Barsaat mein hum se
IN classical Indian poetry as well as our folk songs, the rainy season has been described in an evocative language. Our ancient poets — Kalidasa, Bharthrihari, Bhavabhuti, Sudraka and others — excelled in describing the amorous yearnings of young lovers with the rainy season as the backdrop. The lovers, we are told, can bear every hardship in the thorny path of love, but they cannot brook separation, especially during the rainy season.
The rainy season has also inspired our film lyricists to pen some beautiful rain songs. In fact, right from the advent of the talkies in India, rain songs have been featured in Hindi films with unfailing regularity. The earliest popular rain song in films that I can readily recall from memory is, Jhuki aayee re badariya sawan ki, sawan ki man bhavan ki... It is from the Bombay Talkies’ film Bhabhi that was released in 1938. It was sung by Renuka who also acted as heroine in the film. The picturisation of the song was superb. While Renuka sings, her lover, played by actor Jairaj, accompanies her on the piano. The song was a hit of those days.
Another film of the 40s in which a few haunting rain songs were picturised on the heroine and the hero was titled Rattan. The heroine, waiting for her lover’s arrival on a rainy day, sings, ‘Room jhoom barse badarva mast hawain aayeen, piya ghar aaja...’ But when rigid social customs and the callous attitude of the village elders ruin their love affair and they are separated from each other for ever, they sing tearfully, Sawan ke badlo unse yeh ja kaho, taqdeer main yehi tha sajan mere na ro...
The first post-Independence film in which the rainy season played a vital role was Raj Kapoor’s Barsat (1949). The storyline of the film was that two Kashmiri girls — played by Nargis and Nimmi-fall in love with two young men — Raj Kapoor and Premnath — from the plains. While Raj Kapoor is faithful to his lady-love Nargis, Premnath, a playboy type, is not true to his girl Nimmi. When Nimmi finds her flippant lover at her doorstep, she sings. ‘Barsat main hum se mile tum ke sajan...’ But her love is doomed to end in a tragedy.
When on a rainy day a young woman is waiting for her lover, she is apt to appeal to the rain gods to stop their bounty for a while so that her lover may join her. And this is how she sings, ‘Zara thum ja tu ai sawan, mere sajan to aane dey...’ This song was featured in the film Jogan (1950) starring Dilip Kumar and Nargis.
Some rain songs, even though they do not become very popular, leave a lasting impression on the listeners’ minds. One such song appeared in Raj Kapoor’s film Jagte Raho (1956). A beautiful young woman, whose charm her drunkard husband seldom pays any heed to, sings on a rainy day. Thandi thandi sawan ki phuwar, piya aaj khidki khuli mat chhodo... It is one of the most beautiful rain songs from films. It was sung by Asha Bhosle and tuned by Salil Choudhary.
In Bimal Roy’s Sujata (1959), Nutan plays the role of a low-caste girl in love with a young man from the upper caste. She never dares to express her love. It is only when she is alone that she pines for her lover. And on a rainy day, she sings, Kali ghata chhaye mora jiya ghabraye...
For melodious rain songs I had to go back to old films. In fact, rain songs in the present-day films are neither well-written nor appealingly set to music. More often, these songs are just an excuse to present titillating nudity. The heroine, clad in a skimpy sari or mini skirt, sings in the rain while the hero is all the time trying to take her in his arms. Very few such songs are remembered by us after we have seen the film.