Songs of Atariya

February 12, 2014

With a tribute to Begum Akhtar in her Centenary Year

Romeo and Juliet on AtariyaI had thought songs of atariya are one of the things – like lori, bidaai songs, bhajan, piano songs etc. – that have been irredeemably lost from our films. Loosely translated as ‘balcony’, atariya was the place where the heroine would go stealthily from the prying eyes of her parents, to wait for her lover, who would come on tip-toe to serenade from below, or if he was more daring, climb up through the drain pipe or a rope or bed sheet, helpfully slung down by the lady. Modesty was a virtue for women not only in India, but also in the West – Romeo too met Juliet on her atariya.

Can you imagine Deepika Padukone or Katrina Kaif singing Mori atariya pe kaga bole mora jiya dole koi aa raha hai in her balcony waiting for Ranbir Kapoor? Today’s generation is bindaas, their lingo is jhakaas, and if they have to romance, they would what is called ‘paint the town red’.

So, it was a big surprise to see atariya make an appearance in some recent movies with a bang. And surprise of surprises, it is Deepika Padukone, who is waiting on the atariya for Ranvir Singh in Ram-Leela. Sanjay Leela Bhansali proudly proclaims that the movie is inspired from Romeo and Juliet. While he does create the atariya like a classical painting, the physicality between the young lovers is anything but aesthetic. There has been a couple of atariya songs too recently, but as hot item numbers in a boisterous night club. The young generation who watch atariya in these settings would hardly realize the intrinsic beauty in the lore associated with this word. So, let us go back in time when the lady sang songs on atariya in a variety of moods for her lover, and contrast these with the recent revivals.

1. Hamri atariya pe aao sanwariya dekha dekhi balam hoi jaye, Bhairvi dadra by Begum Akhtar

Begum Akhtar captures the whole gamut of emotions associated with the lady on the atariya in this beautiful dadra – expectant wait, tender romance, pathos. Please notice the rendezvous is limited only to dekha-dekhi. To remove any doubt, she further states in one of the antaraas – Prem ki bhiksha maange bhikharan/ Laaj hamari rakhiyo sajan/ Aao sajan tum hamre dwaare sara jhagda khatam hoi jaye. Incidentally, 2014 is also the centenary year of Begum Akhtar (b. 7 October 2014; d. 30 October 1974). SoY has already dedicated 2014 to Anil Biswas, this being his Centenary Year. The two are very closely linked. Among her rare and most well known film appearances is Roti (1942), in which Anil Biswas composed six songs in her voice. Therefore, let me also pay my tributes to her with this beautiful Mother of all atariya songs, which is among her best known.


2. Hamri atariya pe aja re sanwariya by Ustad Shujat Khan

A classic spawns adaptations and inspirations. Shujat Khan is primarily a sitarist like his father, the legendary Ustad Vilayat Khan. But he has presented lec-dems on the Doordarshan when he demonstrated his facility with singing. He does not have the inflection or modulation of a vocalist, but he more than compensates for it by the sweetness of his voice. He has sung many well known songs of Begum Akhtar and Shobha Gurtu as a tribute to them. Let us hear his tribute to her with his rendering of this song.


3. Hamri atariya pe aiyo balamji by Shraddha Pandit and Salim Merchant from Satyagrah (2013), lyrics Prasoon Joshi, music Salim-Suleman

I am not averse to item numbers; there are some I like immensely. But this one goes completely overboard, completing the mauling by having the Serbian model, Natasa Stankovic – one of the hottest recent white-skinned imports to Bollywood – doing the sexy dance and lip-synch this song.


4. Hamri atariya pe aa ja re sanwariya by Rekha Bharadwaj from Dedh Ishqiya (2014), lyrics Gulzar, music Vishal Bharadwaj

Gulzar-Vishal Bharadwaj elevate item number to art. Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice is eminently suited for such folksy songs. Madhuri Dixit has lost none of her grace and sensuousness in her dance. The set design, picturisation, the dancers, their costumes –everything is superb.  With all the good work, the creative team could have been more alert and gracious to acknowledge the legacy of Begum Akhtar regarding this song.  They did assure to make amends and make a special mention of her in the film credits after a controversy broke out on their amnesia.


5. Mori atariya hai sooni Mohan nahi aye by Khursheed and Snehprabha Pradhan from Pardesi (1941), lyrics DN Madhok, music Khemchand Prakash

While atariya is not entirely lost as it seems from its recent avataars, what is definitely lost forever is the female voices of the 1930s and 40s. The 50s and 60s was defined by the smooth, mellifluous voice of Lata Mangeshkar. Though I am her inveterate fan, I have a great romance for the vintage era female singers. So, let us go back to the real Songs of Yore with this beautiful atariya song in the husky voice of Khursheed, one of the renowned actor-singers of the era, accompanied by another actor-singer Snehprabha Pradhan.


