Five Great Film Songs That Challenge Communal Forces

Written by Bharat Dogra and Madhu Dogra

Hindi film songs have often played an important role in articulating important social messages and taking them to a very large number of people. This may be a particularly opportune  time for recalling those songs which have challenged communal forces in bold and effective ways.

In this context perhaps the most popular song of all time is a gem of a song from the film Dhool Ka Phool (1959). This film was produced by B.R. Chopra and directed by his younger brother Yash Chopra. The lyrics of this film were written by Sahir Ludhianvi and music was composed  by N.Dutta. Although this film had several hit songs, the greatest and the one which concerns us here was  sung by Mohammd Rafi and filmed on Manmohan Krishna who played the role of a  kind Muslim man who finds an abandoned child and brings him up with great affection. This role incidentally also fetched him the Filmfare Award for the best supporting actor for this year. This song is the famous song Tu Hindu Banega Na Musalmaan Banega, insaan ki aulad hai insaan banega. This song is picturised against the background of Manmohan Krishna bringing up the child from infancy to early childhood. Sahir has written this song from his heart. At times he chides those responsible for communalism in very strong terms, at other times he conveys a very emotional message of harmony, at times he appears to argue for an earth without borders ( usne to bakhshi thi hame ek hi dharti). The message that the child will grow up to take the message of communal harmony to the troubled world strikes an emotional  chord with the use of effective symbols of harmony in the song. Rafi Sahib  has sung this song very soulfully, changing his voice very well to adapt to the various messages communicated in this song.


The second song is a great bhajan Allah tero naam , ishwar tero naam, sabko sanmati de bhagwan from Dev Anand’s famous film Hum Dono (1961). The song uses symbols to convey the idea of an all-religion prayer song for peace. This is in fact also a very memorable anti-war  song sung with great feeling by Lata Mangeshkar, with music by Jaidev. The lyric written by Sahir is filmed on Nanda  and other women singing a  devotional song in a temple as a prayer for saving the lives of the soldiers, their near and dear ones, who have gone to fight in World War II. The prayer for their safety cut with shots of the destruction of the war makes a deep impact. As bombs wreak destruction, the prayer appeals to God to give wisdom to the powerful to give up violence.  Six decades later, this bhajan is still sung in gatherings on communal harmony.

The third such song in our collection is from that memorable film , Pardesi (1957), made as an Indo-Soviet co-production by K.A.Abbas and Vassil N. Pronin. This song is in the form of a devotional song Mujh Me Ram Tujh Me Ram Jag Me Samaya, sung with great feeling by Manna Dey, with music by Anil Biswas. Prem Dhawan, who wrote this song, is known for his several great songs  of socal concerns and  commitment. The film is about a Russian traveler in India ( the  hero of the film) who is prevented by  narrow-minded priests from entering a temple and then a broad-minded saint ( played by Balraj Sahni ) appears to confront the priests, hug the foreigner and gently guide him towards the temple, mobilizing other devotees also with this song. In essence this song says—God resides in all of us so how  can any of us be prevented from entering a temple. The greatest virtue is to love all humanity,  to discriminate against none and  not consider anyone an outsider. As the song progresses, Prem Dhawan also condemns caste divisions and discriminations in strong terms.


Fourth,  we will like to mention a song which is  a very strong voice against communal violence, with very disturbing scenes of partition and communal violence in the background. The reference here is to the song Ye kiska lahu hai kon mara. The lyric is  by Sahir and music by N. Dutta. The song is sung in an angry, condemning voice by Mahendra Kapoor. The film is Dharamputra. Based on the famous novel of the same title by Acharya Chatursen, this film , produced by B.R. Chopra and directed by Yash Chopra , is one of the few well-remembered films on the subject of communalism in India. This sing condemns  communal violence and the perpetrators of communal violence in very strong terms, raising questions time and against the perpetrators of communal violence.

Last but certainly not the least, in the same film there is a very famous qawwali sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Balbir Singh—Kabe mein raho ya  kashi mein. This song by Sahir has conveyed the message of communal harmony so beautifully that this can never be forgotten. The lines which are hummed very often by people even after six decades are—tum ram kaho ya rahim kaho matlab to usi ki baat se hai/ ye sheikh-o-brahmin ke jhagre, sab nasamjhi ki baatein hain. The oft repeated line in the song– chahe ye mano chahe wo mano, maksad to a hai dil ko samjhana– still remains very  popular among people. In the film  this song is sung jointly by a Hindu and Muslim gathering of devotees and several symbols are used to  convey a message of communal harmony.

We certainly need many more songs on this theme of communal harmony in our films!

The writers work together on the subject of songs of social relevance.



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