Ae mere pyare watan…

Ae mere bichde chaman, tujhpe dil kurbaan..

If you have heard this song – it will either give you goosebumps or make you cry – for sure. One of the most tear-jerking songs I have ever heard in my life, it belongs to the film Kabuliwala (basically a dry fruits and cloth merchant). I am sure that for most of you, the name will ring a bell, for we all read the story back in school. A gut-wrenching tale of an honest-to-god man from Kabul who leaves his country to earn more money in an alien place and befriends a little girl who makes his world come alive with her innocent companionship.

(thank you dustedoff)  Now, there are two films by        the  same name, one Bengali and the  other is Hindi. Of course,  both are based on  Rabindranath Tagore’s book.  But what you probably may not know is that the little girl in the Bengali film is Sharmila  Tagore’s younger sister. And it  was the Bengali film in 1956  that was the inspiration for the Hindi film of the same name, five years later.

Oh, I also believe Sharmila Tagore is the great grandniece of Tagore. It all runs in the family, I suppose. The protagonist, Balraj Sahni, in my opinion was the finest choice to play the role of the pathan. It so happens that he was a teacher of English and Hindi at Tagore’s learning institution – Shantiniketan – perhaps the reason behind the choice.

Kabuliwala was Bimal Roy and Salil Choudhary’s tenth project together in eight years. In fact, Salil’s foray into Hindi films was first made possible by Bimal Roy with his film Do Bigha Zameen, another masterpiece.

Back to my favourite song, I found out that Bollywood’s most revered villain, Pran, was moved to tears when he heard this song. You may not know that Pran belonged to Sindh and he came to India after the Partition. See? If it can give the scariest man the boo-hoos, then no one else is a match.  ———————–>> That’s what he probably looked like when he heard the song.

17 thoughts on “Ae mere pyare watan…

  1. Oh yes, this is such a touching song. A line my dad loves to recite to me ‘maa ka dil ban ke kabhi seene se lag jaata hai tu, aur kabhi nanhi si beti ban ke yaad aata hai tu’. Damn, I am going to look it up on you tube and listen to it now.

  2. Ae mere pyare watan is what I list as my favourite ‘patriotic song’, mainly because the love for one’s country is so deep in that, that it’s an emotional bond – yet not the somewhat jingoistic beating over others’ heads that happened in Manoj Kumar’s later films!

    This also happens to be one of my favourite Manna Dey songs. Lovely.

  3. Have you seen the Bengali version of the film? DO watch it, it’s awesome. Great performance by Chhabi Biswas.

    • Hi Sharmi, no I haven’t! But I do know that bengalis swear by it 🙂 and i also believe the bong version is better.. i will see it now that you said it, but it better have subtitles!

  4. U know what… ur blog always brings smile to my face…I too love Hindi film trivia , and this happens to be amongst the many interests we have in common. 🙂 Keep posting in !

  5. This is a wonderful song, and I can completely identify with the emotions in that song, partly because I left India in ’81, and to a large extent because with the passing away of my inlaws and mother, and my father coming here to live with me, my reasons for visiting India are no longer there. None of the other patriotic songs have ever moved me to this extent , esp the part where he sings, Sabse pyari subah teri, sabse rangeen teri shaam …. I still remember the early morning sounds that I could hear in India, the sabziwalla plying his wares, the school buses going on their rounds, the crows cawing noisily, and so on, as well as the evening sounds, the sound of children playing downstairs, in the maidan, a ball landing inside our compound, someone coming to get it, and my dad yelling at them to close the gate on their way out! Unforgettable! I apologize for rambling but this song and your description made me sentimental!

    • Hi Lalitha! I am not surprised that this song means that much to you, it is known to stir everyone’s soul 🙂 I suppose you could come to India though, and surely it doesn’t need a reason? I mean the most obvious could be sightseeing! 🙂
      But the good part is that you have a song that connects you to here. And by the way, nothing has changed in that description of yours. It’s all still here – the noisy kids playing ball, the crows, the bhaji walas – everything is still the same. 🙂 I hope you do get a chance to come back soon and experience the wonder that is India! take care 🙂

  6. Just to add – the song is picturised on Balraj Sahni, thought he doesn’t lip sync to it. But no qualms, since his eyes have so much more to say. 🙂

    • I think it brings a touch of realism if actors don’t lip sync to songs all the time, don’t you think? 🙂 And Balraj Sahni probably didn’t need to lip sync – you are right – he has such expressive eyes!

      • Yes, true. Not all heroes can have a good voice in a film. I think that’s where movies like ‘Padosan’ (1968) make a mark. Sunil Dutt doesn’t have even one song in the movie 🙂

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