Ten of my favourite cynical songs

I know that sounds a little paradoxical—cynicism and something favourite? But that’s what this post is all about: songs that are cynical, but songs, too, that I like. Like a lot, in some cases.

A few weeks back, blog reader Kamini Dey made a request: a post on philosophical songs. I had been planning that anyway, so decided I should speed up my research on that post. And midway through compiling my shortlist of philosophical songs, I realized that several of the songs I’d put under that head were actually songs of cynicism (which, I suppose, is a kind of philosophy, after all: a philosophy of not expecting anything good from the world). I remembered then that another blog reader, Vinay Hegde, had long ago suggested a song list of cynical songs.

So here it is (sorry, Kamini: I get sidetracked easily, and these songs really include some of my absolute favourites). Ten songs that speak of the singer’s cynicism, his or her belief that the world is not a nice place. At times the bitterness boils forth in a fierce and/or despairing rejection of the entire world; at other times, it is cloaked with satire or a sort of bitter humour. Perhaps even smiles. But the cynicism is there, if you only pay attention to the lyrics.


Here, therefore, are the songs, in no particular order, though my absolute favourites are right at the top. As always, they are from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen. Also, since some films have more than one good cynical song, I’ve restricted myself to only one song per film.

1. Dekhi zamaane ke yaari (Kaagaz ke Phool, 1957): I was tempted to begin this list with a song that seems to feature on every other song list I compile—Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai—but changed my mind. Not much, though, because this song, to me, always seems to echo that song. Both feature Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman in a depressing and bitter look at the materialistic attitude of a world that worships fame and wealth and grinds the poor, the incapable, and the low into the ground.

Kaagaz ke Phool is about a wildly successful film maker who falls out of public favour and public gaze and is reduced to such utter poverty that he ends up an extra in a studio where he once reigned. And, as he’s kicked about and derided, he realizes once again how merciless this world can be. ‘Matlab ki duniya hai saari’, he says—‘This world looks only to serve its own ends’.

Mohammad Rafi is superb here, singing to SD Burman’s music—and if I were to pinpoint one Kaifi Azmi song that is my favourite, this would be it. Its despair, its cynicism, is so brilliantly expressed: ‘Naadaan tamanna reti mein ummeed ki kashti kheti hai; Ik haath se deti hai duniya, sau haathon se le leti hai’ (‘This naïve hope plies its oars in vain in the sand; the world gives with one hand and takes away with a hundred’).


2. Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai (Pyaasa, 1957): And where Dekhi zamaane ki yaari is listed, can this song be far behind? Guru Dutt again, and SD Burman, and Mohammad Rafi in an immortal song written by the inimitable Sahir Ludhianvi. Guru Dutt, as the embittered and poverty-stricken poet Vijay, who finds himself suddenly much feted and popular after his supposed death, comes forward to face the world. And not just to face it, but to show it its own face: self-seeking, selfish, brutal, unfeeling. It is a world, he realizes, which—though it wants to place him (figuratively) on a throne, wants to crown him and worship him and lick his boots—is ephemeral: its loyalty is here today, gone tomorrow. It is not a world he wants. ‘Jalaa do ise, phoonk daalo yeh duniya!’ (‘Burn it, send this world up in smoke!’) he cries in anguish. ‘Mere saamne se hataa lo yeh duniya! Tumhaari hai, tumhi sambhaalo yeh duniya!’ (‘Remove this world from before me! It is yours, you take charge of this world!’)

Yeh mahalon yeh takhton yeh taajon ki duniya

3. Cheen-o-Arab hamaara (Phir Subah Hogi, 1958): Phir Subah Hogi, based on Crime and Punishment, had superb music by the often overlooked Khayyam—and music, too, that got the full support of a Sahir Ludhianvi who was in his element in a film that focused on poverty, on the flaws in justice, on the many ills that plague society. The film had another song that had cynicism woven into it—Aasmaan pe hai khuda aur zameen pe hum—but this one, for me, wins. Because Sahir Ludhianvi parodies a well-loved poem (Iqbal’s famous Saare jahaan se achha Hindostan hamaara) and uses it to poke fun, in a sarcastic way, at all that is wrong in India today. Yes, China is ours and Arabia is ours; Hindostan is ours. We don’t have a home to live in, a roof over our heads; but yes, the entire world is ours.

Brilliant, and the half-joking way in which it’s sung makes this even more effective than it would’ve been otherwise.


