Posted on Trivia – The Spice of Life on 08/01/2023
When it comes to describing kinship ties which arise by marriage or descent, Indian languages definitely score better than English. Kinship terminology in English is rather limited. Uncle, aunt, cousin et al are rather umbrella terms which can subsume different meanings depending on the person one is referring to. In the same vein, the terms ‘sister-in-law’ and ‘brother-in-law’ do not convey an entire array of emotions and scenarios that the terms devar or nanad can conjure up. In English both bhabhi (generally elder brother’s wife) and nanad (husband’s sister) are referred to as sister-in-law. In the Indian languages, each relationship is assigned a different nomenclature; thus, whether the relationship is maternal or paternal in nature, whether it has been established by descent or by marriage is apparent.
One of the strongest bonds is that which is seen between the bhabhi and the devar/nanad. These are kinship ties which are established by virtue of marriage and they assumed a lot of importance in the joint family set up. Each of these could become saviours or villains in our films. The plot would pretty much shape up based on which role – positive or negative – these characters essayed. This is particular true of many an AVM production like Bhabhi (1957).
Here’s the etymology of the word bhabhi :-
bhābī, [S. भ्रातृ+वधू; or H. bhāʼī+bī = bī-bī], s.f. Brother’s wife, sister-in-law (syn. bhāwaj, bhaujāʼī, bhaujī).
This post is in two parts. I generally avoid writing posts in parts. However, with there being quite a few songs of the bhabhi with the devar and with the nanad, I felt that this post would do justice to both relations only if it were presented in two parts.
Part 1 is dedicated to the bhabhi-devar songs. Who can forget the bond between Lakshmana and Seeta in the Ramayana? In fact even today, we metaphorically refer to the Lakshmana Rekha that he drew for Seeta’s safety. Depending on the age difference between the the bhabhi and the devar, the bhabhi could either be motherly or a friend and confidante. If the bhabhi was good natured, she would be the binding factor fighting all divisive forces. If the bhabhi was vengeful, she would be the reason for the breakup of the family. One of the best on screen bhabhi roles that I can think of is that played by Rakhi in Saaheb (1985) where she dotes on her devar Anil Kapoor. She is almost like his mother.
So here are my ten songs featuring the bhabhi and devar. Some of the songs do not specifically have these kinship terms mentioned in the lyrics but the characters on screen play the role of the devar and bhabhi. The songs are not arranged in any particular order.
1) Chaand Akela (Alaap, 1977) Lyricist : Rahi Masoom Reza ; Music Director : Jaidev; Playback Singer : Yesudas. This is one of the few songs which Yesudas has sung for Amitabh Bachchan. In this Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed movie, Amitabh belonging to a well-to-do family finds solace in classical music rather than practising law much to the chagrin of his father. His bhabhi – played by Lily Chakravarty (who is a an acclaimed Bengali actress) – is extremely supportive. In fact, she is his confidant and sakhi as it were. Here, he sings in happier times, as she enjoys the song and affectionately cajoles him. The opening music of this song is almost like Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar from Hum Dono; the music director of Hum Dono (1961) was also Jaidev.
2) Bhabhi Kare Appeal (Ghar Sansar, 1958) Lyricist : Majrooh Sultanpuri ; Music Director : Ravi ; Playback Singer : Asha Bhosle. Featuring Nargis and Baby Devika (?) dressed as a lawyer, the song is about how the bhabhi is going to file an appeal and the devar who is an able lawyer will fight the case for her and handsomely win it! Though I have not seen the film, it appears that the devar Rajendra Kumar is pursuing his studies. The child in the song is Nargis’s daughter in the movie who dresses up as a male lawyer, perhaps playing the role of her uncle (i.e. Nargis’ devar). The lyrics of the song are very interesting.
3) Devar Bhabhi Mein Chhed Chali aati Hain (Sunehra Sansar, 1975) Lyricist : Anand Bakshi ; Music Director : Naushad ; Playback Singer : Md.Rafi. This song has Romesh Sharma along with his siblings (?) playfully engaging with his bhabhi – Seema Deo. Seema has just been married into the family. She is brought up with all comforts at her parents’ place which is missing in the joint family that she now belongs to. The devar pulls her leg and pokes some innocent fun. Interestingly, the music by Naushad is no longer the classical based tune that he is known for. It sounds more like a Laxmikant Pyarelal song. Also the lyricist is Anand Bakshi and not Shakeel Badayuni (he had passed away in 1970). This movie has the distinction of being the only one where Kishore Kumar sang for Naushad but that song (Hello Hello Kya Haal Hai) was later deleted from the film.
