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Songs of (skewed!?) Work-Life Balance

Posted on 05/06/2021 by Trivia-The Spice of Life

Screen grab Courtesy : YouTube

Work-life balance is that (elusive!!) state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life. Achieving that perfect balance between ‘work’ and ‘life’ is easier said than done. The reasons for the imbalance could be many. Sometimes it could be the very nature of the job which keeps you away from home for long periods of time such as for those who are employed in the uniformed services. At other times, it is one’s own ambitions that could be the culprit. When a family member is extra busy and not available, there is bound to be a lot of heartburn. There will naturally be entreaties to skip work or even give up a job that is robbing life of its simple joys. The spouse/companion who is at the receiving end is bound to get irritated at some stage. This could in fact lead to a complete breakdown of the relationship. This post is an attempt to list all such songs which depict skewed work-life balance.

Let me also add here that because of the pandemic, the norm is work from home (or WFH); but believe me, it can be very exasperating for the others at home. It is a case of so near yet so far. The only advantage is of having the person physically at home. But for all practical purposes, the person is as good as not being there. Another peeve of mine is that household work never counts as work and thus the homemaker is always looked down upon. It is the homemaker who works without a break 24 x 7, all 365 days of the year.

I must state here that since most of the songs are of the golden era, it is the wife or the lady who is crying for attention and the man is depicted as being very busy with his work. Hence, all the songs are sung by female playback singers. Since women were not a significant part of the work force, it would obviously be the lady of the house who would keep waiting for her husband to return home from work. Thankfully, now with both men and women entering the work space, the menfolk too have begun to realize how agonizing it is to wait, after a point. I have arranged the songs chronologically, to show that even till the late 70s it is the woman waiting for the man to return and spend some quality time with her.

1) Aath Roz Ki Chhutti Lekar Aaja (Laadli, 1949) Lyricist: Nazim Panipati; Music Director: Anil Biswas; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. The song has very light hearted lyrics describing the number of months that have passed waiting for the beloved. Finally, a request is made that her lover must apply for eight days leave from work to come and meet her. Wonder why the number of days is eight! This rant sounds very familiar, for don’t we also ask our better halves to take a break just to de-stress. There are also times when no one needs to request you to take leave. You feel so jaded that you decide to pamper yourself with some chhutti.

Starring Jairaj, Sulochana Chatterjee, and Kuldeep Kaur, the tried and tested trope of two ladies vying for the same man is used in the movie, which fortunately does not end with one of them dying. The lyricist Nazim Panipati has penned songs for several movies like Sheesh Mahal(1950) and Jalte Deep (1950). He is said to have played an important role in introducing two stars in the film world – Pran and Vyjayantimala. He migrated to Pakistan in 1953.

Intzaari mein teri saara September beeta
rote rote teri furkat mein November beeta
aahen bhar bhar ke yeh kehta hain calendar mujhse
hichkiyan lete hue saara December beeta

Khula hua hain dil ka ye darwaaza re
aath roz ki chhutti lekar aaja re aaja re
o babu mere aath roz ki chhutti lekar
aaja re aaja re

2) Na Jaana Mere Babu O Daftar Na Jaana (Chhoti Bhabhi, 1950) Lyricist: Qamar Jalalabadi; Music Director: Husnlal Bhagatram; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. This is a very playful song with Nargis (the wife) who is a homemaker, trying to stop her husband from going to office (daftar). The husband, Karan Dewan, is however in no mood to relent. She gives him all kinds of reasons as to why he should skip office. Lata’s voice and Nargis’s acting skills work wonders. The lyrics are imaginatively written by Qamar Jalalabadi. Bhagatram’s music is pleasing to the ears. The movie is about the trials and tribulations of the younger daughter-in-law (Nargis, the eponymous Chhoti Bhabhi) in a joint family.

