Chor Bazar where they would know the worth of some rare records. He never quoted me exorbitant price for some rare records I selected and it was always below the retail price of a new record. So the bargaining price with him was always in low range. One day while I was bargaining for lowering the price he quoted, he told me in a serious note with his usual quantity of abuses that reduction in price of records I selected would be a disrespect to the singers of these songs. I was not sure whether his comments came genuinely from his heart or a part of the salesmanship, but that had some effect on me. I did not bargain for the records I bought from him.

After a few visits, I realised that his choicest abuses were his takiya kalaam (pet words). When he was in a sombre mood, he would talk only the minimum without any abusive words. I would ask him jokingly as to why he was not uttering his pet words to which his response would be just a smile without looking at me. The pet words would come to him naturally, when he was in a happy mood. That he had a big family to support and his business was not generating enough cash to meet both ends, might have been one of the reasons for going in the trance of a subdued mood and unpredictable behaviour.

In one of my subsequent visits, I completed the search for the records without selecting any one. I was turning back for walking towards my office, when he called and requested me to buy one record which he himself had selected from the heaps of records. The song was ‘nagari meri kab tak yuhin barbaad rahegi’ ( Record No. N.26421). I had never heard this song, the names of the singer,the music director or even the film. Nevertheless, I bought this record only for the reason that he was requesting me for the first time since my visits and I did not want to disappoint him. I played that record on my HMV Safari Gramophone some 2-3 times and found it to be an average song at that time. Those were the days when I was more into the melody of the songs than in the lyrics. There after I never played this record nor this song came for discussion within my group of like-minded friends.

For the next 4-5 years, I had no occasion to visit Bachchubhai as I was transferred out of Fort area. Despite bad mannerism and crude behaviour being his forte, he was a likable character. Since it was a very long time I had not seen him, I felt an urge to visit him to enquire about his well being. I had also missed his pet words for a long time. When I visited the place one afternoon, he was not there. I found out from other hawkers in the vicinity that he had stopped the business long back and they were not aware of his whereabouts. I never met him again.

Now coming back to the song, I listened to ‘nagari meri kabtak yuhin barbaad rahegi’ on YT last month after over four decades and I liked it immensely. With more matured vision about the old Hindi film songs with additionally the emphasis on lyrics along with the melody, I have developed a liking for these types of songs now more than in my younger days. Unfortunately, I could not locate my 78rpm record and I have a strong apprehension that this record may be one of the victims during the shifting of my residence about 10 years back. Luckily, I had prepared a catalogue of my 78 rpm records with all details.

Even though I was aware of this song about 4 decades back, I came to know about the details of the song and the film only recently. The film MAN KI JEET (1944) was produced by Shalimar Pictures owned by Wahid-ud-din Zia-ud-din Ahmed (W Z Ahmed) who also directed it. The star cast included Shyam and Nina (wife of W Z Ahmed) in the lead roles. The film story was based on Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Tess of thed’ubervilles’ in which case, it may be a woman-oriented film. The song is penned by the legendary Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi (who migrated to Pakistan in 1958) and set to music by Surya Kumar Pal(S K Pal). The song was sung by Sitarabai Kanpuri ( not to be confused with the more famous Sitara Devi) who was under contract with Shalimar Pictures to sing only for the banner until the owner migrated to Pakistan. I find from YT that Sitarabai Kanpuri also sang some songs from films like APRADHI (1947), PUGRI (1948) etc.

While I had only first part of the song in 78 rpm record with me, I came to know through YT that the song had second part as well. Only the audio clips are available of the songs but one can safely assume that the songs were picturised on Nina. While it is a lamenting song, in the absence of video, I am not sure whether the lamenting is against the system or against the mankind. I request the knowledgeable readers to share information about the film in general and the song in particular.

Audio link (Part-1)

Audio link (Part-2)

Song-Nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi (Man Ki Jeet)(1944) Ssinger-Sitarabai Kanpuri, Lyrics-Josh Malihabadi, MD-S K Pal


nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi
duniyaa aa
duniyaa yahi duniyaa hai to kyaa yaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi

aakaash pe nikhraa huaa hai chaand kaa mukhdaa
aakaash pe nikhraa huaa hai chaand kaa mukhdaa
basti mein gareebon ki andhere kaa hai dukhdaa
duniyaa aa
duniyaa yahi duniyaa hai to kyaa yaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoohin barbaad rahegi

kab hogaa saweraa
kab hogaa saweraa
koi ae kaash bataa de
kis waqt tak ae ghoomte aakaash bataa de
insaanon par insaan ki bedaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi

kahakaaron se kaliyon ke chaman goonj rahaa hai
jharnon ke madhur raag se ban goonj rahaa hai
par meraa to
par meraa to
par meraa to fariyaad se man goonj rahaa hai
par meraa to fariyaad se man goonj rahaa hai
kab tak mere honthon pe ye fariyaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi

ae chaand umeedon ko meri shammaa dikhaa de
ae chaand umeedon ko meri shammaa dikhaa de
doobe huye khoye huye sooraj kaa pataa de
rotey huye jag beet gayaa
ab to hansaa de
ae mere himaalaa
mujhe ye baat bataa de
ae mere himaalaa
mujhe ye baat bataa de
hogi meri basti bhi
kabhi khair se aabaad
nagari meri barbaad hai
barbaad hai barbaad
barbaad hai barbaad
nagari meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi

jo aankh kaa aansoo hai
jo aahon kaa dhuaan hai
jo aankh kaa aansoo hai
jo aahon kaa dhuaan hai
waari meraa dil
us pe nichhaawar meri jaan hai
mujrim hoon gunaahagaar hoon
us ko ye gumaan hai
aawaaz do insaaf ko
insaaf kahaan hai
aawaaz do insaaf ko
insaaf kahaan hai
ik bekas-o-majaboor pe ye zulm ye bedaad
nagari meri barbaad hai
baabaad hai barbaad
barbaad hai barbaad
nagari meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi
duniyaa yahi duniyaa hai to kyaa yaad rahegi
nagri meri kab tak yoonhi barbaad rahegi