While this song is by no means similar to Begum Akhtar’s Hamri atariya pe, Pardesi did have a direct copy of Begum Akhtar’s one of the most iconic ghazals. Since I have sub-titled this post as a tribute to her, let me present this ghazal by Khursheed from the film:

Pahle jo mohabbat se inkaar kiya hota by Khursheed from Pardesi (1941), lyrics DN Madhok, music Khemchand Prakash


I am sure this would instantly remind you of Deewana banana hai to deewana bana de. I believe Begum Akhtar’s ghazal came much earlier (confirmation needed from experts). Therefore, let me continue my tribute to her with this ghazal:

Deewana banana hai to deewana bana de by Begum Akhtar, lyrics Behzaad Lucknowi, music Begum Akhtar


That was a slight digression, unplanned though [if Mr Ashok M Vaishnav agrees, this can qualify as Multiple Version Songs (16)]. Coming back to atariya, let me continue with another vintage era song. Generally, the person who is beckoned to the atariya is familiar to the lady, but in this song the invitation is to a pardesi. This just reminds me the romance for the pardesi might be becoming extinct from our films. The Pardesi Babu, who went to the hills in the summer, or to a village, where a charming, simple girl would lose her heart to him, belongs to an era of innocence, which is gone forever.

6. Mori atariya pe aa ja ho O pardesi pancchi by Mukesh and Sitara Devi from Dukh Sukh (1942), lyricist Wali Saheb, music Khemchand Prakash


7. Aayi atariya pe sone, na sone diya by Shamim from Mehmaan (1942), lyrics DN Madhok, music Khemchand Prakash

The atariya theme, Anil Biswas and Begum Akhtar have given me an opportunity to indulge in vintage era songs. Continuing the ras, here is a naughty song by Shamim, who was unknown to me until very recently. Surely the lady has not come to the atariya to sleep; therefore, her grudge that the guy did not let her sleep is a pretense. You can imagine she thoroughly enjoyed whatever they did on the atariya.

There is a brief description of Shamim in Anil Bhargav’s Swaron Ki Yatra. Born in Lahore on 11 October 1917, she once came with her businessman father to Bombay. She became enchanted by the film world, and convinced her parents to let her come to the tinsel city, where she got a break as the second lead in Vishnu Movietone’s Baaghi (1939) and sang her first song with James Singh, Tu ban ka raja megha ban ke garje chaaro ore. She got some more acting-singing roles in the coming 4-5 years, but could not leave any everlasting legacy.


8. Ab sooni bhai re atariya hamar by Suraiya and CH Atma from Bilwa Mangal (1954), lyrics DN Madhok, music Bulo C Rani

While atariya is a place for union of the lovers, and joy, it can also become lonely when the lover is not able to come. This is a poignant duet of separation by two melodious singers Suraiya and CH Atma. The readers have often mentioned Bulo C Rani in very glowing terms. Though on the outer periphery of the famous names, he gives one of his outstanding scores in this film.


9. Ana ana atariya pe ana by Asha Bhosle from Kalpana (1958), lyrics Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, music OP Nayyar

This is picturised as a stage song on Padmini. The best known among the Travancore sisters, she enhances the seductiveness of the song by her dance.


10. Chhod atariya gaye sanwariya by Lata Mangeshkar from Naag Champa (1958), lyrics Gopal Singh ‘Nepali’, music Manna Dey

Separation is the other side of union. Therefore, atariya also lends itself to pathos filled songs. This song by Lata Mangeshkar and composed by Manna Dey I came across while searching for this post. One of the efforts of SoY is to explore the uncommon and unknown.


11. Aya aya atariya pe koi chor by Lata Mangeshkar from Mera Gaon Mera Desh (1971), lyrics Anand Bakshi, music Laxmikant Pyarelal

From the unfamiliar let me move to a very famous song from this dacoit film, picturised as a terrific dance by Lakshmi Chhaya. I do not remember the situation in the film, but since the lyrics announce the arrival of the thieves, I guess she could be a part of the gang, distracting the villagers by her song-dance act, so that the gang does its job without any distraction.


12. Mori atariya pe kaga bole mora jya doley koi aa raha hai by Meena Kapoor from Aankhen (1950), lyrics Bharat Vyas, music Madan Mohan

If I started the post with Begum Akhtar’s Hamri atariya pe aao sanwariya, I have to round it up with Meena Kapoor’s Mori atariya pe kaga bole, which is another defining atariya song. The cawing of a crow heralds the arrival of someone you are looking for. Therefore, the beautiful Nalini Jaywant is chirpy and sings this gay song. Madan Mohan’s first film has no Lata Mangeshkar, and it is a unique credit to him that his earliest super hit song, which has become immortal, is an atariya song.  If Begum Akhtar had Anil Biswas connection, Meena Kapoor had more so, being an integral part of his life in his later years.   Madan Mohan’s great respect for Begum Akhtar and their personal rapport is well known.


