1 ‘Watan ki raah mein watan ke naujawaan shaheed hon’ from the Dilip Kumar starrer Shaheed (1948). Qamar Jalalabadi lyrics, sung by Mohd Rafi, to Ghulam Haider’s tune is popular even after 64 years of the film’s release.
2 ‘Ye desh hai veer jawano ka’ from the movie Naya Daur (1957). Sahir Ludhianvi’s lyrics sung by Rafi.
3 ‘Desh ka pyara’ from the lesser known movie Masoom (1960). Raja Mehdi Ali Khan wrote the lyrics of this lovable children song.
4 ‘Sare jahan se achha’ by Allama Iqbal. The immortal Urdu poem has been sung by many singers over the years, including a duet by Rafi and Asha Bhosle for Dharamputra (1961).
5 ‘Insaaf ki dagar pe’ from the movie Ganga Jamuna. The 1961 classic had this gem penned by Shakeel Badayuni with music by Naushad.
6 ‘Nanha munna rahi hoon’ from Mehboob’s Son of India (1962). The duo of Naushad and Shakeel again behind this endearing effort.
7 ‘Ab tumhare hawale watan sathiyon’ from the National Award winning movie Haqeeqat (1964), which remains the most definite account of war portrayal on the Indian screen. The moving lyrics by Kaifi Azmi were given a soulful rendition by Mohd Rafi. A timeless classic.
8 ‘Apni aazaadi ko hum’ from the movie Leader (1964). Rafi, Shakeel and Naushad teams up for this winner. Dilip Kumar adds his aura to the on screen portrayal.
9 ‘Aye watan aye watan’ from the Manoj Kumar starrer Shaheed (1965). A brilliant song by the inimitable Rafi. A personal favourite.
10 ‘Sandese aate hain’ from Border (1997). Anu Malik provided the music for the song written by Javed Akhtar.
11 ‘Maa tujhe salam’ from the 1997 studio album Vande Mataram by A.R. Rahman. Rahman composed the tune for Mehboob’s lyrics, and then sang it with passion. It remains the most influential patriotic song of the modern era. The album sold 1.5 million copies in the releasing year in India alone. Till date it’s the largest selling non-film album in India.
12 ‘Zindagi maut na ban jaaye’ from Sarfarosh (1999). The immensely popular number from the critically acclaimed Amir Khan starrer was written by Israr Ansari.
13 ‘Ye jo des hai tera’ from the Shahrukh Khan starrer Swades (2004). A beautifully sung and composed number by Rahman with lyrics from Javed Akhtar.
14 ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’ by the freedom fighter Ram Prasad Bismil. The revolutionary Urdu masterpiece was brought to life by Rafi, Dey and Rajendra Mehta in Shaheed (1965). A.R. Rahman gave his touch to the lyrics, first in The Legend of Bhagat Singh (2002) and backed it with a powerful rendition by Amir Khan in the cult classic Rang De Basanti (2006).
15 ‘Rang de basanti’ from the movie Rang De Basanti. A peppy and relevant number for the youth of today. Naturally it was Rahman’s music.