Ten of my favourite dance party songs

With Christmas and New Year’s Eve round the corner, I have friends asking me whether I’ll be going party-hopping, and where. The answer is: nowhere. I’m not a party animal (I’d much rather stay at home and watch an old film), and I can’t dance to save my life. That said and done, though, I love party songs from old Hindi films—especially when there’s dancing too (Herman Benjamin, anyone?) So here’s a list of ten of my favourite dance party songs. They’re all from the 50’s through the 60’s (one from 1970), and only from movies I’ve seen. And yes, all of them have dancing.

Shashikala and Raj Kumar in Aage bhi jaane na tu

 Beginning from the bottom of the list:

10. Baar baar din yeh aaye from Farz (1967)
The ultimate birthday (`bird-day’?) party song. I don’t much care for Babita, but she looks lovely in this one. Jeetendra’s a little gawkish, I think (pardonable: one of his first movies, after all), but does show signs of the Jumping Jack he was to become in later years. The dancing—most of it by extras—is not very attractive. But yes, the song does sort of stick with you.

Baar baar din yeh aaye

9. Hai hai hai yeh nigaahein from Paying Guest (1957)
Paying Guest had some great music, and this song’s no exception. An inebriated Dev Anand (the inebriation is thanks to some drugged candies his date, Shubha Khote, has fed him) careens all across the dance floor at a New Year’s Eve party. Kishore Kumar—who sang playback—does an awesome job with emotion: there’s confused intoxication, playfulness, despondency, seduction—just about everything in his voice. Superb! And watch out for the extras who dance: they’re very good.

Hai hai hai yeh nigaahein

8. Aayi hain bahaarein mite zulm-o-sitam from Ram aur Shyam (1967)
Another birthday party, this one for the kids. Dilip Kumar treats Baby Farida, Nirupa Roy, and a large group of children to a great song, which literally spells out the fact that he’s come as a savior of sorts into this sad little household that’s been tyrannised by the evil Pran all these years. Pran, unfortunately, isn’t anywhere to be seen in the song, but Dilip Kumar is, and he’s obviously enjoying himself. A lot of the children are pretty good too, doing the twist as if their lives depended upon it! Cute.

Aayi hain bahaarein mite zulm-o-sitam

7. Dil ki girah khol do from Raat aur Din (1967)
From the twist to a ballroom dance, and a quieter, more lyrical tune, a lovely duet between Lata and Manna Dey. Nargis looks vastly different from her usual self in a glamorous avatar, eyes heavily made up, and clad in a clinging, shimmering dress slit up to the knee. No wonder Feroz Khan looks very pleased at getting her to dance with him! This, by the way, isn’t a party, strictly speaking—it’s set in a nightclub—but yes, it’s an impromptu song, and not by a performer (I’ll do favourite `performer’ songs in another post!)

Dil ki girah khol do

6. Aapko pehle bhi kahin dekha hai from Tum haseen main jawaan (1970)
Dharmendra in a uniform. Hema Malini in a clingy dress and shimmery blue hair (Cleopatra in 1970?). Eye candy all the way. The dancing isn’t great; this is supposed to be a party aboard a docked ship, and ill-fitting sailor uniforms, combined with calisthenic-like moves, don’t make much of an impression. But it’s a very catchy tune, and the lead pair look so good together, this had to be on my list!

Aapko pehle bhi kahin dekha hai

5. Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana from Shagird (1967)
Joy Mukherjee’s the ultimate party pooper in this one: the song’s a tirade against love, sung (with great gusto, may I add, by Mohammad Rafi) at an engagement party. There are, inexplicably, a bunch of extras dressed as deckhands, complete with mops, in the background (a la Mera Naam Chin Chin Choo? Who knows). What I like about it is the exuberance of the song, I S Johar’s appreciative “Wah, wah, mere shagird!” at regular intervals, and Joy Mukherjee’s dancing. It’s really quite amazing: he throws himself about with such gay abandon. I remember watching a TV interview with him years ago, in which he said that en route to Tokyo to film Love in Tokyo, he’d stopped by in Hong Kong. In a nightclub there, he’d seen a dancer doing this dance, and he’d liked it so much, he got her to teach him too—and that’s what he performed in Duniya paagal hai.

Duniya paagal hai ya phir main deewaana

4. Aajkal tere mere pyaar ke charche from Brahmachari (1968)
This song has three of my favourite people in it: Shammi Kapoor, Mumtaz and Pran. What’s more, it’s got a very infectious tune, and both Mumtaz (who’s gorgeous in that seductively draped orange sari) and Shammi look like they’re enjoying themselves thoroughly:

Aajkal tere mere pyaar ke charche

The rest of the guests are rather sedate until the last verse: till then, except for a few who twitch a bit now and then, everybody’s just looking on. Watch out for Shammi doing a one-man orchestra act: he plays the piano, accordion, and sax in this song.

