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Monsoon Melodies: Celebrating the drizzling days with Hindi film songs

"Talk of rain and pat comes to mind the title track of Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat  set  on Raag Bhairavi. The incorrigible optimist and diehard dreamer that he was, in his worldview the pang of separation  was  only a passing phenomenon. Instead love always won at the end and the lovers got united. So not surprisingly, in his films, even Nature became benign and rain became a uniting factor."

Tulsidas Mishra : July 2, 2008

It is again monsoon all around. With its marvel, magnificence and menace. Large, looming clouds have hijacked the fire-spewing sun into obscurity and torrential showers in last many days have made the heat, sweat and shooting temperature, faded memories of one more summer. Instead there is green vistas, wet grass, mist and moist wind to soothe the senses. In the whole cycle, perhaps it is this season of showers, which inspires the psyche and fires the senses most. In our epics and scriptures too, passages after colorful passages have been devoted to describe the beauty of brishti. It has inspired poets, playwrights and minstrels down the ages as well, to wax lyrical in its praise.

And the Hindi films, which so sincerely and faithfully chronicle our life and times, have their own awesome body of barsaat songs. Since the advent of the medium, in film after film, with the help of mesmerizing visuals and mellifluous music, our filmmakers have paid rich tribute to the months of megh.

Talk of rain and pat comes to mind the title track of Raj Kapoor’s Barsaat  set  on Raag Bhairavi .The incorrigible optimist and diehard dreamer that he was, in his worldview the pang of separation  was  only a passing phenomenon. Instead love always won at the end and the lovers got united. So not surprisingly, in his films, even Nature became benign and rain became a uniting factor. And Lata sang Barsaat main humse mile tum sajan..(Shailendra/Shankar-Jaikishan). One of her earliest numbers, oozing vintage innocence.

Perhaps this above song foresaw Pyar Hua Ikrar Hua from ‘Sri 420’. Beneath a sky pouring music, on a rain swept pavement, an innocent tramp and his elegant ladylove stand snuggled under an umbrella and sing the wet duet. And thus the awesome twosome of Raj-Nargis cut a perfect picture of amour and union.

Rain cascades like benediction in V.Shantaram’s ‘Do Aankhen Barah Haat’. Here a jailor has taken up the onerous task of reforming six criminals. Led by him, they have just transformed a wasteland into an arable patch. As if this transformation symbolizes their own reformed collective self. And then divine acknowledgement comes down in the form of rain. To celebrate this metamorphosis and the onset of monsoon, Vasant Desai composes a chorus Umad , ghumad kar aayi re ghata( Manna Dey/Lata) for them.

Another all-time great rain song is Sawan ka mahina , pawan kare shor from ‘Milan’(Lata/Mukesh). Here is this college going beauty (Nutan) who requests a boatman (Sunil Dutt) to teach her a song or two for her college function. And the boatman bursts into a shower of a song. The purveiya brings out the poet in him. Keeping his rustic milieu in mind, lyricist Anand Bakshi resorts to folk language and pastoral imagery. Try this line Jiarara jhoome aise , jaise banma naache mor . And Laxmikant-Pyarelal compliments the lines with a laidback tune and minimal orchestration.  

But talk of mass appeal and no other rain song can beat Chhup gaye saare nazare wai kya baat ho gayi (Do Raaste) and Rim jhim ke geet sawan gaye , bheegi bheegi raton main. (Anjaana). Equally popular are the title track of ‘Aaya Sawan Joom Ke’ and Kuch kahata hai yeh Sawan (Mera Gaon Mera Desh). Interestingly enough, all these hummable Rafi-Lata duets are the handiwork of the tuneful trio of Anand Bakshi-Laxmikant-Pyarelal.

One song that invariably wafts out of the radio during monsoon is Lata’s folksy number O sajna barkha bahar aayee (Parakh). A song of love, longing and subtle sensuality, with lines like Mithi , mithi agni main jale mora jiara and  gives evidence of lyricist Shailendra’s poetic excellence too. Shalil Chaudhary’s tuning and orchestration in the song  are  worth a mention as well. Along with the use of flute and sitar, the saxophone track laced to the antara is just unforgettable.

