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

Desi kya bideshi

Posted on: May 20, 2016


This article is written by Arunkumar Deshmukh, 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.

Today’s song is from a less heard film called Lal Batti-57. The film is making its debut on the blog with an extraordinary song, least expected from a composer who was known for melodious soft tunes based on either Raag or Robindra Sangeet….. Salil Chowdhari. The unlikely singers of this peculiar song are Shamshad Begum and Manna Dey.

The combination of Manna Dey and Shamshad Begu was very uncommon. They sang only 3 duets and shared 2 more songs with other singers in a group. Their 3 duets are…

S N Title Film MD
1. Tedhi Tedhi phire saari duniya Musafir-57 Salil Chowdhari
2 Desi kya videsi Lal Batti-57 Salil Chowdhari
Dildar kamandiwale ka Bewaqoof-60 MD- S D Burman

Group songs…
——————–

S N Title Film MD
1 Dukh bhare din Mother India-57 MD- Naushad
2 Peeli Peeli sarson phooli Upkaar-67 Kalyanji-Anandji

Out of these 5 songs, 4 songs are from the decade of 50s. The period of 1950 to 1960 was the best period for Hindi film music, in my opinion. In that decade the year 1957 was undoubtedly the Best Musical Year, when so many musical films were offered to the lovers of music. When I analysed the films of 1957, very interesting data emerged.

Almost all the major composers of that period were represented in this decade and each one had one or more films in 1957. The break up is as follows, but please remember that this data pertains to only films which became musically popular and not all films of any composer in 1957. For example, C.Ramchandra had done 5 films in 1957 but only 4 were musically popular or O.P.Nayyar had done 9 films in 1957, but only two of his his films became musically popular in 57 etc etc. ( Total film numbers are given in brackets ).

.

SN Music Director No. of popular movies (all movies) Names of popular movies
1 C Ramchandra 4 (5) Asha, Baarish, Nausherwane Adil and Sharada
2 S D Burman 3 (4) Pyasa, Paying Guest and Nau do gyarah
3 Salil Chaudhary 3 (4) Apradhi kaun, Ek Gaon ki Kahani and Musafir
4 Shankar Jaikishan 2 (2) Begunah and Kathputli
5 Roshan 2 (3) Agra Road and Coffee House
6 O P Nayyar 2 (9) Tumsa Nahin dekha and Naya Daur
7 Hemant Kumar 2 (9) Pehli Jhalak and Miss Mary
8 Madan Mohan 2 (6) Dekh kabira Roya and Gateway of India
9 N Datta 2 (3) Mr.X and Hum panchhi ek daal ke
10 Dattaram 1() Ab dilli door nahin
11 Chitragupta 1() Bhabhi
12 Ravi 1() Narsi Bhagat
13 Vasant Desai 1() Do aankhen baara haath
14 Hansraj Behl 1() Miss Bombay
15 Naushad 1() Mother India

So many musical films in 1957. The top honours were hogged by C Ramchandra, S D Burman, O P Nayyar and Naushad. Though I like all the above films, these 4 composers are “more equal than others”! In the midst of so many captivating musical films, a film like “Lal Batti” had no chance to shine at all. In fact no one knows when it came and when it went. Actually, the film had a good cast, consisting of Balraj Sahni, Mala Sinha, Shashikala, Sulochana, Jawahar kaul etc etc. The film was set in a train and on a lonely platform, where passengers are forced to spend a night, at the time of India’s independence. The film was directed jointly by Balraj Sahani and Krishna Chopra.

Balraj Sahni was a different type of person than all other film actors. It is surprising how he came into film line, in the first place. Basically he was a very sensitive writer and stage actor, but having once entered the film world, he continued for the sake of earning a livelihood, making lot of compromises on his journey of life.

In the days,when not many educated people came into films,Balraj-a double MA in English and Hindi joined the films. In the conventional way he was not a handsome person,but his superior acting prowess nullified this. In an industry,which is a ‘show business’, he was never counted amongst the Top grade stars, though critics and learned viewers always found him excellent. You can never imagine a Raj kapoor or a Dev Anand in a film like Seema or Kabuliwala, nor can a Dilip kumar fit into ‘Do Bigha Zameen’. For such roles Balraj was matchless. After the film Do Bigha Zameen,he and Nirupa Roy became India’s most loved, poor and uneducated, good natured and simple couple for many subsequent films.
Due to this Balraj never got any romantic or Glamorous roles. However, to earn his daily bread satisfactorily, he compromised and worked in several B grade movies, like Black Cat-59, opposite a Non actress Minu Mumtaz !

Yudhishthir Sahni aka Balraj Sahni was born in Rawalpindi, Punjab, British India (now Pakistan) on 1st May, 1913 to Punjabi family. After completing his graduation in Bachelor of Arts (Hindi), and post graduation in Masters of Arts (English Literature), both from Punjab University; he got married to Dayamanti. It was in late 1930s that both husband and wife moved to Bengal to join Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan as English and Hindi teacher. It was about the same time that in 1936 Balraj wrote his first compilation of Hindi fiction called “Shahzaadon ka Drink”. It was also in Bengal that Balraj and Daytamanti’s son, Parikshit was born. In 1938, Sahni went to work with Mahatma Gandhi for a year and the very next year went to England to join the British Broadcasting Network’s Hindi service as a radio announcer. In 1943, he returned to India.

