Monday, August 8, 2022

Top 20 Desh Bhakti Songs to Celebrate Independence Day 2020

It’s the season for patriotic songs on TV, Radio and streaming apps. Narendra Kusnur presents his Top 20 list

This year, because of quarantine and social distancing, the quantum of Independence Day public functions will be reduced. However, patriotic songs played at such events are known by many, and there is always a good amount of airplay on radio and television, and over loudspeakers.

Most patriotic songs are inspired by India’s Independence struggle but we also find some in reaction to the wars India fought against China and Pakistan. Some songs talk of the nostalgia felt by Indians staying abroad.

Here we choose 20 such songs. Most are from the movies but we have chosen some non-film ones too. The order is chronological, and the cut-off point is 1997, when India celebrated 50 years of Independence.


1. Saare Jahaan Se Acchha – Traditional (written in 1904, first performed in 1924)

Written by poet Mohammed Iqbal, this became an anthem for opposition to British rule. It was also one of Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite songs. There have been many later recorded versions, including the ones by Pandit Ravi Shankar and Lata Mangeshkar.


2. Vande Mataram – Anand Math (1952)

Based on words by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, this was also a popular patriotic song during the Independence movement. The film version was composed by Hemant Kumar, with separate renditions by him and Lata Mangeshkar.


3. Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja – Samadhi (1950)

The original song was a quick march for Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army, written by Vanshidhar Shukla. This film version was composed and sung by C. Ramchandra with Rajendra Krishan adapting the lyrics. A.R. Rahman did a later version in the 2004 film Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, The Forgotten Hero.

Kadam Kadam
Watch is here –


4. Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhayein – Jagriti (1954)

This classic was written and sung by Kavi Pradeep, with music by Hemant Kumar. The film had other memorable patriotic songs like ‘Sabarmati Ke Sant’ by Lata Mangeshkar and ‘Hum Laaye Hain Toofan Se’ by Mohammed Rafi.


5. Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka – Naya Daur (1957)

Picturised as an energetic village dance, this song proved music director O.P. Nayyar’s ability to do rustic tunes. Sung by Mohammed Rafi and Balbir, it was penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. The fact that star actor Dilip Kumar led the dance sequence added to the charm.


6. Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1960)

Mukesh, Manna Dey and Mangeshkar combined on this classic composed by Shankar-Jaikishen and filmed mainly on Raj Kapoor. Lyricist Shailendra touched a chord with the lines “Hum us desh ke waasi hai, jis desh mein Ganga behti hai”.


7. Aye Mere Pyare Watan – Kabuliwala (1961)

Prem Dhawan wrote the unforgettable words “Ae mere pyare watan, ae mere bichhde chaman, tujhpe dil qurbaan, tu hi meri aarzoo, tu hi meri aabroo, tu hi meri jaan”. Sung by Manna Dey, it was composed by Salil Choudhary and picturised on Balraj Sahni.


8. Nanha Munna Raahi Hoon – Son of India (1962)

The magical combination of music director Naushad and lyricist Shakeel Badayuni create this gem, sung by Shanti Mathur and chorus. This worked well as both a children’s song and patriotic tune, and was performed regularly in schools.


9. Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon – non-film (1963)

One of Mangeshkar’s all-time classics, penned by Kavi Pradeep and composed by C Ramchandra. The song was written in the aftermath of the 1962 Indo-China war, and even brought Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to tears when it was performed.


10. Kar Chale Ham Fida – Haqeeqat (1964)

Lyricist Kaifi Azmi wrote “Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyon” in this song from Chetan Anand’s war film. Music was by Madan Mohan and Rafi sang it soulfully. The song is part of most Independence Day ceremonies.


11. Ae Watan, Ae Watan – Shaheed (1965)

Prem Dhawan composed and wrote this song sung by Rafi. The film was based on the life of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, and also had the popular songs ‘Mera Rang De Basanti Chola’, ‘Watan Pe Marne Waala’ and the Bismil Azimabadi-penned ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’.


12. Woh Bharat Desh Hai Mera – Sikandar-e-Azam (1965)

Describing the beauty of India, Rajinder Krishan wrote “Jahaan daal daal par sone ki chidiya karti hai basera, woh Bharat desh hai mera”. The song was composed by Hansraj Behl and rendered by Rafi.


13. Mere Desh Ki Dharti – Upkar (1967)

One of Mahendra Kapoor’s most famous songs, this was picturised on Manoj Kumar and composed by Kalyanji-Anandji. Gulshan Bawra wrote the lines “Mere desh ki dharti sona ugle ugle here moti, mere desh kid harti”. A must on Independence Day and Republic Day.


14. Taqat Watan Se – Prem Pujari (1970)

Rafi and Manna Dey were joined by a chorus on this group song composed by SD Burman and written by Neeraj. It was picturised on Dev Anand and others, and became a regular feature at school functions.


15. Hai Preet Jahaan Ki Reet Sada – Purab Aur Paschim (1970)

Indeevar’s lines “Bharat ka rehne waala hoon Bharat ki baat sonata hoon” became a favourite. Sung by Mahendra Kapoor and composed by Kalyanji-Anandji, this song was picturised on Manoj Kumar.


16. Hindustan Ki Kasam – Hindustan Ki Kasam (1973)

A tribute to those in the Indian Air Force, this song featured Manna Dey, Rafi and others. Music was by Madan Mohan, with Kaifi Azmi writing “Na jhukega sar watan ka har jawaan ki kasam”. The war film starred Raaj Kumar.


17. Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge – Karma (1986)

“Dil diya hai jaan bhi denge ae watan tere liye”, wrote Anand Bakshi in this song composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy and Mohammed Aziz. The song took place at a function held in a prison, and was motivational in nature.


18. Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai – Roja (1992)

Rahman’s music in Mani Ratnam’s Roja gave him a major career boost. It was released in Tamil first before being dubbed, and the Hindi lyrics were written by P.K. Mishra. Hariharan sang this outstanding song.


19. Sandese Aate Hain – Border (1997)

Like many songs in J.P. Dutta films, this was shot on a lavish scale. Composed by Anu Malik and written by Javed Akhtar, it was sung by Sonu Nigam and Roopkumar Rathod. It was a major hit that year.


20. Maa Tujhe Salaam – non-film (1997)

This was the opening song of Rahman’s album Vande Mataram, released to mark 50 years of Independence. The composer sings the song himself, and the lyrics are written by Mehboob. The video by Bala and Kanika also made news because of its scale.

This article features as part of the Independence Day feature in the August 15, 2020 issue of Seniors Today. The magazine will be published on August 14. Look out for it.

Narendra Kusnur
Narendra Kusnur is one of India’s best known music journalists. Born with a musical spoon, so to speak, Naren, who dubs himself Kaansen, is a late bloomer in music criticism. He was (is!) an aficionado first, and then strayed into writing on music. But in the last two decades, he has made up for most of what he didn’t do earlier.

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