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

O gori aaja gaddi vich baithh jaa

Posted on: August 12, 2020


This article is written by Sadanand Kamath, a fellow enthusaist 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 other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of atulsongaday.me, then it is piracy of the copyright content of atulsongaday.me and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day :

4408 Post No. : 15798

apni kahaani chhod jaa
kuchh to nishaani chhod jaa
kaun kahe iss or
tu phir aaye naa aaye

That is how Balraj Sahni left his mark as an outstanding method actor in most of his nearly 100 films in which he acted during the course of his 27 years of filmy career. Balraj Sahni started his filmy career as an actor almost at the same time as Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor, the trinity of the golden period of Hindi film industry. But he had to struggle hard to establish himself as an actor in demand. It took him more than a decade to do so while his compatriot trinity had become the stars in early 1950s.

Balraj Sahni was very bitter about his early experiences in his filmy career. Having associated with IPTA and being a card member of the Communist Party of India, it was difficult to get roles in the films despite the success of ‘Hum Log’ (1951) and ‘Hulchul’ (1951) in which he had important roles. Those days, it was a fashion to brand any one as communist if he had difference of opinion with men of authorities. Since Balraj Sahni was already a member of Communist Party, many producers were wary of offering him roles. In a few films in which he got the roles, he was unceremoniously dropped later from the films either directly or indirectly by offering him smaller roles.

When I completed reading Balraj Sahni’s autobiography in Hindi, I was surprised as to how he got drawn into Hindi films when he had an impressive curriculum vitae before he became an actor in Hindi films. He completed his double M.A. in Hindi and English literature from Government College, Lahore and joined Shanti Niketan along with his wife, Damyanti Sahni to work with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. He worked there as a lecturer in Hindi and English. After two years, he and his wife shifted to Sewagram in Wardha to work with Mahatma Gandhi where he also worked as teacher in the institute run in Sewagram. In 1939, with the blessing of Mahatma Gandhi, he and his wife joined BBC London as a Radio Announcer and as a producer, respectively for their Hindi services. In 1944, Balraj Sahni and his wife landed back in Mumbai and got involved in Hindi plays under IPTA. From this point of time, both he and his wife got drawn towards acting in the films, that too not by their own volitions but through Chetan Anand, their close friend.

Balraj Sahni (01/05/1913 – 13/04/1973), was born as Yudhishthir Sahni in Rawalpindi in an Arya Samaji family. His father was a successful businessman – a wholesale cloth merchant who could afford to have a summer villa in Srinagar. In 1930, after completing his matriculation, he joined Government College, Lahore for B.A. His college days coincided with the advent of talkies during which he watched many Hindi and English films. He also participated as an actor in College’s dramatic society. By the time, he had completed M.A. in Hindi and English literature, he had developed an interest in literature rather than in acting in the films.

During four years of his stay in London, Balraj Sahni watched many English plays and Russian films which he felt was ahead of American films. Through Russian films, he got introduced to Marxism and Leninism. By the time, he and his wife returned to Mumbai in 1944, they had embraced Marxism. For some time, both of them stayed at Chetan Anand’s bungalow at Bandra whom he knew from his days in Government College, Lahore. Chetan Anand was also associated with IPTA where Balraj Sahni got acquainted with K A Abbas, Krishan Chandra, Phani Mujumdar, Prem Dhavan, V P Sathe, C P Joshi among others. In IPTA, K A Abbas who was writing a play ‘Zubeida’ selected Balraj Sahni to direct it. The play became a hit. This was the start of his long association with K A Abbas.

During his IPTA days, Chetan Anand offered him and his wife major roles in his maiden film ‘Neecha Nagar’ (1946) which was in the planning stage. However, Chetan Anand was not able to arrange the finances. So, the making of the film got delayed. During the same time, Phani Mujumdar offered him a small role of the hero’s friend in ‘Insaaf’ (1946). At first, Balraj Sahni was not enthusiastic to accept the small role. It was only after Phani Majumdar assured him that in his next film ‘Door Chalen’ (1946), he would give him a major role which he kept his words. Both the films did not click at the box office.

In the meanwhile, IPTA got a licence to produce a full-length feature film which K A Abbas used it for making ‘Dharti Ke Laal’ (1946). It was IPTA’s first and the last film. Both Balraj Sahni and Damyanti Sahni got major roles in the film along with other IPTA actors. This film also failed at the box office as the film’s release coincided with communal violence in Mumbai. However, the film was critically acclaimed both nationally and internationally. Thereafter, both Balraj Sahni and Damyanti Sahni worked in ‘Gudia’ (1947) in lead roles. However, soon after the completion of the film, Damyanti Sahni who also used to work with the slum dwellers in Mumbai as a part of her social work, fell ill. Due to adverse reaction of the medicines, she died in April 1947 at a young age of 26, leaving Balraj Sahni with two kids, Parikshit and Shabnam.