4. Kuchh aur zamaana kehta hai (Chhoti-Chhoti Baatein, 1965): For some odd reason, most of the cynical songs seem to have been picturized on men. Why? Are Indian women in cinema traditionally supposed to be so self-sacrificing and so bear-it-all-with-a-smile that they aren’t allowed to voice their bitterness about a cruel world? This, then, is one of the exceptions. Nadira, in shirt and slacks (portrayed as Westernized, and therefore perhaps given some allowance for her views?) talks about the world, and about herself. Their opposing views, her insistence on asserting her individuality, and the fact that the world refuses to accept that non-conformism of hers.

I love Anil Biswas’s music and Meena Kapoor’s singing of this song; it’s the reason I saw this otherwise none-too-memorable film. And I love Shailendra’s lyrics. Especially that line about ‘Go basti hai insaanon ki, insaan magar dhoonde na mila’ (‘This settlement is one of human beings; a human being could not be found in it, no matter how hard one searched’). Cynical, but with a sort of amused resignation to the situation.


5. Kasme vaade pyaar wafaa (Upkaar, 1967): Another man, and one whom it’s hard to beat when it comes to sheer bitterness, anger and a certain air of completely having given up on the world. Pran, in a career-changing role as the crippled, bitter, and yet touchingly humane Malang Chacha, sings an unforgettably hard-hitting song that derides everything people hold so dear: love, fidelity, loyalty, promises. Nobody is anybody else’s, he sings; these relationships that we so depend on are all false. People are inherently selfish, faithless, undependable.

Dete hain bhagwaan ko dhokha, insaan ko kya chhodenge’ (‘They trick God himself, will they spare man?’) he asks. Pessimistic, one would think, but perhaps his song serves a good purpose too: it warns those around him, shows them the reality of life.


6. Koi sone ke dilwaala (Maya, 1961): From a village, a field, a crippled and poverty-stricken old soldier, to a very different man, in very different surroundings. Dev Anand’s wealthy and much-feted young millionaire realizes, in the midst of a party, that the people who surround him are not his friends. They use him, they feed off him, they are ‘patthar ke sanam’—literally, ‘friends of stone’. He does not blame the world; he does not cast everybody into the pit as Malang Chacha does: all he says is that these people, those he has mistakenly considered his friends all this while, are now revealed to him. And he does not like what he sees. A lovely song, Salil Choudhary and Rafi and Majrooh Sultanpuri together working their magic.


7. Andhe jahaan ke andhe raaste (Patita, 1953): Another Dev Anand film, but not a song picturized on Dev Anand. Comedian Agha played a slightly different role from his usual in Patita, as the cynical tramp who ends up giving shelter to a woman in dire straits—and this song is the meeting of these two people, both in their own way rejected by the world, both desperate and distressed. Usha Kiran plays the woman who’s been raped; Agha is the stranger she runs into, as he goes about singing a song about the cruelty of this world: a song, really, that is as much (more?) a voicing of her plight as of his. I think the picturization of this song and its music (the latter good, though) don’t really fit the lyrics, which are much more depressive and despairing than the picturization seems to let on.


8. Yeh duniya shaitaanon ki basti hai (Yahudi, 1958): This world is a township of devils; life here is cheap, and while the Earth may rotate and one day give way to the next, things will never change for the poor and the downtrodden. They, says the old man as the Romans flog crowds of cowering Jews and drive them along to their deaths, will always be persecuted. He does not offer hope, he does not tell them that there may be a better world awaiting them in the afterlife, or that their misery will end. No; he merely tells them what they already know. I wonder if any of those listening are bothered, but it’s a good enough example of cynicism.


9. Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat kya ho gayi (Naastik, 1954): When Vinay Hegde first suggested I do a post on songs of cynicism, he added, to clarify what he meant, that the singer might have started off as positive, but his (or her) experiences have soured his/her outlook on life. I did not take that as a criterion for this list—there are several characters singing cynical songs here about whom we do not know enough to decide whether they started off upbeat or not; the lyrics, too, do not reveal that.

This song, both written and sung by the inimitable (in his own special way) Kavi Pradeep, is a bit of an exception: it suggests a world that was once sane, but has now gone completely off the rails. Against a backdrop of people-heavy trains chugging slowly along, of tired and listless people, battered and ravaged by the Partition, trying to somehow stay alive, this background song (which is really a voicing of the protagonist’s own feelings) condemns the insanity that has taken hold of the world.