And who can forget the haunting Lata song Megha chaye aadhi raat (Sharmilee) based on Raag Patdeepak. The song encompasses the hurt and humiliation that follow unrequited love and unfulfilled wishes. On a lonesome night, a demure Rakhee sings Hawa laage shool jaisi , tanaa maare chunaria and Naina bahe re Ganga mori , phir bhi man hai pyasa. It seems as if the elements are also taking a dig at the ditched damsel. Neeraj’s heart rending lines become a poignant composition under the baton of S.D.Burman.

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A similar sentiment is expressed in one more somber Lata song in ‘Kinara’ Drawing an analogy between the raining sky and the streaming eye , Gulzar wrote Ab ke na Sawan bares, ab ke baras to barsegi aankhiyan. And which was transformed by R.D.Burman into a tearful number. Pancham has few more rain songs which are equally melodious like Ab ke Sawan main jee dare (Jaise Ko Taisa), Bheegi bheegi raaton main (Ajnabee), Sawan ke jhoole pade (Jurmana) Rimjhim gire Sawan (Mnzil), Badal yoon garajta hai (Betaab)

Actually the kabootar (Maine Pyar Kiya) came much later. Before that, the enterprising lovers in Hindi films were appointing clouds as their couriers. See, in front of whom Nanda fumes about an idiot Jeetendra? Jaare kare badra balam ke dwar, wohh hai aise buddhu na samjhe re pyar. (Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke/Lata/Majrooh/Laxmikant-Pyarelal).

So long the post-independence patriotic euphoria was still there and the dreams of a new India still seemed achievable, Manoj Kumar’s characters celebrated monsoon, singing Purva suhani aayee re (Purab Aur Paschim). But with the advent of the 1970s came unemployment, poverty and labor unrest, to plague our society. And the patriot turned into a protestor. His films became his platform and his songs read like pamphlets. Rain ceased to make him a romantic then. Instead his rain songs poured like acid rain. Try these caustic lines from ‘Shor’-- Paani re paani tera rang kaisa, bhookhe ke bhookh aur pyas jaisa or Isi duniya main jeenewale aise bhi hain jeete, rookhi sookhi khate hain aur thanda paani peete. That way lines like Teri do takiyadi naukri re meri laakhon ka Sawan jaye( Hai hai yeh majboori/Roti Kapda Aur Makaan) too underline unemployment of that time.

Ravindra Jain has also contributed few soothing rain songs to Hindi film repertoire. One song which comes to mind is the drizzle of a duet Brishti pade tapur tupur from ‘Paheli’. (Suresh Wadekar/Hemlata). Filmed on two frolicsome adolescents, it celebrates their innocent prank and paints an intimate picture of the season, complete with raindrops, rainbow and paper boats. Another song that is equally enchanting is the title-track of ‘Sawan Ko Aane Do’ sung by Jaspal Singh. Tujhe geeton main dhaloonga, Sawan ko aane do, he sings. A song saturated with rustic charm and simplicity.

Recent rain songs which deserve a mention are Pahali baarish( Phool Aur Kaante) ,Tip tip barsa paani ( Mohra), Yeh bearish ka paani ( Smuggler) , Bheegi Bheegi Raton main ( Adnan Sami) and of course the famous AR Rehman composition Ghanan ghanan (Lagaan).

Two non-film rain songs which were released few years back also appealed the listeners in a great way. One is Adnan Sami’s ‘Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Main’, a soothing number that highlights the longing of a lonesome lover in a desolate rainy night. The other is a boisterous and frolicsome song—‘Ghata Saawan Ki’ by Shubha Mudgal.

But two songs which can be undoubtedly called monsoon master pieces of modern times are Megha re megha re (Pyasa Sawan) based on raag Charukeshi and Rim jhim, run jhun, (1942-A Love Story). The former song is by Santosh Anand/Laxmikant-Pyarelal and later one is by Javed Akhtar/R.D.Burman.  Both are great compositions and have beautiful lyrics and can be safely bracketed among the all time great rain songs of Hindi films.

(Author is an FTII (Pune) graduate in Direction. He writes Hindi Poems, Articles and Analysis pieces on various themes related to the world of Cinema and Entertainment)



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