Rim Jhim Gire Sawan: Celebrating Filmi Nostalgia As It Pours
Monsoon Jukebox: Mumbai monsoons are perfect for getting nostalgic about films, romance and melody!
(This piece is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 22 June, 2016. #MumbaiRains are back with a bang and so are we with this rainy jukebox. Enjoy!)
Romance in Hindi films is synonymous with rain sequences. Much before the item numbers dawned upon our entertainment business, rain songs were the only ticket to erotica in Hindi movies. Not all of them were explicitly sensual but they reflected a longing, an admission of desire and therefore all these songs were memorable. We remember some of these numbers for their extraordinary lyrics and their melodies, while others for their unique situations and unforgettable choreography.
How can we forget the spirited Aishwarya Rai dancing to Barso Re Megha in Guru, Kareena Kapoor drenched in the shower seducing a shy Rahul Bose in Chameli and before that a cheerful Madhoo jumping in the paddy fields singing Dil Hai Chhota Sa in Roja?
If Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua with Nargis and Raj Kapoor, shot under a wind blown umbrella in Shri 420 is the anthem for monsoon songs in Hindi films, Aamir Khan and Gracy Singh dancing to Kaale Megha Kale Megha in Lagaan is a song of hope, and Badal Yun Garajta Hai in Betaab a song of reunion, where childhood friends Amrita Singh and Sunny Deol meet after a long separation.
The poets always had a new expression for rain songs depending on the context of the scene and the character. The filmmaker combined with the choreographer always made sure that these moments were magical on the big screen.
So if the black & white cinema of Bimal Roy just made Sadhna stand in the balcony, looking at the desolate skyline singing O Sajna Barkha Bahaar Aayi, waiting for Dev Anand in Parakh, Shakti Samanta had the youth excited with Roop Tera Mastana in Aaradhna.
A decade later Hrishikesh Mukherjee had Raakhee just strolling the forest, singing to no one in particular, Sawan Ke Jhoole in Jurmana. Most of the time, rain was a metaphor or a muse to express longing for a beloved. As a result Hema Malini, a dancer in Abhinetri does her work singing O Ghata Sawari yearning for Shashi Kapoor, while Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman were in a playful mood during Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein in Ajnabee.
Very often the rain sequence was a transforming moment for the character or the story. Remember how Amitabh Bachchan walks Raakhee home under an umbrella in Kaala Pathar, and they become soulmates? Remember the young Anuradha Patel driving an older Naseerudin Shah into a tizzy singing Mera Kuch Samaan in Gulzar’s Ijaazat? Remember an anguished Vinod Khanna singing Lagee Aaj Sawan Ki Phir Woh Jhadi Hai in Chandni, as Sridevi and Juhi Chawla dance away, one in his present and the other in his past?
On the top of my rain favourites is Kaali Ghata Chaye Mora Jiya Ghabaraye from Bimal Roy’s Sujata, the story of a Harijan girl brought up by a Brahmin family. Self assured in her simplicity, she spends a major part of the day attending to household chores. One such day, the sky line changes colour and the clouds thunder! Sujata runs to her room and throws open the windows to allow the showers into her life. The close-up shot of Nutan smiling at the clouds and expressing her desire for a companion is refreshing and sensitive.
Equally endearing is Mitthu (Shabana Azmi) in Gulzar’s Namkeen, when she sets out for her morning stroll shrouded in a flowing black shawl. Shot amidst swaying trees and dew drops, Asha Bhosle’s mesmerising Phir Se Aiyo Barkha Bidesi is among the memorable lyrics of Gulzar.
It’s interesting how perceptions alter with time. Some years ago, a shy Jaya Bhaduri taking shelter inside a cave and singing Bole Re Papi Hara in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Guddi was heart-rending. With time we accepted Kajol dancing with a towel to Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
I’m of the opinion that Zeenat Aman’s Hai Hai Ye Majboori draped in a clinging saree in Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, was the beginning of the rain sequences. Zeenat invites Manoj Kumar to join her in the rain but he has to appear for a job interview and resists her advances. But she is too tempting and he eventually relents, but is still self conscious.
In contrast, Amitabh Bachchan and Smita Patil surrender to the monsoon madness in Aaj Rapat Jayein in Prakash Mehra’s Namak Halaal. The song is a celebration of carnal desire just in the way Koi Ladki Hai in Dil Toh Pagal Hai is about adventure, and to hell with medical complications (in this case a fractured ankle). Karisma Kapoor is bed ridden for an injured foot, but cannot resist a jig when the music comes on!
A trend setter of sorts is also Kaate Nahin Kat Te in Mr India in which Seema (Sridevi) sways seductively, allowing her saree to fly with the breeze. Her abandon is a robust admission to desire, while Akshay Kumar’s Dekho Zara Dekho Barsaat Ki Jhadi in Yeh Dillagi is a spontaneous reaction to the moment, a physical and an emotional release!
For a long time, when it rained the television only aired the Shatrughan Sinha starrer Barkha Rani Zara Jam Ke Barso and Basu Chatterjee’s Rimjhim Gire Saawan from Manzil, where Moushumi Chatterjee and Amitabh Bachchan walk down Marine Drive hand-in-hand, drenched in Mumbai’s slashing rains. I have watched this song a million times but still stop to watch it every time it plays on the television. It is a perfect image of torrential rain in Mumbai city.
(Bhawana Somaaya has been writing on cinema for 30 years and is the author of 12 books. You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter: @bhawanasomaaya)
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