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

Khuda e bartar teri zameen par

Posted on: October 25, 2012

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

This is a story of the only son of a wealthy jagirdar ( feudal land owner) Choudhary Fazal Mohammed and Sardar Begum, one of his wives. The jagirdar had almost deserted Sardar Begum but he wanted his only son in his custody for which he was prepared to pay a handsome monetary compensation to his estranged wife. But she was not prepared to part with her son. The matter went to the court and the judge asked their 9 year old son to make a choice as to whether he would stay with his father or mother. He had to make a choice between a wealthy father and a poor mother who was facing difficulties in sustaining on a day to day basis. The young boy preferred his poor mother to his wealthy father. In preferring to stay with his poor mother, the young boy may have perhaps made a statement of intent to his father that ‘tu itnaa ameer nahin banaa abba ki tu apne bête ko khareed sake’ – a similar type of dialogue used in the film ‘Deewaar’ (1975). The boy was Abdul Hayee later known as Sahir Ludhianvi.

I have great respect for Sahir Ludhianvi as a Urdu poet and lyricist. But after knowing this court incidence, my respect for him has gone up many folds. This incident speaks a lot about Sahir Ludhianvi as a man of principle and conviction. His love for mother and women’s emancipation have been reflected in lyrics of some of the well known songs in Hindi films like ‘Pyaasa’ (1957), ‘Sadhana’ (1958), ‘Baabar’ (1960), ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’ (1963) etc. A song from the film “Trishul’ (1978) – tu mere saath rahegaa munne is perhaps based on the role of his mother in shaping him to face the difficult days ahead of him.

With his troubled childhood, temperamentally Sahir Ludhianvi was cynical. With his modest success in the Hindi film industry as a lyricist in early 50s from films like ‘Naujawaan’ (1951), ‘Baazi, ( 1951), ‘Jaal’ (1952), ‘Taxi Driver’ (1954) etc., his cynicism had transformed into diplomatically incorrect outbursts. Javed Akhtar, in one of his TV programmes has mentioned that during this period, Sahir Ludhianvi had an argument with one of the leading playback singers about the role of a singer versus lyricist in making the songs popular. The singer in question had said that it was the singer which made a song popular. Sahir Ludhianvi retorted back by saying that if it is so, he would stop writing lyrics and instead open a paan shop. After this tiff, the singer in question refused to sing any song penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. Though this ban remained for short time, the immediate impact was that 9 out of 11 films he had on his hand were withdrawn from him. The remaining two films namely ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Naya Daur’ remained with him for which the songs were sung by Geeta Dutt and Asha Bhonsle respectively. Although Javed Akhtar did not disclose the name of the singer, with these two films remaining with him, one can easily infer as to who the singer in question was. As they say luck favours the brave, these two films not only become box office hits, their songs also become hits.

The extra-ordinary success of films ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Naya Daur’ released in 1957 seems to have made him more confident than before. His cynicism stretched to arrogance. He had serious tiffs with S D Burman and O P Nayyar, the very music directors who were associated with the success of these two films. Again the argument was about the role of lyricist versus music director in popularising the songs of these films. Riding on the success of these songs, he had also started insisting on getting one rupee more than the music director of the concerned film as his remuneration. Furthermore, he refused to write lyrics on a pre-set tunes of the music directors. As a result, not only S B Burman and O P Nayyar, other top music directors of that time refused to work with him. The Hindi film industry thought that with these developments, the filmy career of Sahir Ludhianvi was almost finished. He worked with the second line of music directors like N Datta, Khayyam, Roshan and later with Ravi. Again with the maxim of fortunes favour the brave, the films of these music directors like ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ (1958), ‘Dhool Ka Phool’ (1959), and ‘Barsaat Ki Raat’ (1960) became successful. At last Hindi film industry realised that Sahir had talent who could carry the film’s music with his lyrics without the support of top music directors of that time like Naushad, S D Burman, Shanker-Jaikishan, and O P Nayyar. He became a first choice among a few of the producers-directors like Yash Chopra before even finalisation of music directors for their films.

Sahir is known for bringing nature in his romantic ‘feel good’ songs. In such songs, mountains, valleys, clouds, waterfalls, breeze etc are witnesses to the romantism. Examples :

thandi hawaayen lahraa ke aaye

chaand madhyam hai aasmaan chup hai

parbaton pe pedon par shaam ka baseraa hai

jhukti hawaa gaati ghataa sapne jagaaye

ye waadiyaan ye fizaayen bulaa rahi hai tumhe

o neele parbaton ki dhaara

Being a nature lover myself, these type of nature songs appealed to me. In fact, Sahir’s song ‘ye waadiyaan ye fizaayen bulaa rahi hai tumhe ’ has become the ‘signature song’ for my annual treks to the Himalaya. As soon as I returned from my annual Himalayan sojourn, this song made me to start preparation for my next Himalayan visit as the call of the valley and freshness of air. But the song which intrigued me for quite some time was ‘parbaton ke pedon par sham ka baseraa hai, surmai ujjaala hai makmalli andheraa hai. In my younger days, I felt that the second line of the mukhda of this song was a poetic imagination rather than one actually witnessing light and darkness together. About two years back (December 2010), I witnessed such a spectacle as the night was about to set near Rudraprayag on Badrinath road and this song naturally came on my lips. As a memento I shot the scene from my camera and captioned this picture with the mukhda of this song.

