A Eulogy that Touches the Heart

Three-quarters of a century back, a child prodigy from Punjab, the sensational vocalist named Master Madan used to electrify live audiences with his light classical singing of ghazals, thumris and Punjabi gurbanis. But before he became 15 years old, the boy passed away as a result of mercury poisoning, if the rumour is true. He was able to cut just 8 records, through which he is immortalized, especially for rendering two ghazals written by Sagar Nizami: Yoon na reh reh kar humen tarsaaiye, and Hairat se tak raha hai jahaan-e-wafa mujhe. 

The gifted lad passed away in June 1942, around the time the political turmoil for India’s freedom was sizzling up. The Quit India movement started two months later, in August 1942, and many were dispatched to jail immediately. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru went in too, for his last (ninth) and longest time, ie 34 months. We know Nehru loved children, but we do not know if he heard Master Madan’s songs in jail, nor in fact if he even knew who this child prodigy was.

It’s been ages since Pt Nehru too passed away, and as we celebrate his birthday this coming week on 14th November, one’s thoughts go to this engaging man, our first Prime Minister. One wonders what he would be feeling and thinking, were he alive today. Like us, maybe he would have been dismayed at certain things, and delighted with others. One wonders if he too would be as pleasantly surprised as many of us are at the explosion of singing talent among children. That would mean singers who are below the age of 18 years, since most dictionaries and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) define children as people below the age of 18.

We hear such children on television and in stage shows and wonder how so many of them do an exceptional job, offering classical raag-based songs, long alaaps, taans and vocal twists and turns. These new kids have sustaining lung power, and they stay faithful to the notes of compositions. They are so good, some of them, that they can often offer a Master Madan level of performance. We are not talking about technology boosting their vocals, not at all. And this is not to take away from Master Madan, who was wonderful, but even more, he was a pathbreaker, something that is always so hard.

Our films have featured kids in hundreds of situations as well as songs. Let’s see some songs now, but only those where children themselves sing, without any adults singing with them. Which straightaway means no adults singing to them either, whether these are lullabies or otherwise. The songs are listed alphabetically:

  • Aaj kal mein dhal gaya din hua tamaam (Lata/Beti Bete, 1964)
  • Aaj ki taaza khabar (Shanti Mathur/Son Of India, 1962)
  • Aayi pari rang bhari kisne pukaara (Asha/Do Phool, 1958)
  • Apne khaatir jeena hai apne khaatir marna hai (Mahendra, Sudha/Dhool Ka Phool, 1959)
  • Bachche man ke sachche (Lata/Do Kaliyaan, 1968)
  • Bachpan ke din bhula na dena (Shamshad, Lata/Deedar, 1951)
  • Bade bhaiya laaye hain London se chhori (Asha/Ek Hi Rasta, 1956)
  • Bhaabhi aayi, badi dhoom dhaam se meri Bhaabhi aayi (Usha Mangeshkar/Subah Ka Taara, 1954)
  • Daadi amma daadi amma maan jao (Asha, Kamal Barot/Gharana, 1961)
  • Dekh sakta hoon main kuchh bhi hote hue (Lata/Majboor, 1974)
  • Door desh se aayi naiyya (Master Babu, Baby Boola/Ferry, 1954)
  • Ek do teen chaar bhaiya bano hoshiyaar (Lata/Sant Gyaneshwar, 1964)
  • Ek se do bhale, do se bhale chaar (Asha/Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke, 1957)
  • Hum panchhi ek daal ke (Asha or Rafi/Hum Panchhi Ek Daal Ke, 1957)
  • Is duniya se niraala hoon main (Geeta, Asha/Ragini, 1958)
  • Jab tak ke hain aakaash pe chaand aur sitaare (Asha/Aap Ki Parchhaiyaan, 1964)
  • Jyot se jyot jagaate chalo (Lata/Sant Gyaneshwar, 1964)
  • Laali laali doliya mein laali re dulhaniya (Asha/Teesri Kasam, 1966)
  • Lakdi ki kaathi, kaathi pe ghoda (Vanita Mishra, Gurpreet Kaur, Gauri Bapat/Masoom, 1982)
  • Maa mujhe apne aanchal mein chhupa le (Lata/Chhota Bhai, 1966)
  • Main bezubaan hoon panchhi mujhe chhod kar dua le (Asha/Asha, Do Phool, 1958)
  • Main ik nanha sa, main ik chhota sa bachcha hoon (Lata/Harishchandra Taramati, 1964)
  • Main to Raja bana hoon (Chorus/Hum bhi Insaan hain, 1948)
  • Maine maa ko dekha hai, maa ka pyaar naheen dekha (Lata/Mastana, 1970)
  • Moochh waale daada, gol mol daadi (Usha/Hum Kahaan Ja Rahe The, 1966)
  • Mother Mary maa hum tere dulaare hain (Lata/Bachpan, 1970)
  • Murgha murghi pyaar se dekhe, nanha chooha khel kare (Lata/Do Kaliyaan, 1968)
  • Naani teri morni ko mor le gaye (Ranu Mukerji/Masoom, 1960)
  • Nanha munna raahi hoon (Shanti Mathur/Son Of India, 1962)
  • Suno sunaate hain tumko hum ik dukh bhari kahaani (Asha, Usha/Jeevan Jyoti, 1976)
  • Tu kitni achhi hai, o maa (Lata/Raja Aur Rank, 1968)
  • Tumhi ho maata pita tumhi ho (Lata/Main Chup Rahungi, 1962)
  • Udan khatole pe ud jaoon tere haath na aaoon (Shamshad, Zohra/Anmol Ghadi, 1946)

Not everything would have pleased Pandit Nehru, were he around today, but he may have been happy to see at least children doing so well musically in the new India inhabited by his great-grandchildren. And oh, the south-Mumbai place named after his wife, Kamala Nehru Park. That’s been renovated this year, with newer generations of children playing in and around the famous shoe-house, now given new colours and a facelift.

