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20 September 2011

Word Play: Raat

Chalk it up (or down) to boredom, but I wanted another way to categorise my favourite songs than just by genres. So, instead of ‘My favourite songs of waiting’ or ‘My favourite raja-rani songs’ I cast about for another way to list them. And of course, I like making things difficult for myself. So, I wondered: Hindi film songs use certain words more than most. Why not find a way of listing my favourite songs that contain a particular word? To narrow my choices (and hence double my effort) I decided to limit it to songs that had the particular word not just in the mukhda itself, but began (mostly) with the word I chose. (Preludes to songs didn't count.)

So, first, I needed to choose a word with which to begin this series.  Since I began drafting this post in the night, that was almost too easy by association. Right now, in the North-East of the US, it is a crisp, cold autumn night, even though, officially, summer is not yet over. And as I sit here, looking out of the window, I can see the fog settle damply on the fields behind our house. There is a waning moon throwing dark shadows, as the trees and tall grasses sway in the light, chill breeze. 

I have spent many nights alone, working. It’s my favourite time of the day. Chores done, household put to bed, everything cleared up, and then there’s just me, my laptop, my notebook and my thoughts. Sometimes, they scare me, these thoughts of mine; sometimes, they sadden me, grieve me beyond tears; sometimes, it’s only the night that can bring solace, its darkness enveloping me – it’s also my favourite time to walk outside. The world changes in the moonlight – everything seems clearer, yet half-hidden, and more mysterious.

Raat. Ratri. Ratiya. Raina. Night. Glorious night. Silent night. The word has so many different associations in song, so many emotions entangled with this one word. What a wonderful way to explore them. 

1. Raaton ke saaye ghane (Annadaata / 1972/ Asit Sen / Salil Choudhary)
In a feel-good story about a disillusioned millionaire (Om Prakash) who sets out incognito, and runs into people who are helpful for no other motivation than that they are good at heart, this song stands out as the one song which talks of despair. The responsibilities of the little household that includes her polio-afflicted brother are on her seemingly frail shoulders, but Aarti (Jaya Bhaduri) has been managing as cheerfully as she can after her father’s death. She has even taken in an itinerant stranger, who, she feels needs looking after, much to the disapproval of Arun (Anil Dhawan), the man she loves (and who loves her). Whatever little she has is happily apportioned between the three of them. Yet there are times when the darkness never seems to lift, and even she feels like giving up. This is one of those times.

2. Raat kali ek khwaab mein aayi (Buddha Mil Gaya / 1971 / Hrishikesh Mukherjee / RD Burman)
A comedy-romance-suspense thriller from Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Buddha Mil Gaya narrates the story of two shiftless young men Ajay and Bhola (Navin Nischol and Deven Verma), who are on the verge of being thrown out of their rented house by their exasperated landlady (Lalita Pawar). So far, it has only been the good offices of their landlady’s granddaughter Deepa (Archana), who is in love with Ajay, that has kept them safe. The two set out to make money quick by trying to find a man who has been advertised as lost; only, each time they try to find the man who has put in the ad, someone winds up dead. And they are always on the spot of the crime! This song comes as some light-hearted relief, because Deepa is angry with Ajay for not having any time to spend with her. He has a small job teaching music, and she is angry that his student flirts with him; he never seems to sing for her, not in sur anyway. This is his way of trying to get back into her good graces.

3.  Raat ke musafir, chanda mujhe batade (Miss Mary / 1957 / LV Prasad / Hemant Kumar Mukherjee)
I must confess I cheated a little here. The song is not about the night as much as it is about the moon – the night visitor. But, hey, the word is there, and it’s a beautiful song, and…

It’s a perpetual battle of the sexes in Miss Mary, as Mary (Meena Kumari) and Arun (Gemini Ganesan) navigate the obstacle course that is their life; the spectre of unemployment forces the two of them to pretend they are married, since their employer insists only on hiring married couples. And since Arun did not impress Mary at their first meeting, their private conversations are fraught, though they have to keep up the pretence in public. Only, Mary is beginning to fall in love with Arun and is not too sure how to handle her nascent emotions, and their employer’s daughter flirting with Arun. Arun, poor fellow, is beginning to wonder if even a job is worth staying with a woman who is blowing hot and cold all the time, and sulking marvellously at others. Therefore…

