Ten of my favourite cloud songs

The other day, thinking over the themes for song lists that I’ve posted over the years I’ve been writing this blog, two came forcibly to mind: rain songs (a list, in fact, which has proved very popular—I was even interviewed about it by a Canadian radio station); and wind songs.

Rain. Wind. And what goes with that? Clouds. Clouds, which are so common in Hindi film songs. Clouds, as harbingers of rain. Clouds that thunder, clouds that pour. Clouds that symbolize everything from relief and coolness to bleak despair. Time, I decided, to do a list of cloud songs that I like a lot.

Cloud songs from Hindi cinema

To restrict this a bit and not let every song that contains the word baadal, badra, ghata, megh, etc to get a foot in the door, I laid down two important rules for myself:

Firstly, the synonym for cloud must be in the first line of the song.

Secondly, the reference to clouds should be literal; clouds should not be used only in the metaphorical sense. (Which is why Itna na mujhse tu pyaar badha ke main ek baadal aawara doesn’t qualify: not only does the word for cloud come only in the second line of the song, it’s also not literal; the singer refers to his own restlessness, his ephemerality).

Here goes, then, in no particular order. Ten cloud songs from pre-70s films (with one notable exception) that I’ve seen.

1. Kaare badraa tu na jaa na jaa (Shikast, 1953): To start with, a song where the cloud is there both as literal and as metaphor. Nalini Jaywant’s character, wandering past the pond and fields of her village where she is the jagirdar in part, sings to the rain-bearing clouds, telling them not to pass by, but to tarry a while. To rain down, to quench the thirst of the parched land. But hidden in the words of her song is also a plea to the old lover whom she had once parted from and who has returned to the village, causing turmoil, opening old wounds, embittering her but at the same time bringing her a happiness she finds hard to acknowledge, even to herself.

Kaare badraa tu na jaa na jaa, from Shikast
2. Kaare-kaare baadraa jaa re jaa re baadra (Bhabhi, 1957): Though the opening words of this song are almost the same as that of the previous one, the two songs couldn’t be further apart. There’s nary a cloud to be seen here, as a vivacious Shyama prances about inside her luxurious (and conveniently deserted!) home, only once peeking out of a window to look up at the sky. And what does she tell that cloud we can’t see? To be gone. The cloud’s thundering has startled her out of her dreams, wakening her. Can it please go? And, wind: can you please come along and help sweep away the clouds?

Kaare-kaare baadraa jaa re jaa re from Bhabhi
3. Megha re bole ghanan-ghanan (Dil Deke Dekho, 1959): As most of the songs on this list will show, some of the nicest ‘cloud songs’—at least among those I’ve seen and heard—are picturised on women. There are occasional duets, but male solos that talk about clouds appear to be few and far between. This is one of the rare ones; even rarer, because—while it has a definitely folksy feel to it, it’s filmed on someone who most people associate with a far more Westernised type of music: Shammi Kapoor. Even though this is a very short song—it’s really more a prelude to the longer, more full-fledged song, Bade hain dil ke kaale—it’s an infectious song about love and longing in the shadow of the thundering clouds. Interestingly, too, the lyrics include two synonyms for clouds: megha, and ghat.

Megha re bol ghanan-ghanan, from Dil Deke Dekho
4. Jhukti ghata gaati hawa (Dhool ka Phool, 1959): Moving on from a solo to a duet, and back to the outdoors. Jhukti ghata gaati hawa, melodious and lovely (composed by the sadly underrated N Dutta) is the fairly predictable—in terms of ambience and tone—as a romantic song: the two lovers (newlyweds, in this case), going out driving in the countryside, picnicking beside a river, going boating, reveling in the joy of new love. And, as in countless other examples, invoking the wind and the clouds and all of the beauty of nature to be witness to this love.

Jhukti ghata, gaati hawa from Dhool ka Phool
5. Pyaar bhari yeh ghataayein (Qaidi No. 911, 1959): A song that’s eerily similar to the one that precedes it. Pyaar bhari yeh ghataayein is very much like Jhukti ghata gaati hawa in many basics: Nanda is there in both; there’s the motif of the two lovers out on a jaunt. There’s the river, the waterfalls, the ride in a boat. The same paean to love and to nature, the theme of natural beauty being a fitting setting for a love song. Oddly enough, it’s always seemed to me as if this tune too, while not a copy (or even strictly similar), does have a haunting echo of Jhukti ghata gaati hawa. Even odder, both songs are from films released in the same year. This one, though, was composed by Dattaram.

