My ten favorite film qawwalis

Like most westerners discovering Hindi films and music, I fell in love quickly with the wonderful song form known as “qawwali.” People have many different interpretations on what a true qawwali is; I am just going to list my favorite film qawwalis, which I know have taken some liberties with the pure form. I like this particular article about qawwali and its history and development.

My personal criteria are that there be at least one singer with a chorus, and the song should build in rhythm, accompanied by clapping in addition to musical instruments and picturized in front of an audience which joins in. I also prefer the ones from older films which use more traditional instruments (e.g. dhola, harmonium, tabla, sarangi), and which usually begin with an alaap. If a “nautch-girl” is dancing, I consider that a mujra, not a qawwali. My definition and preferences might be too narrow for some, and too broad for some, but hey—it’s my blog!

I am keeping the list here to ones in films I’ve seen and which I remember vividly for their place in each film. So here they are, my favorites, in no particular order (because limiting them was hard enough without having to prioritize them).

1. “Shirde Wale Sai Baba” from Amar Akbar Anthony (1977): sung by Mohd Rafi; music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal

I **finally** understood Rishi Kapoor’s appeal as I watched him perform this song. The audience’s joy juxtaposed with poor hunted Nirupa Roy trying to hide from Ranjeet and Jeevan is just brilliant!

2. “Zalim Meri Sharaab Mein” from Reshma Aur Shera (1971): sung by Manna Dey; music by Jaidev

Sanju Baba’s first film appearance (below left), and a rollicking accompaniment to Waheeda Rehman peeping at Sunil Dutt as their romance begins. Plus, I love the hats.

3. “Hum Kisise Kum Nahin” from Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977): sung by Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhosle; music by R.D. Burman

Rishi Kapoor again, trying to woo Zeenat Aman away from her disapproving father Ajit:

and succeeding, of course!

4. “Aaj Kyon Humse Parda” from Sadhna (1958): sung by S. Balbir and Mohd Rafi; music by N. Dutta

Nautch-girl Vyjayanthimala’s dreams of becoming a respectable lady and wife are shattered when her customers and musicians laugh at her, and she hides in her room. They sing this song in an attempt to coax her into performing for them:

Their fondness for her is apparent, as is their inability to see her as a human being. Her suffering seen against their light-hearted fun is very poignant.

5. “Jo Yeh Dil Deewane” from Dharmputra (1961): sung by Mohd Rafi; music by N. Dutta

A performance to celebrate the birth of a baby boy whose real mother has had to give him up for adoption; once again sorrow (hers) is contrasted against the festive air of the qawwali.

6. “Chandi Ka Badan” from Taj Mahal (1963): sung by Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey, Mohd Rafi and Sudha Malhotra; music by Roshan

All the music from this film is great. If I absolutely had to pick one soundtrack to take with me to a deserted island, this would probably be it. You all know the story!

7. “Teri Mehfil Mein” from Mughal-e-Azam (1960): sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum; music by Naushad

I’m pretty sure everyone knows all about this one too, so I need say no more!

8. “Chali Chali Kaisi Hawa” from Bluffmaster (1963): sung by Shamshad Begum and Usha Mangeshkar; music by Kalyanji-Anandji

I just can’t keep Shammi out of this as he hams it up as a woman (along with Mohan Choti behind him).

How such a beautiful man can be such a hideous woman is beyond me!

9. “Pal Do Pal Ka Saath Hamaara” from The Burning Train (1980): sung by Mohd Rafi and Asha Bhosle; music by R.D. Burman

A gaudily dressed troupe of musicians keeps passengers entertained as their doomed train hurtles towards its destruction. A great film with a great cast.

10. “Mere Dil Ke Andar” from Phool Aur Patthar (1966): sung by Rafi; music by Ravi

A thief escapes capture by singing this qawwali as his accomplices, all in drag, pick the audience’s pockets clean. Hilarious!

Other qawwalis that I particularly like but haven’t seen in movie context are “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom Sharaabi” from 5 Rifles (1973); all the ones from Barsaat Ki Raat (which I really really need to see); “Daag Na Lag Jaye” from Mera Naam Joker (which I just can’t bring myself to watch); and “Hamen To Loot Liya” from Bijlee (1972).

What are your favorite film qawwalis?

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115 Comments to “My ten favorite film qawwalis”

  1. Mujra or no mujra, qawwali is just a genre of music (usually Islamic) – as you would know, it has a distinct style. I suppose to non-South Asian filmi fans, the characters would have to be wearing specific clothing and have a certain body language to easily recognise it as a qawwali.

  2. Just to add, I find this qawwali quite fun:

    …Shammi Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor and Geeta Bali! The only one missing is Raj…

  3. What – no mention of this great star-studded *item number* qawwali from Jab Se Tumhen Dekha HaiTumhen husn deke khuda ne (part1 and part2)! Thought it would definitely be your favorite inspite of the dancing! ;-D

    I love filmi qawwalis, too! They may be a corruption of *real* ones but I like the filmi-ness better. Especially the delicious gender-war that is usually the theme of the filmi ones. Love the qawwalis from Barsat Ki Raat (1960) especially Na to caravan ki talaash, the ones from Chaudvin Ka Chand, and was dangerously hooked to Humen to loot liya!

  4. Oh.My.God. The two of you have just informed me about this Shammi film that I did not know about. It would have definitely made the list had I seen the film! Is it available on DVD? I somehow doubt it, because if it were, I would have it. But I cannot die now until I see it.

    Fabulous!!!!! I’m speechless (well, clearly not really) with the joy of it.

  5. No its an *item* number so, no Shammi and no Shashi in the movie. :-(

    I bought the VCD from Rhythm House but was terribly disappointed with the result!

