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The ultimate filmi Holi playlist

11 songs to help you get in the mood and celebrate the festival of colours this year.

Photo-Illustration: Bhupen Chavan

Sonal Pandya

1. Holi Aayi Re Kanhai – Mother India (1957)

Mehboob Khan's timeless classic, Mother India (1957), featured a Holi song that finds Nargis's Radha imagining her family in happier times. While the whole village celebrates the festival with gusto, only Radha and Chandra, played by Azra, remain pensive. With groundbreaking music by Naushad and lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni, 'Holi Aayi Re Kanhai' was sung by Shamshad Begum, who returned to singing after the death of her husband with this album.

2. Aare Ja Re Hat Natkhat – Navrang (1959)

Choreographed by Shaam, actress Sandhya takes centrestage with dual roles as male and female dancers in the colourful Holi duet sung by Asha Bhonsle and Mahendra Kapoor in filmmaker V Shantaram's Navrang (1959). In a creative twist, the Ganesha statue she dances in front of comes alive in the form of an elephant. Music composer C Ramchandra introduced singer Kapoor for the first time on this album.

3. Aaj Na Chhodenge – Kati Patang (1970)

In a stellar soundtrack composed by RD Burman where practically every song was a hit, 'Aaj Na Chhodenge' holds its own as a duet, sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar, portraying the ups and downs of their character's fates. Rajesh Khanna's cheerful Kamal has no cares as he dances away, while Asha Parekh's Madhavi imagines a life that could have been as she watches from the sidelines in Shakti Samanta's evergreen Kati Patang (1970).

4. Jai Jai Shiv Shankar – Aap Ki Kasam (1974)

High on bhang [an intoxicating drink] they just consumed at the Shiva temple, Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz race down the hill to sing this infectious Holi hit written by Anand Bakshi and composed by RD Burman. Sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar, who sneakily managed a dig at the end of the song for producer-director J Om Prakash in lieu of a lesser payment for the recording, this song from Aap Ki Kasam rose to number two on the Binaca Geetmala annual list in 1974.

5. Holi Ke Din Dil Khil Jate Hain – Sholay (1975)

Arguably, the greatest film made in Hindi cinema, Sholay (1975), had everything you ever wanted, even the perfect Holi song. Picturised largely on Dharmendra and Hema Malini, the magic of Anand Bakshi's lyrics and RD Burman's music came alive with the villagers of Ramgarh celebrating the festival of Holi during the film. Once again, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar were teamed up in a winning duet in Ramesh Sippy's epic saga Sholay.

6. Rang Barse Bhige Chunar Wali – Silsila (1981)

Music composers Shiv-Hari's superhit soundtrack on Yash Chopra's Silsila (1981) is largely seen as the most fun-filled Holi song filmed, never mind the ever-present tension between the onscreen pairs of Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan along with Rekha and Sanjeev Kumar. The lyrics, with folk song origins, were written by Harivansh Rai Bachchan and sung by his son Amitabh. This Holi staple regularly makes the list of the best Holi songs every year.

7. Holi Aayi Re – Mashaal (1984)

With music by Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Yash Chopra's Mashaal (1984) focused on the changing roles between mentor and mentee when the times get tough. Sung by Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Mahendra Kapoor, 'Holi Aayi Re' is picturised on two couples, Anil Kapoor with Rati Agnihotri and Dilip Kumar with Waheeda Rehman who partake in the local Holi celebrations. Anil Kapoor took on the role of Raja after it was turned down by Kamal Haasan.

8. Ang Se Ang Lagana – Darr (1993)

The Holi song in a Yash Chopra production has almost become a tradition and 'Ang Se Ang Lagana' in Darr (1993) was no different. In 'Ang Se Ang Lagana' composer duo Shiv-Hari chose Alka Yagnik, Vinod Rathod and Sudesh Bhonsle as the main singers. Actors Tanvi Azmi, Anupam Kher, Sunny Deol and Juhi Chawla begin the song in pristine white clothes, by the end they are splattered with various hues. Shah Rukh Khan makes his grand appearance at the end, showing up as Chawla's persistent stalker Rahul.

9. Holi Khele Raghuveera Awadh Me – Baghban (2003)

Twenty-two years after Silsila, Amitabh Bachchan returned to form in a Holi song composed by music directors Uttam Singh and the late Aadesh Shrivastav. Paired again with his Naseeb (1981) co-star, Hema Malini, Bachchan once again sang a bit in this song along with singers Alka Yagnik, Sukhwinder Singh and Udit Narayan. Baghban, directed by Ravi Chopra, is the story of parents who sacrifice everything for their children and in return, are neglected when they reach old age.

10. Balam Pichkari – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)

Director Ayan Mukerji's second film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013), reunited him with his Wake Up Sid star, Ranbir Kapoor. 'Balam Pichkari', composed by Pritam, used the voices of Vishal Dadlani and Shalmali Kholgade against the backdrop of a small mountain town where everyone is in a mood to celebrate Holi. Picturised on Ranbir, Deepika Padukone, Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapur, the song remained at the top of the charts for a long time in 2013.

11. Badri Ki Dulhania (title track) – Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017)

Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt, who made their debuts together in Student Of The Year (2012), return for Shashank Khaitan’s Badrinath Ki Dulhania, the next part of Dharma Productions’ love franchise film. Dhawan plays Badrinath Bansal who woos Alia Bhatt’s Vaidehi Trivedi in this title track from the film. The large production number sets the mood for Holi as the two actors dance around in shiny costumes and Holi colours. The music is composed by Tanishk Bagchi, the man responsible for the recent re-imaginings of older Hindi film songs, and the lyrics are written by Shabbir Ahmed. ‘Badri Ki Dulhania’ is sung by Dev Negi, Neha Kakkar, Monali Thakkur and Ikka Singh.