Ten of my favourite bird songs

Birdsong? No, really. Bird songs.

I spent a bit of last Sunday at Delhi’s Okhla Barrage Bird Sanctuary. The barrage on the Yamuna hosts a vast number of migratory birds through the winter. Most of them are gone by this time of the year, but there’s plenty of bird life still to be seen:

The sight of all those lovely birds reminded me of all the great ‘bird songs’ we have in Hindi cinema – a motif, oddly enough, that’s endured into relatively recent times, what with the (to me, excruciating) Kabootar jaa jaa and Chhat pe kaala kauwa baitha. Birds have always been very much a part of Hindi film songs. With lovers being likened to parakeets and mynahs, or a pair of swans; or a pining lover being assigned the role of a chukar partridge yearning for the moon (not something I have ever heard of a bird doing). Or, more commonly, pigeons and crows and kites and whatnot.

So. Inspired by all these birds, I’ve come up with my list of ten songs that feature birds, or names of birds. They’re all pre-70s songs (though, admittedly, birds were alive and kicking through the 70s too: remember Jhooth bole kauwa kaate? Remember Ek daal par tota bole? Or Tota-mynah ki kahaani toh puraani?). They’re all from films I’ve watched, and they’re all species-specific. No generic panchhis here. (Though, to be fair, there are some awesome songs on those too: Chal ud jaa re panchhi, Jaa re jaa re ud jaa re panchhi, Panchhi banoon udti phiroon mast gagan mein, etc. Another post).

And to make it more difficult for myself, I decided this had to be ten different birds. No repeats.

Here goes.

1. Suno sajna papihe ne (Aaye Din Bahaar Ke, 1966): While the papiha (the hawk cuckoo, better known as the brain-fever bird) got labelled a gossipy tittle-tattle in Fariyaad, this song assigns the bird a kinder role – as the harbinger of spring. Interestingly, it is believed that the papiha’s call is actually ‘pee kahaan’ – Hindi for ‘where is my love?’, good enough reason for lyricists to want to feature it in love songs. I love this song; Lata sings it very well, it has beautiful music (and bird call-like notes too!); and the picturisation includes two of my favourite people.

2. Jangal mein mor naacha (Madhumati, 1958): Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while probably know how much I love this song. It’s brilliantly picturised, the music’s awesome (as if Rafi’s voice, tripping along in that drunken but perfectly in sur way) and Johnny Walker is at his absolute best. It is also delightful evidence of the fact that a peacock, dancing, can draw people’s attention off just anything possible.

3. O meri mynah tu maan le mera kehna (Pyaar Kiye Jaa, 1966): What a peppy, cute song – from Mehmood and Mumtaz’s dancing to Manna Dey’s and Usha Mangeshkar’s rollicking singing. And it celebrates the feistiest of India’s more ubiquitous birds. (I’m assuming it’s the common mynah Rajinder Krishan was referring to when he wrote this song).  Mynahs have oodles of character – you can see it in those sharp-eyed little faces, and in the nonchalance with which they peck on the fringes of roads, just inches from speeding trucks. I’d say it’s quite a compliment to be called a mynah by one’s beloved.
Just one niggle: why the cross-species romance? I have never seen a mynah and a parakeet (or a pigeon) billing and cooing together.

4. Cheel cheel chillaake kajri sunaaye (Half Ticket, 1962): Also one of the most amusing train songs there is, this one’s a fabulous little tableau of life in a train carriage: the lovers cooing among themselves; the lalaji whose paunch is ample evidence of a life lived well; the crook being carted off by the police; and the madcap passenger who will entertain everyone. A completely whacky Kishore Kumar is accompanied and assisted by a handful of merry children and a dholakwallah as uninhibited as Kishore Kumar himself. Little detail: the dholakwallah, in this song where “jhoom-jhoom kauwa bhi dholak bajaaye” (“the crow plays the dholak merrily”) has a face as angular and sharp as a crow’s!
Oh, and a record four species of birds is mentioned in this song: the black kite (cheel), crow (kauwa), parakeet (tota) and mynah. Since the cheel is the most prominent in the lyrics, that’s the species I’m going to ‘allot’ this song to.

5. Ek tha gul aur ek thi bulbul (Jab Jab Phool Khile, 1965): Though both Kismet (1943) and its remake Boyfriend (1961) had a song each in which the loved one was likened to a bulbul, this is the quintessential bulbul song – it’s about a bulbul that makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with a flower. And I thought cross-species romances were a bad idea; this would be doomed from the word go. But the essence of the song seems to be that if one loves another, that love should be as lasting and true as that of the bulbul’s and the flower’s.
Whatever; the music’s good, the scenery’s awesome, and Rafi is at his best. And there really aren’t too many songs out there that are stories about birds.

