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06 September 2014

Festival Songs

Work has been rather hectic these past months, but it was with chagrin that I realised that I had completely missed celebrating both Ashtami Rohini (Janmashtami) and Ganesh Chaturthi  this year. That got me feeling very nostalgic about my childhood when my friends and I celebrated everything that we could celebrate, whether those festivals were ours to celebrate or not. I grew up in Bangalore. Well, in Madras as well, but we had moved to Bangalore when I was 7, and so, for the longest of time, Bangalore was 'home'. (Until I moved to Bombay after my marriage, and that became 'home' forever more.)

I always associate Indian festivals with their legends and myths and the food rather than their rituals. So if I ate Sakkarai pongal and vadai with gusto for the festival of Pongal (Harvest Festival, Thai maadham - Mid-January to Mid-February) as a small child in Madras, Bangalore introduced me to Yugadi (Kannada New Year, Chaitra - Mid-March to Mid-April), and Obbattu. It was also Bangalore that introduced me to Lohri (Harvest/Winter Solstice, Paush - Mid-January to Mid-February), Teej (and kheer in the month of Sawan - Mid-July to Mid-August) apart from Diwali (and Kala Jamun), courtesy my Punjabi friends, Asha and Ashwin. 

I became acquainted with the softest, squeakiest Rosogollas and the creamiest Sondesh in Bangalore as well, thanks to Nikhil, whose Bengali roots meant we celebrated Durga Puja (in the month of Ashvin (Mid-September to Mid-October) with great fervour. Basically, I don't think there was a single festival that we left 'un'-celebrated! Christmas and Easter meant Lucy (well, her 'real' name was Chloe, so I don't know why we called her Lucy, but we did) and hot cross buns with oodles of currants, and the sort of dark, fruity, melt-in-the-mouth Christmas cake that (I insist) only the Indian Christians can bake. Eid meant crowding into Nusrat's house for seiviyaan and sheermal. (I didn't eat meat even then, so the wonderful kebabs were wasted on me, but our other friends pigged out.) For Onam and Vishu (the Malayali New Year), of course, I badgered my mother into making semiya payasam or paal payasam for us.

Thinking about Ganesh Chaturthi also brought to mind how my love affair with Ganeshas had begun - my hostel-mate had given me a little carved betel-nut pillayar when we were working in Madras. I used to have to travel a lot, and would come back to my room at all odd hours of the night, depending on when the state transport brought me back, and the pillayar would 'keep me safe', she said. That pillayar was the beginning of my obsession with the elephant-headed god. I have spent the intervening years collecting Ganapatis of various materials, in various sizes. 

It was when I came to Bombay after my marriage that I was introduced to Ganesh Chaturthi - and hot, ghee-soaked Puran Poli and steamed modaks, thanks to Sheela aunty, our neighbour, and Lalita, my husband's friend. (As I said before, festivals meant food. Especially sweets. Lots of sweets.) 

That got me thinking about my next post - Hindi films seem to have songs for every single season. And for every single reason. (And sometimes, for no reason at all.) Why not a post on Festival Songs beginning with this month? After all, Ganesh Chaturthi  usually heralds a long period of festivities in India. So what better time than now? 

Since I had already done a post on Holi, and New Year's, I began looking for songs that celebrated other festivals, and to my delight, there are plenty. Here, in order of the festivals (from this month on) are my selections. 

1. Navratri (Ashvin - September/October) (September 2014) - A spirited nine-day festival to celebrate the nine forms of the Mother Goddess. In Kerala, my home state, the last three days of Navaratri - Ashtami, Navami and Dashami are celebrated as Saraswati Puja. The tenth day, Vijayadashami, is also the day of Vidyarambham - the auspicious day that we typically initiate our children into the world of learning. 
  • To celebrate the victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura.
  • To celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana. 
O sheronwawali   
Suhag (1979)
Singers: Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
I was going to choose Jai jai jagadambe mata from Ganga ki Lehren but, kitschy though it is, I love, love, love the vibrancy of O sheronwali. Bonus? It has Amitabh Bachchan. And the dandiya, which is a dance I absolutely love for its colour, its vibrancy, its grace. Plus, this is one song in the film that absolutely drives the narrative forward. The crooks are out to steal the goddess' jewels. Amitabh is forced to help them. Shashi Kapoor, his long-lost brother, is out to stop them. Rekha is there to provide the glamour. And the film, of course, is pure masala, Manmohan Desai-ishtyle.  

2. Diwali (Kartik - October/November) (October 2014) - The festival of lights. The night of Diwali is usually the night of the new moon in the month of Kartik, the darkest night of the month. It is usually celebrated 20 days after Dashami.
  • Celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. 
  •  To welcome Goddess Lakshmi (and prosperity) into the house.
  • To celebrate the return of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana to Ayodhya 
Aayi hai Diwali 
Sheesh Mahal (1950)
Singers: Geeta Dutt, Shamshad Begum
Music: Vasant Desai
Lyrics: Nazim Panipati
Strangely enough, both the songs that were on my shortlist - Lakhon taare aasman pe (Hariyali aur Rasta) and Ek woh bhi diwali thi (Nazrana) were less about celebrating Diwali, and more about bemoaning their fate on the night. This one, though, is a cheery, happy song,  and is perfect for the occasion, even if one of the singers knows that their circumstances are going to change drastically on the morrow. Unable to get her father to see that, she is making the best of her circumstances. After all, what is the sense in mourning over things you cannot change? 

