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

Mere dil ki kothariya pe

Posted on: June 21, 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 If this article appears in sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

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Rare Performances – Things Unique and Unexpected #8
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The protagonist of this latest episode in this series that chronicles some really rare and unexpected performances, is John Chacha. The gentleman for whom the refrain of the kids in ‘Boot Polish’ (1953) is

john cha cha tum kitne achhe
tumhe pyaar karte sab bachhe

Yes, David, the eternal ‘taklaa’ of Hindi films. Gosh, for whenever and howsoever far back I can think of him, every image is a bald pate and a crescent rim of hair. This image is so well rooted in the history and the psyche of the industry, that even a special line was included in a song for him. Folks who remember the film ‘Ek Phool Do Maali’, will recall the fun and parody song “Chal Chal Re Naujawaan” . The whole side story behind this song is quite detailed. Suffice to say that a young man (role played by Gurnam) is being encouraged by his wife (role played by Shabnam) and his parents in law (roles played by David and Manorama) to climb a mountain to go visit a sage who will give him some jadi-booti to help with (well, you know what; that which the mothers in law think is wrong with their sons in law 🙂 ). The song itself tells a complete story. In the midst, Manorama picks up her sandal and wants to hit Gurnam. Shabnam holds her hand, with the lines

joote ko rehne do
joota na utthaao
joota jo uthh gayaa to
yeh bhi ho jaayegaa

And David joins in at this point, takes off his hat, and sings

meri tarah ganjaa
meri tarah ganjaa
meri tarah ganjaa
meri tarah ganjaa

In the four lines that he repeats, the camera takes a full circle of his shining baldness up from the forehead to his neck and then from ear to ear. The gleam of his bare and polished pate can be seen, giving a lie to the shining moon.

And yes, another opportune celebration – it is David’s birth anniversary today, (21st June).

The memories of the films that I have seen as a child in the 1960s and 1970s during my school years, all carry this image of a short in height, symmetrically rotund, clear and shining baldness, mostly never serious. For kids in that age, the effect of David entering the scene on screen was the same as when Tun Tun would make an entry. The mind would immediately be on the alert that something comical and hilarious is in the offing. The instinctive expectation and reactions were so fine tuned that their mere sight on the screen would make me start giggling – ah, some fun is afoot.

Imagine my astounding disbelief when many years later I would see the iconic film ‘Kismet’ (1943) on Doordarshan for the first time, and see this short and thin and sharp crooked shopkeeper who is the receiver of stolen goods. On screen he dons that marwaari topi that typically businessmen wear, so I am still not able to ascertain whether he was bald even then. But the surprise to see him so lean and thin almost made me fall out of the chair. In the back of my mind, I always was convinced that he was even born as it is. 🙂 (That is how some long standing beliefs are shattered).

But apart from that, John Chacha, remained the most loveable character artist in the industry, for almost five decades. And watching the reruns show that he still is. Journalists and film writers refer to him as the superstar amongst character artists.

Descending from the Jewish families that came and settled on the west coast population center that is now called Bombay (or Mumbai), in the fifteenth century, David was born this day, in 1909. At the age of five, he lost his father, and he was brought up by his elder brother. At school, the young David was very good in studies as well as sports. Cricket, weightlifting and wrestling were his favorites. At the age of eleven, he had another introduction. A stage play was performed in his school. After the play was over, his brother took him to meet the lead actor in the play, Joseph David, a very famous stage artist of that time. The play seemed to have done something to the young boy’s mind. When Joseph asked him, what he would like to be when grown up, the response from this child of eleven was – an actor.

In 1930, he completed his bachelor’s degree in English Literature, from Wilson College, University of Bombay. In 1931, through some friends, he squirmed into a role in a silent film ‘Toofaani Taruni’ aka ‘Cycle Girl’ and faced the camera for the first time at Saagar Film Co.. Yakub, the comedian was also in this film. The film was a flop. And Yakub’s advise to the young aspirant was to pursue law. (As it is stated in humor often, study of law is meant for those who are not able to make a mark at anything else. (No offense intended ) 🙂 ).

For the next six years he did two things. He searched for employment and he pursued a course in law. But then fate was destined to take him someplace in the tinsel town. He got no employment, and had to make do with a monthly pocket allowance of ten rupees. At the ‘akhaada’ (gymnasium) that he used to frequent (being also a wrestler and weight lifter), he became friends with actor SB Nayampalli, who in turn referred him to film producer Mohan Bhavnani. This was in January 1937. The ‘drought’ and the ‘kadki’ in young David’s life came to an end finally when he got his employment letter, at seventy five rupees a month, to work in the film ‘Zimbo, The Ape Man’ (1937). The association continued, and in the subsequent years, David handled all kinds of tasks on the studio floor, both on front of the camera and behind it. He was the light boy, the clapper boy, production manager, continuity manager, clerk, assistant director, and yes, writer. His BA in English and his flair for writing brought him recognition also, and in 1940, he collaborated with KA Abbas to write the story and screenplay for the film ‘Naya Sansaar’. David also acted in this film and his performance caught the attention of the industry. By the time ‘Kismet’ was released in 1943, David was earning a handsome three hundred rupees per month. This was now the time that his career as a character artist really took off. And by the way, 1940 was also the year when he completed his law course.