4) Munna Bada Pyaara (Musafir, 1957) Lyricist : Shailendra ; Music Director : Salil Chowdhury ; Singer : Kishore Kumar. This lovely song from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s directorial debut is sung by Kishore Kumar (who is the devar) for his bhabhi Nirupa Roy who is a widowed, expectant mother. Kishore is unemployed and is desperately looking for a job whereas Nirupa Roy having lost her husband is waiting for her child to be born for some happiness to return to her life. Kishore Kumar reads this poem in a magazine left behind by the earlier tenants and begins to sing it to cheer his bhabhi. It is about the bond that a child has with his mother, who tries to instil in him all the right values.
5) Tumse Hi Ghar Ghar Kahlaya (Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan, 1961) Lyricist : Pt.Narendra Sharma ; Music Director : Sudhir Phadke ; Playback Singer : Mukesh. This lovely song is an ode to the bhabhi (Meena Kumari) who is no less than a mother for the devar. He has grown up under her care and he respects her. Her honour is paramount for the devar. As expected, once the devar gets married, there is disharmony in the household. While this movie is known more for Jyoti Kalash Chalke – which is like pure nectar – this song set to Raag Darbari Kanada is a tribute to the self sacrificing bhabhi who has been the pillar of strength. This song sung on screen by Sailesh Kumar (the devar) is replete with flashback scenes which recount the many roles that the bhabhi has essayed in the household. The lyrics by Pt.Narendra Sharma in chaste Hindi are excellent and touching.
6) Tumhen Dulhan Mili Hume Bhabhi Mili (Humsafar, 1953) Lyricist : Sahir Ludhianvi ; Music Director : Ustad Ali Akbar Khan ; Playback Singer : Kishore Kumar & Chorus. This song whose video is not available seems to be a marriage song. It would have been great to watch the song. The bhabhi here seems to be the friend’s wife. The music of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan is wonderful to hear.
7) More Devariya Ki Hogi Sagai Re (Zamindar, 1942) Lyricist : Behzad Lucknavi ; Music Director : Ghulam Haider ; Playback (?)Singer : Shamshad Begum. Zamindar is the story of a young, blind girl who is the only witness to the murder of a greedy, but repentant landlord. The video of the song is not available. This is a fun song. The bhabhi is asking for gold bangles to be bought for her on the occasion of the devar’s engagement. Gold jewellery is always welcome. The devar’s engagement is thus the excuse for wanting more jewellery. The video of the song would have helped to place the devar-bhabhi relationship in perspective.
8) Bahaaron Ne Mera Chaman Loot Kar (Devar, 1966) Lyricist : Anand Bakshi ; Music Director : Roshan ; Playback Singer : Mukesh. This masterpiece with some choicest Urdu words like ‘raqib‘ (rival in love) and ‘qaasid‘ (messenger) is a pleasure to listen to. Sung on the occasion of the first marriage anniversary of his cousin brother and sister-in-law, this is actually a song that is meant for Deven Verma who has cheated his dear cousin (Dharmendra) and treacherously married his childhood sweetheart (Sharmila). One can only sympathise with Dharmendra when he realises that his childhood sweetheart is now his bhabhi, all because of the dirty games played by his cousin. Nevertheless, he respects the relationship of the devar and bhabhi and never lets Sharmila know that he was the one she loved in her childhood.
9) Saanchi Kahen Tore Aawan Se Hamre (Nadiya Ke Paar, 1982) Lyricist : Ravindra Jain ; Music Director : Ravindra Jain ; Playback Singer : Jaspal Singh. This lovely song sung in praise of the bhauji (or bhabhi) has a certain simplicity and purity in emotions. Depicting rural traditions and life, it shows the bonding between the bhabhi and the devar. Sachin as the devar and Mitali as the bhabhi are very natural on screen. This Rajshri productions movie was yet again made as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (1994). The way music is produced from the bamboo winnowing fan at the beginning of the song is fascinating. Ravindra Jain both as lyricist and music director is fabulous.
