By Ankush Arora
Monsoon has officially arrived in India. It’s that time of the year when I browse through my playlist for songs that would go well with the mood as temperatures dip, raindrops fall, and the aroma of earth lingers in the air. When evenings are fun and mornings even better; and when tea-haters, like me, won’t mind a mug or two in the afternoon.
First up, is ‘Bondoon ke moti’ from ‘Wake Up Sid’ (2009). Sung by Salim Merchant, the song essays the arrival of a much-loved – and detested – monsoon in Mumbai. It’s a brief melody, awash with beautiful monsoon imagery from the city.
Let’s rewind to vintage India, two years after it was re-born in the Independence. Singer Lata Mangeshkar collaborates with lyricist Shailendra and music composer duo Shankar-Jaikishan to sing ‘Barsat mein humse mile tum’, an evergreen classic.
Raj Kapoor’s on-screen tryst with the rain is legendary. In ‘Chalia’ (1960), singer Mukesh – Kapoor’s vocal ‘other’, as it were – sings ‘Dum dum diga diga’.
For a slow-tempo melody, listen to Lata’s ‘Sawan ke jhoole’ (Jurmana, 1979), featuring Rakhi, Amitabh Bachchan and Vinod Mehra.
In ‘Garjat barsat sawan aayo re’ (Barsat Ki Raat, 1960), lyricist Sahir and composer Roshan create a jugalbandi, epitomizing the cascading effect of rain.
In ‘O sajana barkha bahara aayi’ (Parakh, 1960), a beautiful Sadhna lip-syncs to Lata’s lilting notes of longing.
Fast-forward to 2009 and watch Aishwarya Rai dance to Shreya Ghoshal’s voice amid some breathtaking shots from southern India. The song is ‘Barso re megha’ (Guru, 2009) and A R Rehman is at his best.
You cannot miss R D Burman’s swan song in ‘1942 A Love Story’ (1994). Kumar Sanu and Kavita Krishnamurthy rule the roost in ‘Rim jhim rim jhim’, which features lead pair Mansha Koirala and Anil Kapoor brimming with romance.
Let’s stick to Burman and play another rim jhim song from Manzil (1979). In ‘Rim jhim gire sawan‘, the magic of Kishore Kumar’s voice is enhanced by Amitabh Bachchan, who is holding a mehfil as Maushmi Chatterjee looks reasonably transfixed.
If you’re still up for a dose of romance, play ‘Lagi aaj sawan ki’ from Chandni (1989). Suresh Wadekar has done a good job on a pensive Vinod Khanna.
In ‘Lagaan’ (2001), an ensemble cast of singers and actors invoke the too-hard-to-please rain gods. The song is rich in folk dance, intricate jugalbandhis, with some brilliant camerawork and editing. And by the way, it’s Rahman again. Phew!
I would pick ‘Piya tora kaisa abhiman‘ (Raincoat, 2004) only for Gulzar’s abstract monsoon poetry:
ye baarish gungunati thee isi chat ki munderon pe
ye ghar ki khidkiyon ke kaanch par
ungli se likh jaati thee sandese
bilakhti rahti hai baithi hui
ab band roshandanon ke peeche
And finally, for some unadulterated Hindustani gayaki experience, listen to Kishori Amonkar sing ‘Megha jhar jhar barsat‘ from ‘Drishti’ (1991). It’s unmatched, and she’s also the music composer.
PS: I am sure I missed many songs. Why don’t you write about your favourite in the comments section and I will feature it on my blog. 🙂
Siddarth Kanaojia recommends:
Asha Bhonsle’s ‘Kali ghata chaaye mora jiya ghabraye’ from Bimal Roy’s ‘Sujata’, a film about India’s caste problems. Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote the lyrics and S D Burman composed the music.
My great aunt, from the U.S., suggests:
‘Barso re’ from Tansen (1943), in the voice of Khursheed Bano.