  6. Oh, good, then I CAN die now. Whew. I need to buy a VCD player. There is too much good stuff out there that’s not on DVD yet.

    But maybe I can skip this if the brothers S.Kapoor are only in the song.

  7. brilliant list but also remember the title qawwalli from “Quarbani” I don’t know if that satisfies the qawwali style but i thought it sounded it enough, Shirdi wale saibaba is my favorite one of all time too also “purdah hai purdah” from amar akbar anthony also

  8. Great list, Memsaab! I really like your list, although I have not seen most films. Have seen the films with #s 1, 6 and 7, and love them all (Teri mehfil mein qismat aazmaa kar being my favorite).

    Two of the more recent qawwalis I love both have music by A. R. Rahman:

    1) Maula (from Mangal Pandey), which served as the setting for a critical discussion (you really should watch the movie :P), and

    2) Khwaaja Mere Khwaaja (from Jodhaa Akbar), in which that last bit with Hrithik was fantastic. As the emperor, he had the face of one palm pointing toward the sky, the other to earth, as if to request divine intervention in getting blessings from the heavens to the earth and his people. Even more relevant because the part of the method of prayer in Islam (and other religions too) employs the palms.


  9. My favourite is Na toh karvaan ki talaash hai (and its extension, Yeh ishq ishq hai). Amazing qawwali, by far the best I’ve ever heard! Do try and get hold of the movie – it’s great, and the music is superb.

  10. I love coming to your blog, memsaab, because doing so reminds me of how much I’ve got to learn about Bollywood. :-) I haven’t seen one of the qawwalis you’ve listed! So far my favorite is the one in Veer-Zaara, which is a movie I know you can’t stand.

  11. Ahh, the qawwali! I actually knew about qawwalis before getting into Hindi films (through Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, by way of Jeff Buckley and a love of Sufism), so I was thrilled – thrilled! – to see them everywhere in films.

    Hmm, all the ones I can think of, off the top of my head, are either mujras or not filmi. But sharing is caring!

    1. Maar Daala from Devdas.

    The film with gender relations from hell and naach-gaana from heaven, this one makes me get verklempt. So beautiful and sad, sigh.

    2. Tumse Milke Dil Ka Jo Haal from Main Hoon Na.

    More SRK! Probably mujra, by your definition, and definitely a crazy parody of a real qawwali, but ahh, it’s lovely. Over the top and zany and hilariously good-humored. I am also shocked – shocked! – to learn that SRK apparently “hated his dance steps for this song”, since this is the song I always use in my head as the prime example of why SRK is a fabulous dancer and performer.

    3. Duniya Hai Aati Jaati from Chor Sipahee.

    Because the internet hates me, this is not available on YouTube. One of my fave qawwalis because it features Shashi (whee!), Vinod (whee!), Shabana (whee!), a sublime musical bridge (whee!), and sublimely philosophical lyrics (“only lovers live!”).

    4. Dam Mast Qalandar by Faiz Ali Faiz.

    Not from a film at all, but I just love this one so I must share.

    5. Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai by Jeff Buckley.

    Again, not a film, but this is an amazing cover which must also be shared. Jeff Buckley, American singer-songwriter, covers Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Yeh Jo Halka Halka using only his amazing voice, an electric guitar, and Urdu lyrics learned phonetically. This is on the Live at Sin-e album, which is just Jeff and his guitar.

  12. Wow, thank you all for your contributions, some of which I will need to investigate as I’m not familiar with them.

    Rum: don’t know how I forgot “Qurbani Qurbani,” it is fantastic and so well picturized. Alas, I could have made this post go on and on but in the interests of time (and brevity) decided to only list the ones that came to mind immediately :-)

    BollywoodFan: I love “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” but (again in the interests of not spending an entire Saturday on it) decided to limit my selection to those with more traditional sound (less electronic, as it were). And thanks again for the VCD tip ;-)

    Madhu: I have been looking for the film, but it’s out of stock for some reason at all my usual buying haunts…but it’s good to have something to search for.

    ajnabi: I wouldn’t say I can’t stand Veer Zaara, just not a fave…but the music is beautiful :-)

    ppcc: One more reason I NEED to see Chor Sipahee! Thanks for all the suggestions, filmi or otherwise.

  13. You are forgetting The quawwali, from a movie based on quawali writers and singers, i.e.

    I also like the tongue in cheek ones from extremely bad movies like

  14. sorry I forgot to write the titles

    1) Na to carvan ki talash hae

    2) Aise besharam aashiq hain yeh aaj ke

  15. I didn’t forget the first one, I just haven’t seen the film yet (I’m looking for it!). The second one is a stitch! I love the hairstyles on everybody!!! Will have to look for it too, for those moments when you just need a cheesy film…

  16. Sorry, i missed the bit where you said you had not gone round to watching Barsat ki raat: come on, if you like quawalis, you Have to See this one Soon!

    The latter are a pair of real-life quawwals, i.e. they earned their living as quawali singers.

    This one became a hit; another famous one from movies by them was,
    Barha lutf thha jab kunware thhe hum tum.

    ooh, just found it on youtube, recent posting..

    I think the lyrics in both, despite the deep insults, are very tasteful and never descend into cheap vulgarity.

  17. I also love ‘Parda he parda’ from Amar, Akbar, Anthony. And ‘Khwaja mere khwaja’ from Jodha Akbar. But of course, a lot of the fun of the filmi qawallis is in the costumes, the tussle between male and female, and the ubiquitous drag.

  18. Memsaab, by the way don’t get confused if you appear to see what seems like Madhubala?? in this 2nd quawali.
    This was an actress who appeared in the late 70s/early 80s, acted in some Punjabi films and very low-key Hindi films..forgotten her name.