4. Raat ne kya kya khwaab dikhaaye (Ek Gaon Ki Kahani / 1957 / Dulal Guha / Salil Choudhary)
One of Salilda’s best scores, and that is saying a lot considering the master’s immense contributions. While Talat Mahmood first sang for Salil Choudhary in Awaaz in 1956 (the beautiful duet with Lata, Dil deewana, dil mastana maane na), the songs in this film would see Talat soar to new heights as a singer. It is important to note that this was one of his last few films as an actor. He plays a doctor who is posted to a little village, where he meets Jaya (Mala Sinha); the two are attracted to each other, but there some teeny-weeny problems. Viz., Jaya’s father, Gokul (IS Johar) who wants her to marry Shiv, the son of the local money-lender; an old woman (Lalita Pawar) who wants Jaya to marry her already-married son, Ratan (Abhi Bhattacharya), because his wife is (presumably) barren; a marriage that is fixed, an abduction, and so on and so forth. Especially so on and so forth. What is the good doctor to do now? Why, take the tonga back to the station, of course, while Jaya weeps helplessly behind bars (well, of her windows, of course). Now, why he couldn’t have taken a leaf out of Ratan’s book and done some abducting of his own, I will never understand. After all, the maiden is willing.

5. Raat ka sama, jhoome chandrama (Ziddi / 1964 / Pramod Chakravorty / SD Burman)
Ashok (Joy Mukherjee) is a writer at heart, but of course, his father does not think that that constitutes ‘work’. While visiting his publisher, Ashok comes across the photo of a beautiful girl, whose father is looking for an estate manager. Having lost his heart to the photograph, off Ashok goes in search of chokri and naukri and a story. Asha (Asha Parekh) is  very pretty of course, but she is also spoilt, and quite frankly, gets very irritating very soon. Their first meeting does not go quite as Ashok would have wished, and Asha shows no signs of warming to him, but Ashok is nothing if not persevering. However, even he can get frustrated, as Asha all but challenges him – in public. 

5. Raat bhi kuch bheegi bheegi (Mujhe Jeene Do / 1963 / Moni Chatterjee / Jaidev) 
Mujhe Jeene Do was probably the most realistic cinematic description of dacoits’ lives and was an engrossing tale of their struggle for survival. They are shown as they are: harsh men in a harsh land, whose basic humanity has been smothered under the crimes they commit. Certainly, dacoit Jarnail Singh (Sunil Dutt) is not a man given to undue examination of his motives. He is what he is: a ruthless murderer, who has learnt that to kill or be killed is the only way to live his life. Even his loving is done much the same way – seeing Chameli (Waheeda Rehman) dance at a village wedding, he is attracted to her, and ends up abducting her after the performance. And she is a prostitute – there is no whitewashing here –she is not the ‘golden-hearted virginal tawaif who “only sells her voice and her art, not her body” ‘ trope that is so beloved of our cinema. She is also struggling to make her livelihood in a male-dominated society that can see a woman only as an object; and she does what she has to, to survive. Only, she is also an emotionally strong woman, and does not bow down to Jarnail Singh – and yes, prostitute though she was, he still has to woo her to win her love.

6. Raat aur din diya jale (Raat aur Din /1967 / Satyen Bose / Shankar-Jaikishen) 
What does one do when the love of one’s life seems to be living a double life? And what does one do when one meets a young man who claims that your wife is his lover? Should be a warning, no? not to go around proposing marriage to women you meet on stormy nights? Obviously, Pratap (Pradeep Kumar) hasn’t heeded this very sensible dictum, and is now paying the price. Having run into Varuna (Nargis) on aforesaid dark, stormy night, he sends a proposal of marriage to her through proper channels; the marriage soon takes place, and then disturbing things begin to happen in this psychological thriller. Varuna is never home at night; when her husband follows her, he finds her drunk, dancing in nightclubs with strange men, one of whom claims to be her boyfriend. And insists that her name is Peggy. When confronted by this, Varuna denies everything. So, who is insane here? Pratap? Or Varuna? Neither? Or both? 