3. Christmas (December 25) - The birth of Jesus Christ. Celebrated all over the world on December 25th. 
  • The birth of the Son of God, who gave his life to redeem the sins of humanity. 
Thomasleeha (1975) 
Singer: KJ Yesudas
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Vayalar
Unfortunately, I didn't come across a single song in Hindi films, past or present, that celebrated Christmas. So, from my native land, here is a beautiful Christian devotional song.  No, it is not about Christmas. It is from a film based on the life of St. Thomas, the apostle. Salil Choudhary re-worked a song for the motherland  that he wrote in Bengali for the IPTA, and Vayalar wrote the lyrics turning it into a song singing of the message of Christ. If you listen carefully, you can hear both Glory Glory Hallelujah, and John Brown's Body. (For some reason, the Tubechop link begins in the middle of the song, when you press 'play'. But if you pull the cursor back to the beginning, you can hear the whole song, beginning with the choral prelude.)

4. Basant Panchami (Magha - January/February) (January 2015) - Spring Festival. Usually celebrated to herald the arrival of Spring, on the fifth day of the month of Magha.
  • Honours Kamadeva, the god of Love, and his wife, Rati Devi. 
  • Celebrated as Saraswati Puja in the eastern parts of the country.
  • Is celebrated as the festival of kites in Punjab.
  • It is considered the beginning of Spring festivities that reach their summation with Holi. 
Aayi jhoomke 
Upkar (1967)
Singers: Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhosle, Shamshad Begum, Manna Dey
Music: Kalyanji Anandji
Lyrics: Prem Dhawan
What better song to celebrate this festival than this peppy number where Manoj 'Bharat' Kumar is less self-righteous and annoying than usual? After all, one can always look at Pran and Asha Parekh. The picturisation is filled with all the colour that is associated with the advent of Spring; and complemented by the dances, the swings, the fair... 

My other choice, Aayi jhoomke bahaar from Insaniyat turned out to not have anything to do with Basant Panchami at all. So you miss seeing a Dev Anand with a mucchad trying hard to look rural.  

5.  Maha Shivratri (Phalguna - February/March) (February 2015) - The night of Shiva - the Hindu God of destruction. Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the 14th night of the New Moon, during the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Phalguna (Phagun).
  • To celebrate the wedding of Shiva with Parvati, Sati re-born.
  • To celebrate Lord Shiva saving the world by drinking the poison churned up during the Samudra Manthan.
  • It is also celebrated as the night when Lord Shiva danced the Tandava, the primordial dance of creation, preservation and destruction. 
Shivji byaahne chali
Munimji (1955)
Singers: Hemant Kumar
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Shailendra
Okay, I cheated a little. This is a stage show. But it is still about the wedding of Shiva and Parvati. Dev Anand, in his titular role as the munimji, is the one narrating the storyof the marriage, from the time Shiva is getting ready, to the wedding procession, and the wedding itself. While Ameeta plays Parvati, the man playing the part of Shiva is Sachin Shankar, a cousin and student of the legendary Uday Shankar. An extremely graceful dancer, as is to be expected - pay attention to the part where he, as Shiva, drinks bhang, and then walks along with his baraat. His steps are extremely fluid. The picturisation is fantastical in the true sense of the word. I love the way Hemant Kumar sang this song, though I must confess that I do not usually associate him with Dev Anand at all. And Shailendra's lyrics aptly describe the wedding. (The only discordant note is Dev Anand with his thick eyebrows and thicker moustache.)

6. Holi (Phalguna - February/March) (March 2015) - The festival of colours. In direct contrast to Maha Shivratri, Holi  is celebrated during the vernal equinox, during the last full moon day in the month of Phagun.
  • The triumph of good over evil. The death of Holika who tried to kill her nephew Prahlada
  • The re-birth of Kamadeva, the God of Love, after he had been burnt to cinders by Shiva's third eye.
  • A celebration of Spring. And love. 
Holi ki aayi bahaar dekho
Anjaan (1956)
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar
Music: Hemant Kumar
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
I already wrote a post on Holi songs, but I couldn't resist adding this song. The film is not exactly famous, but the starcast is not unknown either - Pradeep Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Johnny Walker, Jeevan, etc. It is picturised on Vyjayanthimala, so one can expect some grace. And with Jeevan there, villainy cannot be far behind. So poor Vyjayanthimala gets a stone flung at her head, though I suspect that was meant for Pradeep Kumar. It is a lovely song, though. My other choice for this festival was a more modern one - Holi khele raghuveera avadh mein from Baghban. I decided to stick with the old. 

7. Ram Navami (Chaitra March-April) (March 2015) - The birth of Sri Rama. It is celebrated in the Shukl Paksha (the fortnight between New Moon and Full Moon, i.e., the waxing moon) on the 9th day  of the month of Chaitra, the first month of the Hindu calendar.
  • To celebrate the birth of Sri Rama, who is considered the 7th avatar of Lord Vishnu. 
Ramji ki nikli savari
Sargam (1979)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Strangely, there aren't many Ram Navami songs in Hindi films. I definitely didn't come across any from the 50s or 60s. And I say 'strange' because I would have thought that, with Lord Rama being such a prominent deity in North India, there would be more songs celebrating his birth in Hindi. The Hindi remake of K Vishwanath's Telugu film, Siri Siri Muvva, Sargam saw the debut of Jayaprada, and won music directors Laxmikant-Pyarelal a Filmfare award for their score - all seven songs were sung by Mohammed Rafi (three duets with Lata, and four solos). Much like his father and uncle, Rishi Kapoor too had that innate grace and an inherent sense of music and melody. (Watch him play the daph. He actually looks like he is playing it instead of holding it like a fashion accessory. 

