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Recalling great, now largely forgotten songs of hope, solidarity from classic Hindi films

By Bharat Dogra, Madhu Dogra* 
Amidst all the hopes for a better new year and the hopes for increasing unity of forces of peace and justice for creating a better world, several great but now largely forgotten songs of hope and solidarity from classic Hindi films should be remembered. Great solidarity songs never die. There will always be more struggles where these will be hummed and sung to strengthen resolve and unity.
Songs of solidarity often tend to be sung together and chorus increases the impact of these songs. The use of chorus greatly adds to the collective feeling inspired by the first two songs we discuss here. The first of these is from the film ‘Char Dil Char Rahen’ (1959), a much appreciated film of K.A. Abbas. This song ‘Sathi re, bhai re, kadam kadam se dil se dil mila rahe hain hum’ has been sung with great feeling by Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor, Lata Mangeshkar and Meena Kappor. The lyric is by Sahir Ludhianvi. Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, Meena Kumari and other stars are seen in this this song.
This song sequence appears in the film when workers in solidarity get together to construct a path in difficult conditions. As they sing and work, the song urges them towards unity, weaves a vision of a world without exploitation and the distress this exploitation brings. The rhythm of this song, composed by the great music director Anil Biswas, is maintained wonderfully at an inspirational level to match the moving words penned by Sahir.
The other, and somewhat similar, great solidarity song that no one will like to miss is ‘Sathi hath badaana, ek akela thak jaaye to mil kar bojh uthana’. This is from B.R.Chopra’s film Naya Daur (1957).In this song we see Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala with several villagers, all gathered for voluntary work to prepare a village path in record time. The song, again written by Sahir, is full of references to what unity and determination of people can achieve. Music composed by O.P. Nayyar, known for his extremely popular songs, has a wonderful sense of rhythm and goes very well with the spirit of the lyric and the film scene. This song has been sung beautifully by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsale.
Both these songs have somewhat similar situations, scenes and ethos, but K.A.Abbas being the master of handling working class situations has been able to impart a more emotive impact and a sense of urgency to his song . The song moves at a fast pace powerful images of people at work, put together with great effect with slick editing. On the other hand B.R.Chopra tends to be more lyrical in his handling of Sathi Hath Badaana. There are more beautiful post-card views of workers and images of Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala together but the inspirational impact in terms of working together in challenging conditions is achieved more by Abbas.
There are some great songs of solidarity in another film Shaheed (1965), the memorable film starring Manoj Kumar as Shahid Bhagat Singh which is regarded widely as the best Bhagat Singh film made yet. A great contribution to the film was made by Prem Dhawan who was the composer as well as the lyricist for the film. He has done a truly great job, whether in terms of music, writing new songs or handling old freedom struggle songs in a very effective way to enhance the impact of the film. ‘Rang De Basanti Chola’ is a very popular song of the freedom movement and is still widely sung when the spirit of great courage and willingness to sacrifice happily for a great cause is to be evoked. This song has been used in a very memorable way in the film for the last sequence.
These songs of solidarity will always be there on the lips of people whenever there are struggles against injustice and in gatherings for asserting and protecting the rights of people. In addition there are several other memorable songs which provide hope in difficult times. One such song is ‘Nirbal se ladai balwan ki , ye kahani hai diye ki aur toofan ki.’ 
As this first line of this song indicates, this is in the form of a parable of an earthern lamp showing light to people but attacked by a fierce storm which is bent on extinguishing the lamp. Despite many attacks by the storm, the lamp manages to protect its glow. This parable symbolizes the struggles of the very weak against big aggressors. This song from movie ‘Diya Aur Toofan’ written by poet Bharat Vyas has been sung very soulfully by the great Manna Dey, with music by Vasant Desai.
Another great song of hope in difficult and depressing is the unforgettable ‘Wo Subah Kabhi to Aayegi’. This gem of a song by Sahir Ludhianvi says in several evocative ways that no matter what the obstacles and no matter how overwhelming the forces of darkness, surely dawn will come soon enough and we live in hope of this. This is from a memorable film Phir Subah Hogi, made in 1958 by Ramesh Sehgal, based on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with music by Khayyam. This song has been filmed on Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha when the characters played by them are in a very sad state of mind. This song gives hope to them, and has since then given hope to millions of people. Sung very well by Mukesh and Asha.
‘Aa Ab Laut Chalein’ is one of the most memorable songs from the team of Shankar Jaikishan and used to great effect in Raj Kapoor’s ‘Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain’. Filmed on Raj Kapoor, Padmini and a gang of dacoits, this song shows the scene when the dacoits motivated by the message of peace are moving in a big group for surrender and an armed police force is coming from the other side. The consequent tensions, the clash between uncertainty and hope, are captured well in the scenes and the song gives a message of going back to a life of peace. This has been sung very soulfully by Lata and Mukesh, with great use of chorus.
‘Aa Chal Ke Tujhe, Main Le Ke Chalun, Ik Aise Gagan Ke Tale’ is a song of giving hope to someone you love deeply. This song remains a great example of the many-sided genius of Kishore Kumar. He has written the lyric, composed the music, sung the song, the song is filmed on him and a child in a movie made by him (Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein)! In the song Kishore is telling a distressed child I want to take you to a world where there are no tears, only lots of love. The child plays a flute and they walk through a path of flowers, birds, springs.
‘Mere Nazim, Mere Humsafar Udaas Naa Ho’ is a memorable song from the pen of Sahir, in which we have a woman telling her beloved not to be overwhelmed by the great difficulties and obstacles faced by them. The highly talented singer Sudha Malhotra is able to bring just the right feelings in her voice to convey the mix of love, emotion, motivation and determination. This great song from Bhai-Behan film has music by N.Dutta.
‘Kisi ki Muskrahato Pe ho Nisar’ is a very popular and great song from ‘Anari’ film pictured on Raj Kapoor, playing an unemployed youth who still manages to be cheerful in his own way. This song says the way to live is not to be overburdened by difficulties but to retain the ability to be nice to others and experience the small joys of life while helping others. Sung in a delightful way by Mukesh and written by Shailendra.
There are songs which call upon people to give their best for progress of the country. A song from the film ‘Hum Hindustani’ (1960) calls upon people to leave behind old pessimism and rise to the occasion to contribute to progress. This song—Chodo kal ki baaten, kal ki baat purani, naye daur mein likhenge mil ke nai kahani’ has been filmed on Sunil Dutt. Written by Prem Dhawan and set to music by Usha Khanna, this has been sung on a happy, hopeful note by that singer with such a melodious voice -- Mukesh.
On a more sombre note we have this great song wishing, praying that now that the country is free there should be no destruction or conflict. This song -- 'Ab koi gulshan na ujre ,ab watan azad hai' -- from Mujhe Jeene Do film (1963) has been written by Sahir and composed by Jayadev. It has been sung by Rafi Sahib in a way that cannot be forgotten. Another inspiring and memorable song of peace and hope from the old days is ‘Pyaar ki raah dikha duniya ko, roke jo nafrat ki aandhi’. This has been sung in a very inspiring tone by Rafi Sahib for the film Lambe Haath (1960), written by Anjaan and composed by G.S Kohli. It is particularly suitable for school cultural shows.
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*Have together contributed several articles on cinema as well as a recent book ‘Hindi Cinema and Society’

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