Ten of my favourite songs featuring colours

Happy Holi!

I don’t celebrate Holi—ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a horror of being wet and dirty, and come Holi, I used to insist on locking myself in. I was in good company; though my father was obliged to go and play Holi with his colleagues, Mummy and my sister were as intent on staying clean as I was. Come Holi, we’d happily feast on gujiyas and whatever other goodies came our way, but pichkaris, gulaal, and the rest? No, thank you.

Not so with Hindi cinema, where Holi has been a big thing all along: the perfect situation for displays of affection, camaraderie, general love towards one and all. And I don’t think I have ever seen Holi depicted in a film without there being an accompanying song. That was what I’d first thought I’d do to mark Holi on this blog: a post of Holi songs. Then, looking back at the number of non-Holi songs that are about colours, I thought, Let’s give it a twist. Let’s talk about blue and pink and green and yellow. Let’s talk sky and trees and eyes and whatnot. Neeli aankhein, peeli sarson. Hariyali aur raasta.

Ten songs, therefore, that mention—in the very first line—a colour. And, to make it less of a sitter, no colour repeated, except when it refers to a very specific shade. As always, these songs are all from pre-70s films that I’ve seen, and are arranged in no specific order.

1. Neele gagan ke tale (Humraaz, 1967): Blue. I was torn when it came to a song about blue. Neele aasmaani boojho toh yeh naina was the first song that came to mind; but that, while a lovely song, didn’t quite tick every box for me, for the simple fact that Madhubala (like Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir ki Kali) didn’t have blue eyes—and, anyway, with Mr & Mrs 55 being in black and white, even if she had blue eyes, you wouldn’t have known it.

This song, therefore, which makes much of the blue sky. And what is more all-encompassing, all-pervasively blue, than the sky, which hangs above us all? Every other line of Neele gagan ke tale emphasizes this: everything happens under the blue sky. Love blossoms, the Earth gives of its bounty, the seasons pass. The picturization of the song, too, reinforces that: the sky, and its blueness, are very prominent here.

2. Gulaabi raat ki har baat gulaabi (Upkaar, 1967): Pink. The connotations of colours can be so different in different cultures. So stereotypical, too. Blue is for little boys, pink is for little girls. Pink is the colour of all things feminine: of cosmetics and lingerie, of less intimate clothing and of gemstones. Even of feminist movements that one would expect would have the guts to break free of this pink-loving stereotype that’s been forced on us women by a grossly commercial world.

And in Hindi cinema, pink is (was? Before Pink?) the colour of intoxication. Gulaabi aankhein are eyes that brim with the wine of love. A gulaabi raat is a night of intoxication, of lust and madness and of losing oneself so utterly in mindless, self-centred debauchery that nothing exists outside that space. Gulaabi raat ki har baat gulaabi, as Laxmi Chhaya’s dancer sings. Everything about this intoxicating night is intoxicating. Interestingly, there’s very little obvious pink to be seen in the picturization: one of the partygoers is wearing a pink dress, but Laxmi Chhaya and her fellow dancers wear something that may be pink but may equally be peach.

3. Bade hain dil ke kaale (Dil Deke Dekho, 1959): Black. Black is the colour of the night. It can mean gloom, it can mean the deepest sorrow: it is the colour of mourning. It can also be mysterious, enticing: a promise of adventure that may not be completely free of danger. And it can refer—both in English and in Hindustani—to someone wicked. A black-hearted villain, a kaale dilwaala.

In Bade hain dil ke kaale, though, Asha Parekh’s character isn’t being completely honest when she refers to Shammi Kapoor’s character as being black-hearted. There’s more than a hint of mutual attraction here, and she makes it amply clear that while she’s deriding this blue-eyed boy for having a black heart, she actually admires those blue eyes and those smiling lips. (It is all a farce, because both of them are trying to fool the other, but that’s a different story). A delightful song.

