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

Morey ghar aao sajan re

Posted on: April 13, 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 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 :

4652 Post No. : 16317

Today’s song is from a ‘not so famous’ film from New Theatres – which had been making popular and musical films for the last few years. The song belongs to the film ” Sapera aka The Snake Charmer”-1939. The song was written by Kidar Sharma and the music was by R C Boral-The Doyen of Film music in India. The film was directed by Debaki Bose and the cast was Nawab, Kanan Devi, Pahadi Sanyal,Prithviraj Kapoor, K C Dey, Menaka Devi and others.

Today’s song is sung by Kanan Devi. I have memories that I first heard her singing “Toofan Mail” from the film Jawab-42, sometime in the end of the 40s, when I was about 10 year old. We had a “Phono” (Gramophone) with a lot of records in 2-3 Record boxes. My father was fond of Pankaj Mullick songs, so we had many records of his film and non-film songs. Also Saigal songs, but I only remember vividly the song of Kanan Devi-Toofan mail, ye duniya hai Toofan mail. Later on, as I grew older, other film songs took over, but even today, whenever I hear this song, I get a nostalgic feeling. That was the magic of her singing !

Kanan Devi is a true example of “Rags to Riches” story. She rose from a very low level, but ended up with earning all the honours and respect a successful artiste can have ! When I first read her autobiography-‘ My Homage to all’, tears came to my eyes. Famous film writer late Pran Neville called her “an unlettered slum girl, who rose to become a much sought after social celebrity”. She did not know who her father was, she faced a failed love affair and a broken marriage, but won over all these things to become the winner.

If one sees the history of early cinema in Bengal, about 70% of the cine artistes (in all departments of filmmaking) were educated and from well to do families. Some were foreign returned, some were very rich and very few came from low level. Kanan was an example. In her childhood, she faced days when she had nowhere to go, but in the end, she led the way to other strugglers.

Kanan Devi, the melody queen and superstar of the 1930s and 40s, was a remarkable personality. An epitome of beauty, glamour and grace and the recipient of the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award (1976), Kanan’s life story (1916-1992) transcends that of Eliza Doolittle in “Pygmalion” and “My Fair Lady”. Her memoir “Sabare Ami Nami” (I pay my respect to everyone) provides a fascinating account of her transformation from an unlettered slum girl into a much sought after social celebrity. The most astounding aspect of her persona was her grit, determination and courage which led her to attain the pinnacle of fame and glory and thus become a legend and an institution in her lifetime.

Kanan was born on 22 April 1916 in Howrah, West Bengal. In her autobiography, entitled ” My Homage to all”, Kanan has observed that those she considered as her parents were Ratan Chandra Das and Rajobala, who lived together. After the death of her adoptive father, Ratan Chandra Das, young Kanan and Rajobala were simply left to fend for themselves. Her life story is a true tale of rags to riches. Some say she did her schooling (not completed) from Howrah’s St. Agnes’ Convent School.

A well wisher, Tulsi Banerji, whom she called Kaka babu, introduced Kanan when she was only ten to Madan Theatres/Jyoti Studios, where she was cast in a small role in Jaidev (1926), followed by Shankaracharya in 1927. She was known as Kanan Bala.

By now, she was known as a good singer. By 1929, she was recording several songs. In this year, Kanan Bala met handsome Hiren Bose and a new chapter in her life seemed to be blooming. Hiren Bose was highly educated and had earned titles of “Vidya Bhushan” and “Sangeet Ratna”. In the years 1928 to 1932, Hiren had joined HMV as a Music Director. Here he became a close friend of Kazi Nazrul Islam and Dhiren Das. Both Kazi and Hiren wrote lyrics for songs in HMV .

Around 1929,a new , young and attractive singer came to HMV. Her name was KANAN BALA. She came to record songs. Soon the handsome Hiren cast his spell on Kanan and she started considering him as her mentor in HMV. They were a quartet of friends, Kanan, Hiren, Kazi and Dhiren. In HMV Kanan recorded many songs set to tune or written by Hiren Bose. In 1932,this team left HMV, on the issue of Royalty and joined the newly formed Megaphone Recording company. Here too after 2 years, this team left Megaphone and joined Columbia recording company. By 1934,Hiren wrote in his autobiography- JATI SMAR (My memories)-later that he had lost interest in Kananbala. She was broken-hearted.

Kanan did at least five films with Madan Theatres productions, (1926–1932) Rishir Prem (1931), Jorebarat (1931), Vishnu Maya (1932) and Prahlad, playing even male leads in the last two. She then worked with Radha Films from 1933 to 1936, then with New Theatres from 1937 to 1941, with MP Productions 1942 to 1948 and finally set up her own label Shrimati Pictures, 1949 to 1965.

From silent film roles as a child artist, Kanan made the successful transition into talkie films and was noticed with Jorebarat (1931), Manomoyee Girls School, Khooni Kaun and Maa (1934).