10. Ainwein duniya dewe duhaayi (Jaagte Raho, 1956): It might seem odd to some that one post of mine should contain two songs from Raj Kapoor films, considering I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m not an RK fan. One thing I do admit, though: a lot of RK’s films had excellent music, and because so many of them had themes of socialism, of social ills, corruption, and the constant tussle between poor/simple/ ‘innocent’ on the one hand and rich/wily/corrupted on the other—they invariably ended up with at least one song that derided the inequalities in society.

This song, though given a peppy, even light-hearted touch with its bhangra and the ready smiles of the sardars who sing it, is bitingly critical of the world. A world which calls the ill-gotten gains of the wealthy ‘good fortune’; which overlooks the irreligious money-grubbing of the ‘saintly’; a world which has warped ideas of true and false… who wants to agree with a world like that? Not these men.


Which songs would you add to this list?


70 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite cynical songs

    • Yes. It was on my shortlist too. I eventually dropped it because Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye overshadows it for me, plus there is (in my opinion) a strain of self-pity, of a very personal “the world is cruel to me” in Jaane woh kaise – which seemed to me to be slightly less wide-ranging than the more general angst of Yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye. But yes, fabulous song.


  1. Brilliant songs, all, and a welcome change from the norm. Numbers 1,2, & 3 – what does one say about them save that they are masterpieces?

    (“bhala kije bhala hoga, bura kije bura hoga, vahi likh likh ke kya hoga…

    Re “Dekh tere sansar ki haalat”, does it really fit as a cynical song, going by the accepted definition of cynicism? Isn’t it more a despairing and sorrowful song, almost a dirge?


    • Thank you! And yes, #1, 2 and 3 are masterpieces, aren’t they? Absolutely brilliant lyrics in each case, and ably supported by excellent music, rendition, and even picturization, I think…

      As for Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat, I suppose one can say that it isn’t strictly cynical, but I do feel there is more than a hint of cynicism in it, in the lambasting of what man has become. There is a lot of despair, but it’s not as if nobody is being blamed for it – insaan has gone rotten.

      I like the songs you’ve suggested. Haal-chaal theek-thaak hai and Jab bhi ji chaahe are outside my timelines, so I’m glad you added them. I had briefly toyed with including Sajan re jhooth mat bolo but gave it up, because it seemed more preachy than outright cynical to me.


  2. Five of your favourites are on my list as well. :)

    I’ll add the ones that weren’t there.

    Sansar se bhaage phirte ho from Chitralekha
    Haal chaal theek thaak hai from Mere Apne
    Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko from Sadhna
    Kya hawa chali from Parakh
    Dil ka haal sune dilwala from Shree 420

    I don’t want to embed the videos here because it will make this page difficult to load, and I’m having trouble linking them – could you do the needful? (Pretty please!)


    • Arrgh! I had forgotten you’d done a post on this topic (though why I should think you wouldn’t have is beyond me – it makes for some good songs, as we can see). I love the ‘other ones’ you’ve listed, and of those, three were on my shortlist too – Dil ka haal sune dilwaala, Aurat ne janam diya mardon ko and Kya hawa chali. So many good songs, so much “what a vile world”. :-)


  3. Very nice list Madhu didi! I do think Sahir Ludhianvi has a monopoly over cynical songs. His lyrics were always dripping with irony and sarcasm.
    Here are some of my favourite songs:
    Jinhe naaz hain hind par woh kahan hain from Pyaasa (1957)

    Tera khilauna toota baalak from Anmol Ghadi

    Aurat ne Janam diya Mardon ko from Sadhna (1958)

    Baharon ne mera Chaman lootkar from Devar (1966)

    And chingari koi bhadke from Amar Prem which is from 1972 but I couldn’t help include it here sorry didi :p
    And does this song count? Kishore Kumar’s first solo ever.

    But very nice post didi!


