Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo
|"Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo"|
|Song by Lata Mangeshkar|
|English title||O' people of my country|
|Released||27 January 1963|
|Venue||National Stadium, New Delhi|
"Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo" (lit. "O' people of my country") is a Hindi patriotic song written by Kavi Pradeep, composed by C. Ramchandra, and performed by Lata Mangeshkar. The song commemorates Indian soldiers who died during the Sino-Indian War in 1962. The song was first performed live by Mangeshkar on 26 January 1963 at the National Stadium in New Delhi in the presence of President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on account of Republic Day (26 January) 1963, which was just two months after the end of the war.
The song is often rendered at patriotic occasions in India, and is one of the most prominent patriotic songs alongside Jana Gana Mana (the national anthem), Vande Mataram (the national song), and Sare Jahan se Accha.
Writing and composition
Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo was written by Kavi Pradeep to commemorate the Indian soldiers who died during the Sino-Indian War. Pradeep was deeply moved by accounts of casualties of the war. In late 1962, while taking a walk along Mahim beach in Mumbai, Pradeep received a sudden bout of inspiration. He borrowed a pen from a fellow walker, and wrote the opening stanza of the song on a foil that he ripped out from his cigarette pack. A few weeks later, Pradeep was approached by producer Mehboob Khan to write a song for a fund-raiser scheduled to be held at the National Stadium in New Delhi. Pradeep accepted the offer, but did not reveal any details about the song he intended to write. He recruited music director C. Ramchandra to write the music, and Lata Mangeshkar to perform the song. According to Pradeep's daughter, Mitul, "Due to some misunderstanding between Ramchandra and Lata-didi, it was to be sung by Asha Bhosale. However, my father felt nobody except Lata-didi could do justice to it. He even personally convinced her and she agreed to sing it. But with a rider - Mr Pradeep must be present at the rehearsals!"
According to Mangeshkar, "I suggested we format the song into a duet with me and my sister Asha (Bhosle). Pradeepji wanted it to be a solo. I insisted that we do it as a duet. In fact, Asha had even rehearsed for the song. Then, days before we were to fly to Delhi, she came to me and said, 'Didi, I'm not coming to Delhi.' I tried to convince her to change her mind arguing that her name had even been printed in the newspapers as one of the singers. But she was adamant. Composer-singer Hemant Kumar had actually orchestrated the whole project. I told Hemantda about Asha’s decision to not accompany us to Delhi to perform the song. Hemantda also tried to convince Asha. Lekin who nahin manee (But she didn't relent). Then it was left to me to rehearse alone for the song."
In January 2013, Lata Mangeshkar told a TV channel that initially she had declined to sing the song as she had not enough time to rehearse it. "It was Pradeepji, ( Kavi Pradeep) the poet, who wrote the immortal lyrics, who came to me and asked me to sing the song. I declined, because there was no time to rehearse. You see, at that time I was working round-the-clock. To give special attention to one song seemed impossible. But Pradeepji insisted," Lata said, admitting that she was very nervous before the performance. Kavi Pradeep, the man who penned lyrics of the song, couldn't witness the event. "My regret is that Pradeepji had not been called for the Republic Day function where I sang the song. If he was there, he would have seen with his own eyes what impact 'Ae mere watan ke logo' had," Lata told.
The song was first performed live on 27 January 1963, by Lata Mangeshkar at an event at the National Stadium in New Delhi in the presence of President S. Radhakrishnan and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on account of Republic Day (26 January) 1963, which was just two months after the end of the war. Mangeshkar sang two songs at the event, opening with the bhajan (devotional song) Allah tero naam followed by Ae mere watan ke logon. The performance of the latter song moved Nehru to tears. "Those who don't feel inspired by Aye mere watan ke logo don't deserve to be called a Hindustani", said Nehru, who was visibly moved by the song.
The event raised ₹2 lakh (equivalent to ₹1.2 crore or US$180,000 in 2018) for the Army Welfare Fund. The song's lyricist, Pradeep, was not invited to the performance. Pradeep performed the song for Nehru on 21 March 1963 at a function at R.M. High School in Mumbai. He also presented Nehru with the original handwritten lyrics of the song.
The song received rave appreciation from across the country.
Reception and legacy
All of the artists and technicians involved with the song — including singers, musicians, music director, lyricist, recording studio, sound recordist — pledged the royalty of the song in perpetuity to the War Widows Fund. Per Pradeep's last wishes, royalties for sale of records of the song were to be donated to war widows. In 2005, the Bombay High Court asked the music company HMV to indicate a lump sum payable to the Army Welfare Fund for the disabled and war widows from the song's royalty proceeds.
Recalling the song in 2013, Mangeshkar stated that she never expected the song to be so successful saying, "Since it was not part of a film, I thought it would have a limited impact. Ae mere watan ke logon became my signature tune. No show of mine, no concert or event is complete until I sing it." She also stated that Pradeep was always sure of the song's success saying, "Only Pradeepji had faith in the song. He had prophesied to me, 'Lata, tum dekhna yeh gaana bahot chalega. Log hamesha ke liye issey yaad rakhenge (You'll see this song will endure. People will always remember it).
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