"The whistling at the very onset, is a treat to ears."
Bollywood has given the audience many films based on disability. However, in the Indian film industry, songs are just as important as the movies themselves.
Disabled characters provide a different kind of energy, which is relatable and moving. In these beautiful and rousing numbers, they prove that their disability does not define them as people.
Disability comes in several forms. It can be physical or mental shortcomings. Although, in these songs, every condition affects each character differently.
One thing remains constant. The characters are unforgettable and the music is charming. A special mention must also go to the actors who portray these roles with the utmost sensitivity.
DESIblitz showcases 15 splendid tracks which feature characters with a disability.
Meri Dosti Mera Pyaar – Dosti (1964)
Dosti is the story of two friends, Ramnath ‘Ramu’ Gupta (Sushil Kumar Somaya) and Mohan (Sudhir Kumar Sawant). ‘Meri Dosti Mera Pyaar‘ is picturised on Mohan and a group of admiring listeners.
Ramu suffers from a physical disability, while Mohan is blind. The pair become close friends after both work together to make ends meet.
Ramu has a talent for playing the harmonica, and Mohan is a great singer. They perform on the streets and any appreciative audiences show their gratitute with money.
This beautiful song is sung by Mohammad Rafi and is all about the priceless value of friendship. Not only is the melody intoxicating, but the circumstances of Mohan add to the track’s emotion.
Nasir, a huge fan of the film, writes a blog about the everlasting music of Dosti. Within the post, he praises the songs:
“Yes, the songs of Dosti sent the nation in tizzy.”
Nasir also opines that Dosti stands tall over other films that featured Rafi Sahab’s vocals in 1964. He cites Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) and Sangam (1964) as examples.
Composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal also won a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Music Director’ for this film in 1965.
Teri Aankhon Ke Siwa (Female Version) – Chirag (1969)
‘Teri Aankhon Ke Siwa‘ is a heart-wrenching song from Chirag. In the song, a blind Asha Chibber (Asha Parekh) consoles a heartbroken Ajay Singh (Sunil Dutt).
What is perhaps most emotional about the song is that Asha has not been blind all the way. A devastating incident causes her to lose her eyesight.
She wipes Ajay’s eyes despite not being able to see through her own. This creates a painful sense of irony.
A male version of this song also exists within the film. It is sung by Mohammad Rafi but that does not feature Asha when she is blind.
Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals in the female version convey defeat and tragedy, along with a bubbling feeling of optimism. It is lovely to see the one with the disability offering comfort.
J. Mathur, from Hyderabad, speaks glowingly of the female version of this song:
“The best song of the movie – “Teri Aankhon Ke Siwa’ – is played in the background of the scene of their reunion despite the fact that Asha is still blind.
“A sensitive viewer like me can derive the conclusion from it that instead of Asha’s external eyes, the eyes of her soul are important for Ajay.”
This song truly is a timeless classic.
Mera Dil Bhi – Saajan (1991)
Saajan features Sanjay Dutt as Aman Verma, a man who cannot walk without the support of a crutch.
The enduring classic also features several evergreen songs. One of them is ‘Mera Dil Bhi.’ This romantic track focuses on Aman and Pooja Saxena (Madhuri Dixit).
In the song, Pooja helps Aman through the dense foliage of hilltops and tall grasses. After a point, Aman stops and visualises himself as an able-bodied man romancing Pooja.
The grin on his face while doing so is infectious and gratifying. It has resonance when Pooja accepts Aman despite his condition at the end of the film.
“[The song] is an absolute gem.”
It continues to say:
“Sanu brings the sense of longing and desire into his sensational voice.
“Sanu overshadows Yagnik but she does put the cherry on top of the cream cake with her sugary rendition.”
This melodious number won Kumar a Filmfare Award for ‘Best Male Playback Singer’ in 1992. A deserving award for such a beautiful number.
Nadeem-Shravan also won ‘Best Music Director’ the same year for Saajan.
Aman Verma is one of Bollywood’s most-loved characters with a disability and this track captures why.
Chale Chalo – Lagaan (2001)
Lagaan is a tremendous piece of Indian film history. One of the major reasons for its humongous success is its soundtrack.
One of the songs is ‘Chale Chalo‘. It showcases Bhuvan Latha (Aamir Khan) and his team of cricket players practising for their life-changing game against the British.
