This post is dedicated to my dear friend and song blogger extraordinaire Atul, who tells hilarious and sweet stories about his own menagerie.
Most of you are familiar with the Memdogs (little scamps) and beloved Gemma before them; and many of you have animals in your own lives who are as precious to you as anyone. One of my very favorite things about Hindi movies is how so many of them contain anipals, as Todd puts it. Filmi animals are usually more intelligent and capable than the people around them (eg Khoon Bhari Maang‘s Raja the horse and Jumbo the dog, Dharam-Veer‘s Sheroo the Wonder Bird, etc.), but they generally speaking don’t have nearly their fair share of song time. I mean, have you ever seen a dacoit serenading his smart and loyal horse? (If you have, TELL ME.)
Happily, there are occasions where this egregious wrong is righted, and these are ten such delightful songs. I have not necessarily seen the films represented here (or it would have been a top five post instead) but I love each and every one of them alongside the animals participating therein.
Let’s start with a very early one to celebrate the longevity of our companionship with the other fauna on our planet.
10. “Yeh Pyari Pyari Pati” from Janmabhoomi (1936) (sung by Devika Rani; music by Saraswati Devi). Devika Rani has just received a letter (from her beloved?) and shares her joy with her gorgeous dog. As with most songs of this era, I’m not so much crazy about the tune and the singing—but I do love seeing a pet dog from 1936. And it’s all just so pretty pretty pretty—the only thing sadly missing is Ashok Kumar.
9. “Ja Re Ja Mera Dil Na Jala” from Jawani Ki Hawa (1959) (sung by Rafi; music by Ravi; lyrics by Rajendra Krishen). For every person who loves dogs in Hindi films, there are at least three who are afraid of them; and at least two of those people are comedians. Here is Johnny Walker running scared from Shammi’s dog (they are likely the CSP pair) and singing a song to placate him (or so it seems to me).
8. “Woh To Bana Apna” from Appu Raja (1990) (sung by SP Balasubramaniam and Asha; music by Ilaiyaraja; lyrics by Prem Dhawan). Clearly this is a film I NEED TO SEE, with its little people (and Kamal Hassan pretending to be a little person) and plethora of circus animals, all of whom seem to be having fun (I hope). It is faintly redolent of “Barbara Ann” by the Beach Boys, but very catchy in its own way too.
7. “Chal Chal Mere Saathi” from Haathi Mere Saathi (1971) (sung by Kishore; music by Laxmikant Pyarelal; lyrics by Anand Bakshi). I loved watching this movie with my Gemma; she was up and barking at the screen through most of it, tail wagging furiously. She’d bark and then look around at me as if to say—“Do you SEE those giant dogs, do you SEE them?” Or maybe she knew they were elephants, I don’t know. But she enjoyed every minute of screen time that they had. In fact, I am overdue for a rewatch of this one although the Memdogs don’t watch with me like she did. *sad face*
Anyway, Rajesh Khanna’s elephant buddies get Tanuja out of an automotive fix, which of course doesn’t help them at all later when she turns on them. But that’s a story for another day!
6. “Aaye Ho To Dekh Le” from Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan (1959) (sung by Suman Kalyanpur; music by Ravi). I feel just a wee bit sorry for Minoo Mumtaz’s cat as she is flung around somewhat in this, which probably didn’t make her happy. However, the song is sung during the cat’s birthday party so on some level she is a spoiled rotten pet and that’s all good. I have to say too, it gives me a little frisson of joy to have a photograph of the woman dancing at the beginning holding my own little dog some fifty-odd years later.
5. “O Zaalimaan Chala Kahan” from Zimbo (1958) (sung by Rafi; music by Chitragupta; lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri). Pedro the Ape Bomb is justafiably famous to those of us who have seen this Wadia brothers classic (even Baburao Patel liked it!). He is so very awesome, in fact, that he has his own song with the CSP guy (anybody know the actor?) and it is hilarious.
And does anybody know how I can get hold of the Bombino VCD which retains the original Gevacolor (well, what’s left of it)!?
4. “Mard Tangewale” from Mard (1985) (sung by Mohd Aziz; music by Anu Malik; lyrics by Prayag Raj). In a film chock-full of loony bin characters and bizarre plot developments, Amitabh’s horse Badal and dog Moti rule the roost (no pun intended). They are celebrated with this song as Badal pulls along the tonga and Raja does tricks in the back for Nirupa Roy. Amitabh and Nirupa are blissfully unaware as yet that they are mother and son, but I would put money on the fact that Badal and Moti have already figured it out.
3. “Meow Meow Meri Sakhi” from Pooja Ke Phool (1964) (sung by Lata; music by Madan Mohan). Poor blind Nimmi is the victim once again of other people’s noble sacrificing. But before she pays for it all, she has stray moments of happiness where she thinks everything will be okay, including this lovely little ditty with a stray cat that she cares for. I love this song—so sweet yaar! Poor Nimmi. (PS the beloved she sings of looks like Dharmendra, because he is.)
2. “Aaj Main Jawan Ho Gayi Hoon” from Main Sunder Hoon (1971) (sung by Lata; music by Shankar Jaikishan; lyrics by Anand Bakshi). I kind of think of Anand Bakshi as the King of Anipal Lyricists, and this song is a jewel in his crown. Stylish Leena Chandavarkar in a very stylish home sings a paean to her little green parrot. This is a song that gets stuck in my head for days on end, but I don’t mind a bit. It even makes me want to get a parrot of my own but hopefully I won’t.
1. “Beta Wah Wah Wah” from Mem-Didi (1961) (sung by Lata; music by Salil Choudhury; lyrics by Shailendra). I honestly don’t know who is cuter, Tanuja or dog Moti, and of course it doesn’t matter because we don’t have to choose.
For sheer drama, I do have to give this song an Honorable Mention (actually, the whole movie deserves an Honorable Mention for starring a dog—Brownie Moti—when the hero and heroine are bumped off before the halfway point) but I just can’t bring myself to say it’s a favorite. Still and all, here you go.