Chatri na khol…

22 May

Hidden umbrella passions in ten Hindi film songs

Umbrellophily, a phenomenon not spoken sung about in the Hindi film industry. The author of these lines like many other fans of Hindi film songs was not aware of this shocking fact either. During his search for a list of his 10 favourite umbrella songs (since rain-song lists have been beaten to death), he stumbled over this taboo topic in the Hindi cinema. While he was searching, he could unearth only three songs, which mention an umbrella  and two-thirds of them were not even melodious. Why this step-motherly treatment towards this ‘protector against rain’?

Rain scenes being one of the most favourite ones of all the directors, one would suspect umbrellophilly to be widespread in this fraternity. But quite in contrary umbrellophobia seems to be the order of the day for the songs written. Lack of umbrellophily seems to be not the case with the lyricist though, as would one suspect. In fact, as evident from the material, which has been laid at my disposal, it looks like umbrellophily was (is) quite widespread among the lyricists, but forces which control this industry didn’t/don’t allow the expression in words of this love, which dare not say its name.

Sources, which don’t want their name to be mentioned, tell, that the lyricist would disguise their love and put a different name instead of their real object of desire. Strong proof has been uncovered, which shows that Kaifi Azmi was alluding to the umbrellas in his song Bhichde sabhi bari, bari (One after the other they left me) in Kaagaz ke Phool, after he lost 7 beautiful specimens of this coveted piece of art in the monsoon of 1958.

For the first time the hidden love for the umbrella and the experiences of the deep love for this magnificent object of art has been unraveled in 10 songs of Hindi cinema. By the exposure of this list, the author hopes for new revelations from his readers, who see the masked face of this hidden love in their favourite songs!

Aayega, aayega, aayega, aayega chaathewaalaaMahal (1949)
MD: Khemchand Prakash; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Nakssahab

Never to have enjoyed the company of an umbrella is painful for many. The single umbrellophiles crave for it. Some say that many buy it at the cheapest shop just to satisfy their cravings, while others wait for the perfect ones.

Kamal Amrohi wanted Ashok Kumar to carry an open umbrella when he enters the Mahal during this song and had explicitly told Lakshab, that he wanted him to mention the umbrella in the song. The song was written and recorded. The censors objected to the song giving the lame excuse that an umbrella would suggest subjugation by British monarchy. Since India is now independent such a blatant portrayal of adherence to monarchy would threaten the stability of the young nation. Amrohi protested, but to no avail. If he wanted his film to pass the censors he had to change the two syllable word, chaathaa. Thus chaathaa gave way to aanewaalaa. People still rack their brains over why an accomplished poet like Lakshab would use such an unpoetic word like aanewaalaa.

Original version: Aayega, aayega, aayega, aayega chaathewaalaa (He will come, the umbrella bearer)
Modified version: Aayega, aayega, aayega, aayega aanewaalaa (He will come, the one who has to come)

Do chaathoon ki hai dil ki kahani– The Great Gambler (1979)
MD: R. D.Burman; Singers: Sharad Kumar & Asha Bhosle; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Young umbrellophiles dream about having a gondola rides with their beloved with umbrellas in their hand. They even think that an umbrella is the very personification of love, since it encompasses two hearts (or many). Look at the ribs of your umbrella and the arches it makes at the border. When my secret source showed me this I was bowled over!

Anand Bakshi wanted to capture exactly this mood for this song. Shakti Samanta had envisioned this song to be sung in the narrow streets of mist-hung Venice. Such news travel fast. Mr. Samanta was forced to wait till summer to picturise this song in Venice in a gondola. Look at Zeenat Aman’s cheeks. In the scene before the song they are flat and in the song puffed up. She had put on weight till then!). The official reason given was that a couple walking through the streets of Venice with an umbrella would have too stark sexual connotations, since the umbrella would be a strong phallic symbol. It was decided that a gondola with it non-sexual, non-sensual shape with a tall man (gondoliere) with a thick stick in his both hands would offer a neutral image.