6. Kuchh din pehle ek taal mein (Laajwanti, 1958): A comparatively little-known Nargis/Balraj Sahni film, but with great music—including this song, which is yet another story featuring birds. It is also the story of our tragic heroine, who chooses to recount the sorrow of her life to a group of cute little kids, who all end up weeping as a result of the story. I don’t care for the unhappiness here, but the music, and Asha Bhonsle’s rendition of the song, are wonderful.
Coincidentally (or are swans such everlasting symbols of fidelity in Indian tradition?), Do hanson ka joda from Ganga-Jamuna is also about a pair of swans that is separated by fate.

7. Kaahe koyal shor machaaye re (Aag, 1948): Nargis again, but a younger, more girlish Nargis, singing now in the voice of Shamshad Begum. She’s on a stage, surrounded by silent lookers-on, men operating the lights and watching her critically, but her angst at the noisy koel—whose call serves to remind her of her lost love—looks very real indeed. A short song, and there’s something rather gawkish about Nargis (and I must admit to not liking Aag at all), but the song is good.

8. Bhor hote kaaga (Chirag, 1969): Another song-on-a-stage, and (a first in this list!) the bird in question actually spends a good bit of time onscreen. It is a stuffed crow, from what I can tell—its ‘flying’ is definitely artificial, and the aplomb with which Asha Parekh sweeps it off the wall couldn’t have been possible with a live, sharp-beaked crow. But there’s a hint here of the crow’s legendary canniness: our heroine believes this crow to have the ability to tell her who will come visiting her village!

9. Chalat musaafir moh liya re (Teesri Kasam, 1966): Someone commented on another of my lists the other day, saying that it’s unreasonable for me to confine my lists to songs from films that I’ve seen, because films are often hard to get hold of, and songs can be appreciated in isolation too. True. But sometimes you can appreciate the song more fully if you know the context. This wonderful folksy Manna Dey song, for instance, is (on the surface) about a cage-bound munia that manages (how?) to savour the best of life, by alighting at the shops of a sweet-seller, a paan-seller and a cloth-seller. But if you look behind the words, there’s also the bitter-sweet reference to the beautiful Heerabai, the dancing girl who is caught in the cage of her own profession. She too wants to have it all, but will she? Will her cage not keep her bound?

10. Murge ne jhooth bola (Manmauji, 1962): I don’t suppose any self-respecting bird watcher would put a rooster on his or her list of birds spotted, but anyway: a rooster too is a bird, so it qualifies for this list. Like Cheel-cheel chillaake, this song too features more than one bird: there’s a crow and a sparrow (referred to as a ‘chidiya’, though a sparrow is, strictly speaking, a gauraiyya). And both the rooster and the sparrow are wicked birds: one’s a liar and the other’s a thief.
The kiddie version of the song, with live birds instead of models, is worth a look too.

Do you have any favourite bird songs? And do you know of any other songs featuring birds of species other than the ones I’ve listed? (I can think of two, but both from films I haven’t seen: Chaand ko kya maaloom chahta hai use koi chakor from Laal Bangla, and Teetar ke do aage teetar from Mera Naam Joker). Oh, and there’s Kabootar, kabootar from Dillagi—a film I’ve seen and rather like, but a song I find irritating.

128 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite bird songs

    • Yes, it certainly does count! (In fact, I did mention it, even though I didn’t list it – mainly because I only do songs from pre-70s films here. :-)

      I’m so glad you like Jangal mein mor naacha. That is one of my favourite songs, ever. So brilliant in all ways.

  1. Very creative DO – associating a half Sunday birdwatching with so many excellent birdsongs!

    Some additional favorites of mine (to some u’ve listed):
    Bole re papihara – Guddi
    Ek daal par tota bole – Chor machaye shor
    Chal udja re panchhi – Bhabhi
    Panchhi banu udti firu – Chori Chori
    Koyal boli duniya doli – Sargam
    Nindiya se jaagi bahar/aisa mausam dekha pehli baar/Koyal kuke – Hero
    Dil mera ek aas ka panchhi – Aas ka panchhi

    Panchhi maybe generic but still refers to birds so I’m putting these songs :D

    • Thank you, Simplegal! I like most of the songs you’ve listed, though didn’t include them mainly because they’re either ‘newer’ than the 60s, or because they’re ‘generic’. But all those panchhi songs are absolutely fantastic – I seriously think they merit a separate post all their own. (On that topic, how about the beautiful O panchhi pyaare from Bandini?)

      • O panchhi pyare is amazing – Bandini has some really fantastic songs. One of my faves from the movie is Ab ke baras bhejo bhaiyya ko babul. Legend has it that Asha Bhosle actually broke down singing the song – she was so very moved by it.

