The monsoon has arrived here, in Delhi and around. We’d had a parched and hellish June, the heat seeming to grow more unbearable—and then, suddenly, one morning we woke to an overcast sky. Grey clouds looming, and soon, rain. Except in my childhood (when I remember going out in the rain to play, with the express purpose of getting thoroughly soaked), I’ve never really liked getting wet in the rain. Come the monsoon, I don’t venture out without an umbrella. In our car, we always have an umbrella or two to spare (our latest acquisition in that department is a golf umbrella, large enough to accommodate two adults). If I should by some chance get caught in the rain—a rare chance, indeed, given the precautions I take—I will bolt for the nearest shelter, even if it consists of six inches of overhang.
The last thing that occurs to me is to sing.
Not so in Hindi cinema, where getting wet (almost always in pouring, roaring thunderstorms that come out of a clear blue sky) is invariably a precursor to bursting into song. For various reasons.
Sometimes (Dhool ka Phool, Ek Phool do Maali) rain drenches two already-in-love people who’re singing a love song, sending their hormones zooming and leading to the inevitable Main tumhaare bachche ki maa bannewaali hoon dialogue (how come rain always comes upon filmi women when they’re at their most fertile? Is there a Hindi film heroine who didn’t get pregnant after a naughty rainy evening?)
More often, though, the two people concerned realize just how non-platonic their relationship might be if they hadn’t got drenched. That drenching, and the resultant having to get out of wet clothes and into a blanket (or borrowed clothes, or whatever) leads to more. More, best expressed in a song.
Here, then, are ten songs, all from pre-70s Hindi films that I’ve seen. As the name of the post itself should explain, all of these songs follow a scene where the hero and/or heroine has got soaked—whether in the rain or elsewhere. It’s not necessary that the hero or heroine themselves should be the ones doing the singing; if I were to impose that rule, I’d have to give up on what is probably the most iconic post-drenching song, which is…
1. Roop tera mastaana (Aradhana, 1969): Yes, this is the song that came first to my mind when I thought about songs that follow people getting wet. This is the classic post-drenching situation: the two young lovers, out laughing and romancing in the prettiness of Darjeeling, get caught in the rain and end up having to check into a guest house. Vandana (Sharmila Tagore), wraps herself demurely (and seductively, even if she’s not aware of it) in an orange sheet, and the result of that is plain to see in boyfriend Arun’s (Rajesh Khanna’s) eyes. They don’t sing; the man next door does, to the woman he’s with—but the chemistry in this room suddenly goes up several notches.
I like the music here, Kishore’s singing, and—most of all—the acting: there is a brilliant mix of hesitation and longing in both Sharmila’s and Rajesh Khanna’s faces and body language, which says much more than words could (though the lyrics are highly appropriate).
2. Ishaaron ishaaron mein dil lenewaale (Kashmir ki Kali, 1964): Sharmila Tagore again, but in a song that’s diametrically opposite to Roop tera mastaana. Teamed (in her debut Hindi film) with Shammi Kapoor, here she’s a sweetly innocent girl who is romanced in the mist by her lover—after both of them, having gotten wet in a storm (coming out of a blue sky, of course), take shelter in a village woman’s hut. The old lady, having lent them her son and daughter-in-law’s clothes, discreetly takes herself off, leaving the two to wander out into the pines and sing of love. All very chaste and very romantic.
3. Dil jo na keh saka (Bheegi Raat, 1965): A classic example of the sort of song I referred to in the introduction to this post. A couple get drenched, and (as in the case of Roop tera mastaana) the woman ends up much wetter than the man, and therefore obliged to change into something rather more revealing. Here, they take shelter in a cave temple (or a cave with carvings on its walls, at any rate) and the romantic-erotic sculptures help add their own heat (along with the fire) to the sizzle between the pair. (Okay, Pradeep Kumar does not strike me as sizzling, but still). Meena Kumari, in an interesting change from her usual more demure self, projects a relatively bold heroine, a woman who has none of the hesitation and shyness of Aradhana’s Vandana: she, in fact, is the one doing the seducing.
4. Rimjhim ke geet saawan gaaye (Anjaana, 1969): A similar situation as in the previous song. Two lovers get soaked and take shelter in an abandoned and rickety building. She (now this is getting predictable) is far wetter than he is, and therefore ends up having to wrap a sheet around her. I don’t like either Rajendra Kumar or Babita, and this song, at least as far as the picturization goes, leaves a lot to be wondered at. What are these two feeling for each other? Love? Lust? Not much seems to come through, and the chemistry is zero. But the song itself isn’t bad, and I like the fact that there’s more than one reference to the rain itself.
5. Aankhon-aankhon mein hum-tum (Mahal, 1969): Before I move on to rather more unusual situations and songs around this theme, one more song that involves lovers getting caught in thunderstorms and the woman getting wet enough to have to don blanket/sheet/other makeshift clothing. (Seriously. How come the men never seem to have the chivalry to take off their own coats/jackets and drape them over their beloveds? And even when they do, how come the woman still gets soaked through, while the man remains dry enough to not need to strip?)