    I remember one popular Punjabi song filmed on her “Jad jad o banere bole kaan”.

    Wasn’t much of an actress and the Madhubala thing (her greatest asset?) didn’t stand a close look. Obviously cultivated the effect: just goes to show how unique Madhubala (or any other personality) is.

  19. Thanks for another enjoyable and educational post! Loved it!

  20. one more recent quawwali than has to be mentioned in a favorite list – no matter that most performances in the movie are real crab – is the one from the end of pardes – nahin hona tha – at least I think it is a quawwali

    thanks for the post – I enjoy your site – as always!

  21. thanks to all of you for commenting and making suggestions! :-D

  22. Isn’t “Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re” (from Kohinoor) a qawwali, or at least partly one? If so, that’s my favorite:

    (I just love the soundtrack to Kohinoor, though I haven’t seen the whole movie yet, just many clips from it.)

    • madhuban mein radhika is actually not a qawwali. Its rather a song based on hindustani music but is one of my personal favorite songs.

      ALso Pari ho aasmani tum deserves a mention here though I can’t remember its movie’s name (Greta, don’t tell my mom or she will disown me for life. AS I have said she is more tolerant of bad marks than of wrong bollywood trivia)

  23. I don’t consider it a qawwali (just Rafi singing) but maybe some people would. There seems to be a lot of flexibility! :-)

  24. OK, if that doesn’t count, then my favorite qawwali is your #4, “Aaj Kyon Humse Parda [Hai]” Actually, I listened to the Sadhna soundtrack again tonight, and I think I like this song even more than “Madhuban Mein…” anyway.

  25. Sadhna is a wonderful movie…I really need to watch it again and do a post about it…

  26. Wonderful post and great comments. In the old days, the filmi qawwali was more like a musical debate, with one side making a point and the other side countering it (for example in Mughal-e-Azam). Modern filmi qawwalis only have one viewpoint, there’s no counterpoint.
    Also, Madhuban mein Radhika is a Bhakti song. Bhakti is a similar genre to Sufi, except the imagery is distinctly Hindu (Radha dancing in the forest to Krishna’s flute).

  27. Some filmi ones still have the counterpoint—usually (as others have already commented) it is a debate or competition between the sexes. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a requirement any more though :-)

    Thanks for the insight re: Madhuban Mein Radhika as well.

  28. I’ve been going back a number of times to this one (don’t think it’s been posted here yet), a qawwali from the 1963 film “Dil Hi To Hai,” with great singing by Asha Bhosle…

    (Think I’ll have to post that on my blog soon too.)

    Anonymous, thanks for the clarification about Madhuban Mein Radhika.

    I was just reading an interesting comment on YouTube about how this is indeed a Hindu song but the performers in the film scene are all Muslim.

  29. That’s a nice one, Richard! Especially since young Pran is sitting on the sidelines!

  30. Shalaam memsaab :P
    I think you have written an excellent article. The comments are excellent as well. Based on this and some googling, I have prepared a list of good Qawwali songs n wanna share with you all..
    **** Ultimate Qawwali hits ****
    Pardah Hai Pardah
    Dulhe Ka Sehra
    Allah Allah
    Zindagi Maut Na Banjaaye
    Teri Mehfil Mein Kism…
    Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kiya
    Nigah E Naaz (qawwali)
    Hum Kisise Kum Nahin
    Mehangai Maar Gayi
    Aur Nahin Bus Aur Nahin
    Piya Haji Ali
    Tumse Milke Dilka Jo …
    Janaabe Ali
    Na To Karavan
    Jo Dil Deewana Machal…
    Chandi Ka Badan
    Pal Do Pal Ka Saath H…
    Maar Daala
    Qurbani Qurbani
    Khwaja Mere Khwaja
    Yaari Hai Iman Mera -…
    Nigahen Milane Ko Jee…
    Mast Qalandar
    Yeh Jo Halka Halka Su…
    Aaj Ki Raat Na Jaa
    Salaam – E – Ishq – M…
    In Ankhon Ki Masti
    Dil Cheez Kya Hai
    Aye Hain Dar Per Tere
    Kamli Wala Tu (qawalli)

  31. Thanks Ravindran, that’s a great collection :-)

  32. My favourites are ‘yeh mana meri jaan’ from Hanste Zakhm and also ‘raaz ki baat kehdoon’ from Dharma.
    ‘Haal kya hai dillon ka’ from anokhi ada is also a good one sung by Kishore

  33. I forget one of mu all time favourites is ‘meri tasveer lekar kya karoge tum’ from kala samundar which i have never seen, only ever heard this qawwali from it

  34. I just watched Mehndi Lagi Mere Haath, and it’s got a qawwali I like quite a bit. It’s basically a debate about love — the other guys are for, and Shashi is against.

    (Available here: )

  35. Hey thanks for this list and comments…It helped me to know new qawwalis.
    In my favourite ones, i’d like to recommend:

    Jeene To Hain Usi Ka Jisne from Adhikar, because music is by R.D Burman and the song is picturized on Pran:

    Maula Salim Chisti from Garam Hawa (with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi):

    Hope you’ll like them

  36. Thank you all for your recommendations, my list of favorite qawwalis has grown apace! :-)

  37. I love qawwalis…I have hardly ever come across a bad one. (maybe somebody can make a list of those too. :-) ).

    I love “Aaj Kyon Hamse Parda Hai” from Sadhana.

    Barsaat ki Raat has “na to caravan…” and that ultimate qawwali “ye ishq ishq hai ishq ishq”. To me, “Ye ishq ishq” is the mother of all qawwalis. I can keep listening to it.