Pyaar bhari yeh ghataayein, from Qaidi No. 911
6. Megha chhaaye aadhi raat (Sharmeelee, 1971): This was the ‘notable exception’ I meant when I wrote that—bar one—the songs in this list were from pre-70s films. Even though it was released in 1971, I always think of Sharmeelee—like Pakeezah—as a late 60s film: everything about it, from the actors, the plot elements, to the costumes and the music, is rather more in the style of An Evening in Paris than Seeta aur Geeta.

But: this song. A song unusual for Hindi cinema, which tends to—in the context of romance—equate clouds with a fruitful love, a love that is requited. Megha chhaaye aadhi raat is very different: it is a lament, a mourning of a love that cannot be, but which will leave painful memories. Very poignant, with beautiful lyrics and lovely music.

Megha chhaaye aadhi raat, from Sharmeelee
7. Allah megh de paani de (Guide, 1965): From the romantic and the frothy to the practical: the sheer need for clouds and the rain they bring. In a country where much of the agriculture still depends to a large extent on rain, the failure of the monsoon can be devastating—a theme Hindi cinema has visited again and again, in films as far apart in time, tone and theme as Do Bigha Zameen and Lagaan. And Guide, where the lead character’s ‘redemption’ eventually hinges on whether or not his penance will make the rains come.

Allah megh de—not lip-synched, but sung as a universal expression of the anguish of thousands of thirsty, starving people—is haunting. The lyrics are very poignant, and both SD Burman’s music and his voice give me gooseflesh.

Allah megh de, from Guide
8. Umad-ghumadkar aayi re ghata (Do Aankhen Baarah Haath, 1957): Another song that’s about the practicality of clouds, yet with poetry (that “dharti jal se maang bhare”—‘the Earth fills the parting of her hair [as a married woman does] with water’)—is such a lovely metaphor for the joy with which the parched Earth greets the coming of the monsoon. The fast pace of the song, the wildly joyful percussion, even the visuals—the little children playing in the rain, the adults too racing out, the excitement—are all a reflection of that happiness, that relief.

Umad-ghumadkar aayi re ghata, from Do Aankhen Baarah Haath
9. Ghir-ghirke aasmaan par chhaane lagi ghataayein (Baanwre Nain, 1950): From the practical to the romantic: another song which equates the monsoon and the gathering clouds with the singer’s relationship with her beloved. Somewhat like Kaare badraa tu na jaa na jaa, this song too is set in the villages. And it’s an excellent—in terms of picturisation—celebration of the monsoon in the countryside: vast masses of clouds, grey and white, fluffy and filling the sky. The breeze, the water, the waving grass. All classic images of the monsoon, and accompanied by a lilting song that uses the cloud as an intercessor, to tell the beloved not to go.

Ghir-ghirke aasmaan par chhaane lagi ghataayein, from Baanwre Nain
10. Jhir-jhir, jhir-jhir badarwa barse (Parivaar, 1956): This song bears the stamp of Salil Choudhary all over it: very melodious, very evocative of the monsoon (rather like O sajna barkhaa bahaar aayi). And the combination of two of my favourite voices—Lata and Hemant—is superb.
Like Kaare-kaare baadra jaa re jaa re baadra, this one takes place inside a house. There are no clouds to be seen, but there is the evidence of them: the wind, the rain to which the woman extends her hands joyfully. The premise that clouds and romance go hand in hand.

Jhir-jhir, jhir-jhir badarwa barse, from Parivaar
There are dozens of other songs about clouds. My long list had many many more, and even the short list was far longer than this final ten: it had songs ranging all the way from the three cloud songs of Rattan (1944), to O ghata saanwri thodi-thodi baanwri, from Abhinetri (1970). I know there are loads of them out there, some middling, some fantastic—and many, I’m sure, which I’ve never even heard of. Share your favourites, please!

