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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 :

5170 Post No. : 17139

Today’s song is from the film Naya Sansar-1941. The film was made by Bombay Talkies. It was directed by N.A.Acharya. The cast of the film was Ashok Kumar, Renuka Devi, Mubarak, Shah Nawaz, V.H.Desai, P.F.Pithawala, David and others. The music was given by Saraswati Devi (4 songs) and Ramchandra Pal (6 songs). The songs were written by Kavi Pradeep.

Though this was the 13th film of Ashok Kumar, it was only the 4th film of Renuka Devi. After working with Heroes like Jairaj, Kishore Sahiu and Pahadi Sanyal, it was her first film with the acclaimed Romantic hero Ashok Kumar. By now, Ashok Kumar had got used to acting, but his one problem was not yet solved. Like any new actor, Ashok kumar did not know what to do with his hands and he always felt very awkward and ill at ease while acting. He and his directors tried several ways, but this problem was not solved yet….at least till he acted in the film Naya Sansar-41.

In this film, his role was that of a radical news reporter of a Newspaper called “Sansaar “, run by Mubarak. This newspaper had become popular due to its forward and nationalistic thinking and the paper criticised the leaders, government and the administration for the wrongs they did to the people and the Nation. While doing this role. Ashok Kumar had to smoke. Not that he had never smoked, but he was an occasional smoker. While doing this role, he suddenly realised that this time he had not faced the problem of “what to do with the hands”. With smoking, this problem seemed to disappear automatically and his acting became very natural and more impressive. Even the director noticed this and encouraged Ashok Kumar. This was the beginning of not only the disappearance of his problem but also the beginning of his famous natural acting. He continued smoking till he breathed his last !

Mayanagri – Bombay – attracted people from all over the country. The film world of Bombay had the Glamour, fame and money. This appealed to people from every field- acting, singing, music direction etc. Film Industry mesmerised not only the ordinary, but even the experts in related fields. That is why Internationally famous Sitarist Ravi Shanker, Dancer Uday Shankar, Bade Ghulam ali khan and many other eminents tried their hands with films.

There were two types of Newcomers. One who came, whether successful or not, remained in the film line till their end and the second was Specialists who came , contributed their bit and went back to their comfort zones again. Some names in the second category are Pushpa Hans, Meera Mishra, Shakuntala Paranjpe, Madhusudan Bhatt, Bal Gandharva, G.N.Joshi etc-all actors,lyricists like Moti, B.A.( actually he was M.A.), Dr. Ramesh Shastry etc. Classical singers like Phiroz Dastur, Ram Marathe, Hirabai Badodekar, Manik Verma, Menaka Bai, Ira Nigam etc. and MDs like Kazi Nasrul Islam,Ali Akbar Khan, Allah Rakha, Mohanlal Aima, Pt. Amarnath Chawla etc etc. ( names are only indicative and not exhaustive.)

One name in this category stands out boldly and that is actress Renuka Devi. She came to films as a Hobby, acted only in 7 films, sang 20 songs in 4 films and happily returned to her married life again. A very strong mind and determination is required to forgo fame and money for something you love more in life.

Sometime back, I had bought one book and when I read this book – ” A woman of substance-Begum Khursheed Mirza”’ I was very much impressed.

Begum Khursheed Mirza is none other than the famous Heroine of the 30s and 40s-Renuka Devi. She was perhaps one of the most educated, upper class, sophisticated and highly cultured Muslim lady, who ever joined the film industry then. One more striking feature of Renuka Devi was that she was one of the very few actresses who joined films after their marriage. The other such examples I remember offhand are that of Meenakshi Shirodkar (Bramhachari-38 fame), Shobhana Samarth and actress Neena ( real name Shahida- first wife of Mohsin Abdulla, brother of Renuka Devi).

Renuka Devi had studied upto Masters degree in English Literature, from Aligarh Muslim University. The only other nearest example I remember offhand is that of actress Vanmala (real name Susheela Devi Pawar), who had done B.A and B.T. and was a Teacher in the college before joining films,at the behest of writer, journalist and Director P.K.Atre.

