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

Kaanha main tose haari

Posted on: September 10, 2014


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a 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.

SHATRANJ KE KHILAADI(1977) was Satyajit Ray’s first Hindi feature film which he directed with multi star cast from India and abroad. The film was based on a short story by the same name written by Munshi Premchand which I had read during my school days. I watched this film once again and I must say that I enjoyed the movie much more than I had seen it about 3 decades back. The film was produced by Suresh Jindal under the banner of Devki Chitra. The main actors in the film were Amjad Khan, Sanjeev Kumar, Saeed Jaffrey, Shabana Azmi, Farida Jalal, Victor Bannerji, Richard Attenborough, Tom Alter, Barry John, Farooque Shaikh, David Abraham, Veena etc. Amitaab Bachchan was the narrator of the film.

Satyajit Ray wrote the screen play, edited the film and composed the music.

The story is set against the background of the rule of Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan), the Nawab of Awadh who was more of a poet, a singer and a Kathak dancer than a ruler. But the main characters in this story are two aristocrats, Mirza Sajid Ali (Sanjeev Kumar) and Mir Roshan Ali (Saeed Jaffrey) who are obsessed with chess playing to such an extent that they are least bothered about the impending doom of Awadh due to marching British troops at the outskirt of Lucknow. These two aristocrats also neglect their personal lives. Their wives are lonely and live reclusive lives.

General Outram (Richard Attenborough), representing the Company Bahadur is playing a game of political chess. Even though the earlier Nawab of Awadh had entered into a treaty of friendship with Britishers, General Outram is all set to annex Awadh. A long conversation in English between General Outram and Captain Weston (Tom Alter) is one of the highlights of this film. The sum and substance of this conversation is that Nawab Wajid Ali Shah does everything except governing his state and therefore he has no right to rule Awadh. When the British troops are about to enter into Lucknow, the two aristocrats continue to play chess. But this time it is not in their houses but a far off place near the banks of Gomti River lest they would be called by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah to fight the British troops. However, Nawab abdicates the throne without any bloodshed to Company Bahadur while Mirza and Mir continue to play chess unmindful of happening around them.

The end in the film is different from the end in Munshi Premchand’s story. I like both the versions for their different ironical interpretations. In Premchand’s story, both Mirza and Mir kill each other in fight over a wrong chess move. The significance of this end is that while Nawab Wajid Shah Ali hands over his kingdom to Britishers without any bloodshed, Mirza and Mir who run away from their homes to avoid fighting with British troops, are ready to fight and kill each other over a trivial issue. In the film, a verbal fight between Mirza and Mir is shown with Mir firing from his gun when a bullet brushes through Mirza’s shawl. However, after cooling down, they both make up with each other and play chess once again. But this time Mirza pushes the king aside and holds the queen, signifying that the rule of the King (Nawab) is over with the takeover of Awadh by Company Bahadur on behalf of Queen Victoria of British Empire.

There were 5 songs in the film of which one song was not included in the final print. Of the remaining 4 songs, 2 were partially used and one was a recital of four line verses of a thumri sung by Amjad Khan on himself. The remaining one which I am presenting here is a full length thumri song ‘kaanha main tause haari’, picturised on a young Saswati Sen, one of the renowned Kathak dancers of today. The thumri was written by Bindadin and sung by Birju Maharaj who also composed and choreographed this kathak dance in the film. One can see Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (Amjad Khan) watching the kathak dance in a somewhat sombre mood. His Prime Minister (Victor Bannerji) enters the court in a dejected mood because he has just returned after a meeting with General Outram (Richard Attenborough) with the bad news about a revised treaty under which Nawab has to abdicate his throne in return for a life pension for him.

Birju Maharaj (real name: Brijmohan Nath Mishra) needs no introduction. He is one of the top most Kathak dancer belonging to Lucknow Gharana. This is his first Hindi film as a playback singer and a composer. His other film as a playback singer and composer was ‘Devdas’ (2OO2). He was also a playback singer in ‘Pranaali’ (2OO8) and ‘Dedh Ishqiyan’ (2O13).