4. Sar par topi laal haath mein resham ka rumaal (Tumsa Nahin Dekha, 1957): Red. Shammi Kapoor again, and in—again—a Nasir Husain film (the one, in fact, which shot Shammi to fame). Red is one of those colours that features frequently in Hindi film songs. It’s the colour of everything from sunsets to blood, from a bride’s clothes to the colour of wine. A colour that prompts onscreen singers to sing of a bride going in her palanquin to her new husband’s home; to mourn over an addiction that will not be defeated; to weep over the blood spilled here, there, everywhere.

And red, when worn, is the colour of boldness, of a joie de vivre that will not be suppressed. Raj Kapoor’s vagabond in Shree 420 sang of the red Russian cap that he wore; his younger brother here wears a different style of red cap: not signifying Communism as that Russian one did, but one that shouts out loud his boisterousness, his love for his sweetheart. He is too busy singing her praises to talk of his own attire, but she (played by Ameeta) sings of it: that red cap and that silken handkerchief have stolen her heart.

5. Hari-hari vasundhara pe neela-neela yeh gagan (Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, 1967): Green. While green, in the context of the English language, may imply envy, it is also the colour that’s universally associated with nature. The Earth, the land. Trees, plants, fertility: all of these are symbolized by green. Which is why, when Jeetendra’s village school teacher in the hills in Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti begins his song in praise of nature, the first word that comes to him is the colour of the Earth: green. He goes on to sing of the colourful panorama: “dishaayein dekho rangbhari”, of the multi-coloured flowers and the blue sky above, but it all comes down to the verdure of the Earth itself.

6. Dhaani chunari pehen (Hare Kaanch ki Churiyaan, 1967): Pale green. Literally, the colour of dhaan, or paddy. Yes, still green, but more specific. In some parts of India (such as Bhojpur and around), green is also associated with weddings. Traditionally, brides wore green bangles for the wedding, and a chunari of a very specific shade—that of pale green, the colour of paddy or dhaan. Naina Sahu’s character in Hare Kaanch ki Churiyaan, in a daydream about the lover who has gone away, imagines what he’ll bring back for her: bangles of green glass. With those on her wrists and a dhaani chunari veiling her head and shoulders, she will go to be his bride. I’ll admit this is probably the one song in this list that I’m not really fond of, but at least the colour involved is a relatively unusual one: a change from the reds and blues so common in lyrics otherwise.

7. Mera rang de basanti chola (Shaheed, 1965): Yellow. Like dhaani (or, actually, several other colours—gulaabi, naarangi and baingani—pink, orange and purple), basanti too draws its name from something in nature: in this case, not a flower or a fruit or a vegetable, but a season. Spring, or basant, embodied in the yellow of mustard fields in bloom. Another of Manoj Kumar’s films—Upkaar—celebrated this colour, this season, even very specifically the festival of Basant Panchami, in a song (Aayi jhoomke basant), but for me, the more iconic, the more poignant song, is this.

While ‘yellow’ in English is equated with cowardice, the significance of this colour in Hindi or Punjabi is very different: it’s supposedly the colour of sacrifice, which is why the would-be martyr sings: Colour me, from head to toe, yellow. Mera rang de basanti chola was written originally by Ram Prasad ‘Bismil’, possibly in collaboration with several other revolutionary poets, and was one of Bhagat Singh’s favourite songs. There are conflicting accounts of whether or not he actually sang it just before he was executed in 1931, but Hindi cinema seems to have embraced that concept, with this song being repeated in just about every biopic about Bhagat Singh.

8. Dupatta mera malmal ka rang saleti halka (Adalat, 1958): Grey. Another of those colours that derives its name from something in nature. Unusually enough, the source word here is not even originally Indian: it’s slate, the grey metamorphic rock that splits so easily into layers. Not a colour one would expect to come across in a screen world dominated by pinks and reds and greens and other bright colours, but there it is. Nargis’s exuberant young dancer, performing on stage, sings of her muslin dupatta, grey in colour. From a score that had so many good songs that overshadow this one, Dupatta mera malmal ka is still a pleasant one.

