Many summers ago life was young. And innocent. I was masoom too. And longed to take a ride with “Lakdi ki Kathi, Kathi ka Ghoda”, a song so simple and innocent in Shekhar Kapur's “Masoom” that starred Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi in pivotal roles. It was only a little later that life offered other pleasures and I realised what it meant to hum along to “Huzoor is Qadar Bhi na Itrake Chaliye, Khule Aam Anchal na Lehrake Chaliye.” But truth to tell, Gulzar's “Lakdi ki Kathi” is the impression that is indelible in one's heart and mind.
As indeed are songs of another era; time when a mother was supposed to be a lullaby specialist and peers co-singers. Time when boys and girls, unspoiled by video games and play stations, would run the streets on warm winter afternoons or sprinkle water on the terrace on summer evenings even as they sang, “Chal Mere Ghode Tik Tik Tik” or “Nani Teri Morni ko Mor Le Gaye”. Parents would merely give an indulgent smile, knowing, like everything, this phase of innocence shall pass too. Pass it did, and one got to know that actually “Chal Mere Ghode Tik Tik” was not a song composed by the neighbourhood bhaiya but a certain composer answering to the name of Ravi, the man who was to later carve out his own niche with music in films like “Chaudhvin ka Chand”, “Waqt”, Humraaz” and the rest. Just as “Chanda Mama Door Ke Poohe Pakaye Boor Ke”, that wonderful song moms would sing while they fed their little ones was not mom's own creation. It was merely lifted from “Vachan”; the song having been sung by the inimitable Asha Bhonsle for Ravi in 1955; a song Ravi counts as the best of his songs for children. Matters little that many won't know what is poohe today!
“Chal Mere Ghode” was a masterpiece from the 1959 film “Chirag Kahan Roshni Kahan” where Meena Kumari – yes, you did not expect the tragedy queen to do this – went on a merry jaunt! Removed just a little in time was “Nani Teri Morni” from the black-and-white “Masoom”. Again, a Ravi creation, who along with the likes of Raja Mehndi Ali Khan, Shailendra, S.D. Burman and later Gulzar and R.D. Burman, has given the Hindi film industry some of the best children's songs, songs that still occasionally find a mention in All India Radio's Children's Day specials. Yet, these are the songs that are often given a short shrift when anybody sits down to pen the greatest Hindi film songs. But unobtrusively, they have been part of our growing up years, and in their own ways introduced us to melody.