  4. What about…
    1) Aye mere dil kahin aur chal (this was the first Talat song I ever heard). With lines like
    chaar aansoon koi ro diya
    pher ke munh koi chal diya
    lut raha tha kisi ka jahaan
    dekhti reh gayi ye zameen
    chup raha berehem aasmaan

    it makes a strong case for inclusion in this category. :-)

    2) Staying with Talat,
    aye dil mujhe aisi jagah le chal jahaan koi na ho

    Not sure if the songs that follow, quite make the cut (they are more laments about a personal situation than a rant against society at large)

    3) lakhon taare aasmaan mein, ek magar dhoondhe na mila
    dekh ke duniya ki Diwali, dil mera chup chaap jala

    4) ye duniya ye mehfil, mere kaam ki nahin

    5) keh do koi na kare yahaan pyaar (your fav Rajendra Kumar :-) )

    6) maine pee sharaab, tumne kya piya


    • I had originally planned to have a screenshot from Yeh duniya yeh mehfil as the introductory screenshot to the post. ;-) But, listening to the song again, it seemed to me as if – as you point out – it’s really a lamenting of a personal situation rather than a rant against society at large. Actually, come to think of it, that is pretty much the case with the lines you’ve quoted from Ae mere dil kahin aur chal, too – I’ve forgotten the various situations in which the song appears in the film, but those lyrics tend to suggest one person being the betrayer.


  5. I love your selection and so glad you included the “koyi na”.

    I will add my (usual) contributions from across the border. Munir Niazi – Mehdi Hassan song about cynicism- not about the world, but some particular human traits.
    Sometimes I have experienced this first hand
    ” apne apne gham ke fasaane, humein sunane aa jaate hain”. Genius lyrics.

    And for a non-filmi aside which would be brilliant in a film – Tina Sani’s rendering of “rabb sacheya” – a nazm in Punjabi by FAIZ ( he wrote some excellent stuff in the language as did Munir Niazi).. Added bonus of close captions in English

    Awaiting more contributions from Hindi cinema by others :)


  6. So nice of you to remember my suggestion about a post on philosophical / cynical songs! Yes, cynicism was a well established school of philosophy in ancient Greece which stood for a rejection of conventional desires for wealth, fame and power, and a preference for living a simple life in harmony with nature. The modern meaning of cynicism, however, is somewhat different and essentially connotes a general distrust of other peoples’ motives – a belief that all human beings are selfish and driven by greed and other base desires. Most of the songs in your list, particularly the top three, relate to the original definition of cynicism i.e. a rejection of the world which reflects disillusionment and masks a deep idealism. A couple of songs I’d like to mention that are more representative of the modern, negative meaning of cynicism – Johnny Walker’s classic, cynical take on Bombay (tempered by the positivity of Kumkum towards the end), and a relatively little known song from Bambai ka Babu:

    Yeh hai bambai meri jaan – CID

    Tak dhoom tak dhoom baje – Bambai ka Babu

    I suppose “Mud mud ke na dekh” also belongs to this genre – marking the transition of Raj Kapoor from idealism to cynicism in Shree 420


    • I’m so glad you liked this post! I had been hoping I’d done justice to it – I’m always a little wary when I’m doing a post that someone suggested; one can never be sure if we’re on the same wavelength.

      I had thought of both Ae dil hai mushkil and Mud-mud ke na dekh (as well as Ae dil dekhe hain humne bade-bade sangdil, from Shriman Satyawadi), but dropped all of them for the same reason: that in each case, the song isn’t cynical throughout. As you mention, Kumkum’s section in Ae dil hai mushkil is definitely optimistic; so is it beyond the first verse in Ae dil dekhe hain humne ne… and Mud-mud ke na dekh of course starts off in rather a different style…

      I like Tak dhoom tak dhoom baje too; thank you for that!


  7. Also this delightful song from Kala Bazar which is about the single-minded worship of money – the ultimate form of cynicism:

    Teri dhoom har kahin – Kala Bazar


  8. Madhu, “paradox” notwithstanding, your cynical list is one of my favorites of your lists so far. If I had made up such a list, most of the ones on yours would have been on mine. There is one song that sprang to my mind for this theme right away which had not been covered by either your list or Anu’s list; that is, “Tera Khilona Toota” from Anmol Ghadi, but now I see that it was added here by the commenter signing as rahulsaran; it just didn’t embed (I think it should if you remove the parentheses). So, here is another one that I thought of, “Ajab Teri Duniya” from Do Bigha Zamin.


    • Thank you, Richard! I’m glad you liked this post. Somehow I think, more than most romantic songs (of which there are thousands…) and songs of sheer despair (a close second?), songs of cynicism are fewer, and possibly allow a poet more leeway to think out of the box, to find nasty things to say about the world at large. (And in poetry, too!) I mean, all that – as PG Wodehouse would have put it – rhyming June with moon and love with dove – is easily done and most lyricists could probably have written romantic songs in their sleep. A good cynical song (or for that matter, a genuinely funny song) is rather more difficult.

