V Kumar has been writing on Bollywood movies and music for several years, highlighting perspectives that are often missed out or ignored.
Musical Statements of Unpleasant Truth
The Hard Realities of Life ....
Though fantasy prevails in Bollywood, it is not as divorced from reality as many may like us to believe. In fact, it is very often only Bollywood that has been able to call a spade a spade and get away with it, taking a genuine lead over the so called intellectuals, intelligentsia, scholars and analysts. who have entangled themselves in political, social and intellectual knots of convenience !
We live in a world where nothing is apolitical, nothing is without self-interests and nothing is really what it is presented to be. From close family relationships around which the Indian society revolves to government policies, and from communal mobocracies to the absence of morality in our daily lives ... Bollywood has targeted all, and sometimes in as blunt a manner as there can ever be.
Here are ten Bollywood numbers, which have carried on with the onerous responsibility of holding the society and its masters accountable for their misdeeds, and highlighting the injustice and unfairness that our society is made of. Their greatness lies in being able to do so successfully without compromising on their musical finesse, melody or the entertainment quotient ....
Promises, love, loyalty... just words...
"Promises, commitments, love and loyalty, these are all just words without any substance; ... no one belongs to anyone else, ... all these relationships are actually meaningless"
For an Indian society of the seventies, these words would almost amount to blasphemy, for they negated the very reason an Indian lives for. Yet, such a blunt statement is made in this number with such art that it penetrates the psyche and leaves an everlasting impression. Sung by Mannade, composed by Kalynaji Anandji, written by Qamar Jalalabadi under the direction of Manoj Kumar, this number transcends the boundaries of religion in a way that is almost utopian, as stated in its last words: Kam agar yeh Hindu ka hai, mandir kisne loota hai; kam agar yeh Muslim ka hai, khuda ka ghar kyon toota hai; Jis mazhab mein jayaz hai yeh, wo mazhab to jhoota hai ..... (If a Hindu has done this, then who has looted the temple; If a Muslim has done it, then why is the Mosque damaged; In whatever religion this is acceptable, that religion is a fake....!)
If only others had the integrity to say this ...
Our World.. Our India...the Footpath ...
"Whatever building were there, the rich have occupied; Footpaths of Bombay are our real homes ..... China & Arab are close to us, whole of India is ours; There is no home to live; but all the world is ours !!"
This song, almost a parody of the two songs of Iqbal, (Tarana-e-Hind and Tarana-e-Milli, which glorify India and Pakistan respectively) is one of the most melodious sarcasms ever heard about the self glorifications that leaders and poets indulge in with alarming hypocrisy. While the people struggle to survive, there are speeches on great nationhood, world leadership and god knows what ... without even a thought being spared for the poor men and women suffering from hunger, diseases, nature and exploitation. Penned by Sahir Ludhianwi and sung by Mukesh, the music of this number was composed by Khayyam. The credits would be incomplete without mentioning that this special movie was directed by Ramesh Saigal.
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Where are those .. who are proud of India..
"This place is visited by the Holy ones as well as the youth; Healthy sons come here, and older fathers too; ... she is a wife of someone, a sister, and a mother as well; ....where are those who are proud of India ? where are they, where are they, where are they ?"
These words, written by Sahir Ludhianwi depict the red light area, its women and their clients, and challenge the moral conscience of the society that indulges in rhetoric of false pride and greatness. For anyone who really loves India, there cannot be a greater patriotic song than this one, for patriotism demands a sense of belonging, a sense of sharing the plight of the most oppressed fellow beings around you and a senstivity towards their misfortune. The compassion of this number can stay with you for a lifetime, such is the effect of this song, rendered by Mohammad Rafi, composed by S D Burman, and all this, of course, under the direction of arguably the greatest director of Bollywood, Gurudutt !
The contrasting colors of our world ...
"One are those who live only for others; there are others who live by sucking blood from their loved ones; ... some grow flowers. some only grow thorns; .... the world has two colors, and two separate paths !"
The contrast between a household struggling to save its dying member, even if that means selling all their possessions, and the rich couple enjoying a cabaret dance in a club, measures the distance between the two societies that often exist together. Some dedicate their life for the values of society and welfare of people around them, while there are others who simply take everything that they get a chance to grab away. This number, sung by Mukesh and composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal elaborates this stark dichotomy that we live in. Its great lyrics are written by Anand Bakhshi and the movie was directed by Raj Khosla.
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The people know everything ...
