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

Nainaa neer bahaaye

Posted on: February 27, 2023

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 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.

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Amritsar born Canadian Indian, Deepa Mehta has been known for making feature films on social issues. Her most passionate film making project has been the ‘Element Trilogy’ – ‘Fire’ (1996), ‘1947 Earth’ (1998) and ‘Water’ (2005) for which she had received critical acclaim worldwide and also won her many awards. The themes of her films are progressive for some and controversial for others. So, controversies surrounded her most of the time when film’s shooting was to commence or at the time of the release of the films.

I have not yet watched ‘Fire’ (1996) and ‘1947 Earth’ (1998). But I have watched ‘Water’ (2005) for which there were a lot of controversies as soon as the film’s unit landed in Varanasi for shooting in 2000. I remember to have read the news in those days that film’s set in Varanasi was destroyed by the miscreants even though the film units had received approvals from both the Central and State governments for shooting. There was also the death threat to Deepa Mehta. She cancelled the shooting of the film and went back to her home city, Toronto.

After waiting for about 4 years, Deepa Mehta shifted her shooting location from Varanasi to Sri Lanka in 2004. The art director created a set of Varanasi with its ghats and ashrams at the shore of Bolgoda Lake, near Colombo. The inordinate delay in resumption of shooting resulted in taking a new set of actors including those from Sri Lanka. Earlier actors included Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das and Akshay Kumar. They were replaced by Seema Biswas, Lisa Ray, and John Abraham respectively. The role of 8-year young widow, one of the main actors was performed by Sarala Kariyawasam, a class 7th student from Galle, Sri Lanka.

‘Water’ (2005) takes the film audience back to 1938 when the widowed women (child, young or even old) were shifted to shelter homes (ashram) specially created for them. The film brings to the notice of the modern society the poverty, deprivation and exploitation of widows as prevailed in pre-independent India. This practice is not completely eradicated in some places in the post-independent India.

The film was produced by Deepa Mehta’s Canada based home production company, David Hamilton Production. The star cast included John Abraham, Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, Sarala Kariyawasam, Manorama, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Raghuveer Yadav, Vinay Pathak, Vidula Javalgekar Waheeda Rehman (special appearance), Garson D’Cunha etc. The gist of the film’s story is as under:

Chuyia (Sarala), the 8-year old widow is shifted to a ashram in Varanasi after the death of her husband. It is a traumatic experience for her to be separated from the parents in such a young age and live in a state of poverty among the widows. But her arrival in the ashram results in an atmosphere of activities in otherwise quiet life. Her energetic activities in the ashram get her noticed from two other widows – a young Kalyani (Lisa Ray) and a middle-aged Shakuntala (Seema Biswas). They become the protector of Chuyia.

Kalyani had become widow at age of 7 and is the most beautiful of the widows in the Ashram. Madhumati (Manorama), the ‘boss’ of the ashram has allowed Kalyani to grow her hairs because Madhumati has an arrangement with the pimp Gulabi (Raghuvir Yadav) to take Kalyani to wealthy clients, as a source of income for the ashram.

Shakuntala is only among the widows who can read and write. She is sharp and short tempered. Hence, Madhumati, despite being a ‘boss’ of the ashram, avoids bossing her. Shakuntala is God fearing and follow the dictates of the widowhood as explained to her by a priest (Kulbhushan Kharbanda). At the same time, she feels unjust to be a widow. When she asks the priest whether there is any other way to avoid the stigma of being widow, he says that there is a law which now allows widows to remarry. She is surprised as to why this was not brought to their notice. The priest cooly says that “we do not always follow the law when it is inconvenient”.

Narayan (John Abraham) returns to his home in Varanasi after becoming a lawyer in Kolkata. He has become the follower of Mahatma Gandhi who has been campaigning, among other things, for breaking social and religious barriers for widow remarriage. Narayan’s father, Dwarkanath (Gerson D’Cunha) has an aristocratic lifestyle and is liberal in his views. His mother (Waheeda Rehman) on the other hand is conservative and tradition bound.