9. Hansta hua nooraani chehra kaali zulfein rang sunehra (Parasmani, 1963): Golden. Gold is in another league altogether when it comes to lyrics. Talk of somebody being good, and they’re sone ke dilwaale (with hearts of gold). The bloom of youth and beauty is invariably equated with gold—even when there’s no trace of the golden in the loved one. (I spent years, before I finally watched Kashmir in Kali, in wondering if the woman referred to as having golden hair and blue eyes was actually a foreigner).

Hansta hua nooraani chehra, while praising the perfection of a man (who’d have thought Mahipal was the one for whom this song was sung?), can at least be considered somewhat correct. His hair is black, and his complexion—flight of fancy, this, or just the result of love being blind—is golden. A classic song of praise, upbeat and catchy, in a film that was pretty hilarious when it came to fantasy.

10. Aankhon mein kya ji, rupehala baadal (Nau Do Gyaarah, 1957): Silvery. And where gold is, can silver be far behind? While the more common word, in Hindustani, for silvery is ‘chaandi’, that can lead to some ambiguities in interpretation, since silver itself is referred to as chaandi. So, Allah-Allah woh de gaya chaandi chhalla implies that the ring is of silver (the metal, not merely the colour), Chaandi ka badan is slightly less obvious (though if you consider ‘sone ki nazar’ as the corresponding second phrase, then it would probably imply the metals in both cases, not merely the colours of the metals).

So, instead of getting into ambiguity, I’m taking the easy way out and using a synonym for ‘silvery’: rupehala. What is in these eyes, asks the besotted lover. The silvery cloud, says his playful sweetheart. And yes, a cloud that’s silvery is far better than a cloud that only has a silver lining, isn’t it?

Which songs would you have added to this post? Please share!

103 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite songs featuring colours

  1. Another similar song that comes to mind is
    चाँद सा मुखड़ा क्यूं शरमाया ?
    आँख खुली और जी घबराया…..


  2. Now, this is what I call an informative article.
    I hadn’t know what dhaani, saletti, basanti colours really meant. Thank you. :)
    When I heard dhaani chunar, I thought it must mean something about the quality of the chunariya.
    Some of my favourite songs with colours would be
    laal – laal laal gaal from Mr. X.

    neel – neel gagan ke chhaon me from Amrapali

    gulabi – sharaabi aankhen gulaabi chehra from Madhosh

    pili, hari – there aren’t really many songs on these colour…
    kala –

    kaare kaare badra from Bhabhi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHYsDb2Ijrs

    Happy holi!


    • Happy Holi, Harvey! And thank you; I’m glad you enjoyed this post, and learnt from it (I learnt stuff, too – I’ll admit I hadn’t known what rupehala meant; I always thought it had something to do with roop, and therefore perhaps meant beautiful. So I got educated, too!

      I love Laal-laal gaal. So glad you posted it. Kaare-kaare baadra is a favourite of mine, too. I had forgotten about Sharaabi aankhen gulaabi chehra – but remembered it on listening to it.


  3. hello,
    very nice idea!
    a new thought, a different theme!
    thinking about colors………….
    instantly i can think of
    Aa Neele Gagan Tale from badshah
    Laal Chhadi Maidan Khadi from Janwar
    Hum Kale Hai to Kya hua….from gumnaam

    incidently, all songs r by S J.
    but just a coincidence…
    Kari Kari Andhiyari Raat Mein by lata from Jalpari
    Kali Kali Raat Re Dil Bada Sataye- by Lata From Saiyan.


  4. N-i-c-e! :) A lovely theme, and so apt for Holi. Of course, the first song that popped into my head when I saw the theme was ‘Hawa mein udta jaaye mera laal dupatta mulmul ka. I’m not sure that ‘laal is not technically in the second line, however.
    Here’s one song that has multiple colours in one: Laal neeli peeli sharmeeli titli from Black Shadow

    Lots of yellow here: Peeli peeli sarson phooli from Upkaar [Aayi jhoom ke basant}

    Main laal laal guchkoon from Majhli Didi

    Red seems to be the colour of choice:
    Laal laal gaal from Mr X

    And one pink: Ye rangeen mehfil gulaabi gulaabi from Shikari


    • Thank you, Anu! Glad you enjoyed this song list. I had a tough time completing it – lots of red, lots of black, but so little of much else (white, for instance).

