Songs of hope are always good but become even better and more relevant in difficult times. This may thus be a good time to remember some of the greatest songs of hope from Hindi cinema. These became hugely popular at the time of their release and are still remembered and hummed by a very large number of people.

Nirbal se ladai balwan ki, ye kahani hai diye ki aur toofan ki—As the first line of this song indicates, this is in the form of a parable of an earthen lamp showing light to people but attacked by a fierce storm which is bent on extinguishing the lamp. Despite many attacks by the storm, the lamp manages to protect its glow. The parable symbolizes the struggles of the very weak against big aggressors. This song from the movie Diya Aur Toofan written by poet Bharat Vyas has been sung very soulfully by the great Manna Dey, with music by Vasant Desai.

Wo Subah Kabhi to Aayegi—This gem of a song by Sahir Ludhianvi says in several evocative ways that no matter what the obstacles and no matter how overwhelming the forces of darkness, surely dawn will come soon enough and we live in hope of this. It is from Phir Subah Hogi, a memorable film made in 1958 by Ramesh Sehgal, based on Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with music by Khayyam. This song is picturized on Raj Kapoor and Mala Sinha when the characters played by them are in a very sad state of mind. This song gives hope to them, and has since then given hope to millions of people. Sung very well by Mukesh and Asha.

Jhoomti Chali Hawa, Yaad Aa Gaya Koi—What a great song to emerge from the pen of Shailendra, with equally great music by S.N Tripathi and picturised very well on Bharat Bhushan in the 1962 movie Sangeet Samrat Tansen. This song evokes very difficult times in various stanzas, then the last line of the stanza gives a feeling or message of hope. A great example of the use of “classical” music in films and of great singing by Mukesh.

Aa Ab Laut Chalein—This is one of the most memorable songs from the team of Shankar Jaikishan and used to great effect in Raj Kapoor’s Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai. Filmed on Raj Kapoor, Padmini and a gang of dacoits, the song shows the scene when the dacoits motivated by the message of peace are moving in a big group for surrender and an armed police force is coming from the other side. The consequent tensions, the clash between uncertainty and hope, are captured well in the scenes and the song gives a message of going back to a life of peace. It has been sung very soulfully by Lata and Mukesh, with great use of chorus.

Aa Chal Ke Tujhe, Main Le Ke Chalun, Ik Aise Gagan Ke Tale—This song remains a great example of the many-sided genius of Kishore Kumar. He has written the lyric, composed the music, sung the song, the song is filmed on him and a child in a movie made by him, Door Gagan Ki Chaon Mein! In the song Kishore is telling a distressed child, I want to take you to a world where there are no tears, only lots of love. The child plays a flute and they walk through a path of flowers, birds, springs.

Mere Nazeem, Mere Humsafar Udaas Naa Ho—In this memorable song from the pen of Sahir, we have a woman telling her beloved not to be overwhelmed by the great difficulties and obstacles faced by them. The highly talented singer Sudha Malhotra is able to bring just the right feelings in her voice to convey the mix of love, emotion, motivation and determination. This great song from the film Bhai Behan has music by N.Dutta.

Kisi ki Muskrahato Pe ho Nisar—This is a very popular and great song from the film Anari. Picturised on Raj Kapoor, playing an unemployed youth who still manages to be cheerful in his own way, this song says that the way to live is not to be overburdened by difficulties but to retain the ability to be nice to others and experience the small joys of life while helping others. Sung in a delightful way by Mukesh and written by Shailendra.

Chota Sa Ghar Hoga Badalon ki Chaon Mein—This delightful song from Naukri again has Kishore Kumar at his best, with music by Salil Chaudhry. In the song, which is also picturized on Kishore, we see him exchanging brotherly, affectionate teasing with his younger sister, at the same time painting a rosy picture of a better life for the family. It is full of small and sweet hopes.

Jaago Mohan Pyare—This is a very popular and great devotional song from a great film, Jagte Raho, sung in just the right mood as a background song by Lata Mangeshkar with music by Salil Chaudhary. Raj Kapoor playing a migrant worker has been beaten badly. Just when a child helps him get up, this song starts in background. He has been thirsty all night. As he walks towards a temple, a woman (played by Nargis) has just completed her worship and gets up to offer water to him.

Ae malik tere bande hum—This devotional song has become very popular and is frequently used as a morning prayer in several schools. This song from Do Ankhen Barah Haath, a film on jail reform, appeals to the Almighty to give the strength to face difficulties and to maintain nobleness of purpose in the midst of many adversities.

Madhu and Bharat Dogra work together on songs of social relevance