7. Raat bhar ka hai mehmaan andhera (Sone Ki Chidiya / 1958 / Shaheed Latif / OP Nayyar)
The rags-to-riches story of an orphan Lakshmi (Nutan) who finds out after becoming a famous filmstar that she is only worth the money she brings in to people she considers her own. Exploited by her family, who live off her earnings, she seeks love in a journalist Amar, who comes to interview her. And it seems like that love is reciprocated. Only, Amar too has feet of clay, and poor Lakshmi is left bereft when she waits a whole night for him to come fetch her with only the clothes on her back. This is a shock and there is more to follow. A grief-stricken Lakshmi cannot take it any more and steals away in the dead of the night to end it all. Only to be stopped short by a song, the words of which seem especially meaningful to one who has given up all hope. It’s a song of awakening, a song that tells a despairing Lakshmi that it's darkest before dawn, that the morning is near, and that a new life is awaiting her - if only she will take it. It’s a song that gives Lakshmi strength to draw back, and to live.

8. Ruk jaa raat thehar jaa re chanda (Dil Ek Mandir /1963 / CV Sridhar / Shankar-Jaikishen) 
This was a three-handkerchief-tearjerker, for sure, and this was a mixed bag from the usually dependable Shankar-Jaikishen, with songs that ranged from the sublime to the sort that sounded like they were bored out of their head.

Remade from Tamil (Nenjil Oru Aalayam), the film narrated the story of two lovers, Dr Dharmesh (Rajinder Kumar) and Sita (Meena Kumari), who are unfortunately victims of the strange train we call life. When they made their promises of ‘ever after’ neither knew a time would come when they would have to meet as strangers. Dr Dharmesh returns from abroad to realise that Sita has been married off; heartbroken, he throws himself into his work at a cancer clinic. Years later, fate brings the two together. Sita’s husband, Ram (Raj Kumar) is critically ill, and has to be operated upon. Sita has made the best of what life has offered her, and is upset to see that Dharmesh hasn’t moved on; however, his still engaged emotions makes her fear for her husband’s life. Will Dharmesh be able to put his emotions aside?

This is the night before the operation, and Sita knows the morrow could spell disaster in more ways than one. If she could, she would push back the morning as much as possible.   

9. Raat ke humsafar (An Evening in Paris / 1967 / Shakti Samanta / Shankar-Jaikishen) 
Now, how can I have a list of songs, and not sneak in a Shammi song? And this is perfect! It’s Paris, the city of love, Shyam /Sam (Shammi) and Roopa (Sharmila Tagore) meet, fight, and Sam spends oodles of time wooing her despite her stated disinterest; now, she is (finally) in love… (As an aside, I wonder if a generation of men learnt how NOT to take ‘NO’ for an answer from a woman, because of Shammi!) But oh, the song, is so, so beautiful; and what better way to spend the night than to walk with your lover, hand in hand around a deserted city under the warm light of the stars and a benevolent moon? This is a romantic night, and a sensuous one; two beautiful people in love, and who cares what the morrow will bring?

10. Raaton ko jab neend ud jaaye (Mem Didi / 1961 / Hrishikesh Mukherjee / Salil Choudhary) 
A tiny gem of a movie, with no known ‘stars’, and a handful of characters, it’s a shame that Mem Didi is not known as well as it should be. In a film that was dominated by Lalita Pawar in the eponymous role, ably supported by a flamboyant Jayant and a more-reserved David, Tanuja was there to provide the love interest, and a bit of comedy. Rita (Tanuja) has nary a thought in her head other than enjoying herself thoroughly. She loves her old nanny, but is unaware that the latter is working herself to the bone in order to keep her at her exclusive finishing school. And there in the village, Mem Didi has had her moeny stolen and is at her wits' end to find enough to pay Rita's fees in time and to keep Rita from knowing the truth about her family. Tanuja was required to be sparkly and effervescent and she suited the role admirably.

If I were to add all the songs where raat appears somewhere in the song, not just the mukhda, this post would be many hundred songs long. As it is, having restricted myself to the first or second placement of my chosen word, I limited the number of songs available to me - missing out on Yeh hawa, yeh raat, yeh chandni; Yeh raatein, yeh mausam, nadi ka kinara, and many others of its ilk. However, rest assured: there are always genres, words, categories in which these songs will fit, and many more lists to form and savour. Many more songs to hum, many more movies to watch. Life is good.