Acknowledgement: The image in this post is a painting by Ford Maddox Brown, 1870 of the classic balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet. Source: Wikipedia.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anu Warrier February 12, 2014 at 10:22 am

🙂 Nice to see the songs from our vintage years. (I wonder what today’s generation will call it? Archealogical discoveries? I was zapped when one young thing told me that she “really liked old songs” and I realised she was talking about the 80s. For me, they represented the nadir of Hindi film music!)

I cannot think of anything to add to this list at the moment – atariya is not a word that is very easily used. Besides, today there aren’t any where the man has to climb a ladder to get up to his beloved. All he has to do is to step up from the adjacent flat! I will sit back, soak in the songs you have mentioned, and let your knowledgeable readers come in. Then I know I will be able to read an interesting discussion. 🙂

2 dustedoff February 12, 2014 at 11:01 am

AK, I have to shamefacedly admit that the only songs I recognised in this post were #9 onwards (and Mori atariya pe kaaga bole was the first one that came to mind). But I’ve spent the past hour or so listening to all the others, too, and have enjoyed them thoroughly. Thank you for that. That Shamim song, by the way, was quite a revelation! Interestingly saucy. 😉

May I plug in another atariya song? No birds, no sweetheart on the atariya, but the heroine’s telling the clouds to go away from her atariya and not make a racket; Kaare-kaare baadra, jaa re jaa re baadra, mori atariya na shor macha:

3 AK February 12, 2014 at 11:21 am

‘Old songs’ mean different things to different persons. I am not surprised by your ‘young thing’. I do not know how many of youngsters are regular followers of my blog. Atariya is so typically vintage that its new arrivals I found very interesting, thus this post. Thanks for your appreciation.

4 AK February 12, 2014 at 11:29 am

You are going to find more and more vintage songs on my blog. On my fascination for the 40s and earlier, I would be very happy if I get you interested in that period. I am really puzzled how could Richard get into it so deeply.

If there was one atariya song I should have included, it is Kaare kaare baadra. Chitragupta for Lata Mangeshkar is for me one of the most melodious combinations. Thanks a lot for adding this song.

5 ASHOK M VAISHNAV February 12, 2014 at 1:34 pm

If bringing up a special post on Begum Akhtar, in her centenary year, was not enough in itself, aligning it with a very special ‘place’ like Atariya, and then presenting such an exquisite view of the atariya is simply breath-taking.
The songs from the current period will take some time to sink in.
I am quite sure Begum Aktar’s huge contribution can be suitably segmented into several posts and presented on SoY round the year for the benefit of all of us

6 AK February 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Atariya just struck me a very apt theme to initiate my tribute to Begum Akhtar. At least one special post on her I do intend to put up. On Dedh Ishqiya and Begum Akhtar, I have to add a post-script. I watched the film at least a week after their promise to make a special mention of her in the title credits. There was none of the kind. The film has some more direct reference to her. Her famous ghazal Wo jo hum mein tum mein qaraar the tumhein yaad ho ke na yaad ho plays in the background several times. They have used this to create Urdu nawaabi ambience. All the more reason, they should have been gracious to acknowledge her in her centenary year.

7 mumbaikar8 February 13, 2014 at 7:23 am

We are in the 2nd month and you have already come up with 5 diverse blogs this year, I am trying very hard to recover from the bouncers I receive from Mr. Subodh, Venkataramanji and SSW on your Raag Darbari blog and here you are with another ace.
Atari, Begum Akhtar and all the vintage songs, had a great time. Apart from Begum Akhtar’s, the songs I enjoyed most are Pahle jo mohabbat se by Khursheed, Ab soooni bhai re by Suraiya and C H Atma and Aayi atariya pe by Shamim, I was impressed by her, thanks for introducing.
I will add 1 more Atari vintage song from Muskurahut and my favorite Begum Akhtar Ghazal

8 AK February 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

You have added two clean Aces. The Muskurahat song was unknown to me. It is beautiful. Na socha na samjha na seekha na jana is among my top favourites. Thanks a lot.

9 N Venkataraman February 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Five diverse posts in less than 50 days is a bounty indeed. I agree with Mumbaikar8. Anil Biswas, K C Dey, Suraiya and now Begum Akhtar. In between we had the majestic Darbari. Vintage wine and songs are always great. Akji aapne hame oonchi atariya pe chada diya. Sky is the limit. SoY will scale more heights.

