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Dosti and Hamrahi, two films that feel like mirror images, make you
feel that what unites India and Pakistan is more powerful than what
divides us
Every time there is a freeze in India-Pakistan relations, a section of
the population goes out of its way to create a false dichotomy between
the two nations.
The efforts extend to denial of visas, expulsion of artists,
cancellation of people-to-people ties, all in the name of national
interest. It is completely
overlooked that the cultures that form a common bond between us
predate the creation of our countries by several centuries. Most of
the languages spoken
there — like Punjabi, Urdu and Pashto — have their equivalent forms
here. Many of their art forms — like ghazal and qawwali styles of
singing, kathak and
bhangra dances — have an Indian connection. Naturally, themes that
form part of our cinema find their reflection there and vice-versa. By
extension, artistes
from there become part of our cinema.

A look at two films — Dosti and Hamrahi — released in the mid-60s
reveals that though Pakistan’s identity was premised on an opposition
to India on religious
grounds, the concerns of its ordinary citizens were no different from
our own. Dosti (1964), was a classical tale of the triumph of the
underdog, made
during the Nehruvian-era of idealism and hope. Hamrahi (1966) was only
slightly different in context, set as it was in the aftermath of the
war of 1965.

A viewing of the two films reveals that though the two nations were in
conflict at their borders, their problems — poverty, illiteracy,
unemployment, lack
of health facilities — were similar. Both Dosti andHamrahi are about
two teenagers, disabled by fate and accident, helping each other add
meaning to their
lives. Ramu (Dosti) and Naami (Hamrahi) lose their mobility in
accident, their mothers to illness, and their education to poverty.
When desperation makes
them hit the streets, they have an encounter with exceptional talent:
Ramu meets Mohan, while Naami meets Yousaf—both without eyesight but
blessed with
natural singing talent. The street-singing of the blind troubadours,
and the money and recognition they earn, helps the lead protagonists
achieve educational

Both films strive to create the prototype of an ideal citizen out of
their lead characters. As a result, they now come across as moral
science lessons,
as testified by their different aspects: Physical handicap or poverty
need not act as an impediment to pursuing education; an ideal friend
is a selfless
companion; a compassionate teacher can be more than just a mentor.
Ramu’s mother wants him to emulate leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and
Subhas Chandra
Bose, while Naami’s mother wants him to be as accomplished as the
‘Quaid-e-Azam’ (Mohammad Ali Jinnah) and and Allama Iqbal. However,
what prevents the
films from turning into a documentary is the music, and the melodrama.

Laxmikant-Pyarelal’s tunes, with a young R. D. Burman playing the
harmonica for Ramu, Majrooh Sultanpuri’s lyrics and Mohammad Rafi’s
singing catapulted
Dosti’s album to timelessness. The music of Hamrahi, composed by
Tassaduq Hussain whose musical roots were in the Hindustani Patiala
gharana, sounds fairly
similar. The lyrics, the tunes, the singing style, all sound so
identical that it is easy to see the two albums as part of a

embed/tjB61sfhojo frame
Jaane Walon Zara - Dosti - Sudhir Kumar & Sushil Kumar - Bollywood Classic Song
Watch Jaane Walon Zara - Dosti - Sudhir Kumar & Sushil Kumar -
Bollywood Classic Song
document end
embed/tjB61sfhojo frame end

The first Dosti song, ‘Ek Insan Hoon Main Tumhari Tarah’ (‘I’m a human
being just like all of you’) is placed in a situation where Mohan
calls attention
not just to his own plight, but to other poor, disabled people people like him.

embed/M04yJHvksQw frame
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embed/M04yJHvksQw frame end

Its equivalent lyrics in Hamrahi are: ‘Dekhi Lo Mujhko Ki Tum Jaisa
Hoon Main’ (‘I’m just as much a human being like you’). ‘Meri Dosti
Mera Pyaar’ (‘My
friendship acts as a beacon’) becomes ‘Raah Dikhlaaye Mera Pyar Mujhe’
(It is my friendship that guides me).

embed/gNT42DL8Dho frame
Ho Gayi Zindagi Mujhe Pyari Rah Dikhlai Masud Rana Humrahi 1966
Tasadduq Hussain Muzaffar Waris
Watch Ho Gayi Zindagi Mujhe Pyari Rah Dikhlai Masud Rana Humrahi 1966
Tasadduq Hussain Muzaffar Waris
document end
embed/gNT42DL8Dho frame end

The most important song, ‘Rahi Manva Dukh Ki Chinta Kyon Satati Hai,
Dukh To Apna Saathi Hai’ (‘Pain is a constant companion, a soulmate,
why should we
be deterred by it’), where the protagonists take in the brickbats
thrown by their importunate lives with poetic stoicism, takes a
religious overtone in
Hamrahi: it becomes ‘Karam Ki Ik Nazar Humpar, Khudaaya, Ya Rasool
Allah’ (‘Have mercy upon us, o almighty’).

embed/J7UK80PQkoo frame
Raahi Manwa Dukh Ki Chinta - Sudhir Kumar & Sushil Kumar - Dosti
Watch Raahi Manwa Dukh Ki Chinta - Sudhir Kumar & Sushil Kumar - Dosti
document end
embed/J7UK80PQkoo frame end

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Karam Ki Ik Nazar Hum Per Khudara Ya Rasoolaallah.
Watch Karam Ki Ik Nazar Hum Per Khudara Ya Rasoolaallah.
document end
embed/WpVan9HleCg frame end

One element that is indigenous about Hamrahi is the nationalism
shoehorned into it, to create a spirit of solidarity and pride in the
aftermath of the
1965 war. It begins with an invocation of political leaders like
Jinnah, Ayub Khan and poet Allama Iqbal through ‘Yaad Karta Hai
Zamaana Unhi Insanon Ko’
(‘Posterity only recalls those who overcome adversities’). Raja
Hafeez, Hamrahi’s director, also finds a need to present Yousaf as a
victim of Indian aggression
in the 1965 war. The maudlin background music and the dilapidated
buildings are emblematic of the gloom in Pakistani Punjab in the
immediate aftermath
of the war.

embed/KwLsCknTaao frame
Title Song Credits Yaad Karta Hai Zamana Masud Rana Humrahi 1966
Tasadduq Hussain Muzaffar Wari
Watch Title Song Credits Yaad Karta Hai Zamana Masud Rana Humrahi 1966
Tasadduq Hussain Muzaffar Wari
document end
embed/KwLsCknTaao frame end

Dosti and Hamrahi both belonged to a period of innocence, when the
difference between good and evil, ethical and unethical, and
friendship and enmity was
clearly defined. However, there is an unadulterated geniality about
their characters; a certain naive sweetness about their music that
makes them watchable
even now. And the similarities in their themes, and their treatment by
film-makers, affirm what is obvious but rarely articulated: the shared
influences of India and Pakistan transcend the political compulsions
of our national boundaries.


The songs of Hamrahi were all sung by Masood Rana, Pakistan’s
equivalent of Mohammad Rafi.

Avinash Shahi
Doctoral student at Centre for Law and Governance JNU

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