Favorite Classical Songs from Films

Given how very many excellent songs there are of this genre and its sub-genres, and given that we could more than likely create a classical favorites list for most of the artists mentioned below, I figured it best to simply document the first dozen songs that came to my mind -- those I think exemplify Indian classical music (and where applicable, dance) as used in Hindi film, and those I know I've loved over many many years by now.

They're ranked in order of my fondness. I trust you will enjoy them. That I am a big fan of Rafi, Lata, and Asha is an allegation I shall gladly accept. :) The only filter is I've tried to avoid songs in proper Urdu here, which I'll look to dedicate at least one post to some other time. All links are to videos on YouTube (active as of the publication of this post), which are also the source for pictures contained in this post.

Please help me build on this list by adding your favorites to the comments!

12. Garjat Barsat Saawan Aayo Re (YouTube link)
They accompany the opening credits to the 1960 film Barsaat Ki Raat, and they'd might as well be the intro song on this list. "The Monsoon arrives Bellowing and Pouring," sung by Suman Kalyanpur and Kamal Barot, with music by Roshan and lyrics by house favorite Sahir Ludhianvi. The film stars Madhubala, which means it's now in my to-watch list. Want a modern take of the 'Garaj Baras' root? Check out this rock rendition from Coke Studio.

11. Jhanak Jhanak Tori Baaje Paayaliya (YouTube link)
'Paayals', or anklets, have a special place in Indian poetry. They've also served as inspiration for many songs, and this is one of the finest. From the film Mere Huzoor (1968), it's sung by Manna Dey, with music by Shankar-Jaikishan and lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. The song proves man need not be provided with wine or woman to be lost. Sometimes, as in the last minute and a half of this song, the music is enough!

10. Meethe Bol Bole, Bole Paayalia (YouTube link)
The anklets are back, and this time, they are worn by Hema Malini. From the film Kinara (1977), with music by R. D. Burman and lyrics by Gulzar. The vocals by Bhupinder Singh and Lata Mangeshkar are brilliant, as is everything about Hema Malini, but you knew that.

 Kaise Samjhaaoon? (YouTube link)
From the film Suraj (1966), with music by Shankar-Jaikishan, lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri, and vocals by Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi. Here's a little disclaimer: If you know nothing -- *nothing* -- about the actress Vyjayanthimala, this song might just make you fall in love with her. As the song title goes, "How do I explain (that)?" I know not.

8. Kaahe Chhed Mohe (YouTube link)
This is the most recently released classical song I've fallen in love with, which is not saying much given how long ago Devdas (2002) was released. But the good news is at least this song has everything I ask for in a great classical song. The lyrics (Nusrat Badr) are splendid. The music (Ismail Darbar) is absolutely stunning, as are the singing (Pt. Birju Maharaj, Kavita Krishnamurthy) and Madhuri Dixit and her astonishingly  flamboyant dance, and self. Check it out:

7. Radha Kaise Na Jale (YouTube link)
From the film Lagaan (2001). Music by A. R. Rahman, vocals by Asha Bhosle and Udit Narayan, and lyrics by Javed Akhtar. Okay, did you really think I was going to skip this? ;) If you're a new visitor to the blog, I invite you to check out the Annual Lagaan Week posts from the last four years. I'll spare the rest of you of any further Lagaan discussion. Told you it has everything! 

6. Chhota Sa Balma (YouTube link -- audio only)
From the film Raagini (1958), with music by O. P. Nayyar and lyrics by Qamar Jalalabadi. This is the song I cite in any discussion on Lata Mangeshkar versus her sister Asha Bhosle. Unreal vocal range here. It's also the song that gets my friends to "like songs that go with my twenty-something age." Right. Need I say more? :D

5. Sakhiri Sunn Bole (YouTube link)
Vintage Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, listen for yourself. From the film Miss Mary (1957), with music by Hemant Kumar and lyrics by Rajendra Krishan.

4. Mann Mohan Mann Mein (YouTube link)
Mohammad Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, and Shiv Dayal Batish sing this song for the film Kaise Kahoon. The lyrics are by Shakeel Badayuni, and music by S. D. Burman. Splendid stuff all round.

3. Mohe Panghatt Pe Nand Laal (YouTube links: Color | Black & White)
My admiration for Madhubala is well-documented. Madhubala in Mughal-e-Azam (1960) is ethereal, but let that not take away from a fabulous song, with music by Naushad, lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, and vocals by Lata Mangeshkar. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!

