hindi film music

Are you patriotic tonight? Here is a songlist that will make your heart swell with pride

India’s greatness has been frequently celebrated through nationalist songs, as proven by our potted list.

Bharat Mata Ki from Shanghai (2012) is a rare film song about India that does not celebrate its greatness and glory. Shanghai director Dibakar Banerjee, who also wrote the song’s lyrics, lampoons the state of the nation through the words Gurr bhi hai, gobar bhi hai, Bharat mata ki jai (It’s both jaggery and cow dung, hail mother India). The song was passed by the Central Board of Film Certification, unlike in the days when films were censored for inciting nationalist pride.

Patriotic songs in Hindi films range from gently prodding tunes to blood vessel-bursting paeans. They were especially useful in movies made during the freedom struggle to articulate what the rest of the screenplay couldn’t. Since independence, they have served as occasionally forceful reminders of our duty towards our flag.

Before 1947, pro-freedom themes were tucked into mythologicals and historicals, and not all of them managed to escape censorship by the colonial government. The silent film Bhakta Vidur (1921), based on the Mahabharata epic, was the first Indian film to be pulled out of circulation because its lead character was modelled on Mahatma Gandhi. In 1930, the silent film Swarajyacha Toran (Flags of Freedom), about the Maratha warrior Shivaji, was renamed Udaykal. Sohrab Modi’s Pukar (1939), Sikandar (1941), Prithvi Vallabh (1943) were covertly nationalistic dramas in the guise of historicals.

One of the best-known nationalistic numbers from the pre-1947 era is Chal Chal Re Naujawan, written by Pradeep for the movie Bandhan (1940). “Though the film was not based on a patriotic theme, a situation was created for this song and when it came to screen, the audience went delirious with excitement,” writes Pradeep’s daughter, Mitul Pradeep, in the book Legends of Indian Silver Screen. “Wherever the film was screened, the theatres had the public shouting ‘once more’ and the film had to be reversed to show the song repeatedly. The songs were a direct attack on the British government. Though British censors unknowingly cleared it, belated realisation dawned on the song’s implications. They ordered to arrest Kavi Pradeep and he went underground for a year.”

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‘Chal Chal Re Naujawan’.

The song’s success promoted Pradeep to request the producers of the film Kismet (1943) to include the song Door Hato Aye Duniyawaalon Hindustan Hamara Hai (Stay away outsiders, India belongs to us).

After independence, the songs reflected the general mood of jubilation. Shaheed (1948) brandished the Indian tricolour in the opening credits with the song Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan playing in the background. The revolutionary hero Ram (Dilip Kumar), was not modelled on a freedom fighter but represented the ordinary viewer. Andolan (1951), Anand Math (1952) and Jhansi Ki Rani (1953) all dealt with various struggles for independence. A popular song from this period is Vande Mataram, sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar for Anand Math.

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‘Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan’.

Films such as Mother India (1957) and Naya Daur (1957) captured in different ways the Nehruvian nation-building project. Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka from Naya Daur, written by Sahir Ludhianvi, reflected the upbeat spirit.

The progressive wave carried over in Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein (Hum Hindustani, 1960). Lyricist Prem Dhawan suggested through the song that it was time to forget the past and move into a new nation. Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe (Ganga Jumna, 1961), written by Shakeel Badayuni, suggested that Indians should follow in the righteous path of Gandhi and assume leadership of the newly independent country through the words Neta tumhi ho kal ke (You are tomorrow’s leader).

Patriotism arrived with a tinge of sadness in Kar Chale Hum Fida, written by Kaifi Azmi and sung with great passion by Mohammed Rafi for Haqeeqat (1964), which explores the 1962 Indo-China War. The same year, Rafi sang another crowd-puller, Apni Azaadi Ko Hum, written by Shakeel Badayuni for Leader.

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‘Kar Chale Hum Fida’.