      I love Ajab tori duniya too; it had been on my shortlist, but I ended up thinking there were others that were rather more critical of the world, so I dropped it. Happy you put it in.


  9. Madhu,
    This is a very interesting topic for a post. My first thought was that ‘cynical’ songs should also have appropriate sad tunes. Therefore, Koi sone ka dilwala seemed incongruous here. Raja has added some Talat songs. He and Mukesh probably had a great share of such songs. Let me add some more in that vein:

    Talat Mahmood: 1. Zindagi denewale sun teri duniya se dil bhar gaya, 2. Ae gham-e-dil kya Karun

    Mukesh: 1. Mujhe tumse kuchh bhi na chahiye, 2. Zinda hun is tarah ki ghame-zindagi nahi, 3. Tumhein zindagi ke ujaale mubarak andhere humein aaj raas aa gaye hain


    • Thanks, AK. :-)

      “My first thought was that ‘cynical’ songs should also have appropriate sad tunes.

      Just the way ghazals are expected to have a particular type of tune, not what SB Burman made of Tadbeer se bigdi hui? Yes, I know what you mean – which is why it’s interesting to discover songs that have not just tunes which are peppy, but also words that take a somewhat sarcastic tone. I guess the first two songs on this list are the ones which (somewhat) exemplify what one expects a cynical song to sound like.

      I like the songs you suggested – Zinda hoon is tarah had been on my shortlist too, but I thought I would end up overdoing it with Raj Kapoor!


    • I have to admit I’d forgotten all about that song – one reason possibly being because I’ve never actually got around to watching Bahaar ke Sapne, and so remember only its more popular songs: Aaja piya tohe pyaar doon, Chunri sambhal gori and Do pal jo teri aankhon se.

      This one sounds very appropriate for the post, I think.


  10. First of all thankyou soo much for accepting my suggestion and spending your time and efforts for it.
    All the songs in your list are really good specially Dekhi zamaane ki yaari,ye duniya agar mil bhi jaye and Dekh tere sansaar ki haalat.I think there is no substitute for these songs.Though there are two songs which I haven’t heard(7 and 8) but I will surely listen them.
    Yes, I would have definitely added -Sansar se bhage phirte ho,Bane ho ek khaak se and Aye dil hai mushkil.
    At last Thankyou so much again.Your efforts are really appreciable. Keep it up.


    • Thank you for suggesting the philosophical songs post, and I promise you I will get back to that and do a post only on philosophical songs (not cynical songs). :-)

      Do listen to Andhe jahaan ke andhe raaste – it’s a good song, and was fairly well-known, I think (the song from Yahudi is relatively obscure).

      I like Bane ho ek khaaq se and Ae dil hai mushkil too, though as someone else has commented on this thread, Ae dil hai mushkil is diluted a bit because the part which Kumkum lip-syncs to negates the cynicism.


  11. Oh Sorry ‘Sansar se bhage phirte ho’ is not a cynical song.And yes I don’t mind that this was not actually a post of philosophical songs.Cynical songs are philosophical.


    • Oh, but this wasn’t the post meant for you. :-) The philosophical songs post is separate, and will be posted sometime later! (It is very different; I’ve tried to include different types of philosophies, as far as possible… I hope to get it completed sometime soon).


      • Madhulika, if you don’t mind, here are some suggested themes or sub-categories for the post on ‘philosophical’ songs (I’m sure you must have already thought of most of them!):
        – Songs expressing a stoical attitude towards life – indifference towards pain
        and pleasure
        – Songs exploring the meaning of life
        – Songs that urge one to ‘seize the day’ and make the most out of the present
        – Songs about ethical concerns like justice, equality, fairness
        – Songs that talk about concepts like love, beauty, nature in philosophical


        • We think along similar lines, Vinay! I have already got some 6-7 songs compiled and written up for that post, and they pretty much cover all the ‘types’ of philosophy you’ve mentioned. Not, perhaps, the last one, so that is something I should try looking for… thank you.


  12. Well If you ask me my all time favourite is from Oonche Log,the words paap kare paai bhare puniyawan tug at my hearstrings, whether it qualifies as cynical I do not know but it is definitely true at times.