The Dadra Hamari Atariya and the Ghazal Deewana banana hai to deewana bana de were wonderful. Begum Akhtar lives on in her voice. Let me too pay my tributes on her centenary year. If I remember right Begum Akhtar’s Ghazal Deewana banana hai to deewana bana de was already popular in 1933. Na socha na samjha was another lovely song.

Ustad Shujat Khan’s sweet rendering of the same number and dexterous play of the Sitar was enjoyable. I enjoyed listening to the other songs too, especially the attariya song and Ghazal of Kursheed and Shamim’s naughty number.

Thank you Akji for presenting a variety of attariya songs depicting different moods and occasions.
Both the songs in the comments section, Kaare kaare baadra posted by Dusted off and More raja ki oonchi atariya posted by Mumbaikar8 were good. Can you tell me the name of the singers of the last song?

I will share two more atariya songs; the first one a peppy number.

Chori chori mori atariya pe aaja re by Surinder Kaur and Ram Kamalani, film Nao (1948), lyrics D N Madhok, music Gyan Dutt

Another superbly rendered Atariya song from a popular Pakistani film.
Haye ri main to oonchi atariya pe aai by Naseem Begum, film Aulad (1962), lyric Fyyaz Hashmi, music A Hameed

Finally my tribute Begum Akhtar

10 Canasya February 13, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Mumbaikar8ji, my sentiments exactly. I am overwhelmed by the rapid fire posts by AKji. But don’t we love it?

By the way, ‘atariya’ sounds suspiciously similar to atria — plural for atrium (‘chauk’, ‘praangan’). In architecture atrium denotes open space in a building which could be completely enclosed or may open towards the outside. It is more than one story high and may contain a balcony (‘chhajja’) or balconies. ‘Chhajja’, of course, doesn’t sound as melodious or romantic as ‘ataria’ and may not rhyme with many words in Hindi (except, may be, lajja) – but then perhaps I am underestimating the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our song writers — the professional heirs of Anand Bakshi and Majrooh Sultanpuri. Interestingly, words too seem to come into this world with their own luck. In English a sweet word such as ‘orange’ has become a pariah for poets and lyricists for no fault of its own just because it doen’t have another word to rhyme with it!

Here is my contribution to the lore of ‘ataria’. First an oldie: ‘Chori chori mori atariya pe’ (Surinder kaur and Ram Kamlani in Naao, 1948; MD: Gyan Dutt; Lyric: DN Madhok).

And then a modern take: Mori atariya (Singer: Sveta Hattangdi, Music: Niraj Chag; Lyric: Dr Aneeta Sen; Album: The Lost Souls)

11 AK February 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation and kind words. It is the readers who have enhanced the quality of SoY.

On the net I could not find the singers of More raja ki onchi atariya, unless Mumbaikar knows it. I am going to be away from home for a long period, so I am not able to refer to HFGK. My wild guess is that the male singer is C Ramchandra. I would not hazard the female singer’s name. Closest I could think was Amirbai Karnataki, but obviously it is not her.

Chori chori mori atariya pe aa ja is a perfect atariya song. When the nanad is gone for fetching water, that is the ideal time for the baalam to come to atariya, but in this case the lover has became apprehensive of ulfat. The Pakistani song Haye re main to onchi atariya pe ayi is also a very good song. Use of ghazals in the interludes makes it interesting – I have heardd many singers use this style in thumris. Tu hi bharosa tu hi sahara is an excellent naat. Do you think the tune of Tere pyar ka aasra chaahta hun is inspired from this? All the three songs were new to me. Thanks a lot.

12 AK February 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

It is a unique coincidence that unknown to each other, both Mr Venkataraman and you have added Chori chori mori atariya pe. Doesn’t Surinder Kaur sound as if she was meant to sing atariya songs? With her full throated Punjabi voice it is not surprising that she takes the lead, and Ram Kamlani meekly tries to back out.

Your observation about atria is interesting. Unfortunately, songs and dance in English films was limited to what they called ‘musicals’. So we have no means of comparing how their ‘atria’ songs – if they had one – would compare with our atariya songs. If we look for chajja I am sure we are going to find some good songs. I definitely remember there was a song about darwajja, but I am not able to recall now.

The modern take on Mori atariya is very nice. I was not aware of Niraj Chag or Sveta Hattangadi. Thanks a lot.

13 Subodh Agrawal February 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

Thanks for this wonderful post AK. I have enjoyed all the songs in the post, though I haven’t quite recovered from the shock of seeing contemporary songs on SoY!

The only Begum Akhtar recording I had was an EP with ‘Ai muhabbat tere anjaam pe’ on one side and ‘Gham-e ashiqi se kah do’ by Shakeel Badayuni on the other. During my district training I started learning the Urdu script and bought a Urdu-Hindi dictionary. I looked up the dictionary for ‘baam’ in the lines ‘Jo niqaab-e rukh utha di, to yeh qaid bhi laga di; uthe har nigah lekin, koi baam tak na pahunche.’ ‘Baam’ is the level of the balcony or the first floor – you can say ‘Atariya’. Interestingly the dictionary used this very sh’er to illustrate the meaning!

