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

Posts Tagged ‘Fida Hussain

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 sites like and etc then it is piracy of the copyright content of and is a punishable offence under the existing laws.

Blog Day : 3526 Post No. : 14163

Pandit Narayan Prasad ‘Betaab’ (1872-1945), Agha Hashr Kashmiri (1879-1935) and Pandit Radhe Shyam Katha Vaachak (1890-1963) are regarded as a troika of Parsi theatre. They were the most popular among the playwrights of their time. Their works took the Parsi theatre to the zenith of its glory. This is well recognised in most of the literature on the history of Indian theatres. While Betaab and Radhe Shyam have been credited for popularising plays in Hindi, Agha Hashr Kashmiri had done the pioneering work in Urdu drama.

However, all the three playwrights switched over to Hindustani in the peak of their careers in theatres for easy understanding as they found larger audience for such plays than before. Probably, this might be the one of the reasons as to why in the era of talkies, most of the films were made in Hindustani instead of pure Hindi or Urdu. In fact, in the initial period, talkie films were an extension of Parsi theatre dramas.

I have already covered in our blog, the life sketches of Pandit Narayan Prasad ‘Betaab’ in Abroo Ki Kamaanon Mein and of Agha Hashr Kashmiri in Yaad Mein Teri Jahaan Ko Bhoolta Jaata Hoon Main. In today’s post, I propose to cover the biography of Pandit Radhe Shyam Katha Vaachak, which is very interesting.

Pandit Radhe Shyam Katha Vaachak (25/11/1890 – 26/08/1963) was born in Bareilly in a poor Brahmin family. His father, Pandit Bankelal was a good singer and used to sing in Ram Lila. From the childhood, Radhe Shyam used to accompany his father to Ram Lila. At the age of 8, Radhe Shyam learnt playing harmonium from his father and started singing during Ram Lila along with his father.  Most of the time, Ramayan and other mythological stories were sung. Growing up in this environment made the young Radhe Shyam to pursue the vocation of Katha Vaachak (story-teller).

Though Radhe Shyam seems to have left the school before completing his primary level, he was well versed with Urdu, Awadhi and Brijbhasha besides Hindi . By the age of 12, Radhe Shyam started composing poems and also performing as a Katha Vaachak. Simultaneously, he learnt music from Ustad Rahat Ali Khan.

By the turn of the 20th Century, theatre companies in India had made their presence felt, mostly in urban and semi-urban centres. The Parsi theatres played an important role in staging dramas all over India. The New Alfred Theatrical Company of Bombay (now Mumbai) used to visit Bareilly every year  to stage their popular plays. The themes of the plays were mostly historical and mythological stories though some time social and political issues were also covered in the plays. Radhe Shyam was exposed to these types of  plays as his father usually took him to watch the plays staged by The New Alfred Theatrical Company.

Meanwhile, Radhe Shyam’s performance as a Katha Vaachak and his father’s singing drew attention of Pandit Motilal Nehru who was looking for a Ramayan singer to entertain his ailing wife. Both father and son spent over a month in Pandit Motilal Nehru’s residence, Anand Bhawan in Allahabad singing the story of Ramayan. With this kind of accreditation, Radhe Shyam started performing as  Katha Vaachak at various places in North India.

Around 1910, Radhe Shyam’s career as story-teller took a turn when he got interested in theatre. The inspiration for this change came from the play ’Khoobsoorat Bala’ written by Agha Hashr Kashmiri and directed by Soharabji Ogra. He liked the play so much that he decided to become a playwright. An opportunity came to him when The New Albert Company of Punjab came to Bareilly and visited Radhe Shyam’s house to enlist his services for revising the script of their play ‘Ramayan’. While staging this play in the royal palace, the Maharaja of Jaipur had found faults and his secretary had recommended Radhe Shyam’s name  for the revision.

After a month’s work, The New Albert staged the revised ‘Ramayan’ for which Radhe Shyam was given the additional responsibility of directing the play in place of Abdul Rehman Kabuli who was an actor in the play.  Master Nisaar played the role of Seeta. The play became successful and Radhe Shyam’s name became well known in the theatre circle.

Some of Radhe Shyam’s famous and hit Hindi/Hindustani plays were ‘Veer Abhimanyu’ (1916), ‘Shravan Kumar’ (1916), ‘Parivartan’ (1925), ‘Shri Krishnavtaar’ (1926), ‘Rukmini Mangal’ (1927), ‘Ishwar Bhakti’ (1928), and ‘Draupadi Swaymvar’ (1929). He also wrote an Urdu play ‘Mashriqui Hoor’ (1926). Most of his plays were staged by The New Alfred Theatrical Company. He became New Alfred’s full time employee as a playwright. During his theatre days, Pandit Radhe Shyam continued to perform as Katha Vaachak. In fact, he  used to devote time for the theatre works only when he was free from his main vocation.

