Ten of my favourite Swimming Pool songs

Summer is around the corner. And summer, for me, means mangoes and watermelon and tall cold glasses of nimbu-paani. The sight of amaltas and gulmohar trees in full bloom.

For my four-year old daughter, the Little One (or LO, as I refer to her on this blog), summer means swimming. Till last spring, we lived in one of those Delhi Development Authority colonies (which meant no decent swimming pool anywhere in the vicinity). Then, in May, we shifted to Noida, and to a housing complex which has its own lovely little swimming pool (including, on the side—much to the LO’s delight—a kiddie pool). My husband decided to start the LO off on swimming lessons immediately, and she took to them like a duck to water.

With summer looming, the LO can’t wait to get back into the water. Tuesday last week, we were given the very welcome news that the pool was going to be opened this past Sunday. Since that was Easter and the LO was pretty much partying all day, swimming was out of the question. But she knows (and she’s made sure we know) how Saturday morning is going to begin.

… which reminded me just how often we see swimming pools in Hindi cinema, especially in the 60s. You couldn’t have a film in a modern, urban setting (I’m not talking of the historicals and the stories in rural settings) without a swimming pool somewhere or the other. It could be a place where a hero and heroine flirted (Waqt); it could be a spot for some unwanted attention (Sharmeelee); it could even be used for some rigorous exercise by an ageing wannabe Casanova (Shagird).

And it could be a setting for songs.

Ten of my favourite (some more favourite than others) songs whose setting is a swimming pool. A modern swimming pool, not just a natural body of water where someone’s swimming. Besides my usual self-imposed rule of listing only songs from pre-70s films that I’ve seen, one criterion I added was that the setting for at least three-fourths of the song should be the swimming pool. The singer needn’t necessarily be in the pool (it could be a poolside song, as several in this list are)—but the swimming pool and its immediate vicinity should be the setting through most of the song.

Here goes, then:

1. Tirchhi nazar se yoon na dekh (Ek Phool Chaar Kaante, 1960): This song gets first billing on my list for two reasons. One, because I generally like the song a lot—Rafi’s singing and Shankar-Jaikishan’s music. Two, because (like me), the LO is a big fan of Johnny Walker’s. And Johnny Walker is a delight here as always, as he goes about flirting with a lovely blonde (does anybody know who this actress is?) who carries about with her a black cat—the cat, it seems, basically being there only to add its meows to the song at appropriate moments. Plus, of course, as in any self-respecting swimming pool song from the 60s, there are plenty of backup dancers and backup swimmers/divers. Very pleasant and fun.

2. Thandi hawa kaali ghata aa hi gayi (Mr & Mrs 55, 1955): This was the first song that occurred to me when I started thinking of this list. Madhubala’s frothy Anita, along with a bevy of sahelis, sings a song in praise of the monsoon—and, inevitably, its link with romance. I love the picturization of this song: there’s very little dancing, really, but the action is all beautifully choreographed to fit the music. The timing of the divers as they lithely run along the diving boards and leap off; the timing of the girls in the pool as they bob up from the water and smile into the camera; the timing of Anita’s friends, each of them with an open umbrella, as they go tripping by.

3. Yeh raaste hain pyaar ke (Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke, 1963): Perhaps the most easily recognizable swimming pool when it came to classic Hindi cinema was that of the Sun-n-Sand Hotel, India’s first beachfront hotel. Built in 1962 in Juhu, the hotel soon became a favourite haunt for the film industry (Dev Anand reputedly had a suite booked permanently here on the first floor—a suite which he kept for 15 years). And the Sun-n-Sand had this iconic swimming pool, which was the setting for many scenes in Hindi films over the years. Here, in what must have been one of the first uses onscreen of the pool (Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke was released just a year after the hotel was built), the poolside becomes the venue for a party. A quiet evening party, some slow dancing, and the obvious chemistry between a man and the wife of his friend.

… which does not go unnoticed by the jilted sweetheart of the man in question. Shashikala acts the jilted and embittered lover well: not hurling imprecations, not shrieking and causing a scene, but saying what she has to by way of a song that cautions: the paths of love are difficult. Walk carefully. A warning, which could be against anyone—society, the cuckolded, absent husband. Even her own self.

4. Aa gale lag jaa (April Fool, 1964): Shashikala just about let her toes dip in the water in Yeh raaste hain pyaar ke (not surprising, considering she was wearing an expensive sari and all). Saira Banu in Aa gale lag jaa is at the other end of the spectrum: a heroine who is in a swimsuit, and who does a good bit of swimming. The swimming pool itself is put to good use in this song: a troupe of synchronized swimmers from Germany were commissioned to perform, with Saira Banu joining them midway. The song itself is preceded by a long prelude of instrumental music, which accompanies the swimmers as they go about their routine. Not a great song, though a passable one; it makes it to this list because of that pretty unusual display of swimming.

