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Songs with a Regional Twist

India is a land of abundance. It is not only natural wealth that our country has but also a wealth of languages. Each state/region has its own language with which is associated its own inimitable flavour. Sometimes you feel you can best express something only in your mother tongue – especially if you are very angry or upset.

I, for one, have always loved to learn languages. My linguistic identity is a mishmash. My mother tongue is Telugu, but I am married to a Tamilian (who speaks more fluent Marathi than Tamil!!). Having done my schooling and higher education in different states/cities of India – Bihar, Karnataka, Delhi – I managed to pick up Hindi and Kannada. And as destiny led me to work and settle down in a completely different state – Maharashtra – I have picked up functional Marathi as well. Thus, our home is almost a melting pot of languages. It is perhaps this affinity for the languages of India that has led me to write this post.

I am not including the songs which have dialects of Hindi. But given the trivia buff I am , I cannot stop myself from mentioning here that in the song Sun Bairi Balam Sach Bol Re, (Baawre Nain, 1950), Rajkumari sings Ib (इब) Kya Hoga instead of Ab (अब) Kya Hoga. Ib is how Ab is spoken in Haryanvi and the lyricist Kedar Sharma insisted that it should be sung as Ib and not Ab. It is these minor variations which add more zing to a song and render it more earthy.

Further, I am also excluding songs which are completely in a different language but find place in a Hindi movie. An example of this kind of song would be the (Bhangra) song Te ki Main Jhuth Boleyaa koi na from Jaagte Raho (1956) which is fully in Punjabi. This song was penned by Prem Dhawan, who was specially commissioned to write in chaste Punjabi, even as all the other songs of the movie were written by Shailendra. Apparently, Prem Dhawan also had a role in the music direction of the song. Multilingual songs like O Re O Poran Bandhu Re from Teen Batti Chaar Raasta (1953) too have been excluded.

There are quite a few songs of golden era Hindi film music that have a phrase or two or even an entire line which is from a different Indian language; but, the rest of the song is in Hindi. This post is dedicated to such songs which have a smattering of other regional languages. And yes, there are some typical expressions that we associate with certain languages. Aiyayyo, Aiga, Ayya – do these strike a chord? These expressions are so much a part of our colloquial conversation. So here’s my playlist of ten songs on the theme. The songs are of the golden era.

1) Aiga Aiga Aiga Yeh Kya Ho Gaya (Boyfriend, 1961). Lyricist: Hasrat Jaipuri; Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishan; Playback Singers: Md.Rafi & Aarti Mukherjee. The expression to watch out for here is Aiga (आई ग) which is typically a Marathi exclamation that is uttered when one gets hurt. Aai in Marathi is ‘mother’. By saying or uttering आई ग, you remember your mother – the first person you can think of in distress. The exclamation is incorporated into the song because of what has just transpired before the melody. Shammi, who has his full attention, focused on his lady love – Madhubala – accidentally bumps into a Maharashtrian lady selling vegetables. The lady (along with her tokri of vegetables) crashes and so does Shammi. She gives him a mouthful in Marathi and then keeps uttering Aiga as she gathers herself together. Shammi latches on to the exclamation and so the song begins with Aiga. Rafi and Aarti Mukherjee (an underrated singer) sing this romantic melody very impressively.

2) O Meri Maina Tu Maan Le Mera Kehnaa (Pyaar Kiye Jaa, 1966). Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singers: Manna Dey & Usha Mangeshkar. The rock and roll rhythm coupled with the spirited dancing make it a real fun song. In this song, Mehmood (of Wah! Wah! productions) is trying to show off his dancing skills to a prospective film financier. Mumtaz is the heroine of Mehmood’s movie. Both go the extra mile to impress the financier – Kishore Kumar – who is disguised as an old, rich gentleman. Manna Dey proves his versatility with this rock and roll number which is miles away from Hindustani Classical music. Usha Mangeshkar is equally good.