One day Chuyia, while trying to catch her puppy who ran away from her, gets lost on her way back to ashram. She meets Narayan who drops her on the doorstep of Kalyani’s room in the ashram. He is shocked to see a young Kalyani who will be spending rest of her life in austerity and deprived of her rights. Narayan wants to marry Kalyani but she is not ready because she is God-fearing and tradition bound. With much persuasion by Narayan, Kalyani agrees to the marriage. Despite facing obstacles from Madhumati, Kalyani reaches the shore of River Ganga where Narayan is waiting to take her to his house across the river to meet his parents. When Kalyani sees the house from the boat, she at once tells Narayan to turn the boat back as she gets to know that Narayan’s father is also one of Madhumati’s clients on whom she was forced upon.

Kalyani returns to ashram and in the night, she commits suicide by drowning herself in the River Ganga. Narayan is shocked to know his father’s views on widows despite being liberal in views. He blames his father for Kalyani’s tragic end. He leaves the house to join Mahatma Gandhi. He meets Shankutala on the way at the shore of River Ganga. Both are at loss for words after the death of Kalyani. At last, Shakuntala asked Narayan a pertinent question. ‘Why are widows sent to ashram’? Narayan gives a practical explanation for this ancient practice: “One less mouth to feed, four less saris in a year, and a free corner in the house. Disguised as customs and traditions, it’s just about money”.

In the absence of Kalyani, Madhumati sends Chuyia as a replacement for the client in the guise of telling her that she is going back to her own house. When Shakuntala comes to know about this, she rushes to rescue Chuyia only to know that she was too late. She takes the traumatized Chuyia in her arms, confused as to what to do now to make her safe from Madhumati. She learns that Mahatma Gandhi would be arriving at the railway station to proceed to Allahabad. She rushes to the railway station. In the midst of crowded platform, Shakuntala runs to hand over Chuyia to any one of the passengers in the already slow moving train, pleading to take her with them. She finds to her surprise that it is Narayan who takes Chuyia from her in the overcrowded train.

There are some poignant moments in the film. For instance, in a few minutes after the opening scene, Chuyia who is in her deep sleep in the house is woken up by her father to tell her that her husband is no more, and she has become a widow now. She asks her father innocently “how long, father”? In one scene, she innocently asks ‘is there man-widow ashram also’? In spite of some poignant moments in the film, Deepa Mehta has successfully avoided the film turning into an intense melodrama. The subtle message from the film is that even if one goes by customs and traditions of widowhood, the ashram is at the shore of River Ganga whose water is the symbol of purification. The widows in the ashram have to remain self-restrained and chaste. But in reality, ashram has become a place for exploitation of widows. The other message is that widows have rights as a human beings.

‘Water’ (2005) became the official Oscar entry from Canada which made into the final five in the category of the best foreign language films. The film could be released in India only in 2007 which received lukewarm responses from the film audience. The film was meant for the niche audience most of whom may have probably watched the film on DVD released in 2005.

‘Water’ (2005) had 6 songs of which 5 songs were written by Sukhwinder Singh and one was the devotional song of Narsinh Mehta. A R Rahman has composed all the songs in raagdari music with some shades of folk music. In a long interview with Arjit Singh about Hindi film music, A R Rahman had said that ‘Water’ (2005) has been his most satisfying work as a music director. He said that he had composed all the six songs before the film’s shooting was stalled in 2000.

I am presenting the first song, ‘naina neer bahaaye’ from the film to appear on the Blog. The song is written by Sukhwinder Singh and is rendered by Sadhana Sargam. In the interview quoted above, A R Rahman revealed that he got inspired from a one-minute advertisement jingle in Hindi rendered by Kavita Krishnamurthy. Rahman could not recall the name of the composer of the jingle but remembered him as one of the most talented composers. He further said that he composed the tune of the song based on Raag Bhatiyari (the same raag which was used in the jingle).