Here is the ghazal in Begum Akhtar’s voice, although the sh’er mentioned above is missing:

Another one on the same tune in raga Kedar and the same zameen, written by Yahya Jasdanwalla:

14 AK February 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm

The version in Dedh Ishqiya is not bad. Thanks for the two ghazals of Begum Akhtar you have added. The second one was new to me. A very good rendering of Gham-e-ashiqui se kah do is by Talat Mahmood, though he sings in a very different tune.

15 arvind February 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm

‘….teri oonchi attari maine pankh liye katvaye….’
(Rudaali/Bhupen Hazarika/Lata.)

16 Mahesh February 14, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Ak ji,
I am 39 and could not stand 2 lines from the 2 songs of 2013 and 14.
My personal and humble request to refrain from the Songs of Bore.
However, thanks for the post. The varied subjects and the frequency of posts this year is indeed appreciable.

17 AK February 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Beautiful song and beautiful line, ‘Teri onchi atari maine pankh liye katwaye’.

You would see the songs of 2013 and 2014 I had to put in the context to show the contrast. Among the known people of SoY you would probably be the youngest, and really very young, and that is a matter of great happiness. Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

18 SSW February 15, 2014 at 4:23 am

Lovely AK, I must confess I have not been able to go beyond Begum Akhtar, I have been listening to the first song again and again she was wonderful. I did read the posts and this was a famous balcony scene in a western musical before it became a film. Bernstein’s music was wonderful, but alas there is no atria in the lyrics however. Composed by Bernstein in 1963 there is not so much jhakaas. 🙂

19 AK February 15, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Thanks a lot. Begum Akhtar clings to you. It is difficult to get over her.

West Side Story is beautiful. You have given the link of a BBC production in the Royal Albert Hall. Let me give the link from the movie, with a real balcony scene and the same song:

Bernstein’s composition perhaps dates back to 1957 when he did it for Broadway musical, which was later made into the movie in 1961.

20 N Venkataraman February 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

You started the post with a reference to Romeo and Juliet accompanied by a thumbnail sketch of a beautiful painting of this pair in a balcony. And now appears the West Side Story, which I believe is the reinterpretation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet transposed onto New York’s West Side. Bernstein worked with the brilliant choreographer Jerome Robbins and the lyricist Stephen Sondheim. West Side Story tells the tale of a love affair between Tony, who is Polish American, and Maria, a Puerto Rican, set against an urban background of interracial warfare. Thanks AKji and SSW for the clippings.

The film Pinjar(2003) was based on a novel by Amrita Preetam which tells the story of Puro, a young woman and the plight of women during the time of the partition of 1947. Three of Amrita Preetam’s poetries were used in this film. I am presenting the song Chakka chlati maa where the word ‘atariya’ is used in a different context. The song, which is an ode to women, beautifully rendered touches the listeners’ emotional chord.

Chakka chalti maa by Preeti Uttam Singh, film Pinjar (2003), lyrics Amrita Preetam/ Gulzar, music Uttam Singh

21 SSW February 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Alas those dates will always be my downfall. That is why I never go out on them, interesting that the two arrangements are different. The film version is tends to favour the horns and the BBC production is heavily weighted towards the strings.
Before I run off, are there any purely instrumental Indian interludes meant for the balcony.. Western music is rife with them moving away from the classical this is a beautiful composition by Billy Strayhorn long time collaborator with Ellington.

22 AK February 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm

‘Instrumental Indian interludes for the balcony’ – you are the expert! We would wait until you find one.

You are right about the West Side Story – it is a ‘modern’ adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in the backdrop of rival gangs which were rife on the West Side in New York those days. I had forgotten about it, because when I saw the movie a long time back I could not quite relate to it – ‘crime’ and ‘musical’? Thanks to SoY’s learned readers, we cover such a wide range so unexpectedly!

The Pinjar song is very moving. Similar sentiment I remember in Kahe ko byahi bides in which Amir Khusro highlights the difference between the son and the daughter: Bhaiya ko dino mahal dumahale. Well, atariya is also dumahale (the upper story).

23 Harishchandra Salian February 15, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Your reference to “darwajja” in post No.12. Could it be the song ” Mera Naam Hai chameli….. jara darwajja to kholo” from “Raja Aur Runk”?

24 SSW February 15, 2014 at 10:06 pm

‘Instrumental Indian interludes for the balcony’ – you are the expert! We would wait until you find one.”