Na jaana mere babu 
o daftar na jana
mere dil ne tujhe pukaara
o babu Zara ruk jaana

tu daftar jaaye babu 
to mera dil na lage
hum ghar mein rahe akele
ho na ji na na na

tu file leke chala 
to pyar mera rone laga
meri aankhon me aansu aaye
chalak gaya paymaana

3) Balma Anadi Manga De Ghoda Gaadi (Pocketmaar, 1956) Lyricist: Rajinder Krishan; Music Director: Madan Mohan; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. This is a song which moans about domestic drudgery and the need for some entertainment. The man does not seem to care for the little joys of life. He does not spend enough time with his sweetheart, who is left to do all the monotonous, household chores. The work-life balance is completely skewed. Interestingly, the Balma is a pickpocket. Wonder what keeps him so busy! Thus, the unusual line – ke tere sang haay meraa laage na jiyaa. In any other song, it would be ke tere bina haay meraa laage na jiyaa. Madan Mohan’s melodious tune and Lata’s sweet voice make this song memorable. This light hearted song is not typical of the Madan Mohan – Lata combination. Geeta Bali dances gracefully and looks stunningly beautiful.

Balmaa anaadi mangaa de ghodaa-gaadi
ke tere sang haay meraa laage na jiyaa

thak gayi main to ji paani bhar-bhar ke
tere saare ghar ki gulaami kar-kar ke...

saaraa-saaraa din baithi choolhaa jalaaun main
gore-gore haathon se jhaadoo lagaaun main
isse to achchhaa ke haay mar jaaun main...

jab se bedardi biyaah ke mujhe laayaa
kabhi sang apne na cinema dikhaayaa
na cinema dikhaayaa, na lemon pilaayaa...

4) Kaise Din Beete Kaise Beeti ratiyaan (Anuradha, 1960) Lyricist: Shailendra; Music Director: Ravi Shankar; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. Set to Raag Manj Khammaj, this song pulls your heart strings. It must be seen and heard to appreciate it in its entirety. It is about a talented singer and dancer – Leela Naidu, a ravishing beauty – who rejects Abhi Bhattacharya’s proposal to marry her and instead falls for a doctor – Balraj Sahni. Balraj Sahni is an idealist who practices medicine in a village. He is literally wedded to his work and pays scant attention to his wife. Leela has given up her passion – music and dance – for her marriage. Her husband’s skewed work life balance coupled with a tinge of nonchalance leaves her heart broken. A chance meeting with Abhi leads to her wanting to go back to her first love – music. She sings this song when Abhi stays at her house for a short while. Even as she sings, the preoccupied Balraj Sahni fails to get the cue and just walks off to his laboratory.

I don’t think there could be any other song which poignantly explores the issue of neglect in marriage on account of ambitions on the professional front. This is a Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie with soulful music being provided by Pt.Ravi Shankar. If the movie were remade in today’s times, the ending would perhaps be different. Having said that, I must admit that the degree of unpredictability in schedules is perhaps the greatest amongst doctors. All of us have spent hours waiting in OPDs and we know how it works. Nevertheless, an earnest attempt must be made to balance personal and professional life for sanity and domestic happiness to be maintained.

Kaise din beete, kaise beeti ratiya
 piya jaane na

neha laga ke main pachhatayi
saari saari raina nindiya na aayi
jaan ke dekho mere ji ki batiyaa 
piya jaane na

rut matwali aake chali jaye
mann mein hi mere mann ki rahi jaaye
khilne ko tarse nanhi nanhi kaliyaan 
piya jaane naa

5) Hoke Majboor Mujhe (Haqeeqat, 1964) Lyricist: Kaifi Azmi; Music Director: Madan Mohan; Playback Singers: Md.Rafi, Talat Mahmood, Manna Dey and Bhupinder. Bhupinder appears in the movie as a soldier and sings too. The movie Haqeeqat was one of the first war movies made against the backdrop of the Indo-China war of 1962. This immortal song which is sung by four of the best male playback singers of Hindi cinema touches your heart. The fatigued and war weary soldiers pine for their homes and their better halves.

Here, it is the profession that results in a work life imbalance. The soldiers have to respond to the call of duty. Back home, the families of the soldiers – especially their wives/lovers miss them immensely and are worried about their safety. But there is little that any one can do. The song captures the emotions of both the soldiers and their better halves very realistically. The lyrics – written by Kaifi Azmi – and the rendition by all the playback singers make it a very memorable song. The visual imagery that the song captures is vivid and true to life. In more recent times, Sandese Aate Hain from Border (1997) echoes the same sentiment.

Hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga
zehar chupke se davaa jaanke khaaya hoga...

zulf zid karake kisi ne jo banai hogi
aur bhi gham ki ghata mukhde pe chhai hogi
bijli nazron ne kai din na girai hogi
rang chehre pe kai roz na aaya hoga

6) Khat Likh De Sawariya Ke Naam Babu (Aaye Din Bahaar Ke,1966) Lyricist: Anand Bakshi; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singer: Asha Bhosle. The two Ashas – Asha Parekh and Asha Bhosle really set the stage for a spellbinding performance. This is a song that is performed on stage. The postman is asked to write a letter to the beloved who has not been showing up ever since he went to work in the city. The city is cursed by Asha Parekh for having enslaved him and so is his job, which has separated them. The wish is that he must lose the job which distances him from his beloved. In the entire song, it is the postman who bears the brunt of Asha’s anger. Further, he is given a very limited task of exchanging pleasantries on a blank paper. That is enough for the lover to recognize his lady love. He is then flatly told – bas aage nahin tera kaam baabu. Asha Parekh dances very gracefully and the lyrics of Anand Bakshi too are apt for the occasion. It is the job in the city which has destroyed the lady’s life. Isn’t that a familiar rant?

Khat likh de sanwariyaa ke naam baabu
kore kaagaz pe likh de salaam baabu
woh jaan jaayenge pehchaan jaayenge
kaise hoti hain subah se shaam baabu
woh jaan jaayenge pehchaan jaayenge

....le gayee bairan shehar piyaaa ko
raam karey ke aisi naukri chhoote

unhein jissne banaayaa ghulaam baabu
kore kaagaz pe likh de salaam baabu...

7) Paapa Jaldi Aa Jaana (Taqdeer, 1967) Lyricist: Anand Bakshi; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Sulakshana Pandit, Meena Patki and Ila Desai. Bharat Bhushan is a music teacher who has a tough time making ends meet with just teaching music. He finally gets a job aboard a ship. He would be out for a year or so but the family will be economically sound because of that. His family misses him a lot and hence, this poignant song finds place in the movie. While they all look forward to gifts (from abroad), they finally agree that his coming back (even if empty handed) will give them immense joy. This is a perfect example of a song where practical considerations lead to an undesirable (work life) imbalance. The song with its meaningful lyrics is very moving. As children we would all remember waiting for our fathers to return from work. This also shifts the spotlight on to those who work in the merchant navy which requires long stints away from home in deep sea waters.

Saat samundar paar ke
gudiyon ke baazaar se

achchhi si gudiyaa laanaa
gudiyaa chaahe naa laana
pappaa jaldi aa jaanaa

tum pardes gaye jab se
bas ye haal huaa tab se
dil deewaanaa lagtaa hain
ghar veeraanaa lagtaa hain
jhilmil chaand sitaaron ne
darwaazon deewaaron ne
sabne poochhaa hain ham se
kab jee chhootegaa gham se

kab hogaa unkaa aanaa,
pappaa jaldi aa jaanaa...

8) Hai Hai Yeh Majboori (Roti, Kapda aur Makaan, 1974) Lyricist: Verma Malik; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. When this theme struck me, this was the first song that came to my mind. More so, because the monsoon is just round the corner. This song is so vivacious and filled with such zest and fun. I like the way Zeenat Aman says – prem ka aisa bandhan hain jo bandh ke phir naa tute, are naukri kaa hain kya bharosa, aaj mile kal chhute, kal chhute. There is so much innocence and naiveté in the statement. Zeenat is completely untouched by worldly concerns. The job according to her is worthless when compared to her priceless love especially given the ambient conditions. This for one, seemed to be a typical Asha kind of song. But Lata has sung it beautifully. Manoj Kumar is so wooden and unmoved despite all of Zeenat’s attempts to get him to let his hair loose!

