The Best Bollywood Rain Songs: Evolution of a Classic Genre

Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee Rain Song Bollywood

Rajesh Khanna and Rakhee express their sizzling love in the rain in Shehzada (1972).

It’s monsoon season again in India and, naturally, love is sparkling in the air. At last we present our list of the best rain songs from classic Bollywood! We all adore these moments–the iconic cuddling beneath an umbrella, the splashing around in a wet garden, or of course, Zeenat Aman in a drenched saari. It seems now that singing in the rain is the epitome of Bollywood romance, and a marvelous way to introduce a new song. But this phenomena did not occur overnight, and indeed, the meaning of rain itself in a film has shifted over the years with shifting cultural expectations. Let’s take a look at rain songs in Bollywood over the years!

Shree 420 Raj Kapoor Nargis Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua Rain Song Bollywood

Raj Kapoor and Nargis huddle close together beneath an umbrella in Shree 420 (1955).

We being in the earlier days of cinematic magic. As India awoke to freedom and liberty in the 1950s, so too did the country rapidly begin to shift gears away from pure agriculture and toward industrialization. Many of the best rain songs from that era embody a sense of wonder in urban environments and, matching the film censorship boards, an innocent just-got-struck-by love. In these songs, rain seems to act as that enchantment in the air–that driving force bringing a loved one into contact or sight. Rain too acted as that shimmering veil of restraint that both parties hesitate to cross.

Raj Kapoor Dum Dum Diga Diga Chhalia

Raj Kapoor prances about the city streets singing “Dum Dum Diga Diga” from Chhalia (1960).

With the advent of the 60s, came a new meaning of being caught in a rainstorm. No longer was rain an innocent effector of love at first sight, but rather a clever and well-understood pretext for full out passion. To clarify, by passion, I mean, symbolic wet dancing that means much more than actual physical contact. The Bollywood rain songs of the 60s exude a sense of joy, independence and confidence. The onset of a rainstorm had an understood implication for overt displays of affection that both parties are eager to demonstrate. Say hello to bouffant hairdos, tight and wet salwar qameezes, and men doing some very special attempts at a courtship dance.

Shammi Kapoor Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam Mala Sinha

Shammi Kapoor and Mala Sinha get drenched in Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam (1960)

Gone were the days of “Do Bigha Zameen” style agricultural celebration! While the setting of the village recurred, rain ceased to be a blessing for economic survival–instead, it brought the blessing of love between newly liberated men and woman of a new age. Check out our translation of “O Sajna Barkha Bahar” from Parakh (1960) and listen how music directors cleverly incorporated native Indian instruments into creating the sounds and moods of rain. Indeed, the trickling melodies of sitar have graced the introductions of many a great rain sequence–even famously with Ravi Shankar’s solo for Satyajit Rai’s Aparajito!

Asha Parekh Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke

Dressed as a village belle, Asha Parekh delights in the first rain of the season in “Aaya Sawan Jhoom Ke” (1969).

At last the 70s arrived, and the Bollywood rain song explored new territory. Yes, Zeenat Aman in a wet white saari is crossing some obvious lines and certainly deserves a mention on this list, but the rain song did not merely degenerate into a male fantasy. Instead, as the political atmosphere changed, the rain song adopted a meaning to suit its people. With government dissatisfaction in the air, rain songs were (while maintaining something of a romantic undertone), also a means of escape and hope.

Jeetendra Haye Re Haye Humjoli

Jeetendra and Leena Chandavarkar exhibit some of the strangest and wildest dance moves to date in the famous rain love song of Humjoli (1970)

Did you know in the early days of cinema, rain scenes were not actually filmed in the rain? Because of the nature of unforgiving black-and-white film stock, even heavy pounding natural rain does not appear clearly in the camera–much less the gentle puhaare of many a romantic Bollywood setting. As such, the production staff needed to literally dump buckets of water or spray dozens of hoses above the set for “rain” to actually appear so on screen! So the next time you watch these songs, just imagine the total chaos going on outside the frame among the frantic, water-pouring production assistants!

Zeenat Aman sets the rain on fire in “Haye Haye Yeh Majboori” from Shor (1972).

But enough talk. Now that you know the history, here is our list in chronological order of Bollywood’s greatest rain songs! These all-time classic give an entirely new meaning to “Singin’ in the Rain!”