    • Thank you for Kaisi tune reet rachi bhagwan, Shilpi! Gives me another reason to finally get around to watching Oonche Log. I do think it qualifies, at least in part, as cynical (interestingly, a lot of these cynical songs are addressed to God, aren’t they? That struck me when I was compiling this post. Almost as if the singer couldn’t find a human to whom the song would make sense, and so was compelled to turn to God, to address the song to God rather than man).


  13. Great post with several personal favourites esp. “Dekhi Zamane Ki Yaari”. A lot of other favourites have been mentioned in the comments. Some more that I could remember – “Duniya o duniya, tera jawab nahin” and “Mehengai maar gayi” (both outside your time frame). Another favourite is “Ya dil ki suno duniyawalon” though perhaps it may seem more of a personal lament?


    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, I like the ones you’ve suggested, too. Ya dil ki suno had occurred to me, too, but I did think it was rather more directed towards a denunciation of one person (that Yeh phool chaman mein kaisa khila maali ki nazar mein chaah nahin… But still, a wonderful song.


  14. Not sure if you intended it that way, Madhu but this is a rather therapeutic post, for all those times when we’re feeling out-of-sorts with the word and want a “tuneful” way of ranting.:-D I think most of the prominent songs have been mentioned, but the first song that comes to my mind when I think cynical, is this Mukesh number from the (appropriately titled) film “Matlabi Duniya.”

    “Sab pyar ki baatein karte hain”

    I also considered “swapn jhare phool se” from Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal” but perhaps that’s more an expression of regret/despair than cynicism.


    • That’s a brilliant way of putting it, Shalini! Yes, songs like these do help one vent, isn’t it? One song which I haven’t included but which always makes me feel better when I’ve been feeling very irritated with life is Tang aa chuke hain kashmakash-e-zindagi se hum.

      I don’t remember having heard Sab pyaar ki baati karte hain before. Good song, thank you.


      • I was playing this song yesterday and my husband mentioned, this is so old a song but I still remember it and like it very much. It did get a lot of radio play and I also have it in Mukesh collection cassette, perhaps it did not make the CDs. Thanks for it Shalini.


  15. All the songs you have listed, are so soulful to listen to. Add to them songs added in comments and one can get lost in a different world. I really like the song “kuch aur zamana” picturized on Nadira. It took me years to watch “kagaz ke phool” even though I loved all the songs. I decided not to watch Guru Dutt movies again, songs are a different matter :). My first choice was ” cheeno Arab hamara”. There is something about this song that I can never tire of it. As for Dekh tere sansar ki haalat,
    Sahir came up with “dekh tere bhagwan ki haalat kya ho gayi insaan ?” I will get the video, right now my ipad says no battery !


    • Kuchh aur zamaana kehta hai is a lovely song – I wish it were better known. I had initially included it in the draft of my philosophical songs post, then on listening to it again, I realized it’s pretty cynical, so fitted this post.

      I have seen Railway Platform so am familiar with Dekh tere insaan ki haalat. A good parody.


  16. Interesting topic and yes the list is filled with so many of my favorites… I will add a few here that strike a chord with me..

    1. Teri Duniya Maine Jeene se (House number 44 – Hemant Kumar/SD Burman/ Sahir) – I love the lines “arey o asman wale bata, isme bura kya hai,, khushi ke chaar jhonke gar idhar se bhi guzar jaayen..”.

    2. Karwaan guzar gaya (Nayi Umar Ki Nayi Fasal, Rafi/Roshan/Neeraj) – This one is the quintessential Neeraj song with brilliant writing..

    3. Kaise Koi Jiye (Baadbaan, Geeta Dutt, music-Timir Baran and SK Pal, Lyrics-Indeevar)

    Indeevar was able to create great visuals with these lyrics and of course the voice just pierces through..

    Baadal hai ya dhuwan aag lagi kahan
    jalta na ho kahin mera hi aashiyan
    angare they, aansu nahi wo, dil ne jo piye


  17. There are so many songs of this type, which have both brilliant lyrics as well as superb music. Perhaps composers were inspired to provide good music because the lyrics were so striking? But yes, I love the songs suggested in the comments, and the ones you’ve listed, Ashish. Especially Teri duniya mein jeene se, which is lovely. Long time since I heard Kaise koi jiye… such a fine example of how good Indeevar could be. I remember watching TV with my parents way back in the 90s, I think, and there was this awful song playing, the main refrain of which went “Shut up, shut up!” And the rest of the lyrics were along the same lines. We were horrified when we discovered that the lyricist was Indeevar. Horrified, and saddened.