      Laal neeli peeli was new to me. What a fun song!

      Peeli-peeli sarson was on my longlist, but I skipped it in favour of another shade of yellow. :-)

      I’d completely forgotten Main laal-laal guchkoon. Sweet. :-) And I’d forgotten the song from Shikari – I think I’d probably have chosen that one over Gulaabi raat ki har baat gulaabi for pink, if I’d remembered. Good song.


  5. Loved the list! My favorite – Bade hain dil ke kale. I remember hearing (growing up) never trust anyone with light eyes, so quite apt! All colors are taken so I was thinking of Gora (white)
    Gora rang chunariya kali – Howrah bridge

    There are a few Punjabi songs with ‘Kashni’ which is the color of the sky – Kashni dupatta waliye (Mussarrat Nazir) and Ik meri akh kashni (Surinder kaur) but obviously outside the hindi movie songs. Among the newer ones – Rang de mujhe tu gerua (saffron), which I like – don’t encounter many of those though.


    • Thanks, Nishi! Glad you liked this post.

      I am a bit unsure about gora being used as a colour, per se. I’ve invariably heard it used in relation to complexion, and meaning fair, not necessarily white. When it’s used in other contexts, I have always seen gora meaning beautiful, But maybe I’m wrong.

      I had no idea kashni meant sky blue! Thank you for that.

      Plus, I had completely forgotten about gerua. I’ve always heard it refer to brick-red or terracotta, not saffron, which I relate to deep orange (the colour of saffron stamens and their resultant colour). Kesari or kesariya.


  6. I have been travelling and have also been busy with various things so I hardly get time to log on. I have noticed you have reviewed some interesting films, I will read them later.
    I quite find this subject interesting, my fav song with the word pilli in it is the one from Upkar, someone has already posted it. I will therefore move on to another one. By the way I will be honest I did not have the time to read this post in detail, but I gather the subject is songs that mention colour but have nothing to do with Holi right? So here is one of my fav songs referring to the colour black


  7. “I don’t celebrate Holi—ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a horror of being wet and dirty, and come Holi, I used to insist on locking myself in.”

    Oh, man, does that resonate! I used to hide under the bed when I was a little girl. We moved to the States when I was eight and I was thrilled I didn’t have to deal with Holi anymore. Shudder.

    This post is a *much* more civilized and enjoyable way of celebrating colors.:-D Great set of songs, Madhu and I love the care with which you’ve selected the colors to present. The last one, aankhon mein kya jee” in particular brought a delighted grin to my face as I had never thought much about the use of “rupehala” in the lyrics despite having listened to the song umpteen times.

    Here’s a song about a brown-eyed ( didn’t know till I heard this song that “kathai” meant brown) girl:

    Kathai aankhon wali ek ladki – Duplicate


    • “We moved to the States when I was eight and I was thrilled I didn’t have to deal with Holi anymore. Shudder.

      Interestingly, something similar happened to me when I was nine. Till then, we’d lived in Madhya Pradesh (where the danger of being slathered, whether you liked it or not, with colour, mud and grease, was very real). Then we moved to Srinagar, and suddenly, the threat diminished. Much relief in the Liddle household! :-D

      I’m so glad you put in Katthai aankhonwaali. I kept coming across that song when I was researching this post, and hoped someone would post it.


  8. hello,
    few more songs of colors……………..
    Oodi Oodi Chhayi Ghata Jiya Leheraye from Amar

    i think the oodi is used to describe color only,
    in marathi we use this word to describe a brownish grey color …
    and i think its color only…………
    what do u think?

    one more song…..
    La De Mohe Balma Aasmani Chudiyaan from Rail Ka Dibba

    Here also i think, its logical to connect the word aasmani to Sky Blue Color of bangles!
    i hope u will enjoy the songs!