Her films with Jyotish Bannerjee included Joydev (1926), Rishir Prem (1931), Jorebarat (1931), Vishnumaya (1932), Kantahaar (1935) and Manomoyee Girls School (1935). Her films with Prafulla Ghosh were Sree Gouranga (1933), Char Darvesh (1933), Maa (1934) and Hari Bhakti. Others with Radha Film Company were Kanthahar (1935), Krishna Sudama (1936), Bishabriksha (1936) and Char Darvesh (1933).

New Theatres’s P.C. Barua wanted her to play the lead in his Devdas (1935), but, due to contractual reasons with Radha, she could not act in the film, a factor she regretted all her life.

The films of New Theatres, owned by Biren Sircar, established her as a superhit singer and her films ran to packed audiences. She had to travel under constant protection, given her huge fan following. During her years with New Theatres, Calcutta from 1937, she played the lead in Barua’s Mukti (1937), which was perhaps her finest performance, making her the studio’s top star. Apart from Mukti, she did Vidyapati, Saathi (1938), Street Singer (1938), Sapera (1939), Jawani Ki Reet (1939), Parajay (1939), Abhinetri (1940), Lagan (1941), Parichay (1941) and Jawab (1942). She became known as Kanan Devi from this point.

She came in contact with the music maestro Rai Chand Boral, who not only coached and familiarized her in the Hindi accent, but experimented with many classical Western and Indian forms in his music. She received her initial musical training under Alla Rakha. She was employed as a singer at the Megaphone Gramophone Company, receiving further training under Bhishmadev Chatterjee. She later learnt Rabindra Sangeet under Anadi Dastidar. Kanan remained the top star of New Theatres until she resigned her contract in 1941 and began to freelance in Bengali and Hindi films.

She worked with the biggest names in Indian cinema with K. L. Saigal, Pankaj Mullick, Pramathesh Barua, Pahari Sanyal, Chabi Biswas and Ashok Kumar.

M.P. Productions’ Jawaab was perhaps her biggest hit. Her song Duniya Yeh Duniya, Hai Toofan Mail was well received. She repeated the same feat in Hospital (1943), Banphool (1945) and Rajlakshmi (1946). Kanan Devi’s last Hindi film was Chandrashekhar (1948), with Ashok Kumar. In all, she worked in 20 Hindi films. She also sang 86 songs in 16 Hindi films.

In 1947, she went abroad to educate herself with the goings on in the western world of cinema. She was glad to visit Hollywood and meet legends like Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Robert Taylor and others. On her return she resumed her professional career and worked in some films before setting up her own Shrimati Productions. Kanan turned producer with Shrimati Pictures in 1949 and later launched the Sabyasachi Collective with the film Ananya (1949). Her own productions were mainly based on the stories of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

Kanan married Ashok Maitra in December 1940. He was the son of the staunch Brahmo Samaj educationist Heramba Chandra Maitra. Despite their best intentions, the marriage could not withstand the severe condemnation by the then conservative society. Even the poet Rabindranath Tagore, who sent a token gift to the married couple received scathing criticism for blessing the couple. The main issue was that Kanan was not expected to be working in films after her marriage. She filed for divorce in 1945. Despite the pain of the divorce, Kanan expressed her immense gratitude towards her first husband for giving her social recognition through marriage for the first time in her life. To Kanan’s credit, she maintained excellent relations with Rani Mahalanobis, sister to Ashok Maitra and her husband, the famous social scientist P.C. Mahalanobis and with Kusumkumari Devi, Ashok Maitra’s mother, even after the marriage was severed.

Kanan married Haridas Bhattacharjee around 1949. Haridas Bhattacharjee was then ADC to the Governor of Bengal. He eventually left the naval service to join Kanan in her filmmaking venture and became a competent director. While raising their son Siddharth in Calcutta, she also formed and worked as the president of Mahila Shilpi Mahal, an organization to help senior female artists and other charitable and community causes, including those for the betterment of Bengali cinema.

It was quite an uphill task for Kanan Bala to transform herself into Kanan Devi in those days when women liberation was unheard of. She had to struggle and with her strong determination and independent personality, she virtually forced the society to shower their respect and esteem on her when she became a celebrity in her own right. In her old age, she fondly remembered her days at New Theatres, full of joy and laughter. She was deeply impressed with K.L. Saigal and had the greatest regard for him.

Kanan Devi virtually stopped singing after 1947. Her last concert was at the India House in London when she was invited by Shri Krishna Menon, the High Commissioner, to perform on 15th August 1947. She mentioned it as the greatest moment in her life as a singer. Kanan inspired a whole generation of later day singers, the foremost being Lata Mangeshkar. She lived a full life both as an artiste as well as a woman. A great devotee of Lord Krishna, during her last years she spent most of her time in worshipping her lord and reading Geeta for her self-realisation and inner peace.

Kanan Devi, as the first lady of the Bengali screen, received many honours for her contribution to Indian cinema. An honorary degree from Vishwabharati, the Padma Shree in 1968 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1976.

She died on 17 July 1992 in Bellevue Clinic, Calcutta when she was around seventy-six years of age. ( based on some information from Wiki, an article by Pran Neville, book ‘ My homage to all’ by Kanan Devi, muVyz, and my notes, with thanks.)

