Stories in a song

Redemption song: ‘Itni Shakti Humein Dena Daata’ by Pushpa Pagdhare

The talented singer could not rise above her only hit tune.

Pushpa Pagdhare has reportedly sung over 500 songs in as many as 12 Indian languages. Her devotional songs in Marathi are often played at religious ceremonies. She has worked with such acclaimed music composers as OP Nayyar and MS Vishwanathan. Despite a prolific output, she is best remembered for “Itni Shakti Hamein Dena Daata” from the film Ankush (1986).

The bhajan has been composed by Kuldeep Singh. The film, starring Nana Patekar in one of his earliest roles, is also the debut of director N Chandra. Pushpa Pagdhare is accompanied by singer Sushma Shrestha. Pagdhare’s soothing vocals scores over Shreshta’s high pitch. The devotional song became so popular after its release that it was played at temples and schools to motivate children.

‘Itni Shakti Humein Dena Daata’.

The song is used twice in the film to inspire a group of unemployed men who are wasting their youth on anti-social activities. In the second version, four male singers, Murlidhar, Ghanashyam Vaswani, Shekhar Sawkar and Ashok Khosla, render the track.

Ankush was a sleeper hit and was also remade in Tamil and Kannada. The film is considered a cult classic, and Chandra credits the bhajan for the film’s success. In a 2012 interview, Chandra narrated an anecdote to emphasise the song’s everlasting legacy: “I think half the politicians of Delhi have that Bhajan as their caller tune, probably to hide their sins. I was in Dehradun when I heard one of the leading politicians there wanted to meet me. So I rang him and his caller tune was my song ‘Itni Shakti Humein Dena Daata.’”

Pushpa Pagdhare with an accompanying musician.
Pushpa Pagdhare with an accompanying musician.
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