        A post on animal-related songs would be fantastic. I would put in a booking for one of my faves – Chad gayo papi bichhuwa from Madhumati. I absolutely adore that song. Sorry – too many digressions from your main topic. :-)

        • Yes, Bandini had absolutely superb music. I can well imagine why Asha would have started crying singing Ab ke baras bhejo bhaiyya ko. I get dewy-eyed everytime I hear O re maajhi – though I must admit that more than half the amazingly haunting feel of that song is in SD Burman’s voice…

          Oh, I don’t mind digressions at all! In fact, I welcome them with open arms. :-) I had been thinking about a post on animal songs too, so yes: great minds think alike! Will add your suggestion to the top of the list right now. Thank you!

        • In the old DD Programme ‘Yeh hai Asha’, I remember Asha mentioning this fact and also the reason. She said that she remembered the time when she was newly married and her husband didn’t allow her to visit her ‘maika’. I am not sure if she mentioned that she remembered this event while singing or if she was going through this trauma at that period.

          • I just read that Asha’s first marriage broke up in 1960 and she went back home to her parents… since Bandini was released in 1963, this may have been just after her marriage collapsed. Perhaps she was still experiencing the trauma (I guess the recording of the song must’ve happened in 1962 or so?)

  2. I really thought the post would be about ‘birds’ and your experience at the sanctuary, and their ‘songs’.
    What a pleasant surprise it was what it turned out to be!!
    That was really clever DO :)
    I’ve thought of all kinds of ‘tens’, but never bird songs.

    Please, please forgive me for naming a song from a film which is absolutely contemporary (2010), but it happens to be my all time favourite film (it is soooo hialriously satirical) with a very funny ‘ULLOO? song.
    The film is ‘Tere Bin Laden’ (I just love this film).

    The poor owl in hindi/urdu is termed ‘silly’ unlike the English ‘wise’.

    • And the photographs are gorgeous. Did you take them on this day of your visit?
      My favourite is the last one. The angle from which it has been taken is fantastic, making the goldeny dried beans form a canopy behind the pair of robbins (?)

    • I’m so glad you liked the post, pacifist! I decided it was time to be a little offbeat, and my visit to the bird sanctuary provided just the right inspiration. :-)

      Oh, I don’t mind you posting a contemporary song at all! That was fun, even though I’d never heard it before. I’ve been meaning to watch Tere Bin Laden ever since bollyviewer recommended it, but the DVD rental company never seem to have it in stock. Someday!

      That video in fact reminded me of another (very different) fairly new song which is also about birds:

      One of my favourite songs from the noughties.

      P.S. Thank you for the appreciation for my photos! Yes, they’re mine, all of them, taken on Sunday at the Okhla Barrage. And the last one is a pair of red-vented bulbuls – Ek tha bulbul or ek thi – ek aur – bulbul? ;-)

      • Is there really a place (a village?) called Okhla in Delhi? I remember hearing of it in the movie Aarzoo. Rajendra Kumar’s character-in-disguise is Sarju from Okhla village. Lovely pictures – of lovely birds – inspiring lovely birdsongs!

        • I’d forgotten about Rajinder Kumar’s disguised character having an Okhla connection! But yes, Okhla is an area in Delhi – in fact a very large area. It stretches from beside the Yamuna (during British days, the Okhla Sailing Club used to be very popular among fashionable Dilliwallahs). Today, riverside Okhla consists in a large part of the bird sanctuary. Most of the rest of Okhla – further into the city – is actually industrial area. A lot of MNCs have their offices there. So do other factories and so on. Very mundane!

  3. Wonderful post on a very unusual theme. It was a pleasure to find my all time favourite Kahe koel shor machaye re, which is in fact, my favourite across genres. I am hesitant to mention any song which I feel should figure in the list, knowing your condition that the film should have been seen you. (I was the one to have suggested not to make such rigid restriction, many fabulous songs fitting your different themes get left out. I have also seen your reiteration of your position). For whatever it is worth let me mention an absolutely fantastic chakori song Hae chanda gaye pardes chakori ab ro ro marey from Chakori (1949) composed by Hansraj Bahal, sung by Lata Mangeshkar.

    • Yes, AK: I remember it was you who told me not to be so strict about what songs I’d list – but oh, well: that’s just how I do it! And there are plenty of other people out there to draw attention to less well-known songs… like that lovely song from Chakori. I had never heard it before, but am listening to it right now. So beautiful: it’s really well sung, and the music provides such a lovely backdrop to Lata’s voice.

