(Part 3) Boat Songs

Continuing the boat series ahead, let me present today my next subset.
Since the beginning of the series, I came across songs sung by boatmen. So far all the songs in the initial couple of parts were sung by the passengers on a boat. I strictly avoided songs sung by boatmen. Finally I am here with the post.

Boatman Songs

A boatman is a person who operates the boat, who rows the boat in water. For a small boat usually a single person suffices, but when a boat is bigger, a team effort runs the boat. There would be a small crew who would operate the boat, for its smooth sailing. In addition to a couple of people rowing the boat, another one helping at the opposite end to propel and direct the boat in a particular direction is essential. A boatman is an important link in a boat journey.

Though I really doubt if the boatmen really ever sing, the ones in films do. At least I haven’t personally experienced a singing boatman during a boat ride. But a boat journey is always exciting, you can watch a bunch of people travelling from one bank of the river to another, let that be for business, school or pure pleasure. There is a world in itself, the boat, the boatmen, and passengers travelling in it. Do share your experiences if you have been a part of such a world! It would be exciting.


In the golden era of Hindi films, boatman songs were common in films. Most of them were philosophical. But some of the songs were situational. The boatman would actually portray what the lead character of the film thinks in that particular situation.
A few of the songs would be inspirational, where a disappointed or disheartened character regains self confidence and hopes to survive in a crisis.
But there would be songs where the boatman sings for himself to keep his spirits high during a long and tiresome tedious sea journey. The boatman and his team would sing to keep up their morals. A number of the songs on the list are backed by chorus, representing the team efforts necessary for smooth sailing on the waves.

So here we go, ten songs from Hindi films sung by boatmen.

1. Sun Mere Bandhu Re – Sujata (1959) S D Burman / S D Burman – Majrooh
This one’s perhaps one of the most popular boatman songs of Hindi cinema. Burman da was fond of Bengali folk tunes or Baaul songs. He implemented the knowledge to a number of his songs, this one being one of the prominent ones. The boatman actually portrays Sujata’s state of mind, a novel idea for a male to convey a female’s feelings via his song. But that clicked well. Majority of the shots of the boat are long shots with sunset in a backdrop. And in contrast to the majority of the songs on the list, the listners are not sailing on the boat, but on the banks of the river.

2. Ho Haiya Haiya – Awara (1951) Rafi & Chorus / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
This song actually fits my last theme. Rafi sings for both Prem Nath and another actor (?) who plays boatman. Both share the song equally , the former on the river banks and the latter of course in the boat. Though he is not actually rowing the boat, he is obviously among the team.

3. Kathwa Ke Naiya – Lalita Deulkar, P Chander & Chorus / C Ramchandra – Moti B A
A beautiful song sung by the boatman and company. Dilip Kumar, travelling in the boat watches curiously through his binoculars, beautiful Kamini Kaushal singing on the river bank. She portrays a lady waiting for her beloved, while the boatman and team sing happily throughout the journey.

4. Upar Hai Baadariya Kari – Milan (1946) Shankar Dasgupta & Chorus / Anil Biswas – P L Santoshi
The picturisation of the song is in the dark and the print is not good, I couldn’t make out who the actors are. But it seems to be a boatman’s song, while his team joins him to keep the spirits high. A storm has set in or is about to set in and they are worried about the boat’s journey to its destination. And as feared, unfortunately the boat sinks and a few passengers on the boat drown.

5. Kho Gaya Hai Mera Pyar – Hariyali Aur Rasta (1962) Mahendra Kapoor / Shankar Jaikishan – Hasrat Jaipuri
I guess the song has been quite popular over the years. Here as well the song actually tells about the feelings of Manoj Kumar, who is in search of Mala Sinha. Incidentally she travels in the same boat weeping throughout the song. And, now the question of the decade! Who played the boatman? Watch it on YouTube. please follow the link.

6. Naav Badha Le Majhi – Ferry (1954) Hemant Kumar & Chorus / Hemant Kumar – Rajendra Krishan
The song runs when the credits unfold on the screen. It’s a beautiful philosophical song sung by the boatman and his team.

7. Umaria Bin Khewak Ki Naiya – Majhli Didi (1967) Hemant Kumar / Hemant Kumar – Neeraj
Yet another philosophical song composed and sung by Hemant Kumar. The lyricist compares life with a boat within a boatman. We have to struggle through various obstacles to reach our goals and God helps us in our journey.

8. Nadiya Chale Chale Re Dhara – Safar (1970) Manna Dey & Chorus / Kalyanji Anandji – Indeevar
One more philosophical song in a row. Life goes on and on, we need to continue our journey despite the mishaps and obstacles. The song is inspirational as well. All the songs backed by chorus do create an impact on the listeners.