This rib-tickling dance number featuring Mehmood and Mumtaz has my favourite exclamation – Aiyyayyo. The way this expression is used as the interlude/refrain is amazing. Here the expression seems to suggest – Oh God, What Do I do?? Any South Indian worth his salt would at once relate to the expression. It is that expression that unites all the southern states. This is an expression used to convey myriad emotions – dejection, pity, fright. It has quietly crept into the English lexicon too! However, there is no way English can consummately explain what Aiyyayo means to a South Indian.

3) Aiyyaa Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar (Shagird, 1967) Lyricist: Majrooh Sultanpuri; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. This bubbly song from Shagird has Saira Banu going over the top. It has her enacting almost each word of the song. But what catches your attention is the Aiyyaa that is uttered when Joy (the hero) tries to get too close for comfort. Aiyyaa is a variant of the South Indian Aiyyo pretty much expressing the same sentiment – of surprise, shock, derision depending on the context. Saira plays the role of an innocent village belle and hence the Aiyyaa that is thrown liberally into the lyrics.

4) Aiyayya Karun Main Kya Suku Suku (Junglee, 1961) Lyricist: Shailendra; Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishan; Playback Singer: Md.Rafi. Who can forget this fun-filled mad song from Junglee which has both Helen (Ms.Suku) and Shammi Kapoor dancing with great enthusiasm? Shammi is trying to act as though he has gone cuckoo. The Aiyayya is the icing on the cake – meaning Oh My God! The usage of this colloquial expression when Ms.Suku is presenting a beautifully choreographed Western dance piece on an elaborately designed set, helps to drive home the point that Shammi is mentally unsound.

Now it is the turn of songs which have a smattering of other Indian languages.

5) Lara Lappa Lara Lappa (Ek Thi Ladki, 1949) Lyricist: Aziz Kashmiri; Music Director: Vinod; Playback Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Satish Batra/G.M.Durrani(?) and Md.Rafi. The flavour of the song is pretty much Punjabi-Himachali. The tune of this song is based on a Pahadi Punjabi song tune of Kangra District, where even today it is sung in festivals. The music director Vinod (or Eric Roberts), was a true Punjabi at heart and so he loved to use Punjabi words and music in his songs. Barring Lara Lappa and Adi Tappa, no other Punjabi words are used in the song. In Punjabi, Lara Lappa means to dilly dally and not keep one’s word and Aditappa means to pick up a fight for no reason. The English translation of the mukhda would be:-

laaraa lappaa laaraa lappaa laai rakhdaa
aditappa aditappa laai rakhdaa
dekar jhoothe laare
(My love) keeps making these false promises with embellishments again
and again and makes me walk excitedly again and again (towards him) in
expectation of fulfilment of promises which he never keeps.

One wonders which part of the song Rafi sings in the song. It appears that he sings or rather repeats just two words of the song – Beemariyan and Tayyarian – first sung by Satish Batra/ G.M.Durrani(?).

6) Govinda Aala Re Aala (Bluffmaster, 1963). Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan; Music Directors: Kalyanji Anandji; Playback Singer: Md.Rafi. This song, which is synonymous with the Dahi Haandi celebrations on the occasion of Janmashtami in Mumbai and elsewhere, nails the effect with the Marathi words Aala Re Aala (meaning he has come). It could have been Govinda Aaya Re Aaya but one can very well apprecaite the magic that this Marathi phrase has created. It immediately makes you reminisce the boisterous celebrations of Dahi-Haandi in Mumbai, where the youngsters are called Govindas. The song does not use any other Marathi phrase. Shammi Kapoor dazzles as a Govinda and Rafi as always sings fabulously for him.

7) Ramayya Vastavayya (Shri 420, 1955) Lyricist: Shailendra; Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishan; Playback Singers: Md.Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh. This evergreen melody from one of Raj Kapoor’s most popular films has the opening words Ramayya Vastavayya. These are words in Telugu respectfully referring to Lord Ram and reaffirming faith in the fact that he will return to his kingdom. According to me, going by the way it is sung, it is not Lord Ram being asked whether he will come back but an emphatic reconfirmation of the belief that he will return.