  4. Wow!
    You can be relied upon for quite unusual themes for your list. Though this is not at all unusual. After all there are so many bird songs in Hindi films. I am hampered by the fact, that I don’t know many hindi bird names. Like for e.g., I like the song ‘chalat musafir’ from Teesri Kasam, but didn’t know that muniya is a bird and I was damn confused why muniya (little girl) is sitting in the cage and was wondering if the lyricist was equating the nautanki-lady with the cage-girls of Bombay!
    Watching the song ‘Murge ne jhooth bola’, I thought that a list of songs where a character meets a lost relative on the basis of a song would be great. And since I am total failure at making lists; I think I have two in peto and never been able to make a comprehensible text for it; how about you making one?.
    BTW I was also wondering who came up with the cross-species love stories of tota and mynah. But maybe they are just allusions to you know what.
    BTW love cheel cheel chilake!

    • Thank you. :-) Yes, I don’t think one can think of the bird motif as unusual in Hindi cinema – it’s just too ubiquitous, birds are used so commonly as metaphors for lovers (the original ‘birds and the bees’?! Or just a more censor-friendly way of depicting lovers?). And also as a symbol of freedom – the panchhi songs especially seem to have a lot to do with flying away into the wide blue sky.

      Ah, a list of songs where characters meet lost relatives on the basis of a song would be indeed interesting! Do please do that – I’d love to see your list! Forget about writing comprehensible text if you don’t have the time or are suffering from writer’s block – just write out the list and link the songs. Am really looking forward to that! (Please, please, can you put Tum bin jaaoon kahaan on it? Father-mother-son meet because of that).

      Now I’m all pepped up, Harvey. Please do your list! :-)

      • Thanks for the link madhu. really sweet of you.
        when I was talking of two lists, I meant my two other lists, of which I’ve been talking about since October last year. one is of lullabies, which I wanted to post for christmas and the other one is on bhajans, the latter one we have been discussing since we met on blogosphere, I think!
        The lullaby post is in fact, nearly finished but I just can’t get myself ot give it its finishing touches! Post Easter, most probably!
        BTW the way you boost me up, does me real good! :-)

        • Oh, okay! Those lists; yes, we have been discussing bhajans (even, I think to some extent, loris ever since we met in the blogosphere. :-) Please do them; I’d love to see your lists! And especially now that you’ve told me the lullaby one is nearly done, I can’t wait. Not, at least, till Easter – come on, that’s almost a month away! :-(

  5. Thanks for another fine and fun list! I think my favorite of the above is the song from Aag.

    I have a number of my own favorites (including a few peacock dances), but for now, I just wanted to mention “Mera Mann Ka” from Amar Deep:

    • Loved that, Richard! I can’t remember whether I’ve heard that song before or not, but I’ve certainly never seen it. Loved the dancing and the music (and Dev Anand, I must admit). And it’s an obscure little detail, but I also loved the way the flowers shower down every time she grabs the branch and shakes it… very pretty!

      • Oh, pacifist! You’ve picked one of my favourite ‘kiddie’ songs ever! This is such a cute song; Honey Irani is a doll, and I love the fact that it’s actually been sung by a child. Ranu Mukherjee’s voice is so obviously a kid’s, with that slightly breathless quality to it, and the occasional going faintly off-tune… it adds to the charm of the song, much more than a song sung by an adult pretending to be a child.

        Thank you for that. :-)

    • That song’s a complete menagerie in itself! :-D Will keep it mind for whenever I decide to do an ‘animal songs’ list. I have Ab Dilli Door Nahin in my do-watch list of films, so I’ll probably see it one of these days.

  6. As you you and posters have gone through all of my favourite bird songs (¡what a lovely theme!) I will add something slightly different.

    You may know that in Punjab a crow cawking on your wall is considered as a sign that welcome visitors will be arriving soon (anywhere esle where crows have this positive omen?)
    Here is a song about it (dire crow by the way), picturised on the supposed Madhubala lookalike. Totally superficial resemblence, in my opinion, sung nicely by Asha Bhonsle

    • Okay, Bawa – you’ve solved that mystery (to me, at least) of why in Bhor hote kaaga, the crow is supposed to tell her who will be coming to visit her village… I liked that song you shared, it was well sung by Asha. What’s the name of the actress, by the way? She does resemble Madhubala, but in a sort of loud way.

      P.S. I realised this only after I’d posted another comment, below, the one with Mori atariya pe kaaga bole… that also uses the same bit of folk lore you’d mentioned; that the cawing of a crow means visitors are in the offing.

      • While the songwriters took the kaaga/coming notion of the legend for romantic expectations, another one about the eye twitching was used in a similar fashion.
        I remember a song, ‘meri aankh phadakti hai re aaj kuch hone wala hai’ (usually a romantic meeting etc.)

        Tota- maina is an expression (derived from the story) used commonly, but I never really found out what. I often heard people say ‘are yeh sab tota maina ki kahaniyan hain’ (oh these are just tota-maina tales).

        These tales seem to be very ancient 6th century.
        Here’s a link to a collection of these stories.