  1. As soon as I read that bit about the theme of this list being 'raat' - and songs that began with that word - I thought of 'Raat ke humsafar' and 'Raat kali ik khwaab mein aayi'. Two of my favourite songs. :-) I did wonder whether you'd include 'Ruk jaa raat thehar jaa re chanda', considering it doesn't actually begin with 'raat'... but glad to see you included it anyway!

    Lovely list, and one song there (the first one) that I hadn't heard before. Thank you!

    Okay, here's another 'raat' song. One of my favourites, too: 'Raat akeli hai bujh gaye diye', from Jewel Thief:


    And, very different from the others on your list - more recent too, though it's still from the 70s: 'Raat baaki baat baaki', from Namakhalal:


  2. Interesting way to select songs. I think it may not be as difficult as 'fruits' :)
    'raat kali ek...' was the first song to come to my mind.
    Raat bhi hai kuch...what a wonderful song and Waheeda looks great.
    Raat bhar ka hai mehman was new to me.

    Besides the songs mentioned here two more come to mind. Both by Mukesh.
    from Hum Hindustani. I can see where Salman took his shirtless cue from ;-). Helen of course in a different avatar altogether.


    From Aah


  3. OK two more :) ... new ones.

    I quite like this song from Ashoka (liked the film too) 'raat ka nashaa abhi'


    And this from refugee 'raat ki hatheli par'.


  4. I'd put in Raat Akeli Hai in my original list, but then I *really, really* wanted to include 'Ruk Jaa Raat', and besides, I've another use for the Jewel Thief number. ;) So...

    I'm surprised that you haven't heard 'Raat ke Saaye Ghane'. I know the film is not as well-known, but I thought the song was? Glad I introduced you to it, then. :)

    Namak Halal was in 1982, Madhu. Believe me, I probably know things about Amitabh Bachchan that he does not know himself! LOL. That is how crazy I used to be, about him. I think the deewanapan is slightly toned down now I am *sigh* 'getting on in years' but still :)) And I actually like that song! I think Asha has done a wonderful job with that one. And of course, one got to see Parveen Babi sashaying, and Shashi Kapoor - added bonuses.

  5. pacifist, definitely NOT as difficult as 'fruits'. I have to admire Harvey for *that* list!

    You know, 'Raat Andheri' had completely slipped my mind! :( I would have loved to have put Raj Kapoor in to the list; much the same way I keep adding Shammi Kapoor to every list I can. And the song from Hum HIndustani - I'd it on my list, but for some reason, YouTube wouldn't pull up a video. Helen looks so, so beautiful.

    Heh to the shirtless bit; I must confess that I think Salman looks better! :) But this must have caused a furore in them thaar days, no? Very 'modern'. And does Helen come to a bad end in this too?

  6. I liked the visuals in Ashoka, and it was watchable, I think that's as far as I am willing to go. But Refugee is another thing altogether - I thought the movie was really good. And Kareena has never looked as luminous as she did in her first film. The slightly plumper look really suits her; her 'size zero' made her look gaunt and skeletal.

    Even the songs - I liked 'Raat ke Hatheli Par' better, but then I could be biased because I *hated* the visuals of Raat ka Nasha Abhi.

    Thanks for the Refugee number; I haven't heard it for a very long time - brought back memories. :)

  7. Have you heard this one from Baabla? Circa 1953, I think. SD Burman and Lata sounds very different from her usual self.

    And this.

    I am trying to embed a link into my comments - hopefully it will work. Otherwise I will post the links again.

  8. Oops, just thought that that might not be what you are referring to. I wasn't thinking of Harvey's list when I was looking for a way to organise my favourite songs. Though I suppose they are similar in a way. Only, I think his lists (both fruits and flowers) are more inspired. For me, this is just a category; I could have called it 'My favourite songs of the night' or something.

  9. *rubbing hands in glee* Another set of songs, some of which are new to me. I don't care how you categorize your songs, Anu, just keep posting them! I have put Annadata on my 'to-watch' list ever since you posted it on Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

    And pacifist, thanks for the number from Ashoka - I haven't seen the movie, and I think the only song I've ever heard from it is 'San sananan'.