I was not aware of thumri lyricist Bindadin. But a chance going through the family tree of Birju Maharaj revealed that Bindadin was actually Maharaj Bindadin, the grandfather of Birju Maharaj (183O-1918). He is regarded as the originator of Lucknow Gharana of Kathak dance. He was a court dancer along with his uncle Thakur Prasad during the rule of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. He was also an accomplished thumri singer. He wrote hundreds of thumris and bandishes especially suited for Kathak dances. Most of his thumris are lost but those available have been published in a book called ‘Ras Gunjan’ by Birju Maharaj. All his compositions carry his name de plume ‘Binda’. His disciples included Gohar Jan of Calcutta and Zohrabai Agrewali. More details about Maharaj Bindadin are here.

I was not able to recognise in this song the young Saswati Sen as a Kathak dancer until I saw her name in films credit title as ‘dance by Saswati Sen’, one of the top Kathak dancers of Lucknow Gharana today. She has been the disciple of Birju Maharaj for the last 45 years even though she has many disciples of her own. She has been managing ‘Kalashram’, Birju Maharaj’s School for propagating the Kathak dance in India and abroad.

Satyajit Ray wanted to take Saswati Sen for this dance number who was still in college at that time and was not a professional kathak dancer. However, her parents were not in favour of her dancing in the film. They got pursuaded only when Satyajit Ray visited their house and convinced them that the entire shooting would be conducted as if she was dancing before the audience except that instead of audience it would a movie camera. The kathak dance in the film made her famous and she started getting invitations for public performances. One can say that with this one dance in the film, her career path was changed from medical to kathak. [Note: With inputs from Saswati Sens interview in THE HINDU, June 15, 2O12].

Enjoy the thumri with Saswati Sen’s kathak dance which is graceful.

Audio

Video

Song-Kanha main tose hari (Shatranj Ke Khiladi)(1977) Singer-Birju Maharaj, Lyrics-Bindadin Maharaj, MD-Satyajit Ray

Lyrics

aa aa aa aaa
aa aa aaa
aa aa aaha
kaanha main tose haari
chhodo saari
kaanha main tose haari
chhodo saari
kaanha main tose haari
chhodo saari

suno bihaari
nahin main doongi tohe gaari
suno bihaari
nahin main doongi tohe gaari
kaanha main tose haari
chhodo saari
kaare kaa re
kaanha
main tose
haaari re
kaanha main tose haari
nis din chhed karat nahin jaane de de
nis din chhede

nis din chhed karat nahin jaane de re
nis din chhed karat nahin jaane de re
panghatwa ki darash ki ree
chhodo ji chhodo ji pat
ghoonghata na ulto
chhodo ji chhodo ji pat
ghoonghata na ulto
Binda suno ye nahin maane
dekhen sab naari
kaanha main tose haari
chhodo saari
kaanha main tose haari ee
kanha main tose

thai thai thaa
dha dir dhi
thai thai
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thath
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thaa
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thai thai
thai thai thaa
thai thai thai
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thath
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thaa
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thai thai
thai thai thaa
thai thai thai
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thaa
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thaa
dha dir dhi
dha dir dhi
dha dir
thai thai
thaa

arre kaanha main tause haari
kaanha main tose haari
kaanha main tause haari

9 Responses to "Kaanha main tose haari"

Thank you Sadanand ji
For this post,song and all the informations you have provided to us in this article. Simpy superb.

Prakash

Like

Beautiful song and dance. The background information on the story, film and song is very informative and enables better appreciation.

Like

Thank you very much, Sadanand ji.
I have a vague idea but shall be grateful to receive your confirmation whether, apart from the films mentioned in the post, Birju Maharaj’s voice and choreography was also used in Muzaffar Ali’s ‘Umrao Jaan’ (1981) and perhaps katthak bol in ‘Navrang’ too.
Incidentally, for clarification of our readers, the period details (1830-1918) relate to Maharaj Bindadin and not his grandson, Birju Maharaj, who is still quite sprightful notwithstanding being an octagenarian himself. May he live to be hundreds of years.
Avadh Lal

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The placing of (1830-1918) should have been after ‘ Maharaj Bindadin’ . Thanks for pointing out.

Gopikrishna was one of two choreographers in ‘Umrao Jan’. So I do not think that Birju Maharaj would have been associated with this film. There was no mention of his name in film’s credit title.

I do not find Birju Maharaj’s name being associated with ‘Navrang’.

Like

Avadhlalji,
Is your name somehow connected to the state of Avadh.

Like

Birju Maharaj lent his voice in Devdas, Dedh Ishqiya and Pranali
Bindadin Maharaj wrote neer ta ta dhang in Chandan Ka Palna

Like

My compliments for this beautiful song and excellent write-up.

AK

Like

Thanks.

Like

Like

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