And so I was reminded of this little vignette…

25 ksbhatia February 16, 2014 at 12:25 am

Thanks AK ji for this lovely romantic era songs . Balconies usually depicted the waiting area for the love to happen . Tree trunks were always there to help the Romeos . And birds were there for the Juliets to send the messages too. Munder is another word which was used in earlier songs …….. dhadke mera dil mujhko jawani ram kassam na bahey ki bachpan yaad aaye ……that beautiful song from Nargis Dilip starrer Mela .
SSW ji, in early 50’s movies Mandolin and Violin were usually used by the romeos as love call like Raj Kapoor did in Barsaat . I think it will be a good idea to explore instrumental tunes for the balcony lovers .

26 AK February 16, 2014 at 7:08 am

Harishchandra Salian,
I was not thinking of this one, but it is a beautiful song. Now it has come to me – it is sung by Ila Arun, Resham ka rumal galey pe daal ke/ Tu aa ja dildaar mere/ Main Dilli ka surma laga ke arrey/ Kab se khadi hun darwajje pe. It is there on YT. Beautiful song, and darwajje pe repeats in refrain.

27 AK February 16, 2014 at 7:16 am

KS Bhatia,
Mundere – what a beautiful word in a song. May not be exactly an atariya, but closely related, perhaps a perch on the ataria or the tiled roof. Therefore, why not have this absolutely beautiful mundere song. This might be Khursheed Anwar’s last composition before he migrated to Pakistan.

Mere mundere na bol ja kaga by Suraiya from Parwana (1947), music Khusrsheed Anwar.

28 AK February 16, 2014 at 7:20 am

This is perfect and absolutely beautiful. Thanks a lot. Sergio Leone would have commended this creative adaptation of his The-man-who-played-the-harmonica in Once Upon a Time in The West.

29 N Venkataraman February 16, 2014 at 1:02 pm

This post has taken an interesting turn. From ‘atariya to ‘atria or atrium’ , balcony, dumahale and in the course we could listen to some beautiful numbers of different genre.

The music for Once Upon a Time in The West (1968) was written and recorded before the film was made. Sergeo Leone played Ennio Morricone’s score for this act. In the film Charles Bronson is identified with mouth organ he carries and others call him ‘Harmonica’. The instrument becomes his identity. In one of the comments I found that the tune was played on a Chromatic Harp in D major scale. Thanks Akji for this number.

The beautiful harmonica strain in Sholay weaves an unvoiced bond between the two characters. I believe the basic tune was suggested by Basu Chakravarty, who used play the cello and the tune was played in the Harmonica by Bhanu Gupta. Thank SSW for jogging our memory.

By the way the Italian word for balcony is ‘ringhiera’.

30 AK February 16, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I didn’t know myself that it would take such an interesting turn!

While Ramesh Sippy’s reference to OUATW is very obvious, Sergeo Leone must have himself taken it from some other classic Westerns, as he did with so many other motifs in the film (the one I like the most is the opening sequence of the baddies waiting for the train, taken from High Noon). However, in OUTAW there was no atariya, nor did Bronson play it for a lady. In fact, when he played the harmonica, it sent chill down the spine. Thanks for adding the information about its music; film music means Hindi film music to me so much that I really miss the music in the Westerns, or Hollywood films in general. Thanks to this discussion, now I can watch these films with special attention to music.

31 SSW February 16, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Thank you Mr. Venkatraman, for reminding me of OUATW. I sat through the 4 plus hours of the new DVD release just a year ago. The music in that film is lovely . Mr.Venkatraman the tune in Sholay is probably played on a diatonic harmonica, as it is in the key of E Flat Major. In OUATW the chormatic harmonica is used to provide, as AK mentions the chlling experience that a set of dissonant notes can provide. Though I must say that the actual parallel in Sholay is Basu Chakraborty’s cello that plays the leitmotif for Gabbar. This may be perhaps the first example in Hindi films of a Wagnerian leitmotif . Usually villains are announced by a profusion of brass but here you only have the cello. Really chilling.

To go away even further, from atariya theme, I am reminded of a wonderful Malayalam film starring Mamootty and Neseerudin Shah. Naseer is a landlord and Mamootty a low caste worker on his estate. The film is set in British India (Kerala). The conversations between Naseer and Mamootty are carried out with Naseer standing by his window on the higher floor and Mammooty perched on a palm tree outside the window. This arrangement also serves to highlight the gulf between the two men. Metaphorically the window serves as Mamooty’s and Naseer’s window into two different worlds. The back ground music in this film was composed by Johnson one India’s greatest music directors. He won the national award for it. The film is wonderful the background music excellent. It is available in its entirety on youtube, however there are no subtitles.

And to diverge even further for Mr.Venkatraman one of my favourite songs sung by Kate Wolf which contains a chormatic harmonica, played by Buffalo Norton, see how the notes are bent. Lovely guitar accompaniment too.