Anyway, on to a song that I like a lot. The 1969 Mahal wasn’t anywhere as popular as the 1949 Mahal, and it had plot holes aplenty, along with a Dev Anand already past his prime. What it did have, though, was some lovely music. Aankhon-aankhon mein hum-tum is picturized mostly as the two lovers walk home from the place they’ve sheltered in (very chastely, lest one misunderstand) all night—but the song begins while they’re still there, waking up with the dawn and realizing that they’ve literally spent the night together. Melodious song, lovely lyrics, and there’s a charm to Dev Anand and Asha Parekh.
6. Ek ladki bheegi-bhaagi si (Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, 1958): In a complete change from nearly all the other songs on this list, a funny song. Madhubala’s very wealthy young miss, her car having broken down and left her stranded in the pouring rain, manages to get to a garage, where the mechanic, played by Kishore Kumar, isn’t at all inclined to help. Cajoling and threatening and the offering of pots of money finally help break down his resistance, but even as he goes about repairing her car, he breaks into song—and teases her. A girl, wet and dripping, out in the rain. Meets a stranger: is this is a thing to gossip about, or not? A delightful song, both in its picturization and otherwise. I love the way everyday ‘music’—the hitting of a tool on a metal surface, for instance—is incorporated into the song.
7. Jaane na nazar pehchaane jigar (Aah, 1953): There are two things about this song that set it apart from the others in this list. Firstly, it’s an example of that very rare ‘post-drenching’ song in which the man too is so drenched that he is obliged to take off his clothes too (though, instead of wrapping himself artistically in a sheet like younger brother Shammi Kapoor in Tumsa Nahin Dekha, RK dries off by getting into an old oil drum and covering that with a blanket).
Secondly, the two people here haven’t got drenched in the rain: their wetness is a result of an unexpected swim in a river: Nargis’s somewhat scatterbrained heroine tried to cross it and floundered; RK’s hero, despite scoffing at her, let his better self prevail and went and saved her. And they end up in this derelict old house, trying to dry off. A sweet song, and a classic one.
8. Dekho mohe laaga solvaan saal (Solvaan Saal, 1958): Dev Anand (who was not usually one for going bare-chested in his films) seems to have more than his fair share of post-drenching songs. In the title song from Solvaan Saal, the song serves to cement the growing relationship between the heroine (duped by her boyfriend, who’s run off with her jewellery on the pretext of eloping with her) and the journalist who, in the hope of getting a good story out of this, has been trailing her all this while. When the girl, terrified of the consequences—the loss of face, the shame—tries to commit suicide by jumping into the sea, he rescues her. And, taking her to a nearby village, gives her a pep talk, promises to help, and generally gives her reason to fight back instead of buckling under.
They, just changed into dry clothes (but with their hair still damp) are interrupted by a sudden song-and-dance, and while Dev Anand joins Sheila Vaz in the singing and dancing, Waheeda Rehman looks demurely on.
9. Na jhatko zulf se paani (Shehnai, 1964): Biswajit has never been one of my favourites, and barring a couple of films (like Bees Saal Baad, Kohraa, or Biwi aur Makaan), he didn’t act in films that I particularly like. But one thing I like about Biswajit, and that is the number of great songs he lip-synced to: some of my favourite songs have been picturized on Biswajit.
Na jhatko zulf se paani is not one of my top favourites in the way Pukaarta chala hoon main or Beqaraar karke humein is, but it’s a great song nevertheless—and it fits in here perfectly. Rajshree, playing his beloved, comes hurrying into shelter when it starts raining. He, happily enough (though he was in the rain too), has not gotten drenched, so—in usual hero-style—does not offer her a shred of dry clothing, but instead sings her a song. A song, too, that even tries to persuade her not to dry her hair: the ‘pearls’ that drop from it will wreak havoc on her lover’s heart.
Somewhat uninspired picturization, but a lovely song, and Rafi at his best.
10. Jigar mein dard kaisa (Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani, 1968): And, to end, a song that isn’t just a lovely one, but which also features my favourite drenching scene. Mumtaz and Sudhir made for an absolutely adorable couple in Apna Ghar Apni Kahaani (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve revisited the film only to watch their scenes together)—and they realize their love for each other because they get drenched in a storm.
These are childhood friends, and even when they meet as adults, the camaraderie of childhood remains the same, until they get caught in a downpour which gets them so wet that he takes off his shirt and she’s busy wringing out her sari… and suddenly they become conscious of each other. It’s an awkward little moment, but they gather themselves, rush off to their respective homes—and then cannot sleep. So he wanders out into the mist, singing a song, and she joins in. Lovely.
Which songs would you add to this list?