The monsoons are here. Starting from Kerala, then all along the west coast to Mumbai, the south western winds bring rain and relief after a scorching summer. The arrival of the rains has been celebrated in legend and lore, with much literature and song devoted to the season.
Hindi cinema has used the rains device to show romance, joy, intimacy and new beginnings. Here are a few of the best and most well-known rain songs over the years:
Pyar hua ikraar hua (Shri 420)
The indigent tramp, Raj Kapoor and his lady love Nargis, a humble school teacher find they have to share one umbrella which brings them close together. She’s coy, he is all charm and it soon becomes their first “date”, which amounts to little more than a glass of comforting, hot tea from a roadside vendor. But, as they exchange shy glances, their love burgeons and they dream of the future. Every Hindi film lover knows that the three kids in the song are Kapoor’s own children
Ek ladki bheegi bhagi (Chalti ka Naam Gaadi)
This is not shot in the rains but shows an extremely wet – and sizzlingly sensual – Madhubala who has taken refuge inside a garage to get a car fixed late one night. She is drenched and sneezing away and clearly not in a good mood. The mischievous garage mechanic, played by Kishore Kumar sets about fixing the problem and also teasing her with this beauty of a song.
Rimjhim ke taraane le ke aayi barsaat (Kala Bazaar)
Waheeda Rehman and Dev Anand, in love but separated, come together in a queue for a taxi stand in Bombay (yes, those existed). Forced to walk under one umbrella on Marine Drive, while this sweet song plays in the background, reminding them of the early days of their romance.
Rimjhim gire saawan (Manzil)
One of the most popular rain songs ever, it scores because there is nothing “filmy” about it. A young couple, Amitabh Bachchan, suited and gangly and Moushumi Chatterjee, half his height and radiating pixie appeal seem to be caught in the relentless Bombay rains and traipse about Marine Drive, Gateway of India and the Oval Maidan, getting wet and squishy. This is a song without any artifice. Director Basu Chatterjee was known for his natural, middle of the road cinema with every day characters and also for shooting outdoors in the city. Many a hardcore Mumbai lover goes all soft and nostalgic looking at the city as it was in the 1970s. (Note the single car parked on an empty Gateway-irresistable.) RD Burman’s music is simplicity itself.
Tum jo mil gaye ho (Hanste Zakhm)
One of the most bluesy songs in Hindi cinema, this is Madan Mohan at his creative best. The taxi driver Navin Nischol and his passenger Priya Rajvansh are safely ensconced in a cab, but outside it is all rain and thunder. Mohammed Rafi’s languid singing is backed by a western style band which breaks into an uptempo interlude half way through, as the cab winds its way through cloudy Marine Drive and the streets of Bombay. When the clouds finally break, it comes down hard and fast.
Ghanan ghanan (Lagaan)
The arrival of rains is a moment of great joy in a village. The fields will get water, the lakes will get full. Many films, from Do Beegha Zameen onwards have captured that moment. The villagers of Champaner are no different and watch the skies and when the clouds are spotted, it is an occasion for the whole village to rejoice.
Saanso ko saanson mein (Hum Tum)
The lovers Rani Mukherjee and Saif Ali Khan are out in the city, and the rains evokes many feelings, from exuberance – in him — to memories in her. It is a bit too slick but the small touches, of the other couples going about their business make it an enjoyable experience .