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

Archive for the ‘Jagjit Singh – Chitra Singh Duet’ Category

This article is written by Sudhir, 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 sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day : 3965 Post No. : 15047

Songs Repeated in Hindi Films – 2
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One of the most iconic songs of Saigal Sb. A song that is a definitive representation of Hindi film music of the 1930s. That incomparable rendition by Saigal Sb under the music direction of RC Boral was recorded live for the film ‘Street Singer’ (1938). Recorded more than eight decades ago, this remains a signature piece for time immemorial. The vision of Saigal Sb, leaving his home, just carrying his harmonium with him, walking with a slow measured pace, and singing this thumri – it is one of the lasting images of Hindi cinema. That version of the thumri from the ‘Street Singer’ can be viewed here – “Baabul Mora, Naihar Chhuto Hi Jaaye“.

Anecdotes around that live recording and shooting tell of a microphone hidden in the harmonium, of the slow pace of walking so as to complete the singing and the visual shot keeping within the range of the camera. Playback singing had already been invented (1935) and was in progressive use in the industry. And yet, this song was recorded live. The performance can only be called – unprecedented, incomparable and peerless. Nothing more fascinates the diehard fans of Saigal Sb, than this one song by him. Many singers have sung this, but the Saigal version remains untouched, unsurpassed.

In the film, this song spans an extended sequence of scenes. And small parts of this song are also rendered by Kanan Devi. There is a sequence where Kanan Devi attempts to sing this song in the theatre. Later, Bhola (KLS) departs from their shared home, upset that Manju (Kanan Devi) is enamored by Amar Babu (Jagdish Sethi), and wants to move in with him. But after just one day away from Bhola, Manju returns home searching for him. And finds that he has left. She makes a phone call to Amar Babu, requesting him to bring his car. They start to drive towards the road that leads to Bhola and Manju’s home village. In the meantime, the scene shifts between Manju searching for Bhola, and Bhola walking away with the harmonium. The song is reprised here three or four times, sometimes just the mukhda, sometimes just the antaraa.

Amar Babu is driving the car with dismay in his heart. A windstorm arrives. There is lot of dust in the air, and visibility is not good. Manju alights from the car, and starts following the path on foot – the path that Bhola would have taken returning to his village. Tired and overcome by storm, Bhola falls down by the roadside. Manju sees someone lying on the road and rushes to him. The tryst happens again. Amar Babu watches them from a distance. And then with a wry smile on his face, he returns to his car, to start the lonely journey back to his home. Bhola and Manju start their foot journey back to their village. Once again the song is heard in the voice of Kanan Devi, as the visual shows the two mates, in a silhouette against a darkening sky. The hearts have met, they are returning home, and the lady’s voice is telling – “Le Babul Ghar Aapno, Main Chali Piya Ke Des. . .”.

Thirty five years later, in 1973, this classical thumri is now included in the film ‘Aavishkaar’, starring Sharmila Tagore and Rajesh Khanna. This time, the music composition is by Kanu Roy, who transformed it into a duet, with the participating voices of Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh. This time, in the picturization, this is presented as a background song, as the visual action on screen is mostly silent – and yet very expressive.

‘Aavishkaar’ presents a scenario of a brief hiatus in the lives of two people very much in love. In love they are, and they get married, and they start to live together. Maybe, just love is never enough. What love is – it needs to be examined, re examined and re invented often. And then it becomes love, more love and more meaningful. Else, just the drudgery of the consistent proximity, which used to be like heaven to start with, turns into stagnant boredom. Expectations still riding high, the lull now breeds contempt – a contempt that is actually screaming for and seeking a rejuvenated level of understanding and sharing. That is what ‘Aavishkaar’ is about.

The film starts on a day when it is the wedding anniversary of the protagonist couple. Amar (Rajesh Khanna) is aware, but still, broodingly ignores. He works late in office, he goes to see a film with a female co-worker, giving the audience the impression that he is seeking extra marital happiness. On his way back at night, he finally musters enough thought and courage, and buys a bouquet of Rajnigandha flowers. Arriving home, a certain scene transpires before he enters the house, and on an impulse, he places the bouquet in a flower pot next to the door, and enters the house, pretending that he does not remember the anniversary. A long night passes. There are flashbacks, there are arguments, there is even physical violence – highlighting the drift that has occurred in the relationship. Basu Bhattacharya has handled the conflict and the interactions very deftly. In my mind, this is the best handling of the situation of a very loving relationship gone sour. Many other films come to mind – ‘Arth’, ‘Dooriyaan’, ‘Anubhav’, ‘Aandhi’, ‘Grih Pravesh’, ‘Aap Ki Kasam’, the comical ‘Pati, Patni Aur Who’, ‘Abhimaan’ . . . and more. In ‘Aavishkaar’, the director portrays the conflict, the pain, and the reconciliation, at a very psychological level.