32 ksbhatia February 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

AK,ji thanks for the vintage …..mundere…song. There are more such songs where props such as railings , boundry walls [ in punjabi we call them banna ] and vedda [courtyard] etc are used depending upon the intensity and status of love . There is a beautiful punjabi song from the movie …Bhangra….”Batti baal ke banne de utte rakhanni aan…” by Shamshad begum and music by Hansraj Bahel . The song depicts the julliets waiting for her romeo . There are many situations where either hero or heroin is singing a sad song in a barren area , woods or forest and he or she is confined to the courtyard under strict watch of Bapu [father] sitting on a loose bed or a bench puffing hooka .” Yaad mein teri jag jag ke hum….” from Mere Mehboob is the one song coming into my mind and there is one masterpiece ”Duniya badal gaayi meri duniya badal gayi….” from Babul. This beautiful song is a milestone in black and white cinematography .

33 zishaan bhati February 20, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Thanks for this wonderful post AK.

34 AK February 20, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Zishaan Bhati,
You are welcome. Thanks for your appreciation.

35 N Venkataraman February 21, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Enjoyed the number ‘Across the Great Divide’ by Kate Wolf. Nice number, good play of Harmonica and Guitar. Thanks. Who played the Guitar? Was it Kate Wolf?
Thank you for the information about ‘Ponthan Mada’. Will watch it when I find time.

36 SSW February 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

Dear Mr.Venkatraman
The guitar was played by Nina Gerber. She was Kate Wolf’s regular accompanist. She has been playing solo since Kate Wolf’s death… A small piece by her on youtube…

37 N Venkataraman February 23, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Thanks. BTW, does Nina Gerber’s dog give her company during all her performances? Just to check, I listened to one more clip, where Nina Gerber performs with Chris Webster. Here too her dog was not only on the stage, listening peacefully, but after the completion of the piece the dog joins the audience to give her a standing appreciation!
Well, we have digressed from the topic. Akji has shown enough patience in putting up with our side-chat. Let us not test him anymore. Bye.

38 AK February 23, 2014 at 6:57 pm

Please do not feel defensive about it. The digressions make the discussion more interesting.

39 SSW February 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Dear Mr. Venkatraman
Some dogs are very musical. My old dog was one such. He was a cross between a hound and an alsatian and for a big dog he had a very clean high singing voice. We loved him very much and thought him talented but some our neighbour’s did not always concur. Now not to stray too far from the topic there is an ground floor atariya of sorts in this song. Only my favourite MD can get a canine to sing a duet with Latabai.

40 AK February 24, 2014 at 7:55 am

This is a fantastic song! The dog is very musical and can also dance; but Tanuja does not seem to appreciate his talents. Surprising, because I thought she was also trained in music.

41 N Venkataraman February 24, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Incredible. Hearing this song for the first time. Here is quote from an article, ‘The Weekend fantasy’, from the Web.
“ In the 70s on DD Bombay there was a program – on Sundays called “Mulkha Vegli Manse” hosted by Suhasini Mulgaonkar (I think). Bhimsen was on it once and I still recall how he went on in great detail about training his dogs to bark in proper pitch. Panditji said all this with a real straight face and the hostess had a befuddled look, not knowing what to make of it. Priceless!”

42 SSW February 25, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I think the programme would have to be “Prathiba ani Pratima” and it was conducted by Suhasini Moolgaonkar (different person). I doubt if she would have a befuddled look, she had a wicked sense of humour. Those interviews were pretty good.

43 gaddeswarup February 26, 2014 at 9:33 am

Possibly quite out of place. I came across a song about women in the balcony from ‘Kali topi, lal rumal’ in a Pakistani blog

44 AK February 26, 2014 at 10:16 am

Thanks for this wonderful article. Generally we miss this stark reference to the balcony, when we talk of the musical atariya.

45 SSW March 25, 2014 at 9:18 pm

AK I was listening to this particular song one of RD’s later gems. Asha sings this beautifully . The orchestration though muted has a lovely usage of instruments, very plaintive taar shehnai (shehnai is it?) , asimple but very catchy bass guitar line, an interesting comping note on the guitar at different points, and note the difference in the rhythmic intonations of the first and second repetitions of “tujhe mere kaale kamli waale ki saun” at the begining of the song.
Then look at the way it is sung in the end, again the intonations are different too and it is also different from the way it is sung at the begining of the song. It isn’t in the notes it is the way it is sung.

So why this song here because of this line.

Tu jo ruk jaaye
meri atariya
main atariya pe
jhaalar laga doon.

46 AK March 26, 2014 at 9:02 am

This is a beautiful song you have added. It should be among the best of Gulzar-RD Burman-Asha Bhosle. The technical details I would not have noticed. Now that you say it, I do notice the intonations are different in the end, but the repetitions of Tujhe kaali kamliwaale ki saun at the beginning sounded the same to me.

