The rains are here. And with it comes the smell of freshly dampened earth. ‘Puthu mannu(Malayalam)‘ we call it, a smell that cannot be described; it has to be experienced. It is the smell that assails your senses when the parched earth eagerly drinks in the first drops of the first monsoons. The monsoons are greeted with joy; the rains bring welcome relief from the intense summer heat. Everything looks cleaner, just a little brighter after the first showers.
I have always loved the rains. I have also had the good fortune to experience its myriad facets in the many places I have stayed in over the years. I remember revisiting Mahabalipuram with friends, when a late-summer downpour caught us by surprise. The beach emptied faster than you can imagine, leaving our group to brave the elements. There was something surreal about standing on a deserted beach in the pelting rain, watching lightning cleave the darkening skies, while the winds whipped the casuarina trees into abject surrender.
I remember getting caught by a shower in Madras on my way back from work; after trying unsuccessfully to open my umbrella, I decided to walk from the bus-stop to my hostel – a distance of about a kilometre and a half. My room-mate passed by at the time in an auto, but she said later that I looked so happy walking in the rain, she didn’t bother to stop.
The gentle rains of Bangalore barely wet the jasmine creeper in our euphemistically-termed ‘garden’ (Bangalore-waasis will know what I mean) but intensified the fragrance of the blooms all the same, and I exulted in the Bombay monsoons that tried to make my umbrella into a parachute and whisk me into the embrace of the sea. Foolhardy though it was (in hindsight) I remember standing at the embankment walls, umbrella folded and firmly secured, drenched to the skin, enthralled by the fury of the tide as it smashed against the rocks at Marine Drive.
I love watching the rains. Sitting on the window-sill of my bedroom as a teenager and watching the south-west monsoons lash the coconut trees outside into a frenzy was a favourite past-time. I loved the drumrolls of thunder and the vivid flashes of lightning that intermittently turned night into day. It was even better if I had a hot cup of coffee and a samosa (or two) from my favourite store.
I love the sound of the rain, from the gentle pitter-patter of the first showers to the muted buzz of the incessant downpour when the drops merge into each other to form sheets and sheets of water. (By then, it’s like Dame Washalot emptying her tub on washing day – Enid Blyton readers will know the reference.) It’s soothing and invigorating by turns. And even today, I splash into mud puddles, albeit a trifle guiltily. (I also catch myself looking around to see if anyone is watching!)
The rains are here, and oh, I wish I were back in India…
Since I am not, let me celebrate the rains my own way. Here are some of my favourite rain songs from films I have seen. There were only two conditions – the songs should predate the 70s (which effectively removed one of my favourite songs) and, the picturisation had to involve rain. From gentle showers to deluges or everything in between.
It seems apt to lead with this song. A lesser-known number from a film that boasted the classic Na tum humein jano, it is a light-hearted romantic number picturised in the rains. It is the quiet exuberance (yes, I know that’s an oxymoron) that catches your attention. Waheeda looks beautiful as only she can, and if someone can explain to me how Dev manages to look dapper even when he is as wet as a drowned rat…
Lyrics: Rajinder Krishen
Yes, I know. This song can hardly be called a ‘celebration’; I chose it because a) I love it b) it is the flip side of the rains – it is a storm that brings devastation in its wake. Yet, it is not enough to douse the fires that gnaw at your insides. Coming at the point of conflict in the film, the rains effectively capture the inner turmoil of the characters played by Sunil Dutt and Vyjayanthimala. The mother is not unsympathetic either. I have felt both – exuberant happiness and exquisite hurt, and the rains have always enveloped me in their embrace, celebrating my joy and mourning my pain.
Now this, to me, is the quintessential rain song. Man! Shammi Kapoor knew how to enjoy the rain. No one can match Shammi for the sheer exuberance he brings to his songs. Rafisaab channels his inner Shammi, Shammi Kapoor let loose all his energy and joie de vivre, and Mala Sinha matches him step for step in this foot-tapping number as the rain comes down in sheets.
Salilda’s orchestration capturing the mood, a sitar rippling like quicksilver, the visuals of the raindrops falling off the leaves, a very young and very pretty Sadhana, Lata’s exquisite voice echoing the romantic pangs of a young girl’s heart… It is one of my favourite ‘rain songs’, its quiet melody bringing back memories of watching the rain through the bars as a much-younger me sat curled up on the window sill dreaming impossible dreams of my own.
