Hummable ideals

In the week of Children’s Day, let’s rewind to some timeless numbers that pack innocence and humanism in equal measure

November 17, 2017 03:52 pm | Updated 03:52 pm IST

THE BOY-STAR Rattan Kumar in “Bahut Din Huwe”

THE BOY-STAR Rattan Kumar in “Bahut Din Huwe”

Sometimes, Facebook also springs up positive news. Recently, an old Rafi song from a little known film “Didi” went viral on social media. It has Sunil Dutt as a teacher addressing the concerns of children about the state of Indian polity. Though the film was released in 1959, “Humne Suna Tha Ek Hai Bharat” has answers to whatever ails the country today. From caste and communal divide to the policy of divide and rule pursued by rulers, everything has been addressed by Sahir Ludhianvi in simple, hummable verse. So this Children’s Day, I decided to search for more and in the process rediscovered an old tape of classic children songs that had educated me more about life than my classroom texts ever did. Long back, I had strung these pious songs together as they were noble assertions of ideals that had shaped beliefs and identities of me and my siblings as secular citizens. Inspired by Nehruvian principles of social welfare, what touched me was that these lovely songs, despite reflecting personal concerns, upheld sublime truths of humanism.

Hindi films have given umpteen songs for children that have stood the test of time in terms of melody and magnificence of thought. One is awestruck by the diverse topics covered by our old time lyric writers within the small span of a three minute song that deal primarily with children’s antics. From the cradle to the lap of a parent or from an ice cream to a railway journey, our lyricists drew insights that were simple in verse, vividly colourful in imagery yet distilled with lofty ideas to inspire and impact a young mind.

If Pandit Nehru has been a favourite ‘chacha’ (paternal uncle), the moon has been everyone’s eternal ‘mama’ (maternal uncle) to give rise to innocent tales like “Chanda Mama Door Ke” (“Vachan”) and “Chanda Mama Mere Dvaar Aana” (“Lajwanti”). Putting children to sleep with a lullaby is centuries old habit and old film ‘lories’ have been supremely endearing. Who can forget Geeta Dutt’s “Nanhi Paree Sone Chali” (“Sujaata”), Lata’s “Aa Jaree Aa Nindiya Tu Aa” (“Do Bigha Zamin”) and “Tim Tim Karte Tare” (“Chiraag Kahan Roshni Kahan”) which are as cherished as Rafi Sahab’s soulful “Main Gaaon Tum So Jaao” (“Brahmachari”).

Drawing from filial interactions, Sahir, Hasrat, Shailendra, Prem Dhawan, Pradeep, Majrooh and Shakeel created ‘poetical recipes’ that bring joy and smile to this day. Children’s exhortations of “Nani Teri Morni Ko Mor Le Gaye” (“Masoom”) and “Dadiamma Dadiamma Maanjao” (“Gharana”) enchant as much as adult entreaties like “Gudiya Hamse Roothi Rahogi Kab Tak” (“Dosti”), “Gori Zara Hans De Tu” (“Asli Naqli”), “Gudiya si Meri Laadli” (“Wapas”) and “Juhi Ki Kali Meri Laadli (”Dil Ek Mandir”). And if “Haina Bolo Bolo” (“Andaz”) unravels a loving family, kid games are delectably dissected in nursery rhyme manner through “Ek Raje ka Beta Lekar Udnewala Ghoda” (“President”), “Choon Choon Karti Aai Chidiya” (“Ab Dilli Door Nahin”), “Ichak Dana Bichak Dana” (“Shree 420”) and “Rail Gaadi, Rail Gaadi” (“Aashirwad”) to remain in memory long after academic lessons have been forgotten.

Our best lessons in history and morality too have been woven in verses. Who would not be drawn to teachers extolling the virtues of “Sabarmati Ke Sant Tune Kardiya Kamaal” (“Jagriti”) or an “Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe” (“Gunga Jumna”) just as no study tour could be more illuminating than the lyrical past enumerated by “Hum Laye Hain Toofan Se Kashti Nikal Ke” and “Aao Bachcho Tumhe Dikhayein” (both from “Jagriti”). The best of present day gurus cannot match the wholesome wisdom bestowed by “Nanhe Munne Bachche” (“Boot Polish”) or “Zindagi Hai Kya Sun Meri Jaan” (“Maya”)… perfect examples of the poetical greatness of our film lyricists to cull life philosophies into six crisp lines. Listen to the latter song and you’d wonder as to who has the sagacity in this era to put forth the purpose of human life in an ice cream vendor’s sales pitch like this Rafi-Majrooh-Salil Chowdhary melody does in moments?

If “Nanha Munna Raahi Hun” (“Son of India”), “Chalo Chale Maa” (“Jagriti”), “Aam Chhum Taam Chhum” (“Chhote Nawab”) or “Papaa Jaldi Aa Jana” (“Taqdeer”) astound us with the maturity of the children, there are several ‘adult child’ songs that make us teary-eyed to this day remembering our beloved elders. Compassionate, homely pleas of “Tu Hoke Bada Ban Jaana” (“Khandaan”), “Ilaahi Tu Sun Le Hamaree Dua” (“Chhote Nawab”) and “Tere Bachpan Ko Jawani Ki Dua Deti Hun” (“Mujhe Jeene Do”) make us yearn once again for those invaluable moments of togetherness that we spent in the arms of our parents. Hope this Children’s day, we listen to Kaifi Azmi’s “Meri Awaaz Suno” (“Naunihaal”), an immortal tribute to Pandit Nehru, and realise loving like children alone can keep this nation together.

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