8. Eid ul-fitr (the end of Ramadan) (July 2015) - The Festival of Breaking Fast. Eid-ul-fitr signifies the end of the month of fasting and is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal. Traditionally, it is the day of the first sighting of the cresent moon after sunset after the Ramadan. The months in the Islamic calendar migrate through the seasons, since they follow the lunar calendar, and so Eid-ul-fitr could possibly appear any time during the year. The months begin with the sighting of the crescent of the new moon. It must be noted however, that the 'lesser Eid' as it is known, always appears during the same time in the Islami calendar. The Gregorian calendar will see it appear approximately 11 days prior, each successive year. (And if I have made a mistake about any of this, I hope my Muslim readers will correct me.)
  • According to the Qu'ran, the Prophet is said to have received his revelations during the month of Ramadan. Fasting during this period was made mandatory for adult Muslims in the second year after the migration from Mecca to Medina. 
Dekho, dekho, chand woh nikla pyara
Darwaza (1954)
Singer: Sabita Bannerjee, Suman Kalyanpur, Kamla
Music: Nashad (Shakat Ali Dehlavi)
Lyrics: Vishwamitra Adil
This is the perfect Eid song - from a little-known film and a not-so-well-known music-director - that celebrates the sighting of the crescent moon. The situation is poignant, since Shyama is a widow. She lives with her mother, and is a childhood friend of Shekhar. Shekhar's mother is very fond of her, and Shyama spends a lot of time helping her out. The song is picturised in Shekhar's house, and it is his sister (Manju) and her friends who are celebrating Eid.

9. Raksha Bandhan (Shravan July/August) (August 2015) - The festival of unconditional love between a sister and her brother. Quite literally, the 'knot of protection'. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Shravan (Shravan poornima), and celebrates the bond of love between any man and woman who have a protective brother-sister relationship. 
  • Traditonally, a man who receives a rakhi from a woman, is honour-bound to protect her as he would his sister. 
Meri raakhi ki rakhiyo tu aan re
Naya Kanoon (1964)
Singer: Asha Bhosle
Music: Madan Mohan
Lyrics: Saraswati Kumar Deepak
I was going to post the ubiquitous Raakhi song - Bhaiyya mere, raakhi ke bandhan ko nibhana from Chhoti Bahen, but decided against it. (I don't like the song.) That is when, searching for Raksha Bandhan songs on YouTube, I came across this. Mind you, I have watched this film a long time ago, but it had completely slipped my memory. I'd also forgotten that it was a Madan Mohan tune - which begs the question, why did Madan Mohan always compose for flop films? The film was based on the then-new law that daughters were entitled to an equal share of the family property. So, of course, you can guess that soon after the cinematic expression of long-enduring love between brother and sister, they will have a falling out. 

10. Janmashtami (Bhadrapada August-September) (September 2015) - The celebration of the birth of Sri Krishna. Krishna Janmashtami, or Ashtami Rohini as it is known in Kerala, falls on the eight day (ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (waning moon.  month of Bhadrapada (Chingam), the fifth month in the Hindu calendar (and the first in the Malayalam calendar). 
  • Krishna, the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva, and the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was born on Earth in order to destroy Kamsa, his maternal uncle. 
  • The night of his birth was, according to myth, a stormy one, and Vasudeva had to cross the Yamuna in spate. Strangely enough, to my knowledge, there hasn't been a single Ashtami Rohini when it didn't rain. :)
Govinda aala re aala 
Bluffmaster (1963)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Kalyanji-Anandji
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
A list of songs and no Shammi Kapoor? How can that even be? And this one, the perfect Janmashtami song, with the breaking of the dahi handi to mimic the playfulness of the Lord as a youth. Teams of young men form human pyramids to reach the pot of butter or curd, that is hung high up between buildings, to break it. With Mohammed Rafi singing with his usual verve for Shammi, this song is so closely associated with the festival that even today, the streets of Bombay echo this song every single Janmashtami. 

11. Ganesh Chaturthi (Bhadrapada August-September) (September 2015) - To celebrate the presence of Ganesha on earth. The festival is celebrated on the 4th day of the Shukla Paksha (or the waxing moon) in the month of Bhadrapada. The festival lasts for ten days, ending on Anand Chaturdashi or the 14th day of the waxing moon, when the idol is immersed in water. 
  • Celebrating the Ganesha festival in public arena was popularised by Lokmanya Tilak, who saw a way to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and non-brahmins, and to instil nationalism.
Maha Puja (1954)
Singer: Mohammed Rafi
Music: Avinash Vyas
Lyrics: Ramesh Gupta 
As far as I know, this was not a song written for the movie. This Ganesh aarti predates the song by many years, if not decades. Many artistes have sung this song, in many film and non-film albums over the years. This is the Mohammed Rafi version. As is usually the case when he is singing Bhajans, there is a wealth of devotion in his voice.

