R-Day Special: Bollywood Movies Whose Songs Define Patriotism


While one would want every average Indian citizen to be a ‘Proud Indian’ everyday, there are few things and days that grip the nation in a patriotic fever for certain – Cheering for India in an India Pakistan cricket match, watching a patriotic Bollywood movie like Úri’ or ‘Border, and listening to patriotic songs on Republic and Independence days. There is something about playing patriotic songs on these days that gives goose bumps and sends an adrenaline rush . While there are many contemporary songs (90s and beyond) that have caught our attention, the following is a chronological list of movies of yore whose songs had defined patriotism in the years before the melodious 90s.


  1. Anand Math (1952)

Written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Vande Mataram featured in the movie ‘Anand Math’ that was also based on a novel written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay depicting the Sanyasi Rebellion of the 18th century. The song  Vande Mataram played an important role in the Indian Independence Movement and was eventually declared the “National Song” in 1947. Composed by Hemant Kumar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar for ‘Anand Math’ in 1952,  the movie version of Vande Mataram is one of the most popular interpretations of the National song.

Incidentally, Anand Math’s soundtrack was Hemant Kumar’s debut composition in Hindi Cinema, which made him immensely popular from thereon.


  1. Jagriti (1954)

While the movie ‘Jagriti ‘was more about unorthodox educational techniques and incorporating a value system in school education, the movie is  better known for its classic patriotic songs, which were composed by Hemant Kumar and written by one of the greatest Indian poets and lyricists of all time, Kavi Pradeep. The three gems Sabarmati Ke Sant Tune Kar Diya Kamal, Hum Laye Hain Toofan Se Kashti Nikaal Ke and  Aao Bachon Tumhe Dikhayen are worth revisiting on this day.


  1. Naya Daur (1957)

A Man vs. Machine tale, Naya Daur not only brought Dilip Kumar his 3rd Filmfare award, it also gave Bollywood music lovers one of the most popular patriotic songs of all time. Composed by O. P. Nayyar with lyrics penned by Sahir Ludhianvi and sung by Mohammed Rafi and Balvir, Yeh Desh Hai Veer Jawanon Ka is another song that calls for a revisit on this day.


  1. Hum Hindustani (1960)

Based in the Nehruvian era, this movie was about the youth of yore who were fighting their battle to break the feudal chains at home and in office post-independence. The title song of the movie Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein composed by Usha Khanna, penned by Prem Dhawan and sung by Mukesh not only symbolises the state of the youth of that era, it also stays pertinent in the current situation when the nation is trying to stay connected to its roots while progressing forward towards development.

  1. Ganga Jamuna (1961)

Starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala, Ganga Jamuna was a trendsetter for movies on Dacoits and Sibling rivalry inspiring movies like Mera Gaon Mera Desh, Ganga Ki Saugandh, Deewar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, Trishul and Khalnaayak. The song Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe Bachon Dikhao Chalke Yeh Desh Hai Tumhara Neta Tumhi Ho Kalke composed by Naushad , penned by Shakeel Badayuni and sung by Hemant Kumar is picturised on the young siblings in school who later find themselves on the opposite sides of the law as they grow up.


  1. Kabuliwala (1961)

One of the most poignant of stories written by Rabindranath Tagore, the movie version of Kabuliwala featured a heart-wrenching patriotic song picturised on Balraj Sahni as Kabuliwala recalling his long lost daughter and motherland –  Aye Mere Pyare Watan.

For many expatriate Indian, this song composed by Salil Chaudhry, penned by Gulzar and sung by Manna Dey still strikes a chord and tugs at their heart strings.


  1. Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai (1961)

Of simpler times and simpler people, the title song  of this movie produced by Raj Kapoor was composed by Shankar Jaikishan, penned by Shailendra and sung by Mukesh and is a melodious take on a India that was and we hope will be again some day.


  1. Haqeeqat (1964)

Composed by Madan Mohan and penned by Kaifi Azmi, Ab Tumhare Hawale Vatan Sathiyon from the film ‘Haqeeqat’, has been immortalised in the voice of Mohammed Rafi. Based on the Sino-Indian war of 1962, the movie starred Dharmendra and Balraj Sahni. Famous playback and ghazal singer Bhupinder also faced the camera as a soldier for this movie.


  1. Leader (1964)

The political drama starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjanthimala was popular for it’s patriotic song Apni Azadi Ko Hum Hargees Mita Sakte Nahin sung by Mohammed Rafi, composed by Naushad and penned by Shakeel Badayuni.