    • This is very interesting – I had always thought that song was Udi-udi chhayi ghata, as in the ghata is flying. I hadn’t known oodi meant brown in Marathi, but that makes sense to me.


      • not exactly brown,
        but brownish grayish
        cant say perfectly…………..
        but its a color in marathi

        let others also comment on this!
        as its just my idea that it refers to a color!


          • उदी as an adjective in Marathi means snuff-coloured (तपकिरी रंग का, तपकीर meaning snuff).


            • However, that meaning can’t be applicable in the context of the song. Since the poet is describing clouds in the month of ’सावन’, he probably means dark (rain-laden) clouds.


              • Thank you for clarifying that! I suppose you’re right about the poet meaning dark (just as saanwle is used in some songs to refer to the night or the evening, when actually it refers to a dark complexion).


                • thanx milindji,
                  thanx for the info, i wasnt been able to describe it exactly,
                  i didnt know it means TAPKEER(snuff)
                  i just knew, its a color used not very often, now a days!
                  but it does refer to a color!
                  so fits in the theme!


  9. few other songs…
    O Kali Topiwale Zara Naam To Bata

    Kali Ghata Ghir Aayi Re from kali ghata

    this song has been used for many themes already, but fits here too………..

    then we have,
    Ghat Kari Matwari Ghir Aayi from Ek thi ladki
    by zeenat begum

    Neel Gagan Par udate Badal

    then Hawa Mein Udta Jaye Mora Laal Dupatta

    i forgot to post link for
    Kari Kari Andhiyari Raat Mein

    similar wordings from Navrang
    Kari Kari Andhiyari si raat

    Pyase Panchhi Neel Gagan Mein from pyase panchhi

    Ja ri ja ri o kari badriya


  10. Really enjoyed this post :) – very entertaining.
    To digress (as usual) I realised that Punjabi songs have a lot of colours…

    A couple of my favourites: with red AND white

    There are many by Surinder Kaur unfirtunately not available on the net like laal laal laal mera chitt mahi de naal , but this one is another favourite


    • Sorry, meant red and black! Apart from the usual colours, in songs such as black in kala doriya, or green in hareya ni maye, there are other shades that I have posted in other comments
      Surmai (greyish, light-blue) – Na chunni lai surmai (Tahira Syed) or Satrang (seven colours) – Sun sun ve dupattaya satrangiya
      One of the most unusual colours must be
      Balori (crystalline, made of crystal) = a very lively number by Noor Jehan song from the film Anwara with a hero whose one eye – at least according to the song- is crystalline! Here’s Sun Sun Ve Balori Akhh Waliya


    • Kaali teri gut te parainda tera laal ni is such an infectious song – I’ve liked it even back in the good old days of my youth, when I didn’t at all like most of the Punjabi pop that seemed to dominate parties or any type of gatherings in Delhi.Thank you for posting that, Bawa! Also loved Ik meri aankh kaashni; I am always happy when I learn new things – until Nishi mentioned it, I had no idea that kaashni was blue in Punjabi.


      • Yes, Nidhi mentioned it too. It is written by Shiv Kumar Batalvi – he wrote some very nice traditional geeta too.

        One of my sisters and I were very scared of Holi too because when we were very young a large crowd of my uncle’s classmates turned up to play Holi from the neighbouring S D Govt College (of the Sahir fame) and you can imagine the rest… Holi we would go and hide behind the bed…not that they played much in my house.

        If I ever find Laal laal laal I will send you the link. We learnt it from a dear neighbour of Dogri origin.