        • Yes, that old wives’ tale about a twitching eyelid being an omen of something, is also popular here. My mother-in-law in fact says that it all depends on which eye’s lid twitches – if it’s the right, it means good luck is in the offing; if it’s the left, bad luck is coming. Or vice-versa; I’ve forgotten!

          I’ve also heard of the Tutinama – it was a very popular book among the Mughals – and of course that saying about something being a “tota-mynah ki kahaani” is common enough. I guess it was originally not meant to be what Hindi films made them – a love story between a tota and a mynah!

          Thank you for the link.

      • This is getting so weird! This film was one of a group of Punjabi religious sort of films that Sunil Dutt produced/starred in at the tail-end of his career in the 1970s. I remembered this song from the radio and punjabi Chitrahaar. The lady in question is Sona and I remeember reading a few articles where they were trying to push the Madhubala likeness.

        It turns out that the notorious Don/smuggler, etc. of the 60s and 70s Mumbai was in love with Madhubala (the real one) – was heart-broken when she died. Sona was launched into films (by Haji Mastan?) and he eventually married her, as a Madhubala lookalike.

        And now apparently this topic is not too stale becuase there is a ¿recent? Ajay Devgan film starring him as Haji Mastan (well a Bollywood biopic one) called Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, and I have just watched an interview with Sona about how angry she was that she was not consulted….

        – resembles…in a loud way… ¡what an apt description!

        • I remember hearing about Haji Mastaan when I was a kid; my father was a police officer, so occasionally in conversation the ace smuggler’s name would crop up. I never knew he had a Madhubala connection, even if tenuous enough to have only been the filmi connection. I have seen publicity material of Once Upon a Time in Mumbai floating around. Hadn’t realised it was about Haji Mastaan. But does the Sona character have a role in it? (And I wonder who played her, if she does)

          • Somebody called Kangana Ranaut gets to play Madhubala in the film. The interview with Sona suggested she was very unhappy with the film, because they had not consulted her. Even I remember Haji Mastaan as the underworld kingpin from newspapers.

            • I have heard of Kangna Ranaut (she provides a fair bit of juicy fodder for newspaper mills!), but have never seen any of her films, as far as I can remember…

    • I think the crow’s caw as an omen for visiting guests is quite common in India. It is well known in the south. My mum would regularly say when guests arrived that she was wondering since morning who will be arriving today since the crow started crowing very early today!

  7. OK, since Pacifist posted two clips, I won’t feel as though I’m hogging the comments page by doing the same. :) I wanted to mention, I love this song with Asha on Rehana in Parda (1949)… But I haven’t seen the film, and I know this as a bird song only from the picturization (which makes it look very much like a bird song)… The Hindi speakers out there will have to confirm re. how much of a bird song it really is.

    • No, Richard, unfortunately not. There’s nothing there about birds; it’s all about this girl being in love with her sweetheart, no more. She just seems to live in a place where she’s surrounded by very tame birds who let her do just about what she wants with them! But, lovely song. And do feel absolutely free to hog the comments page! I love being introduced to songs I’ve never heard before, or haven’t heard for a long while.

      By the way, since you like older songs, here’s one that you may like. I’d have certainly listed it if I’d seen the film:

      (the music sounds warped in this clip, but if you just want to listen to the song and not watch Nalini Jaywant, this is a better audio clip):

  8. What a fabulous post! My favourite is of course, the Mehmood-Mumu “Oh meri mynah!”. It’s as chirpy as mynahs are.

    Is the Madhubala look-alike her sister, Sona? Or is this someone else altogether?

    • I simply adore O meri mynah too – it’s a favourite song for me when I’m feeling low, because it never fails to cheer me up!

      I must confess I hadn’t known Madhubala’s sister also acted. But I did a little bit of searching around, and found this song which features both sisters (though the other sister is billed as Chanchal, not Sona – was there a third sister?). Coincidentally enough, this song also talks about a chakori, so it could be said to fit into this post too!

  9. Fabulous list as usual, looks like you’re the Queen of song lists on the blogosphere ;) two favourite birdie songs that come to mind are the wonderful Do paanchi do chinke from the somewhat excreable Tapasya but Rakhee was lovely in it, i hope to review it when i’m back to my blogging self

    My second is this lovely number below from Refugee, i find it very meaningful and I consider it a beautiful metaphor for the restriction often placed on Human Immigration

    • Thank you for that label, bollywooddeewana! :-) And thank you so much for Do panchhi do tinke – I haven’t seen the film, but I love that song, it’s absolutely wonderful.

      I’m not so sure about Panchhi nadiya pawan ke jhonke, but I admit that’s because of my own prejudice – I hated Refugee, hated Abhishek and Kareena (I’ve begun liking them a lot more since), and so hated everything about the film too. But yes, I do agree that it’s a good metaphor for allowing human migration.