    Roshan shows his magic again in “Dil Hi To Hai” with “nigahen milaane ko jee chahta hai”.

    If you are interested in funny-but-rather-macabre lyrics, check out Putlibai.
    “Aise besharm aashiq…”. It is a rollercoaster of insults between the “man” and the “woman” in the qawwali – makes for hilarious listening.

    “Sharma ke yun sab pardanashi” from Chaudhvin ka chand is great too !!!
    Shamshad Begum’s voice is so good !!!

    “Humen to loot liya” is also OK. As is “jaaneman ek nazar dekh le” from Mere Mehboob.

  38. (Qawwali) And if you like Mumtaz, there is ‘Allah, yeh ada kaisi hai in haseenon mein”, from ‘Mere Humdum Mere Dost”. Mumtaz is great here. The rest of the cast includes Dharmendra, Sharmila and Om Prakash. Very enjoyable- also gives you a glimpse of how Delhi looked in the 1960s.

  39. The following are qawalies I found for 2005 and 2009. There are several songs that have Qawali type beeat, which are not included here.

    Yeh Ishq Ishq Hai by Sajid Wajid – Khallballi (2009)
    Singer : AD Boys, Shadab Sabri, Sukhwinder Singh
    Deewana Maine To Deewana by Ismail Darbar – Mehbooba (2008)
    Singer: Sukhwinder Singh, Sonu Nigam, Aslam Sabri
    Kya Khata Ho Gayee by Sajid Wajid – Zindagi Tere Naam (2008)
    Singer : Afzal Sabri, Richa Sharma
    Lo Ji Hum Aa Gaye by Ravindra Jain Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi (2008)
    Singer : Farid Sabri, Pamela Jain, Satish Dehra, Shaan
    Nihaal Ho by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (2008)
    Singer : Shankar Mahadevan
    Ishqaiyaan by Anu Malik – Maan Gaye Mughal-E-Azam (2008)
    Singer : Sonu Nigam, Sunidhi Chauhan & Aftab Hashim Sabri
    Husn Hai by Ravi Pawar, Sayed Ahmed – Wafaa (2008)
    Singer : Aftab, Hasim Sabri
    Jaane Ve Jaan Le Haal-E-Dil by Vishal Bharadwaj – Haal-E-Dil (2008)
    Singer: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Shreya Ghoshal
    Dua Qubool Karo by Vivek Prakash – Kahaani Gudiya Ki (2007)
    Singer: Habib Sabri
    More Haji Piya by Sukhwinder Singh – Halla Bol (2007)
    Singer: Amjad Farid Sabri Pakistan
    Allah Hafiz by Pritam Chakraborty – Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
    Singer : Kay Kay
    Chandani Raat Hai Saiyan by Adnan Sami – Dhamaal (2007)
    Singer : Amit Kumar, Asha Bhosle
    Billo Rani by Pritam Chakraborty – Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007)
    Singer : Anand Raj Anand, Richa Sharma
    Aa Dil Se Dil Mila Le by Prittam – Naqaab (2007)
    Singers: Alisha Chinai, Krishna
    Jhoot Nahin by Himesh Reshammiya – Aap Ka Surroor CD 1 (2007)
    Singer : Himesh Reshammiya, Shreya Ghosal
    Jhoom by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007)
    Singer : Shankar Mahadevan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Zubeen Garg
    Jhoom by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007)
    Singer : Shankar Mahadevan
    Jag Laal Laal Laal Laal (1) by Sandesh Shandilya – Big Brother (2007)
    Singer : Ustad Sultan Khan
    Jag Laal Laal Laal Laal (3) by Anand Raaj Anand – Big Brother (2007)
    Singer : Ustad Sultan Khan, Zubin Garg
    Yoon Shabnami by Monty Sharma – Saawariya (2007)
    Singer : Gazal Qawali Combo – Parthiv Gohill
    Kamliwala by Aadesh S – Dil Se Poochh Kidhar Jana Hai (2006)
    Singer : Sabri Brothers
    Ya Ali Maula Ali by Ismail Darbar – Husn, Love & Betrayal (2006)
    Singer: Aadesh Shrivastav
    Kalma Kalma by Rajindra Shiv – Jaana – Let’s Fall In Love (2006)
    Singer : Kailash Kher
    O Sikander by Shamir Tandon – Corporate (2006)
    Singer : Kailash Kher, Sapna Mukerji
    O Sikander by Shamir Tandon – Corporate (2006)
    Singer : Kailash Kher, Sonu Kakkar
    Intezaar Aitbaar Tumse by Bapi, Dhruv, Tutul – Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
    Singer : Gazal Qawali Combo – Sowmya Raoh, Qadar Niazi Qawwal
    Namak Ishq Ka by Vishal Bharadwaj – Omkara (2006)
    Singer : Rakesh Pandit, Rakha Bhardwaj
    Aawan Akhiyan Jawan by Himesh Reshammiya – Ahista Ahista (2006)
    Singer: Himesh Reshammiya, Jayesh Gandhi, Hashim, Aftab
    Salaam-e-Ishq by by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Salaam-E-Ishq (2006)
    Singer : Kunal G, Sadhna S, Shankar M, Shreya G, Sonu N
    Saiyaan Re by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Salaam-E-Ishq (2006)
    Singer : Loy Mendonsa, Shankar Mahadevan, Shilpa
    Mere Saath Chalte by Anu Malik – Humko Deewana Kar Gaye (2006)
    Singer: Krishna, Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan
    Duniya Walon Ko by Shamir Tandon – Umar (2005)
    Singers: Kavita Krishnamurti , Sonu Nigam , Manna Dey, SabriBrothers
    Al Maddath Maula by A R Rahman – Mangal Pandey, The Rising (2005)
    Singer: Kadar & Murtaza Ghulam Mustafa, Kailash Kher, A R Rahman
    Mann Yeh Bavra by Shantanu Moitra – Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2005)
    Singer: Ajay Jhingran, Swanand Kirkirc
    Chilman Uthegi Nahin by Ismail Darbar Kisna (2005)
    S: AlkaY, AyeshaD, Hariharan, IsmailD, KailashK, RakeshP, Shailja S
    Main Vari Vari by Rahman AR -Mangal Pandey, The Rising (2005)
    Singer: Kavita Krishnamurthy, Reena Bharadwaj
    Kajra Re by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Bunty Aur Babli (2005)
    Singer: Alisha Chinoi, Shankar Mahadevan and Javed Ali
    Ishq Bada Bedardi – Addi Tappaa, Punjabi Film – (2005)

