Splash of colours on the silver screen

We often hear the complain that Hindi movies have too many songs and dances interrupting the story. But for a country which has always had songs and dances as an integral part of its storytelling culture, it isn’t an eyesore. We have so many festivals in this country that we can perhaps make an entire year out of all the festivals. Celebration is perhaps a way of life for us….. and also for our cinema. As Holi arrives this year with all its colours, pichkaris, romance, ecstatic drum beats and music, here are some of the greatest Holi numbers.

Khelo Rang humare Sang (Aan): Music: Naushad Lyrics: Shakeel Badayauni

Independent India’s cinema was dabbling with new technologies, themes and actors. In 1951, technicolour burst into the scene with this movie and what better way of bringing colour into action than having a Holi song in it? For the first time, the audience saw the colours being splashed on the screen. Dilip Kumar teased Nadira and Premnath lusted after Nimmi in this Holi treat dipped in the folk tunes of UP, composed by the inimitable Naushad.
2. Holi Aayi Re Kanhai (Mother India): Music : Naushad Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
Mention Mother India, and the song that comes to our mind is the one where Nargis tills the fields with a hoe placed on her shoulders. But this folksy composition of Naushad in the earthly and flirtatious voice of Shamshad Begum had everything that one would seek in Holi. It is soaked in a rural melody and flows along with the script of the movie, with a dish-dash of flashbacks and humour in what is a gem of cinema. .

3. Arre Ja Re Hat Natkhat (Navrang) Music : C.Ramachandra Lyrics : Bharat Vyaas


Not many might like this theatrical fantasy of a poet captured by V.Shantamram in technicolour. But the songs of Navrang stand out for their sheer brilliance in terms of composition and out-of-the-box choreography (by the Kathak maestro Gopi Krishna). How can one forget the brilliant Holi song where Sandhya doubles up as a male and female with the help of a mask and a tricky costume? The drum beats, in which she matches her steps with an elephant, still echo in our hearts as we start shaking our legs to its tunes.
4. Tan Rang Lo Ji Aaj (Kohinoor) Music: Naushad Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni

This movie is most remembered for the music of Naushad and a rare comic outing of the most iconic actors of the Hindi cine screen. Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari surprised all with their tons of laughter and comic timing. This Holi number was in B&W but perhaps the lilting tunes were responsible for the colours which we imagined on the screen.

5. Piya Tose Naina Lage Re (Guide) Music: S.D.Burman Lyrics: Shailendra

Though it is not an out an out Holi song, the one stanza Aayi Holi Aayi has endured over the years. Waheeda Rehman’s charm and her dancing abilities shone through the song rendered in the silken voice of Lata Mangeshkar.

6. Aaj Na Chodenge… Khelenge Hum Holi(Kati Patang) Music : R.D.Burman Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Rajesh Khanna at his all time high! Kati Patang was Shakti Samanta’s second blockbuster with Rajesh Khanna. Kishore Kumar’s mirth-filled voice alternated with the morose lines of Lata Mangeshkar. The song is a rarity for it juggles pathos and glee. The strains of the shehnai in the interludes and the juxtaposition of Asha Parekh’s widow white with Khanna’s riot of colours refuse to fade away.

7. Holi Ke Din (Sholay) Music: R.D.Burman Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

This song is mainly remembered for its positioning in an unforgettable blockbuster. ‘Kab hai Holi?’ thunders Gabbar Singh. The song is followed by a bloodbath in the scene that follows. Dharamendra and Hemamalini formed the most loved pair of the 70s and this song reinforced their chemistry.

8. Rang Barse (Silsila) Music: Shiv Hari Lyrics: Harivanshrai Bachchan

Perhaps the most popular and dramatic of the lot. Amitabh Bachchan’s drunken voice was simply apt for this coquettish number. It helped that the song mirrored a much hyped real life triangle of Jaya-Amitah-Rekha. But the song turned out to be much more than just that and went on to attain cult status. Two decades later, Amitabh tried his hand in another number Holi khele raghuveer awadh mein in Baghban.

9. Dekho Aayi Holi (Mangal Pandey- The Rising) Music: A.R.Rehman Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

This is a personal favourite from the recent times. There are songs whish fail to catch your attention because the movies which carry them fail at the box office. But the colours of this Holi duet were too infectious too remain relegated to the archives.
What forms a common thread between all of them is the visual imagery of the lines, which liberally uses the metaphor of the Radha-Krishna legend, which in spite of umpteen repetitions lends a different flavour each time it is used . Perhaps it is this divine frolicking that has kept the joy alive.

One thought on “Splash of colours on the silver screen

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  1. hey.. u copied my idea of writing a holi post with every paragraph in a different colour. ..

    neways.. I agree with you for most of the songs. holi will be incomplete without them and they'll remain in air for decades to come, I am sure.

    Btw, there is one personal fav for Holi.. “hum do premi chhat ke upar, gali gali main shor… aa raa raa ra are.. “. Please don't find it cheesy.. it can really make tired, colourful, crazy folks, dance 😀


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