Panditji was always associated with a rosebud fixed in the buttonhole or pocket of his jacket. And perhaps he would have been very happy to see a film called Naunihal (1967), which had to do with an orphaned boy who wanted to meet him, but missed meeting his “Chacha Nehru” by a whisker. It is in the background of Nehru’s funeral procession that a tribute to the loved leader was filmed. The lyrics of that eulogy, written so exceptionally well by Kaifi Azmi, said it better than perhaps Nehru himself could have. This nazm was tuned by Madan Mohan and sung so feelingly by Mohammad Rafi:

Meri awaaz suno, pyaar ka raag suno

Meri awaaz suno

Maine ik phool jo seene se saja rakkha tha

Uske parde mein tumhen dil se laga rakkha tha

Tha juda sab se mere ishq ka andaaz suno

Meri awaaz suno, pyaar ka raag suno

Meri awaaz suno…


Kyoon sanwaari hai ye chandan ki chita mere liye

Main koi jism naheen hoon ke jalaoge mujhe

Raakh ke saath bikhar jaoonga main duniya mein

Tum jahaan khaoge thokar waheen paoge mujhe

Har qadam par hai naye mod ka aagaaz suno…

Meri awaaz suno, pyaar ka raag suno

Meri awaaz suno

Maine ik phool jo seene se saja rakkha tha

Uske parde mein tumhen dil se laga rakkha tha

Tha juda sab se mere ishq ka andaaz suno

Meri awaaz suno, pyaar ka raag suno

Meri awaaz suno…


Originally published on 11 November 2018, for Pandit Nehru’s birthday on 14 November, in DNA Jaipur, pge 11http://epaper2.dnaindia.com/index.php?mod=1&pgnum=1&edcode=131002&pagedate=2018-11-11

Featured image: Pandit Nehru with children

8 Replies to “A Eulogy that Touches the Heart”

  1. Very nicely connected to Pandit ji. It reminds me of another child prodigy Kumar Gandharva. Around 1930s when Master Madan was not even five when Kumar started making waves. He however was lucky to escape any poisoning but unfortunately was struck by pulmonary tuberculosis. The treating doctors said he would never be able to sing because his entire one lung had collapsed. The affected lung never recovered but Kumar Gandharva became one of the top most singers of our time. Bal Gandharva was another child prodigy who became one of the topmost singing stage actor of his time. Lokmanya Tilak gave him the title of Bal Gandharva whose real name was Narayan Rajhans

    As far as Pandit Nehru was concerned he was the most loved leader of that era. Very popular amongst children. His residence at Teen Murti was an open house on 14th November with grand feast for all something unthinkable these days. Even his staunchest critics credit him for perpetuating democracy alive till today by seeing that armed forces are kept away from centre of power …

    1. Oh yes, I forgot about ba Gandharva, what a gifted boy! A sensation respected to this day…and Nehru? A agree with you, though he is not a great person these days, for many people 🙂

  2. Another masterpiece to add to your production, Manek. Mention of all the songs here, brings back memories of childhood, when we had a Chacha older than our own father. Nehru’s love for children was instrumental in making him pave the way for improved educational and other services for children.

    Wonderful topic presented beautifully!

    1. Yes Sneh…he had so many achievements. Was loved and admired in his time and the late 60s…but more recently, he is being trashed…wonder about that sometimes…

  3. Straightaway one omission comes to mind Manek -Tumhi ho mata pita tumhi ho , tumhi ho bandhu sakha tumhi hofrom ‘Main Chup Rahungi ‘ sung by Babloo -the child star and Meena Kumar’s favourite on screen. It was beatifully written by Rajinder Krishen and crooned by Lata under the aegis of Chitragupt.

    This song was also a morning prayer in many schools. One which I know personally is Sitaram Prakash High School, Wadala- [ simply because my sister studied there].

    Wonder if ‘ Humko mann ki shakti dena ‘ from Guddi ,qualifies -as it was begun by adults but carried forward by students.

    I don;t want to say anything about Chacha Nehru ,as his name has already been immortalised by the various Schemes and Institutions named after him in India.

    I could go on and on ,singing paeans about Chacha , but I better not occupy space on your essay to do it.

    It was great reading this essay and once again remembering Master Madan along with the great Madan Mohan [although in different context].

    Dilip Apte

    1. Tumhi ho maata, oh yes, how could I forget Dilip? Thank you, the omission made good 🙂 Cannot take humko man ki shakti dena, as you said, an adult also sings na? But again, the Main Chup Rahungi snog was a prayer in school? I think those were moral times…ab to duniya badal gayi hai, bus kuchh log bache hain 🙂

  4. Perhaps only you could have connected Master Madan, Pandit Nehru and Madan Mohan (meri awaaz suno) so skilfully, Manek. Thanks to your essay, heard “iss duniya se nirala hun main” after decades today. Many thanks! I’m unable to comment on any political happenings anywhere in the world. But sometimes one does wonder what Pandit Nehru would have said to India becoming the world’s capital for child-trafficking. It boggles the mind how a culture that loves children the way ours does can sell its offspring for exploitation in the worst ways possible.
    Thank you for another thoughtfully written essay with a song line-up that charms and endears!

    1. Monica, aabhaar!

      Nehru may have needed new strategies in today’s times, which are tougher than the ’50s and ’60s.

      Btw, that boy in Is duniya se niraala hoon is the young Vinod Mehra, did you know?

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