Hindi film songs based on Raga ‘Charukeshi’


Sharada Iyer

“Your classicism is of value only if you know how to fine-tune it to the peculiar visual needs of instant cinema. In the end in the recording room it is not who knows classical singing but who has the ability to modulate classicism to the adolescent needs of mainstream cinema”

– Raju Bharatan (taken from his book- ‘A Journey Down Melody Lane’, 2010)

The repertoire of our century old Hindi film music boasts of a wide range of songs based on a variety of classical Hindustani ragas. As the object of a raga is to express a certain emotional mood and sentiment each music director has captured the essence of the raga in his/her own way to fit into the milieu of the narrative- ranging from deep love and longing, to the agony of separation, a heart-felt devotional ‘bhajan’ or just a peppy dance number.

Instead of composing these songs in a typical classical style which may appeal only to a select niche audience, our music directors have time and again proved their mettle to draw inspiration from our vast legacy of classical music and modify it to suit the mood and setting of the visual medium of cinema.

Sometimes the song completely adheres to the basic technicalities of the raga, sometimes the raga is touched upon only lightly and at other times the raga is mixed with other ragas to give the necessary appeal. Lyricists, singers and finally the actors and actresses add their own magic to enhance the appeal and reach of these ragas to the large base of film-viewing populace of our country.

In this blog-post, I have chosen Raga Charukeshi (one with beautiful hair) a comparatively recent entrant from Carnatic music into Hindustani classical music. It is a ‘sampurna’ raga which has all seven notes symmetrical in both ‘aroha’ (ascending) and ‘avaroha’ (descending) and known to induce feelings of pathos and devotion.

In Hindustani music a specific time is considered best to bring out the emotions of the raga and Charukeshi is associated with late afternoon or night .

The basics of the raga:

A lovely musical piece by ‘Dilruba ‘player Saroja to understand the essence of this beautiful raga:

Here is a superb piece on the raga rendered by Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar. Not only do the intricacies of the raga become evident, the film songs based on the raga also come to our mind when we listen to this clip.

The essence or character of the raga is brought out most effectively by the way it is handled emphasizing certain notes more than the others.  The way our music directors put to use these ragas in the perfect song situations speaks volumes of their talent and is a testament to their intrinsic knowledge and deep understanding of the notes of these ragas. 

Let us start the blog with this evergreen composition by master music-director Madan Mohan whose association with nightingale Lata Mangeshkar has given many magical songs to the world of film music. The film Dastak is remembered till today because of its haunting music and it rightfully fetched Madan Mohan the National Award for the Best Music Director that year.


SONG: ‘Baiyyan na dharo…’

Music director- Madan Mohan

At times our music directors have used the raga in a very subtle way and in an unexpected setting where the lover is thinking of her loved one in a joyous way. The listener is unknowingly drawn to the essence of the raga and flows with the emotion as seen be seen in this fast-moving number ‘Ek tu jo mila…’. 


SONG: ‘Ek tu jo mila saari duniya mili…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

And then there are a whole lot of film songs for which ragas have been used in the most ingenious and creative ways. The scene is rarely one of a classical music or dance setting. And yet the intricate elements and characteristics of the raga are included in a subtle way to create the mood. Along with meaningful lyrics and imaginative picturization the singer brings to life the magic of the raga in the most appealing way.



SONG: ‘Bekhudi mein sanam, uth gaye jo kadam, aa gaye paas hum…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

This film had Shashi Kapoor in a double role and director Prakash Mehra churned out a box-office super-hit with his very first directorial venture. The heroine was Babita.


SONG: ‘Kabhi raat din hum door the, din raat ka ab saath hai…’

Music directors: Kalyanji-Anandji

Once again handsome Shashi Kapoor is the hero of the film and this time Sharmila Tagore is his heroine. The film is a mystery thriller where Shashi Kapoor is suspected of having killed his first wife. Songs of the film became very popular and here is one duet which has shades of raga Charukeshi.


SONG: ‘Teri ummeed tera intezar karte hain, ae sanam hum to sirf tumse pyar karte hain…’

Music directors- Nadeem-Shravan

This rare raga based romantic song from the nineties sung by Kumar Sanu and Sadhna Sargam became one of the super-hits of the year.