Original version: Do chaathoon ki hai dil ki kahani (The story of heart is made up of two umbrellas)
Modified version: Do lafzon ki hai dil ki kahani (The story of heart is made up of two syllables)

Teri chathri me laaga chor musaafir jaag zaraDhoop Chhaon (1935)
MD: R. C. Boral; Singer: K. C. Dey; Lyrics: Pt. Sudarshan

To have an umbrella is not only a source of solace for an umbrellophile. There are many other umbrellophiles, who would like to steal your chaathaa from you. To possess an umbrella was considered by some as deviant from the true love! According to them true love for umbrellas would mean not to possess them but look at all of them as equal.

Pt. Sudarshan wanted to warn the umbrellophiles against this possessiveness as he wrote this song. For the colonial power, unused to this deep umbrella spirituality in Indian tradition, it meant a great threat to its imperial power and capitalism. Director Nitin Bose was asked to scrap the song. But the censors hadn’t counted on singer K. C. Dey’s honey-sweet singing charms. He stood in front of the board building and sang this changed version. The officials were enthralled! Thus this song could remain in this version in the film.

R. C. Boral’s uncle’s wife’s step-brother’s third concubine’s son’s nephew’s daughter-in-law’s niece writes on her blog that her… ahem that Mr. Boral had always hoped that his song would be sung sometime in the future in its original version. Is the time ripe for it?

Original version: Teri chathri me laaga chor musaafir jaag zara (A thief has set his eyes on your umbrella)
Modified version: Teri ghathri me laaga chor musaafir jaag zara (A thief has set his eyes on your sack)

Do chaathe matware tihare – My Sister (1944)
MD: Pankaj Mullick; Singer: Saigal; Lyrics: Pt. Bhushan

Some umbrellophiles were not satisfied with one umbrella, they wanted two. Some wanted even more. Naturally, this can give rise to certain animosity between the haves and have-nots. This divide was much more glaring in the colonial time. Revolutionary film-makers of that time were conscious of this fact and wanted to show this inequality on the silver screen.

The British couldn’t accept this open revolution. They not only forced the producers to change the song but also the title of the film from My Umbrella to My Sister and the story was turned into a love-story.

Original version: Do chaathe matware tihare, hum par jurm kare (Your two eyes commit a crime)
Modified version: Do naina matware tihare, hum par jurm kare (Your two umbrellas commit a crime)

Chaathaa lagaa, hai lagaaSamadhi (1972)
MD: R. D.Burman; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Majrooh

When it rains and people jostle on the street with their open umbrellas, somebody is bound to get hurt. School-going children have been reported to even sharpen the point of the ribs of their umbrellas to hurt their fellow students.

Majrooh Sultanpuri wanted precisely to point out at this kind of abuse in this song. The censors were of the opinion that this would be like adding fuel to the fire and thus the umbrella was replaced by a much softer kaantaa (a thorn). It is said that Asha Parekh was very much disappointed with this substitution, since she was very eager to show the pain from such an encounter from her school days.

Original version: Chaathaa lagaa, hai lagaa (The umbrella pricks…)
Modified version: Kaantaa lagaa, hai lagaa (The thorn pricks…)

Saa re ke saa reParichay  (1972)
MD: R. D.Burman; Singer: Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar; Lyrics: Gulzar

Even children like umbrellas. Children integrate them in their world, which the world of adults can’t understand or accommodate. Parichay was such a film, which would have loved to propogate this message along with other things. Gulzar was/is always sensitive to children’s issues. Thus he wanted the children in the song to run along with umbrellas in their hands while singing: Saa re ke saa re, chaate ko lekar, gaate chale (Taking our umbrellas, we go singing).

But the conservative groups said it would give children a wrong role model if you let them sing an umbrella song. Their argument was, you can show them carrying an umbrella but you can’t let them sing about it. They were of the opinion that a child with an umbrella singing about it would lead them to think that that is only way one can lead a life. And their biggest fear was that they could be seduced to umbrellophily.