Among the team of villagers is Kachra (Aditya Lakhia). Kachra is not just from a lower caste, he also has a disability in one arm.
With this comes an invaluable ability that Kachra brings to the team. He can spin the ball, which prevents the catcher from reacting to it almost every time.
‘Chale Chalo’ is a motivational sports song. There is no doubt about that. However, it is refreshing to see a disabled player become such an asset. Kachra even sings one powerful line in the song.
What makes the song so great is that it follows directly from the pivotal scene where Kachra enters the team.
Scroll.in called the song “an unmatched ode to team spirit.”
The track plays once again over the film’s ending credits. This shows its power and energy. Though disabled, Kachra was an asset to the team and he contributes massively to the team’s final win.
In Panchiyon – Koi…Mil Gaya (2003)
‘In Panchiyon‘ is the first song that appears in the 2003 blockbuster Koi…Mil Gaya.
The track presents Rohit Mehra (Hrithik Roshan) playing with his friends. A gleeful mother in the form of Sonia Mehra (Rekha) watches him.
Rohit suffers from insufficient mental growth. It is a disability that causes the character to behave like a child in adulthood.
However, Rohit’s innocence in the song is adorable. He sings the line:
“One day, everyone in the world will shake hands with me!”
These lyrics prove somewhat prophetic when Rohit becomes famous and independent in the film’s latter portion.
This song is boisterous and unique. Hrithik really shines in what is his first major unconventional role.
The kids in the song also encourage Rohit. When he sings the aforementioned line, they rush up to him and shake his hand.
The chemistry between Rohit and his friends is captivating.
Anish Khanna from Planet Bollywood loves the track. He wastes no words in expressing its glory:
“[It] is probably the second-best tune on the album thanks to a catchy chorus and Shaan and Kavita [Krishnamurthy]’s apt vocals.”
‘In Panchiyon’ is a brash yet positive number, which proves that limitations of a disability can be overcome.
Des Rangeela – Fanaa (2006)
The female protagonist of Fanaa is Zooni Ali Beg (Kajol). In the first half of the film, she is blind.
Fanaa became a hugely successful movie when it hit cinemas but a memorable part of the film is the delightful ‘Des Rangeela.’
It showcases Zooni performing on stage with her blindness. A proud Rehan Khan Qadri Sr (Aamir Khan) watches from the back of the auditorium.
Zooni dances in full gusto and enthusiasm. Her charming smile shows that her disability cannot stop her from having fun.
‘Des Rangeela’ has wonderful vocals from Mahalakshmi Iyer and infectious choreography.
Ranjani Saigal from Lokwani has nothing but good remarks about this particular track:
“It has a great beat and feel good lyrics that always is a delight for Indian American dancers.”
Ranjani also adds that the Fanaa‘s soundtrack was a “refreshing change.”
Not only does this song woo audiences, but Kajol amazes in her role of Zooni. She won the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Actress’ for Fanaa in 2007.
Jame Raho – Taare Zameen Par (2007)
‘Jame Raho‘ from Taare Zameen Par is a fun track which shows that children with a disability glow with uniqueness.
During the song, Ishaan ‘Inu’ Nandkishore Awasthi’ (Darsheel Safary) is lazing around. He does not get ready for school and is in a swirl of daydreams.
Meanwhile, his mother Maya N. Awasthi (Tisca Chopra) desperately tries to get him prepared in time for the bus.
His antics are charming and the audience can all relate to not wanting to go to school or work.
Ishaan suffers from dyslexia in the film. He is not diagnosed with this until Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) enters his life.
Although Ishaan is lazy in the film, his activities show his creative flair such as jumping into a puddle trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube. This rises to prominence in the film’s climax.
FilmiBeat is amused by ‘Jame Raho.’ Even so, they praise the number:
“Boasting of a rock setting, the song is such that it could easily have fit into the mould of a sports anthem number as much as an inspiration for the soldiers on the border!”
The song is also described as “entertaining.”
‘Jame Raho” should be remembered for proving that characters with a disability can also be creative.
Tere Naina – My Name is Khan (2010)
My Name is Khan is noteworthy for not having any lip-synched songs but that doesn’t mean that the soundtrack is not brilliant.
One of the numbers is the romantic ‘Tere Naina.’ It follows Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) as he falls in love with Mandira Khan (Kajol).
