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

Mera rang de basanti chola

Posted on: March 25, 2014


This article is written by Sudhir, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog. This article is meant to be posted in atulsongaday.me. If this article appears in sites like lyricstrans.com and ibollywoodsongs.com etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

jalte bhi gaye
kahte bhi gaye
aazaadi ke parwaane
jeena to usi ka jeena hai
jo marna watan pe jaane


It is the ultimate expression of sacrifice. That one person will make a purposeful decision to give up one’s own existence, for the sake of a belief. It is hard to measure or even imagine the dedication and the belief in the cause – the inimitable faith in the correctness of a principle that goes above and beyond the very existence itself. That faith and that belief is all that is, and the existence of one’s own self, one’s own life even is nominal in comparison.

There is no way that one can or that even one should, do a comparison of the quality of the sacrifices, that have been made for the cause. The 1857 war for the independence of our nation from the shackles of British rule was the first clarion call to strike the hearts and minds of the people of this country, reeling under the merciless exploitation and mindless domination that was inflicted on us by a foreigner. The history records many a stalwart warriors who dared to stand up to the divisive machinations and the superior armory of the invader. Many of them committed the ultimate sacrifice. The list of such names is long, starting from the martyrs of the battles of 1857, running through a myriad of smaller clashes and conflicts that occurred across the length and the breadth of the subcontinent, down to the soldiers of the Indian National Army of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Many a thousand have laid down their lives, with the purpose to dislodge the yoke of the British rule. The names of a large majority of them are now lost in the shadows of anonymity. For the sake of setting right the record of history, maybe that is one project that should be undertaken, to uncover the stories of such nameless martyrs.

Some of them laid down their lives in direct action. There is firepower, there is exchange of bullets and bombs, and in the heat of action, some will bear mortal wounds. The battles of 1857 and the campaigns of the INA under Netaji have many unknown soldiers who so willingly laid down their mortal selves for the cause of independence. There is another set of martyrs who made the sacrifice, being subjected to brutal onslaught in cold blood. One such event that happened is now famous as the tragedy of Jalianwaala Bagh in Amritsar. On the day of Baisakhi in 1919, a gathering that included women and children, unarmed, unprepared, were cornered into a blind alley and massacred in cold blood, without warning and without any way to escape. A similar fate befell another great revolutionary, Chandrashekhar Azad. In a shootout with the British police, he fell down wounded. He was still alive, when he was shot dead in cold blood at close range.

Then we have another rank of fighters in this long war with the British rule. These were the radical rebels – well educated and learned men and women in their own merit, who would not bear the indignity of being treated as second class citizens in their own land. They had the might of the word with them, learning from the revolutionary politics of other movements around the world. Their dominion was to shake the foundations of this oppressive rule by direct and violent confrontation. They were the unnamed travelers of the shadows, who would print literature on clandestine printing presses, and distribute them anonymously by hand. They would resort to robbing the government treasuries, bomb government installations including legislative assemblies, and take on the British security and police in direct confrontation. By that token, they were branded as terrorists and anarchists. But if we go into their background, they were all educated, well learned men and women who made a conscious choice of the path they would take to fight the British rule.

Many of such daring men and women laid down their lives in undercover operations against the British. And many of them were captured. The judicial process that was followed can at best be called as farcical, because the verdict was pre-decided, with the purpose to eliminate them or to eliminate their participation in the society. Many of such revolutionaries were sentenced to life imprisonment and many were condemned to death by hanging. Once again, the list of such valiant men and women is long. Many of them are unsung and unheard of. The saddest travesty that has befallen these freedom fighters is the lack of recognition and acknowledgement of their role in struggle against the foreign oppressors.

