1. Insaf ki dagar pe, bachchon dikhao chalke; Yeh desh hai tumhaara, neta tumhi ho kal ke…
Movie: Ganga Jamuna (1961)
This school song from the 1961 film, Ganga Jamuna, represents the newfound optimism of Independent India. It is an ode to the new age citizen, and pays tribute to the leaders of India’s independence struggle.
The film featured Dilip Kumar and brother Nazir Khan in the lead; they played bothers that are at war with each other. Ganga Jamuna is considered a reference movie by cineastes, to this day.
2. De Di Hume azadi, bina khadig bina dhhal, Saabarmati ke Sant tu ne kar diyaa kamaal
Movie: Jaagruti (1954)
This is a Mahatma Gandhi paean, written right on the dawn of Independence. The good old day, when Gandhism had not completely been claimed by history and the villain of the Indian bedtime tale was still the “Firangi”!
3. Aye Watan, aye watan… hum ko teri kasam, Teri rahon mein jaan tak luta jayenge..!
Movie: Shaheed (1965)
This is the first of the Bhagat Singh biopics to hit the Indian screen. Manoj Kumar does a brilliant job in the lead. There are two other songs in this movie (Sarfaroshi ki tamanna and Mera Rang De Basanti chola), which have captured the Indian mind as has this song. The life of Bhagat Singh has been the subject of many more Bollywood movies, but none of them could hold a candle to this 1965 classic.
4. Aye mere pyare watan, aye mere bichchde chaman,Tujhpe dil qurban!
Movie: Kabuliwala (1961)
This is one of the most heart-rending songs about the motherland. Brilliantly composed by Salil Chaudhury, this song was written and composed on the eve of the Indo-China war of 1962. Manna Dey has imparted a whisper-like quality to this song.
5. He Preet jahan ki reet sada, main geet wahan ke gaata hoon, Bharat ka rehne wala hoon, Bharat ki baat sunaata hoon..!
Movie: Purab Aur Pachhim (1970)
This Manoj Kumar classic deals with the East-West divide, and asserts that it was the East that helped West to achieve greatness (Jab zero diya mere Bharat ne, Duniya ko ginti tab aayi). Manoj Kumar’s Bharat is asked to sing during his US sojourn; he happily grabs the mike and sings this one.
6. Dulhan chali ho pahen chali teen rang ki choli…
Movie : Purab Aur Pachhim (1970)
Again from Purab Aur Pachhim. This time, Manoj Kumar addresses the nation not as the mother but as a bride. Conceived as a vidaai song, this one talks about the leaders as the dulhan’s relatives!
7. Apni azadi ko hum hargiz mita sakte nahin, Sar kata sakte hain lekin sar jhuka sakte nahin
Movie: Leader (1965)
The aggressiveness in the lyrics could be attributed to the fact that this song was written right after the Chinese Invasion, and on the threshold of the second Indo-Pak war. It is almost a slogan, and stresses the need to defend the motherland from all “evil forces”.
8. Kar chale hum fida jaan-o-tan saathiyon, Ab tumhare hawale watan saathiyon!
Movie: Haqeekat (1965)
Haqeekat is considered India’s first real attempt at a war movie. Produced and directed by Chetan Anand, this film has the Sino-Indian war as its backdrop. The song is picturized on Dharmendra and Priya Rajvansh. It is a soldier’s song to the homebound comrade.
9. Yeh jo desh hai tera, swadesh hai tera…
This is the only new age song to have found a place on this list. A.R. Rahman has done some wonderful non-movie compositions with freedom and patriotism as the theme (Vande Mataram). This Swades song represents the craving one has for his motherland. It is actually a lament dressed as melody.
10. Special Mention: “Jine Naaz hai hind par who kahan hai…!”
Movie: Pyaasa (1957)
This is one song that would never be featured on any “Top 10 patriotic songs” list. This is because of the norm that patriotism is all about hailing and garlanding the motherland. Ten years after India got Independence from the British, Guru Dutt came up with Pyaasa, which told of the dark forces that lurk behind the various facades of Independent India. Jinhe Naaz hai hind par.. is an open challenge to daylight patriots to dare delve into the real issues facing India. Half a decade after the song was penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, the context remains the same. Take off your hats, for here is a timeless gem from Guru Dutt.