cinema Hindi film music has churned out some classic rain songs which get refreshed in our memories every monsoon.

Pouring inexplicable joy in our hearts, the season’s first rain always brings forth a smile and a song on our lips. Who can dispute that after the scorching summer has burnt the body and parched the soul, a few droplets are enough to modify not just the countenance of a country but also turn many into dreamy romantics and incurable singers!

Evergreen melodies

While every age has had its own songs to welcome the precious gift of the skies, for most Indians there is nothing like the evergreen melodies of the monsoon, from the golden era of Hindi film music, to play cupid in their lives. Hindi filmmakers may be decried for several faults but they all can be pardoned for giving us incredible songs that have become significant participants in our life’s journey. The monsoon melodies, like the rains, turn everybody into a singer. Even those who have never danced in the rain now want to drench themselves upon ‘Rimjhim Ke Taraane Leke Aayee Barsaat’ ( Kala Bazaar ). There are others who croon from the treetops about their romantic sojourns with ‘Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi Wo Barsaat ki Raat’’ ( Barsaat ki Raat ), while many a teetotaller is unable to fathom why rains invariably bring the famous Sharaabi song ‘Sawan Ke Mahine Mein Ik Aag See Seene Mein Lagti Hai to Pee Leta Hun’ to their lips. Any need to explain the power of the rains to transport mortals into an ethereal world especially when accompanied by an exquisite song?

If it is ‘Bheega Bheega Pyar Ka Sama’ ( Sawan ) which induces you to go bonkers and hold your sweetheart’s hand, a duet like ‘Sawan Ke Jhoole Pade’ ( Pyaar Ki Pyaas ) certainly prompts you to ‘swing’ with your beloved in open spaces. Poetry and human yearning have always had an enduring relationship but never have the two inspired poets to render lilting ‘raindrops’ like ‘O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayee’ ( Parakh ), ‘Sawan ke Badalon Unse Ye Ja Kaho’ ( Rattan ) or ‘Aha Rimjhim ke Pyaare Pyaare Geet Liye’ ( Usne Kaha Tha ”).

Just as clouds add colour and gaiety to our horizon, rain songs insert zest and nostalgia into our lives. Who can ever forget Sahir’s heart tugging ‘Jhukti Ghata Gaatee Hawa’ ( Dhool ka Phool ), Shailendra’s pensive ‘Kali Ghata Chhaayee Mora Jiya Ghabraaye’ ( Sujaata ), Anand Bakshi’s exuberant ‘Kajre Badarwa Re’ ( Pati-Patni ) or Majrooh Sultanpuri’s effervescent ‘Deewaana Mastaana Hua Dil Jaane Kahan Hoke Bahar Aayee’ ( Bombai ka Babu ) that have given shape to our thoughts and desires with immaculate honesty. Is it any wonder that songs like ‘Ajahun Na Aaye Baalma, Saawan Beeta Jaaye’ ( Saanjh Aur Savera ), ‘Ik Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si’ ( Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi ), ‘Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke’ ( Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke ) or ‘Dum Dum Diga Diga Mausam Bheega Bheega’ ( Chhaliya ) and ‘Sawan Ka Mahina Pawan Kare Shor’ ( Milan ) are still a rage with the listeners because of their inherent harmony of tune and verse. The most remembered one is obviously “Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua” where the setting played a key role.

Barometers of change

In fact, these magnificent rain songs are significant barometers to the urbanisation (or rather destruction) of our landscape. If the golden era melodies are embedded with tender metaphors and pristine beauty, it is because the countryside then abounded with flora, fauna and greenery.

But as contractors and bureaucrats systematically disfigured the scenery with vast structures of concrete jungles, not only did we lose the chirping of the birds and rivulets but also lost poetry from our lives. Then we had songs like ‘Aaj rapat jaye’ and earlier ‘Hai hai yeh majboori’ from Namak Halal and ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’, respectively. Much later came ‘Tip tip barsa paani’ from Mohra which was even worse.

Veteran actor-writer-director Manoj Kumar hits the nail on the head when he says, “How can writers imbibe sensitivity or write well when they have no relationship with nature’s sights and sounds”.

The consequence is that with the 1970s advent of Bachchan era, rain songs, like the films, became cruder, louder and raunchier with more emphasis on lyrics accentuating the skin show rather than sublime mystique of thought, devotion and feelings.

Prof. A. L. Shah, former Head of the English Department at University of Rajasthan and a connoisseur of old film songs, believes “Lyrics of the golden era conveyed complex emotions of love and pain in simple verse but modern songs are merely graphic representations of obscenity on screen”. Isn’t it obvious why the old melodies still live in our hearts and make our rainy season full of nostalgic rainbows?

deepak mahaan