However, due to his frequent bout of illness, Pandit Radhe Shyam’s long stint with New Alfred ended in August 1930 when he resigned from the Company. After recovery from his illness, Pandit Radhe Shyam got the offer from Maadan Theatres (of Calcutta (now Kolkatta)) to write dialogues and songs from their second talkie film ‘Shankutala’ (1931). The film was directed by JJ Maadan who wanted as many songs in this film, as in their first talkie film ‘Shirin Farhad’ (1931).  Pandit Radhe Shyam had to work the long hours for writing the songs which were picturised on the same day as he completed each song of the

Being a puritan in nature Pandit Radhe Shyam could not adjust to the working environment in the theatre and film studios, in which actors were smoking and drinking. In 1933, Pandit Radhe Shyam left Calcutta for Bareilly. Though offers were coming to him from the film production companies, he selected very few films such as ‘Shri Sataynarayan’ (1935) ‘Khudai Khidmatgar’ (1937), ‘Usha Haran’ (1940, as story and screen-play writer), ‘Jhansi Ki Raani’ (1952) and ‘Krishna Sudama’  (1957). He took all  these assignments when he was on private visits to Bombay.

In 1940, Pandit Radhe Shyam decided to stop earning money and to devote most of his time as Katha Vaachak free of cost. He became the disciple of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya in pursuit of his social activities including Ganga Mahasabha. He toured the entire north India to propagate the use of Hindi. After the death of his elder son in October 1947 and of his wife sometime in 1957 Pandit Radhe Shyam fully devoted his time to the reading of Holy Scriptures and performing as a Katha Vaachak.

Pandit Radhe Shyam left for the heavenly abode on 26th August 1963 in Bareilly leaving his legacy in Radhe Shyam Ramayan and a dozens of his popular dramas.

Sometime in 1920s, Pandit Radhe Shyam Katha Vaachak,  wrote the epic poem ‘Ramayan’ for the masses in the simple language (in Hindustani). He wrote the epic poem in 24 parts and got published in his own printing press set up for this purpose in 1939. To make the print copies of his version of Ramayan affordable to the masses, he fixed a nominal price of  Re.1/-. The Radhe Shyam Ramayan as it is known today became so popular that almost all Ramlilas were staged based on his Ramayan in the Hindi belt.  In Ramanand Sagar’s TV serial ‘Ramayan’ telecast during 1987-88, one of the sources mentioned in the credit title was Radhe Syham Ramayan. Later on. with his involvement in propagating Hindi, Pandit Radhe Shyam converted the language from Hindustani to pure Hindi.

In 1947, Pandit Radhe Shyam thought of producing a film based on his Ramayan, titled ‘Ram Janm’. He had roped in his close friends Prithviraj Kapoor and Chandramohan for the main roles who had agreed to work free of cost  for him. First, the film was to be shot in the studios of Kolhapur/Poona. The cost worked out much higher than the budget. On the suggestion of some of his well-wishers, he decided to produce the film in a Calcutta studio where the cost would have worked out within his budget. A financier from Calcutta was found and Rameshwar Sharma was taken as the director.

Before, the film’s shooting could commence, Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Bengal. After a few days, Pandit Radhe Shyam had to rush back to Bareilly to attend to his elder son who was seriously ill. He later died of illness. Around the same time, his film’s financier as well as the director, Rameshwar Sharma, also passed away. Ultimately, the film ‘Ram Janm’ was scrapped. Pandit Radhe Shyam’s wish to produce a film on Ramayan story remained unfulfilled.

Today’s generation may not know much about Pandit Radhe Shyam  Katha Vaachak of  his contributions to the Indian theatre. However, I am sure he is well known especially in the Hindi belt for his Radhe Shyam Ramayan through Ram Leela.

As mentioned earlier, Pandit Radhe Shyam  had decided in 1940 that he would stop working for money. So the films for which he worked as a dialogue writer/lyricist in 1940 and thereafter was free of charge to the producers.

One of Pandit Radhe Shyam’s earliest films in Bombay was ‘Khudai Khidmatgar’ (1937). The film was produced under the banner of Bharat Lakshmi Pictures and was directed by Vithaldas Panchotia. The star cast included Mazhar Khan, Sarla Devi, Vithaldas Panchotia, Khalil Ahmed,  JN Dar (Kashmiri), Shayam Sunder, Rampiyari, Radha Rani, Fida Hussain, Nand Kishore, Vilayat Hussain etc. The film had 10 songs, out of which this one is written by Pandit Radhe Shyam. As for the remaining nine, the Geet Kosh lists the lyricist name as Tanveer. However, some online sources credit the songwriting of these 9 songs to Aarzoo Lakhnavi. The songs were set to music by Nagar Das Nayak.

