Aug 15 2016

7 patriotic Hindi film songs from 7 decades of Independence

by   Shriram Iyengar

Over the past 69 years, Hindi cinema has opened a window to the changing nature of patriotism in the country, with songs reflecting crises as well as the optimism and jingoism of audiences. Here are seven such numbers, one from every decade of India's independence.

1 Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka – Naya Daur (1957)

In the first decade of independence, the country was beset with issues like poverty, caste and hunger. But in the first flush of freedom, there was also a strong sense of optimism, the hope that things would be better in the days to come. Many of the songs in the 1950s captured this optimism, this can-do spirit. Sahir Ludhianvi's portrayal of the romance of India, its villages and its heroes fit well in BR Chopra's epochal film. It marked the beginning of a new progressive India.

2 Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein – Hum Hindustani (1960)

Prem Dhawan was among Hindi cinema's most underrated lyricists. He made his debut with KA Abbas's hardhitting Dharti Ke Laal (1946) but finally grabbed the public's attention with his lyrics for Manoj Kumar's Shaheed (1965). But well before Manoj Kumar discovered patriotism in films, Dhawan delivered this beautiful, optimistic ballad about a country and its people looking to the future.

3 Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada – Purab Aur Paschim (1970)

It is impossible to make a list of patriotic songs and exclude Manoj 'Bharat' Kumar's films entirely. The writer-director-actor singlehandedly resurrected passion for the country and its culture and heritage as patriotic fervour began to wane into the third decade of independence. In Purab Aur Pacchim (1970), Kumar took on the growing threat of Westernisation. This song, in particular, evoked a sense of nostalgic pride among Indians and remains just as popular in the country as outside it.

4 Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge – Karma (1980)

The years of peace after the 1971 war with Pakistan saw a surge in secular patriotism in film lyrics. Subhash Ghai's Karma was the perfect mix of patriotism and over-the-top drama that Hindi cinema excelled in. One of the most popular songs of the film was this passionate song by Lata Mangeshkar, written by former armyman Anand Bakshi. The song continues to be played without fail on Independence Day ever since.

5 Zindagi Maut Na Ban Jaaye – Sarfarosh (1999) 

Not all patriotic songs are uplifting. The title track of this Aamir Khan-starrer carried a sense of foreboding, which was proved right with the Kargil conflict that erupted two months after the film's release. Written by Israr Ansari, and sung by Sonu Nigam and Roop Kumar Rathod, the song warned against the dangers of infighting among Indians.

6 Khoon Chala – Rang De Basanti (2004)

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's film was the high point of the decade. A tale of rebellious young men finding a cause to fight for, Rang De Basanti reflected the growing unrest among the youth about the state of the nation. The soundtrack by AR Rahman combined elements of punk rock and Punjabi folklore to bring out a dazzling cocktail of songs. This revolutionary number, written by Prasoon Joshi, was a goosebumps-inducing call to revolution.

7 Tu Bhoola Jise – Airlift (2016)

In recent years, Akshay Kumar has emerged as something of an heir to Manoj Kumar's patriotic throne. One of the actor's best performances came in this film, a fictionalised account of the true story of the evacuation of Indians from war-torn Kuwait in 1990. The film ends on a high with the Tricolour raised over the airport, signalling the beginning of the evacuation. Sung beautifully by KK, this song is an emotional plea to those who seem to have forgotten this beautiful country.