The story of Renuka Devi is quite interesting. Khursheed jehan was born in Aligarh on 4-3-1918, to Shaikh Abdulla and his wife Waheed jehan Beg. She was the 6th of 7 siblings. Her father Shaikh Abdulla (1874-1965) was originally a Hindu. He was the son of a rich jahagirdar and Landlord from Poonch,Kashmir. They were Kashmiri Brahmins. His name was Thakur Das. He embraced Islam in 1890, while studying in Aligarh. When his family learnt about it he was disowned by them. He took the name Shaikh Abdulla.

He became a leading Advocate of Aligarh. After he married Waheed Jehan Beg, they both- being of progressive thinking- decided to work for the Muslim womens’ education. They faced lot of resistance from the fundamentalists, but they established a Muslim women’s college in Aligarh. To provide students for this college, a school was also started for Muslim girls. Soon girls started joining the school and college. Shaikh Abdulla ensured that all his children were educated. One daughter became a Doctor, another Advocate and two daughters did master’s degrees and later on became Principals of the women’s college. Khursheed also studied upto masters but due to her marriage could not complete it. ( she completed her masters in English Litterateur in 1963, at the age of 45 years, later).

Khursheed jehan was married to Akbar Mirza, a Police Officer in Aligarh. Soon she gave birth to 2 sons. Her husband, Akbar Mirza, was a well-placed official in the colonial police force and she enjoyed playing the part of hostess and homemaker. At a women’s club fundraising event organized by her, a senior British official commented that she had a flair that would be perfect for a film career. This set the 21-year-old Khurshid thinking and when her brother, Mohsin Abdullah, told her about “the professional atmosphere at the [Bombay Talkies] studios and the charming Mr Himansu Rai and his wife Devika Rani”, she could not resist. She wrote to Rai enquiring about a job, even sending him a recent photograph. What ensued was a struggle between the claims of domestic life and the increasing attractions of an independent and lucrative career.

This she did without informing her husband. She received a letter from Devika Rani,inviting her to Bombay for an interview. Now she confided in her husband and he wholeheartedly supported her. Akbar stood by his wife in the face of stiff opposition from both their families. Precisely because she had anticipated controversy, Khurshid had adopted the screen name “Renuka Devi” but it could not protect her identity. In her autobiography she says, “My mother wrote asking me not to visit Aligarh until the hue and cry had died down. As a result, I did not meet my family for nearly two years.”

Thus started her acting career. She was 21 years old, married and had 2 children too. Her first film was “Jeewan Prabhat”-37. She was given the name RENUKA DEVI. This was the Debut film for Kishore Sahu as well. Bombay Talkies bosses were very happy with her performance and she was offered the Heroine’s role opposite Jairaj in the film ” Bhabhi”-1939. Jairaj was also from a rich background, cultured and highly educated. Their tuning was excellent and the film was a grand success. Renuka also sang a few songs in Bhabhi-39. When the news of her acting in films reached Aligarh,there was a hue and cry. Her mother wrote to Renuka,’not to visit Aligarh for now’. Renuka did not go to Aligarh for the next 2 years.

She was invited to Calcutta By New Theatres to act in the film, Dadi Didi-39. Her other films were Naya Sansar-41 (Ashok Kumar), Sahara-43 (S D Narang), Ghulami-45 ( Masood Parvez) and Samrat Chandragupta-45 ( Ishwarlal ). Her film career was very short. She announced her retirement from films in February 1944, while shooting for her last films.

After partition, her family migrated to Pakistan. In Pakistan, though in demand, she refused to do any films. Instead, she decided to devote her time for women’s uplift, education, welfare and social work. She also did some work on Pakistan Radio.

When TV came to Pakistan, she became very active and she was a popular figure on Pak TV for the next 15-20 years. She completed her master’s degree in 1963, at the age of 45 years. She published 9 instalments of her autobiography in the popular magazine ” Herald ” from August 1982 to April 1983, under the title ” The uprooted sapling”. This was later on edited and published by her daughter Lubna as a Book in 2004, titled- ” A woman of substance- the memoirs of Begum Khursheed Mirza “.

Renuka Devi died on 8-2-1989 at Lahore after a prolonged illness.