Barring these two opening words, the rest of the song is in Hindi. The  raison d’etre for including these two Telegu words is rather ambiguous. But it is said that music composer Shankar Singh Raghuvanshi, who grew up in Hyderabad where Telugu is spoken, had been demonstrating his composition to director Raj Kapoor using placeholder Telugu lyrics. When Raj Kapoor heard the tune, he loved it so much that he wanted the Telugu title lyrics to be included in the final version! Perhaps, the parallel between Lord Ram returning (at last) to his kingdom and Raju (the hero, Raj Kapoor) finally coming back to his true home was apt.

8) Bathukamma Bathukamma (Shatranj, 1969) Lyricist: Kiran Kalyani; Music Directors: Shankar Jaikishan; Playback Singers: Md.Rafi and Sharada Rajan. Picturized on Mehmood and Helen, it has some mad dancing and some outlandish costumes. The song however, is quite a treat for a Telugu like me. The entire Mukhda is in (somewhat unsophisticated) Telugu. The song has a strong Hyderabadi/Urdu tinge too. The rest of the song is in Hindi. Bathukamma means “Mother Goddess come alive” in Telugu.

Also, Bathukamma is a nine day floral festival in Telangana coinciding with the Navratri. The festival represents the cultural spirit of Telangana, symbolizing the patron Goddess of womanhood. The words mean – O Bathukamma, where are you going? Come here. The woman replies in the same vein – O Yenkanna, (a rustic name of Lord Venkateswara) where are you going? Come here. Since Shankar Singh Raghuvanshi had spent his impressionable years in Hyderabad, he had imbibed the local culture and that explains this composition. Rafi’s diction of the Telugu part is understandably not up to the mark. Sharada, the female playback singer, is a tad better. The lyricist Kiran Kalyani has not penned many songs. There is hardly any information available about her. But it is heartening to note that a female lyricist was commissioned for the song because there aren’t many out there.

It would be interesting to point out here that another song of the Shankar-Jaikishan duo – Naach Re Man Bathukamma – from Rajkumar (1964) also refers to Bathukamma. In this song, the goddess is being worshipped by the women of the tribe.

Bathukamma Batukamma Batukamma
Yakkada potavu ra, yakkada potavu ra, ikkada ikkada ra
Yenkanna Yenkanna Yenkanna Yenkanna
Yakkada potavu ra, yakkada potovu ra, ikkada ikkada ra
Chinamma Chinamma Chinamma Chinamma
Yakkada potovu ra, yakkada potavu ra, ikkada ikkada ra

9) Aao Aao (Waango) Saawariya (Padosan, 1968) Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan; Music Director: R.D.Burman; Playback Singer: Manna Dey. The movie Padosan has the unique distinction of not only having a strong narrative and great performances but also out of the world music. Each song is a gem. Given the fact that Mehmmod (Master Pillai) plays the role of a South Indian music teacher, it becomes easy to weave both Carnatic music and some Tamil lyrics into the songs. This song too begins with Carnatic music; then there is tinge of Rabindra Sangeet; somewhere down the line, it turns into core Hindustani. Thus, Master Pillai, true to his roots, begins singing waango for aao which means come or aao in Tamil. Then, he whacks himself on the head exclaiming Aiyyayo and continues in Hindi. The Pancharatna Natak Mandali witnesses the entire performance with bated breath. He says Amma (when he finishes an entire string of swarams) – again a typical Tamil expression. The way the song tapers off in the end with him singing aipocchi – meaning it is over, in Tamil – is also delightful.

Mehmood’s lip syncing is impeccable. Manna Dey straddles both styles of classical singing with great aplomb. This is perhaps one of the most enjoyable songs of the movie.

10) Main Bangali Chhokra (Raagini, 1958) Lyricist: Qamar Jalalabadi; Music Director: O.P.Nayyar; Playback Singers: Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhosle. This hilarious song from the movie Raagini is about a Tamilian girl falling for a Bengali boy and trying to convince him that they can actually embark on a journey together. Kishore Kumar – the hero – is a Bengali and Padmini – the heroine – is a Tamilian. Padmini has a tough time trying to explain how accommodative she will be. Kishore Kumar, however, is far from being persuaded.

