Today is Teachers’ day. This Teachers’ day is rather special and different. The academic year has been disrupted and there has not been a single day of regular school. It has been schooling in the virtual world. Both the students and the teachers have had to adapt to and accept the new normal.
Ordinarily Teachers’ Day is celebrated with a lot of fun and gusto in school with the children putting up a cultural programme for their teachers and expressing their gratitude to them. This time there is no scope for any real meeting and greeting. Everything has shifted to the virtual arena. Also with online schooling parents also have not only started reliving their school days but have become part time teachers at home. The rest of the time they are online assistants of their children!
On the occasion of teachers’ day, I thought it would be a good idea to list out songs of teachers and school children or children of school going age in a group. However, these songs are different in that I have ensured that the song is picturized outside the four walls of a classroom in order to relive the gurukul experience and get some fresh air, which all of us have long been deprived of, this year. Further, the ‘teacher’ in these songs is not necessarily a school teacher. Anyone from whom the children learn – be it an older neighbour or a fatherly figure or even a social worker or an odd visitor has been included in the list. So, essentially it is some sort of an open air school or school like environment that all these songs depict. Some of the songs are didactic, some are purely entertaining songs, while there are still others where one’s own experiences are shared with the children in a story format and thus there are flashback/dream sequences. Children, as we all know, are very fond of listening to stories. The songs in my playlist are largely of the golden era.
1) Suno Choti Si Gudiya Ki Lambi Kahani (Seema,1955, sad version), Lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, Music Directors Shankar Jaikishan, Playback Singer Lata Mangeshkar. This song has Nutan (Gauri in the film) sitting under a tree with a puppet in her hand, entertaining the children of the neighbourhood with a story through a lyrical song. The open air setting enhances the beauty of the song, which of course is a tale of, how all her dreams for the future have been shattered. She is like a teacher-cum-elder sister for the poor children of the neighbourhood, with whom she shares a strong bond. The children listen to the song (or story, should we say!) pretty intently. Teachers, we must remember, come in all shapes and sizes! What is also special about this song is the magic of the sarod which has been played by none other than Ustaad Ali Akbar Khan. He has played the sarod in both the prelude and the interludes. This adds to the pathos of the song.
2) Ek Hans Ka Joda (Lajwanti, 1958) Lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri, Music Director S.D.Burman, Playback Singer Asha Bhonsle and Chorus. This song picturized on Nargis is similar to the one from Seema listed in the post as it is a story of the female protagonist woven into a song. It begins on a happy note but ends on a gloomy one. Nargis in this movie takes up a teacher’s job as she has left her marital home, hurt and angry, after wrongly being accused of infidelity by her husband. The open air (gurukul like!) setting of the song and the innocence on the children’s faces make it a delight to watch. Just before the song begins, the children adorably come up to Nargis and tell her that they do not want to study but listen to a story instead.
3) Ichakdaana Bichakdana (Shri 420, 1955) Lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, Music Directors Shankar Jaikishan, Playback Singers Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. In this song which is a favourite in antakshari, there’s Nargis (playing Vidya which incidentally means knowledge, an apt name for a teacher!) teaching the poor children Hindi under the open sky, through riddles set to tune. The open air way of learning, perhaps because of poverty in this case, still has a charm of its own. The lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri has come up with very innovative lyrics; it is not easy to write a song like this. A major part of the song is sung by Lata with Mukesh singing very briefly towards the end. An interesting bit of information when we talk of the movie Shri 420 is that on one hand Rishi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s son, appears briefly in the song Pyar Hua Iqraar Hua Hain, whereas the marvellous actress Sadhana appears as a chorus girl in the song Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh, facing the camera for the first time.
4) Ek Do Teen Aur Chaar (Kaagaz Ke phool, 1959) Lyricist Kaifi Azmi, Music Director S.D.Burman, Playback Singer Geeta Dutt. This song of the movie is one of the lesser heard ones. This is another open air paathshala song and this time the teacher is Waheeda Rehman. The children (as always!) want to listen to a story. As she teaches numbers in a song and story format, she sums up her life’s trials and tribulations and ends up in tears towards the end of the song. Kaifi Azmi has penned, in this song, the story (so far) very euphemistically but poignantly. Waheeda gives up her glamorous life for the sake of the domestic peace of Guru Dutt and spends her days teaching children in a nondescript location. The children around her are of course oblivious to all this, like in all other (similar) songs and they have great fun listening to her.