  10. Great post, Madhu – fun and informative. I’m familiar with all the songs you’ve listed, but had no idea what species of birds each was referring to. I’m going to use your post as my Hindi bird guide from now on. :-)

    There’s a lovely Lata-Talat duet from a Bhojpuri film that refers to a “sugna” – do you know what bird that is?

    Ja ja re sugna ja re – Lagi nahi chute Rama

    • What a lovely song, Shalini – thank you for sharing that! No idea what a sugna is, though. I would’ve assumed it was a parakeet, since that’s the bird she’s singing to at the start of the song (and the end), but I can’t really say.

      Now I am very tempted to try watching some old Bhojpuri films…

      • sugna seems to be a variant of sugga, which is what a tota is called in bhojpuri and other bihari vernaculars. it is easy to see that sugga is a corruption of sanskrit word for tota, shukah.

  11. Wow, well, what a wealth, Madhu! Your whole blog itself is a menagerie of birds af all feathers flocking together! Bless everyone for this colourful collection of shimmering songs, so full of life and joy.
    BTW, apropos “O meri mynah tu maan le mera kehna”: why the cross-species romance? I’d say it’s because man and woman ARE two different species!
    And I think I know your feeling about Refugee – but (there’s a but) Kareena’s face is so … damn inspiring, that I think I’ll have to go back and watch it again!

    • Thank you, Yves! And thank you to everybody else too, who’ve contributed here and listed all their favourite bird songs.
      :-D :-D about man and woman being two different species! Yes, you’re absolutely right!

      Hmmm… I am still not sure about Kareena Kapoor, even though I have since seen a few of her films, some of which I think she’s done well in. One that was highly acclaimed but which I’ve not got around to watching is Chameli. Maybe I should watch that someday.

  12. Couldn’t resist this ‘kabootar’ (dove/pigeon) song.
    This one is really very beautifully picturized with the kabootar(s) playing a major role.

    • Pacifist, I am very impressed! Where did you find this song? I think it’s the perfect bird song – the pigeons play such a major part in it, both in the picturisation and the music (plus, from what I can see – unless I have completely lost my talent for predicting Hindi cinema – the kabootar eventually also leads her to the rich man she’ll fall in love with…?)

      Thank you! Loved that. :-)

      • I was looking for Geeta Dutt songs, and came across this. Then I started searching for film Mangala online, because I really wanted to see the meeting of the prospective hero and the girl (I assumed the same as you did). There’s only the Telegu version of it.

        • Thank you. I will keep an eye out for it. Haven’t seen it around on Induna – whose catalogue of pre-50s and obscure films I am quite familiar with – so I wonder how easy it will be to get hold of the film.

          • IT’S THERE!!!!! At Induna!!!!

            I went to check the 40s list because this is really old, and then just ventured to th 50s and sure enough there it is.
            It’s a 1950 film.
            The only hitch is that it has to be pre ordered. So if you and I order it then at least they’ll have two :)

  13. Great write up about birds in songs! I have never posted comments here before but I have been following your blog, mainly because you write about old movies, and there is nothing I like better!

    On the topic of birds and animal denizens of the forest, do you remember a song which used to be played in late ’62 and early ’63 – it was actually a medley of songs – and some of the songs in it went – Poonchh wale tera jawab nahin …, ek saath yahan do sher rahe, ek jangal mein ek paani mein …, aao aao ji sherji dekho ji sherji kisse pada hai paala …, zara saamne to aao chhaliye …, chaahe koi mujhe junglee kahe … and some other songs, and it was about a khargosh which outwitted a lion! I think Rafi and Asha were the lead singers for this song.

    Another panchhi song would be the one “Panchhi ban mein piya piya gaane lagaa …” from Babul, sung by Lata for a very youthful Nargis.

    • Thank you for commenting, Lalitha (though you have commented before – on the film review of Chhoti Bahen). Good to have you back, and thank you for the appreciation!

      I don’t recall having heard the song you mention – it sounds like a collection of parodies of hit songs (I can identify the title song of Junglee there, plus Husnwaale tera jawaab nahin). Sounds cute, though. A children’s song, I think…?

      Have just been listening to Panchhi ban mein. I’d completely forgotten about that! Lovely song, and a young Nargis, slightly awkward in her dancing, never fails to appeal to me.

      By the way, yet another ‘panchhi’ song. Not literally, but I’m being generous here because I love the score of this film. Every song is a gem:

    • Both of them are lovely, Richard – though I like the second one better. I may not have had nice things to say about Kathputli in my review, but its songs were good. And Vyjyantimala is always a favourite with me.

