The peacock in Indian love songs
By AC Tuli
05 September 2015

NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - Walking down an era when the peacock, the national bird of India, symbolises yearning and passion in young lovers in songs of Indian cinema

In 1963, the peacock was declared India’s National Bird. Indigenous to the subcontinent, it represents a harmonious unity of different vivid colours and also symbolises the country’s multi-religious and multi-lingual unity in its cultural diversity.

The peacock is also considered sacred in Hindu mythology and is referred to in a number of our scriptures. Legend has it that the mayura was created from the feathers of the Garuda, another semi-divine mythical bird that is believed to be the vahana (conveyance) of Lord Vishnu. Besides, the mayura is often depicted in the act of killing a snake, which, according to a number of Hindu scriptures, is a symbol of the cycle of time.

Such, indeed, is the significance of the peacock in our folklore that there are numerous folk songs in which the word “mor” or “mayura” finds repeated mention. A dancing peacock represents jubilant spirits and there are many old Hindi film songs in which the lyricists have used the imagery of a peacock’s dalliance with a peahen as symbolic of young lovers’ yearning for each other.

In the 1943 film Tansen, a village belle is waiting for her lover, who is returning home after completing his education in music from his guru. On a windy day, standing under an overcast sky, she sings, “Ghatta ghan ghore ghore, mor machave shor, morey sajjan aa ja…” Singer-actress Khurshid was the girl who sang this song and her lover in the film was the golden-voiced KL Saigal.

A young girl’s heart goes into an excited tick-tock when she falls in love with the man of her dreams, and she is then apt to sing, “Man mor hua matwaala, kis ne jadoo daala re yeh kis ne…” The song was written by Narendra Sharma for the 1950 film Afsar and set to music by maestro SD Burman. A noteworthy thing about this song is the way he used the flute for interludes — simply unsurpassable. Actress-singer Suraiya sang it exquisitely and her beau in the film, and also in real life at that time, was the ebullient Dev Anand.

In AVM’s Hindi film Ladki (1953), there was an enrapturing duet in the voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Geeta Dutt. A young girl (Anjali Devi) is in love and her close friend (Vyjayanthimala) is eager to know who she is in love with. So she sings, “Man mor machaave shor ghatta ghan ghore aayee ghir ghir ke, meri sakhi bata tere dil mein kis ki yaad aayee ghir ghir ke…” It was written by Rajinder Krishan and set to music by Dhaniram and R Sudarshan. It is a rare Hindi film song that has retained its pristine freshness even after 60 years.

To Indian farmers, nothing perhaps matters more than a good crop, and for this they depend on nature. A good monsoon raises their hopes of reaping a bumper harvest and in Do Bigha Zameen, when the much-awaited first rain of the monsoon season falls, the farmers of a village spontaneously burst into a merry dance and joyously sing, “Haryala sawan dhol bajata aaya, run tak tak man ke mor nachata aaya…” This evergreen nature song was penned by Shailendra and set to music by Salil Choudhary. Manna Dey, Lata and chorus sang it.

In 1954, Kishore Sahu made a film entitled Mayur Pankh with himself as hero and Sumitra Devi and Odette Ferguson as his co-stars. It was entered at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival where it was nominated for the Grand Prize.

City-dwellers perhaps know very little about the charming sight a peacock presents when it is dancing in the woods, hence the common Hindi saying, “Jungle mein mor naachta kis ne dekha hai”. In Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958), when comedian Johnny Walker is in his cups, he sings, “Jungle mein mor naacha kissi ne na dekha, hum jo thodi si pee ke zara jhoome…” It was a comic song sung in a hilarious style by Mohammad Rafi. It was written by Shailendra and tuned by Salil Choudhary.

In another 1958 Hindi film entitled Phagun, with Madhubala and Bharat Bhushan in the lead, there was a beautifully written song with the mor-morni imagery heightening its appeal. “Piya piya na laage mora jiya, aaja chori chori… jungle ki morni aayi baagon ke mor se milne…” was written by Qamar Jalabadi and given a toe-tapping tune by OP Nayyar. Asha Bhonsle sang it.

During the month of Sawan, when the wind whistles in the trees and the cloudy sky threatens imminent rain, it is apt for lovers to sing joyously, “Sawan ka mahina, pavan kare shor, jiyare jhoome aise jaise ban ma naache mor…” This song from the 1967 Hindi film Milan starring Sunil Dutt and Nutan was a chartbuster. It was sung by Mukesh and Lata and the music was scored by Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Anand Bakshi wrote it.

Sadly, we no longer make love stories that depict tender human emotions through soulfully sung songs. In today’s maar-dhaar-waali films, it is mostly sizzling item song-dance sequences that entertain viewers.


  • India, cinema, songs

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