It was in 1944 that Sahni moved to Bombay and joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), a group with which he also started his acting career, albeit through plays. In the same year, he bagged a role in the film “Insaf”, which marked the beginning of his acting career in Hindi film industry. “Dharti ke Lal” and “Door Chalein” were his next of releases in the same year. It was, however, the film “Do Bigha Zameen” that established his strengths as an actor. The movie was directed by Bimal Roy and came out in 1953; it also won the international prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is now considered a classic.

In the years that followed, he played many leading roles in commercial films opposite actresses like Nargis, Meena Kumari, Vyjayanthimala, and Nutan in films “Lajwanti” (1958), “Ghar Sansar” (1958), “Satta Bazar” (1959), “Kathputli” (1957), and “Sone Ki Chidiya” (1958) respectively. These films further established his position as a versatile actor. In the 1961, film “Kabuliwala”, written by Tagore, went on to become another of his classic. To prepare for the role, Balraj lived with kabuliwalas in a Bombay suburb. His character roles with strong performances in films like “Haqeeqat” (1964), “Waqt” (1965), “Do Raaste” (1969), “Ek Phool Do Mali” (1969), and “Mere Humsafar” (1970) further left an indelible mark in the film fraternity and fans alike. The legendary song “Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen” from the film “Waqt”, picturized on Balraj Sahni and Achala Sachdev is still etched deep in peoples’ memories and is loved by the current generation as well. He acted in 3 films.

Along with successfully proving his acting prowess, he also displayed exceptional directing skills through the film Lal Batti (1957), where passengers are forced to spend a night together at the railway platform at the time of India’s independence. Balraj co-directed this movie along with Krishan Chopra. His performance in the film “Garm Hava” (1973) is considered to be the best, till date. Sadly, this was his last film before his death.

Sahni’s writing career begun with “Shahzaadon Ka Drink” that came out in 1936. This was his first compilation of Hindi fiction. He went on to become an esteemed writer in the Punjabi literature. He wrote “Mera Pakistani Safar” shortly after his visit to Pakistan in 1960. After a tour to Soviet Union in 1969, he wrote “Mera Rusi Safarnama”. This book also earned him the Soviet Land Nehru Award. He also wrote his autobiography called “Meri Filmy Aatmakatha”. Sahni even penned the screenplay for the 1951 released film “Baazi”; starring Dev Anand and directed by Guru Dutt. Apart from this, he wrote a number of poems, short stories, and contributed to the Punjabi magazine Preetlari.

Going through depression for some time after his young daughter Shabnam’s untimely death, Balraj Sahni passed away on 13th April, 1973 at the age of 59 following a cardiac arrest. He is survived by his son Parikshit, who is also an actor in the Hindi film industry.

Balraj Sahni received Padma Shri Award in 1969. Balraj Sahni earned the ‘Soviet Land Nehru Award for his book Mera Rusi Safarnama in 1969. Balraj Sahni starrer movie ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ won the international prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. Balraj Sahni joined the BBC-London’s Hindi service as a radio announcer from 1939-43. ‘Punjabi Kala Kender’, founded in 1973 at Mumbai by Balraj Sahni, gives away the annual Balraj Sahni Award’. ‘All India Artists’ Association’ also gives away the annual ‘Balraj Sahni Award’.

The other day,I was reading the Autobiography of Balraj Sahni. His style of narration is very good. He does not miss even the smallest details.The part of his life when he entered the Hindi films is extremely readable.

When he was with BBC, London,once he was deputed to attend a seminar in Poona,India. He came down with his wife Damayanti and they stayed with a friend-Appasaheb Pant, the scion and Yuvraj of Aundh-a princely state in British India, in Maharashtra.( He later became the High Commissioner to Britain, post Independence). One evening they all went to see a film “Manoos'(Aadmi-39) of Prabhat, directed by V.Shantaram. After seeing the film,he was terribly impressed with Shantaram’s direction and was all praise for him.

When Balraj left BBC and returned to India,he was again in Poona. This time he went to see Shantaram, with prior appointment. When he reached the Gate, a person was waiting for him. he was taken to the reception room. That man left. In the room there was one more person with a Black cap-which was very common for maharashtrians, those days. Balraj thought he too was another visitor like him After few minutes, that man asked in excellent English if he was Balraj Sahni. Balraj was astonished and nodded affirmatively. That man got up and said,’I am Shantaram. Nice to see you’. Later Shantaram took him around the studio etc.

Balraj returned to Bombay absolutely mesmerized with Shantaram. While in Bombay they were loitering, when they suddenly met Chetan Anand- his old friend. They were very happy to see each others. Chetan took them to his 4 bedroom spacious flat in Pali Hill,Bandra.They stayed with him for few days. Balraj had decided to work in films and was negotiating for his role in film Insaf, while Chetan was busy in his Neecha Nagar-46. One evening they went to see film ‘Shakuntala’, made by Shantaram. After seeing the film Balraj was very much upset and started criticising Shantaram that his standard has gone down, compared to Aadmi-39.