So, after a distraught and a tension filled hostile night, mostly sleepless and lot of exchanges and memories, the new day dawns. The rigmarole of the daily routine beckons. Mansi (Sharmila Tagore) gets up early and opens the front door to pick up the milk delivery. And then she sees. . . the bouquet standing in the flower pot. She picks it up. And the voice of Jagjit Singh drifts in from the background. She finds Amar standing behind her. . . and there is an embrace. A lot changed and a lot settled in that night of strife.

The two stanzas play out slowly. The first one as the couple are embracing and then they move back into the home. The second stanza is an external shot, mixing flashback again possibly, as we see the couple on the beach, in a mood of frolic, as the singer croons yet once again to say. . . “Le Babul Ghar Aapno, Main Chali Piya Ke Des. . .”.

The two instances that we are so familiar with, of the use of this song in Hindi films, both seem to have happy conclusion. But that was not the original thought when Wajid Ali Shah wrote and composed this thumri, way back in 1856. The British had played a game of deception with the Nawab of Awadh. In a bloodless coup, Wajid Ali Shah was dethroned and sent to Calcutta, and the British annexed Lucknow and the kingdom of Awadh. The Nawab was completely heartbroken, on leaving his beloved city, and his cultural roots. That is the time when this timeless poem was conceived.

Yes, the interpretations works both ways. There is this indication of a newlywed bride, going to her new matrimonial home. There is sadness on leaving the parent’s home, but there is also an eagerness and joyful elation of being with the one, with whom a new bond of love will be explored. And, there is the gloomy and poignant interpretation. Looking at the sad dilemma that was faced by Wajid Ali Shah – he was sentenced to leave behind his beloved city, his happy pastimes, and the people who made up his life that far. The discussions in literature talk about the passing passage of life into afterlife. That too, is a leaving behind of the home that one thinks to be their own, and then embark on a journey to meet the Maker. This jusxtaposition is captured so beautifully and so splendidly in this brief two verse thumri – “Main Chali Piya Ke Des. . .”.

In the context of this series, I bring on this song today to highlight another dimension of reuse that we see so often in Hindi films – the reuse of traditional poetry and folk music. This particular thumri is so simply a dear favorite of singers, that gathering the number of different renditions by different artists would be a big exercise in itself. Just to give you an idea, this thumri has been sung by the following singers – the list goes all the way from Bade Ghulam Ali Khan to Alisha Chinoy. The names, in no particular order are – Ustad Faiyaz Khan, Gauhar Jaan, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Siddheswari Devi, Begum Akhtar, Rasoolan Bai, Naina Devi, Kesarbai Kerkar, Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan, Malka Jaan, KL Saigal, Jagmohan Sursagar, Kannan Devi, Ustad Khadim Husain Khan, Girija Devi, Shobha Gurtu, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki, Kishori Amonkar, Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh, Jagjit Singh (solo), Rajan-Sajan Mishra, Alisha Chinoy, Mahendra Chopra. . . and I am sure, many more artists of repute.

If I talk about Hindi films, then besides the two instances already covered in the write up above, this thumri appears in two more films. In 1954, Manna Dey has sung this for the film ‘Mahatama Kabir’ – a really wonderful rendition. Then later in 1964, Lata Mangeshkar has sung this for the Bhojpuri film ‘Naihar Chhutal Jaaye’.
[Ed Note: Dear Arun ji adds two more instances of this song being used in Hindi films, both from early 1930s. This song has been rendered by Durga Khote in the 1931 film ‘Trapped’ aka ‘Farebi Jaal’. Then again in 1934, this thumri appears in the list of songs for the film ‘Naachwaali’ – no information available regarding singer or music director.]