5. Soorat haseen lagta hai deewaana (Budtameez, 1966): The swimming pool at the Sun-n-Sand features all over again, but this time in broad daylight—and not just as a backdrop to a party, but as a well-used swimming pool, filled with a bunch of swimmers. The central figure, clutching a beach ball, is an indignant Shammi Kapoor, and he’s surrounded by Sadhana and her sahelis, ribbing the life out of him. While the song’s okay—Budtameez was one of the few Shammi Kapoor films that didn’t have outstanding music—what I like about Soorat haseen lagta hai deewaana is how the pool is so central to the song, and used so much. He’s in it; she slides into it soon enough (and then out again). There are long shots, there are close-ups. The pool is the focus.

6. Tu mera jo nahin (Bheegi Raat, 1965): Shashikala again, and at yet another poolside party. This one, though, couldn’t be more different than Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke (even though Shashikala’s character is again in love with a man who loves another woman). This one’s peppy and very much the epitome of the picnic-cum-pool party type: there are balloons, there’s dancing, there is lots of Coca Cola being drunk. Rajendranath, wearing a horrid swimsuit (a woman’s—why on earth did film makers seem intent on dressing him up in women’s clothing?) is painful to look at, but one can only be grateful that he’s not in a bikini.

7. Chal shuru ho jaa (Humjoli, 1970): Another pool party, but like none of the others on this list. It starts off well, with a mix of people decked up in their Sunday best, as well as some (nearly all men) obviously ready to leap into the pool and therefore dressed for the part. But by the time this song comes around, the party has taken an unexpected (for some) turn: a bunch of goons has sprung up with evil intentions. And our two heroes—played by Jeetendra and Mehmood—quickly jump into the fray to thrash the living daylights out of the goons. Or rather, to bash them and dispatch most of them into the swimming pool. What’s the point of having a pool around if you don’t pitch someone into it, after all? A fast-paced song which is rather funny to listen to, though I would really rather have liked Jeetendra and Mehmood to have kept their pants on.

8. Lehraake aaya hai jhonka bahaar ka (Waaris, 1969): Jeetendra and Mehmood again, though this time it’s only Jeetendra at the poolside, while Mehmood (again romancing Aruna Irani, as in Humjoli) cavorts about in a colonnade. This song has the distinction of being the only one on this list which is picturized at a private swimming pool. Not a hotel pool, not a club pool, but one in the grounds of a large and fancy mansion. Which, of course, allows you to fill your pool with all sorts of junk, such as balls andrubber ducks by the dozen (and in all sizes and colours). Not a great song, but I think Hema Malini looks really pretty.

9. Ae haseenon naazneenon (Shart, 1969): Swimming pools, like gardens, seem to be tailor-made for romance of all kinds: the passionate romance (bare skin and simmering passion is de rigueur for swimming pools, though rarely in our rather more staid films of the 50s and 60s); flirting; playful teasing; and just general anticipation of romance, as in Thandi hawa kaali ghata. Here, in Ae haseenon naazneenon, Sanjay Khan’s character is setting out to woo Mumtaz, as she sashays about the poolside. His aim is to win a bet with his friends that he can cadge a date with this girl; what they don’t realize is that the joke’s on them: this girl is already his girlfriend, and the entire flirting-and-getting-the-girl routine is a farce.

(By the way, one of the little details I love here is the cute little swimming cap Mumtaz wears. Unlike the glamorous hairdos of nearly all the other women in this list who end up in the pool—Sadhana, Hema Malini, Saira Banu—her hair isn’t all beautifully coiffed and sprinkled with glitter or threaded through with shiny ribbons: more pragmatically, it’s neatly bound up under a no-nonsense cap tied under her chin).

10. Tum bhi khoobsoorat ho (Rootha Na Karo, 1970): And, to end, a song from yet another filmi pool party. Rootha Na Karo was one of the last films for which C Ramachandra composed music, and his music was really one of the very few things that made the film—otherwise very draggy—an okay watch. That, and the Shashi Kapoor-Nanda jodi, two actors who (probably as a result of having worked in so many films together) bring to their onscreen relationship a playfully romantic camaraderie that is convincing. Here, in a delightfully infectious song that’s a paean to the charms of his girlfriend—even though she’s just shoved him into the water—our hero ends up pulling her in as well. They have no inhibitions about getting out and dancing (rather cutely, I think) in their wet clothes, too.