Sahir Ludhianvi who always kept his head high treating himself as the one not less in stature than singers, music directors, stars, producers and directors, had a major setback in his personal life when his mother died. It is said that Sahir was so much dependent on his mother that he could not take any decisions without consulting his mother. He would not travel outside Mumbai or attend mushiaras and functions without his mother. It is also said that after the death of his mother, he was afraid to sleep in his bed room and instead chose to sleep on a sofa of his living room during the rest of his life. I feel that Sahir Ludhianvi derived strength from his mother and she being no more with him, there was no motivation for him to excel in his life. I am reminded of Salim-Javed’s famous dialogue ‘mere pass maa hai’ from the film ‘Deewaar’ which may have been inspired from Sahir’s depedence on his mother. By the way during his struggling days in the later half of 60s, Javed Akhtar used to spend most of his evenings in Sahir Ludhianvi’s house as had been revealed by him in a T V Programme.

With bitterness of his early life still hovering in his mind coupled with heavy drinking binges, he suffered a massive heart attack and died on October 25, 1980 at the age of 59. With his death, a pillar of the golden period of Hindi film lyrics came to an end but his poetry remained immortal.

On the occasion of the death anniversary of Sahir Ludhianvi, I have chosen a relatively lesser known song ‘khudaa-e-barter teri zameen par’ from the film ‘TAJMAHAL’ (1963). This song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar and lip synced by Beena Rai ( Arjumand) who is waiting for her beloved Prince Khurram (Pradeep Kumar) to return from the war. In this song the poet asks some hard hitting questions to Khudaa (God) in some hard Urdu words, the central theme of the question being as to why there are wars and conflicts among the human beings for the land which belongs to God. Where is the question of ownership of land when both the mankind and the land are the creation of God.

This song has an universal message. In wars the army used potent weapons like swords and guns to win over others. Sahir used in this song the weapons in terms of the strongest but soulful words for the futility of wars. Normally, Sahir’s lyrics for the films are in simple Hindustani words ( a mix of Hindi and Urdu words) but in this song, he has used come complex Urdu words.

A somewhat similar song in intent but in simple words were written by Javed Akhtar about 35 years after Sahir wrote this song. The song is Ishwar Allah tere jahaan mein nafrat kyon hai jang kyon hai from the film ‘1947 Earth’.



Song-Khuda e bartar teri zameen par (Tajmahal)(1963) Singer-Lata, Lyrics-Sahir Ludhianvi, MD-Roshan


khudaa-e-bartar teri zameen par
zameen ki khaatir ye jang kyun hai
har ek fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe
khoon-e-insaan kaa rang kyun hai

zameen bhi teri hai ham bhi tere
ye milkiyat kaa sawaal kyaa hai
ye qatl-o-khoon kaa riwaaz kyun hai
ye rasm-e-jang-o-jadaal kyaa hai
jinhe talab hai jahaan bhar ki
unhi kaa dil itnaa tang kyun hai

gareeb maaon shareef behanon ko
amn-o-izzat ki zindagi de
jinhe ataa ki hai tu ne taaqat
unhen hidaayat ki roshni de
saron mein kibr-o-guroor kyun hain
dilon ke sheeshe pe zang kyun hai

khazaa ke raste pe jaanewaalon ko
bach ke aane ki raah denaa
dilon ke gulshan ujad na jaaye
mohabbaton ko panaah denaa
jahaan mein jashn-e-wafaa ke badle
ye jashn-e-teer-o-tafang kyun hai
khudaa-e-bartar teri zameen par
zameen ki khaatir ye jang kyun hai
har ek fatah-o-zafar ke daaman pe
khoon-e-insaan kaa rang kyun hai

4 Responses to "Khuda e bartar teri zameen par"

Thank you Sadanandji
for nice,informatice post and song.

Just remembered,Another song of nature by Sahir ji
Vaasna(Chitragupt-sahir)->Ye parbathon ke daayre, ye shaam ka dhuaan(Lata,rafi)(Bisjwjeet,Kumud Chhugaani)



One of my all time favorite numbers. For some reason, I thought this song was already discussed on the blog. Thank you for a wonderful write up on Sahir saab.


Wonderful post, Sadanandji.
I’ve seen that Javed Akhtar programme – it is lovely.
As most people know, Sahir is my favourite lyricist.
Am glad that we’ve managed to put together a few songs as tribute to him on his death anniversary. His contribution to the industry is second to none.


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