  40. I found some more 2009 Qawalies as follows:
    Ranaji by Piyush Mishra – Gulaal (2009)
    Singer : Rekha Bhardwaj
    Beedo by Piyush Mishra – Gulaal (2009)
    Singer : Rekha Bhardwaj
    Arziyan by A R Rahman – Delhi 6 (2009)
    Singer : Javed Ali, Kailash Kher
    Baawre by Shankar Ehsaan Loy – Luck By Chance (2009)
    Singer : Loy Mendonsa, Shankar Mahadevan
    Khudaya Khair by Pritam Chkravarty – Billu Barber (2009)
    Singer : Akriti Kakkar, Monali, Soham
    Jaoon Kahan by Pritam Chkravarty – Billu Barber (2009)
    Singer : Raahat Fateh Ali Khan
    Mushkil Halato Se Darna Kaisa by Sachin Gupta – Jugaad (2009)
    Singer : Krishna

  41. What a fabulous article and collection of qwaalis. I think the main part of qwaalis that I love is the different style of clapping. It gets very artistic at times.

    I don’t know how to embed the video clips so I can just provide a link to a very typical qwaali where the two parties are at the wedding and praising their side (the bride’s and groom’s) and both declaring how lucky the other is to get the other. Even the clapping is prominent.

    And of course, considering how popular Mere mehboob has been on your blog one has to mention;
    “Mere mehboob main kya nahin” sung by Sadhana and Ameeta

    And I love the one from Veer zaara, which is of course closer to what the qwaalis were originally meant for – praising saints etc

    “Aaya Tere dar par deewana”

    Thank you once again for this lovely opportunity to wallow in the wonder that is qwaali!

  42. Oh the list would be incomplete without this one from Chaudvin ka Chand.
    And I was happy to see that the link gets embedded automatically.

  43. I’d love to read your review of this film – chaudvin ka chand, memsaab.
    If you haven’t seen it, please do.

  44. Wow, So many great qawwalis are listed in this single post and the subsequent comments. As has been mentioned by someone already, this post is an amazingly informative one. I have certainly gathered lots and lots of new information from this post.

  45. Pacifist: I love Chaudhvin Ka Chand…am a big Guru Dutt fan in general :) And Waheeda too!

    Atul: Yay!!! Will we be seeing some of these qawwalis showing up now on your site with the lyrics?

  46. Indeed, I am planning to post the “Tajmahal” qawwali to begin with/ It is such a looong qawwali, neraly 10 minutes long. This must be one of the longest qawwalis ever.

    I have already posted a few qawwalis in my blog. viz that of “Barsaat ki raat”, “sadhana”,”bluffmaster” and “The burning train”.

    One of my favourite qawwalis that has not been mentioned by anyone is “jeena to hai usi ka jisne ye raaz jaana” from “Adhikaar” (1971) and “Hamen to loot liya milke husn waalon ne” from “Al Hilaal”.

  47. I think Juanito above posted a link to the one from Adhikar…and I love one also called “Hamen to loot liya” but it is from Bijlee! (I see on that they were both written by the same lyricist—Shewan Rizvi—and sung by Ismail Azad, although the music directors are different.)

    Edited to add: But they sound exactly the same to me!

  48. “Al Hilal” was a movie of 1950s. So I obviously would like to consider “Al Hilal” as the movie that originally contained this qawwali.

  49. I found this link to Al Hilal

  50. “Der na ho jaaye kahin der na ho jaaye” from “Henna” is one song that is a qawwali accompanied by a dance. And the dance is wedding dance, not mujra dance.

  51. Five Greatest film qawwalis ever made. Incidently all featuring Rafi.

    1– Na tau karwan ki talash hai–Barsat Ki Raat
    2—Aaj kyon hum se parda hai—Sadhna
    3—Jo dil dewana machal Gaya—Dharanputra
    4—Ye mana meri jaan—Hanste Zakhm
    5—Phir tumhari yaad aye—Rustam Sohrab

    Meemsaab, how can you miss last 2?

