Culture

On the Big Screen, Eid Songs Speak of Love, Loss and Brotherhood

As India celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr today, here are songs that draw different emotions of the festival that marks the end of Ramzan.

A still from the song ‘Eid Milo Eid Guiya’ from Mehboob Khan’s Najma. Credit: YouTube

For Indian Muslim film-goers, Eid marks both the end of the month-long fasting festival of Ramzan and the beginning of movie binging. During Ramzan, considered the holy month in the Islamic calendar, the cinema-starved Muslim fans stay away from the immoral influence of Bollywood, but come Eid, they throng in hordes to theatres to make up for lost time.

In the last few years, Eid has become strongly associated with Salman Khan, whose latest film, Tubelight, hit the screens ahead of the festival. Typically in these films, the star gifts himself – and his fans – an Eid-themed song, designed slickly keeping in mind his Muslim identity, his connect with Muslim audience and the box office algorithm.

But it is not just the Khans who dominate the Eid song.

In Bollywood, you find the Muslim and Hindu superstars coming together to celebrate Eid on screen. And so, although Salman may have a string of Eid chartbusters to his credit, songs celebrating the festival and starring both newer stars like Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Arshad Warsi and older ones such as Shyama, Bharat Bhushan, Shatrughan Sinha and Rishi Kapoor, have also given Eid a colourful twist.

While Bollywood songs celebrating Eid usually make use of the “Eid ka chand” (moon sighting) metaphor to define the hero’s glimpse of his beloved who’s hidden behind a wall of separation all this while, here are Eid songs that express different emotions other than just romantic or those focusing solely on the hero-heroine union.

Eid as a celebration and family affair

‘Eid Milo Eid Guiya’ from Mehboob Khan’s Najma (1943)

In the prelude to ‘Eid Milo Eid Guiya’, medical student Yusuf (Ashok Kumar) climbs up on the terrace to woo Najma (Veena), his neighbour. It’s the eve of Eid and while the rest of the world, including Najma, is eager to sight the moon, Yusuf is busy flying a kite. The mischief and coquettishness is part of the courtship. The kite, with ‘Eid Mubarak’ written on it in Urdu, lands on Najma.

Cut to the Eid song ‘Eid Milo Eid Guiya’, which celebrates the spirit of love, food (“doodh-bataashe-sevaiyyan”), friendship, brotherhood, peace and family gathering. The next day, on Eid, Yusuf and his father visit Najma’s family. To teach the hopeless lover a lesson, Najma spikes Yusuf’s paan with hot spicy chillies. The song was composed by Rafiq Ghaznavi, about whom the Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto writes in his Bollywood essay collection Stars From Another Sky, “Rafiq had popularised a certain style of ghazal singing and every girl in the bazaar dutifully followed it.”

‘Eid Milo Eid Guiya’ incorporates elements of the nautch tradition and the film Najma is credited by critics to be the first among what was considered to be a wave of Muslim socials in the 1940s.

Muslim socials had a brief resurgence in the 1960s with hits like Barsaat Ki Raat, Chaudhvin Ka Chand and Mere Mehboob and resurfaced once again in the 1980s with Nikaah and Anjuman among others. In recent years, the Pakistani TV dramas that hooked Indian viewers could be seen as filling the void left behind by the Muslim socials. Writer Javed Akhtar, however, had argued that the Muslim socials were a fictitious Bollywood creation just as the Western was a figment of the Hollywood imagination. “I am from Lucknow but I have never seen Muslim children address their father as ‘abba huzoor’,” Akhtar had commented wryly during last year’s Jashn-e-Rekhta festival.

Eid as separation and sorrow

‘Eid Ka Din Tere Bin Hai Pheeka’ from Raja Nawathe’s Sohni Mahiwal (1958)

A Lata Mangeshkar-Mohammed Rafi duet picturised on Bharat Bhushan and Nimmi, ‘Eid Ka Din Tere Bin Hai Pheeka’ turns the Eid formula on its head. It’s one of the rare Eid songs which stands out for its theme of separation and sorrow. The lovers are awaiting union and an intense longing takes centrestage over a usual celebratory tone associated with Eid songs.

Eid as the euphoric return of first love

‘Mujhe Mil Gaya Bahana Teri Deed Ka’ from P.L Santoshi’s Barsaat Ki Raat (1960)

Shama (Shyama) is desperately in love with poet Amaan (Bharat Bhushan) who has already fallen for the hypnotic Shabnam (Madhubala). They elope and Shama loses all hopes of ever ending up with Amaan until circumstances reunite them in the most filmy way imaginable. It’s the happiest Eid of her life which will soon give way to a heart-breaking ending. Shama’s party wins the make-or-break qawwali contest with Amaan’s help but she eventually loses him to Shabnam.

Eid as bromance, brotherhood and lost and found

‘Eid Ke Din Gale Mil Le Raja’ from Subodh Mukherjee’s Teesri Aankh (1982)

Twenty years ago, Ashok (Dharmendra) lost his brother Sagar (Shatrughan Sinha) who was later adopted and raised by a good-hearted Muslim (Kader Khan). Unbeknownst to each other about their real identity, Sinha (for some inexplicable reason dressed as a Pathan) breaks into a qawwali about brotherhood and bromance with extra doses of warm hugging. Ashok and Sagar will reunite in the end, with a little help from Lord Shiva and his mystical third eye.

Also watch: ‘Wallah Re Wallah’ from Tees Maar Khan (2010), in which Salman Khan joins Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in Eid celebrations.

Eid as an expression of pure love

‘Yoon Shabnami’ from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007)

Breathtakingly picturised and choreographed, in ‘Yoon Shabnami’, you are in the fantasy-land of Bhansali’s blue-eyed imagination. Bhansali, who rose to prominence as a song-director for Vidhu Vinod Chopra, makes Eid the central point of Saawariya, a 2007 dud that marked the debut of Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. Sakina (Sonam) is awaiting the return of Imaan (Salman) who promised to come back on Eid. The same day, Raj (Ranbir) who has fallen in love with Sakina decides to propose her. What follows is an exquisitely shot Eid song that places Bhansali firmly in the tradition of great song-makers of Bollywood.

Eid as community bonding, Sufism and qawwali

‘Arziyan’ from Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi-6 (2009)

A. R. Rahman’s ‘Arziyan’ is pop qawwali at its best, soulfully contemporary in its outlook and tune but rarely straying from the tradition. The Delhi-6 song captures the old, wistful Mughal ruins of Chandni Chowk. They say the Eid celebrations at Chandni Chowk are an experience to behold. Local boy Mehra brings it alive for those not lucky enough to experience the culture first-hand. The song is Mehra’s hat tip to the city of his childhood and Rahman’s to the Sufi traditions of Islam.

Eid as entertainment and endless partying

‘Aaj Ki Party’ from Kabir Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)

On Bollywood box office calendar, the Eid holiday is strictly marked out for Salman. The superstar’s tryst with on-screen Eid goes as far back as Sanam Bewafa (1991) in which he appeared straight out of Arabian Nights to serenade Chandni (whose career soon fizzled out) on ‘Allah Allah Ki Kasam‘. Director Saawan Kumar Tak had special affinity for Muslim stories, and of course, Eid.

Khan also appeared in Tumko Na Bhool Payenge (2002), one of its tracks ‘Eid Mubarak‘ extolled the virtues of Eid as a festival of love and peace. That was then. Now, the star packages his productions to suit the Eid timings. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s closing credits, he throws an Eid party and everyone’s invited. Sevaiyyan and biryani is on the house. Or “open house”, as the star’s father Salim Khan would put it.

Shaikh Ayaz is a Bombay-based writer