best patrotic songs swades
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As lockdown continues, it’s going to be a quiet Independence Day for India. Team Film Companion curates a playlist of patriotic songs from movies to help you get into the mood. These are powerful melodies that will most likely leave you with a lump in your throat.

Endru thaniyum indha sudhanthira dhaagam (Kappalottiya Thamizhan, 1961)

All the songs in this BR Panthulu biopic of freedom fighter VO Chidambaram Pillai are taken from the works of the poet Subramania Bharati. We even see Bharati himself (memorably embodied by SV Subbiah), singing ‘Endru thaniyum indha sudhanthira dhaagam’, just after the people of Tuticorin have begun to burn foreign-made clothes. (Chidambaram Pillai was one of the pillars behind the Swadeshi movement).) But I’m talking about the wrenching female version of this song, which comes at the end, as Chidambaram Pillai lies dying, his thirst for freedom still unquenched. The words, the sentiment, the yearning in P Leela’s voice – the song makes you feel what a thousand such patriots must have felt. – Baradwaj Rangan

Kar Chale Hum Fida (Haqeeqat, 1964)

Haqeeqat, set against the Indo-Chinese War in 1962, is arguably Hindi cinema’s finest war film. The black and white film, largely shot on location in Ladakh, has a pristine beauty and epic drama – especially the climactic song, ‘Kar Chale Hum Fida’. The Indian troops have been massacred. We see close-ups of the soldiers, their dead bodies and blank eyes as the song plays. But the music by Madan Mohan and lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, are so rousing that defeat is replaced with determination to rise and fight again. ‘Kar Chale Hum Fida’ gives me goose bumps and tears – it’s a straight shot of patriotism!  – Anupama Chopra

Thaneer Vitto Valarthom Sarvesa, Ippayirai Kaneeraal Kaathom  (Kappalottiya Thamizhan, 1961) 

Imagine freedom as a living breathing field full of crops, nourished not with water, but tears. Imagine that wilting. That’s what Bharathi sings about when he’s told of the difficulties VO Chidambaram is facing in the Coimbatore prison he’s imprisoned in.The song cuts to the Salem prison where Subramaniya Siva suffers.Bharathi beseeches his favourite goddess Parasakthi, and asks her if this is the grace she bestows on her children. I first heard this song when amma sat me down on the washing stone in the backyard and told me about the freedom struggle. Her voice rang loud and clear, and then the tears flowed. I watched this film years later, and even now, more than the visuals and Sivaji Ganesan, Bharathi’s compassion and tender heart and the unfairness of what’s happening to those championing freedom is what shines through. – Subha J Rao

Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyaara Hai (Roja, 1992)

When I hear the term “patriotic,” ever since I was a child this has been the only anthem that has sprung to mind. It’s haunting in so many ways – music, lyrics, the way it’s used in Mani Ratnam’s Roja – but not least because of the duality of A.R. Rahman’s composition. The tranquil part of the song in Hariharan’s voice (“Sadiyo se bharat bhoomi duniya ki shaan hai”) is almost a prayer that’s taught in school: it’s what we expect patriotism to be. The torrid part of the song in chorus (“Udje nahi apna chaman / toote nahi apna vatan”) plays out like an inner sense of foreboding – it’s almost a premonition of the future, an advance cry for help. Well, the future is here, and the song in its entirety is more relevant than ever before. – Rahul Desai 

Azadi (Bose: The Forgotten Hero, 2004)

Sung in Rahman’s iconic, inimitable nasal voice that chops off syllables, to Javed Akhtar’s rousing lyrics, this song has that goosebump-inducing quality where the notes suddenly spike after a de-crescendo. It gives the flailing but strident Indian National Army (INA) of Bose a hefty, much needed Bollywood gloss of hope. – Prathyush Parasuraman

 

Mera Rang De (Legend of Bhagat Singh, 2002)

Taking off on the song written by Pandit Rama Prasad ‘Bismil’ and his friends at the Lucknow Central Jail, arrested after the Kakori train dacoity, the AR Rahman composition captures the nationalistic fervour of the freedom struggle against the British. The highlight is the superb, earthy singing by Sonu Nigam and Punjabi singer Manmohan Waris, brothers in arms in a great sacrifice. The song has become inseparable from scenes from the Rajkumar Santoshi film of Bhagat, Sukhdev and Rajguru singing on their last walk to the gallows. – Sankhayan Ghosh

Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera (Swades, 2004)

A song so full of feeling that you let it take hold of you even without noticing the masterful individual elements— the shehnai refrain, the gentle humming chorus, the beautiful chord shifts, the beats, the two different antaras. It may be about the protagonist of Swades longing for India, but in the inimitably sweeping AR Rahman quality, it transcends and becomes universal. Not only one of the best patriotic film songs but also one of the composer’s best. – Sankhayan Ghosh

 

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