  52. Sorrrry, for missing one more gem.

    Meri tasveer lekar kya karoge—-Kala Samundar

  53. 01. Lagi Lagan Mohe by Sen Brothers – Rafta Rafta (2006)
    Singer: Kirti
    02. Dilbar Mera by Pankaj Awasthi – Anwar (2006)
    Singer: Pankaj Awasthi
    03. Saaz-E-Dil Nagama-E-Jaan by Khayyam – Yatra (2006)
    Singer: Talat Aziz
    04. Jaam-E-Mohobat by Khayyam – Yatra (2006)
    Singers: Rekha and Asha Bhosle
    05. Baaju Band by Aadesh Shrivastav – Chingaari (2006)
    Singer: Himani Kapoor
    06. Khwaja Mere Khwaja by Uttam Singh – Kachchi Sadak (2006)
    Singer: Adnan Sami
    07. Allah Hoo by Debjit Bera – Dor (2006)
    Singer: Salim Merchant
    08. Tu Mila De by Aadesh Shrivastav – Saawan, The Season Of Love (2006)
    Singer: Sonu Nigam
    09. Gaa Re Mann by Aadesh Shrivastav – Baabul (2006)
    Singers: Kavita Krishnamurthy, Alka Yagnik, Sudesh Bhonsle & Kailash Kher
    10. Abhi To Main Jawan by Sajid Wajid – The Killer (2006)
    Singer: Alisha Chinoy
    11. Pyaar Ka Mausam by Vijay Kapoor – Mr. 100 Percent Real Player (2006)
    Singer : Ahshan Bharti
    12. Is Dil Ka Bharosa Kya by Vishnu Narayan – Chand Ke Paar Chalo (2006)
    Singers: Aftab Hashmi, Sabri Azad, Kumar Sanu & Shreya Ghoshal
    13. Dil Tod Ke Na Jaa By Pritam Chakraborty – Pyaar Ke Side Effects (2006)
    Singer: Rakesh Pandit
    14. Har Pyar Ki Koi Radha by Anu Malik – Pyare Mohan (2006)
    Singers: Udit Narayan, Earl Edgar, Anu Malik, Ranjit Barot & Krishna
    15. Jaane Ke Jaane Na by Anu Malik – Jaan-E-Mann (2006)
    Singers: Sukhwinder Singh, Sonu Nigam & Krishna
    16. Ishq Ne Tere Ishq by Himesh Reshmiya – Ahista Ahista (2006)
    Singers: Kay Kay & Jayesh Gandhi
    17. Tune Mera Chain by Himesh Reshmiya – Anthony Kaun Hai (2006)
    Singers: Kunal Ganjawala & Shreya Ghoshal
    18. Mitwa by Shankar Ehsaan Loy – Kabhi Alvida Na Kahena (2006)
    Singers: Shafaqat Amanat Ali, Shankar Mahadev & Carlisa
    19. Bin Tere Kya by A R Rehman – Guru (2006)
    Singers: A. R. Rehman, Chinmayee, Murtuza Khan & Quadir Khan
    20. Tenu Leke by by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Salaam-E-Ishq (2006)
    Singers: Sonu Nigam & Mahalaxmi Iyyar
    21. Bijuriya by Himesh Reshmiya – Shadi Se Pahele (2006)
    Singers: Sukhwinder Singh & Alka Yagnik
    22. Piya Milan Ko Jaana by Zubeen Garg – Strings, Bound By Faith (2006)
    Singer: Zubeen Garg
    23. Aage by Shekhar RavJiyani & Vishal Dadlani – GolMal, Fun Unlimited (2006)
    Singer: Sneha Pant & Shekhar RavJiyani (Nasal Singing At Its Best)
    24. Bangala Khula by Pankaj Awasthi – Anwar (2006)
    Singer: Megha Sriram
    25. UP Bihar Na Punjab by Unknown – Manorajan, The Entertainment (2006)
    Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan
    26. Yaar Piya by Sajid Wajid – The Killer (2006)
    Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan
    27. Meethi Meethi by Himesh Reshmiya – Aap Ki Khatir (2006)
    Singers: Sunidhi Chauhan, Jaspinder Narula & Kailash Kher
    28. Nach Main Nachu by – Husn, Love & Betrayal (2006)
    Singer: Madhavi and Sunidhi Chauhan
    29. Mere Dil Ko by Aadesh Shrivastav – Saawan, The Season Of Love (2006)
    Singers: Shaan & Shreya Ghoshal

  54. 09. Kyun Hota by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – Shortcut, The Con Is On (2009)
    Singers: Javed Ali and Shreya Ghoshal
    10. Billoo by Pritam Chkroborty – Billu Barber (2009)
    Singers: AjayJhingran,Raghuveer and Kalpana
    11. Agre Ka Ghagra by Bappa Lahiri – Jai Veeru (2009)
    Singers: Mouli Dave, Javed Ali and Raja Hasan
    12. Salma-O-Salma by Sajid Wajid – Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge (2009)
    Singer: Palash Sen
    13. Aye Saaye Mere by Pankaj Awasthi, Pritam Chkraborty and Julius Packiam – New York (2009)
    Singer: Pankaj Awasthi
    14. Rabb Dilan De by JaiDev Kumar – Mini Punjab (2009)
    Singers: Kavita KrishnaMurthy, Gurudas Mann and Saleem

  55. Thanks for this list, memsaab. There were several in your top 10 I’d not heard of which I shall be looking out for. For what it’s worth here’s my top “10”

    1-10. Na to karavaan ki taalash hai – Barsaat ki Raat
    as the numbering suggests, not merely my favourite qawwali but my favourite filmi song ever and one of my favourtite pieces of music fullstop. One of the few, along with Beethoven’s 9th, that I can listen to back-toback two or three times in a row without tiring of it.

    11. Hai agar dushman -Hum Kisise kam nahin
    12. Teri mehfil mein kismat – Mughal-e-azam
    13. Chehra Chupa Liya Hai – Nikaah
    14. Milte Hai Nazar Tumse – Ustadon ke Ustad (still the only comedic qawwali I’ve seen)
    15. Pardah hai Pardah – AAA
    16. Sharma ke ye kyon sab – Chaudhvin ka Chand
    17. Ji chahta joom loon – Barsaat ki Raat
    18. Nigaah-e-naaz ke – Barsaat ki Raat
    19. Chandi ka Badan – Taj Mahal
    20. Aaj kyon humse parda hai – Sadhna

  56. I sadly have not been able to find Barsaat Kit Raat but I’m still looking! LOL@one song being your numbers 1-10—that seems like something I would do!