A devasted Balraj Sahni soon left Mumbai and started staying in his father’s summer villa in Srinagar while his kids were sent to Rawalpindi at his parent’s house. But within few months, the communal riots on the eve of the partition made Balraj Sahni and his parents with kids to come back to Mumbai leaving everything behind. While IPTA took care of him on his second coming, he also commenced shooting for ‘Gunjan’ (1948) in which he had got the offer of the lead role opposite Nalini Jaywant when he was in Srinagar.

In 1948-49, Balraj Sahni was mostly associated with IPTA plays and communist party activities. During this period, he got married to Santosh Chandok, his cousin who was a writer and actor in IPTA. During the rehearsal of the play ‘Signalman Dulee’, all IPTA members were called to participate in a procession taken by the communist party which had taken anti-Nehru stance, branding him to be an agent of British Government. Carried away by the party line, Balraj Sahni wrote and acted in an IPTA play ‘Jaadu Ki Kursi’ which was directed by Mohan Sehgal. The play was a satire on Pandit Nehru’s policies. During this time, Communist Party took out a procession in the street of Mumbai with slogan shouting and criticising Nehru’s policies. Balraj Sahni and other IPTA members had also joined the procession. There was lathi charge and police firings. Many prominent activists of IPTA such as Balraj Sahni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Ali Sardar Jafri, Deena Pathak etc. were arrested and imprisoned in Arthur Road jail for 2 years.

Before his arrest, Balraj Sahni had got a major role in K Asif’s film, ‘Hulchul’ (1951) on the recommendation of Dilip Kumar. Shooting of the film had commenced but Balraj Sahni was in jail. With the good offices of producer, K Asif, Balraj Sahni got permission from the Jailor to join shooting during the day time under the police escorts. Incidentally, Balraj Sahni acted in this film in the role of a Jailor. The arrangements continued until the film’s shooting was completed.

After about 6 months of imprisonment, Balraj Sahni was freed from the jail. It is not known as to how he got released from the jail in 6 months but I feel that there must be some reason for remission in his jail terms and this was not liked by his party. He found to his dismay that the party has branded him as ‘traitor’ and some of his friends and acquaintances avoided meeting him. After some time, Balraj Sahani left IPTA and Communist Party of India due to difference of opinions. Those days, any party member having put forward a different opinion than the party line, used to be branded as ‘reactionary’, ‘traitor’ etc.

Notwithstanding leaving IPTA and Communist Party, Balraj Sahni remained a committed Marxist with ‘Das Kapital’ as his reference point rather than the communist ideaology. Things began to improve in his filmy career as soon as the tag of ‘communist’ against his name was obliterated. Despite film offers coming to him on a regular basis, he could do only few films as he selected mostly socially oriented films – like the role of unemployed and sickly Raj in ‘Hum Log’ (1951), the rickshaw puller, Shambhu Maheto in ‘Do Bigha Zameen’ (1953), the compassionate manager of an orphanage in ‘Seema’ (1955), the idealistic poet, Shrikant in ‘Sone Ki Chidiya’ (1958), a loving elder brother in ‘Chhoti Bahen’ (1959), a committed village doctor in ‘Anuradha’ (1960), a migrant Afghani, Abdul Rehman Khan in ‘Kabuliwala’ (1961) etc. However, as he advanced in age, he started getting the character actor’s roles during which time, he mostly worked in the mainstream Hindi films.

Sometime in 1950, Chetan Anand, the head of Navketan Films, invited Balraj Sahni to write screen-play and dialogues for ‘Baazi’ (1951) which he gladly accepted because it suited to his temperament as a writer. Guru Dutt, the director wanted to start the shooting of the film even before the script was ready. Balraj Sahni made it very clear to him that he would part with screen-play and dialogues only when it is complete in all respect. It was only when he gave the screen-play and dialogues duly bound, the shooting of the film commenced. Though ‘Baazi’ (1951) was a big hit on the box office, Balraj Sahni did not draw any benefit or pleasure from it as his screen-play and dialogues were changed without his consent as was the practice by most of the directors. So, he gave up the idea of taking up the assignment of screen-play writing any more. He also directed ‘Laal Batti’ (1957), the only film as a director during his filmy career. He also worked in some Punjabi films.

By the end of 1950s, Balraj Sahni had adjusted to the unorganized way of working in Bollywood. He was once called for shooting in the morning and he was sitting in the studio throughout the day without being called for a single shot. From then onwards, he decided to carry his typewriter for shooting so that he could use his free time for writing articles and short stories for the magazines. While working in Shanti Niketan in the late 30s, Balraj Sahni was advised by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore that he should write articles and stories in Punjabi as a writer can effectively express his thoughts in his own mother tongue. Balraj Sahni took his advice seriously and learnt afresh writing in Gurumukhi.