  18. That is sad indeed, knowing what Indeevar was capable of. I think you may be referring to “Gup Chup, Gup Chup” from Karan Arjun?

    I remembered a little trivia about the “Upkar” song you listed (Kasme Wade Pyar Wafa). In an interview to Ameen Sayani, Pran told that originally Kishore was supposed to sing that song but he chickened out (Pran’s take was that Kishore didn’t want to lend his voice to someone who was well established as a villain) and even Kalyanji Anandji thought (according to Pran) that such a tune is going to be a “waste” on Pran but after they saw the rushes, they loved it and told Pran “log gale se gaate hain, aapne dil se gaya hai..”

    I think this is one of my favorite Manna Dey song… He exposed a different texture of his voice that I don’t remember hearing often…


    • I don’t remember whether the song was Gup chup gup chup, but whatever it was, it was horrifying. “What has Indeevar been reduced to?!” my father said when we saw the name of the lyricist at the end of the song. I think it’s probably a case of lyricists and music directors not giving their best when the film maker isn’t terribly interested, either. Of course, there was a period (through most of the 50s and the 60s) when even if a film wasn’t good, you could invariably count on the music being at least pleasant – and there have been plenty of cases when the songs far outshone the film (I know! I have seen so many very average films just because it had one or two brilliant songs). But by the mid-80s, I think Hindi cinema had pretty much touched rock bottom…

      Thank you for the trivia about Kasme vaade pyaar wafaa: I hadn’t known that. Very interesting.


  19. As always impressed with your eye for detail in the cynicism exhibited in the lyrics,voice.scenes described.You are to be accurate cynically sure ! Would like to see you pick on”war” as a theme.for does Bollywood speak of Victory, defeat,sadness, joy,separation,loss,its immorality and in that it is only about “what is left”.The world Wars and Vietnam spawned all kinds of songs from all sorts of musicians and bands in various genres In America and the West which made me think of our repertoire in this regard when we look at the world wars,INA,Chinese, Indo Pak and Srilanka ! How have we done beyond Aey Mere watan key logon? I write to you as the spectre of Nationalism and War seems to seduce most and scare very few nowadays…
    And you know of songs and music so well !


    • Thank you, and I’m so glad you enjoyed this post.

      I really love your suggestion of ‘war’ as a theme for a post! Ae mere watan ke logon wasn’t a film song, but I can think of at least a few songs that talk of war – in different terms: its futility for one, the despair, the sense of loss (more often than not a cocktail of all those emotions). Will certainly do a post on that after I’ve given it some thought.

      Thank you so much for the idea!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Seconding that thought, Madhu. Great idea, there. Please do make that list. (Oddly enough, this morning, I was listening to Jaanewale sipahi se poocho and thinking, ‘Oh, perhaps I should make a list of songs that sing of the futility of war!. :) But now, seeing this comment and your response, I’m waiting for your list.


        • I will do this, though possibly not in a hurry – right now I have only managed to scrape together four songs that fit the bill (though there are a couple of others that I also have in the back of my mind). Not about the futility of war, but about war per se. The different aspects of it: the violence, the way it scars lives, but also some of the other things – like the brotherhood between soldiers, the patriotism. Let’s see when I can get it done. :-)


  20. Can the song Sataa le ai jahan from Sasural superbly rendered by Mukesh and filmed on Rajendra Kumar be included in this /does it qualify in this catagory?


    • I hadn’t heard this song before.

      Depressing, but a good song; I like both the music as well as the lyrics – and I do think it qualifies. Thank you for introducing me to that.


    • And I wasn’t familiar with these, either. :-)

      Actually, I suppose a lot of more modern films, of the more ‘realistic’ type, would probably have more cynical songs than most of the films of the 50s and 60s.


  21. We are a band of singers based in Mumbai consisting of individuals dedicated to promoting Hindi film music and are known by the name of “YAADGAAR TARAANE BAND”. Our purpose is to use our talents and passion to preserve music oh golden era of Hindi music ….but we need sponsorships to carry on with our endeavour to organise such events…..pls can u suggest or recommend ppl to encourage such talents ….our next show is scheduled on July 09 2016 and we r looking out for sponsors ….our requirements are bare minimum and after we raise 3.5 lacs as hosting this event we are ready to donate the balance to charity… Pls help us out !!


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