The theme of bachpan has often been treated in various ways in Bollywood, not the least of which is to convey the yearning on the part of adults to go back to what they in retrospect consider a less complicated and more pleasant past. As for children, they are portrayed as earnest, loyal, trusting, trustworthy, guileless, and vested with an innate moral sense and insight that in adults has been progressively eroded in the course of their passage to a cynical and calculating world.
Childhood has often been deployed to depict intensity and depth of feeling, especially joy and affection; and the sincerity that causes children to be considered as-if instilled at an early age with values and ways to act upon them-the ideal vehicles later in life to carry on the struggle for a more just and egalitarian future.
So, there is this exhortation by Shakeel Badayuni in the film Gunga Jumna:
Insaaf ki dagar pay, bachchon dikhaao chalkay……sachchaaiyon kay bal pay, aagay hi badhtay raehynaa …..sabkay liyay ho nyaaey…
Let us now move on with our bachchu story through this “if only” articulation of an impossible wish in the film 1964 Door Ki Awaaz: Ham bhi agar bachchay hotay, Naam hamaaraa hotaa gablu-bablu, Khaanay ko miltay laddu, Aor dunyaa kaeyhti ‘Happy Birthday to you’!
And these lyrics, looking back wistfully, marvel at how one used to be as blithe as butterflies on the wing, flitting around here and there:
Bachpan kay din bhi kyaa din thhay!, Udtay phirtay titli ban kay…
from the film 1959 Sujata.
And another one urges:
Bachpan kay din bhulaa naa daynaa, Aaj hassay kal rulaa naa daynaa… Lambay haeyn jeevan kay rastay; Aao chalayn ham gaatay hastay
in the film 1951 Deedar. Incidentally, featuring in this film is a solo male rendition by Mohd Rafi of the same song.
Here are some snatches of lyric from a song that we-siblings and kiddie cousins-used to sing in unison as a promise to never forget in the future:
Ho ji, ho! … Bachpan ki mohabbat ko, dil say naa judaa karnaa… Jab yaad mayri aaey, milnay ki duaa karnaa …
from the film 1952 Baiju Bawra.
Giving a starry portrayal of children is Sahir Ludhianvi:
Bachchay man kay sachay, saari jag kay aankh kay taaray… Insaan jab tak bachchaa haey, tab tak samjho sachhaa haey; Jyu, jyu uski umar badhay, man par jhuth ka maeyl chadhay; Krodh badhay, nafrat ghayray, laalach ki aadat ghayray; Bachpan in paapon say hatkar, apni umar guzaaray …
from the film 1968 Do Kaliyan.
Projecting another dimension of Bollywood bachchu lyrical tropes is this kid who breathes defiance at browbeating or condescending grownups:
Chhotaa bachaa jaan kay naa koee aankh dikhaanaa ray …Aqal kaa kachchaa samajh kay ham ko naa samjhaanaa ray….
from the film 1996 Masoom.
And here are children going back into their instinctively trusting, frank, and abundantly adoring mode when their keen emotional sense and insight tells them that a person is a truly good sort:
John Chaachaa, tum kitnay achhay! Tumhay pyaar kartay sab bachchay…. This is from the song Raat Gayi Phir Din Aataa Hai
in the 1954 Boot Polish.
In the song “Nanhe Munne Bachche” from the same film, John Chaachaa asks, and pat comes the reply showing a wisdom, confidence, sureness, and certainty way beyond their tender years:
Nanhay munhay bachchay, Tayri muthi mayn kyaa hai? Muthi mayn haey taqdeer hamaari; Hamnay qismat ko bas mayn kiyaa haey.
Let us conclude by listening to this middle-aged male adult pitching to his better-half a poser-and seeking reassurance, which he gets immediately and wholeheartedly-based on a scenario that refers first, fast-forward, to late- middle or early old age, and then back, past the present, to childhood. Ham jab hongay saath saal kay, Aor tum hogi pachpan ki; Daykho preet nibhaaogi naa, Tab bhi apnay bachpan ki? …from the film 1971 Kal Aaj aor Kal.