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I’m not an admirer of Winston Churchill. The only time I talk of Churchill is when I quote his famous phrase: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”. Churchill talked in the context of the successful Battle of Britain; I use this quotation to explain the Pareto Principle.

There’s another great Churchill quote as the British tried to understand the role of Russia at the beginning of the Second World War: “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.

Hindi cinema has had more than its share of puzzles, and we have our own evocative ways to describe them. For example, Gulzar asks: jaane kya sonch kar nahi guzaraa, ek pal raat bhar nahi guzaraa. So listen to this lovely collection of songs and try to guess that common underlying thread. Jaane kya baat hai inn haseen nagmon mein?

Here is Nargis singing raja ki aayegi baraat [1] in Aah (1953). Lata’s voice is mesmerizingly beautiful; it makes Nargis look even more radiant. Or listen to his riveting song that Johnny Walker sings mai bambai ka babu [2] in Naya Daur (1957). Or here’s the irrepressible Johnny Walker again singing ae dil hai mushkil [3] in CID (1956). And who can forget the angelic Madhubala asking pyar kiya to darna kya [4] in Mughal-e-Azam (1960).

Or let’s listen to two of Raj Kapoor’s boys – and who’d have imagined that Rishi Kapoor would go away first? Here’s Randhir Kapoor in Bangalore’s Lalbagh Park (gloriously empty) singing yeh jawani hai diwani [5] to an unimpressed Jaya Bhaduri in Jawani Diwani (1972). And here’s Rishi Kapoor rollicking over a record with om shanti om [6] in Karz (1980).

Here’s a personal favourite; in my view the only good song composed by Bappi Lahiri: Simi is with Dev Anand’s bekaar nephew Vishal as he sings chalte chalte [7] in Chalte Chalte (1976). Or let’s move to an exuberant Shashi Kapoor as he threatens Mumu’s baap that dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge [8] in Chor Machaye Shor (1974). Finally I invite you to listen to an absolute classic from Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960) with Shailendra’s touching poetry and Mukesh and Lata scaling high musical heights.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Fu_O7y-dg

jis desh meinAa ab laut chale. Nain bichhaaye, baahen pasaare, tujhako pukaare desh tera.  Aa ab laut chale.
[Come let’s return home. Your country is calling you with wide open eyes and welcoming arms. Come let’s return to our homeland]

Aankh hamaari manzil par hai, dil mein khushi ki mast lahar hai, laakh lubhaaye mahal paraaye, apna ghar fir apana ghar hai
[Our eyes are transfixed on our goal, our heart is rejuvenated by a wave of joy, foreign palaces can’t entice us, our home is after all our very own. Come let’s return to our homeland]


[1] Nargis-Raj Kapoor + Lata Mangeshkar + SJ-Shailendra. Aah (1953)
[2] Johnny Walker + Rafi + O P Nayyar-Sahir. Naya Daur (1957)
[3] Johnny Walker + Rafi + O P Nayyar-Majrooh. CID (1956)
[4] Madhubala-Prithviraj Kapoor-Dilip Kumar + Lata Mangeshkar + Naushad-Shakeel Badayuni. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)
[5] Randhir Kapoor-Jaya Bhaduri + Kishore Kumar + R D Burman-Anand Bakshi. Jawani Diwani (1972)
[6] Rishi Kapoor + Kishore Kumar + LP- Anand Bakshi. Karz (1980)
[7] Simi-Vishal Anand + Kishore Kumar + Bappi Lahiri-Amit Khanna. Chalte Chalte (1976)
[8] Shashi Kapoor-Mumtaz + Kishore Kumar-Asha Bhosle + Ravindra Jain-Inderjeet Singh Tulsi. Chor Machaye Shor (1974)

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