JUST LIKE THAT | Timeless tunes: A debate on the most romantic songs in Hindi cinema - Hindustan Times
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JUST LIKE THAT | Timeless tunes: A debate on the most romantic songs in Hindi cinema

May 19, 2024 09:00 AM IST

A personal list of 14 beloved songs, including "Abhi na jao chhod kar" and "Phoolon ke rang se," showcases the timeless appeal of classic melodies.

Some days ago, at an informal dinner, after everyone had discussed the ongoing elections to the hilt, one guest suddenly changed the subject. She asked, “What, according to each of you, is the most romantic song in a Hindi film?” There was one brave friend who responded, but others protested. “How can one choose only one?” came one argument. It was agreed then that everybody would name five choices.

Shammi Kapoor's chemistry with Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki Kali is timeless. PREMIUM
Shammi Kapoor's chemistry with Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki Kali is timeless.

This was easier said than done. Hindi films are so replete with romantic songs that choosing only five songs took my friends much longer than they thought. Each pick was strongly contradicted by someone else, and new suggestions were trashed by others. It seems everybody had some favourites, not only on the merit of the artistic efforts involved but for very personal reasons of experience. Naturally, no consensus could be reached.

The next day I gave some serious thought to this question. My choices were influenced by melody, picturisation, actors and situation, but above all, the lyrics. I finally came up with my own top choices, which I am taking the courage to put here, fully aware that as some of the choices in that evening, these can be as vehemently trashed by readers. But the debate is interesting — and revealing — and so I am sticking my neck out, putting on a helmet for my safety, and going ahead anyway!

  1. Chaudhvin ka Chand (1960): Sung by Mohammad Rafi. Music by Ravi. Lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. Film: Chaudhvin ka Chand, starring Guru Dutt and Waheeda Rehman.
  2. Ab kya misaal dun main tumhare shabab ki (1962): Sung by Mohammad Rafi. Music by Roshan. Lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri. Film: Aarti, starring Pradeep Kumar and Meena Kumari.
  3. Tum apna ranj-o-gham, apni pareshani mujhe de do (1964). Sung by Jagjit Kaur. Music by Khayyam. Lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi. Film: Shagun, starring Kamaljeet and Waheeda Rehman.
  4. Yeh nayan da’re da’re, yeh jaam bhare hue (1964). Sung and composed by Hemant Kumar. Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi. Film: Kohraa, starring Biswajeet and Waheeda Rehman.
  5. Chhupaa lo yun dil me pyaar mera (1966). Sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Music director: Roshan. Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri. Film: Mamtaa, picturised on Ashok Kumar and Suchitra Sen.
  6. Lagale ke phir ye haseen raat ho na ho (1964). Sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Madan Mohan. Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan. Film: Woh Kaun Thi, starring Sadhana, Manoj Kumar.
  7. Jalte hain jiske liye (1959). Sung by Talat Mehmood. Music: SD Burman. Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri. Film: Sujata, showing Sunil Dutt singing for Nutan on a landline phone.
  8. Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se. (1970). Sung by Kishore Kumar. Music: SD Burman. Lyrics: Neeraj. Film: Prem Pujari, starring Dev Anand.
  9. Yeh dekh ke dil jhooma, li pyaar ne angdayi, deewana hua badal (1964). Sung by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. Music: OP Nayyar. Lyrics: SH Bihari. Film: Kashmir ki Kali, starring Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore.
  10. Abhi na jao chhod kar (1961). Sung by Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhonsle. Music: Jaidev. Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi. Film: Hum Dono, picturised on Dev Anand and Sadhana.
  11. Aye meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahin (1965). Sung by Manna Dey. Music: Ravi. Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi. Film: Waqt, starring Balraj Sahni and Achala Sachdev.
  12. Aap ki haseen rukh par aaj naya noor hai (1966). Singer: Mohammad Rafi. Music: OP Nayyar. Lyrics: Anjaan. Film: Baharen Phir Bhi Aayengi, starring Dharmendra.
  13. Maula Mera Maula (2007). Singer: Roop Kumar Rathod. Music: Mithoon. Lyrics: Sayeed Qadri. Film: Anwar, picturised on Siddharth Koirala, Nauheed Cyrusi.
  14. Tujhe kay bataoon main dilruba (1958). Singer: Mohammad Rafi. Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri. Music: Madan Mohan. Film: Aakhri Daao, starring Nutan and Shekhar.

I can anticipate some reactions to the above choices. Except for one, there are no recent films. I am sure there are equally romantic songs in the current generation of cinema, but my choice is influenced by the era that shaped me. My only defence is that the compositions of older films had a combination of melody and words that are difficult to find today. My choices do suffer from selectivity, but while I accept that there are far more songs out there that are worthy of inclusion, I would like to hear whether people don’t like the songs in the list above or radically disagree with the merit of their inclusion.

I invite readers to write about their own choices. The number should not exceed 14. Depending on your feedback — which I welcome — perhaps we can come to some consensus about what songs should be included in the list of the most romantic songs of Hindi films.

Pavan K Varma is author, diplomat, and former Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). Just Like That is a weekly column where Varma shares nuggets from the world of history, culture, literature, and personal reminiscences. The views expressed are personal

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