Now, because I am a Malayali, and it is Thirivonam tomorrow, I couldn't not add... and of course, the song is from a Malayalam film.  

12. Onam (Chingam August-September) (September 2014) - the rice harvest festival of Kerala, celebrated in Chingam, the first month in the Malayali calendar. It is a ten-day festival that begins on Atham, the 13th nakshatra, and ends on Thiruvonam, the 22nd. It is celebrated across the length and breadth of the state, and by everyone, irrespective of religion, caste or creed (even though the legend behind the festival is a Hindu one). The famous Vallomkali (Snakeboat races) takes place during this period. The festival is also marked by the pookkalam (elaborate floral arrangements), the traditional Onam feasts, and dances such as pulikkali (performers painted in yellow and black stripes who dance to the beat of the chenda and thakil), Kaikottikkali, Theyyam, etc. 
  • Commemorates the arrival of Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Vishnu.
  • Thiruvonam celebrates the return of Mahabali, the grandson of Prahlada and the beloved asura king of Kerala, who is banished to the nether world by Vamana, because his ascendancy over the three worlds troubles Indra, who fears his throne might me next. However, the benevolent monarch who was also an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, is allowed to return to meet his subjects once a year. His reign is supposed to have been one of unmatched prosperity and righteousness. Two days later, on 'Moonam Onam', Mahabali ascends the heavens again.
  • Another legend traces the birth of Kerala to this day, when Sage Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu threw his battle-axe into the sea and carved a sliver of land from it, forming present-day Kerala.
Poovili poovili ponnonamaayi 
Vishukkani (1977) 
Singer: KJ Yesudas
Music: Salil Choudhary
Lyrics: Sreekumaran Thampi
The song may be from a mainstream Malayalam movie, but the composer is not a Malayali. But Salil Choudhary is as much a part of a Malayali's consciousness as he is part of his native Bengal. Malayalis have embraced him with much affection, and accorded him a reverence that they reserve for the 'outsider' who nevertheless can become one of them in sensibilities, even if not in language. Each song in this film is a gem, and the lullaby in this film is one I used to sing to my older son. (When I sang it to my younger one, Son1 protested - it was 'his' song!) I chose this particular song because a) it is a beautiful harvest song, and b) the lyrics talk of Onam and the harvest, and the picturisation complements it - what with the womenfolk harvesting the grain and piling the hay in the centre of the farm, while the men turn over the ground to prepare for the next crop. (Also, the fact that it has one of my favourite actresses of that period, helped cement that choice.) 

So. A dozen festivals. A dozen songs. (Even if I sneaked in two Malayalam ones.) What festivals or songs would you add to this list?

p.s. Happy Onam to all my Malayali readers. 


  1. Good to see an agnostic writing about festival songs:)

  2. What on earth does agnosticism have to do with celebrating festivals? :)

  3. A lovely list of songs……Holi always reminds me of Are ja re hat natkhat from Navrang and Tan rang lo ji aaj man ranglo from Kohinoor. And Navratri reminds me of the iconic Main to bhool chali from Saraswati Chandra. Thus far, I could only relate one song to Janmashtami and that is Govinda Aa la re from Bluffmaster.

  4. Not with the usual ones like Diwali, Pongal and Onam, but with religious festivals like Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi and Navarathri. :)

  5. Ah, but festivals are so much fun! :) And by the way, I collect Ganapatis. Loads and loads of them. I yell at him once in a while. :)

  6. Ravi,
    You are right - they are the first songs that come to mind when you think of Holi. Both the songs that you mentioned for Holi were on my list of Holi songs. (The link is in the post.) So I wanted to put in something different.

    I don't remember (or I didn't know) about Main toh bhool chali babu ka des being a Navratri song. To me, it seemed like a pre-wedding song, or a Bidaai one. As for Govinda aala re, that is the quintessential Janmashtami song, no?

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

  7. Oh yes, pardon me for forgetting about your love and affection towards Mr. Pillayar :)

  8. My mouth is hanging open right now, Anu. Wow. What a richly written overview :) I think you could teach a class on this topic [and I would definitely take it.]

    One thing, though. The villains in the song from Suhaag are there to make sure that Amitabh's character assassinates Shashi's character (not to steal jewels), and Amitabh and Co. have devised a plan to fake the death in public (and hopefully thus save everyone's skins for the time being). What's really interesting to me is that it's BOTH an honest festival/devotional song, and an elaborate farce/strategy/performance. And obviously, the underlying devotion to Shashi/Amitabh's mother and victory over a villain work well with the theme of the festival. There's a lot of layers going on, which of course would be expected of a religious scene from Desai...

  9. Oh, dear. Are you going to be very surprised if I say I have been toying with the idea of a festival songs list for a long time now? :-D (I've never managed to make it to ten songs, perhaps because I've always tended to stick to just Hindi songs, and of course just till about 1970). Unsurprisingly, Govinda aala re was always been part of that amorphous list.

    I love a lot of the songs on your list - including O sheronwaali, which does make me want to get up and dance! And that Christmas song - liked it a lot (I also heard 'Calvary' somewhere in it). Talking of other festival songs, here are some others I like:

    For Bhai dooj, Mere bhaiya ko sandesa pahunchaana:


    For Eid, Kaisi khushi leke aaya chaand Eid ka:


    Of course, no dearth of Holi songs out there. This one, Khelo rang hamaare sang, is a favourite of mine:


  10. *Grin* By the way, Diwali is also a religious festival. :)

  11. Thank you, Miranda. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it. A little bit of research does wonders for any topic, and I have always loved the myths and legends associated with our festivals.

