Better than Aman Ki Asha?

In 1870, France started blueprinting to commence work on the Statue of Liberty—which among other things is a symbol of freedom from oppression—as a salute through a gift to the people of USA. In the same year, a Frenchman named Jules Verne wrote a novel called Autour de la Lune, in English meaning Around the Moon. In its time, this was an audacious science-fiction book tracing the journey of three men in a huge spaceship that was headed for the moon. The idea behind space exploration is underpinned by freedom too, and since Verne’s spaceship was launched from Baltimore in the eastern United States, this tale also was in a way a salute to the Americans.

It took about one hundred years from Jules Verne’s book for the United States to finally land a man on the moon. And in nearly half a century since that landing, just a dozen men have actually set their feet on the Earth’s only natural satellite, even as a few more have seen it from up close. As for space visits in general, many animals and insects have been up there too, beginning with the Soviet dog Laika in 1957, followed by the likes of fruit flies, guinea pigs, reptiles, monkeys, rabbits and mice. Ironically, no one has as yet thought of sending up a bird we call chakor, a French partridge also known as chukar, for this is the bird that is in love with the moon, as Indian folklore tells us. What a pity.

So what’s the chakor-chanda story?

From times immemorial, the bird chakor—in both genders—has been known to be a lonely lover of the moon. As if in a trance, it keeps staring at the moon all night. Since the moon doesn’t come down to meet it, our winged friend itself flies off to meet its lover. In this flight it is bound to fail, for the moon is farther than it appears. The chakor’s infatuation and subsequent attempts to go meet its lover have been the subject of hundreds of poems and stories that have spoken about unrequited love. Our cinema is also not exempt from such metaphorical comparisons with the ground realities in the situations of actors on the screen, either to experience unrequited love, or to highlight such yawning gaps between two lovers as to render any romantic union impossible. These gaps can be financial, cultural, ethnic or cosmetic.

Consistent with that, consider what Khursheed sings in Bhakt Surdas (1942), the aiming-too-high imagery executed by DN Madhok:

Panchhi baawnra

Chaand se preet lagaaye

Chaand se preet lagaaye…


Saaya dekh nadi mein moorakh

Phoola naheen samaaye

Wo harjaayi taaron ke sang

Apni raas rachaaye

Chaand se preet lagaaye…

The gap is highlighted in the case of Basant (1960), where Shammi Kapoor is totally besotted by Nutan’s beauty, singing the lyrics of Qamar Jalalabadi, “Nainon mein suraj ki kirnen, chanda jaisa roop hai”. Thinking her too high for him, he speaks about his own flight in a stanza: “Chaand ko chhoone chala hai dekho, ud kar ek chakor re”. While she responds: “Kaise pahunchega tu chakore, par tere kamzor re?” Agreed, he seems to say, his flight turning into plight: “Paagal panchhi ye kya jaane chanda kitni door hai!”

Consider these songs that had a mention of the chanda-chakor imagery, sometimes deep inside the song. The songwriter needs to be part of the equation here:

  • Chakori chaand hai kitni door (Pt. Indra/Singer unknown/Chand Chakori, 1945)
  • Chakori chanda ke angna (Pt. Madhur/Rajkumari, Revashankar/Samrat Chandragupta, 1945)
  • Ek chakori dev pe apne bhaav ke pushp chadhaati thi (Ramesh Gupta/Manna Dey/Vikramaditya, 1945)
  • Tu chanda main teri chakori (Writer unknown/Dilshad Begum, Trilok Kapoor/Birhan, 1948)
  • Zindagi bhale hi teri zer-e-sangeen ho (Indeewar/Mohantara/Taqdeerwale, 1948)
  • Haaye chanda gaye pardes, chakori yahaan ro-ro mare (MR Bakhri/Lata/Chakori, 1949)
  • Chakori ka chanda se pyaar (Raja Mehdi Ali Khan/Lata/Daaman, 1951)
  • Humen chaand lage pyaara pyaara (PL Santoshi/Binapani Mukerji/Ghayal, 1951)
  • Kahe chakori haaye chanda tu chitchor (Raja Mehdi Ali Khan/Geeta/Lav Kush, 1951)
  • Tu hai chanda to main hoon chakor (Indeewar/Kishore, Lata/Aaghosh, 1953)
  • Chori-chori chaandni mein chakori chali aaye (GS Nepali/Rafi, Asha/Mahasati Savitri, 1955)
  • Ab dekh ke kya karen taaron ki baaraat ko, chanda se chakori juda hai (GS Nepali/Asha, Rafi/Veer Rajputani, 1955)
  • Tumhaare sang main bhi chaloongi piya (Shakeel/Lata/Sohni Mahiwal, 1958)
  • Ga rahi hai zindagi har taraf bahaar mein (Pradeep/Mahendra, Asha/Aanchal, 1960)
  • Tere man mein kaun (Bharat Vyas/Meena Kapoor, Lata/Angulimal, 1960)
  • Banke chakori gori jhoom jhoom naacho ri (Majrooh/Mukesh/Hum Matwale Naujawan, 1961)
  • Dil gaya to gaya (Kaifi Azmi/Shamshad, Suman/Shama, 1961)
  • Chaand ko kya maaloom chaahta hai use koi chakor (Indeewar/Mukesh/Lal Bangla, 1966)
  • Duniya banaane waale ne (DN Madhok/Mahendra/Tasweer, 1966)
  • Mor bole, chakor bole (Rajinder Krishan/Lata/Gauri, 1968)
  • Hu tu tu tu…gaon ki main gori, chanda ki chakori (Anand Bakshi/Asha, Kamal Barot/Humjoli, 1970)
  • Soyi raat chaandni soyi (Saraswati Kumar ‘Deepak’/Suman/Lav Kush, 1977)
  • Jab bhi koi kangna bole (Yogesh/Kishore/Shaukeen, 1982)
  • Gudiya chidiya chaand chakori (Bashar Nawaz/Asha, Jagjit Kaur, Pamela Chopra/Lori, 1984)
  • Chanda ko chakor tarse (Mohammad Sarwar/Krishna Kalle/Khooni Darinda, 1987)
  • Chanda ki chori karke chakori, apne ghar le aayi (Sameer/Kavita, Aditya Narayan/Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat, 1996)

The chakor is the national bird of Pakistan. Surely our neighbours would have loved to see some of their chakors go to the moon for a romantic tryst and come back. The Americans are alien to the folklore surrounding this hopelessly romantic love bird from our part of the world. Were Pakistan friendly with USA, who knows, the Americans may have even obliged. But all is not lost for our neighbour yet. With the technology that India has, why, we can send up these birds just as easily, on one of our own missions now. We have launched many space vehicles from French Guiana too, the last as recently as 29th June, 2017. Makes you wonder what Jules Verne would say, were he alive today, about Indian rockets going up from French territory.

Meantime, since the peacock is our national bird, it’s not a bad idea if we sent up a few chakors and peacocks together. We can name that mission “Mor bole, chakor bole”! Wonder if that will work better than Aman Ki Asha, the joint venture idea between two leading publications from there and here.


(Originally published, essentially in this form, on 9 July 2017. The author has made minor changes in the original) (page 11)


20 thoughts on “Better than Aman Ki Asha?

  1. Beautiful article, once again. You always deliver, just like the Big Ben. Chanda chakor – what a great focus.. and news to me that, our neighbours have a national bird of ‘chakor”. And songs that talk of “talking” peacocks and chakors.. that is interesting.

    The selection of songs you have listed have some rare ones that were new for me. Looks like nothing escapes you – no wonder you are a super musicologist. Thanks for yet another super read.

  2. I always believe that thinking of the theme is the most difficult aspect of writing. And I wonder what is going in your mind while watching a song. I can hardly focus on one or two dimensions and only a creative person like you can get so many openings from a song. Chanda-chakori and you built a beautiful essay on it. One can still attempt to recall few songs post 50s but there is a huge list of 40s and you always sequence in chronological manner. One song instantly comes to my mind is from kishan kanhaiya- aapko dekhke …chanda pe chakori kyon hote hain kurban..anil Kapoor singing to dixit.