151 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite cloud songs

  1. One request – and I hope I am not the only facing it. The background is making it impossible to read the writing due to the contrast between the font color and the background color. Is there any way to change it back to how it was.


    • Kaali ghata chhaaye was on my shortlist – in fact, right up till the end, I kept dithering about whether or not I should include it in the final list. It is a lovely song. Finally didn’t include it because I’d already used it in my ‘monsoon songs’ post and wanted this list to be not an exact copy of that one (though Allah megh de features in both).


  2. I can do without rain, snow, clouds (other than the white fluffy ones, I mean), but such lovely songs, Madhu. Especially Jhir jhir jhir jhir badarwa, Kaare kaare badarwa (Bhabhi), Megha re,… oh, all of them!
    Others that I like:
    Badli se nikla hai chand from Sanjog

    Chha gaye baadal neel gagan par from Chitralekha

    and this one from Sangeet Samrat Tansen
    Megha aao re

    These are from later films:
    Ghanan ghanan ghir aayi badira from Lagaan

    Megha re megha from Lamhe


    • Barring Megha re megha re – which I’ve never been able to summon up a liking for – I like all the songs you’ve posted, Anu. Even as I was compiling my list, I was wondering if I dare step out of the self-imposed limits of my blog enough to add a bonus song from a much later period – Ghanan-ghanan ghir aayi from Lagaan. I didn’t, of course (even though I managed to sneak in a reference to the film itself)!

      P.S. I do hope the weather’s better in your part of the world. It’s been awful, hearing the news and seeing photos people have uploaded.


  3. My list would have been the same, DO. You’ve even taken my two ever favourites. ghir ghir ke aasmaan par and jhir jhir jhir. I love these two. I love the one from dhool ka phool . Actually all of them though Sharmeeli and Guide song a little less.
    Here’s a song which would have done well in your ‘boat’ song list too :-)


  4. This is my favourite – the moodiness of the cloud is portrayed so playfully and at the same time lyrically. Although technically the song begins with ‘Ye dekh ke dil jhooma, li pyar ne angdayi’


    • Deewaana hua baadal was one of the first songs that had occurred to me, but since – as you point out too – technically that’s not how it begins – I had to regretfully give it a miss. I’m glad you added it, though, because it’s a simply gorgeous song.


    • I hadn’t known Aaj ki kaali ghata was Geeta Dutt’s last song – somehow I always thought that would’ve been one of the songs from Anubhav, perhaps. But this is a beautiful song, so gentle and poignant.


  5. Another fun list of songs Madhu. Hindi cinema does offer a wonderful set of choices when it comes to songs involving clouds. It is hard to pick a subset and I like almost every single song that you picked (don’t much care for the songs from Bhabhi and Baawre Nain). But “Dil deke dekho” and “Dhool ka phool” are way up there. I completely agree with you on N Dutta being a highly under-rated composer. I had heard that he had a drinking problem and perhaps that led to his being pushed into the second tier composers. But if one were to put together a list of his (very few) soundtracks, almost every one had at least one gem in them.
    In the comments, people have already mentioned the lovely Asha/Lata duet from Sangeet Samrat Tansen. What a lovely composition and masterfully sung by both of them. And of course the fantastic “Deewana hua baadal”. Here are a few more that I like a lot – for whatever reason, they are all Asha songs :-)
    1. Asha/Geeta singing “Dharti se door gore baadaloN ke paar aaja” from “Sangdil”, music by Sajjad.

    2. An unusual cloud song by Asha/Kishore – “Chhaayi ghaTa bijli kaDki” from “Apna haath jagannath”, music by S D Burman – there is neither a ghaTa nor any bijli anywhere in sight.

    3. Staying with the previous song motif, there is “Dekho bijli Dole bin baadal ke” from “Phir wohi dil laaya hooN”, music by O P Nayyar, sung by Asha

    4. I don’t know if this meets your restrictions but the song is the Asha/Manna Dey duet “ZulfoN ki ghaTa lekar saawan ki pari aayi” from “Reshmi roomal”, music by Babul

    5. A lovely duet from “Ek jhalak” by Asha/Hemant – “Chal baadaloN se aage”, music by Hemant Kumar himself. I love this duet. Have never seen the film though.