Manoj Kumar proved to be a good model for Bhagat Singh when he took on the role of the freedom fighter in Shaheed (1965). Kumar fashioned a number of patriotic films after Shaheed’s success. Upkaar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Roti and Kapda Aur Makaan (1974) all had the leading man cast as a son of the soil who stands up for Indian values and wages a non-violent protest against many social evils, including Western culture. The song Mere Desh Ki Dharti from Upkaar, written by Gulshan Bawra, depicted India as a golden goose. By the ’70s , Kumar’s patriotic streak had hardened into hyper-nationalism, best embodied in the song Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada from Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

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‘Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada’.

Hindi cinema’s suspicion of invading outsiders and treacherous domestic enemies got full expression in the ’80s. Films such as Karma (1986), Mr India (1987) and Elaan-E-Jung (1989) popularised larger-than-life villains such as Dr Dang and Mogambo. The song Aye Watan Tere Liye (Karma), written by Anand Bakshi, became the new go-to pop patriotic tune.

A number of films in the ’90s, including Tirangaa (1992) and Dijale (1996), feature Islamist terrorists waging war on India. The operatic Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai (Roja, 1992), written by PK Mishra and composed by AR Rahman in his film debut, is a rare instance of a nationalist song that is also a great tune. Bharat Humko starts like a hymn, rises into a rousing anthem and ends with a stunning chorus finish, reiterating the need to move into a new direction.

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‘Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai’.

The ’90s and 2000s too have their share of rousing numbers and flag-thumpers, including Hindustan Hindustan (Border, 1997), Yeh Mera India (Pardes, 1997), Zindagi Maut Na Bann Jaaye (Sarfarosh, 1999), Chale Chalo (Lagaan, 2001) Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, 2000), Desh Mere (The Legend of Bhagat Singh, 2002), Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera (Swades, 2004), Khoon Chala (Rang De Basanti, 2006) and Des Rangila (Fanaa, 2006).

One of the most earnest nationalistic songs is sung by a character who pines for his country from afar. In Aye Mere Pyare Watan (Kabuliwala, 1961), the Afghan immigrant Abdul Rehman Khan (Balraj Sahni), who lives in Kolkata, is shown yearning for his family in Kabul. In a welcome reversal, the song articulates a rare universal spirit, proving that music truly has no nationality.

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‘Aye Mere Pyare Watan’.
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Ten awesome TV shows to get over your post-GoT blues

With those withdrawal symptoms kicking in, all you need is a good rebound show.

Hangovers tend to have a debilitating effect on various human faculties, but a timely cure can ease that hollow feeling generally felt in the pit of the stomach. The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale has left us with that similar empty feeling, worsened by an official statement on the 16-month-long wait to witness The Great War. That indeed is a long time away from our friends Dany, Jon, Queen C and even sweet, sweet Podrick. While nothing can quite replace the frosty thrill of Game of Thrones, here’s a list of awesome shows, several having won multiple Emmy awards, that are sure to vanquish those nasty withdrawal symptoms:

1. Billions

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2. Westworld

What do you get when the makers of the Dark Knight Trilogy and the studio behind Game of Thrones collaborate to remake a Michael Crichton classic? Westworld brings together two worlds: an imagined future and the old American West, with cowboys, gun slingers - the works. This sci-fi series manages to hold on to a dark secret by wrapping it with the excitement and adventure of the wild west. Once the plot is unwrapped, the secret reveals itself as a genius interpretation of human nature and what it means to be human. Regardless of what headspace you’re in, this Emmy-nominated series will absorb you in its expansive and futuristic world. If you don’t find all of the above compelling enough, you may want to watch Westworld simply because George RR Martin himself recommends it! Westworld will return for season 2 in the spring of 2018.

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3. Big Little Lies

It’s a distinct possibility that your first impressions of this show, whether you form those from the trailer or opening sequence, will make you think this is just another sun-kissed and glossy Californian drama. Until, the dark theme of BLL descends like an eerie mist, that is. With the serious acting chops of Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman as leads, this murder mystery is one of a kind. Adapted from author Liane Moriarty’s book, this female-led show has received accolades for shattering the one-dimensional portrayal of women on TV. Despite the stellar star cast, this Emmy-nominated show wasn’t easy to make. You should watch Big Little Lies if only for Reese Witherspoon’s long struggle to get it off the ground.