        Meanwhile, here’s Surinder Kaur with her little known sister Narinder Kaur – Punjabi girls and their paranda obsession


        • I really liked Kaale rang da paranda – nice! That sounded very familiar (that nachdi phiraan?, perhaps? I remember it as being part of some Hindi song from the 80s or 90s, I think…)


          • Could be…it’s very catchy! I am really ignorant about the 90s (not that I seem to have missed much) because I was here in Spain and there was no internet… so only what was popular when I happened to be there


          • Madhu – I think you are perhaps talking this Sonu Nigam song – Kali Teri Choti Hai.. May be? It’s from a 1990 movie called Bahar Aane Tak..


            • Yes, Kaali teri choti te parainda tera laal ni is the Hindi version of the Punjabi song which Bawa posted. What I was trying to remember, however, was which song the Surinder Kaur-Narinder Kaur song reminded me of. I think it was just the ‘nachdi phiraan’ phrase which reminded me of Koi sehari babu, from Loafer.


  11. What a beautiful way to celebrate Holi! Nice work..

    “I don’t celebrate Holi—ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a horror of being wet and dirty, and come Holi, I used to insist on locking myself in”

    Holi happens to be my favorite festival. I truly enjoy the free spirit where you can allow the inner child to come out and celebrate colors with others (of course as long as others want to be part of it). Having that kind of freedom is somewhat rare (without looking stupid if it wasn’t for the festival) and I have always missed that ever since I moved out of India. That one festival I miss the most. For some reason we have not been able to recreate that atmosphere anywhere else.

    Your song selection is really good. I am adding a few (some are clearly out of your timeline):

    1. Rainbow Colors – Maine Tere Liye Hi Saat Rang Ke (Anand-1971 – Salil Chaudhary/Mukesh)
    Yeah, not a specific color..

    2. Red – Yeh Lal Rang (Prem Nagar-1974- SD Burman/Kishore)

    3. Pink – Gulabi Ankhen Jo Teri (The Train-1970 – RD Burman/Rafi)
    Very strange dance moves by RK (perhaps the director trying to pull a Jitendra on RK).

    I used to sing this song when anyone in the family/friends had conjectivitis..

    4. Green – Hum Pe Yeh Kisne Hara Rang Dala (Devdas-2002 – Ismail Darbar/Kavita Krishnamurthy)


    • To each his own, Ashish! I am fine with people celebrating Holi as much as they please, as long as (like you mention) they make sure they don’t force more reluctant people to join. I’ve had my share of colleagues and friends who had a hard time accepting ‘no’ as an answer!

      I really like the songs you’ve suggested – and a couple of them (Gulaabi aankhen and Maine tere liye hi saat rang) were on my shortlist too. I had completely forgotten about the Devdas song, even though it had once been fairly popular. Thanks for that – as Harvey commented, there don’t seem to be too many ‘green’ songs around.


      • “To each his own, Ashish!”

        Yes, of course. I hear you and I know that this does cause some major issues in that part of the world (growing up I spent 10 years in Gwalior, MP). It’s a shame that people abuse this festival to the extent that just the thought of it causes chills for many..

        It’s fun for those who have a good group that is all out to have fun and everyone’s in on it.. That’s when it’s real fun.

        Here’s one more song. This one is from the eighties. one of the very few that I find tolerable.

        Movie Kalakar, Kishore/Kalyanji-Anandji – Neele Neele Ambar per


        • So glad to see you post Neele-neele ambar par, Ashish! Yes, this was definitely a breath of fresh air in the 80s – that decade was the one, I think, which was easily the worst as far as Hindi film music goes. Even the 90s had somewhat better music.

          … which reminds me of another song, also from the 80s, also featuring Sridevi, which has a colour in it. I must admit I am not fond of Surmai akhiyon mein, but I do know that this was vastly popular once upon a time.


          • Interesting.. I liked this Yesudas song but you can tell it was a southern tune retrofitted to hindi lyrics which causes somewhat awkwardness. Surmayee perhaps means full of surma – as in black?


            • Yes, I agree with the awkwardness – you have a good point there as to what may have caused it. Also, the nasality of Yesudas’s voice somehow doesn’t appeal to me here. I like him in a lot of other songs, but not in this.

