The waltz is a beautiful dance form with music in triple meter that originated in 16th century Germany. The name is derived from the Latin volvere, describing the ensemble rotations of the dancers. So what place does the waltz have in 20th century Bollywood films? How did this art form cross continents and cultures?
I first starting looking closely at waltz songs in classic Bollywood films when trying to select a song for my husband and my “first dance” at our wedding. I wanted to use an old Bollywood song for this western tradition, and found myself unsure where to start looking. My mind jumped to the most iconic waltz dance from Bollywood I could think of: who doesn’t recall the serene dream sequence from Pyaasa (1957) in which Guru Dutt and Mala Sinha twirl together through the mist? There was just one issue: “Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein” was not actually a waltz.
Yup. You and I were both fooled. As I discovered the distinct triple meter of the waltz is not ubiquitous in classic Bollywood, nor can you really fake dancing a waltz to anything else. The 3/4 meter of the waltz bears a similarity to the Hindustani dadra 6/8 meter, paving the way for a transition across continents. You can recognize the distinct rhythm of the waltz by listening for a strong first beat followed by two lighter beats. A common mistake is that many people think when dancing the waltz, the first beat is when both dancers move “up.” In reality, that first strong beat is when the dancers may move downwards in unison, and return to normal height (or on the balls of their feet) for the lighter beats following. There are many variations to this pattern, but generally, it gives the waltz dancers that beautiful wave-like cadence as if they are floating across the floor.
The waltz assumes many unexpected incarnations in classic Bollywood, exemplifying everything from urban glamour to girlish excitement to full-out pity party. The first known appearance of waltz in a Bollywood song is in “Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Khushi” from Ali Baba (1940) composed by the legendary Anil Biswas. Music director Naushad, known for his brilliant Hindustani classical compositions, helped usher the waltz rhythm into Bollywood mainstream as early as with the tragic “Tod Diya Dil Mera” from Andaz (1949), “Ab Raat Milan Ki” from Jadoo (1951), and “Tara Ri Yara Ri” from Dastan (1952). S.D. Burman highlighted the waltz in his hit House No. 44 (1955) with amorous ballads “Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon” and”Chhup Hai Dharti.” By the late 1950s, the waltz was adopted by nearly every composer, developing an important place in Bollywood well into the 1970s.
In Hindi films, a song with a waltz rhythm need not always portray a couple dancing–in fact, some of the best waltz songs create tension by not showing the couple come together. Other times, such as in Nargis’ incredible performance in Raat or Aur Din (1967), waltzing with ease was a sign of Western sophistication and elitism. The waltz gained a brief romantic revival in the 1990s with the super hit song “Kuch Na Kaho” from 1942: A Love Story (1993). But this song became quickly overdone at every Indian function I attended growing up, so I refused to use it at my own wedding. I needed a list of off-the-beaten-path waltz songs from classic Bollywood that would still make us look stylish.
But when I was planning my wedding, I never found that list. It’s as though thousands of men and women out there aren’t actually scrambling to dance to a Mohammed Rafi song in front of all their friends and family. I don’t get it. To the couple out there who wants to have the coolest wedding ever, this list is my gift to you!
20 Waltz Songs from Classic Bollywood Films:
Lag Ja Gale (Woh Kaun Thi? 1964)
Dil Ki Nazar Se (Anadi 1959)
Dil Ki Girah Khol Do (Raat Aur Din 1967)
Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh (Shree 420 1955)
Dil Ke Jharoke (Brahmachari 1968)
Yeh Raaten Yeh Mausam (Dilli Ka Thug 1958)
Mere Neendon Mein Tum (Naya Andaz 1956)
Phoolon Ke Rang Se (Prem Pujari 1969)
Hum Aur Tum Aur Yeh Sama (Dil Deke Dekho 1959)
Udhar Tum Haseen Ho (Mr. and Mrs. ’55 1955)
Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan (C.I.D. 1956)
Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan (Mera Naam Joker 1970)
Main Shayar To Nahin (Bobby 1973)
Phaili Hui Hai Sapnon (House No. 44 1955)
Tod Diya Dil Mera (Andaz 1949)
Chhup Hai Dharti (House No. 44 1955)
Geet Gaata Hoon Main (Lal Patthar 1971)
Tara Ri Yara Ri (Dastan 1950)
Tera Aana Ik Pal Meri (Hum Naujawan 1985)
Aaja Panchi Akela Hai (No Do Gyarah 1957)
We ultimately decided on the Viennese waltz “Lag Ja Gale” for our first dance, which proved pretty ambitious for two people whose primary dance skills involved interpretive bhangra. Don’t see your favorite Bollywood waltz on our list? Let us know what other Bollywood waltzes you love in the comments!
– Mrs. 55
I do ballroom dancing so the waltz beat is second nature to me. But until I saw your wonderful compilation, I did not realize how many Hindi songs had the waltz beat as their rhythmic base. It was also a nostalgic trip down memory lane as I sang them just looking at their first line.
