Note 1: Since I didn’t have the privilege of mugging up Pakistani songs in my childhood with the help of देशभक्ति गीत booklets, I couldn’t catch some words in them. They are marked (???). If you know them, or could figure out from videos, please do let me know and I will update them. Missing words, however, do not matter for the contents of this article.
Note 2: All the songs discussed here have been linked in the Scroll article.
Reading this article on Scroll about the Indian movie Jagriti and its copy Bedari in Pakistan was at once surreal, sad and funny.
You can head over to Scroll for more details, but in a nutshell Jagriti is a movie you might remember for the patriotic songs like दे दी हमें आज़ादी बिना खड्ग बिना ढाल, आओ बच्चों तुम्हें दिखाएँ and हम लाए हैं तूफ़ान से किश्ती निकाल के. The copy titled Bedari made in Pakistan seems to have lifted the story, scenes, characters, lyrics and music as it is from Jagriti with suitable modifications made for Pakistan.
It is surreal to listen to the songs with the same music and almost the same lyrics with one glorifying India, and the other Pakistan.
It is sad to think that the same story, same characters, same music work for both, yet there are two countries.
Sad and funny are the changes in the lyrics.
Some are just individual or regional quirks. Mohd Rafi in India pronounces it किश्ती (kishti), Saleem Raza in Pakistan pronounces it as कश्ती (kashti).
Many are language imperatives. In India we don’t shy away from Urdu, but still the Indian teacher asks his children to take care of this देश (desh), the Pakistani one is concerned with this मुल्क़ (mulk). इस मिट्टी से तिलक करो ये धरती है बलिदान की is too Sanskritized; so we have इसकी ख़ातिर हमने दी क़ुर्बानी लाखों जान की instead.
माँ is okay on both sides, so is दुख ना जहाँ कोई ग़म ना जहाँ. But निमंत्रण is too much Sanskrit again. So, आज है निमंत्रण सन सन हवाओं में has been changed to अपने भी बेगाने हुए (???) हवाओं में. Elsewhere the Pakistani lyricist doesn’t have a problem with the word अमृत (ये रावी और (???) का पानी अमृत को शरमाता है), so it is strange that he should have a problem with दिशा। घूमना है हमको दूर की दिशाओं में has been changed to a completely different मेरे सुख की दुनिया है तुम्हारे पाँव में. This song in Pakistani version, for some reason, seem to have a more morose tone as opposed to the Indian one which appears optimistic and cheerful. These two changes might, then, not have been about the language, but the tone, because the changed words go better with moroseness. The Sherlock Holmes in me, of course, wonders if there are subtle changes in the story then. Or did one side just do an incongruous picturization?
Some changes seem to be just the creative impulses of Pakistani lyricist bubbling over. There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly Indian or Sanskritized in देखो कही बर्बाद ना होवे ये बगीचा. But it has been changed to देखो कहीं उजड़े ना हमारा ये बग़ीचा.
Another set has social, political and religious imperatives. बादल गुलाल के had too much Holi connotation (disregard the rather long Sufi and Muslim fascination with the festival in the interest of nationalism please). So, instead we are told of परचम हिलाल के.
One set of children is being shown झाँकी हिन्दुस्तान की, the other is being offered सैर पाकिस्तान की। The Pakistani teacher has conveniently forgotten East Pakistan (school budget constraints? Not that they have to bother with it now.). Indian train also stopped with Marathas. Deccan, Mysore, Madras were happily left out (school budget constraints!).
Gandhi had to be replaced with Jinnah, of course. Hence दे दी हमें आज़ादी बिना ख़ड्ग बिना ढाल / साबरमती के संत तूने कर दिया कमाल changes to यूँ दी हमें आजादी कि दुनिया हुई हैरान / ऐ क़ायद-ए-आज़म तेरा अहसान है अहसान. क़ायद-ए-आज़म didn’t have a convenient short nickname like बापू. So, at another place इसको हृदय के खून से बापू ने है सींचा had to be changed to इसको लहू से अपने शहीदों ने है सींचा.
The warning of एटम बमों के ज़ोर पे ऐंठी है ये दुनिया / बारूद के एक ढेर पर बैठी है ये दुनिया / तुम हर क़दम उठाना ज़रा देख-भाल के has been rendered mellow with a religious prescription दुनिया की सियासत के अजब रंग है न्यारे / चलना है मग़र तुमको तो कुराँ के सहारे.
It is interesting that the Indian version has the map of undivided India in a scene. Probably we still thought at that time that partition was temporary. Pakistani version has only Pakistan on the map as expected. I can’t comment of the status of PoK.
But here is the change that is the saddest of all. The song exhorting the children to take care of their country reaches its crescendo in the Indian version with
अब वक्त आ गया मेरे हँसते हुए फूलों
उठो छलाँग मार के आकाश को छू लो
तुम गाड़ दो गगन में तिरंगा उछाल के।
The Pakistani version is
लेना अभी कश्मीर है ये बात ना भूलो
कश्मीर पे लहराना है झंडा उछाल के।
The ambitions! I’m sorry my Pakistani counterparts. But you have been shortchanged there. Your ambition was stuck at Kashmir, while we were aiming for the sky. I agree that Kashmir is more tractable than the sky, and for all I know you might have fought harder for Kashmir than we did for the sky. But you were shortchanged nevertheless.
The real clincher in this story is elsewhere. The child artist who plays the role of the disabled, poor, fatherless, ideal boy in the Indian version, who eulogizes Gandhi with passion
जब जब तेरा बिगुल बजा जवान चल पड़े
मजदूर चल पड़े थे और किसान चल पड़े
हिन्दू व मुसलमान सिख पठान चल पड़े
कदमों पे तेरे कोटि कोटि प्राण चल पड़े
फूलों की सेज छोड़ के दौड़े जवाहरलाल
साबरमती के संत तूने कर दिया कमाल।
He was Rattan Kumar उर्फ़ Nazir Riqvi. After the release of Jagriti he migrated to Pakistan and played the same role in Bedari singing the panegyric to Jinnah
(???) पंजाब से जवान चल पड़े
सिंधी बलोची सरहदी पठान चल पड़े
साथ अपने मुहाज़िर लिए कुरान चल पड़े
घरबार छोड़ बे-सर-ओ-सामान चल पड़े
और (???) भी चले होने को कुर्बान
ऐ क़ायद-ए-आज़म तेरा अहसान है अहसान।
The Scroll article told us as much. But I got curious about what next, so ran a few searches. It turns out that Nazir Riqvi further migrated to Germany, made a career in the hospitality industry and finally settled in California. If you thought that I was cracking a joke only on Pakistan till now, you will be disappointed. The joke is back on all of us. After inspiring generations of Indian and Pakistani children to take care of their respective countries, the actor lived his American dream.
I would have liked to say something about how partition should never have happened, how Pakistanis should not have had to rummage around to discover a hero in Muhammad bin Qasim because our long line of heroes are theirs as well, and how nobody in India should have been able to use a phrase like “Go to Pakistan” to alienate somebody. I would also have liked to say something about how the national borders worldwide are arbitrary and anomalous and how, now that we are so connected and all, we should have been able to live together as one big, happy, dominant race.
But I guess I would rather write the Pessimist’s Manifesto.