              Surmai does mean black or dark grey.


  12. hi, few more songs..
    krishna o kale krishna is my all time favorite.

    my another favorite from shakti 1948 by Suraiyya
    i requast u listen it fully, u may like it!
    its not a happy song but the atmosphere it creates after listening, is
    just the expected from such a song!
    Kali Ghatao Jao


    • I had never heard Kaali ghataaon jaa before. Lovely song, thank you for this one especially. I also like Krishna o kaale Krishna – watched the movie for this song, actually.


  13. I like this post, with all the colors! The only song of color that came to my mind was Hawa mein udta jaye …, but that has already been posted. I have also learned a couple of new words for colors – dhaani, saleti, rupehla. After reading through the entire post and all the comments, I came upon the word ‘kesariya’ and realized that I do remember one song – Kesariya pagdi bani rahe …

    I used to enjoy Holi in my younger days, but then it has been so long since I was in India, and in the North, that I can only enjoy it on TV now. But we do have a Holi function in our local Hindu Center, and I make sure to avoid going there on that day because I don’t want to get my clothes ruined. My most vivid memory of Holi is one in Lucknow, where a group of hijras came in and started singing and dancing, and wouldn’t leave, and my mother sent me inside so I didn’t get to see how it all ended!

    Thanks for bringing back nice memories!


    • Oh, dear. The hijras coming in must have been quite harrowing! They can be scary – I remember being inundated by a flock of them the day after my wedding. I was at my in-laws’ home, and these hijras turned up demanding money and saying they wanted to bless the bride. It was creepy to sit there, with my head covered, surrounded by all of them as they clapped and wished that I would make them mausis within the year! Just the memory of it makes me feel embarrassed and awkward all over again.

      Thank you for Kesariya pagdi bani rahe< Lalitha! I had come across this song while researching this post, but couldn't include it, since I haven't seen the film. Glad you added it, especially since there don't seem to be too many kesar-kesariya songs.


  14. i am surprised no one posted the song, i am about to post…..
    its so famous!
    may b becoz, it has the word in second line….

    yeh chand sa roshan chehra, zulfon ka rang sunhara, yeh Zeel si neele aankhen


  15. Excellent post, thanks! I didn’t know songs from Hare Kaanch ki Churiyaan and Parasmani and they are beuytiful! I would add one bengali non-filmi song – because it is very beuytiful and because it became a Hindi filmi song Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaaye Saanj. Bengali song name is Amay Proshno Kare Neel Dhrubatara and MD Salil Chowdhary used later his own tune for Anand. Bengali version is pretty philosofical – the hero tells with the blue pole star which asks him how much longer he remains directionless.


    • Anna, as soon as I saw you’d commented, I hoped you’d posted a Bengali song – it’s always so lovely to hear one of these songs (perhaps that’s because I think Bengali is such a beautiful language, and of course it had some of the best composers and singers of that period – even many of them contributing to Hindi cinema).

      And for once, this is a song I have heard before. Absolutely lovely. Thank you so much!


    • I thought, from the name, that I’d never heard Bada hai CID hai woh neeli chhatriwaala before, but when the song started, I realized I have heard this. What a good song. Thanks so much for this! It gives me an idea for a song list. ;-)


  16. This is a great thread. As usual I’m late to the party and would normally refrain instead of saying something banal as Holi used to be wonderful as a boy in Delhi and add an indifferent song. But here’s this beautiful song that fits your criteria and has kesariya per your wish. Mero sayyan gulabiyon ka phool fro Nai Umar ki Nai fasal.


    • Arrrggh! How could I have forgotten this song?! I like it a lot, and it does feature two fabulous colours. Thanks so much for this, Anubha.

