Babul Mora – Thumri in Raag Bhairavi sung by KL Saigal and others

Last updated on May 16, 2020

Posted on Apr 30, 2009

Babul Mora is a Thumri in Raag Bhairavi, which was written by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.  He was the last nawab of Awadh.  On 11 February 1856, just after his 9th anniversary of the coronation, he was exiled by the British in a bloodless annexation of the kingdom.  Shah was a poet, playwright, dancer, and great patron of the arts.  He is said to have revived Kathak as a dance form.

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KL Saigal and Babul Mora

This piece below was sung by KL Saigal for the movie Street Singer (directed by Phani Majumdar), which was released in 1938.  Music was composed by RC Boral.  It is Raag Bhairavi.

KL‌ Saigal was a time keeper with the Punjab Railways and also worked as a hotel manager and a typewriter salesman with Remington.  He would sell the typewriters on his bicycle going around in Connaught Place in those days.  This was before he turned to music.

For this song, it is said that he went to Shambhuji Maharaj, a maestro in Lucknow to learn the right way to sing “Babul Mora”.  It is said that he got it within three days.

Although Rai Chand Boral, the music composer for this song, had already introduced playback singing in the Indian cinema in 1935, Saigal insisted on singing this live.  So, the song was recorded with Saigal walking with his harmonium, and two people orchestra of a sarangi and tabla following him (just out of the camera’s range)!

Even as he walked and sung this song, Saigal created magic that has been so tough to emulate even for the greatest of singers.

What Saigal could learn in 3 days, others have spent a lifetime perfecting.  Please also listen to “Main Baithi Thi” which was a non-film song written, composed and sung by KL Saigal.  For more on this song and its history, please go to “The Story of Babul Mora

Babul Mora Lyrics and Translation

Here are the full lyrics of the song for you.

बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए
बाबुल मोरा, मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाएचार कहार मिल, मोरी डोलिया सजावें रे
चार कहार मिल, मोरी डोलिया सजावें
चार कहार मिल, मोरी डोलिया सजावें रे
मोरा अपना बेगाना छूटो जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाएअँगना तो परबत भयो और देहरी भई बिदेश
अँगना तो परबत भयो और देहरी भई बिदेश
लै बाबुल घर आपनो, मैं चली पिया के देश
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो जाए
बाबुल मोरा, नैहर छूटो ही जाए

It can be roughly translated into:

O My father! I’m leaving home.
O My father! I’m leaving home.

The four (palanquin) bearers lift my palanquin.
I’m leaving those who were my own.

Your courtyard is now like a mountain, and the threshold, a foreign country.
I leave your house, father, I am going to my beloved’s country.

Babul Mora Sung by other singers

Its composition and words are so soulful, that this song has been sung by many.

Babul Mora by Manna Dey

Here is a rendition by Manna Dey as well.  Although I am partial to KL Saigal’s voice and the pain it carries in it, but Manna Dey’s mastery of the classical music is something to just get lost into.  This was for a movie in 1955 called Mahatama Kabir.  Music is by Anil Biswas.

Babul Mora by Manna Dey

Listen to other renditions of this thumri as well.

Babul Mora by Girija Devi

Here is the Thumri sung by the amazing Girija Devi ji.  Another beautiful rendition that you will enjoy.

Babul Mora – Thumri in Bhairavi – Girija Devi

Babul Mora by Begum Akhtar

Begum Akhtar was born on 7 October 1914 to Asghar Hussain, a lawyer and his second wife Mushtari.  Her father abandoned her, her sister Zohra and her mother.  She trained under Ustad Imdad Khan, a sarangi maestro.  She studied under Mohammad Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan of Lahore, and Ustad Jhande Khan.

Babul Mora by Kishori Amonkar

Smt Kishori Ravindra Amonkar belonged to the Jaipur gharana.  She initially trained under classical vocalist Mogubai Kurdikar.  She also learned under Anjanibai Malpekar of the Bhendibazaar gharana and Ustad Anwar Hussain Khan of Agra gharana as well as Sharadchandra Arolkar of Gwalior gharana, and Balkrishnabuwa Parwatkar.

Babul Mora by Jagjit Singh

Jagjit Singh was born Jagmohan Singh Dhiman in Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan in a Ramghariya family.  He was known for Ghazals.  He learned his music from Pandit Chagan Lal Sharma and later from Ustad Jamal Khan of Maihar Gharana.

Jagjit Singh has sung Babul Mora many times.  Sometimes along with his wife Chitra Singh as well.  But in this rendition, you can listen to him singing in classical bandish, different from his other renditions.

Here is another one by Jagjit Singh and his wife Chitra Singh.

Babul Mora by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was a singing maestro from Karnataka who belonged to the Kirana gharana.  He was known for singing khayal.  His Guru was Pandit Sawai Gandharva.

This amazing Thumri is sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the amazing classical music maestro.

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