Gulzar was heartbroken, when he heard that he will have to replace chaatha with something else. An anonymous source told me that Jaya advised Gulzar to replace it with gaamaa and that would be the wisest protest against this stupidity. Since then generations of children have been wondering what gaa maa means.

Gulzar’s trauma was deep; he could only overcome it with the help of his good friend Vishal Bharadwaj, who offered him to write songs for his film ‘The Blue Umbrella‘.

Modified version:  can’t be translated! 😦

Aap ke chaathe ne samjhaaAnpadh (1962)
MD: Madan Mohan; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan

Umbrella enjoys such a status symbol that some people match their umbrellas with their partners and see if they fit. Anpadh is a tale of an ignorant girl, who thinks that she has found heaven because she matches perfectly with the umbrella of her lover. The director of the film, Mohan Kumar wanted to make people realise their follies.

The censors objected that such a thing never happens in India and if it does than only with persons who are corrupted by the western influence. And talking about it can only strengthen it.

Original version: Aap ke chaathe ne samjha, pyaar ke kabil mujhe (Your umbrella deemed me worthy to be loved).
Modified version: Aap ke nazaron ne samjha, pyaar ke kabil mujhe (Your eyes deemed me worthy to be loved)

Ab mera kaun sa chaathaaBarsaat (1949)
MD: Shankar-Jaikishan; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri

You have surely experienced this. It starts raining, you go inside a café, drink a coffee/tea/cocoa, meet a friend, talk about this and that, time flies. You would like to go home, say good bye, go to the umbrella bin, where you had put left your dearest alone and now it is surrounded by hundreds of look-alikes. The same thing happened to Hasrat Jaipuri in his struggling days once. He had gone to his favourite Irani restaurant since he had got some money by giving Hindi tuitions to a daughter of a rich family. Since now he had some money on him he spent a bit more time than usual and when he wanted to go home with his beloved umbrella, he couldn’t recognize it. That night at two am he wrote this song. The son of a close friend of his told me. that after this incident Hasratji decided he would never be true to any umbrella of his and buy a new one each month. Raj Kapoor knew of this deep wound of his lyricist and when he approached him for the song in Barsaat, he refused. But Raj in his charming manner was able to coax him into selling this poem, but the financers of Barsaat would have none of it. Open moaning at the loss of umbrella was unbecoming in those days.

Original version: Ab mera kaun sa chaathaa (Which is my umbrella now?)
Modified version: Ab mera kaun sahara (Who is my support now?)

Chaathaa mile to log aaj kal dil ko kabhi na leJoshila (1973)
MD: R. D.Burman; Singer: Asha Bhosle; Lyrics: Sahir

Umbrellas being a status symbol are also a ladder to fame and respect in the society. In Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa, Mala Sinha was to originally leave him for better and more beautiful umbrellas of Rehman. The mention of this in her farwell-letter was cut, but an allusion to this can be still seen in the scene of their first meeting after her marriage.

The song Sahir had written for Pyaasa, couldn’t be used in that film but was recycled by him in a modified form for Joshila. In fact, Chaatha mile to log aaj kal dil ko kabhi na le was even set to tune for Pyaasa. After the song was scraped, the melody was used for Jaane woh kaise log the jinse pyaar ko pyaar mila.

Original version: Chaathaa mile to log aaj kal dil ko kabhi na le (Everybody prefers an umbrella rather than a heart)
Modified version: Sonaa mile to log aaj kal dil ko kabhi na le (Everybody prefers gold rather than a heart)

Chaathaa ho ya dil ho, aakhir tuut jaatha hai – Aasha (1980)
MD: Laxmikant-Pyarelal; Singer: Lata Mangeshkar; Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Even this love is not immune to heart breaks. As many of us have experienced that exactly at the time when you have an urgent appointment and it is pouring cats and dogs, that the umbrella strikes or commits suicide. This is what Anand Bakshi must have gone through as he wrote this song! A close associate of his, who wants to remain unnamed, told me this story. It seems that in the monsoon of 1979 a true rain partner of his broke down, even the loyal chaathaa repair-man at the corner of the road couldn’t repair it. Heart-broken Anandji wrote this song in one go in the middle of the night in deep grief. Director J. Om Prakash lauded his work but was helpless against “the powers that be” and the word chaatha had to be replaced by sheesha (glass).