There is one tremendously significant event that happened in 1946, that was one of the two prime causes that made the Birtish empire shake in their boots. It was the rebellion by the naval ratings and non-officer staff. More than a hundred ships of the Royal Indian Navy, across all major ports all the way from Chittagong in the east, to Karachi in the west, rebelled against their British officers, and unceremoniously evicted them from the ships. The Union Jack was taken down, and the flags of the Congress and the Muslim League parties were improvised and put on all ships. In an effort to quell this rebellion, the British called in the army in Karachi. It was the Baloch Regiment. They were ordered to open gun fire on the ships. In another first act of army disobedience, the Baloch Regiment refused to fire on their own countrymen. The story was repeated at the Bombay port. A large contingent of police and security forces was gathered and brought to the docks. They too were ordered to open fire at the men who were on the ships. Once again, the entire security force refused to comply a direct order. The British then knew that the game was lost. The standoff lasted for six days. The flurry of telegrams between Whitehall in London and the viceroy in India, lay out a remarkable story of the invader, who was now afraid for the first time for their own lives. A fleet of commercial ships was requested to take the English families off from the shores of India. The epilogue to this heroic feat from the British controlled Navy and Army, was a squeamish retreat that was forced upon the navy men by the leaders of the Congress party. Nehru was in Singapore at that time. He was flown back to India at an hour’s notice. The senior leaders of the party issued statements condemning this action by the navy men, and appealed to them to give up their quest. Finding no support from their own leaders, the rebellion was made to fizzle out.

The history of the struggle for independence is strewn with such incidents where the impact of the action of certain people was minimized and then relegated to the darkness of history, for the benefit of a certain leadership, who eventually created and accepted the partition of this nation.

Bhagat Singh and his fellow rebels are one such group of committed activists, whose contributions and whose impact and influence has been downplayed in the books of history that is taught in our schools. The ultimate sacrifices that have been made by this hallowed band of revolutionaries, stands out simply for the purposefulness. It is one thing to be shot at in cold blood. It is also a thing to be slain in the heat of action. But it is a completely different mindset that willingly takes on death by execution, by hanging, with the full knowledge of what is coming at them. And yet, standing defiant in the face of impending death. It was a purpose with which Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev refused all offers and deals for their pardon and release. The purpose was to set an example of the ultimate sacrifice to rouse the hearts of the common people. Such examples in history are the rarest of rare.

Remembering the trio of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev on the anniversary of their martyrdom – 23rd March.

The story of Bhagat Singh’s life, his accomplishments, his daring and his writings, does not need to be retold. What needs to be reflected upon and emphasized is the tenure of his life in which he accomplished what he did. When he was hanged on this day 1931, he had not even completed 24 years of his life. But his was a name that came to lips of the common man of India. An anniversary that is annually recounted, even in Pakistan. It is the tale of the conscious choices he and his friends made. It would have been easy to take the other options. But the resolve was not to. They are the true ‘karmyogis’, the ones who focused their entire energies and efforts on the resolve that they believed in.

This song from the 1965 film ‘Shaheed’, so poignantly tells of this resolve. The protagonist is being tortured in jail. He is tied to slabs of ice with chains, and is beaten with sticks. And the words that come from his lips, tell of this very conscious resolve. The verses tell of the choices he could have made – he could have chosen to stay in the safety of his home, he could have been under the protection of his parents. But no, he chose the road to difficult battles. With all the possible things that he could have chosen, he chose to sing out and follow the words – “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola”.

These words in themselves are a telling interpretation of the mind of Bhagat Singh. A traditional call of warriors setting foot on the road to the battlefield, it is a cry from the heart of a valiant warrior asking for his attire to be drenched in the colors of valor and sacrifice. It is the color of saffron, it is the color of turmeric, it is the color that rules the seasons of spring. The saffron is for the ‘teeka’ that is placed on the forehead of the soldier when he leaves to go to the battlefield. And yellow is the color of his headgear, that has countless tales of bravery and valour associated with it. And these are the colors of spring, which is the season called ‘Basant’ (spring). And thus the strident cry of the warriors of this land – “Mera Rang De Basanti Chola”.

There is another interpretation that stems from this context. The ‘chola’ that is mentioned in this verse is also another word for this human body. The plea is asking for coloring this body in the colors ‘Basanti’. That is the ‘saffron’ of the martyr. And that is also the color of blood. The parallels are extremely striking.

A traditional song that has been re-worked for the cinema many times. Same as the song of patriotic fervor “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna Ab Hamaare Dil Mein Hai”, written by Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’ (another such warrior of freedom, who was also executed for his patriotism and his audacity to stand against the foreign oppressor). In the 1965 film ‘Shaheed’, the words and the tune for these inspiring fervent verses, both are the handiwork of Prem Dhawan. The singing voices are those of Mahendra Kapoor, Mukesh and Rajendra Mehta. The song appears at three different times in the film. The edited clip given in the link is a composite of these three scenes.