10 Responses to "Nagri meri kabtak yoonhi barbaad rahegi"

Kamath ji,
Thank you for your extremely interesting account of searching the old records and Bachhubhai encounter.While reading I felt like as if I was seeing all those incidents before my eyes.Your use of correct selection of exact words is an asset,which makes your narration spellbinding.Thanks once again.
Sitara Kanpuri or Sitara of Kanpur or Sitarabai Kanpurwali was born in Cawnpore(Kanpur-UP) in 1923 in a courtisan’s family and so her father’s name is not known.
She did not have formal schooling,but sang wonderfully.she started singing on Radio.She was an expert in Bhajans,Thumari and Gazals.
W.Z.Ahmed,who was also from Kanpur heard about her singing,heard her once and took her to his office in Bombay.She was so excited that without delay,she put her thumb on the contract put forth.the contract restricted her to sing only for Ahed’s Shalimar studio productions for 10 years. She sang her first song,’nagari meri kab tak’ in Mann ki jeet-1944 for Neena,who was Ahmed’s wife.later she also sang in prithwiraj sanyukta-46 and Meerabai-47.In the free times she was allowed to do private jalsa for her living.

After Partition,Ahmed and Neena left for Pakistan,taking with them the prints of their films(like most others who left India) and Sitara was free to sing free lance now.She sang in Pugree-48,Aparadhi-49 and Rasheed Dulhan -50.
After this she simply vanished into thin air !

I am 75. During my childhood, i used to listen this song and playing gramophone record of this song many times at the age of about 5. This and many other records were lost in the year 1947, while migrating from Karachi. Once I heard this song on All India Radio after long interval, since then I was looking for gramophone record, which fortunately I found from a shop in KALKA (during my job) where, while strolling in street I show old rusted board of HMV on one shop, i asked about the 78RPM record. Shopkeeper gave me few boxes to have a look, and luckily i found this and another one (aaheN na bhari Shikve naa kiye-Film Zinnat).. I was very happy. But when I returned home, i found it in broken condition. Ultimately, i got this song again from a cassette, and now I have transferred it to my MP3 device. Recently, I received email from grand son of Neena Ji (whose name appears on gramophone record and who was heroine of the film) if I know anything more about her? as he intends to write a book on her. Through this blog, I request to send me more details or video clips or photograph of film MAN-KI-JEET or Neena Ji or her any other film. My id:

What a fascinating story, Kamathji. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your experiences with Bachchubhai, his “takiya kalaam” and how you happened to get the record with this song. It is so lovely to listen to such stories. Thank you!

Sadanand ji,

Reading between the lines, I perceive the strong emotional ties of a committed music lover and collector. Sir, this experience is really something of its own. Not just an interest in the hits and popular songs. Beyond that is the urge and the compulsion to seek and acquire, less heard and unheard songs, to listen and to appreciate the music that are the real gems and are probably sitting quietly in a pile of what others consider to be ‘raddi’. Meeting Bachubhai, and overlooking, or even looking through his rough exterior, and getting to the person inside, that is a wonderfully humane experience.

I can relate to your story and your experiences, having had to search for specific items, and even experiencing the good fortune of having things fall in the lap – things that one has been eagerly awaiting.

Wonderful narration, and really appreciate your sharing it. And the bonus of course is the song – yet another song I had not heard before, and now is part of my musical experience.

Thanks a ton



I felt like I am there with you(while your visit to Bachhu bhaiji)
Hope Bachhu bhai ji is still there.

Thanks for the sensitive write up.


Thanks Arun, Raja, Sudhir and Prakash for appreciating the write up.

If I remember correctly, Neena was accredited on the record as singer though at a later period, I came to know that in those days HMV used to print the name of the actors or the names of their character in the film. When I heard this song, I thought the singer could be any one among Zohrabai, Amirbai, Khurshid or even Noorjehan but never thought that the singer was Sitarabai Kanpuri until recently.

Sadanand Ji,
Loved your narration. I also appreciate that you could retrieve this from your collection in the backdrop of municipal elections.Very appropriate lyrics for the situation.
K S shenoy

Is the lyricist of this song poet Josh Malihabadi. A big name among urdu poets of his time. This is his first on this blog.
Link to the page on facebook :

In Part I last stanza is :
‘Chehkariyon se chidiyon’ ki chaman goonj rahaa hai

Thanks a lot for all the initial information and the responses to it. For film historians it is very useful in piecing together our much neglected past!
Best regards

“Mun ki Jeet” was a very good film and a controversial one for that period. First of all it had maybe what was the first rape scene in Hindi films whereby the villain Prakash chases Neena and rapes her. The way it was depicted in the respectable era of those times was just by showing the dupatta flying in the air and a star falling from sky.
The other point was the song of Zohrabai “Mere jubna ka dekho” which was picturised on Cuckoo and was considered as an extremely vulgar for that period and was almost banned.
Neena was considered as one of the very beautiful actresses for that era and she really had a very graceful look. Her real name was Shahida and she appeared only in the films of her husband W.Z.Ahmed. Unfortunately only one film. Mun ki Jeet, is present and that too lying in the library of the Film Institute of Pune where no one is making an attempt to revive it.

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