  10. Anu, what a lovely collection. I'm glad you post these lists ever so often. There are some songs here that are new to me - like dustedoff, I do not remember having heard 'Raaton ke saaye ghane' before. And 'Raaton ke jab neend ud jaaye' is also new, having never seen Mem Didi. You have been recommending it so much I have been searching for a copy ever since your Hrishikesh Mukherjee post. Tanuja looks so pretty in the video, doesn't she? And so young.

  11. Always at your service. :) If you want song lists, go over to Madhu's. She has enough to keep you happy for a long time.

  12. I'm glad you liked them, Ruhi. I like it when people add their own favourite songs to my list (like dustedoff and pacifist have done). I have come across some real gems that way, songs I've never heard before. And it's a shame, you know. Some of the most beautiful songs are languishing in B-grade and C-grade movies because the movies were (deservedly) flops.

  13. I got held up reading your husband's 'poem' but this post was so worth the wait, Anu. What lovely songs! And Salil da. What a man. Oh, do do a post on the man. Please. You still haven't done a post on Devsaab, so you owe me one.

  14. I will, Sridhar. But have some patience. :) Can you imagine what it will be like to have to sift through Salil da's entire oeuvre? And to condense that into *one* post??

  15. Ouch! I didn't even bother to check when Namakhalal was released - somehow I always tend to associate Parveen Babi only with the 70s.

    BTW, here's another, from the somewhat unusual Bandish. A lullaby, this time:


  16. Yes, there was definitely something odd going on at your blog yesterday - it kept prompting me to put in random letters to confirm I'm not a spamming tool, but human. I did wonder what was wrong! I hope this one shows up fine.

  17. Okay, this one did. Your earlier comment is still showing up on my dashboard as 'Published' though, along with a few other comments made around the same time (*and* my replies). Wonder just where Blogger published them...

  18. ... and I've just noticed that my comment on your husband's superb poetry too got gobbled up somewhere along the way... :-(

  19. I'm going to cut and paste it from my dashboard if you don't mind, Madhu. I liked your 'simbly' fantastic comment, and it deserves to be there. :) By the way, there is another lament up. He does do a lot of lamenting, actually. Hmm...

  20. *blush*

    Didn't know you were praising me here!!!

    I find Joy shirtless/topless much better than Salman. Salman's toplessnes has this steroid smack to it! Joy looks, well, like the boy next door, so natural.
    wonder what DO says to this. She is such a big fan of Joy!

  21. Raat baaki, baat baki was so popular in those days!
    I remember listening to it with my cousins day in and day out!

  22. Haan ji, aapki taareefon ke pul baandhe rahe the hum! :) Seriously, though, I love the unique themes you choose for your lists.

    Hey, I like Joy Mukherjee too. :) Of all the Shammi wannabes, he was the one, I thought came closest to the ideal. And he was a reasonably competent actor, unlike the others. But Salman. Uff! :)

  23. Of course, it was! I love that song, *and* the picturisation! Parveen Babi had oomph. And screen presence. And was *very* easy on the eyes. :)

  24. love each and every song on this list! Difficult not to do it. In fact two of them are on my chandaa list as well!

    BTW isn't it raat kali ek khwab me aayi?
    somehow the song 'Raat bhar ka hai mehmaan andhera' gives me the goosebumps. I know it is a song full of hope but it has more than halo of despair to it,at least for my ears!
    Love the way you have chosen different flavours of raat songs. One that of waiting would be 'aaj ki raat koi aane ko hai re baba from Anamika
    Helen looks like a candy in wrapper, but the song is great, with the typical Pancham prelude to it!

    Another song which I like alot is 'Aadhi raat jab chand dhale' from Paheli with Gulzar's lyrics

    A song with classical base and of very dark night shade is 'Aap ki yaad aati rahi' from Gaman with music by Jaidev! Love this!

