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

Shankar arpan maala koyi haath na ise lagaana

Posted on: March 27, 2021

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 If this article appears in other sites without the knowledge and consent of the web administrator of, then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day : 4635 Post No. : 16290 Movie Count : 4426

Today’s song is from the film Durga-1939, a film made by the prestigious Bombay Talkies. The film was directed by the studio’s German Director – Franz Osten. Some readers may wonder, how a German could direct a Hindi film, without knowing or understanding the language ? For such readers, let me tell you that Franz Osten directed not just 1 or 2 but a total of 16 films for Bombay Talkies, from its beginning. Till the end, he never learnt Hindi language ! He was not the lone German , but there was a whole team of Germans who worked in Bombay Talkies !

Not only in Bombay talkies, but Germans contributed to Indian Cinema elsewhere too and in different segments of filmmaking. Let us take a quick look at Germans in Indian Cinema, in general. Germany had a very good name in India during the olden days i.e. during the early part of the last century. I remember my Grandfather ( who expired in 1975 at the age of 91 years) always praising Germany for so many things. In India,all things German, were considered to be the Best- even better than the Vilayati or the British things !

Very few people know that Indian Cinema had a little known connection with the rise of Hitler in Germany in 1932-33. A group of men , engaged in Cinema in Germany, flocked to India in the 30’s and played a vital role in Indian Cinema and the arts of that time. After Hitler took over Germany in 1933, the German Cine Studios’ glory days were over and they were turned into Nazi Propaganda Machines !

It was at this time that several of its men left the studio and arrived in India, and contributed during the Indian cinema’s formative years.

The foremost among them is Frantz Osten, a German whom Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani met at the UFA when they went to train there (they worked with Lang and Marlene Dietrich). Osten had already been directing films for the couple since 1925, when he made Light of Asia for them from Germany.

In 1934, he came to India and the next year, after Rai founded ‘ Bombay Talkies ‘ the legendary film studio in Malad, that now lies in ruins, Osten directed its first film.

He went on to direct the famous Devika Rani-Ashok Kumar starrer, Achhut Kanya, without much knowledge of Hindi. The film, which featured the song “Main ban ki chiriya”, was shot by Joseph Wirsching; the sets were designed by Karl von Spreti and the laboratory was headed by Zolle, Osten’s team of UFA ex-members who worked for Rai’s state-of-the-art studio.

Osten and his fellow Germans directed 16 films for Rai. It was a remarkable feat for people who knew little Hindi ‘ mistaking the word “bulbul” once for a pair of bulls. While in Bombay, he became a member of the Nazi Party (1936). He was interned by the British at the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, while shooting his last film there, Kangan. Released and allowed to return to Germany (1940).

“It’s not clear if they had anything to do with the Nazi ideology, either way,” said film historian Amrit Gangar.

“If they did, it did not show in their films. But there were two other people who almost certainly migrated to India because of the persecution of Jews.”

They were Walter Kauffman, a scholar and composer interested in Oriental music, and Wilhelm Haas, a writer and a friend of Franz Kafka.

“Both were Jews, and Haas came to India because of Kauffman, who went on to found the Bombay Chamber Music Society,” Gangar added.

Kauffman arrived in 1934 after meeting director-producer Mohan Bhavnani at the UFA (where V. Shantaram also did a stint).

“Haas was in Czechoslovakia, but left the country for India just after Hitler’s invasion,” Gangar said.

Kauffman, Haas and Bhavnani worked together in Premnagar (1940), Naushad’s first film as music director. Kauffman composed the background score; Haas wrote the screenplay.

“It is debatable, but Kauffman is probably also the person behind the All India Radio signature tune. Haas was a member of the Indian chapter of PEN,” Gangar said. Haas also wrote the script for Bhavnani’s Jhooti Sharam (1939).

The story of Paul Zils ( 1-6-1915 to 30-3-1979 ) stands out, though. Zils, believed to be a Nazi sympathizer, turned up in India under strange circumstances: he was bound for Indonesia in a steamer that got torpedoed by an Indian naval ship during World War II and he was taken prisoner.

After his release, because of his film experiences, the leadership of the sales department in Ezra Mir led government documentary production company, called him to join Information films of India. End of October 1945, he came to Bombay and started his work. In March 1959 he returned to Germany.

As the studio system came to an end and individual producers took over, the days of the Germans in Indian cinema were over. Many, including Osten, went back to Germany. Set designer Spreti was appointed German ambassador to Guatemala and was later shot dead by terrorists. Josef Virsching-the Cinematographer, however, stayed back in India till his death in 1967. He did few more Hindi films too.