Chetan Anand smiled and said, “Shantaram has made a film for Box office.” Balraj did not understand. Chetan Anand explained, ”’ One can not go on making art films alone. To run the studio, you need money. Shantaram being a good businessman, he makes such films which earn him money. With this money he can make more meaningful films. For example after Shakuntala, Shantaram made Parbat pe apna Dera-44 and then his memorable film Dr. Kotnis ki amar kahani-46. This is how the maths of cinema works ”

There are many such incidents described in his Autobiography which is highly readable,not only for his story but also for glimpse into the film scenario of the 40s and 50s. I can not go on,due to constraints of the length of this article. may be, some other time I will tell you more from his book.

Balraj had done 101 films. His first film was ‘Insaaf’-46 and the last film of Balraj, to be released well after his death was “Amaanat’-77. As far as the music of Lal Batti-57 was concerned, there were only 4 songs in it.Today’s song- First on the blog- is very much different than what is normally expected from Salil Chowdhari. 1957 was a period when Rock n Roll impact on Hindi film music was at its Zenith. 57’s films like Mr. X, Baarish, Asha, Agra Road etc had some very popular and foot tapping Rock N Roll songs. Salil Chowdhari seems to have tried his hand at it , with this song. The mukhda of this song sounds as if this was filmed on a foreigner,or an Anglo-Indian girl or a foreign returned memsaab. Whatever it was, the song will linger in your mind for its different style of singing…..


Song- Desi kya bideshi Gora bhi kitna achcha kaala bhi kitna sundar (Laal Batti)(1957) Singers-Shamshad begum, Manna Dey, Lyrics- Majrooh Sultanpuri, MD-Salil Chaudhari

Lyrics

desi kya bideshi
gora bhi kitna achcha
kaala bhi kitna sundar
ahahahahaha
ahahaaha
Yaaron hui kaisi
paschhim ke man pe dola
poorab ka jaadu mantar
ahahaaha

ahah
desi kya bideshi
gora bhi kitna achcha
kaala bhi kitna sundar
ahahahaha
ooo
yaaro hui kaisi
paschhim ke man pe dola
purab ka jaadu mantar
ahahahaha

Indian Asian
english european
sab ka ek dil ek khoon hai
waah waah
dhanya ho ham sabko
paschhim se purab ko
bilkul naya telephone hai

good
full public ek jaisi
gora bhi kitna achcha
kaala bhi kitna sundar
ahahahaha
ahaha
yaaro hui kaisi
paschhim ke man pe dola
purab ka jaadu mantar
ohohohoho

tumko thokar maari
I am very sorry
tumko hamaara salaam hai
tumko thokar maari
I am very sorry
tumko hamaara salaam hai
bahut achha
jaao ji di maafi
itna hi hai kaafi
ulfat ka banda ghulaam hai

yes
baaten hon to aisi
gora bhi kitna achha
kaala bhi kitna sundar
ahahahaa
ohohoho
yaaron hui kaisi
paschhim ke man pe dola
poorab ka jaadu mantar
ahahaha

nashaa sa chhaayaa hai
chakkar sa aaya hai
haalat hamaara kharaab hai
hick
nashaa sa chhaayaa hai
chakkar sa aaya hai
haalat hamaara kharaab hai
aai aiyyo yaaro sambhala to
rooko hi maala ko
dekho watan pe hi dhhaab hai

aey
sab ki aisi taisi
gora bhi kitna achha
kaala bhi kitna sundar
ahaahahaha
aa aa aa
yaaron hui kaisi
paschhim ke man pe dola
poorab ka jaadu mantar
ahahahaha

aahaahaa
yeahhe he hehe he
ahahahahaha
ohoho ho ho ho

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8 Responses to "Desi kya bideshi"

Arunbhai,
Wonderful and informative article.
I read the article twice (even ‘between the lines’, as well written in ‘fine prints’) to search, unsuccessfully, for the mention of MY two Balraj’s favorite films Seema (55) and Anuradha (60).
“How come?” A question from your student.

Like

Yes Bharat ji,
Those films are not mentioned here. I was not analysing his films,it was more of a life sketch, so many points were left uncovered for fear of making the article too long.
-AD

Like

You forgot to mention his small but important role in the 1951 film “Humlog” , which met with moderate success at the Box Office . The Film was Directed by Zia Sarhady .

Like

As I said in earlier comment, I was not analysing his films,so many films out of his 101 films were left out.
-AD

Like

One more thing . This particular song appears to me to be based on an English Tune , but I am not able to place it . The closest I came to was a song by Charlie Chaplin in the film “Modern Times”.

Can you pl confirm ?

Like

Sorry, I am not aware of any such tune.

Like

Pl take the trouble of watching this YouTube Video and advise . Of course the “Lal Batti” song is at a faster pace . Thanks .


( the song is in French , I think )

Like

Yep, It sounds very much. Great of you to hunt it out.

Like

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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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