3. Tu mera main teri duniya jale toh jale from Pyaar hi pyaar (1969)
Dharmendra again. For someone who was never a great dancer, that’s quite a feat. But hey, this song’s such a delight, it’s worth it—and anyway, most of the dancing is done by the supremely accomplished Vyjyantimala, with Manmohan shaking a leg alongside. The other dancers seem to be having loads of fun too (as is the band, The Monkees—watch the grins on their faces when the camera pans to Dharmendra). A very peppy tune, and I love the verbal tussles between the two leads! And yes, Dharmendra (despite the bronze jacket) looks awesome with a moustache.

Tu mera main teri duniya jale toh jale

2. Awara ae mere dil from Raat aur din (1967)
This is a Christmas party, with a voluptuous Laxmi Chhaya (as Peggy) in a glittery cheongsam. Streamers flutter down from the ceiling as she twirls from one man to the other. I like this song not just because the tune and the picturisation are great, but also because it combines joy with cynicism. It always makes me think Peggy may’ve been the life of the party, but deep down was a lonely soul—probably closer to the woman who sang the sad version of this song.
And I’ve made a discovery that’ll probably interest some people: the band in the background is Ted Lyons and His Cubs. Yes!! So does that send the count up to five?

Awara ae mere dil

1. Aage bhi jaane na tu from Waqt (1965)
Much quieter than most songs on this list, and the dancing is slow. But oh, such a sublime song—Asha sings it with a sensuous elegance that perfectly fits the crooner (any idea who the actress is? My mother, who grew up in the extremely fashionable Calcutta of the 60’s, says this woman must’ve been a real crooner, she had the mannerisms and the ada down to a T). The music’s amazing, the lyrics are great, and best of all, the story actually moves on through the song—an estranged fiancé reconciles with his beloved; a poverty-stricken son rushes home to an ill mother; a thief is subtly reminded that he’s dancing with royalty simply so that he can make a grab at her diamond necklace—and the stage is set for a murder. Brilliant.

Aage bhi jaane na tu

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15 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite dance party songs

  1. Great list of party songs… Joy Mukherjee can certainly shake a leg, and then some! And I loooove that song from Waqt, too. Nargis in Raat Aur Din reminds me of Elizabeth Taylor in her later days! Wasnt this her last film?

    By the way, Farz wasnt Jumpin Jack’s first movie. He did Geet Gaya Patharon Ne for V. Shantaram a couple of years before this.

  2. Oh, okay – I somehow got the idea Farz was Jeetendra’s first movie. Frankly, I found Geet Gaya Patharon Ne such a pain that I think I sort of blotted it out of my mind. ;-)Thanks for letting me know; will correct it!

    And yes, Raat Aur Din was Nargis’s last movie – if you don’t count her shadow in Yaadein.

  3. Aaaaaiiiiyeeeee!!!! If by some people, you meant ME, then yes! I am so excited to find more Ted Lyons! Yes, it makes FIVE! *goes off to order Raat Aur Din*

    Were there mop-topped cuties dancing with them?

  4. Yes, memsaab: I definitely did mean you :-). No mop-topped cuties in that song, but Ted Lyons all right. BTW, Raat aur Din is quite an interesting movie – similar in many ways to Hitchcock’s Marnie (though I think Sean Connery and Pradeep Kumar/Feroz Khan were in completely different leagues!)

  5. Hmmm…I just ordered it (it’s quite hard to find!) and the Marnie comparison clinches it…I loved that film (and Sean Connery isn’t a favorite of mine, so Pradeep/Feroz) aren’t likely to disappoint too much :)

  6. Well, Sean Connery wasn’t a favourite of mine either – till I saw Marnie :-). Of course, Raat aur Din has a somewhat different `background’ for the heroine, and it’s a very Indian (also read sanitized) version. But a good film – and the songs are very good.

  7. great songs, loved the party atmosphere in these movies. Usually there was a guy poking away at the piano, hitting the same spot and the tune was decided by the speed of his fingers (like it was a drum) kewwl stuff

  8. Aage bhi jaane na tu at Number 1, I totally agree. The story progresses quicky through the song, you dont see that very often in Hindi movies. It IS brilliant..

    I read somewhere that the actress in the song is a lady called Erica Lal, she was an American married to an Indian.