    Ah. I made a mistake about Suhag. I watched the film a long time ago, and had forgotten this bit. I sort of remember them wanting to steal the deity's jewels too... maybe that was another film! Will change the write-up tomorrow. Thanks.

    Yes, Desai was very good at layering emotions. Honestly, at his prime, he was the best masala director there was. He knew how to weave all these strands together.

  12. Thank you, Ashraf.

    This was a Tamil film that was dubbed into Hindi - you can hear the Tamil influence in the song as well. Anuradha Sriram is a very good singer, isn't she?

  13. I'm not at all surprised. :) In fact, I'm surprised that you didn't have a similar list already. The songs from Suhag and Sargam are the only post-70s songs on my list, other than the Malayalam ones. So if you had added the Bhai Dooj song, you would have had nine for your list. :)

    I did have Kaisi khushi leke aaya chaand Eid ka: on my short list for Eid, but the song from Darwaza so particularly mentioned sighting the moon, that I decided to use that instead.

    As for the Holi song, the first songs that come to mind are Arre ja re hat natkhat from Navrang , Khelo rang hamare sang and Tan rang lo ji from Kohinoor. But as I mentioned in response to Ravi, I already had a post on Holi songs in which I had included all of them. So I had to go looking for others, and this was a rather nice song.

  14. I always associated Main to bhool chali with Garba, the dance performed during Navrathri. Garba involves dancing in a circle around a lamp or a picture of a deity. Maybe some one can throw more light on this song from Saraswati Chandra.

  15. Ravi, the dance is the Garba but if you listen to the lyrics, it is about having left her father's house (Babul ka desh) for her beloved's. The story is very convoluted, but long story short, she is trying to convince her former lover, Saraswati Chandra, that she is very happy in her husband's house.

  16. And so is Onam :) But isn't Diwali celebrated by people all over India and in some parts of the world?

  17. BTW, Happy Onam :)

  18. Pardon me for butting in, but I think this post is just about festivals, religious or otherwise.

  19. A nice and cheerful topic. There are so many songs to choose from and your selection does ample justice to the topic. I am selecting this one from Guide because it is my favourite and it also refers to Holi and Diwali.

  20. No, Onam has no overt religious overtones today, except among the Hindus. But the festival itself is celebrated by everybody in Kerala, irrespective of religion.

    What has Diwali being celebrated all over the world got to do with anything? So is Christmas. So is Eid. What is your point? (I'm seriously puzzled.)

  21. Shilpi, I'm so glad you linked that song here. It is one of my favourites, but since it mentioned more than one festival, I couldn't put it in. Thank you.

  22. Anu Ji,

    First let me wish you and SSW a very Happy Onam. Are you celebrating it with 13 course Onasadya (Kaalan, Olan, Avial and Ata Prathaman)?
    An appropriate and nice post on the occasion of Onam. In Bengali there is a saying Baro Mase Tero Parbon, meaning 13 festivals in 12 months. Back here, Durga Puja is round the corner, the festival mood has set in.

    Thanks for the article. I have not listened to all the songs. I will listen to them at leisure.

  23. //No, Onam has no overt religious overtones today//
    So is Diwali, at least among non-Hindus.

  24. Did I ever deny that? :)

  25. Mr Venkatraman, thank you so much for the Onam wishes. Yes, we did have a Sadhya with all the dishes you mentioned, and several more. The payasams were Ada prathaman and Paal payasam. :)

    Some time, somewhere in the future, I hope to be in Calcutta during Pujo. :)

  26. Hey Samir, great to see you around. :) Yes, good to join the 'gang' (said in the voice of Sanjeev Kumar, obviously!)

    Yes, I know that the US will never elect an atheist as President, and no, I don't intend to run. :) :)

  27. Great, I am not that fortunate. Married to a Bengali, I do enjoy Bengali dishes. But I miss our own indigenous dishes.
    Please let me know, when you decide to visit Cal. We will be too glad to have you and SSW with us.

  28. Actually, if one added non-religious festivals, it would be easier. Then one could easily fit in that 1956, 1957, 1958... song which is so resoundingly a New Year's Eve song (though there are other songs picturised at NYE parties, like Awara ae mere dil, but without the emphasis on the occasion). And if I'm not mistaken, there's also a song about Aaj hai 2 October ka din or something like that. Not a favourite of mine, but still.

  29. My mistake Anu….I was only looking at 'related to a festival' connection. So in my mind, it was Main to bhool chali = garba = navrathri.

    I did not realize you were also looking for words that celebrated the festival. Obviously, Main to bhool chali was not about Navratri.

  30. :) Perhaps you should visit us, then. Thank you so much for the invitation to Cal. Will definitely let you know.

  31. I haven't even heard of Aaj hai October ka din. :)

    As for non-religious festivals, they somehow do not have the same charm, no? Sort of generic party-songs (which we have both done), and/or patriotic songs (which we have posted as well).