In the film’s cast the name Menaka Devi appears. She is a part of Same Name Confusion, as another Menaka was also active at the same time. Luckily this was from Calcutta and the other one was from Bombay. However, by working in Bombay films and Calcutta films, both Menakas did create enough confusion. Let us know more about this Manaka Devi- Calcuttewali.

Menaka Devi was born in Varanasi on 23-1-1921. Her mother was a resident of the holy city although her father was from Bengal. She studied upto Matriculation. She could speak fluent English and Hindi, but not much of Bangla, having been raised in Varanasi. Her interest in music and dance took her to Bombay where she starred in a couple of films like Prince Thaksen (1929), Uttara Abhimanyu, Ishwar Ki Maut and others as a child artiste. When the Talkie started she acted and sang in Bhedi Rajkumar-34, Pyara Dushman-35 and Krishna Shishtai – 35.

Reportedly, she met the legendary film director Debaki Bose of Bengal during a train journey and he was so impressed by her that he decided to cast her in the lead role of his next venture in the Hindi version of the bilingual Sonar Sansar (1936 in Bangla and Sunehra Sansar-36 in Hindi) and thus began the illustrious career of Menaka Devi.

Her devotion to work was such that she learnt Bengali, her mother tongue although she was anything but fluent in it having spent all her life till then outside Bengal, so that she could play the same role (that of Alka) in the Bengali version also. Dhiraj Bhattacharya was her first hero on the screen. P.C.Barua, who was on the lookout for a young and fresh face to play Jharna in his forthcoming production Mukti (1937) selected her for both the versions ( Bangla and Hindi) and a flow started whereby she starred in films like Adhikar (1939), Abhigyan (1938), Bardidi (1939 in Bangla and Badi Didi in Hindi), Rajat Jayanti (1940) and others.

She decided to try her luck in Bombay around 1944 and starred in a few films there and definitely made her presence felt although playing the second lead most of the time. Kishore Sahu procured her services for Hamari Duniya (1952). She was married to Pannalal Shrivastav and had 1 daughter ( Jaya Ganguly). She turned producer also and this proved her undoing. Both her films as producer, Apna na Huye Apne (No information of this film,probably incomplete) and Jeene Do-48, both starring herself with prominent Bombay stars flopped.

She returned to Calcutta a broken woman and found to her dismay that roles were not coming to her. She joined the MG Enterprise, a drama group of Molina Devi and performed on the stage to continue to live as an actress. She even arranged magic shows along with husband Pannalal Srivastava while small roles came pouring in films like Ekti Raat (1956) and others. The feature that strikes even today while seeing her performance is the spontaneous nature of her acting. Why good roles eluded her is a mystery. She was last seen on the screen in Bhombal Sardar (1983). In all, she acted in 60 films-Bangla and Hindi together.

Her end came on 22-1- 2004 after a prolonged fight not only against poor health but also poverty. Her death was reported only in one Bengali daily although her death news received good coverage on television.

Filmography- Only Hindi
——————————–

Title Place of production Comments
Bhedi Rajkumar-34 in Bombay Acted and sang 1 solo
Pyara Dushman-35 Acted and sang 2 solos
Krishna Shishtai-35 Acted and sang 2 solos
Sunehra Sansar-36 in Calcutta Acted and sang 1 solo
Mukti-37 Acted and sang 1 solo
Abhagin-38 Acted
Badi Didi-39
Sapera-39
Mahakavi Kalidas-42
Shrikrishna Arjun yuddha-45 Bombay Acted
Shravan Kumar-46
1857-46
Chitod Vijay-47
Jeene Do-48 ”( produced also)
Hamari Duniya-52
Do Bigha Zamin-53 Calcutta

Now that we have seen the life stories of Kanan Devi and Menaka Devi-Calcutta Wali, let us enjoy the song from the film Sapera-1939.


Song-Morey ghar aao saajan re (Sapera)(1939) Singer- Kanan Devi, Lyricist- Kidar Sharma, MD- R C Boral

Lyrics

Morey ghar aao sajan re
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan re
ae morey pyaare sajan
roop ki bagiyaa
baras(?) rahi hai
roop ki bagiyaa
baras(?) rahi hai
man ki maina chahak rahi hai
haan aan aan aan
man ki maina chahak rahi hai
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan re
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan re

leti hai angdaiyaan
piyaa aa
aa aa aa aa aa
leti hai angdaiyaan
pi ee
sooni hai hirday ki basti ee
sooni hai hirday ki basti ee
aao ab aan baso re
ae morey pyaare sajan
aao ab aan baso re
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan

leti hai angdaiyaan
piyaa aa aa aa
aa aa aa
leti hai angdaiyaan
pi ee
sooni hai hirday ki basti ee
aao ab aan baso re
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan re
ae morey pyaare sajan
Morey ghar aao sajan re

2 Responses to "Morey ghar aao sajan re"

Dear Arun ji,

Lovely account of Kanan Devi’s life! Had not been there this blog or your write -ups, many like me would haven’t known many many things!

Warm regards,

Umesh

Like

Umesh ji,
Thanks for your kind and generous praise.
This gives me a motivation to continue my work.
For a writer, enjoyment of the reader is the ultimate desire.
Thanks again.
-AD

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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