5) Bacchon Tum Taqdeer Ho (Didi, 1959) Lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, Music Director N Datta, Playback Singers Md.Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. This is not a fun song. There is no story being told or any personal experiences being narrated. It is rather didactic and speaks of expectations that teachers would have from their students. It reflects the ideals, hopes and aspirations of a nation that had recently gained independence. The song has not been shot under the open sky. But it is not the typical school setup either. The children are out on an excursion when this song is sung, perhaps in an old / historical monument which looks deserted. Both Shubha Khote and Sunil Dutt play teachers in this film.
The movie is also famous for the music of Sudha Malhotra. The music director of the film, N Datta, fell ill and it was Sudha Malhotra who composed the music for the song Tum Mujhe Bhul Bhi Jaon. This song written by Sahir Ludhianvi epitomizes true love which is selfless and has no expectations. It also shows how Sahir could use simple words and yet come up with meaningful songs.
6) Insaaf Ki Dagar Pe Bacchon (Gunga Jumna, 1961) Lyricist Shakil Badayuni, Music Director Naushad, Playback Singer Hemant Kumar and Chorus. Rendered beautifully by Hemant Kumar, this song is akin to the song from Didi, which addresses the children as the leaders of tomorrow. Sung under the open sky, by a teacher who is a fatherly figure (could not figure out the actor’s name though, is it S.Nazir?), the song does strike a chord. It is a song that is extremely motivating and one that evokes patriotism.There is the young Aruna Irani too as a child artist in this song. The movie Gunga Jumna was a runaway hit and a precursor in many ways of the blockbuster film Deewar. The movie poignantly depicts the manner in which two siblings are pitted against each other – one is a dacoit and the other a police officer.
7) Nanhe Munne Bacche Teri Mutthi Mein Kya Hain (Boot Polish, 1954) Lyricist Shailendra, Music Directors Shankar Jaikishan, Playback Singers Md.Rafi, Asha Bhonsle and Chorus. This song illustrates the point that I am trying to make that anyone can don the hat of a teacher and show us the right path. In this song, it is the handicapped David (as John Chacha) who is teaching orphaned children the importance of being self reliant and preserving one’s dignity. The enthusiasm, with which the children dance and sing along in the open and respond to his queries, is rather infectious. The performance of Baby Naaz ( as Belu) in particular is stupendous.
8) Aao Bachhon Tumhe Dikhaye Jhaanki Hindustan Ki (Jagriti, 1954) Lyricist Kavi Pradeep, Music Director Hemant Kumar, Playback Singer Kavi Pradeep. This song written and sung by Kavi Pradeep has the stamp of his characteristic style. Kavi Pradeep is known for his patriotic poems and songs, this being one of them. The movie too is a gem in terms of projecting how a teacher and his personality can positively influence and change his students and help them become better human beings. The teacher (played by Abhi Bhattacharya) resorts to unconventional techniques to inculcate the right values in his students. He instills a sense of pride and belonging in the children by explaining to them the history and rich cultural heritage of India through a Bharat darshan on rails. Thus, again the song is not set in the classroom environment but in the train and at various spots of historical interest. It is literally learning on the wheels. It is interesting to see how the railway track in this song becomes the instrument for unifying diverse regions, languages and beliefs of India.
9) Geeton Ki Duniya Ke Sargam Hain Hum (Sparsh, 1980) Lyricist Indu Jain, Music Director Kanu Roy, Playback Singer Sulakshana Pandit and Chorus. Both the song and the movie are completely different from those listed above. The movie explores the interaction between two worlds – that of the visually impaired and that which has all senses intact and working. Packed with powerful performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi, the film speaks of inclusion. It also goes on to show how the visually impaired children are no different from the others in their peeves, hopes, aspirations and struggles. Aptly titled Sparsh or touch, the movie not only deals about the heightened sense of touch among the blind but also touches our sensibilities.
