With the summer blazing away even before it is May, one longs for some respite- and what better respite can we think of besides, the songs about the rain and in the rain?
In India, we have a very short or virtually no spring. So what is the season of love? Yes, you got it- the season of the “ Kali ghata” or the black clouds- the monsoons..Hindi films have made a celebration of love in the rain… These are the seduction scenes ( or the pre seduction scenes) where you see the heroine gyrating in a chiffon saree to songs that have lyrics that hint at sexual longing ( Bheegi Bheegi raton mein….) or maybe the song follows later ( Roop tera mastana). It is also the scene where the camera roams over the body of the heroine taking in as much as it can …!!
The oldest rain song I can remember is from the film “Shree 420” where you have Nargis and Raj Kapoor singing in the rain under an umbrella. It is also the only song that I can remember which actually showcases the romance in the rain sans the roving hands (or the lens)! Then there is the exact opposite of this chaste twosome in Aradhana where you have Sharmila Tagore in a towel next to a fire and a Rajesh Khanna with half done buttons stoking the fire ( very symbolic!) to Kersey Lord’s opening bars of the song” Roop Tera Mastana” !! What I like about this song is that there is so much of “chemistry” that gets conveyed just through expressions- very little flesh gets exposed ( if you discount what is visible of Rajesh Khanna’s chest in that song !!!). A few years later into the 1970s and the rain sequence gets “bolder” with Zeenat Aman and Rajesh Khanna dancing to “ Bheegi Bheegi Raton mein” on the roof top –this is probably the beginning of an era when rain sequences began to be used as excuses for exposure! Scores of songs followed through the decades in the same format- “ Badal yun barasta hai “ ( Betaab), “ Aaj rapat jayen to” (Namak Halal). The thunder rolls, the lightning strikes and the heroine falls into the arms of the hero ( otherwise how do you get her to go physical with the hero- remember she is “virginal” ..) that is pretty much the script of this category of songs.There are then another group of rain songs which are picturized on just the heroine mouthing words of sexual longing camouflaged in poetic lyrics. “ Rama Rama Gazab hui gawa re” from Naya Zamana or “ Bheega badan jalne laga” from Abdullah.
But there are few songs that have very beautifully showcased fun and frolic of lovers in the rain-“ Rim Jhim Girey Sawan” from Manzil and “ Sona Kare Jhil mil jhilmil” from Paheli. In one you see Amitabh and Moushumi as this urban couple walking down Marine Drive and in the other a rural couple in a village setting.But the most powerful song is not in the rain but about the rain in Gulzar’s Lekin –“ Suniyo ji Araj Mhari” where Dimple as the imprisoned girl longs for the rain so that she can be sent to her father’s home. The words are lovely and you can almost feel the atmosphere when she sings “ bheegi angnaki yaad jo awey. Rookhi rookhi akhiyon mein reti udave” ( when I think of the damp and wet courtyard I feel the sand blow into my dry eyes). The fact that the rains in India are symbolic of romance is certainly not a myth! Whether it is in northern India or in the south there is the tradition of newly married girls being sent away to their parents home during the month of ‘ Sawan” or “Adi” –. There are various explanations to this- the most interesting one being that rains also mean work as this is the start of the agriculture season. Families therefore do not want the attention of their young men being diverted to other “activities” ( what sadists!!!) and so send the brides away-there are some other theories which say that if a couple gets carried away by the romance of the rain and a child is conceived it is likely to be born sometime in April-May when its chances of survival in the summer heat is a bit doubtful! Whatever.. lets face it – nobody is disputing the romance of the rains!
But coming back to the present, I must say that I find there are fewer and fewer rain based romantic numbers in Hindi films these days! People tell me that there is no need for such numbers now because anyway there is so much of exposure and sex with bikinis and bare chests that one does not need that white sari to show off the heroine’s curves or look for the excuse of thunder to have her hug the hero(?). Maybe the female characters are more sexually liberated in today’s films but sex sans romance gets rather crude doesn’t it? I mean, I am not suggesting that film makers continue to show leaves quivering or flowers coming together to suggest kissing or lovemaking but why are they missing out on the mood that the monsoons can create by way of romance?Probably because romance as people of my generation know it no longer exists… it is now only heaving bosoms and bare chests showing off the perfectly toned bodies.. Or is it because the romance now takes place in the snow clad alps and we need to have snow songs and not rain songs? Or is it that there are not enough lyricists who can weave words of romance through their poetry- even poor Gulzar had to write “ Bidi jalaile..” ! Whatever be the reason the notes of Raag Malhar are certainly lying idle.