Such reuse that involves traditional poetry and folk songs, is really very simple, because this material is beyond the intellectual property disputes. For that matter, we have seen many such other creations being used in films across the decades. On the devotional side, the poems of Meerabai, Kabir Das, and Soordas are very popular and are used quite freely by the producers. Then we have the adabi poets, once again a traditional treasure that does not have any copyright issues attached. Ghazals of Ghalib are quite popular and have been used in many films across the decades. As I scanned the songs in HFGK I find that the ghazal “Dil e Nadaan Tujhe Hua Kya Hai” appears in 9 films from 1931 to 1980. The ghazal “Nuktacheen Hai Gham e Dil” appears in four films, “Ye Na Thee Hamaari Qismat” appears three times, “Phir Mujhe Deeda e Tar Yaad Aaya” also appears in three films, and so on.

Checking for Meerabai’s bhajans, one finds the popular ones like “Mere To Girdhar Gopal”, “Main To Gidhar Ke Ghar Jaaun”, “Tum Jo Todo Piya” etc., being used in many films. Not a precise search, but my estimate is that Meerabai’s bhajans appear in Hindi films more than 100 times. The search cannot be precise because there are many instances where the traditional bhajans or ghazals have been used without giving credit to the original poet. Additional note – Amir Khusro’s poetry appears in Hindi films no less than 10 times, of which at least 4 are occurrences of “Kaahe Ko Byaahi Bides. . .”.

The more difficult proposition would be to trace the folk songs reuse across Hindi films. With so much variations, and without acknowledgement to the original folk source, it is difficult to make an estimate of folk music reuse in films. But I will surely add that this segment would be more voluminous than the bhajans and ghazals. The song, or variations thereof, of “Jhumka Gira Re. . .” has been used in no less than four films.

Coming to the film ‘Aavishkaar’. The film is produced under the banner of Aarohi Film Makers and is directed by Basu Bhattacharya. The songs of this film are written by Gyandev Agnihotri and Kapil Kumar. And yes, this traditional thumri originally created by Wajid Ali Shah. The cast of actors is listed as Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila Tagore, Deena Gandhi, Denis Klement, Satyendra Kappu, Monika Jasnani, Devendra Khandelwal, Margaret, Mahesh Sharma, and Minna Johar etc.

Interesting side note – this film is the 2nd in the now famous trilogy by Basu Bhattacharya, on the topic of marital discord, the first one being ‘Anubahv’ (1971) and the 3rd being ‘Grih Pravesh’ (1977).

More interesting side notes. As we talk about reuse, I must mention the other interesting reuse in this film. Probably this is the only film where we can hear Sharmila Tagore singing. At one place in the film, the iconic Manna Dey song “Hansne Ki Chaah Ne. . .” is being sung by Sharmila. Then, at another place in the film, the song from ‘Teesri Kasam’ (1966) – “Duniya Banaane Waale, Kya Tere Mann Mein Samaai” is playing on the radio, and we can also hear Sharmila singing along with it.

So much for today. In the next episode, we shall explore another very interesting aspect of re-use of songs.



Song – Baabul Mora, Naihar Chhuto Hi Jaaye  (Aavishkaar) (1973) Singers – Jagjit Singh, Chitra Singh, Lyrics – Traditional, MD – Kanu Roy
Jagjit Singh + Chitra Singh


baabul mora. . .
naihar chhuto hi jaaye

baabul mora. . .
baabul mora. . .
naihar chhuto hi jaaye

chaar kahaar mil mori
doliyaan sajaaye re
mora apna begaana
chhuto jaaye. . .
naihar chhuto hi jaaye

[dialogue – Rajesh Khanna, Sharmila]

angnaa to parbat bhaya
deori bhai bides
le babul ghar aapno
main chali piya ke des
main chali piya ke des
main chali piya ke des

baabul mora. . .
naihar chhuto hi jaaye

Hindi script lyrics (Provided by Sudhir)

बाबुल मोरा॰ ॰ ॰
नईहर छूटो ही जाये

बाबुल मोरा॰ ॰ ॰
बाबुल मोरा॰ ॰ ॰
नईहर छूटो ही जाये

चार कहार मिल मोरी
डोलियाँ सजाये रे
मोरा अपना बेगाना
छूटो जाये॰ ॰ ॰
नईहर छूटो ही जाये

[संवाद – राजेश खन्ना, शर्मिला टागोर]

अंगना तो परबत भया॰ ॰ ॰
डेयोड़ी भई बिदेस
ले बाबुल घर आपनो
मैं चली पिया के देस
मैं चली पिया के देस
मैं चली पिया के देस

बाबुल मोरा॰ ॰ ॰
नईहर छूटो ही जाये


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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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