Shabana Azmi, a young widow, trained in music, is trying to put her life back together after the untimely demise of her husband. She loves spending time at the blind school. In this song, she tries to entertain the children and play with them in the school’s play area. She sings with them and passes chocolates to all of them as they sing in a circle. The way the children clutch the toffees is a pleasure to watch. Subsequently in the movie, she becomes a storyteller for the children and even prints a few in Braille, after painstakingly learning the code herself, upon realizing that there are very few story books for children in Braille. She eventually falls in love with the blind Naseeruddin Shah, who is the principal of the boarding school for blind children.
The film’s music is special in many senses. For one, the lyricist is a woman – Indu Jain; surprisingly, there aren’t many out there. Indu Jain has written the lyrics of Sai Paranjpye’s movies alone. Sai Paranjpye, the writer and director of the movie, has made several movies, which though are not mainstream, are very entertaining and made sensitively. The music director is Kanu Roy who worked largely with Basu Bhattacharya (he is the producer of this film) and composed music for several of his movies. The playback singer of this song is Sulakshana Pandit – a singing star in her own right – though she has not acted in this film.
10) Yeh Taaraa Woh Taaraa Har Taaraa (Swades, 2004) Lyricist Javed Akhtar, Music Director A.R.Rehman, Playback singers Udit Narayan, Master Vignesh and Baby Pooja. This movie, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, touched upon several social and economic issues, with the mainstay of the film of course being nationalist pride and patriotism. This song that I refer to here is shot in the open, on a starlit night when the entire village has assembled to watch a movie, which is a luxury for them. There is a segregated seating arrangement, on caste lines, for viewing the movie. A section of the villagers (the lower castes) watch the movie from the opposite side, thereby seeing the mirror image. The electricity suddenly fails; it is then that Mohan (played by Shahrukh Khan) an NRI who works in NASA, takes the centrestage and becomes the harbinger of social change by getting the screen separating the villagers down.
He, therefore, dons the hat of a teacher in some way and shows the villagers the path to progress and upliftment. He also sings and dances with the children; he tries to convey to the villagers that each child is a star. Similarly, each person, irrespective of his caste and profession, is special and thus it is important for everyone to unite and take on challenges. The shy smiles on the faces of the children as they sing and do a jig along with Mohan is delightful to watch.
There are a couple of other songs that I wanted to include but since my playlist of 10 was over I am only make a passing reference to them. These are chuppa chuppi from Savera (1958) and Gori Zara Hans De Tu, from Asli Naqli (1963). The context of the song from Savera is not clear as Meena Kumari works at an Ashram and is not a teacher. The song begins abruptly and though it is a fun song in the open about the cat chasing the mouse, just to entertain the children, it is also an indirect reference to Ashok Kumar who is running away from both Meena Kumari and the law of the land.
The song from Asli Naqli however has a little more of philosophy about dealing with life. In the movie, Dev Anand briefly takes up the job of a school bus driver and cajoles a sulking school girl who is reluctant to go to school and finally gets her on board. The bus ride becomes a joy ride and the school authorities kick him out for indiscipline on the very first day of his job. Dev Anand jovially teaches the children to take life sportively and be cheerful even if there are troubles.
This brings me to the end of my post. This post is a different take on the interactions between adults and school children accompanied, by a whiff of fresh air! The songs that I have listed are of myriad hues. The common link is the interaction between a group of school children or children of school going age and an adult(s) who may or may not be a teacher in the strict sense of the word. The setting is not the four walls of the conventional modern day school. In some interactions, there is pure fun and entertainment in the form of story telling. In some others, which are more serious, there is a message for the children – who are seen as the future of the country – to take the right path in life. There are also those which deal with social issues and physical disability. In each instance there is a teacher or an adult who steps into the shoes of the ‘teacher’ and engages with the children.
I am sure there would be songs that could have, but have not figured in here. You are welcome to add on, if they are in sync with the theme.