This song is a take on what cross – regional marriages entail. Love is blind but to make love sustain there is give-and-take that one has to be prepared for. Kishore sings with the perfect Bengali accent and Asha singing for Padmini tries to bring in the Tamil touch with some notes of Carnatic music. It is amazing that the music director (O.P.Nayyar) and the lyricist (Qamar Jalalabadi) were miles away from the cultural moorings of Bengal and Tamil Nadu. Yet, they come up with a rather insightful song with very creative lyrics.

One of the pet peeves of every South Indian is that all Indians south of the Vindhyas are referred to as Madrasis. (even in Aye mere Watan Ke Logon, the same word is used for South Indians). There is little effort made to understand that there are four different states (now five) in the south and there are four different languages spoken. The omnibus Madrasi term is in fact offensive.

Kishore uses some of the quintessential Bengali expressions in the song – Sotti Re (really?), more jaayi (worth dying for), ore baabaa (Oh My God!). There are entire lines in Bengali in the song in praise of Bengali cuisine and music –

luchir upor pore daal lokhi naache taale-taale
khaaye sudhu machchhi jhaal khaaye go sudhu khaaye go....

sokhi go tomaay kemun kore paabo

With this I come to the end of my playlist. This post has been very educative for me. It demonstrates the fact that every person has his/her own linguistic baggage which becomes more enriched with time. When several such individuals from different linguistic regions of the country commingle, you have brilliant music being composed with some creative lyrics and colloquial expressions. The flip side, of course, is that clichés and biases associated with languages also creep in. But these too get ironed out with the passage of time. Since my knowledge is restricted to only a few of the languages of India, I have picked up songs associated with these alone. I am sure there must be many more. For now, it is Aiyayyo, Aiga, Ayya, Lara Lappa and Ore Baabaa. With this, post aipocchi !!

Disclaimer, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube/ other platforms only to make the post audiovisual. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

19 thoughts on “Songs with a Regional Twist

  1. What a delightful post and enjoyable song list! Was a fun to read too.
    The singer of Lara lappa is G M Durrani with Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar. If you listen carefully, you can differentiate the two male voices. Durrani’s pronunciations are a bit too nasal. Listen to the word, नारीयां.
    I can think of a couple of songs offhand.
    Mutthukodi kawadi hada

    Jhala mala prem zala, that also has pyar karun chhoo

    And we may also think of angreji mein kehte hai ke


    1. Thanks, Anupji! The songs you have added are perfect for the post. I had the first one on my list but then it would have been one more song of Mehmood and so I did not include it.
      As regards the Lara Lappa song, till now even I had seen the name of G.M.Durrani but there was an article I read for this post which said something different. Here is the link.–vinod-379153?infinitescroll=1

      The relevant part of the article says …. the song which took the entire nation by a storm was Punjabi-Hindi mixed song, Lara lappa lara lappa layee rakhda (Lata/Rafi/Satish Batra). HMV by mistake printed the name of popular singer GM Durrani on 78 RPM and Long Playing records. These mistakes were rectified by a noted film historian who had checked this with G M Durrani himself. Later, HMV printed the name of Batra in place of Durrani..
      Perhaps someone like AKji or Arunkumar Deshmukh Ji can shed more light.


  2. Anitaji,

    Finally visited your blog and I am wondering why I didn’t come across it before.

    An enjoyable blog with an interesting title and such varied and novel themes on songs and non-songs posts!!
    Its impressive the way you have pointed out that nothing is trivial or insignificant and how any trivia can be an integral and important part of daily life.

    I hope to catch up with the older posts gradually.
    This post on songs with a Regional twist is an unusual but enjoyable concept, with a nice list of entertaining songs.

    Here are couple of suggestions, hope they fit!!

    1. Meri aur unki preet purani chal chal jaau ya Mumbai la – Chaand aur Suraj 1965

    2. Tere mere bich mein (Lata, SPB)- Ek Duje Ke Liye 1981


    1. Dr. Deshpande, Thanks a lot for reading my blog! I am happy you liked my posts.
      As far as the two songs for this post go, they are apt! Thanks for adding the two songs. I knew of the Ek Duje Ke lIyesong. However, the song from Chaand aur Suraj is new to me. The laavni is performed so gracefully! A real delight!


