People play Holi in Barsana, Mathura
People play Holi in Barsana, Mathura | PTI Photo/ Kamal Kishore
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New Delhi: A dash of colour, a splash of water and loud music — the festival of Holi makes everyone sway to its tune. And no one does it better than the artistes from Bollywood.

Young or old, everyone remembers Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan’s incredible chemistry from the iconic Holi song Rang Barse (Silsila, 1981), or Shah Rukh Khan’s charming antics in Soni Soni (Mohabbatein, 2000).

But this year, ThePrint brings to you a playlist that has some rare gems, and also some familiar turn-of-the-century favourites.

Holi Aayi Re Kanhai (Mother India, 1957)

Every Holi, in the melee of popular songs, the Samshad Begum-sung Naushad composition from Mehboob Khan’s Mother India gets lost somewhere. Written by lyricist Shakeel Badayuni, the song features actors Nargis and Sunil Dutt and plays on Lord Krishna’s Rasleelas. A soft composition, the song speaks of the joys of the festival.

Ja Re Natkhat (Navrang, 1959)

Ja re hat natkhat, na choo mera ghoonghat, palat ke tujhe doongi main gaali re…” go the lyrics of this Asha Bhosle number in V. Shantaram’s Navrang. Composed by Bharat Vyas and written by C. Ramachandra, the song is about a ‘natkhat’ (mischievous) Krishna playing Holi with Radha, who asks him to check himself or she won’t act so docile.

Such is the appeal of this song that 60 years later, composers are still paying tribute to it.

Also read: Semen-filled balloons or not, why is Holi a free pass to assault women in India?

Khelenge Hum Holi (Kati Patang, 1970)

No playlist is ever complete without a Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar jugalbandi. In Khelenge Hum Holi from Shakti Samanta’s Kati Patang, they bring the vivacious spirit of the festival alive over an R.D. Burman tune. Penned by Anand Bakshi, the song echoes the popular refrain, ‘Holi Hai’.

It’s all the more significant given the situation in the film is about getting a widow to shed her inhibitions on Holi, a festival for everyone.

Piya Sang Khelo Hori Phagun Aayo Re (Phagun, 1973)

In Rajinder Singh Bedi’s Phagun, Lata Mangeshkar brings to life S.D. Burman’s classical composition, Piya Sang Khelo Hori Phagun Aayo Re. Dancing to Mangeshkar’s soulful voice, Waheeda Rehman welcomes the spirit of spring as she plays Holi with her beloved, Dharmendra, who sneakily approaches her with colour.

Holi Ke Din (Sholay, 1975)

Another iconic Lata-Kishore duet that is hard to overlook for Holi playlist is the iconic Holi Ke Din from Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay. The song that comes after Gabbar Singh’s famous dialogue, “Kab hai Holi”, has a burst of colour and a shiny star cast, including Amitabh, Dharmendra and Hema Malini.

Hori Khele Raghuveera (Baghban, 2003)

Almost three decades later, Bachchan and Malini returned with another popular Holi number, this time in Bachchan’s own voice. In Hori Khele Raghuveera from Ravi Chopra’s Baghban, Aadesh Shrivastava’s beats get catchier and the music more fun. Sameer’s words also deviate from the traditional Krishna-themed verses to one centred around Lord Ram — “the king of Ayodhya who plays Holi in his courtyard”.

Also read: Don’t tell women sexual harassment hurts Hindu pride, tell hooligans to leave Holi alone

Balam Pichkari (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2013)

Perhaps the one song in this list that needs no introduction for millennials, Balam Pichkari from Ayan Mukerji’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has become the Holi anthem since its release in 2013. Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor’s sizzling chemistry adds spice to the Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya song, while Vishal Dadlani and Shalmali Kholgade bring along the merry.

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