      P.S. Since nobody else has mentioned this (or even any other song featuring this colour), I might as well add another song which was on my shortlist. Chaand zard-zard hai, zard meaning ‘pale yellow’:


  17. since i was thinking about the colours other than the usual neela, kaala/hara etc. i remembered this song from Abhi toh jee lein . a 1977 movie with Danny and Jaya Bhadhuri, both of whom, if i amot mistake were classmates at the FTII
    So here is Tu Laali hai savere wali


    • I’m so glad you posted this song! I was hoping somebody would post it, and had even thought I would, if nobody else did – and then I forgot. I love this one (and yes, you’re right – Jaya and Danny were classmates at FTII). I’ve been wanting to watch this film ever since I saw this song. Danny is very watchable. :-)


  18. Besides ” Devdas ” , Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s one more film has a very popular
    ” Colour ” song
    ” Mohe rang do LAAL , Nand ke lal.” / Bajirao Mastani / Shreya Ghoshal

    In ” Sawan Bhado ” ,Navin Nishchal nd Rekha make a ” Nok – zok ” in
    ” Sun sun sun o GULABI kali ”

    But I want to add one more song though the word ” NEELI ” comes in the last line of the ” mukhada “.
    The Lyrics by Pram Dhawan , eye – candy Shammi Kapoor nd Bina Rai , the tune by Roshan — each nd every thing is nice.

    “Ek to surat pyari —- —— —— —— —— NEELI aankhon wale hote hai dhokebaaz ”
    Film – Vallah kya baat hai / 1962


    • Thank you! This song from Vallah kya baat hai was on my longlist, but I dropped it because the colour reference comes too far into the song. But a lovely song, nevertheless. There were some good songs in this film; pity the film itself wasn’t that great.


  19. How did I miss this post!! It was auto recommended in your reply to my comment on some other post. Here are my favourite colour songs…

    ‘Neela Aasama’ from ‘Silsila’

    Lovely ‘Laal Ishq’ from torture called ‘Goliyo ki Rasleela – RamLeela’

    ‘Mehandi Hai Rachnewali, Haatho mein Gehri Laali’ from Zubeida.

    ‘Surkh Jode ki yeh jagmagahat’ from Kabhi Kabhi. It sets the tone for the movie.
    ‘Sadda Chidiyaa da chamba ve’ was firstever Punjabi song I heard.

    ‘Kesariya Baalama’ – A Rajsthani folk song used in many movies notably Dor, Lekin.
    Kesariya – Saffron. Colour of Valour. Song is addressed to brave Rajput fighter.

    And not so favourites but they do mention colours
    ‘Dhanak ka rang’

    ‘Katthai Ankhowali ek ladki’ from Duplicate.
    Dark brown – colour of Kath/Cateu used in Paan

    ‘Dharati Sunhari Ambar Neela’ from Veer Zaara

    Last but not the least a favourite Marathi song.
    ‘Ruperi Valut Madachya banat ye na’

    Ruperi Valu – Silver sand. Varsha Usgaonkar is asking her lover to meet her on silver beach.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How interesting! Some of these songs I knew of (the Katthai aankhonwaali one I had stumbled across when I was compiling this post). Talking of kesari-kesariya, my daughter’s current favourite Hindi song happens to be Kesariya, from Brahmastra:


  20. Nice post, Madhu. I hadn’t seen this before, but it popped up now due to the recent comments. As you’ve asked for more clarifications in the previous comments , and as I’ve said earlier that I’d learnt Urdu in school , I used to be curious , long ago, about two words (colours, actually) that one heard in old songs. They were “Oodi” or “Udi” as in “Oodi ghata ke saaye taley chhup jaayein” ( House No. 44) and “Kaasni” . So I asked some Urdu speaking people and they all said that “Oodi”, with a soft ‘d’ meant purple. And “Kaasni” meant mauve, which is a light tint of purple. When I googled the latter I found images of mauve as well as light brown. So I suppose mauve it is , and the old lyricists wrote about purple clouds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pradeep, thank you so much for this. I have a vague recollection of the House No 44 song, but had never bothered to figure out what oodi meant. Or kaasni (I don’t think I’ve come across that…). Thank you so much for that information!


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