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Choli pay nazariya jaye

The courtier is perturbed by what he hears. What type of a song is this. Vulgar. He asks the girl singing the song to explain.

It a good kind of song. It's a love song of Radha-Krishan. Listen. Radha says to her friend:

More angana mein aye aali, main chaal chalun matwali
angana mein aye aali
Jab aanchal hamra pakday, Hum has has unsay Jhagday
Choli pay nazariya jaye, mori chunari lipat mosay
jaye

' Bas! Bas! You will destroy the truth of daughter-in-laws and daughters of Mithila. Choli pay...uff!'

Courtier walks away fuming. Mocking him, the girl continues singing. Courtier listens some more.

Woh aur Bhay, morey paihya paray, Kahay mano baat hamari
Woh aur Bhay, morey paihya paray, Kahay mano baat hamari
Main aah baro mukh pher kahu, Main aah baro mukh pher kahu
Nahi manugi baat tihari, Nahi manugi baat tihari
Nahi manugi baat tihari
Nahi manugi baat tihari

Courtier walks out saying, 'Now I know. Now I know. Now I know why our women sing this song '
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The song-scene, sung and enacted by Kanan Devi [watch it here], is from year 1937 film Vidyapati by Debaki Bose.

The film is based on the life of poet Vidyapati (1360-1440AD) and was written by famous Bengali poet Nazrul Islam who for a brief period was also associated with the medium of cinema. [Vidyapati had a special appeal among Bengalis. Read about it Here]

This particular song was based on a work by Vidyapati and according to someone involved with the making of the film, the wordings of the song had to be changed a bit (on his suggestion) because the real line was an even more of a shocker. Cinema man, Kidar Sharma (1910 - 1999), in his autobiography 'The one and lonely Kidar Sharma' (2002) writes that instead of the suggestive bit about choli, the actual line was: "Kachuwa dharat jub piyara" (when my lover hold my breast). Too much ji even for the present day cinema. So the line was covered with a bodice.

This old 'naughty' song was referenced by film critic Iqbal Masud in his memoir 'Dream Merchants, Politicians & Partition: Memoirs of an Indian Muslim' (1997) in context of (in what must have been an otherwise mundane) TV debates triggered by controversy surrounding the song 'Choli ke peeche kya hai' (What is there behind the bodice) from film Khalnayak (1993). He remembered watching the film in Mangalore as a teenage boy in 1937, gasping in the theater just like most of the audience at the use of line 'Choli pay nazariya Jaye'. The film fascinated him and introduced him to the 'Hindu culture' which till then, he admits, was an alien entity. He also recalls mentioning the film, years later, to Satyajit Ray. Ray's reaction was characteristic - 'A rotten film'. Masud explained his reaction as, 'For him as a philosophical Hindu in the broadest sense, the 'Hinduism' of Vidyapati was crude alphabet.'

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