    6. A rare, peppy Asha number from “Kaala chor” – “Yeh hawaayeN yeh jhoomti ghaTaayeN” – music is by Sardul Kwatra, but it could have been a O P Nayyar composition.

    6. A beautiful Rajesh Roshan composition from the film “Priyatama” – an Asha solo. The song is “Chham chham barse ghaTa”


    • “Here are a few more that I like a lot – for whatever reason, they are all Asha songs :-)

      Someone really lambasted me the other day on an old post about an article I’d written for Forbes India Life, on ‘a song for every decade’, in which I’d picked what I thought was a representative song for each decade of Hindi film music. As it happened, no songs featured Lata, but there were Asha songs there, and this particular commenter accused me of being biased, and of lying that I wasn’t biased!

      But. Back to the songs you’ve posted. Several of these were new to me – the last three, actually. I hadn’t heard Chhaayi ghata bijli kadki in a long time, so that was a real pleasure to revisit; and the last three were all a pleasure to discover. Thank you so much for them – you introduced me to some wonderful songs!

      Dekho bijli dole was a song I’d toyed with including, but had dropped it, because I thought the lyrics were metaphorical rather than literal. Zulfon ki ghata lekar was actually on my list and I’d even written it up, but a re-listen made me realise that it’s actually metaphorical – the lyrics are all about romance, so the allusion is obviously to her hair rather than to dark clouds.


  6. Lovely list, Madhu. Can imagine your actual list would have had so many more badal songs.
    Hmm, I would have some other songs if I were to make a list (probably already listed above, in the other comments) – for example – a) Deewana hua badal (totally in love with that song),
    b) Aaj Ki kaali ghata (from Uski kahani, one of Geeta Dutt’s last songs),
    c) Nainon mein badra chhaye (Mera Saaya);
    d) Bin Badal Barsaat na hogi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq1f7WctIp8)
    and not sure if this would fit, as it is more about the bijli and not the badal – e) Dekho Bijli dole bin badal ke (Phir Wohi dil laya hoon). And then there is Kaali ghata chhaye from Sujata… uff, it never ends

    Two other songs, post 1970 that I like very much are – Kahan se aaye badra (Chashme Bhaddoor – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btEihqzggYw)
    and that one from Chak de India, though the song is not really about badal at all, Badal pe paon hai (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo_-lHIeo8Y)

    Thanks, Madhu :-)


    • Thanks, Harini! I’m glad you liked the list. :-) As I mentioned in my replies to other people who’ve commented and have mentioned some of the songs you have, too, Dekho bijli dole seemed to me more metaphorical than literal – and Deewaana hua baadal technically doesn’t start with those words. Nainon mein badraa chhaaye is also metaphorical, in my opinion.

      I’m so glad you mentioned Kahaan se aaye badraa – I was hoping someone would! I do love that song a lot, and kept singing it while I was compiling this post. And Baadal pe paaon hai is a nice one too, though somehow the only song I remember from Chak De! India is Maula mere le le meri jaan.


  7. What a treasure trove of beautiful songs. Some well known, other gems you hear again because of your lovely list Madhu. Many I like have already been added in comments. I had always liked “megha re bole” and imagined it being sung in a village in some ‘khet’ and was surprised when I saw the movie. Shammi Kapoor was the last person I had in mind :). I do have a question, I thought Anubhav (1971) was the last movie Geeta Dutt sang in, but two of the comments mention “aaj ki kaali ghata” being the last. Perhaps Anubhav was released much later than filmed.
    I would like to add one song from Chote Nawab, music R.D.Burman. There are no clouds in sight, but it is about it. ” Ghar aaja ghir aaye, badra saanwaria”


    • I had forgotten about this one too! I’ve heard it, though this is the first time I’ve seen the picturisation of it.

      Yes, I was wondering about Aaj ki kaali ghata being Geeta Dutt’s last song – I too thought the songs of Anubhav would’ve been her last. But you’re probably right about the songs of that film being possibly recorded much earlier…


    • Oh this is a lovely addition to the list. Superb composition by Pancham and divine singing by Asha. The movie itself was a dud IMO despite an amazing cast of Waheeda, Shabana, Sharmila, Kiran Vairale and Sanjeev Kumar – it plodded along and really went nowhere.