      Here’s another. Not a great song (too shrill and the music’s nothing special), but yes, it is a peacock dance, and a song about a peacock too:

    • Like the kabootar song that pacifist linked to, this one also ends on a very interesting note. ;-) Nice cheery sort of song – and Noorjehan is a pleasure to watch and listen to. Which film was this?

        • Thank you. I remember having noticed this being mentioned as one of Noor Jehan’s big hits in India, before partition and her subsequent departure for Pakistan. Will try and see if I can find it (if it is commercially available, that is).

          • You’re welcome… But as far as I know, it’s available only on VCD, from Friends. (Actually, over a year ago, I was led to believe that Friends was going to come out with a DVD copy, maybe in their “Diamond” series, but that turned out to be false info…at least so far.) Unfortunately the most recent word I’ve gotten – via some people we know who were thinking of working with this one – is that the Friends copy is pretty bad, with a lot of scenes missing. (Imagine that! :) )

            • “…the Friends copy is pretty bad, with a lot of scenes missing. (Imagine that! :) )”

              Yes. Long experience has taught us that one should be surprised if a Friends video is good quality picture and sound, and has all the scenes intact (and no watermark? Can we even hope for that in our wildest dreams?)

  14. Lovely post, Madhu. Unusual subject – good that you had a hangover from your Okhla sanctuary trip. :-) Nice pics.

    Not only did I enjoy the songs here but this post has been educational too. Thanks for that link with English-Hindi bird name translations. Thanks to that link, I now know that a “bater” is a quail. :-)

    I may come back to this post when I think of songs that can be added to this list but top-of-mind I can think of just one popular song of the 60s “gori chalo na hans ki chaal”. The swan is of course known not just for its “do hanson ka joda” bonding but also for its grace. :-)

    Btw, what sort of bird is “pakheroo”? As in “din jo pakheroo hote” (stanza of “yaad na jaaye”- Dil Ek Mandir) or “rote hain wo pankh pakheroo” (stanza of “chal ud ja – Bhabhi)? Also a parakeet?

    • Pakheru I think is a colloquial term for birds in a generic sense: Pakshi-paakhi-pakheru. Such as, मेरे प्राण पखेरू उड़ गए.

    • Thank you, Raja! And thank you for reminding me of Gori chalo na hans ki chaal – I’d forgotten all about that one. Such a lovely song. Rafi Sahib was in a class by himself. :-)

      I think AK is right about pakheru being a generic term for a bird (in fact, the saying that immediately came to my mind was the same one AK quotes: “Mere praan-pakheru ud gaye“. I checked the online Platt’s dictionary, and it defines pakheru as “a bird”. It doesn’t say whether it’s a particular type of bird, so I’m assuming it’s generic.

    • It certainly counts, because it’s not just picturised on the parakeet, she also addresses the bird (“mitthoo miyan“) in her song!
      I don’t remember Main Sunder Hoon too well, but I seem to recall a fantasy-like song in which huge stuffed doves feature, along with Leena Chandavarkar and Biswajeet. Now if that’s about birds, it would hit everybody else out of the park!

      • Swans, I think! They glide about in these swan-boat thingies or something. But this one is just so sweet :)

        I also love “Nanha Sa Panchhi Re Tu” from Toote Khilone although it is more about comparing a little rich boy to a bird in a cage than any actual bird.

        • You’re right. Swans! And with illuminated eyes, too:

          I hadn’t seen Nanha-sa panchhi re tu earlier, but have just been watching it on Youtube. Nice – and it fits in with a lot of the other songs that feature panhchhis, but not literally – nearly all of them focus on birds as a symbol of freedom.

  15. This is an extremely impressive post, not just in content and writing style, but also in the quality of research and detailed criteria specification.
    I do not have much to add, considering all that has been written here so far; but how about “Kuhu Kuhu Bole Koyaliya”. I also wonder if there are any songs on the more predatory birds such as kites/eagles/vultures (OK maybe that is too morbid !!!!).
    Saw you on youtube discussing your love for birds & assigning that same love to your created hero Muzaffar Jung. I did like reading “The Englishman’s Cameo”, and I am looking forward to more such books.

    • Thank you so much, Samir – and yes, I actually did rack my brains thinking of songs featuring baaz (hawks) or giddh (vultures), but no show – the only raptor that appears in a song I know is Cheel cheel chillaake kajri sunaaye.

      I’m so glad you liked The Englishman’s Cameo. Just this morning, the editor and I have been discussing with the designer what the cover should be like for the next book. Hopefully, it should be released by around October this year.

