Do yourself a favour: let’s NOT play Holi to the same handful of Holi songs each year. Holi ke din dil khil gaaate hain(Sholay), Holi re holi maston ke toli(Paraya Dhan), Rang barse(Silsila), Phagun aayo re(Phagun)… there is much more to Holi than these songs. There are over 300 Holi songs in Hindi films.Here are the ones that you don’t know.But should.They are bhang-on!!!
1. Ali re ali maston ki toli(Zakhmee): Sunil Dutt , Reena Roy and a bevy of revelers, this composition of Bappi Lahiri has the Holi mojo and mazaa.Bappi was proud of this tune. He rarely got a chance to do Holi numbers. This one made terrific use of a traditional Holi chorus while Kishore Kumar sang for Sunil Dutt. Strangely Reeena Roy just danced.
2. Kora mann kori kaya (Lakshmi): Reena Roy and Raj Babbar whooped it up in this charming 1982 Holi song in a film nobody saw . This forgoten Holi song composed by the neglected Usha Khanna is sung with great gusto by Lataji and Amit Kumar who are…well. Bhang-on!
3. Holi hai holi sakhi(Khota Paisa): Rewind to 1958 for this unknown, unsung Holi number by Asha Bhosle . Composed by Madan Mohan ,it is rare on two counts: it doesn’t follow the typical Holi tropes , and it is sung not by Madan Mohan’s muse Lataji but the other sister whom he rarely called to sing.
4. Rang rass barse haye dhire dhire(Yaar Kasam): This one is a Holi-stic experience for the sheer pleasure of hearing two of the finest male singers of contemporary times Yesudas and Hariharan in a mood for Holi revelry. Joining them is composer-singer Usha Khanna, though she has not composed this one. The tune is credited to one Kishore Sharma.
5. Khul khul khelo rangeelo(Hari Darshan) : Where else would you get to hear Mahendra Kapoor and Vani Jairam together? The offbeat pair shoots off a blizzard of colour in a composition by Kalyanji-Anandji. This is the first song Vani sang for Kalyanji-Anandji, followed by the atrocious Aa balam mujhe paa le sanam in Dharm Aur Qanoon which is the worst case of mike-casting in the history of playback singing.
6. Kanha sangg khelun holi(Memories In March): Rituparno Ghosh’s film on sexual awakening contains this beautiful track sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and composed by Debojyoti Mishra. It is an unconventionally meditative tune for a Holi song. But then we can’t expect Rituparno to be any other way.
7. Morey bhar bhar ke pichkari(Dhanwan): The unusual combination of Kishore Kumar and Usha Mangeshkar inspired composer Hridaynath Mangeshkar to have fun with this composition.The underrated Hridaynath also composed a Holi song Holi aaye re for Lataji in Yash Chopra’s Mashaal.
8. Aise rang de piya daag na lage koi(Babu): Rajesh Roshan’s breathe-easy Holi song sung with restrained joy. There is something really special about celebrating Holi without going overboard.Filmed on Rajesh Khanna and Hema Malini, this is Kishore Kumar and Lataji’s best Holi song.
9. Dekho aayee holi rang layee holi(Mangal Pandey The Rising): Not quite the monumental Holi song you would expect from A R Rahman. But it has a cadenced credibility in its notes. And Aamir Khan lends vocal support.
10. Bhagi re bhagi re brijbala(Rajput): Vijay Anand’s cinema never failed to give us memorable music. Prior to this there was the Holi special Piya tose naina lage re in Vijay Anand’s Guide. Very few know about this rare Holi song bringing together the untried combination of Vijay Anand and composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal.Singers Mahendra Kapoor, Asha Bhosle and Dilraj Kaur capture the Holi spirit perfectly.