  8. One more, I was thinking about it earlier, but could not remember the starting line. I think it qualifies. From Sampoorn Ramayan, MD Vasant Desai – badalon, barso nayan ki aur se….


  9. As someone who rather enjoys gray skies, these are the kind of songs I can wallow in happily for hours. “Megha chhaye” is too overwrought for me, but I love all the other songs in your list, Madhu.

    I have two songs to add – the first a longtime favorite and the second a song that I don’t particularly care for but it popped into my head so now I’m trying to pop it out! :-)

    Ja re badra bairi ja (Lata, Bahana, Madan Mohan)

    Badal kaala, koyal kali


    • Thankyou. Shalini for the “ja re badra bairi ja” . For two days I was trying to remember this song, but the “Kare badra tu na ja na ja” kept popping up in my head instead. Just wondering if you are the same Shalini who used to be part of RMIM long back.


    • Jaa re badraa bairi jaa is beautiful – if I’d seen Bahaana, this one would’ve definitely been on the list. Thanks for adding that, Shalini!

      I’d never heard Baadal kaala koyal kaali, but anyway – if we’re trying to make a compilation of all the cloud songs there are out there, this one fits. While we’re at it, here’s another song – well-known, but not one I like much, though it qualifies: Badraa chhaaye ke jhoole pad gaye haai from Aaya Saawan Jhoomke:


  10. Lovely list Madhu. I am hugely fond of #1, 2 , 8 and 9. And readers have added some of the most iconic songs. But how could everyone forget Rattan, and you too! – Rumjhum barse baadarwa, Pardesi baalam aa baadal aya, Saawan ke baadalo unse ye ja kaho.

    There are dozens of cloud songs. But one which must be mentioned is Khursheed’s Ghata ghanghor ghor from Tansen, composed by Khemchand Prakash.


  11. Madhu, this is another wonderful compilation of songs from you and others. Although I am more of a fan of sunny weather, these songs are spectacular for sure!

    My favorite is way out of league (from timeperiod perspective) from the songs mentioned here, I will list it anyway. Shreya sings ever so sweetly to match the complex but melodious number from A.R. Rehman in Guru (2006) for the Song “Barso Re Megha Megha”. Lyrics by Gulzar.



    • I don’t mind songs from different time periods (or even different languages, actually, as long as they’re good) being posted in the comments, Ashish – be my guest! That is a nice song you’ve posted – and Shreya Ghoshal happens to be one of the relatively new singers I do like a lot.


  12. One more cloud song – here it actually starts raining in response to her call for rain, and puts out the fire! Oh, the power of Asha Bhonsle’s voice!



  13. As ever, a wonderful musical list. Will need to listen to all songs at leisure.

    I can think of a couple more that I quite like,

    1. Bina badra ke bijuriya kaise chamke (Bandhan). One in my rustic collection & happy Mukesh playlist.

    2. Hari hari vasundhara pe neela neela yeh gagan, ke jis pe badalo ki palaki uda raha pawan (Boond Jo Ban Gaye Moti), although badal comes in the second line. One of the first songs that encouraged me to listen to the lyrics in more detail, and brilliantly rendered by Mukesh


  14. I just found remembered another song about the clouds. This one again is by Asha (funny how many there are by her). It is an absolutely fantastic song from the film “Shaque”, music by Vasant Desai – probably his last or among his last films. The song is throughly misused in the film since it is cut up and plays in the background. I am guessing this is from the film LP. Lyrics are “Megha barasne laga hai”.

    And while I was looking for this song, I remembered one more again music by Vasant Desai from “Ram Rajya”. This time, it is Lata’s beautiful rendition of “Dar laage barse badariya”. I am including 2 links, one to the original song and the other to a short live rendition by Shreya Ghoshal in an old X-Factor episode. And man does she do a superb job.

    And in looking for the above, I found a song that I had not heard before. Lata singing “Jaa re baadal jaa desh piya ke jaa” in the 1962 film “Kailashpati”, music by Avinash Vyaas. Very nice song.

    This thread is the gift that keeps giving :-) Who knows, I may be back with more.