Rizwan suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The song reveals certain difficulties people with this disability have. For example, Rizwan avoids eye contact with Mandira and is sometimes too shy.
There is endearing iconography in the song when Mandira gives Rizwan a haircut. The care with which she does it combined with Rizwan’s facial expressions create a magical song.
The chemistry that Shah Rukh and Kajol are known for also comes through in spades.
Hindustan Times have a positive view on the vocals in ‘Tere Naina’, stating:
“Shafqat Amanat Ali renders Tere Naina brilliantly.
“The subtle orchestration and melody make for an interesting hear.”
The soundtrack of My Name is Khan is one of Bollywood’s finest. This song particularly had the audience humming long after the ending credits rolled.
SRK gave us something new in this disabled character and shone in the role, winning the Filmfare Award for ‘Best Actor’ in 2011.
Shah Ka Rutba – Agneepath (2012)
‘Shah Ka Rutba‘ is an upbeat, enjoyable number from Agneepath. This 2012 film is a remake of the 1990 movie of the same name.
The song features Azhar Lala (Deven Bhojani) and his father Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor). Azhar is mentally challenged.
Earlier in the film, Azhar displays a penchant for playing the tabla. He brings this to the fore in ‘Shah Ka Rutba.’ He drums in a majestic rhythm while all the onlookers whistle in delight.
Rauf Lala is delighted that his disabled son has such an uncanny talent. He immediately comes up and waves money around his head.
In his somewhat small role, Deven relishes his disabled character.
This peppy track shows the impressive talents of those with a disbaility.
Joginder Tuteja from Bollywood Hungama is evidently a huge fan of this boisterous qawwali, expressing:
“It manages to strike an instant connect with the listener.”
Joginder feels that the song “creates a huge impact” too.
Azhar’s innocence shines in ‘Shah Ka Rutba.’ He is the relief in this otherwise gorey, revenge-driven movie.
Ala Barfi – Barfi (2012)
Barfi features Ranbir Kapoor as the titular character. Murphy ‘Barfi’ Johnson is a deaf-mute man.
‘Ala Barfi‘ is the song the film opens with. It features the antics and activities of Barfi. It also contains interviews with people who have been part of his life.
Through this number, the audience gets a real flavour of the character. They fall in love with him instantly, which probably reflected in the film’s giant success.
Barfi is hilarious as he dances, runs from the police and climbs things one didn’t know could be climbed.
‘Ala Barfi’ shows that a disability is not a boundary for enjoyment and living life to the fullest.
This character is inspired by the works of legends including Charlie Chaplin and Raj Kapoor.
Shivi, from Koimoi, does not tire from praising the song:
“It is a masterpiece rendered by Mohit Chauhan who in his most adorable and silky voice makes you enter the world of ‘Murphy’, oops ‘Barfi!
“One does not get to hear such spin of words anymore and one can be expected to be bowled over in the very first listening.
“Overall composition, especially the whistling at the very onset, is a treat to ears.”
Another version of the song also exists, sung by lyricist Swanand Kirkire. Shivi thinks the voals are inspired by Kishore Kumar.
‘Ala Barfi’ is an alluring number that provides an immediate connection with the character.
Chicken Song – Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015)
The ‘Chicken Song‘ is a pleasurable number from Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It features Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan), Shahida ‘Munni’ Aziz (Harshaali Malhotra) and Rasika Pandey (Kareena Kapoor Khan).
Pawan has promised to help the mute Munni find her way back home after she gets lost in India.
To certainty of their religion’s dismay, he and Rasika find out that Munni is non-vegetarian and she loves chicken.
In a restaurant, Munni gets emotional when she sees a mother with her child. In a bid to cheer her up, Rasika and Pawan sing about the joys of eating chicken. A smile immediately returns to Munni’s face.
The young Harshaali’s facial expressions are sweet and subtle. She portrays the disabled Munni with passion and sincerity. The track is an expressive song of food, compassion and acceptance.
India.com labels Bajrangi Bhaijaan‘s soundtrack as “the musical blockbuster of 2015.” Talking positively about this song, they say:
“‘Chicken Song’ is a fun song sung by Mohit Chauhan. The lyrics are very catchy and it will be loved by all the little kids.”
Salman, Kareena and Harshaali all present this song as a fun number both to watch onscreen and listen to. Most of all, it conveys that mute people can say so much without saying anything.