SONG: ‘Kisi raah par kisi mod par kahin chal na dena tu chodkar…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

Here is a song from the Jeetendra-Sharmila Tagore love story directed by Dulal Guha. 

As this video cannot be embedded. Do click on the link and watch on YouTube.


SONG: ‘Megha re megha re,mat pardes ja re, aaj tu prem ka sandes barsa re…’

Music directors- Laxmikant-Pyarelal


Sometimes the tear in the eye is of joy or sadness or relief. Raga Charukeshi is considered a raga very close to the heart. The canvas that the raga evokes is lingering hope, loneliness, sympathy and a wish to be close to the loved one. In the following song situations the hero/heroine is reminiscing about the wonderful times spent together and the yearning left in the heart… 

FILM: RAAZ (1967)

SONG: ‘Akele hain chale aao jahan ho…’

Music directors- Kalyanji Anandji

Superstar Rajesh Khanna got his first break as a hero with director Ravindra Dave’s Raaz where he essays a double role.


SONG: ‘Bedardi baalma tujhko mera man yaad karta hain…’

Music directors- Shankar Jaikishen


SONG: ‘Mohabbat ke suhane din…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji

FILM: MILAN (1967)

SONG: ‘Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin…’

Music directors- Laxmikant-Pyarelal

This lovely song based on raga Charukeshi was unfortunately not included in the final print of the film when it was released.  Being a film based on rebirth, the idea of separation and yearning makes it a perfect setting to use this raga for a sad song.


These two songs have meaningful lyrics with a message sung by the lover for his/her loved one expressing a significant point about love, life and expectations . 


SONG: ‘Chod de saari duniya kisike liye…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji


SONG: ‘Koi jab tumhara hriday tod de…’

Music directors- Kalyanji-Anandji



SONG: ‘Ahista Aahista nindiya tu …’

Music director- A R Rahman

Music director A R Rahman gave a new twist to the raga by using it in a lullaby. Though it is a lullaby, there are memories of their childhood which the characters recall and remember and the raga beautifully enhances the mood and emotions of the situation. This song is also rare as a lullaby is seldom sung as a duet!



SONG: ‘Shyam teri bansi pukaare Radha naam…’

Music director-Ravindra Jain

Raga Charukeshi is also used in devotional songs while sketching the beauty of the Lord or requesting him for blessing especially during suffering.

Trust a genius music director like Ravindra Jain to use this beautiful raga to come up with a mesmerizing bhajan for the film Geet Gaata Chal. The movie which launched child actors Sachin and Sarika in adult roles is remembered till today for the superb songs. Sung in the voices of Jaspal Singh and Aarti Mukherjee-two singers who did not get the attention they deserved in Bollywood, this remains till today remains one of the best bhajans composed for Hindi films.

A look at the above songs brings to fore the fact that music directors Kalyanji Anandji seem to have had a special fondness for the raga as most of the songs in this post are composed by the duo. Once again they come up with a soothing song in this category also.

FILM: GEET (1970)

SONG: ‘Tere naina kyun bhar aaye…’

Music director- Kalyanji-Anandji




11 thoughts on “Hindi film songs based on Raga ‘Charukeshi’

  1. Wow,,,,another great post. We need to request WordPress administrators to create a ‘Super Like’ button so one may do justice to such blog posts! Surely worth a re-blog one of these days!!


  2. Lovely post. Charukeshi has a distinct identity when it comes to Carnatic, Hindustani or film music. It captivates the listener instantly. I recalled some songs which may be based on this raga. My 2 cents…
    1. O saiyyan…Agneepath
    2. Khelo na mere dil se…Haqeeqat
    3. Woh bhooli dastaan… Sanjog
    4. Aisa des hai mera…Veer Zaara
    5. Aur is dil mein….Imaandaar
    6. Sagar se gehra hai pyar hamara…Yeh Majhdhaar

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful. Charukesi is a beautiful raga. Ahista Ahista from Swades didn’t feature in the film, though it’s a lovely song. It’s always a pleasure to read these posts of yours where your deep research into Indian classical music is evident.

    Liked by 1 person

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