    1. Super song Gaurav, Aap ko dekh ke! And you are right, the idea of the theme is hard to come by, and then what to say that has perhaps not been said before. Are there any dots left to connect yet? Kabhi dots milte hain, kabhi naheen 🙂

  3. what a simply brilliant article this is Manekji!! i always thought chakor is an insect 🙁 had no idea its a bird! and that too a national bird of our neighbours.. you have covered it so well.. from Jules Verne to man on the moon.. alas if only the chakor could go to the moon…sigh!
    love the song..chaand ko kya maloom, chaahta hai usse koi chakor..:)

    1. Thanks Soudamini, glad you liked the essay! I find the idea interesting too, though the new generation of songwriters have no idea of this bird 🙂

  4. Kuchh bolne Ko reh hi nahin jaata hai. Sirf apni agyani jhalakti hai. Jules Verne ke bas ek novel ka information hai. Yeh wala nahin maloom. Chand aur chakor ke baare mein Suna hai Lekin gaanon ke list mein ek aadh do gaane hi maloom hain. Lekin apni nakaami se mujhko kaam hai. Isiliye aise articles ek bandh andhere kamre mein diya ka sa kaam karte hain ……..agyaanta ke andhere mein aise hi diye jalaye rahiye …… Manek.

    1. Vineesh, you are an IBMer. If I get on your turf, I will react the same way about you. Not to suggest this is my turf, not at all…just spending too much time on it. As the Punjabis say, vela jo baittha hoon 🙂

  5. Another intriguing article from your pen!! And looking at the list of songs, I think there are one or 2 songs which I haven’t really heard. Thank you for introducing them 🙂
    Meanwhile, a song from Mr. Natwarlal….begins with…hey hey hey hey chori chori, milte the chaand chakori…. and then hoooo pardesiya ye sach hai piya….:)

    1. Thanks Deepa 🙂 I tried locating that song from Mr. Natwarlal, no luck yet. Will spend more time looking, and then add it for reference _()_

  6. Beautiful Manek…Ek raat me do do chand khile..Article to enjoy in moon light as well, with my time zone.

    1. Jyoti, everything is so beautiful where you live, in California. The moon though is the same for all of us. Thank God for small mercies 🙂

  7. The mentioned Verne’s novel I have not read. But I have read the other one – Around the world in 80 days ! Hilarious and at the same time extremely insightful. I guess, Around the Moon must have anticipated some of the eventual realities.

    It is intriguing that Pakistan has chakor for its national bird. I am sure, this importance must be getting its due in the Pakistani filmi songs. Relatively, our reliance on chakor should be less, for we have karva chauth as an alternative, when suhagan turns a chakori lookng for her chakor up above in the Moon !

    And it is a matter of some satisfaction that atleast one of the poets thinks that the Moon indeed is attainable : Chanda ki chori karke chakori, apne ghar le aayi (Sameer/Kavita, Aditya Narayan/Raja Ki Ayegi Baraat, 1996) ( extracted from the list ).


    1. The Pakistanis have also talked about this relationship Vijay. I can recall Noor Jahan’s song in Anarkali (1958): Baanwari chakori kare duniya se chori chori chanda se pyaar. They have had a film called Chakori too, just as we have had one.

      On a different note, I came across this song that I couldn’t mention, because it’s from a Bhojpuri film. Chances are you will like it. Chanwa ke taake chakor is by Rafi and Asha. No idea of composer or lyrics writer 🙁 Here’s the YouTube link:

  8. manekbhai – your brilliance always outshines the subject too quite often. 🙂 you write so lovingly and you make each one of your readers cry aloud – yeh dil maangey more – whilst you are all out to even get the moon for us.

    actually – here – you are the moon and we are the many chakors after your articles you present as different shades of moon. 🙂 – but all articles are ” full moons ” and never aadhaa chand. 🙂

    rahee baath apnee padosee kee – usey zameen pey hee rehney deejiye ( mailaa kardiyaa hai ) varna chand bhee mailee hojaayegee.

    they will open their ” favorite aathankhee dukaan ” there too. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    stay blessed bhau. 🙂

    p.s. that mukesh song – chand ko kyaa maaloom chaahta hai usey koi chakor is so spontaneous – i just love it – most popular evergreen song. 🙂

  9. What a truly delightful essay this is! Full of mor, chakor, chandaa, love unrequited, the French, our neighbors, space missions…. the chakor’s journey to the Chaand!
    I like the idea of naming the initiative with our neighbors ‘mor boley, chakor boley’… lekin agar dono bolenge, to sunega kaun? ?. Delightful Sunday morning read!

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