  3. Wonderful collection of songs, several there which I like a lot. 🙂

    Here are two beyond your time line; Bhumbro from Mission Kashmir which is otherwise in Hindi but uses the Kashmiri word for bhanwra, bhumbro:

    And, from Paheli, Sona kare jhilmil-jhilmil, which has the Bengali phrase brishti pade taapur-tupur:

    From 1949’s Nishaan, there’s this song, which is primarily in Hindi but has sections in Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and Tamil. Jaiyo jaiyo sipahiya bazaar:


    1. Thanks, Madhuji! All the songs you have suggested are great!
      The one from Nishaan as you rightly pointed out is a multilingual song with the mukhda in Hindi. Such multilingual songs could be a sub-category where the attempt seems to be to prove that all languages and cultures are rich and must be respected. There is of course some stalling and buying time -which seems to be the real reason for praising each of the regions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I recall this:

    Mhaari Gali Maa Aavjo – Namoona (1949) – Lata Mangeshkar – C Ramchandra – P L Santoshi

    Entire mukhda is in Gujarati and is set to Gujarati folk Garaba tune

    Mhaari Gali Maa Aavjo
    Mhaari Gali Maa Aavjo re
    Sooratwaala Sethiya
    O Aji Sooratwaala Sethiya
    O o Poonawaala Sethiya
    Mhaari Gali Maa Aavjo Aavjo Aavjo

    Songs slips to Gujarati in the stanzas as well.

    Incidentally, C Ramchandra has used Garaba tune in several other songs as well.


    1. Ashokji, thanks a lot for reading my post! The song that you have added is very enjoyable! Cuckoo dances so beautifully! She tries to connect with her patrons in their language! Perhaps, that is the magic that language can work!


  5. While working on another regular post of mine, I have landed upon

    Arey Kaha Chale Kayejala Kaha Chale Kayejala
    Oye Zara Thamba Zara Thamba
    Oye Sone Jaise Pyar Ko Samajh Liya Tamba

    Film – Lambe Haath (1960) – Mohammad Rafi – Music: G S Kohli – Lyrics: Anjaan

    Thamba has been smartly rhymed with Tamba


  6. While working on another of my regular posts I landed upon

    Arey Kaha Chale Kayejala Kaha Chale Kayejala
    Oye Zara Thamba Zara Thamba
    Oye Sone Jaise Pyar Ko Samajh Liya Tamba

    Film – Lambe Haath (1960) – Mohammad Rafi – Music: G S Kohli – Lyrics: Anjaan

    Thamba has been smartly rhymed with Tamba


    1. Yes, Ashokji! The Thaamba/taamba tukbandi is what struck me too! Again, when speaking about Kolhapur and Mumbai, a smattering of Marathi conveys quite a bit! I wanted to see the video of the song but it doesn’t seem to be available.


  7. Sorry, not fromthe golden era but I remember many songs post 80s:

    Sod maza haath mala peene de – Fiffty Fiffty 1981

    Galyat sakhli sonyachi hi porgi konachi- Zamana 1985

    Galyan sakhli sonyachi hi pori konachi – Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin 1991

    Aala re paaus aala – Safari 1999

    Usne bola kem chhe kem chhe – Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai 2000


    1. Thanks for the songs you have listed, Dr.Deshpande! I am not too familiar with the newer songs! There were some songs that I had on my reserve list. Not sure if you know them.
      1) Rafta Rafta Dekho Aankh Meri Ladi Hain (Kahani Kismat Ki, 1973)

      2) Aanki Chali Baanki Chali (Namkeen, 1982)


      3) Are Haan Dildaar (Bewaqoof, 1960)


  8. Anitaji,

    Yes, I am familiar with all the 3 songs that you have added and have seen all the 3 films.

    In fact, after reading the post, I had remembered the Rafta Rafta song with the line – pandoba porgi fasli, but later on it slipped off my mind. Nice to see it here.
    Namkeen had some good songs!!

    Posting two songs from Akalmand 1984

    Madrasi ladki ka Punjabi ladke se

    I love you uff kya haseen nazara hai


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