Balraj Sahni major break through as an actor was in a neo-realistic film, ‘Dharti Ke Laal’ (1946). It was just a co-incident that his last film ‘Garam Hawa’ (1973) also happened to be a neo-realistic film. His son, Parikshit Sahni had said in an interview that the film had perfect pathos in almost every scene and dialogues delivered by his father.

And why not? If one sees the events happening in the film in a broader manner, Balraj Sahni had actually experienced them in reality. Towards the end of the film, he lost his young daughter Amina who commits suicide following her bad marriage. This had actually happened to Balraj Sahni about one year before the film’s shooting was completed. His daughter, Shabnam by his first marriage had returned to him after a divorce and died young due to a brain hemorrhage. All the pains in losing his daughter was reflected on his face in the film.

On his 60th birthday, Balraj Sahni was to make an announcement to leave the film industry and settled down in Punjab to devote rest of his life to the literature. For this, he had bought a cottage in Punjab which was being refurbished. But God wished differently. Just before a month of his 60th birthday and a day after completion of his dubbing for ‘Garam Hawa’ (1973), Balraj Sahni died of heart-attack on April 13, 1973. At the Juhu Crematorium, besides close family members, friends and film paternity, there was a large crowd of hotels workers, fishermen and others from the Juhu village whom he had financially helped to improve their living conditions.

Bhisham Sahni, Balraj Sahni’s younger brother and a renown theatre personality (remember his T V Serial, ‘Tamas’, 1988) has talked about his elder brother’s deep and abiding love for his family. He said that the scene from ‘Waqt’ (1965) in which Balraj Sahni sings ae meri zohra-zabeen, showering his love for his wife is the exact reflections of his exuberating nature which many have witnessed in his house. Sometime in mid-1960s, Balraj Sahni constructed his bungalow at Juhu mainly to accommodate his entire family under one roof and for the visiting relatives and friends.

Balraj Sahni had jokingly said in his autobiography that he got more chance to do romance with the heroines of the films when he did character actor’s roles than as a hero. One of the films in which as a hero, he romanced with Geeta Bali was ‘Sapan Suhaane’ (1961). The film was produced under the banner of K R Films which was directed by Kidar Kapoor. The star cast included Balraj Sahni, Geeta Bali, Kamini Kadam, Chandrashekhar, Helen, K N Singh, Leela Mishra, Bhagwan Dada, Praveen Paul, Keshav Rana, Tun Tun, Ram Mohan etc.

Four songs (out of 7) have been covered in the Blog. I am presenting the 5th song, ‘o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa’ from ‘Sapan Suhaane’ (1961). The song is rendered by Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar for Balraj Sahni and Geeta Bali. The song is written by Shailendra which is set to music by Salil Chaudhuri.

Acknowledgement:

Much of the information for this article has been drawn from:

1. ‘Meri Filmy Aatmkatha’ by Balraj Sahni (1974).

2. Balraj – My Brother by Bhisham Sahni (1981).

3. Two Brothers – Balraj and Bhisham Sahni – Some experience in IPTA by Kalpana Sahni.

Video Clip:

Audio Clip:

Song-O gori aaja gaddi vich baithh jaa (Sapan Suhaane)(1961) Singers-Manna Dey, Lata, Lyrics-Shailendra, MD-Salil Chaudhary

Lyrics

o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baithh jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega
o….o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega

tu jaise phoolon waali daali..ee
goriye tu to hai naazon ki paali
gora rang jal jaaye na
na to main phoolon waali daali..ee
chhaliye na main hoon naazon ki paali
tu kisi aur ko bana

khadi tarsaaye main ko aaja aa aa
karoon kya jiya kahe na aa aa aaa
o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega
o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega

ye raahen meri anjaani..ee
nigaahon mein hai bachpan ki naadaani
mera dil kho jaaye na

ye raahen maana hai anjaani…ee
tere sang main jo hoon meri pahchaani
ye saathi chhod jaaye na ae ae
kahenge kya ye duniya waale ae ae
na dekho din mein sapna aa aa aa aaa

o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega
o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega

kah do doli leke aaun
bana ke dulhan tujhko ghar le jaaun
agar tu dil se kahe haan
agar tum doli leke aao…o
bitha ke palkon mein mujhko le jaao
mera dil kahe chaahe na

bhula mat dena apna waada aa aa
sanam ne kar to diya haan….. aan
o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega
o…o gori aaja gaddi vich baith jaa
jaao ji koi kya kahega

1 Response to "O gori aaja gaddi vich baithh jaa"

Such a loving and lovely song.
I loved Balraj Sahni’s character in Jawaani Deewani as Randhir Kapoor’s brother.
Thank you for the detailed biography

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