The Best Rain Songs of Classic Bollywood

  1. Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (Shree 420 – 1955)
  2. Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi (Chori Chori – 1956)
  3. Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagi Si (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi – 1958)
  4. Dil Tera Deewana Hai Sanam (Dil Tera Deewana – 1960)
  5. Dum Dum Diga Diga (Chhalia -1960)
  6. O Sajna Barkha Bahar Aayi (Parakh -1960)
  7. Rim Jhim Ke Tarane (Kala Bazaar – 1960)
  8. Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhoolegi (Barsaat Ki Raat – 1960)
  9. Chhup Gaye Saade Nazare (Do Raaste – 1969)
  10. Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke (Aaya Saawan Jhoom Ke – 1969)
  11. Ang Lag Ja Balma (Mera Naam Joker – 1970)
  12. Haye Re Haye (Humjoli – 1970)
  13. Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein (Ajnabi – 1972)
  14. Paani Re Paani (Shor – 1972)
  15. Haye Haye Yeh Majboori (Roti Kapada Aur Makaan – 1974)
Rajesh Khanna Zeenat Aman Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein

Rajesh Khanna cuddles Zeenat Aman to keep warm in the spicy rain song “Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein” in Ajnabi (1974).

And there you have it, the 15 best classic Bollywood rain songs over the ages! What are YOUR favorite rain songs from classic Bollywood–and tell us how they’ve influenced your own love stories!

– Mrs. 55

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12 thoughts on “The Best Bollywood Rain Songs: Evolution of a Classic Genre

  1. The rain song has gone far past the monsoon season and is indeed a chance for actors to strut their stuff like silly peacocks dancing in the rain. Also a chance to show off their figures which may have been to their advantage or not. We stll loved it,some of Bollywoods best moments!

    • An excellent choice! One of Raj Kapoor’s catchiest hits! You ask an intriguing question–indeed, which came first, the chicken or the egg?! I’m guessing people in India were finding love in the rain far before Bollywood made it a cliche–but hey, without the magic of Bollywood now ingrained in us all, would such encounters be as thrilling?!

  2. Ooh, I love all of them. “Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi” technically isn’t a rain song though I still love it. “Pyar Hua Iqraar Hua”, “Rimjhim Ke Tarane” (Don’t shoot me! :P), “Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si”, “Dil Tera Deewana” and “Pani Re Pani”. And “Dum Dum Deega Deega”. (I want to dance in the rain like that one day. Really. :D)

    Hey, does “Roop Tera Mastana” count?

    • Thanks for the comment! Yeah, Dum Dum Diga Diga is absolutely epic! I’m still waiting for a chance to bust out those moves. Well…good point about “Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi” although it had previously been raining in the film before the song begins…so we’ll work with it! “Roop Tera Mastana” is pushing it–but hey, you’re right, without the rain in the background, the chemistry would never have happened!

  3. Early 80’s and 90’s songs sung by R.D. Burman, Kishor Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar is the best era of the Indian music industry. And actors like Dev Anand, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna who were the star’s of 80’s made the songs even more popular and favorite among generation.

  4. Nice perspective !
    Your list of the best rain songs is commendable too.

    But my all-time monsoon favorite is “rimjhim gire saawan..” from “Manzil” (1979). I prefer the Kishore Kumar version to Lata’s, only slightly.
    Lata’s is faster in tempo and more relevant to this post.
    It’s so playful & natural – any of us could’ve been there, enjoying in the same way. I can vouch for that coz I studied in the same locale & there were times when our group would simply walk without opening our umbrellas – a drizzle meant some cool drops ; a heavy downpour meant an umbrella wouldn’t keep you dry anyways. Those were the days – youth in all it’s devil-may-care attitude.

    Altho’ this post is about rains & romance, there are a couple of songs or Pleas to God for rain that touch one’s heart too – they are so well picturised, sung, written, performed. One is from “Guide” – “allah megh de paani de chaaya de re tu…” sung by SD Burman in is inimitable voice & second is “allah megh de paani de, paani de gur-dhani de….” (Asha & Kishore) from “Palkon ki Chaaon Mein”

  5. How about “Kajra Laga Ke Gajra Saja Ke” from Apna Desh? I love that one- both Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz shimmered brilliantly in the moonlit rainy night.

    • Oh good call! Kajra Laga ke is an absolutely beautiful illustration of this–and with two of our favorite people! The song is even more powerful coming as an interruption to the heavy handed politically-driven plot until that point. Rajesh Khanna at his finest!

  6. Have you noticed that whenever Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz are in a movie together at least one song or scene is done in the rain. Without fail! Most all are songs but in the movie Aap Ki Kasam there is no rain song just a scene with those two in the rain. It must have been written in their contracts or something.

  7. Pingback: The Beginner’s Guide to Bollywood Tree Courtship: The Best Tree Songs of Classic Cinema | Mr. & Mrs. 55 - Classic Bollywood Revisited!

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