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14 November 2015

My Favourites: Children's Songs

Photo Courtesy: Tribune India
Today, the late Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday, is celebrated as Children's Day (in India). While I've happily ignored it these years past, the thought crossed my mind that I might do a post. The question was, what? Should I write about a children's movie? I haven't seen any lately that would fit the day and/or theme. I am not usually a great fan of children in movies - they are preternaturally diabetic, overly precocious, and I want to drown all of them - but there have been some good songs picturised on them, either where they are singing, or having it sung to them. Not necessarily patriotic songs, since I've already done a post on my favourites on that theme, but songs that are picturised on children. For the purposes of this post, I'm sticking to songs that are sung by children on screen. (Doing so, however, has robbed me of one of my favourite songs - Chal mere ghode tik tik tik from Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan.)

Here, in no particular order, are some of my favourite 'children's songs' sung by children on screen. (Songs sung to children will be another post altogether.) And strangely enough, though I did not plan it this way, many of the songs I chose have children singing for children.

1. Nanha munna raahi hoon 
Son of India (1962)
Singer: Shanti Mathur
Music: Naushad
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Why not start with a 'patriotic' song after all? This song, I remember, was a favourite of Doordarshan - they played it every single Children's Day. And perhaps because we weren't so far away from our independence when this film was made, there was still a notion that our country is destined for great things, there was still pride in being, well, the 'son of India'. The song is picturised on a young Sajid Khan, the adopted son of Mehboob Khan, the director. Sajid had made his debut as a child artiste in Mother India (he played the young Birju) and while his Hindi film career didn't quite take off, he had quite a successful innings in the US after the success of Maya in 1966, which was followed by a successful TV series of the same name. A couple of other TV serials followed, as also a short-lived but reasonably successful singing career. The song was sung by Shanti Mathur, herself a child then. When I was looking for the links to this song, I came across a clip of Shanti Mathur singing Nanha munna raahi hoon at a private function that someone had uploaded on YouTube.
 
2. Moochwale dada golmol daadi
Hum Kahan Jaa Rahe Hain (1966)
Singer: Usha Mangeshkar
Music: Basant Prakash
Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi   
Okay, this is one of the children (on-screen) whom I would have wanted to throw off the train. My sympathies are wholly with Leela Mishra. But the song itself, sung by Usha Mangeshkar and picturised on Master Raja (he of the 'Moppet Raja' fame, though he doesn't seem very 'moppet-ish' here), is a rollicking song, and the youngest of the Mangeshkar sisters has thrown herself into singing it with vim and verve. The film, quite an obscure one even though it was directed by Nitin Bose, is nothing much to speak of, and featured two actors I haven't heard of - Prakash and Neena. Searching for this song, however, led me to another reasonably pleasant song Rafta rafta sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle. The music director is Basant Prakash, younger brother of Khemchand Prakash.

3. Aingan baingan
Duniya Na Mane (1959)
Singer: Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
Can you imagine ghazal king Madan Mohan composing a song like this? Picturised on Mohan Choti who leads a whole platoon of pre-teens and adolescents in song about how the world belongs to their fathers, not just anyone else. (In case anyone else thinks otherwise.) I don't know why anyone would think that adult female voices would be a good fit for a teenage male, but it is Asha Bhosle and Shamshad Begum who do the honours. I also don't know who the young boy in this song is, though the film's credits list a Master Bhagwan. (But the link takes us to Bhagwan, the adult actor, who was in his 40s by then.) 

4. O albele panchhi tera
Devdas (1955)
Singer: Usha Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
This is another song which has adults singing for children. On screen is Baby Naaz and Baby Chaand (yes, it's a girl who plays the young Devdas on screen), and singing for them are Usha Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.  What I love about this song is its simplicity, both in the composition and in the picturisation - two young children, friends, who are enjoying nature and the countryside with an innocence that only childhood can bring. They do not know that life - as they know it - will change; at this moment, all they want is for the bird, which flew away upon their arrival, to come home with them. I like how the 'boy', older than his little companion, corrects her lyrics for her, though she is completely engrossed in the bird.