When my extensive surfing on the internet did not get me anywhere about the jingle referred to by A R Rahman, a comment on the video clip of the song under discussion led me to this jingle:

purab se surya uga phaila ujiyaara
jaage har disha disha jaaga jag saara

The video clip of the jingle is here.

This jingle was composed by Ashok Patki, the music director of Marathi films, plays and T V Serials. I have watched this advertisement many times on Doordarshan in early 90s. Kavita Krishnamurthy revealed in an interview that when she met A R Rahman for the first time for a song recording, he specifically pointed out this jingle and appreciated it for its musical composition. This indicates that this jingle remained in the mind of A R Rahman for a long time.

In the film, only the mukhda of the song is picturised. The background of the song is that after meeting Narayan who clears Kalyani’s misconception about widow remarriage, she decides to get married with him. This news gets leaked to Madhumati, the ‘boss’ of the ashram who cuts Kalyani’s hair and locks her in the room. The mukhda of the song plays in the background as she prays to Lord Krishna. The Director has compared Kalyani’s situation as that of Meerabai whose desire was to be with Giridhar despite many obstacles. Here Kalyani believes that her Giridhar (Narayan) would come and rescue her.

The song under discussion is pure Hindustani classical music, which is beautifully rendered by Sadhana Sargam, bringing out the underlying intense pathos. Unfortunately, this song ( as also other songs from the film) remained on the back burner due to delay in film’s released in India and after the release, its quick eclipse from the theatres.

Audio Clip:

Video Clip (Partial):

Song-Nainaa neer bahaaye (Water)(2005) Singer-Sadhana Sargam, Lyrics-Sukhwinder Singh, MD-A R Rahman

Lyrics (based on Audio Clip)

naina neer bahaaye…ae ae
naina neer bahaye..aae
mujh birhan kaa dil sajaan sang
mujh birhan kaa dil saajan sang
jhoom jhoom ke gaaye…ae ae
naina neer bahaye…ae ae
naina neer bahaaye ae
mujh birhan ka dil saajan sang
mujh birhan ka dil saajan sang
jhoom jhoom ke gaaye…ae ae
naina neer bahaaye ae

ha aa aa aa
aa aa aa aa
vish kaa pyaala kaam na aaya
meera ne pee ke dikhlaaya..aa
vish ka pyaala kaam na aaya
meera ne pee ke dikhlaaya..aa
prem to hai gangajal ismein
prem to hai gangajal ismein
prem to hai gangajal ismein
vish amrit ban ae
naina neer bahaaye.. ae ae

prem hai Giridhar ki baansuriya..aa aa
prem hai Giridhar ki baansuriya
prem hai Radha ki saanwariya aa
ye hai saat suron kaa dariya
ye yai saat suron kaa dariya
jhar jhar bahta ae
naina neer ae
naina neer ae

6 Responses to "Nainaa neer bahaaye"

Thanks Sadanand Kamath ji for your article.Never heard this melodious songs.
Many congratulations for bringing to light a rare Rehman gem.


Thanks Ashok Mehta ji.


Thanks for whole lot of information,Sadanandji,I want to watch the film, for veteran actress Late Manorama’s sake…


Prakashchandra ji,
Monorama is a likeable villain in the film.


Prakashchandra ji,
I forgot to mention in my article that ‘Water’ (2005) was Manorama’s last film.
In an interview after the death of Manorama in February 2008, Deepa Mehta revealed that despite film’s delay of nearly 4 years during which main actors were replaced, Manorama was the only actor who survived from the original list of actors and remained the first and final choice for the role of Madhumati.


I have seen Manorama`s movie stills of Water, in some magazines,
To remind you about Manorama ji`s presence in the film, I have written my comment,…..

I am wondering why Sadanand Sir have not written a thing about Manorama ji,(while writing about the film). Anyways Thanks a lot for writing to me……….


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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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