Original version: Chaathaa ho ya dil ho, aakhir tuut jaatha hai (Be it an umbrella or a heart, both are doomed to break)
Modified version: Sheesha ho ya dil ho, aakhir tuut jaatha hai (Be it a glass or a heart, both are doomed to break)

I end my post here. Dear readers, keep your ears open and please do report here, if you find any such hidden message of umbrellophily in the songs, which you encounter! Thank you!


Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Bollywood, Lists


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42 responses to “Chatri na khol…

  1. Samir

    May 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Extremely innovative post Hravey, still ROFling.
    Here is my contribution.

    Wikileaks unearthed a case study discussed at the Abdul Narayan D’Souza International Business School in Sion-Koliwada Mumbai.
    The first line of Raj Kapoor’s signature song in Shree 420 was supposed to be — “Mera Chhata Hai Japani”.
    Japanese manufacturers were in the process of moving into upmarket products such as cars & electronics, and did not want to be associated with a humble umbrella. They threatened to boycott his film in Japan, and after a round of negotiations, settled on Joota instead of Chhata. Apparently Raj was able to convince them that the shoes in question would be from an Italian designer boutique.
    The British had recently experienced the sun setting on their empire, did not want to loose their pants as well, and hence there was no opposition to “Yeh patloon englistani”.
    Raj still wanted to include a Chhata in this song & hence his team came up with “Sar Pe Lal Chhata Roosi”.
    At this point both the Russians and the Chinese objected for different reasons.
    The Russians did not want an image of a red umbrella being bandied around, as this would imply Global Communist domination.
    Back then (as now), the Chinese merely wanted to capture the Global Umbrella Market, and they wanted the line to be changed to “Sar Pe Lal Chhata Chini”.
    Raj compromised by eliminating Chhata altogether & substituting with Topi. He also promised to distribute this film free of charge in China, and we now know it turned out to be a big hit there.
    Noticing all this competition from other powers, the Americans came up a comprehensive proposal —
    Mera Impala Hai Amreeki
    Yeh Gehu-Makka-Chawal Kansani
    Sar Pe Large Cowboy Hat Texani
    As one can understand, this was summarily rejected.

    This is story of that famous song, and how it contributed to Globalization.

  2. Anu

    May 23, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Harvey – this was hilarious! And here I was expecting songs with umbrellas in prominent roles (there are plenty of those!)

    • harveypam

      May 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Thanks Anu!

      Ha beta Anu, yeh sab wakhe hi chaaton ke gaane hai! Zalim duniya ne inhe pardon ke phicche dal diya hai. HUm ye naqab utarenge aur duinya ko inka jalwa dikhayenge! *in his best Sohrab Modi voice*

  3. Ava

    May 23, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Hilarious. I agree totally – Chhata mile to log aaj kal dil ko kabhi na le.

    That reminds me of a joke, Santa Singh was walking along when he was stopped by a beautiful lady in a Jaguar. She gave him a lift, took him to a secluded spot and took all her clothes off. “Take anything you want” She told him. Santa took the Jaguar.

    As a fellow Sikh, I applaud his act.

    • dustedoff

      May 23, 2011 at 6:46 am

      Heh! Clever Santa. 🙂

      • harveypam

        May 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

        Yeah, agree! The jaguar only needs petrol and servicing once a year!

    • harvey

      May 23, 2011 at 8:15 am

      Thank you, Ava!

      I would do the same thing in Santa’s place! 😀

  4. dustedoff

    May 23, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Harvey, brilliant post!! I’m still giggling over it. You are so totally a genius. And I’ve learnt so much – that ‘Teri chhatri mein laaga chor’ or ‘Chhaata ho ya dil ho aakhir toot jaata hai’ are SO profound. 😉

    This deserves to be a series – commonplace, everyday household things which nearly made it to the movies, but then not quite.

