x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 September 2017

Bollywood's most memorable rain songs

We round up the best monsoon-inspired music from Bollywood.

A still from the movie Shree 420 starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Courtesy YouTube
A still from the movie Shree 420 starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis. Courtesy YouTube

With the arrival of the rains, the scorching temperatures of summer in most of India have abated. The dry, parched browns of the cities are slowly turning a lush green. The Mumbai monsoon rains are like a much-anticipated guest - the first few days are magical; everything you longed for and waited for through the hot summer months. And just as with a guest, the charm soon wears thin; local trains that start to run late, roads clogged with slush and water and clothes that never dry.

However, Bollywood never ceases to celebrate this magic. Over the years, countless movies have used the rain in various ways. Rains depict romance, with the hero and heroine drenched and oblivious to the world. It is about moments of sheer abandon and joy. It is about hope and disappointment, with those thick grey clouds that refuse to pour. It is about introducing the heroine, as she sings and dances her way into the audience's hearts.

Filmmakers long ago caught on to the fact that the Indian censor board, which frowned upon the chastest kiss on screen, turned a blind eye to sequences where the heroine danced in wispy and wet clothes. And so a Bollywood staple was born. Every heroine in Bollywood, from Smita Patil to Sridevi, has gone through this trial by water, each bringing her own unique sensuality to it.

Here are our top 10 Bollywood rain songs, in chronological order.

1. Pyar hua ikraar hua hai - Shree 420 (1955)

It is perhaps the most memorable rain song in Bollywood, occurring decades before the Hindi film industry came to be called that. The actors Raj Kapoor and Nargis, who were rumoured to be in love with each other, sizzled in the rain, bringing in audiences in droves. And the image of them gazing at each other under one umbrella remains one of Hindi cinema's loveliest moments.

2. Ek ladki bheegi bhaagi si - Chalti ka naam gaadi (1958)

This is one of the movies that firmly established Kishore Kumar as a comic actor and a versatile singer. Who could forget the gorgeous Madhubala walking into Kumar's garage, drenched and stranded due to a faulty car?

3. Roop tera mastana - Aradhana (1969)

The hero was charming and crazy in love. The heroine shy and attractive. Sudden rain that drives them inside leads them to a fireplace and, later, smouldering passion. An entire nation held its collective breath to see if all this would lead to a bhool - a mistake. It did. Along with setting the stage for the rest of the story, this is one of the songs that catapulted Rajesh Khanna to superstardom.

4. Rimjhim girey saawan - Manzil (1979)

There are two versions of this song - male and female, the former being more popular. However, the female version, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, is more lively and interesting, showing, as it does, two happy lovers walking in the rain. Most of the song is shot in south Mumbai, with its old Victorian buildings, open grounds and the Marine Drive promenade, all squeaky clean in the rain.

5. Aaj rapat jaaye toh - Namak Halal (1982)

Who would have thought that Smita Patil, the reigning queen of "art cinema" as it was called then, had it in her to dance in such an uninhibited fashion? The pairing itself - Amitabh Bachchan and Smita Patil - was slightly unusual but they managed to pull off this romp in the rain admirably.

6. Kaante nahi kat tey yeh din yeh raat - Mr India (1987)

This is the definitive wet sari song in Bollywood, the tune that set aflutter many a man's heart. Sridevi writhing in that electric blue sari, singing to her invisible lover Mr India with his special superhero powers; so many would have killed to be in the hero Anil Kapoor's place.

7. Rimjhim rimjhim - 1942: A Love Story (1994)

This film, set in the times of the British Raj, was released after the death of RD Burman, who scored the music. Burman, who is acknowledged as a genius in the film industry, won one of its most coveted awards, the Filmfare Award, for three movies, one of which was this.

8. Sawan barse tarse dil - Dahek (1999)

This one is a dark horse, finding mention here for the way the rain itself feels like a character in the song, showing all of Mumbai, warts and all. The two star-crossed lovers - a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy - try to meet, even as the rain plays spoilsport.

9. Ghanan ghanan ghan - Lagaan (2001)

Lagaan was India's entry to the Oscar's in 2001 and was set in a village in western India where the rainfall is unpredictable and scant. The song is the expression of the entire village looking up hopefully at the dark grey clouds.

10. Barso re megha megha - Guru (2007)

The rain song is a commonly used cinematic device by the south Indian director Mani Ratnam to introduce the heroine. In this movie, it is Aishwarya Rai, first shown singing in the rain and, as the song ends, running away from home for a rendezvous with her lover.