There is no doubt that the soundtrack of Madhumati would rate as one of the greatest in the history of Hindi cinema, and in the incredible repertoire of composer Salil Chowdhury.

Here’s a rare All India Radio interview with Salil Chowdhury where he talks freely about his inspirations. Some of the songs mentioned by him include ‘Itna Na Mujhse Too Pyaar Badha’ (Chhaya, 1961) and ‘Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke’ (or ‘Apni Kahani Chod Ja’, from Do Bigha Zamin, 1953).

Listen to the interview:

He also speaks about the music of Madhumati, in the interview. A few of Madhumati‘s songs were inspired by Indian and subcontinental folk music. Like ‘Chadh Gayo Papi Bichhua’ was based on Assamese folk music from the tea gardens where he grew up. ‘Kancha Le Kanchi Lai Lajo’ is based on Nepalese folk music, while Zulmi Sang Ankh Ladi Re is based on Kumaon’s folk music.

Even the song that was eventually deleted from the film by Bimal Roy, Tan Jale Man Jalta Rahe, sung by Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, was modeled on Merle Travis’ ‘Sixteen Tons’, that was made popular by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I had written about the other, more explicit Indian version of Sixteen Tons earlier, by Kishore Kumar and S.D.Burman.

But the most interesting inspiration, and from a source far, far away from India, is ‘Dil Tadap Tadap Ke Kah Raha’.

Listen to it here.

In the AIR interview, Salil Chowdhury mentions the source of ‘Dil Tadap Tadap’ as Hungarian folk music. Hungary comes close, but the specific origin of the song is from a region that was once called Silesia.

The original song is called, ‘Szla Dzieweczka do Gajeczka’ (pronounced: shwah jeh-vehtch-ka duh lah-sech-kah). The earliest the song is dated back to is in the 18th century.

Listen to it here.

I had earlier reached out to Ms. Wanda Wilk, Director of Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California for details and the origins of this folk song, and this is what she had to say.

The song is a very popular folk-song that originated in the Silesian (South-Western) part of Poland i.e., from the regions of Slask Gorny (High Silesia), Cieszyn and Opole regions. The ethnographer Juliusz Roger identifies it as coming from Rybnik, which is near the Czech border. It has been very popular throughout Poland for many years, for various celebratory occasions like weddings, naming days, youth gatherings etc. It has been recorded by the professional Folk Song & Dance Ensemble, ‘Slask’ produced by Polskie Nagrania, by the Lira Ensemble of Chicago and by popular singers like Maryla Rodowicz and popular Polish dance bands.

It is possible that, back in the 50s and 60s, when access to music was fairly difficult, Salilda had a record of this song which didn’t have the right credits for the producer or the singer, and that could have led to him attributing it to Hungarian folk music. Though, given the proximity of Hungary and Poland, it’s also possible that Salilda possibly had a Hungarian variant of this famous Silesian/Polish song.

The Hindi song is slightly tweaked by Salilda in terms of the tempo. The original plays slower and in sync with the dance that goes with it, for the occasions it is played for.

The meaning of the first few lines that are mirrored (tunewise) in the Hindi song go:
A young girl went to the forest,
to the green forest
The young girl met a hunter,
a very cheerful hunter

If you listen to both songs, you’d notice that in the original, ‘Raha Hai Aa Bhi Jaa’ is repeated thrice, with the 1st and 3rd times with the same tune. Salilda has made a minor variation to this part by bringing in the last line of the original as his shorter mukhda. If I were to map the Hindi song to the original’s flow it’d look like,

Dil Tadap Tadap Ke Keh – Szla dzieweczka do laseczka (shwah jeh-vehtch-ka duh lah-sech-kah)
Raha Hai Aa Bhi Jaa – do zielonego (duh zhyeh-loh-neh-go)
Tu Humse Aankh Na Chura – do zielonego (duh zhyeh-loh-neh-go)
Raha Hai Aa Bhi Jaa – do zielonego (duh zhyeh-loh-neh-go)

Dil Tadap Tadap Ke Keh – nadeszla tam mysliweczka (nah-desh-wah tahm mih-shlee-vetch-kah)
Raha Hai Aa Bhi Jaa – (bahr-dzoh schwahr-neh-goh)
Tu Humse Aankh Na Chura – (bahr-dzoh schwahr-neh-goh)
Tujhe Kasam Hai Aa Bhi Jaa – (bahr-dzoh schwahr-neh-goh)

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