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Madhubala and Hindi songs help

Image credit — Google images

What do your parents do when they’re idle? A question that I often think, when I’m away from my folks. A question that I always asked my late grandmother. And the answers were always very simple, yet intriguing. Some like to read, some like to sleep, some cook, some run. My Dad listens to old Hindi songs, from the early 1950s – 1970s.

Every evening after tea, he opens the YouTube app on his phone, and rummages through classics of Mohammad Rafi, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, among others. I often try to find a theme to his song collection, and have only ended up realising that it is either comical, or really lonely. From “chal akela, chal akela..” to “aage bhi jaane na tu, peeche bhi jaane na tu..”, the list is endless, but some favourites remain.

Right at the top is Mughal-e-Azam’s soundtrack. “Pyaar kiya toh darna kya” with the gorgeous Madhubala as Anarkali, challenging the Mughal throne with her public claims of royal love, still makes Dad lip sync, and often admire the pathos in Madhubala’s life. Similarly, other songs evoke trivia about singers, composers and the films of that era.

My father’s hometown is Badaun, in Western Uttar Pradesh. Of all the feathers that the city could gather in its cap, being the birthplace of legendary Indian song-writer, Shakeel Badauni, remains the most fervently mentioned. And Dad never seizes to mention that. Any song which was written by him, is often paused and Badauni Sahab’s life is discussed. Leading to Dad’s memories of Badaun, hinting on certain secrets and smiles.

Of course, my siblings and I, often show more curiosity to exaggerate on the fleeting moment of ease that Dad experiences. Laughing out loud, asking more questions, contributing our own knowledge sometimes, and making jokes on each other.

It might not seem much, but in a day, having those good 15 minutes help Dad relax a bit. Share his knowledge, and relive the old days. He often gets his phone to the dinner table to listen those songs. We all have now learnt Dad’s favourites, and made it our own. What with my brother singing, “Ae Mohabbat Zindabad..” with full emotions and lyrics learnt by heart.

Songs help. And in 24 hours, getting those 15 minutes of positivity matter. Thanks to Madhubala and her timeless classics.

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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