    Thanks to all for your recommendations. One of these rainy weekends will be devoted to qawwali soon! *wishes for a rainy weekend*

  57. Barsaat ki raat was in the latest lot I ordered and received from Induna. It is an ‘Eagle’s’ DVd.
    I too would put Na to kaarvaan ki talaash hai from 1-10 :-)
    This film has not one, not two, but three quwaalis!!!

    And there is that scene where Bharat Bhushan (the poet) sees Madhubala’s face in the flashes of lightening while they are both taking refuge in some place at the same time (hence the name of the film).
    He goes on to write a song about this.

  58. I have been trying to analyse why I a am so totally paagal for filmi qawwali and wonder whether it mighty at least partly because they are the Hindi/Urdu equivalent of bhangra – even this totally unmusical hemiparetic finds his one good foot tapping compulsively to the music. They are so infectious and uplifting. So much so that I now find myself compelled to buy every movie on your list that I don’t already have.

    • There is something very hypnotic about it, sort of like African-American gospel I think, in that it’s participative but also has a very spiritual feeling to it. So you feel easy joining in, and it uplifts you then.

      And please just remember that I might have loved the qawwali, but not necessarily the film…


  59. “just remember that I might have loved the qawwali, but not necessarily the film”

    Understood. My addiction is such that if I have to buy a dud movie to get a good qawwali for my own compilation DVD, I will.

  60. Thanks to your post I’ve just ordered reshma aur shera,phool aur patthar, the burning train, sadhna from Induna. Sadly neither they nor nehaflix had Bluffmaster. Perhaps that was lucky, given the cost of shipping stuff up here to Aotearoa.

  61. So many wonderful qawwalis have already been mentioned, but operating on the principle that one can’t ever get enough of Roshan qawwalis, let me point out two gems from “Bahu Begum.”

    Waqif hoon khoob ishq ke tarz-e-bayaan se main

    and the follow-up to it
    Ab jaan ba-lab hoon…aise mein tujhko dhoondh ke laaun kahan se main

    • These are lovely, thanks! I too feel the Roshan love…although I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch Bahu Begum yet since I need to be in the correct mood to tolerate poor unhappy Meena.

  62. “let me point out two gems from “Bahu Begum.” – to paraphrase Renee Zellwegger from Jerry McGuire, “you had me at “two” – thanks for the tip Shalini. Any movie with TWO qawwalis is a must buy for me.

  63. I thought that some who read this thread might be interested in this release from Amazon – so far I have not found it available anywhere else:

  64. One more i would like to add in your list..

    The song from Yeh Dil Aashiqana and worth listening.

  65. Seeing this post again reminded me of one of my newly rediscovered favorites, which I just added on YouTube last week. I bet my iPod is getting sick of me hearing this one:

    Rekha (special appearance) and Amitabh from “Kasme Vaade” (1978).

    And then there’s this one, I always get a kick out of seeing Vinod Khanna’s disguise, and Ashok Kumar’s moves:

    “Jail Yatra” (1981)

  66. Awesome site…
    Just what a wanderer needs…i’ve like developed a liking for qawwalis recently thanks to my dads records…n with this site looks like i’ve hit the jackpot :)
    Thanks for the posts everybody!!

  67. Have you seen this one by the way–Kise kehte hain shikwa from Prem Bandhan (1979)? And it has Helen :-) Almost, I’d say, upstaged by the male dancer!


  68. j’ai suivi avec plaisir les commentaires concernant le qawwali. c’est vraiment magnifique. moi meme je suis un fan du qawali.j’aime surtout le qawali de mohamed rafi le plus grand chanteur de l’inde en duo et trio manna dey et asha possede deux cassettes videos pleines de hits qawali tirés des films ne me lasse jamais d’entendre les qawali surtout ceux de mohamed rafi. il a une voix divine.le mot qawali signifie en arabe ghoul, c’est a dire parler religieusement d’Allah et de ses prophètes.

  69. Aahein Na Bhraeen… (Zeenat)
    This unusual piece of music is from zeenat; It’s unusual because the usual qawwali is usuall

  70. ..y adults but this is teenage girls!

    it also stars a 12 year old shyama & shashikala!!

  71. no doubt the no 1 qawwali of all times na to karvan ki talaash hai…ishk ishk hai ….12 mts of heaven nothing is close,also 2 more gems in the same film barsat ki raat,,also jhoom barabar from 5 rifles.

  72. Two definite choices of mine for favourite Qawwalis are Aahein Na Bhari in Zeenat (1945) by Noor Jehan, Kalyani and Zohrabai, and Hazaron Khwaishen in Gaon Ki Kori (1945) by Kalyani, Amirbai Karnataki and a huge chorus. I also love the Bluff Master and Mughal E Azam Qawwalis

  73. I have just gone through the article and the comments. I think the film music in recent years has been much too influenced by the qawwali form of music than it likes to admit. And the qawwali composed by A. R. Rehman for ‘Delhi 6″ is the best in recent times. Here is the link:

    This is the closest any film qawwali has come to the original mother of all filmi Qawwali’s “Na to Caravan ki Talaash hai” in Barsaat ki raat”.
    “nigaahien milaane ko ji chahta hai” by Roshan and “Pal do pal ka Saath” by RDB (Though not in the same class as the others) will feature in any top ten filmi Qawallis.