    • What lovely songs. At first glance, when I read your comment, I thought “All these songs are new to me.” Then, when I began listening, I realised I had heard Dar laage garje badariya before. Both the Asha song and the Lata one are lovely; the third song (not the Shreya Ghoshal rendition) I’m not being able to listen to right now – some problem with net speed, I think. Will try again later.


  15. And while we’re on the topic, here’s another song that had occurred to me, but which I didn’t like enough to put into my list. Chalo sajna jahaan tak ghata chale, from Mere Humdum Mere Dost:


  16. some others that i discovered while searching you tube for links

    AAshad ke pehle baadal from KAvi Kalidas ..has this been posted?

    not my kind of song though !


  17. unusual pairing ..Joy Mukherjee and Helen..is this really Hum Hindustani?

    marine drive does seem to be a favorite for monsoon-ish songs..like rimjhim gire saavan as well


  18. Thanks a lot for nice post! 1,3, 7 and 8 are among my favorites and I haven’t heard before the song from Qaidi No. 911, it is beautiful, special thanks for it! And as usual there is a real treasury in the comments (I have surprised how late appeared the song from Seeta aur Geeta:)

    I don’t speak hindi or bengali so I can be sure only in the songs which texts I can read as translated poems. This is the reason why I can add only rabindra sangeet:) From the bengali movie Kuheli (1971). The movie itself is pretty nice.

    And just for fun – I found the song from telugu remake of Kismet:) The visualitaion is exactly the same and the tune is pretty close to Dheere Dheere, so I suppose that the lyrics also.


    • Anna, thank you! I’m glad you liked those songs, and thank you also for sharing cloud songs from other languages. I hadn’t heard either Megher kole roud hensheche or Oho meghamala bhale ramudu before (though I’ve heard of Kuheli), so these were nice discoveries.

      Talking of Rabindra Sangeet and clouds, I was reminded of another one which I really like. It’s not in cinema, as far as I know, but it’s lovely: Khoro baayu jaaye begey:


      • Yes, this sangeet is very beautiful and I never heard a sangeet with western simphonical orchester – it sounds strange but nice. It seems to me that it was used in recent bengali film Tasher Desh, but I’m not sure and can’t find any youtube approving of this fact:)
        From non-filmi rabindra sangeets about clouds (the metaphor that Rabindranath used very often) I like a lot Mona Mor Megher Sanghi

        By the way Hemanta, who sung it, later made it a part of hindi filmi song:) I havent’ seen the movie Ma Beta and don’t understand hindi lyrics, but may be it is also about clouds…


        • Thanks for the link to the Hemanta song – it is is not a Rabindra sangeet that I had heard before. And I certainly did not know that it was the original for the Maa beTa song. The hindi song does reference clouds in it – “My heart is soaring high with the clouds in the sky singing intoxicating songs of love”. Nice but not great song IMO with very typical Hemant orchestration – elevated by Lata’s voice as she often did in the 50s and early 60s..

          But I have to point out that the first thing that struck me about the song is the HORRIBLE job that Nirupa Roy does trying to convince us that she is playing the sitar. Makes me wince each time. Not to mention the overdone expressions.


          • “But I have to point out that the first thing that struck me about the song is the HORRIBLE job that Nirupa Roy does trying to convince us that she is playing the sitar.

            There are some advantages of not usually watching songs, only listening to them, as I do! ;-)


        • I have to admit I hadn’t heard either of these songs before. Nice, though I do agree with sangeetbhakt that the Hemant version (though I love his voice) is somewhat lacklustre and perhaps a little monotonous. I prefer the Lata version.


  19. I seemed to have overlooked this post. I was down with influenza last week. :(
    Since it is getting late, I just skimmed through the post. Although I restricted my list only to the songs with the word baadal in it, we do share two songs!
    Will come in for more later.


  20. Dustedoff,
    Nice post!
    Another recipe for very nice songs by you as well as your readers
    My contribution.
    Lata C ramchandra song rom Shagufa ghir ghir aayi kali badariya


  21. First song which comes into mind after reading topic is ‘Neel Gagan Pe Udte Badal’ from Khandan, Beautiful, and very famous song, Regretfully you have not included or anyone mentioned it.


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