10) Lo Chali Main Apne Devar Ki Baraat Leke (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, 1994) Lyricist : Ravinder Rawal ; Music Directors : Ram Laxman ; Playback Singer : Lata Mangeshkar. This remake of Nadiya Ke Paar (1982) by Rajshri Productions was a block buster. Songs at the drop of a hat, family gatherings, traditional family values were the highlights of this movie. Of course, it was more glamorous than Nadiya Ke Paar which was shot in a simple rural setting. Expensive costumes and elaborate sets were seen in this block buster. There is Renuka Shahane – the bhabhi who learns about the love blossoming between her devar (Salmaan Khan) and her sister (Madhuri Dixit) and prepares to take this to its logical culmination but tragedy strikes just after this song as she dies in a freak accident.
Which devar-bhabhi song /scene would you like to add to this list?
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10 thoughts on “Bhabhi Songs Part 1: With the Devar”
The first example to come to my mind is from “Kasme Vaade,” in which Rakhee refuses to believe that her husband Amitabh has been killed. When she runs to the door, expecting him to be home from work at the regular time, his brother Randhir sings a very sad reprise of “Aati Rahengi Baharen” to her to try and bring her back to reality:
(The song starts at 26:07 in this compilation.)
Pardon the delay in responding, Shelomit! I was caught up in work. Thanks a lot for this song from Kasme Vaade While I knew the song, I did not know of the sadder version and its context. The song by itself is wonderful. The happy version has the father and son singing it (Kishore Kumar and Amit Kumar) which is delightful.
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This is a very thoughtful theme. Our film songs have adapted the ‘Bhabhi’ in the image of Ramayan mythology – even if Lakshman and Sita would have been the same age, she was revered as a mother to match with her divinity. Our films have made a distinction which you have pointed out: If the age gap is big, then motherly, especially if the devar had lost his mother when he was a child; if not much gap then a friend, confidante, but all very clean.
In this generalisation, our films have missed a very important reference point. Our folk culture makes Bhabhi-Devar relationship far from kosher. The proverb, ग़रीब की जोरू पूरे गांव की भौजाई, is based on this reference. In Bhojpuri there is a famous चैता song which says, my piya has gone pardes for making a living, but the devar is still a child. With whom do I share my heart’s desires? (Bhojpuri chaita is a men’s boisterous group song, very different from Grija Devi’s Chaiti). Holi is an occasion for stretching the boundaries on the pretext of playing Holi. You will find a number of Bhojpuri and Haryanavi songs referring to this folk culture. The only unfortunate part is YT does not have traditional Bhojpuri songs, it has been vulgarised beyond shame with skimpily clad dancers (this was unheard of in the good olden days).
Thanks a lot for your comment, AK JI! Please pardon the delay in responding! Your observation on the bhabhi – devar relationship and its depiction is folk culture is thought provoking. In fact, the focus in our cinema has been on the jeeja – saali relation and the oft repeated saali aadhi gharwaali, which is again disgusting unless it also has some other cultural context. I can perfectly relate to the chaita you mention and its debasement with time as well as the undue liberty taken during Holi having stayed in Bihar for a considerable period of time.
A Happy New Year to you and your family!!
A nice post with enjoyable songs. Though, I must admit I heard songs nos. 2, 6 and 7 for the first time.
I would say, the bhabhi-devar relationship between Raakhee- Anil Kapoor in Saaheb is one of my favourites.
Many earlier movies would show a big age difference between two brothers resulting in the bhabhi having a devar who was a kid. She would end up being more of a mother. It was not always easy to accept. Though, I know, this was seen in many real life families in earlier times.
Here’s one song from the film Shradhanjali (1981) in which Raakhee brings up her small devar after her husband is killed.
Hai bada natkhat bada shaitan bhabhi maa ka devar nadaan
Happy New Year to you too, Dr. Deshpande! Thanks for appreciating the post! I remember seeing the film Shraddhanjali and the fact that it had something to do with an accident with hot oil. I did not remember this song though. Thank you so much for adding the song! Rakhi is turning out to be the most popular on screen bhabhi with quite a few of her songs and movies finding a place in this post.
And another song from HAHK, which is similar to the song from Nadiya Ke Paar, devar praising the bhabhi
dhiktana dhiktana bhabhi tum khushiyon ka khazana
Thanks for adding this song, Dr.Deshpande! This is very apt for the theme.