In her book she included a chapter of 24 pages ” Renuka Devi-my celluloid identity”, in which she has described many interesting anecdotes. Her detailed description of the times of the 30s and 40s is a lovely chronicle of the history of Bombay film industry. Here are some excerpts from her book…

1) Back in the Thirties, acting in films was not considered an honourable profession for anybody. And for a married woman from a well-educated and respectable upper-middle class Muslim family, it was forbidden to even think about it. But Khurshid Mirza, the daughter of the founders of the Aligarh Women’s College, the wife of a police officer and already a mother of two, was too free-spirited to be tied down by any social norm. She took the plunge and soon a star named Renuka Devi was born.

2) In 1939, Shanta Apte wrote that she received four or five letters each day from young girls wanting to join the movies “due perhaps to this monetary attraction”. Actresses themselves acknowledged in interviews that the money was substantial and more than one actress claimed that her salary rivalled that of the Governor of Bombay! But aside from several myth-building exercises, it is now apparent that film acting was a uniquely high-paying profession for women. According to Filmindia, Shobhana Samarth’s approximate total income in 1942 was Rs 36,000 while Sardar Akhtar, Naseem Banu, and Madhuri earned about Rs 30,000 each. These figures indicate that leading heroines of the day averaged an income of Rs 3,000-4,000 per month (some actresses were freelancers and did not work through the year) at a time when a French chiffon sari cost Rs 9, and a brand new imported Studebaker cost Rs 6,000. It is hardly surprising then, that Khursheed would want to make “a little dough”.

3) ” Akbar stood by me in the face of stiff opposition from both our families. Nevertheless, he maintained a strange attitude towards my work. He enjoyed the benefits the money brought us, such as a new car, expensive game-hunts, and pleasure trips to fashionable Mussoorie in summer and excellent schooling for our children. And, yet, he treated my work as a hobby, instead of giving it its due importance.”

( My thanks to the book, ”A woman of substance “, some information from ” Free Library”,Cineplot and my own notes).

I have not seen this film, but from today’s song, it seems to have been shot on Renuka Devi while playing a game with a child and his friends. Renuka Devi sang 5 songs in this film – 3 songs under the MD-Ramchandra Pal and only 2 songs composed by Saraswati Devi. Today’s song is by these two Devis together. ( In the early era of films, girls coming from educated and well to do families used to use the suffix of Devi to their name- like Sabita Devi, Molina Devi, Meera Devi etc. Girls coming from Tawaif families and singing families used to put the suffix of Bai to their names, like Jaddan Bai, Amir Bai, Waheedan Bai, Kalyani bai, Menaka Bai etc.) Enjoy this song.


Song- Chalo Chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen (Naya Sansaar)(1941) Singer- Renuka devi, Lyricist- Pradeep, MD- Saraswati Devi
Chorus
unknown child voice

Lyrics

chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen

haan haan haan haan
paas ki phool bagiya mein
haan haan haan haan
paas ki phool bagiya mein
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
kya karogi bolo jab ud jaayengi
haan haan
joban ki chiraiyya
kya karogi bolo jab ud jaayengi
haan haan
joban ki chiraiyya

main tum donon ki khoj karoongi
main tum donon ki khok karoongi
ban pawan purwaiyya aa aa
ban pawan purwaiyya aa aa
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen

phoolon ke van mein tum chhup jaana
ban ke ek papaiyya
phoolon ke van mein tum chhup jaana
ban ke ek papaiyya
phool phool se hum poochhenge
phool phool se hum poochhenge
kahaan hai humra bhaiyya
kaho kaho
kahaan hai humra bhaiyya
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen

aasha didi
aasha didi
main bhi kheloonga

raaja bhaiyya khelega
raaja bhaiya khelega
haan haan haan
ban jaana ek bilaav
chhup jaana patton ki chhaanv
aankh bacha kar karna miyaaun miyaaun
miyaaun miyaaun
donon bahnen dar kar bhaagen
aisi bhaagen aise bhaagen
donon bahnen dar kar bhaagen
aisi bhaagen aise bhaagen
jaise van ki bilaiyya aa aa
jaise van ki bilaiyya aa aa
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
haan haan haan haan
paas ki phool bagiya mein
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen
chalo chalo bhool bhulaiyya khelen


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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.

This is a labour of love, where “new” songs are added every day, and that has been the case for over FOURTEEN years. This blog has over 17100 song posts by now.

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