Lord Ganpati in Hindi Cinema

Amjad Khan enacts Deva o deva, one of the most popular Ganpati songs, in Humse Badhkar Kaun. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

It is Ganpati (Lord Ganesh) Festival again for Indians, a 10-day celebration, mainly in Maharashtra but also in other states and even foreign countries. The festival begins on the Hindu calendar date of Chaturthi (4th day after the new moon, that is the ascending phase of the moon on Shukla Paksha) of the month of Bhadrapad, the second of the four holy months collectively called Chaaturmaas. It ends on Anant Chaturdashi, the 14th day, when the idols are immersed in water bodies. Some also pray to Lord Anant on this day. Lord Anant is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The biggest myth surrounding the festival is that is that is Lord Ganesh’s birthday, which, however, falls much later. The public celebrations beginning Ganesh Chaturthi was an excuse used by the iconic freedom revolutionary, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, for freedom fighters to meet in the British era by pretending that they were uniting for religious gatherings.

Lord Ganpati in Cinema

Compared to Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva (Ganpati’s father) and even Lord Ram, Ganpati’s presence in Hindi cinema is very restricted, and even songs in his honor are not that well-known and also not really distinguished. As a festival shown in a movie, with some relevance to the plot, it is usually related to showing how Lord Ganesh prevents or removes obstacles in the life of key characters.

That He is also the God of New Beginnings, Wisdom and Intelligence is usually not marked.

Films about Lord Ganesh

In the millennium, the elephant-headed and cute God has been best seen in the Bal Ganesh animation franchise, Bal Ganesh 1 and 2 and the third installment, Bal Ganesh & The Pomzon Planet. These are stories about how Lord Ganesh helps kids, including when they are held captive following their spaceship crash-landing on Planet Pomzon.

The live-animation franchise, My Friend Ganesha 1, 2, 3 and 4 were also released between 2008 and 2013. In their own small way, all these seven films did well with the target audiences: children.

The feature film segment, however, was spearheaded by mythological and devotionals of a humble nature, scale-wise. Homi Wadia filmed Shri Ganesh Mahima in 1950 with an alternative title: Shri Krishna Vivah! The film starred Meena Kumari in her pre-fame days with Mahipal. A legend about Lord Ganesh that flourishes is that one should not sight the moon on Chaturthi day, otherwise the person will be falsely accused of theft in the days that follow. Using this as the base, the film showed Lord Krishna being wrongly accused of having stolen a precious jewel of Satrajit, whose daughter wishes to marry him.

The Bal Ganesh animation franchise ran into three installments. Photo: Trailer Video Grab

Homi, a Parsi filmmaker who made a lot of modest action, devotional and social films, also produced Shree Ganesh in 1962 with Mahipal and Indira. In 1951 Shri Ganesh Janma, again a mythological, was released about the birth of Ganpati to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. And in the wake of the great success of Jai Santoshi Maa (1975), a splurge of devotionals were made, and among them was the Ramesh Deo-Kanan Kaushal film, Jai Ganesh (1978).

Festival glimpses

And without songs coming in, we witnessed the Ganesh Festival twice: in Atithi…Tum Kab Jaoge? (2010) and Shor in the City (2011). The first film culminates on the last day, meant for the immersion of Ganpati idols, and shows small elements of the festivals like prayers at home, excited kids running in the pavilion where Lord Ganesh had resided for 10 days, and some more.

Shor in the City saw the movie bundled up in the entire festival, with its plot emerging during the 10-day period. The film showed jammed roads, people dancing wildly, and other glimpses during the festival in Mumbai.

And finally the Ganpati songs!

The earliest known Ganpati song featured in the 1950 Shri Ganesh Mahima: He Ganesh jai Ganesh written by Ramesh Pandey and composed by S.N. Tripathi. The singer is unknown, but there is a fleeting possibility of Geeta Roy being the voice. Geeta later married filmmaker-actor Guru Dutt and was known as the legendary Geeta Dutt.

