10 Mata Bhajans that bloom with Bhakti Ras

The Jai Ambe Jagadambe Maa sequence in Krantiveer. Photo: Shemaroo Video

The auspicious season of Navaratri (literally meaning ‘nine nights’) fuses seamlessly with Dussehra or Vijaya Dashmi (the tenth day of the month of Ashwin), the day celebrated, in different regions of India, for the victory of good over evil. The 10-day festival is celebrated in honor of the Goddess Durga, whose various avatars include the all-powerful Amba Maa.

Songs that are odes or invocations to Goddess Durga are usually heard in Hindi films as prayers for miracles to dispel adversities, though Her power is also celebrated, especially with garba or dandia dance festivals. These adversities may be natural or man-made, and can range from a child’s illness to India being in the shackles of a foreign power.

While there have been dozens of such tracks in Hindi cinema, here is a selection of 10 songs, that are marked by strong lyrics, great singing, evocative music and filming and thus a lasting impact for being suffused with bhakti ras or devotional flavor.

Chalo bulaawa aaya hai—Avtaar (1983) / Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

A married couple, Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmi, take their seriously ill child all the way to the Vaishno Devi shrine near Jammu, invoking his cure. The song was rendered by Asha Bhosle, Mahendra Kapoor and Narendra Chanchal.

Durga hai meri maa—Kranti (1981) / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Manoj Kumar

This was one of the rousing devotionals sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Minoo Purshottam. Filmmaker, writer, editor and leading man Manoj Kumar himself wrote this stirring devotional in which freedom fighters invoke Durga and Amba to help their cause.

Ek jug se main tarsa Sherawaliye—Jaag Utha Insan (1984) / Rajesh Roshan / Indeevar

Mahendra Kapoor once again takes up this rousing call from divine help with this lovely song in Rakesh Roshan’s sublime love story featuring Mithun Chakraborty, Sridevi and Rakesh himself.

Amitabh Bachchan in the song He naam re from Suhaag. Photo: Video Grab

He naam re sabse bada tera naam—Suhaag (1979) / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi

A situational devotional, this Mohammed Rafi-Asha Bhosle duet filmed on Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha was a chartbuster as the film was also released in the festive season, with the album releasing before the Navaratri celebrations began. The film’s success gave the song an added boost in popularity.

Jai Ambe Jagadambe Maa—Krantiveer (1994) / Anand-Milind / Sameer

One of the few songs enacted by Nana Patekar on-screen along with Dimple Kapadia, this thematic track was sung by Praful Dave, Sapna Awasthi and Sudesh Bhonsle, as the voice of Danny Denzongpa The film was a powerful, patriotic social and the song came in at a crucial point with its heady, original beats.

Jai jai jai mata Jagadambe Maa—Bahaar Aane Tak (1990) / Rajesh Roshan / Tajdar Taj

Like many of our older devotionals penned by names like Shakeel Badayuni and Sahir Ludhianvi, this stunning Anuradha Paudwal-sung beauty was written by Tajdar Raj, a Muslim. It came in as a situational dance beseeching the Goddess for help.

Maa o maa Sherawaliye—Ek Chadar Maili Si (1986) / Anu Malik / Sardar Banchhi

Shabbir Kumar sang this catchy Mata song for this film based on an iconic novel by Rajinder Singh Bedi. As in most cases, the song was filmed as part of a critical situation in the film where pilgrims are climbing towards the shrine.

Maiya beta tujhko pukare Bholi Maa—The Cheat (1974) / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Verma Malik

This gooseflesh-inducing gem was the first Mata devotional that was sung in a film by Punjabi folk and popular Mata bhent singer Narendra Chanchal. The film’s failure, despite featuring Vinod Khanna and Moushumi Chatterjee, deprived this simple beauty of the fame its lyrical and musical substance deserved.

O Maa Devi Maa—Kaali Ganga  (1990) / Bappi Lahiri / Anjaan

S. Janaki sang this soulful number with rich lyrics. Clearly another plea to the Supreme Power, it was most likely filmed on Dimple Kapadia who was in the title-role. The film did not make the grade and vanished.

Toone mujhe bulaya Sherawaliye—Aasha (1980) / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Anand Bakshi

Mohammed Rafi and Narendra Chanchal sang this chartbusting hit from the blockbuster that featured Jeetendra, Reena Roy and Rameshwari. As can be gauged from the list above, most of the remarkable Mata devotionals have been composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal and many have been written by Anand Bakshi.





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