Singing in the Rain – Part 1 – on the 100 years of Indian Cinema in the Lokmat

Monsoon have arrived. The rains washing away the heat and the dust of the past few months. There is something uniquely beautiful and reinvigorating about the season – its almost as though its onset revives the parched soul and gives it hope. For most rains are the season of renewal, of rejoicing, of kids on the street playing cricket or football in the rain, of getting drenched. For an agrarian people rains represent life itself. It is almost as though nature wipes clean all the ugliness of the past year and gives you a second shot at living. Monsoons – the world looks washed, the skies look silver and grey. The trees sway, the air smells fresh and there is that cool breeze that refreshes. And, despite the wetness, the slush, the potholes and the traffic jams – it is a time for fun, a time for flirting and a time for falling in lust and in love.


Have fun for it is Raining – Rains are a time for pakodas, garma garam chai and masti. There is something wonderful about getting soaked.

There is an energy and a buzz, and just that wee bit of a devil may care attitude. Kishore Kumar in Chalti ka Naam Gaadi lightly pulls the leg of a rain soaked and very irritated Mahdubala – ek ladki bheegi bhaagi se. There is nothing romantic about that song, unless you happen to think “uska koi peech bhi dheela hai’ to be particularly romantic. It is a fun song, lilting and merry and quite out of synch with the weather outside (pagli si kaali raat mein –says the song). But it is rain that makes one giddy with cheer. A bit like the kids dancing in the rain and singing Ghode Jaise Chaal, Haathi Jaise Dum – as a prelude to the song picturised on Shahrukh and Madhuri Dixit in Dil Toh Pagal Hai. More recently in the hit film 3 Idiots, Rajkumar Hirani recreates the fun of old fashioned Hindi cinema with a hat tip to the rain song and dance. Kareena in a blazing orange sari that looks like she has been poured into it, and Aamir Khan have fun in the rain with Zobie Doobie (bhigi bhigi sari mein yooh tumki lagati tu, )

Hold me – thunder and lightning scare me – The first rains with thunder and lightening is when the hero and heroine discover that they are more than just good friends. It is almost as though they realise in a thunderclap what they mean to each other. But thunder and lightening serve another purpose and that is to get the hero and the heroine together. She is obviously frightened, he has broad shoulders – and chemistry takes care of the rest. In the film Dil Tera Deewana, the sound of thunder sends Mala Sinha scurrying into the waiting arms of Shammi Kapoor who declares his intent and is pleasantly surprised when she reciprocates. In Betaab it is the turn of Amrita Singh to rush to Sunny Deol (who indeed has very broad shoulders) with Badal yoon baraste hain. Thunder also brings Zeenat Aman and Rajesh Khanna closer in the film Ajnabee – Bheegi, Bheegi Raaton mein..

Sizzling in the Rain – For some strange reason, rains in India have an opposite effect of a cold shower. Instead of cooling down passions they invoke them. And, the hero and the heroine discover hormones in addition to love. Rajesh Khanna and Sharmil Tagore in Aaradhna get drenched in the rain, and find shelter in a convenient wooden lodge with a blazing fire. And while Kishore Kumar croons Roop Tera Mastana – and the rain rages outside the house, passion rages inside. In later years women took the initiative. Somehow there is something special about women wearing saris and getting wet in the rains. Raj Kapoor mastered the art of the wet look for a traditionally draped woman, and other directors have just taken it forward. Shekar Kapoor in Mr.India gives Sri Devi the wet look while she dances away with an invisible Mr.India. While Rain with non stop thunder & lightening, doesn’t deter a sari clad Raveena Tandon, in the film Mohra, from sizzling to Tip Tip Barsa Paani while Akshay Kumar looks dumb struck.

Falling in love in the Rains : Remember Amitabh Bachchan and Smita Patil dancing to Aaj Rapat Jaye to in Namak HalaI. The streets of Mumbai have never looked cleaner, and discovering the joys of love on a handcart has never seemed more appealing. Getting wet for an entire song sequence – shot over multiple days is never fun. It is a testimony to the skills of both actors who make the song seem to be the ultimate falling in love experience. If that song was energetic love, then Mujhe Jaan na Kahon meri Jaan picturised on Sanjeev Kumar & Tanuja is at the other end of the spectrum. Sung by Geeta Dutt with almost no musical accompaniment the song oozes romance & tenderness. Then there is the amazing Rhim Jhim Rum Jhum from 1942 – where Manisha Koirala and Anil Kapoor discover a whole new world of romance and oneness in the rains. And, who can forget Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 – Pyaar Huva ik raar huva defined romance for an entire generation, as sharing an umbrella and getting equally wet in the rains
Longing in the Rain – where is there is love, there is longing. And for some reason rains make you miss the one you love. O Sajna Barkha Bahar aayi picturized on Sadhna for the film Parakh deals with the parched yearning of a lover for her beloved – ‘tum ko pukaare mere man kaa papeeharaa meethhee meethhee aganee me, jale moraa jiyaraa’. And longing itself is sweet. Because you know that the rains will bring him or her back to you, because they remember you just as much as you think about them. When Bharat Bhooshan sings Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat – his song resonates ith the woman he briefly met – Madhubala –who longs for him as much as he longs for her. Today’s world of instant messaging and instant communication does not leave much scope for longing to see the one you love. He or she is but a click or a speed dial away. But, in an earlier era – longing for the lover was expressed through verse. Barsaat mein humse mile tum Sajan – possibly the most definitive of all love songs that speak the yearning of love in the rains.

The monsoons – a time to forget about water borne diseases, and potholes, of traffic jams and water logging and maybe just for an afternoon reminiscing about love, romance and the nicer things of life.

Ssongs featured in this column


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