Most of the others remained associated with the film world abroad.

Paul Zils directed 3 Dev Anand films, according to the documents. Hindustan Hamara-50 and Zalzala-52 are found in HFGK, but the third film called ‘ Shabash”, though listed in 1949, gives no details, except the film name. ( Information adapted from the book ” Walter Kauffman” by Amit Gangar, with thanks and my notes.)

It’s not just the Germans alone, but there was an American who contributed to Tamil Cinema as a Director, during the same period i.e. 1935 to 1950. He directed not just 14 Tamil films….without understanding the language….but also a Hindi film, ‘ Meera’ in 1947…..without knowing Hindi language ! On top of it this Hindi film featured the legendary Carnatic Classical singer M.S.Subbulakshmi. This American’s name was Ellis R. Dungan (11-5-1909 to 1-12-2001).

When Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani decided to establish a modern, well equipped cinema studio in Bombay, they started getting the right persons for different departments of filmmaking. While in London, he had met Niranjan Pal (son of the great patriot Bipin Chandra Pal)-a writer of stage dramas and films. They became friends. Soon after Himanshu Rai, Niranjan also returned to India. Rai called Niranjan to Bombay to work as a writer on a very attractive salary. He arrived and he wrote stories, screen plays and dialogues for the first 8 films of Bombay Talkies. He was assisted by J S Casshyap, Najam Naqvi, and S J Hasan. Their films used simple, day to day Hindi language. Prabhat Hindi films had a profound Marathi tilt, and New Theatre Hindi films were all round and round words- too much bookish Hindi. Naturally, Bombay Talkies Hindi was acceptable in the Hindi belt easily.

After Devika Rani’s elopement episode, Himanshu Rai’s male ego and Bangla Bhadralok prestige was shattered and he had lost his peace of mind. Later he also suffered from tantrums. Once Niranjan Pal wrote an article in an outside magazine, which Rai did not like and he quarrelled with Niranjan on this. They stopped talking. Then one day, when Niranjan was about to go home in his car, Rai came running and holding the car door, started arguing with Niranjan. Finally Niranjan left-never to come back to Bombay talkies again !

Niranjan Pal was one of the very important members of the team. He had written stories of the early films. One of his hits was Achhut kanya also. He proved to be a master in recreating Village atmosphere. After he left, Himanshu Rai immediately called Saradindu Bandopadhyaya from Calcutta. He was the one who had created the famous film and TV character Byomkesh Bakshi. He joined Bombay Talkies and wrote stories of 7 films.

Film Durga’s story was also by him. This is what “Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema ” says about the film Durga…..” Rural melodrama about Durga (Devika Rani), an adolescent child of nature, living with her aged mother Heera. Unable to get the medicine required to prevent her mother’s death, one misfortune after another befalls the heroine in spite of the sympathies of the newly arrived village doctor, Jawahar (Shukul). In the absence of Niranjan Pal, the studio’s main scenarist and author of its best-known rural dramas (Achhut Kanya, Janmabhoomi, both 1936), the tale reduces itself to a purely familial narrative. It is nevertheless a key production in Devika Rani’s self-projection of urbane charm clothed in primal innocence. Osten followed it with Leela Chitnis’s first big film, Kangan (1939). Wadkar was promoted to lead actress again opposite Shukul in her next big film, Navjeevan (1939).”

Today’s song is sung by Devika Rani and Rama Shukul. With this song, film Durga-39 makes its Debut on this Blog.



Song-Shankar arpan maala koyi haath na ise lagaana (Durga)(1939) Singers- Devika Rani, Rama Shukul, Lyricist- Narendranath Tuli, MD- Saraswati Devi


Shankar arpan maala
koyi haath ise na lagaana
haan dil bhi na tarsaana
kali kali ko man se goondha
maala to hai meri
haan koi hathh hai teri
neer neer ki rajni jaisi
neer neer ki rajni jaisi
main jungle ki cheri (??)
haan main jungle ki cheri(??)
main devi ka daas
mujhe nahin vishvaas
main devi ka daas
mujhe nahin vishvaas
Shankar(?) sunke laaj karo
kuchh bhool gayi saugandhh
main thhaa tujhe pasand

jhhagdaa chhodo milkar baithhen
jhhagdaa chhodo milkar baithhen
Shankar se li thhi maange var ki bheekh
Shankar se li thhi maange var ki bheekh

hey yogiraaj mahaan
do teri bhanvarjaal
sun yogi chatur sujaan mujhe teri de do shaan

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