I am presenting the first song ‘Ye Suna Hai Maine Jaadu Hai Rajaji Ke Pad Pankaj Mein’ written by Pandit Radhe Shyam. The complete song is of the duration of more than 6 minutes, and it is published on two sides of the 78 rpm record no. N 16020.

It is in the fitness of thing that this song has been sung by Fida Hussain who was discovered by none other than Pandit Radhe Shyam in 1918 as actor-singer for female roles for plays staged by The New Alfred Theatrical Company.  An autobiography of  Fida Hussain was written by Pratibha Agrawal under the title  ‘My 50 Years in Parsi Theatre’ (1986) on the basis of a series of interviews with him. Since this article has already become too long, I will not add the life sketch of Fida Hussain. One important note about him – in 1939 he donned the title role of Narsi Mehta in the play ‘Narsi Mehta’. The play became a hugely popular hit and it ran for over 1000 nights. Because of this, Fida Hussain was honoured with the title ‘Narsi’ which he proudly used as suffix to his name as  Fida Hussain ‘Narsi’.

The song under discussion is one episode taken from Radhe Shyam Ki Ramayan and it has been rendered as katha vaachan (story-telling). It describes the episode from the initial days of banwaas when Lord Ramchandra, Seeta and Lakshman were required to cross the river Ganga. The boatman recognising Lord Ram said that he would like to wash Lord Ram’s feet before he allowed Him to step on to his boat as he had heard that with the dust of His feet, a statue made of stone turned into a woman. So he does not want his wooden boat turned into many women. With his meagre earnings as a boatman, he does not have enough to take care of them. Pleased with the innocence of the boatman, Lord Ram permitted him to wash His feet.

After washing Lord Ram’s feet, the boatman ferried them across the Ganga river. As they alighted, Seeta Maata handed over Her ring to Lord Ram to pass on to the boatman as the payment for ferry as they had no money to offer. The boatman refused to accept the ring. He then explained to Lord Rama that people from the same profession do not take the payment for the services rendered to each other. A labourer would not accept payment from another labourer and a boatman would not accept payment from another boatman.

Lord Ram responded that He and the boatman were not in the same profession. To which, the boatman further explained that both of them did the same service. The boatman ferried people from one shore to another and Lord Ram ferried people across the ocean of this world (bhavsaagar) during the journey of life. The boatman further said that if Lord Ram did not want to feel obligated to him, He can pay His debt by taking the boatman across the ocean of world.

Since Fida Hussain acted in this film, it is apparent that the song was picturised on him. Incidentally, the role of Fida Hussain in the film was that of a Hindu Commander to the Muslim King.

With this song, ‘Khudai Khidmatgar’ (1937) makes its debut on our blog.

[Author’s Note: Acknowledgements: The bio sketch of Pandit Radheshyam Kathavaachak is based on the English translation of his autobiography ‘Mera Natak Kaal’ (1957), incorporated in the book, ‘Stages of Life – Indian Theatre Autobiographies’ (2011) by Kathryn Hansen; plus inputs from a couple of articles on him which appeared in Hindi/English newspapers.]

Song – Ye Suna Hai Maine Jaadu Hai Raja Ji Ke Pad Pankaj Mein (Khudai Khidmatgaar) (1937) Singer – Master Fida Hussain, Lyrics – Radheyshyam Kathaavaacha, MD – Nagar Das Nayak
Unidentified Male Voice


