Chin-O-Arab Hamara (Phir Subah Hogi – 1958)

Some months back, I decided to digitise all my old cassettes (Cassettes – remember – from those gone-by days?) I have a massive collection of old cassettes – some that belong to my parents and some that I collected over the years. Well, the project of digitising them got stuck – come to think of it, it never took off. But what I did do was listen to most of the cassettes in that treasure trove. One thing that struck me was that all the songs I am very fond of seem to have been penned by the same lyricist – Sahir Ludhianvi.  This post is about just one song of Sahir’s. A couple of other coincidences set me thinking about Sahir. First I spotted the recently released book on Sahir; Sahir Ludhianvi – The People’s Poet by Akshay Manwani at the bookstores and now it is on my list of books to read.

The second coincidence is directly related to one of Sahir’s finest songs. This week, the newspapers and media have been abuzz with two high profile happenings – the successful Mangalyaan mission to Mars and PM Modi’s visit to the U.S. Since both the events are events that are high in octane and patriotism, it is no surprise that there was a reference to the patriotic poem penned by Mohammad IqbalSaare Jahan Se Accha – which is invoked and remembered every time we have a national event that we are proud of.  I wanted to revive my memory about this poem and was looking for the exact lyrics of Tarana -E-Hindi (1904) (the name of the published poem), so I did some googling. The story is probably familiar to most Indians. Iqbal sang this in a speech in a college in Lahore, a few years before his entire world view was to change, making him eventually one of the frontliners who wanted a new land for the Muslims, Pakistan. During this googling, I came across the amended version of Tarana-E-Hindi ; published as Tarana-E-Milli (1910) which fully reflected his Islamic world view. The first verse of this poem immediately brought into mind, what Sahir had done with it. He turned the Islamic, communal lines on their head and made it a voice for the common man and espoused what he saw were the ills ailing the common man. It was a satirical take on the politics of the day and came close to be banned.

The lines from Tarana-E-Mili that he turned on to their head are:

Chin-o-arab hamaara
hindostaan hamaara
muslim hai hum, vatan hai saara jahaan hamaara.

The song – the sardonic Chin-o-Arab Hamaara from Phir Subah Hogi (1958):

Cheen-o-arab hamaara, hindostaaN hamaaraa
rahne ko ghar nahin hai, saraa jahan hamaaraa
cheen-o-arab hamaaraa …

Set to music by Khayyam, this was sung by Mukesh and was picturised on Raj Kapoor.

For more details on this song, this site on Sahir is a good read.

Phir Subah Hogi boasts of other equally captivating songs like the exquisitely romantic Mukesh-Asha duet Phir Na Kije Meri Gustakh Nigah Ka Gila. Asha’s vocals sound so very sweet as she mouths Sahir’s romantic words. This is from the phase of her career when thanks to O.P.Nayyar and S.D. Burman, she had graduated from singing for the vamp to the leading lady – a charming Mala Sinha in the initial phase of her career, where she was a little more underplayed and had not completely transformed into the bosom-heaving, melodramatic shrieking actress of the 1960s.

But my personal favourite is – the almost-bordering-on-cynicism, Aasmaan Pe Hai Khuda Aur Zameen Pe Hum sung by Mukesh.

While Raj Kapoor plays what he was so good at playing – the lovable tramp, please excuse me while I drool over the regal Rehman – looking especially handsome as he has a conversation with Kapoor in the beginning of this party song! Coming back to the song, its ironical – 50 years later, sadly the words still ring true:

aajkal kisi ko wo toktaa nahin, chaahe kuchh bhi kijiye roktaa nahin

aajkal kisi ko wo toktaa nahin, chaahe kuchh bhi kijiye roktaa nahin
ho rahi hai loot maar phat rahe hain bomb aasmaan pe hai Khudaa aur zameen pe ham
aajkal wo is taraf dekhtaa hai kam aasmaan pe hai Khudaa aur zameen pe ham



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