What a magical list! This is a game changer for the next generation of Indian weddings!
Another waltz that did not figure in your list is the beautiful duet sung by Rafi and Lata: “Yeh Parbaton he Daayre, Yeh Shaam ka Dhuan” set to music by Chitragupta from the film Vaasna
Great post. One splendid gem to waltz the night away is Tum hi Tum ho mere jeevan mein..from the film Ek dil aur so afsane.
What about: ‘Haal kaisa jannab ka’ from Chalti ka Naam Gaadi? – Roy
Dear Mr. &a Mrs. 55, You also look good in your waltz. Thanks for this post and hoping you keep sending us such memorable ones. Roy
Brilliant What a nostalgic Waltz songs from the time when I was a adolescent.
A delectable post!
AAGE BHI JAANE NA TU?????
thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and loved your picture. thanks for
Just a curio to all who enjoy waltz. A brilliant Tamil film from 1964 (?) called ‘Panam Padaithavan’ and there is a brilliant cult waltz song by the start ‘Kan pona pokkile kaal pokalama’. Just a curio and watch. The song is now a cult classic due to just one line in the middle.
Love everything there is to love about this post! Would love to add some of my own favourite vintage Bollywood waltz songs as well…
Mini Mini Chi Chi Duniya Mein Chand Suraj Hai Kitne Haseen by Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh from Kathputli (1957), composed by Shankar-Jaikishen
Raat Nikhri Huyi Zulf Bikhri Huyi by Mukesh from Hum Hindustani (1960), composed by Usha Khanna
Zameen Se Humein Aasman Par Bithake by Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi from Adalat (1958), composed by Madan Mohan
Yeh Kaun Aaya Roshan Ho Gayi Mehfil by Lata Mangeshkar from Saathi (1968), composed by Naushad
Diye Jalaye Pyar Ke Chalo Isi Khushi Mein by Lata Mangeshkar from Dharti Kahi Pukar Ke (1969), composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal
1– Chaahaa Thaa banu Pyar ke Raahon ka Devta———from Gunahon ka Devta
2– Aa Gale Lag Ja Mere Humdum ——– from April Fool
3– Tum Hi tum ho Mere Jeevan mein
4– Door Ke O Chandaa
& Many more from #ShankarJaikishan’s chest
Shokh nazar ki bijliyaan (Woh Kaun Thi; Madan Mohan)
…might be one too.
Geet Gaata Hoon Main IS MY FVRT IN THIS LIST.
Amazing list. My favorite song is “Dil Ke Jharoke”. I repeatedly listen this song so many times.
Amazing compilation. Really appreciate your work in putting it together. Am downloading these gems to add to my own private waltz compilation.
Am sure I’ll get more numbers in what other have had to suggest. My own suggestions are
1. tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi from aa gale lag jaa
2. main koi aisa geet gaoon from yes boss
Great effort by Mrs.55 for the music lovers like all of us who have seen this page and posted their comments. I too am a die hard fan of WALTZ Rhythm based songs.Some very famous songs were left out of this list. 1) Ye Udhaas Aasman by Asha Bhosle for the movie Ek Arman Mera 1959 and the music director for this cutie is none other than the yesteryear”s singer SD Batish 2) Aa Neele Gagan Thale Pyar Hum Kare From film Badsha by Lata & Hemanth Kumar tuned by the Music Magicians Shanker Jaikishan 3) Dost Dost Na Raha by Mukesh from Sangam again by SJ 4) Kaun Hai Jo Sapno Me Aaya by Rafi for Jhuk Gaya Aasman by SJ 5) Sachha Hai Agar Pyar Mera Sanam again from Jhuk Gaya Aasman by Rafi under SJ. One can say that Shanker Jaikishan really used this waltz beat to a greater height in comparision to other music directors. But Madan Mohan’s Zameen Se Hamen Aasman Par Utha Ke Gira Tho Na Doge,stands out for the mood ssinging by Asha Bhosle & the Great Rafi with great musical embellishments.
Thanks for putting this list out. Dhadkan Zara Ruk gayi hai from Prahaar can be added to your list.
A fantastic list! I never realised you could Waltz to this many Hindi songs, I wish this dancing culture was still alive today
I enjoyed reading this article….which I stumbled on precisely while searching for Bollywood songs in Dadra. A notable omission is perhaps the evergreen Rafi song, Baharon Phool Barsao.
What about bhavare ki Gunjan hai mera Dil?
Amazing list. Thanks so much Mr. & Mrs. 55. Three more songs probably also qualify: 1) aa raat jaati hai (Benaam, 1974); 2) aao manaayen jash-e-mohabbat (Doosra Aadmi, 1977); and 3) jeevan ke din chhote sahi (Bade Dilwaala, 1982).
You’ve forgotten one of the best waltz song ever from the movie 12’oclock ‘Tim jo hue mere humsafar’ sung by Rafi and Geeta Dutt and composed by OP ………!