hindi film music

Are you patriotic tonight? Here is a songlist that will make your heart swell with pride

India’s greatness has been frequently celebrated through nationalist songs, as proven by our potted list.

Bharat Mata Ki from Shanghai (2012) is a rare film song about India that does not celebrate its greatness and glory. Shanghai director Dibakar Banerjee, who also wrote the song’s lyrics, lampoons the state of the nation through the words Gurr bhi hai, gobar bhi hai, Bharat mata ki jai (It’s both jaggery and cow dung, hail mother India). The song was passed by the Central Board of Film Certification, unlike in the days when films were censored for inciting nationalist pride.

Patriotic songs in Hindi films range from gently prodding tunes to blood vessel-bursting paeans. They were especially useful in movies made during the freedom struggle to articulate what the rest of the screenplay couldn’t. Since independence, they have served as occasionally forceful reminders of our duty towards our flag.

Before 1947, pro-freedom themes were tucked into mythologicals and historicals, and not all of them managed to escape censorship by the colonial government. The silent film Bhakta Vidur (1921), based on the Mahabharata epic, was the first Indian film to be pulled out of circulation because its lead character was modelled on Mahatma Gandhi. In 1930, the silent film Swarajyacha Toran (Flags of Freedom), about the Maratha warrior Shivaji, was renamed Udaykal. Sohrab Modi’s Pukar (1939), Sikandar (1941), Prithvi Vallabh (1943) were covertly nationalistic dramas in the guise of historicals.

One of the best-known nationalistic numbers from the pre-1947 era is Chal Chal Re Naujawan, written by Pradeep for the movie Bandhan (1940). “Though the film was not based on a patriotic theme, a situation was created for this song and when it came to screen, the audience went delirious with excitement,” writes Pradeep’s daughter, Mitul Pradeep, in the book Legends of Indian Silver Screen. “Wherever the film was screened, the theatres had the public shouting ‘once more’ and the film had to be reversed to show the song repeatedly. The songs were a direct attack on the British government. Though British censors unknowingly cleared it, belated realisation dawned on the song’s implications. They ordered to arrest Kavi Pradeep and he went underground for a year.”

‘Chal Chal Re Naujawan’.

The song’s success promoted Pradeep to request the producers of the film Kismet (1943) to include the song Door Hato Aye Duniyawaalon Hindustan Hamara Hai (Stay away outsiders, India belongs to us).

After independence, the songs reflected the general mood of jubilation. Shaheed (1948) brandished the Indian tricolour in the opening credits with the song Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan playing in the background. The revolutionary hero Ram (Dilip Kumar), was not modelled on a freedom fighter but represented the ordinary viewer. Andolan (1951), Anand Math (1952) and Jhansi Ki Rani (1953) all dealt with various struggles for independence. A popular song from this period is Vande Mataram, sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar for Anand Math.

‘Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan’.

Films such as Mother India (1957) and Naya Daur (1957) captured in different ways the Nehruvian nation-building project. Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka from Naya Daur, written by Sahir Ludhianvi, reflected the upbeat spirit.

The progressive wave carried over in Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein (Hum Hindustani, 1960). Lyricist Prem Dhawan suggested through the song that it was time to forget the past and move into a new nation. Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe (Ganga Jumna, 1961), written by Shakeel Badayuni, suggested that Indians should follow in the righteous path of Gandhi and assume leadership of the newly independent country through the words Neta tumhi ho kal ke (You are tomorrow’s leader).

Patriotism arrived with a tinge of sadness in Kar Chale Hum Fida, written by Kaifi Azmi and sung with great passion by Mohammed Rafi for Haqeeqat (1964), which explores the 1962 Indo-China War. The same year, Rafi sang another crowd-puller, Apni Azaadi Ko Hum, written by Shakeel Badayuni for Leader.

‘Kar Chale Hum Fida’.

Manoj Kumar proved to be a good model for Bhagat Singh when he took on the role of the freedom fighter in Shaheed (1965). Kumar fashioned a number of patriotic films after Shaheed’s success. Upkaar (1967), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Roti and Kapda Aur Makaan (1974) all had the leading man cast as a son of the soil who stands up for Indian values and wages a non-violent protest against many social evils, including Western culture. The song Mere Desh Ki Dharti from Upkaar, written by Gulshan Bawra, depicted India as a golden goose. By the ’70s , Kumar’s patriotic streak had hardened into hyper-nationalism, best embodied in the song Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada from Purab Aur Paschim (1970).