kevat yun kehne lagaa..aa
zara sakuch ke saath
kehni to hai baat par
kahi na jaati naath
ye suna hai maine jaadoo hai
raja ji ke pad pankaj mein
raja ji ke pad pankaj mein
pathhar mein jaan daalne ki
hai shakti mahaan charan raj mein
jo hai so. . .
ramji ki ichchaa se phir kya hua
nahi jab tak charan loon pakhaar
chadhaaun na raja
chaahe roothho karo chaahe pyaar
chadhaaun na raja
rahe jo bhed to howe mujhe aadi ganga
tumhaare mere hain dono ke agaadi ganga
ghule jab tak na mann ka vikaar
chadhaaun na raja
jo hai so phir kyaa hua?
tab shri ramchandra ji ne kaha
kaho tumhaara jaaye yadi
sanshay isi prakaar
to hum bhi taiyyaar hain
lo ye charan pakhaar
unn charon kaa mal kyaa dhoya
dhoya kevat ne mal apna
kar liya janm janmaantar tak
us kevat ne ujawwal apna
jo charan anekon tap kar ke
muniyon ko drishti na aaate hain
kyaa taajjub hai kevat dwaara
is prakaar dhoye jaate hain
yun hi naavik kar chuka
jab apna uddhaar
jaa pahunchi nauka udhar
ganga ji ke paar
jaa pahunchi nauka udhar
ganga ji ke paar
jaa pahunchi nauka udhar
ganga ji ke paar
kevat ne udhar bida maangi
teenon ko sheesh nawaa kar ke
teenon ko sheesh nawaa kar ke
bhagwaan us samay mann hi mann
rah gaye zara sakucha kar ke
apne swami ki sakuchaahat
jis samay nihaari seeta ne
jis samay nihaari seeta ne
ungli se apni mani mundri
us samay utaari seeta ne
seeta ki mundri lage ae
dene seeta nath
tabhi kahaa mallaah ne
wahin nawaa kar maath
mazdoori to main ne apni
hey nath peshkar le li hai
aur wo bhi apni muhn maangi
apna jee bhar kar le li hai
chuk gayi mazoori jab  meri
to raha aap par bhaar nahi
uddhaar ho gaya jab mera
to kaudi rahi udhaar nahi
main ganga ghaat kaa maanjhi hoon
tum bhavsaagar ke kevat ho
main is dhaara ke teer pe hoon
aur tum us dariya ke tat ho
mazdoor kahin mazdooron ko
mazdoori dete hain bhaiyya
mallaah kahin mallaahon se
mallaahi lete hain bhaiyya
apne ko rini samajhte ho to
rin tum wahin chukaa dena
apne ko rini samajhte ho to
rin tum wahin chukaa dena
maine hai tumko paar kiya
tum mujhko paar lagaa dena
maine hai tumko paar kiya
tum mujhko paar lagaa dena
Hindi script lyrics (Provided by Sudhir)
केवट यूं कहने लगा
ज़रा सकुच के साथ
कहनी तो है बात पर
कही ना जाती नाथ

ये सुना है मैंने जादू है
राजा जी के पद पंकज में
राजा जी के पद पंकज में
पत्थर में जान डालने की
है शक्ति महान चरण राज में

जो हैं सो॰॰॰
रामजी की इच्छा से फिर क्या हुआ

नहीं जब तक चरण लूँ पखार
चढ़ाऊँ ना राजा
चाहे रूठो करो चाहे प्यार
चढ़ाऊँ ना राजा

रहे जो भेद तो होवे मुझे आड़ी गंगा
तुम्हारे मेरे है दोनों के अगाड़ी गंगा
घुले जब तक ना मन का विकार
चढ़ाऊँ ना राजा

जो है सो फिर क्या हुआ

तब श्री रामचंद्रा जी ने कहा
कहो तुम्हारा जाये यदि
संशय इसी प्रकार
तो हम भी तैयार हैं
लो ये चरण पखार

उन चरणों का मल क्या धोया
धोया केवट ने मल अपना
कर लिया जन्म जन्मांतर तक
उस केवट ने उज्ज्वल अपना
जो चरण अनेकों तप कर के
मुनियों की दृष्टि ना आते हैं
क्या ताज्जुब है केवट द्वारा
इस प्रकार धोये जाते हैं

यूं ही नाविक कर चुका
जब अपना उद्धार
जा पहुंची नौका उधर
गंगा जी के पार
जा पहुंची नौका उधर
गंगा जी के पार
जा पहुंची नौका उधर
गंगा जी के पार

केवट ने उधर बिदा मांगी
तीनों को शीश नवा कर के
तीनों को शीश नवा कर के
भगवान उस समय मन ही मन
रह गए ज़रा सकुचा कर के

अपने स्वामी की सकुचाहट
जिस समय निहारी सीता ने
जिस समय निहारी सीता ने
उंगली से अपनी मणि मुद्रि
उस समय उतारी सीता ने

सीता की मुंदरी लगे
देने सीता नाथ
तभी कहा मल्लाह ने
वहीं नवा कर माथ

मजदूरी तो मैंने अपनी
हे नाथ पेशकर ले ली है
और वो भी अपनी मुंह मांगी
अपना जी भर कर ले ली है
चूक गई मजूरी जब मेरी
तो रहा आप पर भार नहीं
उद्धार हो गया जब मेरा
तो कौड़ी रही उधार नहीं

मैं गंगा घाट का मांझी हूँ
तुम भवसागर के केवट हो
मैं इस धारा के तीर पे हूँ
तुम उस दरिया के तट हो

मजदूर कहीं मजदूरों को
मजदूरी देते हैं भैया
मल्लाह कहीं मल्लाहों से
मल्लाही लेते हैं भैया

अपने को ऋणी समझते हो तो
ऋण तुम वहीं चुका देना
अपने को ऋणी समझते हो तो
ऋण तुम वहीं चुका देना
मैंने है तुमको पार किया
तुम मुझको पार लगा देना
मैंने है तुमको पार किया
तुम मुझको पार लगा देना

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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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