In the first scene, Bhagat Singh has escaped from Lahore from under the noses of the British police. He has shaved off his beard and shorn his long hair. He is in Kanpur, awaiting the arrival of other friends. Alone on the rooftop, his thoughts emerge from his lips.

In the second scene, he is in jail and is being tortured to break his spirit. But he refuses to give in – as is apparent in his response to the jailer’s diatribes. And he sings out the verses expressing his resolve, his conscious decision to give up the safety of home and family, and to trudge the forsaken and difficult path of standing opposite to an oppressive empire.

Both the first two scenes have the voice of Mahendra Kapoor. In both these scenes, it is just the voice rendering the verses without any accompanying music – quite a treat to hear.

In the third scene, it is time for goodbye. He, along with his mates Rajguru and Sukhdev are getting prepared for the hanging. As they walk from their cells to the gallows, they burst out with this song yet once again. The voice of Mahendra Kapoor is now joined by Mukesh singing for Prem Chopra (playing the role of Sukhdev) and Rajendra Mehta singing for Anand Kumar (playing the role of Rajguru). Also seen in the clip are Madan Puri, Anwar Hussain, and a few other familiar faces that I am not able to name off hand.

The video clip for the third scene, that is available from the film, has only one ‘antaraa’ (stanza). However, the complete song in this part contains one more ‘antaraa’. For the full two ‘antaraa’ version, the audio link is also provided.

As mentioned earlier, this song is much more than just a song of valor and patriotism. This song is the representation of a hoary tradition of this land, from the time that the Greeks crossed the Jhelum river and made an unsuccessful attempt to take over the sub continent. The invaders have been many, but no one has ever been able to dismember the sentiment and the spirit of the people of this land, and their love for it. Just like the immortal verses of Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’ – “Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna. . .”, this traditional song from the land of Punjab has been sung in many versions, in many a different era, and by many a different singers. But its color has always been one – ‘Basanti’, the color of spring.

Video

Audio

Song-Mera ran de basanti chola (Shaheed)(1965) Singers-Mahendra Kapoor, Mukesh, Rajendra Mehta, Lyrics-Prem Dhawan, MD-Prem Dhawan
All)

Lyrics

(As per video clip)
—————————-
Part I
————————-
hmmm mmmm mm mmmmm mmmmmm
hmmm mmmm mm
mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
hmmmm mm mmmmm mmmmmm

badaa hi gehraa daag hai yaaron
jiska ghulaami naam hai
badaa hi gehraa daag hai yaaron
jiska ghulaami naam hai
us ka jeena bhi kya jeena
jis ka desh ghulaam hai
seene mein jo dil thhaa yaaron o
seene mein jo dil thhaa yaaron
aaj banaa wo sholaa
mera rang de basanti chola
hmmm mmmm mm mmmmm mmmmmm
hmmm mmmm mm
mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti

Part II
——————————-
hum bhi aaraam uthaa sakte thhe
ghar pe reh kar
hum ko bhi paala thhaa maa baap ne
dukh seh seh kar
waqt e rukhsat unhen
itnaa bhi naa aaye keh kar
god mein aansoo jo tapke
kabhi rukh se beh kar
tifl unko hi samajh lena
jee behlaane ko

ham ne jab waadi e gurbat mein kadam rakhaa thha
door tak yaad e watan aayi thhi
samjhaane ko
mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola

Part III
———————————
o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de

o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola

jis chole ko pehen shivaji
khele apni jaan pe
jis chole ko pehen shivaji
khele apni jaan pe

jise pehen jhaansi ki raani
mit gayi apni aan pe

aaj usi ko pehen ke nikla
pehen ke nikla. . aaa. .aaa. .aaa
aaj usi ko pehen ke nikla
hum maston ke tolaa
mera rang de basanti chola
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola

(As per audio clip)
——————————-
o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola. . .
o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti cho. .laa. . maaye
rang de basanti cho. .laa

dam nikle is desh ki khaatir
bas itna armaan hai
dam nikle is desh ki khaatir
bas itna armaan hai

ek baar is raah mein marnaa
sau janmon ke samaan hai

dekh ke veeron ki qurbaani. . .
dekh ke veeron ki qurbaani
apna dil bhi bola
mera rang de basanti chola

o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola

jis chole ko pehen shivaji
khele apni jaan pe
jis chole ko pehen shivaji
khele apni jaan pe

jise pehen jhaansi ki raani
mit gayi apni aan pe

aaj usi ko pehen ke nikla
pehen ke nikla. . aaa. .aaa. .aaa
aaj usi ko pehen ke nikla
hum maston ke tolaa
mera rang de basanti chola

o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola

o mera rang de basanti chola
mera rang de
o mera rang de basanti chola oye
rang de basanti chola maaye
rang de basanti chola

—————————————-
Hindi script lyrics (Provided by Sudhir)
—————————————–
(वीडियो पर आधारित)

भाग I
——————————-
हम्मम मम्मम मम मम्मम मम्ममम
हम्मम मम्मम मम
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
मम्मम मम मम्मम मम्ममम

बड़ा ही गहरा दाग़ है यारो
जिसका ग़ुलामी नाम है
बड़ा ही गहरा दाग़ है यारो
जिसका ग़ुलामी नाम है
उसका जीना भी क्या जीना
जिसका देश ग़ुलाम है
सीने में जो दिल था यारो
सीने में जो दिल था यारो
आज बना वो शोला
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
हम्मम मम्मम मम मम्मम मम्ममम
हम्मम मम्मम मम
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती

भाग II
————————-
हम भी आराम उठा सकते थे
घर पर रह कर
हमको भी पाला था माँ बाप ने
दुख सह सह कर
वक़्त ए रुख़सत उन्हें
इतना भी ना आए कह कर
गोद में आंसू जो टपके
कभी रुख से बह कर
तिफ्ल उनको ही समझ लेना
दिल बहलाने को

हम ने जब वादी ए गुरबत में कदम रखा था
दूर तक याद ए वतन आई थी
समझाने को

मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला

भाग III
————————–
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे

ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला

जिस चोले को पहन शिवाजी
खेले अपनी जान पे
जिस चोले को पहन शिवाजी
खेले अपनी जान पे

जिसे पहन झाँसी की रानी
मिट गयी अपनी आन पे

आज उसीको पहन के निकला
पहन के निकला॰ ॰आss॰ ॰आss॰ ॰आss
आज उसीको पहन के निकला
हम मस्तों का टोला
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला

(औडियो पर आधारित)
————————–
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला
ओ मेरा रंग दे
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला

दम निकले इस देश खातिर
बस इतना अरमान है
दम निकले इस देश खातिर
बस इतना अरमान है

एक बार इस राह में मारना
सौ जन्मों के समान है

देख के वीरों की कुर्बानी॰ ॰
देख के वीरों की कुर्बानी
अपना दिल भी बोला
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला

ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माए
रंग दे बसंती चोला॰ ॰

जिस चोले को पहन शिवाजी
खेले अपनी जान पे
जिस चोले को पहन शिवाजी
खेले अपनी जान पे

जिसे पहन झाँसी की रानी
मिट गयी अपनी आन पे

आज उसीको पहन के निकला
पहन के निकला॰ ॰आss॰ ॰आss॰ ॰आss
आज उसीको पहन के निकला
हम मस्तों का टोला
मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला

ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला॰ ॰ ॰

ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला
मेरा रंग दे
ओ मेरा रंग दे बसंती चोला ओए
रंग दे बसंती चोला माये
रंग दे बसंती चोला॰ ॰ ॰

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2 Responses to "Mera rang de basanti chola"

wonderful write up to pay homage to our freedom fighters and Martyrs. but sometimes i feel that we have wasted our hard earned freedom by our own constant in-fighting. there was a time when Sardar patel used his might to bring all the princely states together with the rest of our country and now might is being used to fragment the country into smaller states. yeh kahaan aa gaye hum? wish we could still say that there is unity in our diversity.
anyway thank you to ALL THOSE WHO GOT US FREE4DOM and many a apologies to them for not keeping up to their dream for the country.

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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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