  32. Ah, I see. :) No worries. I tend to do the same thing as you, and once the mental association is made, it is very difficult to replace it. :)

  33. "his tramp persona overrode everything else" - no, look again. Neither of Aag, Barsaat or in fact any other than Shri 420 had the tramp, and that one was a tribute to another superb artist in presenting the image. Another tribute is the heart rending moment in Awara where the little boy is facing his mother's starvation and possibility of her losing her mind due to starvation, albeit not exactly identical in details of the events, is something one finds recounted by Chaplin about his own mother and himself.

  34. Dhool ka Phool was very real in the first part, and such ambivalence on part of young males still goes on, blaming family or relatives or India but not their own easy falling in with every possible obstruction to those they have sworn love to. But as for RK or Dev Anand involvements with anyone, they behaved impeccably unlike some others then or later - no physical violence when the lady woke up and went away, not even attempts to kill her career via power games or gossip, no ignoble acts, and dealing with heartbreaks on their own in silence.

    As long as one is speaking of love, one has to realise it is not planned or arranged, and one only has a choice of how to behave but not necessarily about who falls in love with whom. Some others much lauded and awarded far beyond their worth have been known to attack their top and much valued leading ladies with sadistic pleasure in name of filming and maligned others they had affairs with, and it has been not only gossiped but published too - so judgements ought to be deferred to take in a wider view.

    As for affairs, for people of that level of attractive persona and a life of art it is far more natural than the usual business or politics people, but don't assume the latter are not far worse.

  35. About, "Dilipsaab was a far better actor", personal choices or biases are bound to exist, and this one is very prevalent at that. but he was more of star with predator technique - rather than an artist who could portray a character other than his own, while RK is n ever obsessed with presenting himself as a image to impress, and manages to come across as yet another character. Like them personally or not, one has to admire such work.

    I have come to realise that a liking for a film actor or actress is often, in fact invariably, rooted in people one knew and trusted in one's own early years of childhood. Dk on screen is the male prototype generally portrayed in romances and social cultures as definition of male, so most find it subconsciously easy to "like" him and translate it as performance on his part.

  36. I don't think Awara was under-rated at all. Neither was Jagte Raho, which is even today, regarded as a classic. I do agree with you about RK giving everyone single one of his characters their moment on screen, and indeed, not making himself the focal point of every shot.

  37. There are many artists in many fields that RK hasn't worked with. Artistic collaborations depend on finding someone on the same wavelength as you. And it is not just RK. Guru Dutt had his own technicians, so did Nav Ketan. SD Burman worked with the same arrangers, Salilda worked with the same musicians and so on and so forth.

  38. Eh. The tramp persona overriding everything else is my perception of how the average public saw him; it is not my opinion of him. Or I wouldn't be reviewing his films or writing about him with the passion I do. Please read my other reviews of RK's films to see what I mean.

  39. The person you are responding to is all of 13 years old. :)

  40. Dilipsaab is a far better actor is a very subjective opinion. And when I said that, I was very clear that that was *my* opinion. I'm perfectly happy to agree that you find RK a better actor. But I would be even happier if you do not, then, proceed to apply pejorative phrases such as 'star with a predator technique' (what does that even mean?) or patronise me with the male prototype generally portrayed in romances and social cultures
    as definition of male, so most find it subconsciously easy to "like" him
    and translate it as performance on his part.

    No, I do not like DK because he is the 'male prototype portrayed in romances' or 'subconsciously' like him and so translate that liking into 'performance on his part'. That is insulting to me as it suggests that I'm incapable of forming a reasoned position on a performance by an actor. Why? Simply because I'm a woman? And have my head turned by 'romances' or romantic fantasies? [Does that apply to men too? Or is it only woman who are influenced by romances and social cultures?]

    I have never understood why in order to like somebody or think that they are the best, people feel the need to pull down another artiste. In order for Raj Kapoor to be 'the best' is it necessary that Dilip Kumar is lousy? How is it any different that you think Raj Kapoor (whom I adore) is a better actor? Surely, both can (and did!) co-exist? This is not an end-sum game where there is only position open for 'best' actor. Who decides that anyway?

  41. Yes, and it was all natural, from vibes and opportunities. As for Rafi, DRL forgets Rafi was given the central and most attractive song of Sangam, apart from the song shared by three. Again, all that was due to what the story and film required.

    My point was not about who has not worked with whom, it was rather about someone pointing at a few seemingly missed rather than a whole lot many more who also shared that - which indicates prejudice of the one pointing at RK.

  42. Right, do plan on reading those, but my take is that the "tramp" label is a convenient one by some in media seeking to elevate some others, rather than a public perception in India - general public of India is not that likely to know so much about world cinema or care to compare, rather it is more about a word of mouth fame stemming from people liking, and people did go see RK films decades after they were new, generations after generations. Those were days before home entertainment.

    Just read the Adiga article and he too mentions the tramp, but he seems to think Awara is about a tramp - and it most definitely is not! I can only surmise the writer is misled by the title and translates it directly and takes it that the dictionary tells him what the film is about! The protagonist is without a respectable job or honest work or more than elementary education, but tramp he is not, he has a home and a mother he cares about. What he is due to circumstance rather than nature is thief.

  43. Here you go.


    I'd forgotten this was from a film I'd seen. Horrible, horrible movie. Don't watch it unless someone holds a gun to your head and makes you do so.