Another classic came in Shri Ganesh Janma—Jai Ganesh jai Ganesh deva, sung by Sulochana Kadam and Manna Dey. The Bharat Vyas-written devotional was composed by Manna Dey and Khemchand Prakash (of Aayega aanewala from Mahal fame.

There was just one objectionable song among the Ganpati deities: from Judwaa 2, which went Ganpati Bappa Morya / Pareshan karen mujhe chhoriya (Ganpati, all these beautiful girls are troubling me!), also filmed in an undesirably risqué way in the film. It was written by Danish Sabri and sung by Amit Mishra with music by Sajid-Wajid. Luckily, it escaped attention of the zealots!

Of course, choreographer-director Remo D’Souza used Ganpati devotionals in all his three dance competition movies. These three Sachin-Jigar compositions were Sadda dil vi tu, warbled by Hard Kaur for ABCD: Any Body Can Dance, He Ganaraayaa, vocalized by Divya Kumar in ABCD 2: Any Body Can Dance 2, and Gana deva also by Divya, from Street Dancer 3D. These songs were full of dance performances and rehearsals.

Among the rest, come good, better, bad or indifferent, the songs were largely situational. Among these Amitabh Bachchan himself rendered a version of the traditional aarti in Sarkar 3 (2017) and also was a part of the Agneepath song in 1990.

  1. Agle baras tu jaldi aa / Film: Aansoo Bane Angaarey – 1993 / Singer: Lata Mangeshkar / Music: Rajesh Roshan / Lyrics: Indeevar
  2. Deva o deva / Humse Badhkar Kaun – 1981 / Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Bhupinder Singh, Shailendra Singh & Sapan Chakravarty / Raamlaxman / Ravindra Rawal
  3. Deva o deva / Ilaaka – 1989 / Kishore Kumar & Asha Bhosle / Nadeem-Shravan / Anjaan
  4. Deva Shree Ganesha / Agneepath – 2012 / Ajay Gogavale / Ajay-Atul / Amitabh Bhattacharya
  5. Gajanana / Bajirao Mastani – 2015 / Sukhwinder Singh / Shreyas Puranik / Prashant Ingole
  6. Ganpati Aarti / Sarkar 3 – 2017 / Amitabh Bachchan / Traditional
  7. Ganpati apne gaon chale / Agneepath – 1990 / Sudesh Bhonsle & Kavit K. Subramaniam / Laxmikant-Pyarelal  / Anand Bakshi
  8. Ganpati Bappa Morya / Dard Ka Rishta – 1983 / Hariharan / R.D. Burman / Anand Bakshi
  9. Ganpati Bappa Morya / Zordaar – 1996 / Anu Malik & Sadhana Sargam / Anu Malik / Indeevar
  10. Ganpati Bappa Morya re Morya / Marte Dam Tak – 1987 / Mahendra Kapoor, Suresh Wadkar, Hemlata & Shabbir Kumar / Ravindra Jain / Ravindra Jain
  11. Jisne tera naam liya / Kaalchakra – 1988 / Suresh Wadkar / Vijay Batalvi / Yogesh
  12. Mera hi jalwa / Wanted – 2009 / Wajid & URL / Sajid-Wajid / Jalees Sherwani
  13. Mourya re / Don—The Chase Begins – 2006 / Shankar Mahadevan / Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy / Javed Akhtar
  14. Murti Ganesh ki / Takkar – 1980 / Kishore Kumar & Mahendra Kapoor / R.D. Burman / Anand Bakshi
  15. Om Ganapate Namaha Deva / Banjo – 2016 / Nakash Aziz & Vishal Dadlani / Vishal-Shekhar / Amitabh Bhattacharya
  16. Shendur laal chadhayo / Vaastav – 1999 / Ravindra Sathe / Jatin-Lalit / Sameer
  17. Vighnaharta / Antim—The Final Truth – 2021 / Ajay Gogavale / Hitesh Modak / Vaibhav Joshi


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