Dev and Waheeda again. Two people who love each other but are separated by circumstances come face to face on a rainy day in Bombay. Forced to walk because they don’t seem to be able to get a cab (everyone else does), they take shelter under a common umbrella and their own thoughts. As he chivalrously escorts her, memories threaten to overwhelm both of them, and the rain provides the counterpoint…
The video link does not have the full song, unfortunately; the last verse
Jab milte ho tum to chhutein dil ke taar
Milne ko tum se main kyon tha beqaraar
Rah jaati hai,
Rah jaati hai kyon hothon tak aake dil ki baat
Rhim jhim ke taraane leke aayi barsaat
Yaad aaye kisi se vo pehli mulaqaat
is missing, so here is the link to the full audio.
Probably the synonym for a rain song in Hindi films. Like the earlier song on this list, this also had the couple share an umbrella. But here, they are in love, fate has yet to separate them, and the rains provide the counterfoil to their quiet romance. The dark night, the emptiness of the streets, the pouring rain, one umbrella and two people in love… It is a song where melody, lyrics, and picturisation melded together to produce a whole that was greater than the sum of its individual parts. The film version of the song has a verse missing…
Dil ye kahe is maang ko, main taaron se savaar doon
Tumse naya sansaar loon, tumko naya sansaar doon,
Chaand aur sooraj, deep gagan ke
Is dharti pe utaar doon…
For the full audio, click here.
Lyrics: Qamar Jalalabadi
Nothing celebrates the rains quite as much as walking in it. Especially if it is the sort of downpour where having an umbrella or not doesn’t make much of a difference. Raj Kapoor walks, dances, falls, gets drenched, splashes in puddles – see, the man knew how to enjoy the rains. He also knew that the best part of having an umbrella in the rains is that you can close it when you feel like it.
Singers: Suman Kalyanpur, Kamal Barot
On the face of it, this seems an unusual selection for this theme since the rain is glimpsed just occasionally through the window blinds. As the credits flash, two girls are seen doing their riyaaz under the watchful eye of their father and guru. For all that, the rain seems to pervade the whole atmosphere. Indeed, I can never think of ‘rain’ songs without Garjat barsat saawan aayo re coming to mind. Perhaps the word placement in the lyrics has something to do with it. Whatever it is, this song always ranks as a ‘rain song’ to me.
Trivia: This song, a traditional bandish, was originally composed for Malhar (1951) as Garjat barsat bheejat aailo and sung by Lata Mangeshkar; Roshan modified the bandish to record this version. The lyrics differed – while Indivar penned the ‘original’, Sahir did the needful for this version.
Music: Salil Choudhary
Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Hemant Kumar
A lilting romantic number from Salil Choudhary’s baton, the song was picturised on Sabita Chatterjee and Ashim Kumar, whom I’m always mistaking for Anoop Kumar. Here, the rain does not just mirror their longing, it actually awakens them. Shailendra’s lyrics evoke that longing – soye armaan jaage, kayi toofan jaage, maane ne man mora sajna bina… As she sings on the balcony of their flat, he is reading inside, until the second verse ‘...yaad aayi beeti baatein, tumse milan ki raatein, kahe ko bhoole mohe, apna banaa…‘ brings him out to her. He joins in, in Hemantda‘s liquid tones. And the rain, it rains…
10. Din aaye pyaare pyaare barsaat ke Sangram (1950)
Music: C Ramchandra
Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
Singer: Lata Mangeshkar
A little known song from the Ashok Kumar-Nalini Jaywant starrer, it combines two of my favourite things – the rain, and driving in the rain. There is something about driving in the rain, especially through the ghats. I like the attention paid to d etail in the picturisation – towards the end of the song, she takes a rag to wipe the inside of the windshield. 🙂 (Anyone who has driven through the rains, or even fog/mists must have done that at some point.)
Can you think of any songs from this period that I have missed? Keep in mind that it is necessary that it is raining – clouds are just not enough!
Disclaimer: I restricted myself to songs from the golden period, because I found much to my astonishment that there were many songs from the later period that I actually liked – even if I like them for different reasons. Enough to make a post of its own. And therefore, for probably the first time, a follow-up post will have ‘modern’ rain songs, some of which may have the maestros (and the purists) turn in their grave!
Written By: Anuradha Warrier, is a writer, editor, film, and music buff. She writes for pleasure, edits for a living, and indulges in watching films, listening to music, and writing about both on her blog Conversations Over Chai as and when time permits.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and Bollywoodirect.com do not necessarily subscribe to it. Bollywoodirect.com shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.