    P.S. Samir: When I read harvey’s post, I was reminded of your Nixon post! So good to see your contribution in the comments here too – delightful!

    • harveypam

      May 23, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Thank you, dustedoff!
      I’m so glad that YOU could learn so many things from this gharib post (like in gharib khana) of mine. 😉

      “This deserves to be a series – commonplace, everyday household things”

      So what do you suggest next? ek lota, ek ghoda, ek chaddar, ek khaddar, ek sui, ek nili, ek dabba, ek khadda *in tune of Aashirwaad song Nav chali *

      • dustedoff

        May 24, 2011 at 7:24 am

        My mind is a blank right now – I can’t think of a single interesting housheold thing you could do a series on 😦

        • harvey

          May 24, 2011 at 4:05 pm

          Your mind is full of Muzaffar! 🙂

  5. Ava

    May 24, 2011 at 4:30 am

    You forgot one gem. It was this song from Samadhi. “Chaata laga, hai laga, Bangle ke peeche teri beri ke neech hai re piya”

    What happened was, Lata had gone to the recording studio without her reading glasses and mis-read the first word as Kaanta Laga. The lyricist was too scared to correct the great Lata Bai and the song was defaced, more popularly later by Shefali Jariwala.

    • harvey

      May 24, 2011 at 4:07 pm

      Was it that way? Well, I’ll have to change my version then!

  6. Ava

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 am

    You have to see this one.

  7. Ava

    May 24, 2011 at 4:33 am

    • harvey

      May 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      I think the song asks the ghamla to come under the chatri!
      But nice to see indi groups supporting the chatri-issue!

      • Ava

        May 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm

        hahahahha…. rofl

  8. Richard S.

    May 27, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Hmm, all very interesting, and thanks for the reference. I would have commented sooner, but this is such an unusual post, it took me a while to get a handle on it.

    Regarding “commonplace, everyday household things which nearly made it to the movies, but then not quite”…

    I suspect one would have to be the refrigerator, which has finally become prominent via modern mujra videos made in Pakistan:

    • harvey

      May 27, 2011 at 9:53 am

      when I read the title of link, I was wondering how come I missed nargis’ mujra in deedar. sounded very far-fetched!
      But the post on ‘modern’ mujras with household items as spectators is hilarious!!!

  9. pacifist

    May 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Well it has been known for some time now that K. Asif was talking about the greatness of ‘chaata’ when he made Mughal e azam, actually meant to be ‘chaata e azam’, but to play it safe had to call it Mughal e azam which kept the censors happy as well.
    The song ‘chaata hai to darna kya’ was especially coined to shine as the beacon of hope for all Umbrellophilys.

    • harvey

      May 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

      That does make sense, Pacifist!
      In fact I had all the time suspected it. I think that is why Asif saab made Madhubala wear that silly head gear. He wanted it to represent the chaathaa. And the song would like to show the hypocrisy of the powers that be, who wile the love for umbreallas but themselves have one over the head! (Akbar’s throne umbrella!)
      Thank you, dear pacifist! This expose is a gem!

      • dustedoff

        May 31, 2011 at 6:31 am

        Very good points, both of you. And that also accounts for what had almost certainly originally been “Jhuk na sakega chhaata hamaara, chaaron taraf chaahe barse zamaana”. And all those mirrors up above in the ceiling were certainly meant to depict – in a symbolic but beautiful way – puddles after a good rain!

        • harvey

          May 31, 2011 at 10:23 am

          “puddles after a good rain”
          Wow, this is a revelation!
          hats off to dustedoff! hats off to Asif saab!

    • dustedoff

      May 31, 2011 at 6:32 am

      Brilliant, pacifist! 😀

  10. pacifist

    May 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    >“Jhuk na sakega chhaata hamaara, chaaron taraf chaahe barse zamana”


  11. sunheriyaadein

    June 2, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Hilarious!!! I wish there was an option to like the comments as well. Love each one of them.
    Like dustedoff said this definitely deserves to be a series.
    I wish I could contribute something to it…but I am still laughing so hard that I cant think of anything.