‘Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada’.

Hindi cinema’s suspicion of invading outsiders and treacherous domestic enemies got full expression in the ’80s. Films such as Karma (1986), Mr India (1987) and Elaan-E-Jung (1989) popularised larger-than-life villains such as Dr Dang and Mogambo. The song Aye Watan Tere Liye (Karma), written by Anand Bakshi, became the new go-to pop patriotic tune.

A number of films in the ’90s, including Tirangaa (1992) and Dijale (1996), feature Islamist terrorists waging war on India. The operatic Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai (Roja, 1992), written by PK Mishra and composed by AR Rahman in his film debut, is a rare instance of a nationalist song that is also a great tune. Bharat Humko starts like a hymn, rises into a rousing anthem and ends with a stunning chorus finish, reiterating the need to move into a new direction.

‘Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai’.

The ’90s and 2000s too have their share of rousing numbers and flag-thumpers, including Hindustan Hindustan (Border, 1997), Yeh Mera India (Pardes, 1997), Zindagi Maut Na Bann Jaaye (Sarfarosh, 1999), Chale Chalo (Lagaan, 2001) Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, 2000), Desh Mere (The Legend of Bhagat Singh, 2002), Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera (Swades, 2004), Khoon Chala (Rang De Basanti, 2006) and Des Rangila (Fanaa, 2006).

One of the most earnest nationalistic songs is sung by a character who pines for his country from afar. In Aye Mere Pyare Watan (Kabuliwala, 1961), the Afghan immigrant Abdul Rehman Khan (Balraj Sahni), who lives in Kolkata, is shown yearning for his family in Kabul. In a welcome reversal, the song articulates a rare universal spirit, proving that music truly has no nationality.

‘Aye Mere Pyare Watan’.
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Now that you’ve reached the top, how often do you say, “Thank You”?

What kind of a leader are you?

How do you define success? The typical picture of success is a large bank balance, expensive material possessions and fame. But for some, success is happiness that comes from fulfilling a childhood dream or attaining a sense of purpose. For those, success is not about the volume of an applause or the weight of a gold medal, but about showing gratitude and sharing success with the people without whom the journey would be incomplete. Here are a few ways you can share your success with others:


While it sounds simple and formulaic, a genuine, emphatic and honest speech can make everyone feel like they are a part of a winning team. For a personal touch, acknowledge the team’s efforts by mentioning each one of them by name and thanking them for their unique contributions. Hearing their own name makes people feel proud and honoured.

Realise the success should be passed on

Instead of basking in the glory of their own achievements, good leaders encourage, motivate and inspire others to achieve success. A good leader should acknowledge his own mistakes, share his experience and knowledge and cultivate an environment where every milestone is an accomplishment for everyone in the team. Talk about challenges, the personal and professional struggles that you had to overcome. Sharing setbacks helps others to relate to you and helps them overcome struggles they may be facing.


Nothing beats shaking-off the deadlines, work-pressure and fatigue by celebrating success together. Enjoying a job well done together as a team brings about a spirit of camaraderie. A catered lunch, evening drinks or a weekend off-site, the important thing is to enjoy the win with people who have gone through the same struggle.

Keep it flexible

The last thing you want is for work celebrations to become monotonous and repetitive. Not all milestones have to be celebrated in a grand manner, some can just be acknowledged with gestures such as personal Thank You notes or writing a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Make success more meaningful

Go beyond numbers, sales targets and profits and add meaning to the achievement. Reminding everyone of the larger purpose inspires people. It’s easy to lose interest when you do something in a routine fashion. Giving a larger meaning to success makes people feel more involved and energized.

Great leaders are those who share their victories with others. They acknowledge that the path to success is collaborative. Great leaders don’t stand in front of their team, but are found working amongst them. This video is an ode to such leaders who epitomise the Chivas culture and know how to Win The Right Way. Follow Chivas on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Chivas Studio Music CDs and not by the Scroll editorial team.