2. Kaahe Tarsaaye (YouTube link)
I mentioned Lata and Asha in the same sentence in #4 above. There's also the third sister, Usha Mangeshkar. She sings this song with Asha. Song's from the film Chitralekha (1964), with music by Roshan, and lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi (yes, him again!). Has anyone seen the film? (I haven't, and hope to change that soon.) There are a couple other classical songs from the same film that I love, Sakhi Re Mera Mann Uljhe (Lata), and Mann Re Tu Kaahe Na Dheer Dhare (Rafi).

2. Tu Hai Mera Prem Devta (YouTube link)
The God in me welcomes the God in you. Always. I'm cheating a bit with a second song in second place, but you'll forgive me once you listen to this! Padmini and Ragini perform to this song in film Kalpana (1960), tied for second place in my favorites list. With vocals by Manna Dey and Mohammad Rafi, music by O. P. Nayyar, and lyrics by Qamar Jalalabadi. It's so incredibly complex in so many ways from start to finish (I mean lyrically, vocally, and musically), and so incredibly well done in each of these respects!

1. Madhuban Mein Radhika (YouTube link)
More on the song in my review of the film Kohinoor (1960), in which I also say that if I had to pick one and only one Hindi film song as an all-time favorite, this would be it. I've maintained that ever since I first listened to this magnificent piece. It's magical! Sung by Mohammad Rafi, with lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni and music by Naushad. (Anklets are referred to in this song, too.) Here's Rafi singing it live (low quality audio and video, but worth checking out). Here's the song from the film. Enjoy! 


Amaluu said...

Lovely post! Really like your choices ... Two of my favorites is Mata Saraswati from Alaap (Amitabh/Rekha) and Bole Re Pappihara from Guddi. Also Jhoote Naina and Suniyo Ji from Lekin were beautiful. Jo Geet Nahin Janma and Saat Suron Ke from Sangeet were also great songs. And then of course more recently, Mere Dholna from Bhool Bhulaiya.

I also LOVE Meethe Bol from Kinara. Hema Malini had some amazing ones ... like Nava Kalpana from Mrig Trishna.

Ugh, shut me up. I'll keep going.

Mia said...

i love BW.Indian music. in fact that is how i find BW movies. Madhuban Mein Radhika is a lovely song but what's the deal with the frog sounds at 2:51 ? thanks for the blog post:)

Anindita said...

:-) You made my Tuesday, thanks!

Yep, have seen Chitralekha but it was a *very* long time ago and I remember being not impressed by the film at all - it was only the songs that had made me sit through.

Barsaat ki Raat - catch it now now now. If not for Madhubala (erm) then for Roshan who surprassed himself in this film (the 10-minute qawwali is a treat by itself). Not to mention a very different Bharat Bhushan - someone who actually looks real for once!

My all-time favourite classical song? Man tadpat hari darshan to aaj (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyLdgQinxpY). Other favourites include RD Burman's first (Ghar aaja ghir ayi badra http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAUXqsaLYd0) and Poocho na kaise maine rain bitayi (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=376w1QPz07w).

Suja said...

Lovely post ! I am not sure about your including of the Lagaan song as 'classical', much as I like it, but hey, its your blog :) I'll think about it a bit and come back with my own suggestions for your list..

theBollywoodFan said...

Thank you all so much! Shall be back with comments soon. Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for sharing your favorites!

Suhan said...

A wonderful post - thank you.

One of my all time favorites in this genre is, of course, Lata Mangeshkar's magnificent 'Raina beet jaye' from 'Amar Prem' (1972). I'd also recommend 'Gori tori paijaniya' from Mehbooba (1976) with Hema Malini dancing to Rajesh Khanna's singing or rather Manna Dey's! It's another of RD Burman's great classical scores as was 'Amar Prem'. Links to both below :-)

Raina beet jaye - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRk9pG5Upe4

Gori tori paijaniya - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xN8NhjWFZj4

Pessimisissimo said...

Great list, TBF. It includes three of my all-time favorites too (from Barsaat Ki Raat, Devdas and Mughal-e-Azam), but I was unfamiliar with most of these wonderful songs. Clearly there are some classic films that I'll have to seek out, as soon as possible.

Thanks for sharing your favorites!

dunkdaft said...

since i started reading that post, i was like 'yeah, i will put Madhuban mein radhika' in comments. Yes, tbf must have forgotten it. :) But saw it on numero uno spot, i was :( LOL.

Superb post, Many songs are there i haven't heard yet. My fav is u know, the Rafi saab's Madhuban. Other fav I would include [though I doubt] is Lukka Chhuppi [RDB] the way it amazingly transforms to classical notes sung by Lata ji and Rahman , is just outstanding.