    • harvey

      June 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

      Glad you liked it, sunehri!
      Yeah it would be nice to like the comments like in Facebook.

      Aap ke Farmaish ke badd I will have to seriously consider to make this a series.
      What do you think a chaatha series or rather a ghamla?

      • sunheriyaadein

        June 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

        When I was coming to office this morning, afternoon, in fact (it was almost 1:30 when I walked in), it started raining very heavily. And it was very windy as well. When I got down from the cab and was trying to open the umbrella, it almost flew away. Aur cab mein pata hai kaunsa gaana baj raha tha – Chunri sambhaal gori udi chali jaye re..And I burst out laughing wondering if the original song was Chhatri sambhal and was later replaced by Chunri to make the Censor Board happy 😉

        Ghamla sounds interesting, would love to read the hidden love of people for ghamla and how you would help in exposing that hidden truth.
        This was one hell of an “eye-opener” post!!! And I’m sure whatever item you select next, it would be equally entertaining and enlightening! 😉

        • harveypam

          June 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

          What a revelation!
          That the almighty God should support you in this cause of ours is surely a good omen.
          The lines:
          maar na de Da.nk kahii.n, nazar koii haay
          dekh dekh pag na phisal jaae re
          surely point out to the rain, what can really protect one from nazar’s Dank is a chaathaa
          and the feet can slip only when it rains!

          Fabulous expose!

          • sunheriyaadein

            June 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm

            I knew you would make that connection!!! 😛

            • harvey

              June 3, 2011 at 10:49 pm

              Wow! You are a seer! 😉

            • harvey

              June 3, 2011 at 10:50 pm

              Guess what my next post will be about?

  12. sunheriyaadein

    June 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I would never have been able to guess your next post 😉

    • harveypam

      June 6, 2011 at 11:13 pm

      very difficult, na? what with birthday and all! 😉

  13. sunheriyaadein

    June 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Now that I have seen ur post, it seems like the most appropriate one. But I had forgotten her birthday! It was Shyama’s Birthday yesterday, on 7th June. Would have loved to do a post on her. But time kahan hai??!!! 😦

    • harveypam

      June 8, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Oh, it was Shyama’s birthday on 7th! I would have loved to do a post on her as well. But time kahan hai? How right you are!

  14. Bollyviewer

    June 22, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    hahaha… Brilliant post, Harvey. Methinks you need to go through every filmi song to extract the deeply submerged subtext, just so we could understand our film makers’ true intentions. I can’t always spot it, but one instance I did – simply because I found out some insider gossip from an impeccable source:

    Gulshan Nanda intended Kati Patang to be a tale of a two umbrellas – the hero wanting his heroine to go with a traditional, long black one, while the heroine wanted to stay with her trendy folding umbrella that she could easily tuck into her bag. When the two could not compromise, she ditched him for the guy who liked her trendy chhatri. But then, the villain betrayed her by handing over her chhatri to the vamp of his heart. The poor heartbroken heroine finally realises that any chhatri is better than no chhatri. Shakti Samanta initially went along with the idea and the songs were written to match the story – Yeh jo mohabbat hai, yeh unka hai kaam, chhatri ka jo bas lete hue naam; Yeh shaam mastani, bore kiye jaye, meri chhatri naahin khule, dhoop diye jaaye; Na koi umang hai, na koi tarang hai, meri zindagi hai kya, chhatri ka toota ang hai; Jis gali mein yeh chhatri na ho balma, us gali se to humko guzarna nahin. But when the financiers heard about Samanta’s intentions, they threatened to pull out unless he changed the explosive tale to something more politically correct. He had to give in to pressure and ask Gulshan Nanda and Anand Bakshi to rewrite the story and the songs.

    • harvey

      June 22, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      Wow! Bolly!
      This is a revolutionary find! A whole film based on umbrellophilly!
      I think this will not only change the way we look at songs but films in general!
      I can only say, this post was waiting for you!

  15. Lalitha

    November 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I don’t even know what to say here, I am laughing so hard my sides hurt!


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