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4. The Night of

The Night Of is one of the few crime dramas featuring South Asians without resorting to tired stereotypes. It’s the kind of show that will keep you in its grip with its mysterious plotline, have you rooting for its characters and leave you devastated and furious. While the narrative revolves around a murder and the mystery that surrounds it, its undertones raises questions on racial, class and courtroom politics. If you’re a fan of True Detective or Law & Order and are looking for something serious and thoughtful, look no further than this series of critical acclaim.

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5. American Horror Story

As the name suggests, AHS is a horror anthology for those who can stomach some gore and more. In its 6 seasons, the show has covered a wide range of horror settings like a murder house, freak shows, asylums etc. and the latest season is set to explore cults. Fans of Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange are in for a treat, as are Lady Gaga’s fans. If you pride yourself on not being weak of the heart, give American Horror Story a try.

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6. Empire

At its heart, Empire is a simple show about a family business. It just so happens that this family business is a bit different from the sort you are probably accustomed to, because this business entails running a record label, managing artistes and when push comes to shove, dealing with rivals in a permanent sort of manner. Empire treads some unique ground as a fairly violent show that also happens to be a musical. Lead actors Taraji P Henson and Terrence Howard certainly make it worth your while to visit this universe, but it’s the constantly evolving interpersonal relations and bevy of cameo appearances that’ll make you stay. If you’re a fan of hip hop, you’ll enjoy a peek into the world that makes it happen. Hey, even if you aren’t one, you might just grow fond of rap and hip hop.

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7. Modern Family

When everything else fails, it’s comforting to know that the family will always be there to lift your spirits and keep you chuckling. And by the family we mean the Dunphys, Pritchetts and Tuckers, obviously. Modern Family portrays the hues of familial bonds with an honesty that most family shows would gloss over. Eight seasons in, the show’s characters like Gloria and Phil Dunphy have taken on legendary proportions in their fans’ minds as they navigate their relationships with relentless bumbling humour. If you’re tired of irritating one-liners or shows that try too hard, a Modern Family marathon is in order. This multiple-Emmy-winning sitcom is worth revisiting, especially since the brand new season 9 premiers on 28th September 2017.

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8. The Deuce

Headlined by James Franco and Maggi Gyllenhaal, The Deuce is not just about the dazzle of the 1970s, with the hippest New York crowd dancing to disco in gloriously flamboyant outfits. What it IS about is the city’s nooks and crannies that contain its underbelly thriving on a drug epidemic. The series portrays the harsh reality of New York city in the 70s following the legalisation of the porn industry intertwined with the turbulence caused by mob violence. You’ll be hooked if you are a fan of The Wire and American Hustle, but keep in mind it’s grimmer and grittier. The Deuce offers a turbulent ride which will leave you wanting more.

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9. Dexter

In case you’re feeling vengeful, you can always get the spite out of your system vicariously by watching Dexter, our favourite serial killer. This vigilante killer doesn’t hide behind a mask or a costume, but sneaks around like a criminal, targeting the bad guys that have slipped through the justice system. From its premier in 2006 to its series finale in 2013, the Emmy-nominated Michael C Hall, as Dexter, has kept fans in awe of the scientific precision in which he conducts his kills. For those who haven’t seen the show, the opening credits give an accurate glimpse of how captivating the next 45 minutes will be. If it’s been a while since you watched in awe as the opening credits rolled, maybe you should revisit the world’s most loved psychopath for nostalgia’s sake.

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10. Rome

If you’re still craving an epic drama with extensive settings and a grandiose plot and sub-plots, Rome, co-produced by HBO and BBC, is where your search stops. Rome is a historical drama that takes you through an overwhelming journey of Ancient Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. And when it comes to tastes, this series provides the similar full-bodied flavour that you’ve grown to love about Game of Thrones. There’s a lot to take away for those who grew up quoting Julius Caesar, and for those looking for a realistic depiction of the legendary gladiators. If you’re a history buff, give this Emmy-winning show a try.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.