Which songs would you add to this list?

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40 thoughts on “Ten of my favourite Swimming Pool songs

  1. Will this one qualify? The pool sequences are confined to only a minor portion of the song. But still it is a pool. And Tanuja does swim in it (looking gorgeous too).

    Baagh Mein Kali Khili – Chand Aur Suraj (1965)

    • I love Bagh mein kali khili – in fact, that was on my shortlist, and right at the top too. But the setting of the pool is there only (as you mention too) for a brief part of the song. If she’d even sat on the edge of the pool for the rest of the song, I’d happily have put this one in at No.1!

  2. Madhu, Lovely post! Feels so good to be able to read your post (after such a long long time – at home and relaxed today)

    Like Abhik, I would peg for Baag mein kali khili – in fact that was the first song that came to my mind on seeing the title of your post. Yeh raaste hain pyar ke, which you have on your list, was the other…

    Tu mera jo nahin is a swimming pool song? Didn’t know that. But then havent watched Bheegi raat – not much of a Pradeep kumar fan…..

    • Good to have you back, Harini! And, as I mentioned in my reply to Abhik, Bagh mein kali khili doesn’t work because too little of the song is either in or right next to the pool. She’s either up a tree or in a garden or whatever – you see the pool only very briefly.

      I don’t care for Pradeep Kumar either, but like Biswajeet or Rajendra Kumar or Bharat Bhushan (all actors I don’t like), he had some great songs picturised on him. Bheegi Raat itself had the lovely Dil jo na keh saka.

  3. Lovely idea for a post! And I haven’t heard most of these songs, only 2 and 3. Will go through the videos over the next few days.

    I was going to add Baag me kali khili, but I’ve been beaten to it. it’s THE swimming pool song I think of first!

    What about the song from An Evening in Paris? Aasman se aaya farishta? OK, it’s not a pool but a lake. But Ms Tagore is in a swimsuit! It was so radical for those days. in

    • Thank you! Glad you thought this was a good idea for a post. I’d been meaning to do this for a while, but compiling the list took some doing, considering the restrictions I’d imposed on myself. ;-)

      Aasmaan se aaya farishta doesn’t qualify. This isn’t a swimsuit songs list (in which case that awful Bol Radha bol would qualify!

      “It was so radical for those days..”

      Yes, I guess so. But there were several heroines who’d done that earlier – Sadhana, for instance, already in Waqt and Budtameez. And Saira Banu in April Fool.

        • Yes, some people have mentioned a song from Dilli ka Thug, too, which I should’ve remembered, considering I’ve seen the film.

          Long before these ladies, though, Nalini Jaywant wore a swimsuit in Ulfat ke jaadoo ka from Sangram:

  4. Would it surprise you to know I had this list tucked away? I was keeping it for our summer. :) Most of yours were on my list as well as Baagh mein kali khili which Abhik mentioned. Some others from my list:

    Ye bahar ye sama from Dilli ka Thug – some synchronised swimming here as well, and Nutan in the pool. Not a great-great song, but definitely decent-ish.

    And one of my favourite songs – with Vyjayanthimala in the pool for part of the time.

    Tumko fursat ho meri jaan from Bewafa I like that while Raj Kapoor is singing outside, Nargis continues to swim laps in the pool. :)

    • No, I am not surprised at all! Or at the fact that most of our songs were in common (if I’d remembered the song from Dilli ka Thug, that would’ve been on my list too! – how could I forget it?!) I came across Tumko fursat ho meri jaan while doing research for this post, but since I hadn’t seen the film, I had to skip it.

      I’d only heard, not seen, Sajna mera dil tera dil before, so hadn’t realized it was a swimming pool song. Very nice! Thank you for that.

  5. Such a lovely list. It made re-listening to these songs ( few of them I have heard for the first time on YouTube. Tongue-in-cheek question: do you like “Aaj blue hain pani pani”? :P

  6. A couple of deficiencies in your lovely post :)
    You tantalizingly mention Dev Anand & Sun n Sand Hotel, and the fact that he had a suite there for 15 years; AND no Dev song in/around a swimming pool :)

    Allow me to rectify —-
    Dev & Hema in 70’s movie “Amir Garib”;
    song “Moni Aur Soni Ki Hai Jodi Ajeeb”
    Location : Juhu Beach (just outside Sun n Sand, & Sun n Sand’s swimming pool)

    OK, at least 2 faults with my song choice :)
    1) Just under 50 % of the song on the pool, but hopefully the actual beach+sea just outside counts (the remaining 50+% is over here). :))
    2) 70’s & 70’s Dev :)) Maybe this should be shown to film students as to “How NOT to film around swimming pools :))

    On a serious note; Really Excellent Post, and you & Anu (i saw her comments) are doing a wonderful job. May you continue to do so.
    (PS: I did finally get to meet Anu & S)

    • Oh, Lord. Look at that suit of his. The colour! Blinding. :-D

      Going by the criteria you’ve applied (some of what I mention), this one could actually fit in other categories as well. Jeep songs, for instance. Or hero irritating a heroine, somewhat. Oh, and beach songs (a theme I should probably do some time).