  16. Hahhahahaha. Trust you Madhu to come up with such an innovative post!! I think that’s what talented writers should do and you have definitely proved it now!! By the way, I quite like Kabootar ja ja ja too. Maybe I still have a soft spot for the young Salman! :)

      • I have hated Kabootar jaa jaa and Salman from the word go, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to side with you, Sharmi, and you, pacifist, on this one. But never mind, we do all like a lot of other songs in common, don’t we? :)

        • No, No, DO! I’ve never heard this song kabootar ja ja ja.
          That line is a quote from Sharmi’s comment, and I couldn’t resist juxtaposing the two because of their opposite meanings. :)

          • Heheheeheh!!!! The eagerness with which you jump to say that you haven’t heard Kabootar jaa jaa is delightful! I would actually be surprised to discover that you liked it, because it’s really not the sort of song I’ve seen you appreciating. Here you go, just in case you want to hear it and decide for yourself:

  17. I remembered this song from Do Kaliyan (1968). The lyrics are manipulatively melodramatic, so is the picturization, but Neetu Sing is so charming as a young girl and acts really well in a double role (a remake of Parent Trap).

    It’s all about ‘murga murgi and chooza’

    I’m pleased to be writing the 100th comment of this wonderful post. :)

    • Thank you for helping this post reach a century! ;-)

      I’d completely forgotten about this song, even though I’ve seen the film… perhaps my mind’s blanked out much of the film, because I found it too melodramatic for my liking. But yes, Neetu Singh acted really well in this. I think this was the first film to have a child actor play a double role.

  18. Hi…
    Discovered this website by sheer chance though I had already read the popcorn essayist and knew of jabberwocky
    Anyhow…many posts, especially the ten best one tempted me to comment and I finally succumb here…
    The song is ‘aaj main jawaan ho gayi hoon, gul se glisten ho gayi hoon…yeh din, yeh saal, yeh mahina, o mithu miyan, bhulega mujhko kabhi na..’
    Movie is: main sunder hoon 1971
    Picturised on: a very pretty leela chandravarkar and a parrot :-)

  19. Another interesting one is : o dekho dekho dekh raha tha papiha, papiha. Jaake sabse kahega papiha, papiha. Bhala chup kyon rahega papiha,papiha. Dekho dekh raha tha…
    Movie: fariyad 1964

    • … and that one has been mentioned too! I’ve referred to it in the very first song that’s been listed. If you click the link to the words “gossipy tittle-tattle in Fariyaad” that’s the song you’ll hear.

  20. And this one from rani Rupmati, the exact opposite to Ambuva ki Daari se where the koyaliya says “Preet na Karna ji” whereas the bulbul says “Pyar Karo!!” :-)

  21. I had thought of putting Ambua ki daari se on this list, but dropped the idea, mainly because I don’t really like that song – not the way it’s been sung, and not the picturisation. Dahej had some excellent songs, but I don’t count this one in them!

    Pankh hote toh ud aati re is a great song, though. And thank you for the song from Rani Rupmati – it’s been such a long time since I heard that song, I’d forgotten all about it.

  22. Lovely song, Richard – thank you for that! I’m curious about this film – one of those ‘young love’ ones?

    I do wish someone would’ve cleaned up the subtitles, though. ;-)

  23. My first reaction to your post – WOW ! This is one talented girl ! not only that you have a knack to write both unusual and funny but you are also a talented photographer.
    Beautiful shots and so well composed. I will have to visit this place next time I am in Delhi.
    To come up with 10 different birds, now that takes some song knowledge AND innovative thinking.

    I have come in so late to your posts, that every time I thought of a song, it was there !
    Still, I hope I am not repeating ( I might have missed through reading ) . One of my favourite songs is by Kavi Pradeep – Pinjare ke pancchi re, tera darad na jaane koye
    I know it is the generic pancchi, which you were avoiding.
    another – do hanson ka joda bichud gayo re and kaid mein hai bulbul, saiyaad muskuraaye

    • Thank you! Glad you liked this post – songs and photos. And, thanks for the ones you suggested – panchhi songs are pretty common in Hindi cinema, so I thought that wasn’t challenging enough. ;-)

  24. hi,
    as usual late.
    pihu pihu papihe na bol from holiday in bombay,

    one of my favourites from Wafa
    Kaga re jare

    now, not my favorite at all
    but fits the theme
    tu jungle ki morani

  25. This song at least deserves a place in comments, if not in top ten. A quick glance through posts unable to find this really beautiful song.

  26. how did you leave rafi sahab’s CHAL UD JAA RE PANCHI.probably because it does not have a specific bird’s name, just a generic identity of “panchhi” or it does not come in your favorites???

    • If you read the introduction to the post, you’ll see these sentences:

      “They’re all from films I’ve watched, and they’re all species-specific. No generic panchhis here. (Though, to be fair, there are some awesome songs on those too: Chal ud jaa re panchhi, Jaa re jaa re ud jaa re panchhi, Panchhi banoon udti phiroon mast gagan mein, etc.

      I think that answers both your questions.

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