  1. Shaheed (1965)

Based on the biography of Bhagat Singh, Shaheed starred Manoj Kumar and Prem Chopra in pivotal roles and gave Bollywood a complete patriotic soundtrack with melodious songs like Aye Watan Aye Watan, Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna , Pagdi Sambhaal Jatta, Mere Rang De Basanti Chola, and Watan Ki Raah Mein Watan ke Naujawan Shaheed Ho composed and penned by Prem Dhawan (except Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna by Bismil Azimabadi)


  1. Sikandar-E-Azam (1965)

Based on the escapades of Alexander in Kabul and the Indian border at Jhelum including the war with Puru, ‘Sikandar E Azam’ had Dara Singh, Prithviraj Kapoor, Premnath and Prem Chopra in pivotal roles. Composed by Hansraj Behl and penned by Rajendra Krishan, the popular patriotic song from the movie Jahan Dal Dal Pe Sone Ki Chidiya Karti Hai Basera has been immortalized in the audience’s memory in the voice of Mohammed Rafi.

  1. Upkar (1967)

Featuring Manoj Kumar, Mere Desh Ki Dharti from ‘Upkar’ is a timeless patriotic song. The movie marked the debut of Manoj Kumar as a director and started his Mr. Bharat persona and his brand of patriotism. The song composed by Kalyanji Anandji, penned by Gulshan Bawra and sung by Mahendra Kapoor was an instant hit and continues to be a favorite for FM radio stations on Republic and Independence days.


  1. Jigri Dost (1969)

Unrelated to patriotism, ‘Jigri Dost’ starring Jeetendra was a family entertainer and also featured Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha (as Komal). The song Mere Desh Mein Pavan Chale Purvai composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and sung by Mohammed Rafi was a Chitrahaar and Rangoli favorite in the 80s and 90s.


  1. Prem Pujari (1970)

One of S D Burman’s most popular movie albums, which features hit songs like Rangeela Re, Sokhiyon Mein Ghola Jaaye, Phoolon Ke, Rang Se, and Prem Ke Pujari , also boasted of a popular ‘Fauji’ song – Taqat Watan ki Hum Se Hai. Penned by Neeraj and sung by Mohammed Rafi and Manna Dey, the song was picturised on Nasir Husain and Dev Anand.


  1. Purab Aur Paschim (1970)

Produced and directed by Manoj Kumar, ‘Purab aur Paschim’ was the second film where he starred as Bharat after Upkar. The song Bharat Ka Rehnewala Hoon composed by Kalyanji Anandji, sung by Mahendra Kapoor and penned by Indeevar was picturised on Manoj Kumar where he sings the song in a party in response to a request from Madan Puri to sing something about India. The plot of the movie inspired the 2007 rom-com Namastey London starring Akshay Kumar.


  1. Aakraman (1975)

A war film starring Rakesh Roshan and Sanjeev Kumar in lead roles, ‘Aakraman’ was a romantic drama set in the background of the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The movie had a cameo by Rajesh Khanna who played a disabled Punjabi soldier who yearns to join the war with his fellow soldiers and fight for the motherland. The song Dekho Veer Jawanon was composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal, sung by Kishore Kumar and picturised on Rajesh Khanna who desperately watches his fellow soldiers progress towards the border as he limps behind them.


  1. Kranti (1981)

Produced and directed by Manoj Kumar, the multi-starrer ‘Kranti’ was a fictional epic set in 19th Century British India and a fictional depiction of the fight for independence from the British between 1825 and 1875. While the movie had many hit compositions from Laxmikant Pyarelal like Zindagi Ki Na Toote Ladi, Loi Shama Sa and Chana Zor Garam, the songs Ab Ke Baras sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Kranti Kranti by Manna Dey, Nitin Mukesh, Mahendra Kapoor, Shailendra Singh and Lata Mangeshkar were audience favorites for the patriotic flavour.


  1. Karma (1986)

This Subhash Ghai produced and directed super hit starring Dilip Kumar was an inspired take on the 1957 movie ‘Do Aankhen Baarah Haath’ with a patriotic twist. The songs of this movie composed by Laxmikant Pyarelal and written by Anand Bakshi were immensely popular in the late 80s. The songs Aye Watan Tere Liye and Mera Karma Tu sung by Mohammed Aziz, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Dilip Kumar are songs that continue to remain popular and are staple choices on Republic day and Independence day.

(The writer is a doctor and public health specialist by profession but a passionate music enthusiast with special liking for Bollywood music from 80s and 90s)

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