A Chronicle of Bollywood's Musical, Colorful Celebrations of India

India's commercial film industry, the globally popular phenomenon known as Bollywood, has always had a rich history of celebrating patriotism through movies and music that highlight the mother country. As India's Independence Day winds down, here's a look at a few haunting classics and some foot-tapping contemporary songs that pay homage.

Vande Mataram

From the movie Anand Math (1952), this song by India's nightingale, Lata Mangeshkar, describes India's natural beauty and professes gratitude to the motherland.

Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo

From the movie Haqeeqat (1964), based on the 1962 Sino-Indian War, this song sung by Mohammed Rafi describes sacrificing your body and soul in defense of your country.

Mere Desh Ki Dharti

From the movie Upkar (1967), this iconic song won the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award. It describes how India's soil produces gold, diamonds and pearls as a metaphor for the country's agricultural riches.

Dil Diya Hai Jaan Bhi Denge

From the movie Karma (1986), this song promises that people have given their hearts, and will give their lives, for India.

Suno Gaur Se Duniyo Walo

From the unfinished movie Dus (1997), this song tells people to "listen carefully ... Indians will be ahead of everyone." The film may not have made it to theaters because of director Mukul S. Anand's untimely death, but the song lives on.

I Love My India

From the movie Pardes (1997) -- besides the obvious chorus of the song, it tells listeners that if the world is a bride, India is the bindi on its forehead.

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

From the movie Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000), this title says that while many contradictions exist among the peoples of India, in the end, everyone's heart is Indian.

Rang De Basanti

From the BAFTA-nominated movie Rang De Basanti (2006), this title track by renowned singer Daler Mahendi literally means "color me saffron" but takes inspiration from the song Rang De Basanti Chola from the movie Shaheed (1965), which depicts Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh as he marches to his execution.

Chale Chalo

From the Oscar-nominated movie Lagaan (2001), this is a song about victory against enemies -- in this case, one small Indian village's triumph over its British occupiers in a cricket match.

Yeh Jo Desh Hai Mera

From Swades (2004), this song describes how the bond between a man and his country can never break.

Some other popular or iconic Bollywood movie songs that didn't make the list include Aao Baccho Tumhe Dikhayen, Aye Watan, Yeh Desh Hain Veer Jawano Ka, Aye Mere Pyaare Watan, Apni Azadi Ko Hum and Chodo Kal Ki Baatein.

This article originally appeared at Asia Society, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.


Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.


The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.


Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.


Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses


Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Global

Just In