The use of atariya is very romantic here. Jhaalar laga dun: what an imagery! Enough to give privacy, but not blocking it completely from the outside world. One thing struck me somewhat odd. In the phrase main atariya pe I felt there was one syllable (maatra) short, and RDB had to stretch it artificially to set it to meter.

47 SSW March 26, 2014 at 8:55 pm

The second repetition starting at 0:40 goes “O tujhe mere kaale kamli wale” and there is a slight extension of “mere” followed by a rest of perhaps a quarter beat.

As for RDB, cute eh? What an amazing talent.

48 AK March 27, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Too fine for me.
RDB is not my great favourite. Neither is Asha Bhosle. But this song is beautiful.

49 Canasya April 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Just stumbled upon this one: Gori kahe khadi angna atariya mein aao (Maya and Anil Biswas; Film: Apna Paraya; MD: Anil Biswas)

50 AK April 3, 2014 at 7:22 pm

This is a fabulous song. Anil Biswas had mastery over folk, though Naushad seems to have cornered the credit as if he was the first to bring UP folk with Rattan in 1944. Use of atariya is so cute – inviting the lady from the courtyard to come up to the balcony, and she repeating ‘ayi, ayi’, suggesting she is more than happy to accept the invitation. It is a perfect duet in the sense that every male suggestion is appropriately responded by the lady.

Gori kaahe khadi angana atariya mein aao
Ayi ayi balma diya to jalaao

Atariya mein naahi nazariya mein aao
Ayi ayi balma nazar na lagaao
Nazariya mein naahi karejawa mein aao
Karejawa mein aao jigarwa mein aao
Nazariya mein nahi karejawa mein aao

51 AK May 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Dear All,
If atariya songs can be so beautiful, what about a double atariya song? Here are the hero and heroine standing on their respective atariyas, conveying their emotions to each other through the famous Urdu poet Majaaz’s shayari.

Main aahein bhar nahi sakta by Mahnedra Kapoor and Vijaya Majumdar from Aasman Mahal (1965), music JP Kaushik

(The YT link mentions the female singer as Geeta Dutt, but it does not sound as her voice. Therefore, I am going by the entry in HFGK.)

This song is thanks to Mr Arvinder Sharma, an SoY regular and active participant.

52 N Venkataraman May 3, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Wonderful. Thanks Akji and Sharmaji.

53 arvindersharma May 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm

N Venkataraman Ji,
AK Ji is both very generous and modest as well to credit me for this entry. But I had erred in remembering the song’s situation in the movie. Inclusion of this song in this post is his idea and I am grateful as well to him.

54 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 21, 2015 at 1:18 am

‘Kagawa bole mori atariya’ in Poorvi by Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale:

55 Ashwin Bhandarkar June 21, 2015 at 1:32 am

Wrt comments 41 and 42, I would like to add that that Bhimsenji’s dada-guru, Abdul Karim Khansaheb, was known to have a dog, whose ability to sing in ‘sur’ is part of music lore. Here’s a link to an extract from ‘The Lost World of Hindustani Music’, the controversial book by musician-cricket writer Kumar Mukherjee, which describes the exploits of the canine musician:

I’ve read elsewhere that Khansaheb also took the dog to Chennai where no less a musician than Veena Dhanammal is said to have appreciated the mutt’s fidelity to shruti!

56 AK June 21, 2015 at 10:13 am

Ashwin Bhandarkar,
Thanks a lot for Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale’s purvi. The kaga cawing on the atariya seems to be a very popular motif in film and classical songs. My thoughts just wandered to RK Laxman’s crows. Did he sketch any on the atariya?

The story about Abdul Karim Khan’s dog is very fascinating. In another coincidence I had made a list of books, including Kumar Mukhejee’s I was planning to place orders today.

57 N Venkataraman June 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Ashwin Bhandarkar ji,
Thanks for the link to Padmavati Shaligram-Gokhale’s Purvi . I remember reading the anecdote on Abdul Karim Khan’s dog in the book Kudrat Rangberangi, by Kumar Mukherjee in Bengali. The lost world of Hindustani Music must be an English translation of this book.

58 ksbhatia July 29, 2015 at 11:49 pm


While browsing on old golden melodies I came thru one ‘ Atariya ‘ song from Teesri Kasam……. Haay gajab kahin taara toota ……. by Asha ji.

59 AK July 30, 2015 at 5:59 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Of course. Atariya comes in the second line.

60 mumbaikar8 September 7, 2015 at 6:38 am

One Atari song by Hamida Banu from Dharti MD Bulo C Rani.

61 AK September 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

Fabulous! Thanks for posting this song. We are discovering many amazing songs of Bulo C Rani.

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