But being in the film is not all that happened in his life. In the 1940s, he was also an active member of the Congress party and took part in the freedom movement. And his interest in sports brought him many other occupations. He was the president of the Maharashtra Weightlifting Association for 30 years. He has also been a cricket commentator, a referee at the Asian Games, and a member of the jury at the Olympic Games. Folks who have seen some of the Filmfare awards functions in the 1960s and 1970s will recall him, on stage with mike in hand, as the anchor person for the then premier awards program in the industry, for many years. It was not just for the award functions. David was the compere and anchor person for many industry level and national level programs. In fact at one such function, Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister had commented that no function will ever be complete without the presence of David and a speech by him.

And yes, he was a professional legal advisor. Quite a colorful and multi faceted persona. He speaks about himself in an interview given in 1956 – a very interesting set of observations about himself in his typical fun manner that can be read here on Cineplot. He never married. During mid 1970s, he moved to Canada to be with his extended family. In 1981, he passed away in Toronto.

The song item that I present today is an unlisted, unknown and a rare piece of music that is recorded in David’s own voice, for the film ‘Actress’ (1948). The film is from the renowned banner of ‘Filmistan’, directed by Nazam Naqvi. The cast of actors includes Rehana, Prem Adeeb, Meena, David, Mukri, Mishra, Mohammed Abbas, Jamaal Amrohi, Zaidi etc. The ten songs in this film are written by PL Santoshi, Nakshab and Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Music is by Shyam Sunder.

This song, of course being unlisted, has no known credits for the lyricist. The male singing voice is David, and I request help from other friends and readers to help identify the female singing voice. The situation is a practice session for a stage play. David and a lady actress (I think this is Meena) are on stage, while Rehana is watching from the audience area. As we see the first part of this scene, the instrumental musicians can be seen with their backs to the camera. Worth noting is the movements of the tabla player.

So, wonderful memories to carry on – the smile, the jokes delivered with utter seriousness, the summations at the end of the film, and ah yes, the bald pate. And listen to this very rare recording of a short song in David’s own voice.

Love you very much, John Chacha.

[Footnote about the song: As I listened to this song, my mind immediately reminded me of a very popular number from later years, that has the exact same intent – “My Name Is Anthony Gonsalves”, and its lines

dil bhi hai khaali
ghar bhi hai khaali

Where as in 1948, the lady being propositioned is immediately concerned about the possible reaction from her in laws, thirty years later in 1977, there is no such considerations. :D) ]

Song-Mere dil ki kothariya pe To LET ka board (Actress)(1948) Singers-David, Female Voice, Lyrics-Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, MD-Shyam Sundar


mere dil ki kothariya pe
mere dil ki kothariya pe to-let ka board
gori jaldi se taala lagaaye le
o gori jaldi se taala lagaaye le
poochha bhi maa baap se
ya tum aa gaye apne aap
poochha bhi maa baap se
ya tum aa gaye apne aap
kal ko main jaaun wo keh den
chhori rastaa naap
nikal ja chhori rastaa naap

main hi apni maan hun gori
main hi apna baap
gori mat ho udaas
teri koi nahin hai saas
gori mat ho udaas
teri koi nahin hai saas
main akela hoon
main akela hoon
mujh akele ke mann ko basaaye le
mujh akele ke mann ko basaaye le

Hindi script lyrics (Provided by Sudhir)
मेरे दिल की कोठरिया पे
मेरे दिल की कोठरिया पे टू-लेट का बोर्ड
गोरी जल्दी से ताला लगाए दे
ओ गोरी जल्दी से ताला लगाए दे

पूछा भी माँ बाप से
या तुम आ गए अपने आप
पूछा भी माँ बाप से
या तुम आ गए अपने आप
कल को मैं जाऊँ वो कह दें
छोरी रास्ता नाप
निकल जा छोरी रास्ता नाप

मैं ही अपनी माँ हूँ गोरी
मैं ही अपना बाप
गोरी मत हो उदास
तेरी कोई नहीं है सास
गोरी मत हो उदास
तेरी कोई नहीं है सास
मैं अकेला हूँ
मैं अकेला हूँ
मुझ अकेले के मन को बसाये ले
मुझ अकेले के मन को बसाये ले

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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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