"You hoarded diamonds and jewls, we didn't say a thing; but now when grains and rice have disappeared, ...the hungry will have to open their mouth; .... this public, you know, knows everything... this is public !"
While the world struggled with the Oil shocks and its consequent inflation during the seventies, hoarders had a time of their life. Even as governments were trying to understand the problem, Bollywood came up with this statement ... an apt number depicting the public sentiment of the times and guiding people about the root of their problems. Sung by Kishore Kumar, with music composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and lyrics written by Anand Bakhshi, this movie was directed by Manmohan Desai.
When I say it bluntly... Am I lying ?
"Honest persons suffer and get punished, while the dishonest ones make merry; people say it is by god's grace, I say it is unjustice; Did I speak a lie ... not at all ..."
Behind the facade of laws, rules, justice, courts and policing, there is enormous injustice that continues to trap unsuspecting simpletons in its claws. It is not just that our systems are imperfect, the problem is that they continue to be exploited by the unscrupulous to their advantage. The problem is when the systems for preventing injustice end up becoming tools for propoagating it ! This peppy punjabi song dance is as melodious, as it is full of content, challenging the existing order of society and calling its bluff ! Sung by Mohammad Rafi and S Balbir, music composed by Salil Chaudhary and lyrics written by Prem Dhawan, this movie was directed by Shomu Mitra but has the legacy of Raj Kapoor painted all over it.
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O' God ! How much has your man changed ...
"The devotees of Ram (Hindus) and the men of Rahim (Muslims), both are indulging in frauds and manipulation; ...they are such blind scoundrels, we have seen all their business; ... it is because of their black deeds, that this country has suffered such damage; ... so much has your man changed !!"
This song is an angry expression of the compassionate poet singer, Kavi Pradeep, who has written its lyrics and also sung it, against the inhuman violence that Indian people suffered during partition of India in 1947. The perpetrators of this violence were not Muslims or Hindus, they were humans devoured by the devil in a chain of politics, greed, sacrilege, revenge and death ... all in the name of religion ! This song is an ode to the courage that Bollywood had in making such a sensitive statement, and a call to people of all religions, race and ethnicity to rise above the devilish instincts that threaten to overtake humanity every now and then ... The music of this great number was composed by C Ramchandra and the movie was directed by I S Johar.
Even if you get the world ... is it even worth it ?
"Where youth is a bundle of frustration and burden, where young bodies are available in a market; ...where love is also undertaken as a cold calculated business, ... what is the use of such world, even if one gets it ..."
This song is an amalgam of philosophy, spirituality and reality, interwoven in musical links of melody, that strike very hard, evokes thoughts like no text can ever do and disrobes the illusion that makes this world a place worth living and dying for. It is difficult to say whether human society can afford to accept such naked truth, breaking all that it preserves and protects with a zeal stronger than those of the worst religious fanatics. It goes to the credit of Bollywood that it could come up with this number, sung or rather enacted by Mohammad Rafi, with his voice. Its deep meaningful lyrics were created by Sahir Ludhianwi, and complementing music was composed by S D Burman. The director, of course, was Gurudutt !
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This music has a tune .... it says something...
"There are two kinds of leaders, one which gives, the other which only takes; one robs the nation for himself, the other sacrifices his life for it..."
This song presents the rebelious mood of the Indian society at the beginning of the seventies. By Indian standards of the time, this was a very hard hitting song, directed not only against corrupt politicians, but a host of other practices, like fashion, individualism, Westernization, lack of family planning, crony capitalism and more! This number, sung by Mahendra Kapoor, has music composed by Kalyanji Anandji, lyrics written by Varma Malik. The movie was directed and produced by S Ram Sharma, but the influence of Manoj Kumar cannot be missed.
We will survive ... what about you ...
"Like us, you are also son of a human being; You are the most sought after, we are like neglected prayers; ...We, who are considered unwanted children of this society, are born out of your lustful crimes."
This song from a character that grows up as an unwanted child, is perhaps one of the best illustrations of the social sentiment that found its expression in the angry young man of Bollywood during the seventies and eighties.With stagnant economy, stark discrepancy in economic fortunes and few opportunities, the youth of India found its own idols against the unjust social and economic situation. This number was sung by Kishore Kumar, composed by Kalyanji Anandji and its lyrics written by Anjaan. This movie was directed by Prakah Mehra.
Share your views....
© 2013 V Kumar
V Kumar (author) on May 28, 2013:
Thanks. I will try that too !
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 18, 2013:
Nice list of bollywood songs, informative, most of the songs are new to me.