9. Majhi Naiya Dhoondhe Kinara – Uphaar (1971) Mukesh & Chorus / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Anand Bakshi
Jaya Bhaduri, Swaroop Dutt travel on a boat rowed by Yunus Parwez. He sings a good background song for the couple’s journey. It talks about the romantic journey of a couple.

10. Door Hai Kinara – Saudagar (1973) Manna Dey / Music & Lyrics – Ravindra Jain
Philosophy of life explained in a simple language with a heart touching rendition by Manna Dey. His magical touch has raised the song to another level. The song suits Nutan’s character, though she is not sailing in the same boat as the boatman. He sings the song on a nearby boat. I remember watching the film on Doordarshan when I was a schoolboy. But besides the song, Tera Mera Saath Rahen and a rough storyline I don’t remember much of it.

Please add a boatman song of your choice.

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

11 Replies to “(Part 3) Boat Songs”

  1. Very nice songs, Anupji! I liked all of them. Here’s another one, not just one boatman, but several, singing Hum chalein door in Ek thhi ladki:

    BTW, the other actor – besides Premnath – in Naiyya teri majhdhaar is the lyricist Shailendra. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Madhuji for the appreciation.
      I’m glad you liked the list.
      The song you shared is reserved for a future part of the boat series, so I skipped the song.
      But it’s a good song.
      And I couldn’t recognize Shailendra in the song.


  2. Dr. Anup,
    Nice follow-up post on the boat songs theme.
    Good songs, though I saw songs no.4 and 6 for the first time.
    Majhi naiyya dhoondhe kinara is the first song that comes to my mind on this topic.
    The boatman in the song is Yunus Parvez, not Suresh Chatwal.

    Adding one song sung and composed by Bappi Lahiri.
    I believe both the movie and song are hardly known..

    Kabhi kabhi aisa bhi hua hai – Gumsoom (1982)


    1. Dr Rajesh,
      Thank you for your appreciation. I’ll correct the write up about the Uphaar song. And hence forth I should cross check info on YouTube.
      Thank you for adding the song from Gumsoom. I wasn’t even aware of the name of the film.


  3. Dear Anup ji,

    That shop selling hats has closed down, but this Post is one more feather in your Cap (Hat?)!

    If you don’t throw any heavy objects at me, I would like to add this song from across the Border (I hope the Rules allow it), sung by NAYYARA NOOR, who was born in Independent India in 1950 and her family emigrated in 1958, although her Father stayed back to look after Business Interests in Gauhati.

    Hope you like it.

    With warm regards



    1. Dear Anup ji,

      You did ask about personal experiences of Boat Rides. In our early boyhood, we studied in a Boarding School in Hazaribag (then in Bihar , present day Jharkhand) and had to cross the mighty Damodar River to and fro (today, there is a spanking new bridge). In dry season, we would cross by Bullock Cart, but during rainy season or when the then newly built Maithon Dam would release excess water, we had to cross by Boat. It was a thrilling but dangerous experience as the Boatman would have to skilfully avoid the swirling circular currents in midstream. Of course, the Boatman would be too preoccupied to be able to sing a song. But on long journeys downstream, say on the Hooghly or other Rivers, they would be able to express their feelings through Songs.

      One such genre is the BHATIYALI, a typical boatman’s song in Bengal. Generally, such songs are full of pathos, possibly because the Boatmen, especially Fishermen would be away from their near and dear ones for long. This is true of Fishermen of all Regions. Incidentally, the song from the Pakistani Film given earlier by me is also a Bhatiyali, as the Music Director of the Film “AAHAT”, was ROBIN GHOSH of Bangladesh. The word “Bhatiyali” is based on the Bangla word “BHATA” (=ebb tide). I am taking the liberty of linking below a song from the 1959 Film “GANGA”, Music by Salil Chowdhury

      With warm regards



  4. Another good sub category, Anupji! I can see that you have omitted the song from Bandini (O Re Majhi) because it is not sung by the boatman but is merely addressed to one. It is a song sung on the banks by a man surrounded by enthralled listeners. There are several songs which are addressed to boatmen and not sung by them per se. There is a beautiful song sung by R.D.Burman himself (like his illustrious father) from the movie Aar Paar(1985).
    o maajhi teri naiyaa se chhuta kinaara

    I am sure you must have thought of a separate part for such songs.


    1. Thank you Anitaji. I’m you liked the post.
      Actually songs addressed to boatman or Majhi have been covered by Harvey on his blog. So I didn’t think of repeating it. Otherwise a good theme, though the songs may or may not be boat songs.
      I hadn’t heard the song shared by you. In fact I’ve very less knowledge of songs from the late 70s and the early 80s in general.


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