As the splashes of colour begin, you’re most likely to have Rang barse bheege chunar waali, rang barse... blaring in the backdrop. Composed in 1981 and picturised on Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha, this is one of the few Holi songs that every generation remembers.
Lyricist Prasoon Joshi says that in Indian cinema we have had such few great Holi songs that the ones we do have are
eternal. “From Holi ayee re Kanhayee from Mother India to Rang Barse of Silsila… we have grown up with these songs,” he says.
Director Goldie Behl says, “I think that the last hit song on holi was in Baghban and though filmmakers have tried similar songs off and on, they don’t appeal to audiences anymore.”
Explaining further, filmmakers feel the appeal of songs in modern cinema may be weaning as movies today aim to be more
global than traditional. Film critic Taran Adarsh says, “In the past the scripts demanded Holi songs, but today we don’t require them as the stories don’t depict such ethos and values.”
Singer Kailash Kher says that the reason these melodies remain golden is because they capture Indian culture. “These songs had a rustic appeal and an Indianness to them. They were grounded in culture as opposed to the songs today, which have more of a Hindi and English mix, that is too pop-culturish to remain eternal,” said Kher.
Behl adds, “I think a well-composed, earthy, rustic holi song will do much better than a pop version of the same,” says Goldie Behl.
Holi songs of all time
1957 Holi aaye re kanhayee from Mother India, featuring Sunil Dutt and Rajendra Kumar and Nargis
1970 Aaj na chodenge bas humjoli khelenge hum holi from Kati Patang, featuring Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh
1975 Holi ke din dil mil jaate hain from Sholay, featuring Dharmendra and Hema Malini
1981 Rang barse bheege chunar waali, rang barse from Silsila, featuring Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan
2003 Holi khele raghuveera from Baghban featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini