A tree is the ideal wingman. It’s an insider trick Bollywood heroes and heroines learned early on that rarely fails to end in matrimonial bliss. Many of the best songs of Bollywood occur in a forest, taking full advantage of that lovable prop whose stability is matched only by its generosity. In honor of Van Mahotsav, the annual Indian tree-planting festival taking place this week, we too would like to honor the cultural importance of the all-mighty tree in the greatest reflection of our society: film. Why a tree? Newcomers to classic Bollywood may ask with due naivite. The archetypal significance of entering the forest–delving deep into the mysteries of the mind and soul–do have some place in the escapism of romantic fantasy, but the logic of singing and dancing around a tree is actually quite simple.
In most romantic-dramas of the Golden Age, emotions are just brimming over with adorable intensity. With a tree as a wingman, you can simultaneously practice your moves with a literal tree hug while catching your breath from a potentially close encounter with the real object of your desire. See, the tree doesn’t judge. The tree doesn’t ask for a return favor next Friday. The tree is neutral ground–a seemingly innocent bystander in the forest of love to which both parties have full claim. Sometimes the woman peeks behind the tree, sometimes the man. As a friendly chaperone, the tree legitimizes everyone’s behavior in that bashful innocence of bygone romance. Yes, censorship laws may prevent you from making real moves on your loved one, but they won’t stop you from snuggling a tree.
Bollywood has been perfecting the tree ritual since time immemorial. It’s a cinematic institution, particularly for the benefits of discreet pans to the sunlit treetops or a calming mountainside when a love scene threatens to quickly advance from G to PG. We even emulated basic tree positioning in a photograph on our “About Us” page!
Enjoy our list of classic Bollywood’s best tree songs below. Study them thoroughly and know your part well before embarking on your next trip to the forest. While this list could honestly go on forever, we’ve chosen our top 15 tree songs based on creativity of tree choreography. Which of YOUR favorite tree numbers would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Feeling like a pro already? Perhaps you’re ready for the big time: spitting game around a tree in the rain! Check out our compilation of Bollywood’s best monsoon songs, and you’ll be walking down the aisle in no time.