[Updated with an 11th song that just had to be put in (thanks Tejas)]
11.Lagi Aaj Sawan Ke Phir Woh [Video]: Statistics show that when a man cheats on his wife and gets caught, 64% of the time he says “But darling, when I did it with the other woman, I was thinking only of you. Only your chehra was in my mind.” This song captures that excuse perfectly. Lalit (played by Vinod Khanna), feels the hots for employee Chandni (Sridevi) and that transparent yellow sari she wears isnt helping matters any. But since he is a virtuous hero, he cannot show lust. And so we have him reminiscing sadly of his “dead wife” (Juhi Chawla) dancing sexily in the rains, as a surrogate for the person he really wants to see getting wet. How noble. Water I tell you. Plays so many tricks with your eyes. And your morals.
10. Aa Jaa Jaane Ja [Video]: Salman Khan has always been the patron saint for heroines and beauty queens looking to make their mark in Bollywood. At one point of time, Pakistani import Somy Ali was his..err…muse. In this sensual song, she combines with wind, enormous quantities of water and Sunil Shetty’s ” Is that a dumb belle to romance or a dumbell to lift?” ferociously confounded expression to create a classic. Film students study it in class, repeatedly and with frequent pauses of the VCR buttons, for the artistically back-lit shots of Somi Ali in a window, a technique of silhouetting that would be applied in many rain songs sometimes called the “Anth effect”.
9. Bheegi Hui Hain Raat Magar Jal Rahe Hain Hum [Video]: The night is drenched and yet we are burning. Only two things can make you feel like this. Having too much to spicy food for dinner in July. Or when Ayesha Jhulka gets up close and personal.
8. Aa Raha Hain Maza [Video]: Normally in a rain song, it’s the woman who catches your attention. There are some exceptions to that rule. In this song from “Sapne Sajan Ke” Rahul Roy totally steals the thunder from Karishma Kapoor. Not that she doesn’t try with her old “Prem Qaidi” lusty expressions. But she is no match for the Roy. He is a force of God. Okay so he has reed-thin arms, a pigeon high-body-fat-per-centage chest and even a slight paunch. But that does not prevent him from taking off his shirt, such is his Dada-ian spirit. I don’t know about you but a lot of men would be quite insecure making love in a room full of galloping horses, considering that whole “hung like a horse” thing. But so much “maza” has been brought on by the rains that the man here does not care even if he comes second best in the comparison. Respect.
7.Its Raining [Video]: Anu Malik once tried to go international. He made an English version of “Kaali Kaali Aankhein” whose lyrics “You look to me a virgin, a virgin, a virgin,..Outside you are a woman, inside you are a child” made the song allegedly a favorite of Roman Polanski. But he will most fondly be remembered for the iconic “It’s raining” with its austerely simple “Dekho baarish ho rahi hai, It’s raining, it’s raining, it’s raining, Mera dil ro ra hai, My heart is paining, it’s paining, it’s paining.” which has become an anthem of people afflicted with ischemic pain in the rainy season.
6. Sawan Ka Mahina: [Video] “Sawan ka maheena, shaadi bina muskil hai jeena, We want girl beautiful, beautiful, charming tiptop beautiful, beautiful, Julie Noorie Bobby ya phir chalegi apni gali ki Meena.” Rarely has the pining for sexual contact (euphemistically referred to as “shaadi” ) been so adroitly expressed in words, a desperation that makes men make do with even gaali ki Meena, no matter how she looks like. So powerful are the lyrics, so tasteful Ajay Devgun and Kajol’s “wannabe Mohra” outfits, so graceful Kader Khan’s steps and so enchanting is the flylike Haunnn Haunnnn refrain that this song makes my list, though there be not a drop of water in it.
5. Na Jaane Ladki Kahaan Se Aayi Hain: [Video] A shop selling “Bush” stereo systems. Dancing guys in white baniyaans, black rain coats, suspenders and sombreros playing violin. A broken steering wheel. A statue with a light which flickers when kissed. There goes a transparent umbrella. And oh skeleton umbrellas too. A tire swings by. Sunny Deol, without remnants of human skulls on his shirt, rushes by the camera doing the chicken dance. Sridevi making expressions to be copied later by Shilpa Shetty and I believe Kate Perry. Women. Not. Coming to hand. Supremely surreal this song is. Makes you wonder—Why would anyone do LSD when one has 90s Bollywood?
4. Mere Chhatri Ke Neeche Aja [Video]: Many boys of our generation, and they may deny it today in their old age, felt the chivalrous urge to wantonly shout “Aila Ailaa” and then sing “Mere Chhatri Ke Neeche Aja” on observing some Kamla, Vimla or Salma caught in the rains without an umbrella. Such was the impact of this iconic song wherein Naseerruddin Shah, Javed Jaffrey and Aditya Pancholi (all playing killer commandoes in the service of the country) offer their umbrellas to an assortment of beauties including the slender Guddi Maruti and some “laddies” of doubtful gender. Why “was” impactful? It still “is”. Because even now men use the line “Tu mujko de de tujhe lakh dega rabba” (If you give it up to me. God will give you lacs) to draw women to their brollies. While experts debate endlessly whether Rihanna’s “Ella Ella Ay Ay” in “Under My Umbrella” is a hat-tip to “Ailaa Ailaa” of this song, there is no doubt that it has inspired many inspired knockoffs, two of which are presented here [Video1, Video2].
3. Aaj Rapat Jaaye [Video]: What would happen if mainstream Bollywood met the alternative Hindi movie industry of the 80s? Commercial would immediately start unfurling the sari of art. That’s exactly what happens as two giants of the two parallel worlds, Amitabh Bachchan and Smita Patil, meet in “Aaj Rapat”. Not that we are complaining as the screen sizzles with raw sensuality with Kishore Kumar’s voice providing the pleasure-magnifying lubricant. This is the stuff of legends.
2. Tip Tip Barsa [Video]: In “Mohra” Raveena Tandon tells Akshay Kumar that a girl will commit suicide from an abandoned building at a certain time and only he can come and save her. Acting on the tip, he walks into the song “Tip Tip”. And oh what a song it is. Raveena Tandon throws everything at the camera and I mean everything. The Anth effect is liberally used, the waters of the Bhakra Nangal are let loose on the heroine, Akshay Kumar (this was when he was Master Chief and not the Master Chef that he is today) runs the gamut of emotions—from befuddlement, annoyance to final acquiescence till he, like the audience, becomes khada main saahil par.
1. Chhatri Na Khol [Video]: Some of you will be surprised to see this as my number one. There is something about this song that just does it for me. Maybe it is because it has Shilpa Shirodhkar, my undisputed dream queen growing up, more woman than anyone else (literally), churning the waters like only she can. Maybe it is because from “Gopi Kishen”, an exceptional work of art most famous for making Sunil Shetty dance in a Tshirt that said “SODA” and a scene with Shilpa Shirodhkar and bananas. Maybe it is because it has one of my all-time favorite lines “Main bhakt hoon Hanuman ka, ayoonga na tere haath mein”. Maybe because Poornima and Kumar Sanu were created by God to sing such songs.
I don’t know what it is. But every time I hear “Chhatri Na Khol”, it suffuses me in pleasant melancholia, like a good drink does on a night when the rains beat on the window pane with their million nervous fingers.
“Maza ayega mulakaton mein, bheeg jaane de bheegi raaton mein”.
It will be fun getting together, so let me get wet on a wet night.
Yes madam. Isn’t that just what the rains are for?