Songs have always played an undisputed role in inciting the spirit of nationalism in the hearts of millions of Indians. Many patriotic songs, written by the literary stalwarts of India have acquired legendary status and are still sung by people around the country. As India celebrates its 71st independence day, here is a list of the songs which led a generation to the lofty ideals of patriotism and freedom.
Hailing Mother India
Bengal has always been a fertile soil for art and literature. It was towards the end of the 19th century that the Indian minds began to long for freedom. This patriotic fervor which was being spread all over the country found expressions in literature as well. In 1870, noted Bengali poet Bankim Chandra Chatterjee penned ‘Vande Mataram..sujalam subalam..’ which hailed India as ‘Mother’. Chatterjee included these lines which truly captured the patriotic spirit of the times in his novel Anandamath which was published in 1880.
It was the legendary Bengali poet Rabinranath Tagore who composed this poem, and he sang it at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress in 1896. The song played a significant role in the Indian independence movement as it ignited patriotic spirit among the masses. ‘Vande Mataram..’ reverberated in the streets of Calcutta as people held protest demonstrations against the partition of Bengal in 1905. However the British government had banned the song and the novel Anandamath. Many nationalists were jailed just because they dared to sing ‘Vande Mataram..’ in public. In 1950, the government of independent India declared ‘Vande Mataram’ as the national song.
The charm of Rabindra Sangeet
Rabindranath Tagore is undoubtedly one of India’s greatest literary masters who brought home the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. The patriotic song ‘Ekla Chalo Re’, written and composed by the great bard appeared for the first time in the September 1905 issue of the Bhandar magazine. The extremely beautiful lines which are filled with love for one’s own country has touched the hearts of millions of Indians. Mahatma Gandhi too was an admirer of this song.
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ was sung widely during the Swadeshi Movement and the protests against the Bengal Partition. Many singers have rendered the different versions of this patriotic song. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan had sung ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ for the 2012 super hit movie ‘kahaani’. The sweet charm of Rabindra Sangeet continues to inspire hearts even a century after it was composed.
'Sare Jahan Se Acha..'
This is one of the most popular patriotic songs which the generations have sung with much vigor. A patriotic poem, written by the Urdu poet Muhammed Iqbal, for the children, it appeared in the 16 August 1906 issue of the Ittehad magazine. It was Iqbal himself who recited this poem at a college in Lahore. Mahatma Gandhi had once said that it was the poem ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’ which inspired him during the time of his imprisonment in the Yerwada jail in 1930.
The song was originally composed in the gazal style. It was noted musician Pandit Ravi Sankar who recomposed it in the present and the most popular version, for the 1945 movie Dharti Ka Lal. In an interview in 2009, Pandit Rai Sankar had said that he felt the original version of ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’ as a sad song.
From 1945 onwards, Indians have been singing Pandit Ravi Sankar’s version of ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’.
Bhatrat Bhagya Vidhata
‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’ written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore has inspired the Indian minds with patriotism and spirit of independence. These lines were sung for the first time at the 1911 Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress. In 1912, the song was published in the Tattwabodhini Patrika.
It was in 1945 that ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was used in a movie for the first time. The movie ‘Hum Rahi’, a remake of the Bengali film Udayer Pathey, was directed by Bimal Roy. RC Boral, the music composer, had used ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as a coir song in the movie.
‘Jana Gana Mana’ was declared as the national anthem of India in 1950.
Ek Naya Sansar Basalen..
In the beginning of the 1940’s when the Indian independence movement had reached its pinnacle, most of the movies released in the country during that time was filled with patriotic messages. The songs in those movies too reflected the spirit of the independence movements that was gathering momentum around the country.
Noted poet Pradip, wrote many poems and songs that rightly reflected the nationalistic ideals. He had used his art as a way of protest against the British Raj. Most popular among his patriotic songs is ‘Ek Naya Sansar Basalen’. It was included in the 1941 movie ‘Naya Sansar’. The song, rendered beautifully in the voices of Ashok Kumar and Renuka Chowdary, became a clarion call for an independent India. However, the British government had tried to curb the artistic expressions of the nationalist writers. The British censor board had changed the names of many movies that were released then. The name of the 1935 movie ‘Mahatma’ was changed to ‘Dharmatma’. During those days, the British hardly promoted anything which encouraged the term ‘Mahatma’.
Door Hatho Ae Duniya Walo
The song penned by poet Pradip became hugely popular during the time of the Quit India Movement. It was included in the movie ‘Kismet’ which was released in 1943. Anticipating action against this song by the British Censor Board, poet Pradip, in a bid to mislead the board, added the lines ‘Tum Na Kisi Ki Aage Chukna, German ho ya Japani’ (Don’t bow before anyone, be it the Germans or the Japanese). These lines gave the impression that the song criticized Germany and Japan during the Second World War. However, the rest of the song was about India. So this song was sung by people at many stages without fearing action from the British.
Hindustan Ke Hum, Hain Hindustan Hamara
This song is from the movie ‘Pehle Aap’ which was released in 1944. It is the first song that legendary vocalist Muhammed Rafi recorded as a play back singer. The song penned by DN Madhokwas was composed by Noushad. The beautiful lines of this song states that India belongs to the Indians. It also harshly criticizes the caste system that was prevalent in the Indian society. In that context, the song has great significance during the present era as well.
Ye Desh Humara Pyara Hindustan
The song which was very popular during the post independent times is from the 1946 movie ‘Humjoli’. Penned by Anjum Peeli Bheeti, the song was composed by Hafiz Khan. It had significance during the time of India’s partition as well. Singer Noorjahan, who sang this song, had migrated to Pakistan after the partition. ‘Ye Desh Hamara Pyara Hindustan’ appealed for the unity and integrity of the Indian state.