Are haay haay yeh majburi, 
yeh mausam aur yeh duri
mujhe pal pal hain tadpaye
teri do takiya di naukari mein
 meraa lakhon kaa saawan jaaye re

9) Raja Na Ja Na Na Ja (Charas, 1976) Lyricist: Anand Bakshi; Music Directors: Laxmikant Pyarelal; Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. This song, (apparently) shot in Malta, has Hema Malini asking Dharmendra to take leave and skip work for the day. Her diktat is that if he is not able to get leave, then he must quit his job. She asks him – Pyaar se Zaroori bhala kaam koyi hota hain? What however struck me in the song were the trousers of Dharmendra, which are a real eyesore!

Charas, however, is a movie which has more than just good songs. It is an action thriller produced and directed by Ramanand Sagar. Vijay, an NRI, moves back to India only to find out that the caretaker of his property, Kalicharan, is running a drug racket on his land. He helps the police track down Kalicharan. That, in short, is the plot.

Raja na jaa na jaa na jaa
Raja na jaa dil tod ke 
mujhe akela chhod ke
naukri se chhutti le le 
chhutti na mile toh
aaja naukri chhod ke

10) Subah aur Shaam Kaam Hi Kaam (Uljhan, 1975) Lyricist: M.G.Hashmat; Music Directors: Kalyanji Anandji; Playback Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. This is a murder mystery where the husband (Sanjeev Kumar) is the investigating officer and the wife (Sulakshana Pandit) the murderess. While Sanjeev Kumar is about to lay his hands on a letter that will reveal the truth, Sulakshana tries to deflect his attention with this song. Sanjeev Kumar, even otherwise, is a workaholic police officer in the movie to the extent that he postpones his honeymoon to investigate the case. The policemen are another overworked lot.

Subah aur shaam kaam hi kaam 
kyun nahin lete piya pyar ka naam
kaam se jisko mile na chhutti
 aise sajna se meri kutti kutti kutti

This brings me to the end of my playlist. To conclude, I can only say that each profession/occupation has its hazards. An individual should be sagacious enough to realize when personal life warrants more attention than professional life and vice versa. Relationships cannot and must not be taken for granted. There will be competing demands and balancing the two is no easy task. I also wish to add here that there are some who feel that they are indispensable at work. The truth is that no one is indispensable or else all of us would have been immortal. For those who believe they are indispensable on the work front, my repartee would be the mukhda of a song from Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966) : –

Badal jaaye agar maali, 
chaman hota nahin khali, 
bahaarein phir bhi aati hain, 
bahaaren phir bhi aayengi!  

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.

9 thoughts on “Songs of (skewed!?) Work-Life Balance

  1. Good one, Anitaji! I am very impressed with the themes you manage to come up with. Offhand, I couldn’t have thought of a single song that fitted this theme, though of course when I read your list, there were plenty there I was familiar with.


  2. Anitaji,

    Quite an unusual and interesting theme, with some nice songs.

    I cannot recollect any related songs from your time frame – till late 70s. But I could remember some from the 80s, so I am posting them. They are typically 80s, nothing great but, I believe, they fit the theme.

    Ib na sunoongi maine bahut sun liya – Maang Bharo Sajna 1980

    Kagaz ko phenko mujhe dekho rasiya – Khoon Ka Rishta 1981

    Saara din bas duty duty – Tamacha 1988

    Saara saara din tum kaam karoge – Nigahen 1989


    1. Thanks for the songs, Dr.Deshpande! Like you said they are the typical songs of the 80s. Jeetendra seems to be the common link in three of them!! I only know the song from Nigahen, which I think was made as a sequel of Nagina (1986).


  3. Anita,
    When I read the title, I could not think of a single song fitting the theme. But after seeing your list, I can see how some fit like a T. Congratulations.

    But, last para: I felt you have become a preacher 🙂 .


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, AKji! You are right when you say I have become preachy in the end. Probably comes from my own experiences. I was also wanting to write a post on songs that are not for all occasions. The song Badal Jaaye Agar Maali was on my mind in the sub category of a song not suitable for a retirement farewell. Since I could not come up with enough songs, I felt I should use the idea here. 😊


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