Mon Amour – Kaabil (2017)
‘Mon Amour‘ from Kaabil is a groovy dance track featuring Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik Roshan) and Supriya ‘Su’ Bhatnagar (Yami Gautam).
Apart from the expert choreography, what makes this track especially memorable is that Rohan and Su are both blind.
This dance number appears in the movie during Rohan and Su’s first meeting. Their moves and expressions accurately depict their disability as well as their optimism for life.
Throughout the film, Rohan and Su do not evoke sympathy. They are disabled, but they aren’t ‘poor things.’ This is evident in this number, where they dance better than many of the people with vision.
During a conversation with Faridoon Sharyar from Bollywood Hungama, producer Rakesh Roshan named ‘Mon Amour’ as his favourite from Kaabil.
Mrunali Bhatkar of Times of India praises playback singer Vishal Dadlani:
“Vishal Dadlani’s energy is infectious and his rendition brings life to the song.”
When it comes to the soundtrack of Kaabil, many discuss the remixes of the classic songs from Yaraana (1981).
But ‘Mon Amour’ is an original number that truly showcases the ability of people with a disability.
Radio Song – Tubelight (2017)
‘Radio Song‘ is a catchy number. Tubelight unfortunately was not as successful as other Salman Khan films but this song still remains in the ears of millions.
It follows Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan). He has a mental disabilty, which makes him childlike even in adulthood.
However, he is loving, innocent and caring. When he happily dances in ‘Radio Song,’ the audience cannot help but break into dance too.
Salman does well in the song, busting out moves that we haven’t seen him do prior to this. The choreography is almost robotic and viewers lap it up.
News18 reviews the movie’s album. It praises ‘Radio Song,’ calling it “lilting” and notes its “engaging vocal stylings.”
Anupama Chopra is critical of the film in this review. She calls the film “underwhelming.”
Although, she is admirable of ‘Radio Song’:
“Pritam’s ‘Radio Song’ is still playing in my head.”
There may have been doubts about Salman’s portrayal of this disabled character. However, what remained undoubtable was the sheer joy of ‘Radio Song.’
Teri Dastaan – Hichki
Hichki showcases Rani Mukherji as Ms Naina Mathur. Naina is a teacher who has Tourette syndrome.
This causes her to make uncontrollable sounds and scratches of her chin. ‘Teri Dastaan‘ is a song which is a montage of her life.
In the song, we see a young Naina Mathur (Naisha Khanna) crying in the bathroom, stuffing tissue paper in her mouth.
This is in a desperate yet futile attempt to curb her disability but it puts her journey into context when she lives out her life and career as a teacher in a school.
Naina makes her students successful. This character proves once again that it is important never to let anything hold one back.
Suanshu Khurana from The Indian Express commends the song:
“The number is intelligently produced and sounds wonderful.”
It is an intelligent track for an intelligent subject. The song and the film should be remembered for raising awareness of an otherwise largely undiscussed condition.
Mere Naam Tu – Zero (2018)
‘Mere Naam Tu‘ is the anthem of Zero. It presents Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan) and Aaifa Yusufzai Bhinder (Anushka Sharma).
Bauua has dwarfism, while Aaifa has cerebral palsy. The latter works as a scientist, thereby already showing her capabilities despite being in a wheelchair.
In the song, Bauua entices Aaifa while dancing in Holi colours while she watches. She also visualises herself joining him.
While Zero flopped at the box office, it is charming to see these two characters engage in a relationship.
It is important to be aware that there are many stigmas surrounding the sexuality of disabled people.
This includes the notions that people with a disability have a lower sexual drive and that they do not feel the desire for other people.
‘Mere Naam Tu’ addresses all those myths and is a rousing watch.
Narendra Kusnu from The Hindu reviews the song. His praise knows no bounds:
“[It] is quite a beauty. It has a catchy hook, brilliant arrangements and some classy flute work by Varad Kathapurkar.”
The song undoubtedly and brilliantly presents the desires of people with a disability.
Disability is something that Bollywood has addressed powerfully and emotionally but the songs decorate the films.
The disabled characters fill the songs with colour and relatability. They perform with nuance and sensitivity.
When done rightly, the songs can transform into a gripping and thought-provoking message.
People are reminded that those with a disability can still be positive, independent and passionate.
Even if the film does not mint millions, the songs can become hits. Disabled characters are different, but they are remarkable.
For that, the songs should always be remembered.