  9. Madhu, a strange incident happened last night. I was at my clinic (back after a long illness) in Bhopal , it was a very busy time when 2 young men came & said would I please make a house call to see an unconscious patient not far away ( no, this is not like “Woh kaun thi ? !!) I said there are too many patients here to leave. Anyway I went. I stepped into a large hall where there were quite a lot of people. The patient was a plump middle aged lady & she WAS unconscious, I examined her asking questions to the people around me. To my left side a lady kept telling me about how hectic the day had been for the patient & so on, then I turned to look at her –and stared — it was a stout elderly lady in her 60’s with white hair, and guess who it was ? Even after almost 50 years since I’d last seen her on the screen I recognized her in a flash. I exclaimed, ” Arrey, aap toh Baby Fareeda hain !” She said yes and I told her that I was quite a big fan of hers and seen all her movies (true) and that just 2 days back I’d seen her song with Dilip Kumar “Aayee hain baharen mitey zulm aur sitam” on TV-( featured at No. 8 on your list here). I said she’d brought all my childhood memories flooding back.Although she had aged considerably , she still had the smooth, pink baby face of her childhood- She’d acted in “Sujata”, “Kabuliwaala”, “Dosti” , “Bhramachari”, “Phool aur patthar” etc. I spoke to her for some time, prescibed IV drips etc to the patient who’d had a mild stroke, and went away , saying that I hoped the lady would regain consciousness (I didn’t ask how Baby Fareeda was related to her.) Now, this is where the second coincidence begins. Today morning the patient, wearing a burqa walked into my clinic with her grown up son & daughter in tow . Baby Fareeda had phoned me late in the night to say that by the grace of God the patient had recovered 2 hours after I’d seen her. Anyway I was really happy to see the lady better and asked her how she knew Baby Fareeda. Then they told me she was Baby Fareeda’s sister (her name was Fawzia). I told them all to give Fareeda my best wishes and tell her how extremely happy I was to have seen her.and that I’d loved her song in “Dosti” – “Gudiya, hum se roothi rahoogi”. Then the young man said do you know who my mother Fawzia is ? I said, no. He said have seen the song “Phoolon ka taaron ka sab ka kehna hain, ek hazaaron mein meri behna hai” from “Hare Rama,hare Krishna” ?.. I told him I’d seen the movie and the song a zillion times. The guy said my mother is that little girl in the song and she played Zeenat Aman’s childhood role. I was astonished. I remembered the girl perfectly , she was in a yellow shirt and red checked jumpers, wearing glasses and constantly sucking her thumb. She played the dysfunctional little girl, neglected by her parents perfectly,your heart goes out to her .Then on a sudden whim I asked if the little boy who played Sharmila Tagore’s son in “Aradhana” who features in the song “Chanda hai tu, mera sooraj hai tu” and who later stabs Manmohan to death was their brother because I always felt he had a resemblance to Baby Fareeda. Fawzia said, yes he was her older brother, Master Shahid ! Now aren’t these all a series of strange links connected up ? Best wishes & regards !
    Pradeep.

    • What an absolutely amazing experience! My goodness, it sounds like something out of a Hindi film. That certainly has to be the most unusual celebrity encounter I’ve ever heard of (and yes, for me, Baby Farida is a celebrity – she was so ubiquitous in some of those early films. For me, one of her most memorable scenes is a very small one in Kabuliwala, where she acts as Balraj Sahni’s daughter, Ameena. When he’s going away – leaving in the night, to spare her the trauma of being parted from her father – he presses her little hands (after smudging them with ink or coal, I don’t remember what) on a piece of paper. The very memory of that poignant little scene always brings tears to my eyes.

      … and I must applaud you on recognizing Master Shahid and Fauzia as well! To be honest, I’d completely forgotten their faces, so if I’d been in your place, I’d never have even connected them to the films they appeared in. Baby Farida, probably, since her face, as a child, was very familiar to me, but not them.

      I still can’t get over this. So much a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

  10. Thanks a lot for your appreciation, Madhu. Yes, it does indeed seem like a plot out of a Bollywood movie.LOL ! Baby Fareeda, or Farida was a celebrity for sure, I read somewhere that distributors would grab any film of hers because she was the most popular child artiste then. Yes, that scene from “Kabuliwala” is certainly poignant.
    When I watched movies in my childhood I paid attention to the minor characters as well, that’s why I remember Master Shahid’s face ( this is the first time that I learnt hi name), especially since he bore a strong resemblance to my older brother who now lives in Canada. By the way, I don’t think you’ve done a post on children’s songs, or have you ?

    • No, I haven’t done a post on children’s songs yet, mainly because there aren’t too many (especially from before the 70s) that I really like – and not too many after that, either. Most songs, if they are addressed to children, end up being sanctimonious; when sung by children, too, that seems to be the case. There are exceptions, of course (Chhuppa-chhuppi from Savera is one), but not enough for me to want to compile a post on them. But Anu (at Conversations Over Chai) did two great posts with children’s songs – one of songs addressed to children, the other of songs sung by children – which were really good.

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