  44. Anu Warrier - thanks for the laughter that brought! Did most definitely not know that! In that perspective, his indignation is a positive indication about the person and my post can only benefit his thinking. Thanks.

  45. About Andaz, totally agree and more. About Anari, it was a success (Hrishikesh Mukerjee had success only by popular verdict, unlike today's marketing techiniques for candyfloss flicks), so India agreed. Chori Chori was a good and perhaps the first copy of It Happened One Night, and that one was the rare film I liked Clark Gable. RK was good of course. I find Aashiq and Dil Hi To Hai much more wonderful, see them when you get a chance.

    Hrishikesh Mukerjee was a personal friend of RK and has said that he made Anand with those two in mind as far as characters go (not story), AB playing HM while the then superstar Rajesh Khanna played RK based role.

  46. True - just imagine if he were the old man in Andaz, the ridiculous uncle! Not that someone with those looks cannot be wonderful person and every bit as poetic as the letters in Aah, but then young go for looks even more than general and with good reason too.

    Jailor made by Sohrab Modi is a wonderful film just about this point about looks and love and the "can't help" of personal liking. That film manages to make one laugh even as one is horrified and filled with pathos, all at the same time, and one finds oneself sympathatic with both sides. Sohrab Modi was yet another really wonderful film maker.

  47. Love this article and agree with much - to begin with, the television vs theatre (true even today) observation of yours.

    Sometimes hearing the song rather than while watching it as filmed makes a far different impression - Dil Ka Haal is one of those. Striking lyrics and deep without seeming to be so. After hearing it in comparative silence I find myself appreciating the filming of it better, noticing the little touches and details.

    Similar thing happened with Aashiq and Dil Hi To Hai - loved the whole packages of songs when listening, and went on to see the films (not easy finding them) and they were really really good, each in its own way.

    I am sure I am far from the rare person to notice how a particular sort of thinking or philosophy or so forth is written for RK songs even when he was not the producer (and he never meddled with productions of others, rather following the director's direction). Anari songs bring it forth as do some others.

    Some other films and songs worth a look (good songs, and RK adds value even over and above a good performance that is expected of him) apart from these two films - Humne Tujhse Pyaar Kiyaa from Dulha Dulhan, Aa Aa Bhi Jaa of Teesri Kasam, Yeh to Kaho and O Shama of Aashiq, title tracks and Laagaa Chunari Mein Daag from Dil Hi To Hai. In Mera Naam Joker Ae Bhai is a tad more RK persona while Jaane Kahaan is his heart's lament.

    Another film not often remembered but really giant in terms of concept and performances, Sharada.

  48. Another song that is much more than usually shown is Sangam's O Mere Sanam - hearing it impacts much more and I don't know if the missing lyrics that made such impact

    Tana sounp diyaa, Mana sounp diyaa, Kuchh aur toh mere paas nahin

    Jo tumse hai, Mere hamdam,

    Bhagawaan se bhi woh aas nahin

    - the wife's statement and offering, of life and self - were filmed or not, or are edited out by most versions shown on television and elsewhere.

  49. Balraj Sahni was more amongst those towering great than just 'good'!! See Do Bigha Zamin, and then recall he was an announcer on BBC in those days after a college education in Lahore, which he decided to leave to go work at Shantiniketan with no clue if he will get a job! And then see the story about his getting almost arrested because during shooting of the film in Calcutta he went to buy cigarettes during a break and offered a 100 Rupee note - his demeanor (and not just his get up) was so realistic the paan seller was certain he had stolen the money. (Those days the amount could buy perhaps 20 grams of gold.) And this quality is true of all his work, from Garam Coat to Garam Hawa. Often I see the portion of Waqt where he speaks to Raajkumar in the court, just for his performance.

  50. Oh yes they can - Akshay Khanna, Neil, Hritik and Ranbir are proven, Arjun and Abhishek and Prateek still more unseen potential (a la icebergs deep more than seen above), and so on.

  51. Yes, that one is fun and yet much more - old films can surprise one unlike some of candy floss today.

  52. If you don't mind, a question not about RK but remotely related to the difficulty of finding films even on internet - do you know if Babar is possible to find? How about Kanhaiya (I saw RK the song Mujhe Tumse Kuchh Bhi Na Chaahiye, and was struck with his performance, even over and above having liked the song for decades - didn't know it was him), is it possible to find the whole? So far I found only part one, about half an hour or so.

  53. About Kanhaiya, do tell where one can find it on internet.

  54. Good post. I was surprised that "Piya tose naina laage re" did not find a place, but then I read the feedback and quite accept your logic. But my favourite Holi songs are always "Holi khele Raghuveera.." and "Rang barse bheege chunarwali...", both filmed on AB. They have a virility and force which goes well with the mood of the festival.
    Also, Happy Onam, even if it's a little late.

  55. There are enough people out there with preconceived notions who seem to spend all their time pointing fingers at anyone and everyone. That is why I didn't bother to defend RK - these commenters just want to stir the pot.

  56. I agree. See, the problem is once you label a person, it is very difficult to see beyond that label to the person beneath. Yes, he paid his tribute to the original 'tramp' for exactly the first few scenes of Shree 420. But that became his identity as far as the media is concerned. Just as they put the 'Angry Young Man' tag on Amitabh Bachchan and then forgot that his body of work contains many films that did not fit that label.

  57. Oh, God! Someone shoot that cow! And it has Jeetendra and Nanda - not two of my favourites. And Lata, screeching. Thank you! for warning me off this film.

  58. She is a great, great fan of RK and a host of others who probably were born long before her parents were! :)

  59. I must admit that my response was far from stellar; I apologise. But I have had enough of the bickering among the fans of one or the other singer/actor about who is superior. Isn't it enough that they have all left behind a body of work for us to enjoy? I'm not a great fan of Mala Sinha; but I do not have to pull her down to believe that Meena Kumari is a great actress. When I write about my dislike of her (and yet, there have been films in which I like her), it is as *my* opinion, not fact.

    Similarly, I love Mohammed Rafi. I don't have to trash Kishore Kumar for Rafisaab to be great. And so on. Similarly, Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand all shone at a time when there were also people like Ashok Kumar and Balraj Sahni - such a treasure of films and performances.

    The world could do with more tolerance. Peace.

  60. I haven't yet watched that film though Rohit recommended it more than three years ago. I should really get my hands on it.

  61. Lata Mangeshkar is on record as saying that all of RK's songs owed much to him, not just to SJ or LP.

    I did like Sharda very much.

  62. Love the way you put Anuradha first - it is a lovely film, and there is a very small moment of a key dialogue at a critical moment, when the husband admits his guilt in having not been able to pay attention to the wife pining for him, but - he tells her - he has not paid attention to his own self and needs either, he was so busy looking at welfare of his patients in this poor village; he is in fact doing research looking for answers in the small laboratory next to the living room, or looking at journals, when not busy with actual patients, and this makes him neglect not merely wife and home but even his own necessities of life such as food. This is a reality of life of anyone who has chosen science or medicine for vocation, and in west relationships do break up often due to the man being just as unable to sustain them - a woman if and when she does choose this is often single, and a Marie Curie is rare in more than her brilliance, she is rare also in her being fortunate enough to have a complete life with love and partner and children and family life.

    Small correction - Anand moved himself into Bhaskar Banerjee's home, the doctor merely complying after the fact.

    Musafir was a very good film and a beautiful stringing of three independant small pieces connected by the house rented by each successively. I still remember Ushakiran, another underrated artist, her lips barely moving with the words of the song without a sound as the dying lover, now a friend of the widow with a son, is singing their song of past, her face lit softly by the memory, in the scene before his passing on. If only this brilliant film had succeeded, perhaps this director would be more of a Ritwik Ghatak and less of a safe middle class filmmaker known for comedies, however good and satisfying.

    Anupama and Satyakam were some of the last films with Dharmendra playing sensitive poet or intellectual - later the other stream of his career that began with Phool or Patthar took over, but this was the first beginning with Bandini and Shola Aur Shabnam.

    I missed Arjun Pandit, being busy going away, and have not found it. Might, now with internet.

  63. Those lines were definitely filmed. I remember watching Sangam on a re-run and seeing the scenes. Here is the link:


  64. No, this was about Main Nashe Mein Hoon.

  65. I'm pretty sure this is also truncated, but it is supposed to be an 'official' version.


    As for Babar, a friend told me that the version on YouTube doesn't have the songs!

  66. I love both the songs you listed, Nalini, but as I said, I had Rang barse in my post on Holi songs and I was looking for ones that I had not listed. Ah, yes, I forgot the Meena Kumari song.

    Happy onam to you and yours, too. :)

  67. I agree about Anand moving in. These are just small snippets and I was trying to condense the storylines. I will correct it.

    I loved Musafir. Hrishikesh Mukherjee was one director I thoroughly enjoyed watching.

  68. Did your sadya look like this:

  69. Sorry, it looks like the picture didn't make it! Here it is again:


  70. Wow, Thanks for the twenty eight course Sadya. That makes me hungry. For now, let me relish with my eyes.

  71. Without all those silly bowls. Yes. :) And with two payasams as well.

  72. I told you, Mr Venkatraman. You and your wife should plan a trip Stateside. :)

  73. Lalitha, Paal payasam and Ada prathaman. :) With the ada made from scratch. I did make S cut all the vegetables for me, and my arm was immobile by night time, but the food was good, and everyone ate well. *grin*

  74. Thank you very much for the invitation. We would very much like to visit Stateside to enjoy and appreciate your culinary skills!

  75. Definitely! The best times are between April - early October. Please do let us know.

  76. AK, as a kid, I used to enjoy 'fasting' on Thiruvathira, Janmashtami and Shivaratri because we got to eat things other than rice. :) Agnostic or not, there is some comfort in old rituals. I do have fond memories of going to the temple at twilight; I still love the atmosphere of the oil lamps glowing in the dark, and the sight of the idol all lovingly decorated in silks and sandalwood paste. My faith (or lack thereof) notwithstanding, I can still appreciate the ambience.

    Pure fasting, I cannot do. :) I love my food too much for that.

  77. Theriyama solliten. Mannithu vidungal :)

  78. Mannippu yethukku? Ithellam appove marundhitten.

  79. Oh were you holding a grudge against me in this not-so-big issue then. :P

  80. Huh? I was hardly thinking about it, much less 'holding a grudge'. Do you always talk in hyperbole?

  81. // Do you always talk in hyperbole?//
    Not always, but sometimes with people like you. :)

  82. 'People like me'? *head to desk*


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