Filhaal, yehi yaad aa rahe hai. hmmm.... and yes Mann tadpat hari darshan ko aaj. oh, and Delhi 6's Bhor Bhaye. From Chitralekha, I loove Mann Re Tu kaahi na... Rafi saab forever man.

dunkdaft said...

Kahaan se aaye badraa.... !

Moh se chhal kiye jaaye... the way it includes raaga notes in between antara.. stupendous.

Anonymous said...

Loove "mohe panghat pe" and radha kaise na jale ..

Must check the other songs too .. thanks for the list :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Amaluu: Thanks so much, glad you liked the songs. I hadn't listened to some of the songs you mentioned, and shall be checking them out soon. I cannot believe I missed that Bhool Bhulaiyya song, Vidya Balan was SO splendid there.

Please *always* feel welcome to keep going, greatly appreciate your insight!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Mia: Thank you for your comment. It's interesting to note how songs lead you to Bollywood films. They're such an important part of Indian films, it always bothers me that there are strong, established forces within the industry that try to rid the films of songs. I certainly hope they continue to be a major feature, the length they add to a film notwithstanding.

As for that bit in 'Madhuban Mein Radhika'...it's used primarily for comic relief, but it's also an integral part of the song, but that opinion could vary based on how one reads it within the context of the film. (I might be overanalyzing it, but that's part of the fun, isn't it?)

theBollywoodFan said...

Anindita: Thank you too! Great choices, interesting that that song from Baiju Bawra has the same music director-singer-lyricist team that 'Madhuban Mein Radhika' does. Would you believe I haven't seen Baiju Bawra? 'Ghar Aaja Ghir Ayi Badra' is lovely too, as is Poocho Na Kaise Maine Rain Bitaayi. All great. Thanks for your visit and comment.

theBollywoodFan said...

Suja: Thanks for stopping by. By all means, please feel free to disagree! I'll look forward to your choices, do stop by with them. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Suhan: Glad you enjoyed the post. No, thank *you* for sharing such great songs, I hadn't heard that song from Mehbooba, so splendid and *so* full of energy! Thank you. Do visit again. :)

theBollywoodFan said...

Pessimisissimo: Happy to know you enjoyed the post, and don't we all have to seek out some amazing films soon? There's such a treasure waiting to be explored...enjoy!

theBollywoodFan said...

Dunkdaft! Rafi saab forever indeed. It almost seems the more one listens to his songs, the more we tend to wonder if there was a kind of song he couldn't sing par excellence.

Now that you mention it, there is a case to be made for Lukka Chuppi at least being mentioned alongside classical songs. That bit toward the end is simply *amazing*. Ditto the the Delhi-6 song, there's that one in Yuvvraaj even, but more of a remix vibe to it with electronic sound, which is why I kept away from it. Oh yes, Saiyyan Beimaan! And Kahaan Se Aaye Badraa! Good stuff!

Thanks for your visit and comment, and for your kind words about the post. Do enjoy these songs repeatedly. I've found they only get better the more one listens to them.

theBollywoodFan said...

Ladynimue: Thank you and welcome to the blog. :) They're all pretty amazing, aren't they? I think a 'favorites list' is only an excuse (albeit a good one) to compile them. Enjoy!

Lime(tte) said...

I love Radha Kaisa Na Jale, without ever having seen Lagaan.

theBollywoodFan said...

Lime(tte): It's such a great song, used so well in the film, too. Wait, did you just say you haven't seen Lagaan? Go see it, if it's the one film you see! 0:)

Thank you for your visit and comment! Do stop by again.

maxqnz said...

I have to comment on your reference to Luka Chuppi. I strongly feel that Lata should have retired decades ago, leaving us only with memories of the voice of Aayagea Aanewala and Lag Ja Gale. I find that I simply can't listen to most of her songs from the 90s and 00s, they're too screechy and hideous. BUT ARR showed his genius in putting her aging voice to perfect use - twice, in classical style songs. The first time was in Paalanhaare, from some obscure film no-one's ever seen, probably. The second was in Luka Chuppi. It's been a while since I've seen RDB so I don't remember the picturisation, but her voice sounds right for the song. It just really seems to fit, unlike hearing her croaky warbling coming out Lolo's mouth in the 90s, for example. Kudos to ARR for showing that Lata can still be an asset to a film, if used age-appropriately.

Amit said...

Great post and too good songs. Being a big Shammi fan, i would love to have the song 'Jaane Bahar husn tera' from Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kiya, composed by Ravi, in this list.

For me, taking classial away, Rafi and Shammi Kapoor = superhit songs