      But, seriously, not a bad song, really. ;-) And thank you – I’m so glad you liked this post.

      And you got to finally meet Anu and S? I haven’t met S, but Anu is a gem. Lucky you.

    • Dil mera tumhaari le gayeen doesn’t fit, because the criteria for this post included that at least 3/4 of the song must be in or around the pool. But thank you for this song – it’s something (to fit another theme) that I’d been searching for!

    • Yes, Hat jaao deewaane aaye does feature a swimming pool, for a short while – which is why it’s not on the list (the criteria for which includes that at least 3/4 of the song must be picturised in or around the pool).

  7. What is the world coming too ….only one Shammi Kapoor song which meets the criterion? May be he needed the ocean ,– as a swimming pool was too small a place to confine him in! The song in Q as you have admitted is not a particularly good one at that.
    What about Rajesh khanna?
    For once at least 50% of the list has me unmoved…. for reasons ranging from songs I do not like, can’t care for the actors or even a couple of have I even heard them before. So that leaves me Thandi hawa( excellent),Johnny walker one ( good) and the Shart one ( Mumu is always dependable)
    Like Anu , the song which came to my mind first when I saw the title was the “Dilli ka thug “song with synchronised swimming much before it became popular in Olympics!

    • Rajesh Khanna? Can you think of any swimming pool songs featuring him?

      There are certainly songs here that I don’t especially care for – when it comes to music – but there are, in most cases, something or the other that redeems the song for me.

      • I was wondering that there should be some Rajesh khanna song by the pool. Not that I remember off hand!
        “There are certainly songs here that I don’t especially care for – when it comes to music”
        Agreed. It was not a complaint. Generally your song lists are of such impeccable quality this was one list where it didn’t met up musically.
        You seem to agree I am relieved now… all is well with your taste!

          • “You seem to agree I am relieved now… all is well with your taste!

            LOL! Yes, I am relieved. :-)

            I just checked Duniya mein, but can’t see any swimming pool in it… a pool of water in some of the shots, but that’s it. I’ve never seen the movie; is there another version of the song? The movie is 1972, by the way – and doesn’t even have the feel (as does Pakeezah or Sharmeelee) of an earlier era (which is one case in which I make an exception to the rule).

            • I was rcalling from memory. If you have checked it so be it! . Ones memory does play tricks as you get older;you are quite a few years away to getting there , so don’t worry :-)

              • Heh. No, I am pretty much there myself. ;-) Something happened the other day which brought home the fact that calling my memory a ‘sieve’ would be to flatter it!

  8. Fun post! The weather has been deary for months now and the forecast threatens snow this Saturday, but I can dream of summer and lazy hours spent around the swimming pool.:-)

    The song from “Dilli Ka Thug” mentioned by Anu was the first one that came to mind with the second one being the following. The swimming pool is definitely the star of this song.

    Haye haye thanda thanda pani – Bombay to Goa/R.D. Burman/Asha Bhonsle

    • I should’ve remembered this song, even if I couldn’t make it part of my list! Thank you for this, Shalini – this one really celebrates the swimming pool. :-)

  9. A nice list of songs there. A song from Gumrah, aaja aaja re, tuj ko mera pyar bulaye, sung by Sunil Dutt, next to a pool. Not so much as a swimming pool, more of a garden pond with a nice swirling fountain!! Mala Sinha looks simply gorgeous!!
    Girish Vaidya

  10. Hi Madhuji,
    I’m back after a short break!
    loved the post and majority of the songs. Though I must confess many of them are new intro to me.
    I was wondering whether this song qualifies or not?
    It does have a swimming pool, but comes into the view much later.

    Woh Pari kahan se laau from Pehchan

    and also. kya khabar thi jana from khiladi

    actually both the songs do not strictly fit your criteria

  11. Seems I am late on the scene but anyway here is I , a rare one from Ladaaku 1981 which had Amjad bhai Khan in he lead role.
    This filmed on Sarika and Raj Kiran. MD was Usha Khanna


    cheers

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