  74. Like some people have said here – I think “Na to Karawa ki tallash (Ishq Ishq Hai)” from Barsaat ki Raat is THE ultimate Qawwali. This movie, I like basically and only for its music. Madhubala, of course looks beautiful…
    And it seems like older movies had more quawwalis – the qawwalis in newer movies don’t sound much like real qawwalis. (Kwhaja mere Kwhaja from Jodha Akbar was good though)

    Another one I think, no one seems to have mentioned is Zamane ko Dikhana hai (Pari ho asmaani tum). Rishi Kapoor had a good share of qawwalis in his days…

  75. kyu khiya khoya chand ki …..
    from the movie Khoya Khoya Chand starring Soha Ali Khan & Shiney Ahuja

    Also most songs from Wo tera Naam Tha is Missing
    do listen

  76. after long time i heard the qwali na to karwan ki talash hai

  77. Completely agree – na to karwah ki talash is the mother of all qawwalis. Also the one in “Dharma” where Bindu uses qawwali to tar the reputation of Rekha and Pran chips in to support her. Forgot this.

  78. Can anybody tell me the song which is playing in the photo at the top of the page?


  79. Memsa’ab, have you heard the qawwali in Sholay? In case you haven’t:

    It was never used in the film but recorded. Singers are Kishore Kumar, Manna Dey, Bhupendra Singh & others. It’s one of my favourites, but then I am a sucker for anything that has Kishore Kumar and RD Burman associated with it :)

    • What a shame it wasn’t used! Anand Bakshi is also listed as one of the singers—it sounds like it might be him at the beginning (maybe his son can enlighten me) :)

    • Wow, Anirban, thanks a tonne for this tidbit. I didn’t even know there was a quawaali recorded for Sholay. I must confess, though, that I’m glad they didn’t use it – because I honestly do not know where they would have used it without slowing the movie down.

  80. Yes, I suppose the length could have been one of the reasons why it was omitted from the film. May be Anand Bakshi’s son knows more on this :)

    Speaking of qawwalis here’s a very funny one from Pancham’s stable:
    Film is Mr. Romeo, singers once again Kishore Kumar & Manna Dey and it’s featured on Shashi Kapoor & Ranjeet(!!)

    And on a somewhat unrelated note (because qawwalis somehow reminded me of Shamshad Begum) there is this absolutely hilarious song, not a qawwali though, from the film Raton Ka Raja. It’s a parody of the Mughal-e-Azam classic Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, sung by Mahinder Kapoor & Shamshad Begum. I fall off from my chair laughing every time I see Rajendranath & Manorama in this. Just to give a sample of how funny the lyrics is (if someone does not get the Hindi here, I can try translating):

    “Paap mohabaat sex nahi hai,
    Ishq pe income tax nahi hai,
    Chori karenge to dil ki karenge,
    Tax ki chori karna kya…”

    “Shaadi Dehradoon karenge,
    Moon pe honeymoon karenge,
    Dharti se chanda door nahi phir,
    Phir Andhra aur Telangana kya….”

    Memsaab, you must must review these two films on the blog. Looks promising from the songs at least.

    • OMG, Manorama channeling Prithviraj is completely Awesome!!!! I haven’t heard of Raton Ka Raja, although I think I need to look for it (somehow I doubt that I’ll find it with subs though). I have Mr. Romeo, also without subtitles…I think I got lost early on without them and lost interest. Maybe I’ll try it again though!

  81. @Anirban
    Thank you for the parody Quawwali. Wonderful song..I want to hear more funny Quwwalis.

  82. Ghulam e mustafa isthe very best, along with rishi’s

  83. music is the feel of love & pain joy & fun it’s peeceful i love the music it dos’nt matter the type of music

  84. Have been a silent follower of your blog for very long, but just thought I would add two more excellent qawwalis for you.
    The first one is from Haste Zakhm, with Navin Nishchol and Priya Rajvansh.
    The second one is more popular, with Jeetendra, Vinod Khanna, Rekha.

    • You know, the fact that I could even IMAGINE narrowing the field to ten just boggles my mind today :) Thanks for adding more, and for coming out of the shadows to do so :D

  85. …memsaheb kisi se kam nahin :)

  86. A good list but I think none of these are on the same level as the two from Barsaat Ki Raat – Yeh Ishq Ishq and Na Toh Carwaan Ki Talaash Hai. Another good one is Chehra Chhupa Liya Hai from Nikaah. A recent one is by who else – AR Rahman – Kun Faya Kun from Rockstar.

  87. As a Shammi Kapoor fan you may like this film Mama Bhanja, even for a fatter Shammi he still had the moved

  88. I have to agree about Rishi’s qawwali’s in Amar Akbar Anthony. Not only did they “finally” endear me to him, but they turned out to be the highlight of the film for me (barring the end sequence). Although, I would have to say I prefer the performance qawwali. . . which also seems to move Amitabh to the point of breaking audience rules . . . so I know I’m not alone in appreciating it ;)

  89. ‘Shirdi wale Sai Baba’ and ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’ are my favorite tracks.

  90. Thanks for sharing this great collection of qawwalis. It has some of my favorites.

  91. i am surprised no one mentioned raaz ki baat keh doon toh, jaane mehfil mein phir kya ho? pran’s exageratd, “Main chandan ho ba ho hoon” is epic! sorry am a little late to the party!

  92. Shirdi wale Sai Baba is my favourite song..

  93. “Haal kya hai dilon ka” is best romantic song ever.

  94. Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (Title Track) is evergreen song..

  95. “Teri Mehfil Mein” and “Shirdi Wale Sai Baba” both are my favorite songs.

  96. Best collection sahib

  97. Chali Chali Kaisi Hawa from old Bluffmaster is an amazing work of music.

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