Rivers · Rivers and Culture · Rivers in Literature

O Majhi Re, Apna Kinara Nadiya ki Dhaara Hai!

Rivers & Love are magical, transcendental. One has always been fascinated by the old love songs from Hindi films, some of the lyrics actually include rivers. The normal word used for river in Hindi is Nadi, but there is another beautiful word used for rivers in Hindi: Dhaara.

Once I heard a song that used both the words Nadi and Dhaara in the same line: “Tu Dhaar hai Nadiyaa ki, mai tera Kinaara hu”. That was fantastic. I have since been trying to find other instances where both these words Nadi and Dhaara are used in the same song. I ended up finding quite a few songs in the end! And believe me, each discovery gave so much joy. I soon realized that the words Kinara & Majhi also get used in most such songs. Sounds natural, how can Kinara be far away from Nadi! And only a Majhi can take you from Nadi Majh Dhaara to Kinara!!

One of the oldest and arguably best one is from 1967 film Milan starring Nutan and Sunil Dutt with many memorable songs including this lovely boat song by prolific song writer Anand Bakshi (lyrics of the film were career-defining for Anand Bakshi, particularly this song): “Sawan ka mahina, pawan kare Shor”. The reincarnation film story in fact revolves around River Ganga and in which Sunil Dutt is the boatman in earlier incarnation. The song (music was by Laxmikant Pyarelal, who won that year’s best music award for this film) included this rather puzzling question from the river in a line that included the words Nadi and Dhaara: “जाना कहाँ है पूछे, नदिया की धारा”. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUNx5YQuX-Y) However, that question is answered by Nutan when she says: “मरज़ी है तुम्हारी ले जाओ जिस ओर”. The answer is both to the river and also boatman Sunil Dutt, it seems!

Anand Bakshi again surprised us in the 1971 film Uphaar. The film is based on the 1893 short story “Samapti” (The End) by Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray earlier made a film on this story under title TEEN KANYA. The film was selected as the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

The song “Maajhi Naiya Dhoondhe Kinara” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ9IDO6ZK4A has the line: “chhal-chhal bahati jivan dhara-majhi naiya dhundhe kinara”. Here Dhaara and Kinara are there, though the word Nadi is missing. In this song from not so known film starring Jaya Bhaduri and Swarup Dutt, the main preoccupation of the poet is the same as eternal quest of every boatman: the banks of the river!

The words Nadi and Dhaara were in this very title line of the famous 1970 film Safar: “O Nadiya Chale Chale re dhara”. In this memorable song sung by Manna Dey (music by Kalayanji Anandji), Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila are sitting on the banks of the river and listening to the boatman sing this amazing song, written by Indeevar.

The song is basically saying that like rivers, we have no option but keep moving: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaxNurIcFXM

Our favorite poet Gulzar cannot be very far from the river theme! He wrote this beautiful song for 1975 film Khushboo (based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay‘s Pandit Mashay, it was also directed by Gulzar) where again in title line itself, both Nadi and Dhaara appear: “ओ माझी रे, अपना किनारा नदिया की धारा है”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8aGvh-dyS0

In this song sung by Kishore Kumar, Jitendra is on the boat, singing and Hema Malini is on the banks. A bit uncharacteristically of Gulzar, he indulges in some rather complex word play: “कोई किनारा – जो किनारे से मिले वो अपना किनारा है”, though “कागजों की कश्तियों का कहीं किनारा होता नहीं” is possibly understandable.

The line “Tu Dhaar Hai Nadiyaa Ki mai tera kinaara hu” appears in a 1972 film Shor, featuring Manoj Kumar and Nanda, with lead line in rather famous song sung by Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar: Ek pyar ka nagma hai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTUjZ7d0mf0.

Lyricist Santosh Anand got nomination for the Filmfare award of the year for best lyricist & Mukesh was also nominated for best male singer for this song, though neither won the award.

Indeevar gave another song in 1972 (Film Naag Panchmi) where in title both Nadi and Dhaara appear: “Main Nadiya ki Dhara” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8PubdpQokU. The song starring Jayshree Gadkar, Ashish Kumar has some amazing waterfall scenes.

There is yet another song by Anand Bakshi that we may use to close this episode here. The 1966 film Devar is based on the short novel Naa by the noted Bengali writer Tara Shankar Bandopadhyay. The song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZfRP6Xr_VU) is not really a river song, but it has these amazing lines that makes it almost a river song: “दूर ही रहते हैं उनसे किनारे, जिन को ना कोई माँझी पार उतारे. साथ है माँझी तो किनारा भी करीब है”. So there is kinara and Majhi (the boatman), the magician in the song, the hint is clearly for the kinara of the river!

So incidentally, three of these films are based on stories by famous Bengali authors, not too surprising, is it? It’s fascinating that all of the songs listed above are from Hindi films of just one decade: 1966 to 1975, part of what many call the Golden Era of Hindi film song and music. Within a span of a decade we have 6-7 songs penned by four different poets that includes Rivers in the lyrics including Nadi and Dhaara and also Kinara!

But possibly there are more poets and lyrics that includes these themes and words. I hope the readers would know many more songs that qualify to be included here, plz do send all of them to me, for the next episode!

Himanshu Thakkar (ht.sandrp@gmail.com)

This was published on Aug 24, 2020 here, without our knowledge, we got to know only on March 4, 2021: https://planet.outlookindia.com/water/a-song-for-the-river/571

ओ माझी रे, अपना किनारा नदिया की धारा है
ओ नदिया चले चले रे धारा
जाना कहाँ है पूछे, नदिया की धारा

मांझी नैया ढूंढे किनारा
मैं नदिया की धारा
तू धार है नदिया की मैं तेरा किनारा हूँ…


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