Every hindi cinema fan usually has a list of her/his favourite qawwali (क़व्वाली). So do I, no surprises there. The filmi qawwali is quite different from the traditional qawwali of course. Hindi film music inspired by the qawwali, transformed it into a new genre of filmi (फ़िल्मी) music all together! From the themes sung about, the competition between the leading actors, the colgate-smiles on the accompanying singers in the background to the ada (अदा) displayed through raising eyebrows and head shakes 🙂 filmi qawwalis are an audio and visual treat. While my knowledge is only as up to date as the sixties, modern filmi qawwalis are becoming more and more atypical than earlier. You can read more about qawwali online to understand its journey through films.
Watch a few of my favourite qawwalis below and clap along!
1. Na to caravan ki talash hai from Barsaat ki raat (1960) with lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi and music by Roshan. I know I said ‘in no particular order’ but this is my most favourite filmi qawwali. 12 minutes long and sung by Manna Dey, Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Sudha Malhotra and SD Batish. A competition between two groups around the theme of love – put together by my favourite lyricist, the song refers to Radha-Krishna and Meerabai on one hand, and Laila-Majnu, and Amir Khusrau’s poems on the other. Read more about this song and its translation here.
Khaq ko buth aur buth ko devata karta hai ishq Inteha yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq
2. Meri duniya lut rahi thi from Mr & Mrs 55 (1955) with lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri, music by OP Nayyar and sung by Rafi and others. In this song, the male lead just gives up his struggle for his wife, and heartbroken he passes by a group singing a song that describes his emotions at that time. Find the lyrics here.
Karavaan dil ka luta baitha hoon, Manzil ke kareeb Main ne khud kashti dubo di, Ja ke saahil ke kareeb
3. Teri mehfil mein kismat azmake from Mughal-e-azam (1960) with lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, music by Naushad and sung by Shamshad Begum and Lata Mangeshkar. This song features a debate between two women about the nature of love. Read more about this song and its translation here.
Mohabbat karnewalon ka hai bas itna hi afsana Tadapna chupke-chupke aah bharna ghutke mar jana
4. Nigahen naaz ke from Barsaat ki raat (1960) with lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi, music by Roshan, and sung by Asha Bhosle, Sudha Malhotra, Shankar-Shambhu qawwal duo – a competition between men and women about beauty. Read more about this song and its translation here.
Ada bijli, badan shola Bhanve khanjar, nazar qaatil Galat kya hai hume kehti hai ye duniya agar qaatil To phir.. nigahen naaz ke
5. Aye meri zohra jabeen from Waqt (1965) with lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi, music by Ravi and sung by Manna Dey. One of the few songs/movies with colour to be included in my lists. This is a simple love song by a husband to his wife – one of those ‘we are old but young at heart’ types. There are a few who would argue that this song doesn’t really qualify to the qawwali genre but luckily none of them are writing this piece 🙂 Read more about this song here.
Tu meethe bol jaan-e-man jo muskura ke bol de To dhadkanon mein aaj bhi sharaab-e-rang ghol de
Want more filmi qawwalis? Watch more of my favourites on my Youtube channel. Read top ten lists of qawwalis by fellow hindi cinema lovers and bloggers here: Memsaabstory, Mr&Mrs 55, Dustedoff and Film ka ilm.