    Another Pancham song on raat with phahadi touch to it, which I love is 'bhegi, bheegi raaton me' from Ajnabee http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEwvZvg6Bd4

    And two from Raj Kapoor films:
    Ab raat guzarne wali hai from Awara

    Yeh raat bheegi, bheegi from Chori chori

    I know, I haven't abided b your rule of starting the song with the word raat, but I just got carried away! I hope you forgive me that! :-)

  25. Those rules are only for me, Harvey, don't worry. :) And besides, you posted some wonderful songs, who cares if they begin with 'Raat' or not? The song from Gaman was 'somewhat new' for me - I mean, I'd heard it before, but so long back that I had no clue about the song when I saw it in your post. It's only when I heard it that I remembered it. Wonderful, wonderful song! Thank you.

    Beheegi Bheegi raaton mein is such a fun number, and a 'baarish' song too. I *love* all the songs from Paheli. Actually, I love the film too. One of the few people who do, I am guessing.

  26. I like Paheli too!
    Lovely tale with a REAL happy ending!
    I also liked the fact that women haven't been portrayed as their worst enemy and that the heroine was allowed to have sex with another 'man' and know it and still be allowed to survive the end AND be happy with her paramour!
    Wow like WOW!

    I don't know why they needed the camel race but such things are nitpicking!

  27. Normally I don't like Joy, but here he looks so approachable without his cocky attitude in most films!
    But it is good we differ in our choice of men, we will never fight over them! :-)

  28. Yes, that is *exactly* the reason why I liked it! I really liked how her mother-in-law comforts her in the end. LO @ the camel race! Maybe that will be my next review...

  29. Harvey, *that's* a good way of looking at it! You can have Joy, with my love. :) (Allow me to steal that line about never fighting over men if we have different choices...)

  30. Oh, I didn't see your correction. It is indeed Raat kali ik khwaab mein aayi. Can't think how I made that mistake. *scurries off to edit*

  31. I just saw this post - great topic! And a great collection of songs! Nights are my favorite time of the day (??) - the whole house goes to sleep, the dishwasher hums in the background, and I listen to old songs, go through Atul's blog, or just read a book or work on some sewing project with music in the background. It goes back to my college days when I found studying late at night worked well for me since everyone would be fast asleep and I could concentrate better. Later, somebody moved into one of the flats next door and would whistle these old songs and I would lie awake in bed, hoping he would whistle just one more song!
    Here is a "raat" song on Raj Kapoor and Nargis:

    The video is a little fuzzy but the audio is still good.

  32. Lalitha, thank you. Same reaction here (to the nights). It's just so peaceful. It's also my favourite time to walk outside. main aur meri tanhai. :) Yeah, for some inexplicable reason, I missed the RK song.

  33. Very nice compilation of older melodies. The Salil C masterpiece is removed in YT - here is the link - http://www.esnips.com/displayimage.php?album=3175138&pid=25590632&uid=701748 [ref: Raaton ko jab neend ud jaaye (Mem Didi / 1961 / Hrishikesh Mukherjee / Salil Choudhary) ]

  34.  Thank you. And thanks for pointing out that the YouTube links need to be updated. I will remedy the matter right now.

  35. I used to play this game with friends in class or at my desk (it goes well with routine jobs which don't need much thought). Raat is a favourite word, then you have "dil", "dard", "zindagi", "chand", etc., etc.. Then you have the  rarer words like "balma", "saavan",.... the list is endless.

  36.  Yes, I love Paheli too. In fact I watch it again and again once in a while. It's colourful and fun and the girl comes out on top. A real feel-good film.

  37.  I just realised that I haven't explored this genre of collating songs beyond this post. :)

  38.  Yes, Nalini, a very rare occurrence in Hindi films.

  39. May I add:

    Raat Suhani Jhoome - Raani Rupmati- S N Tripathi - Lata Mangeshkar - http://youtu.be/d9za5NUvoKk

    Raat Ka Sama Jume Chandrama - Ziddi - SDB - Lata Mangeshkar - http://youtu.be/4Czen9EcShw

    Raat Suhani Jaag Rahi Hai - Jigri Dost - Laxmikant Pyarelal - Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar - http://youtu.be/mfOBa1u4Gus

  40. *slaps forehead* How could I have forgotten Raat ka sama?? Thank you for adding that to the list, Ashokji. Raat suhani is a 'new' old song; I haven't heard it for a long, long time and it completely slipped my mind. So also Raat suhaani jaag rahi hai. The picturisation is awful, isn't it? for such a lovely slow song?


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