5. Naani teri morni ko more le gayi
Masoom (1960)
Singer: Ranu Mukherjee
Music: Hemant Kumar
Lyrics: Shailendra
This was the only song in the film that was composed by Hemant Kumar; Robin Bannerjee composed the rest of the score. Picturised on a very young Honey Irani, the song was sung by an even younger Ranu Mukherjee, Hemant Kumar's daughter. This was the first song that Ranu ever sang in films; I read somewhere that she was only two years old when she recorded this song, but I haven't been able to confirm that. I must confess to feeling a tad disbelieving of that claim, so if anyone has any information at all about the song and the singer, please do post it in the comments.

6. Kaali re kaali re
Minoo (1977)         
Singer: Antara Choudhary
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Yogesh
From the daughter of one Bengali music director, to the daughter of another... Antara Choudhary sings for Baby Munmun, under the baton of her father, Salil Choudhary. The simple story of a little girl who waits eagerly for her mother to come home from hospital with a younger brother, the off-beat film dealt with the changes in her life when her mother dies, and her father remarries. Little Minoo's only friend is her black goat, in whom she confides all her secrets. Eventually, the little girl runs away from home, and has to go through many vicissitudes before she's finally reunited with her family. It's an obscure film and wasn't very successful though Kaali re kaali re made a frequent appearance on the filmi music programmes on the radio.

7. Lakdi ki kaati
Masoom (1983)
Singers: Vanita Mishra, Gurpreet Kaur, Gauri Bapat
Music: RD Burman
Lyrics: Gulzar
The indigenised version of Eric Segal's Man, Woman and Child, the film, which was the directorial debut of Shekhar Kapur, was a clever adaptation, and one which was better than the source material. I remember reading an interview where Shekhar Kapur said that he wanted 'child actors who acted like normal children'. Well, he certainly got them - if you look closely, you can spot Urmila (on the right) and Jugal Hansraj. Urmila especially had an extremely successful career as an adult, while Jugal became forever enshrined as the 'Complan Boy'. Playing their younger sister is Aradhana. In tune with Shekhar's wish to make the children as normal as possible, the song was sung by three kids - and very well, too. Lakdi ki kaati was a very popular song when I was in school.  

8.  Tumhi ho maata pita tumhi ho
Main Chup Rahoongi (1962)
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Chitragupt
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishan
We are back to having adults sing for children, but this is a beautiful bhajan, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and picturised on Babloo. A remake of Kalathur Kannamma (which had the distinction of being a young Kamal Hassan's debut in films - he was 4.) which was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful was remade in many languages. The Hindi version saw Meena Kumari take on Savitri's role in the original, while Sunil Dutt played the role that Gemini Ganesan enacted. A three-handkerchief tearjerker, the movie was about 'nobody's child' - a child growing up in an orphanage, even though both his parents were alive. The film may not have been all that great, but Chitragupt composed some terrific songs for this film including Chand jaane kahan kho gaya and Koyi bata de dil hai kahan.

9. Daadi amma daadi amma maan jao
Gharana
Singers: Asha Bhosle, Kamal Barot
Music: Ravi
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Lalitha Pawar is the domineering matriarch (what is new?) who is sulking because something is not going her way for once. She shuts herself in her room, refusing even to eat. Little does she realise that her grandchildren (Moppet Raju and Master Randeep)  are not going to let her get away with her tantrums. They walk in and do everything they can to coax their grandmother out of her sulks, including teasing her and making fun of her, even making faces at her to get her to smile. And of course, which grandmother can resist her grandchildren?

10. Masterji ki aa gayi chithi
Kitaab (1977)
Singers: Padmini and Shivangi Kolhapure
Music: RD Burman 
Lyrics: Gulzar
This song has already made an appearance on this blog, in my post on 'letters in verse'. Gulzar appeared to have a knack of understanding the minds and worlds of children. The kids in his movies behaved like normal children - they were cute, they were mischievous, they were irritating, they could be pests... And so we have Master Raju who is sent to live with his sister (Vidya Sinha) and brother-in-law (Uttam Kumar) in the city so he can get a good education. When he realises that he is, horror of horrors, expected to actually study, he feels that no one understands children, and decides to run away. But before that, he and Master Tito, who's his best friend, have a lot of fun doing what children do - roam around the streets, get up to mischief, make fun of their teacher...Do you remember how you behaved when the teacher left you alone for a while? So too, here. After shooting paper aeroplanes, talking and laughing, the children let their imaginations run riot. If their Masterji received a letter, how would it read?

Do you have any favourite songs that have been picturised solely on children, as in - they are the ones singing? Feel free to post them in the comments.  

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