The 20 coolest Bollywood Holi songs!

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Here’s Holi again, for those young at heart and cool with body art. :-)

And what’s Holi without colour, sweets, thandai, a little bhang and…. music! Since we can’t spray you with colours, pass the gulab jamuns across to you or watch you passing out on bhang, we decided to put together our favourite Bollywood Holi songs, especially for you.

If you thought the fun and romantic Holi songs began to be made just about the time we started going to the movies, take a look at these. We’re going chronologically and starting with this Shamshad Begum beauty from the 1957 classic Mother India.

Next up, another all-time hit, a lilting Asha Bhosle and Mahendra Kapoor piece from Navrang (1959).

Cut to the ’60s, and we’re on a very fine Holi piece indeed, Tan rang lo ji aaj man rang lo from Kohinoor (1960), a song that has Naushad written all over it: Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari and a romantic opening overture in Rag Malhar.

And here’s the Rafi-led Holi khelat nandalal chorus from Godaan (1963). The film was a serious one, based on a well known story about the harshness of peasant life by Munshi Premchand, and the Holi song must have been one of the few moments of relief. Interestingly, the protagonist’s name was Hori Mahato, hori being an alternative pronunciation for Holi up north.

A surprise B & W gem now, filmed – among others – on a very young, slim and handsome Shashi Kapoor for the film Biradari (1966).

And that much-loved folk piece people will sing when they’re nice and high: Chalat musafir moh liyo re in Manna Dey’s voice for Basu Bhattacharya’s Teesri Kasam (1967).

We’re in the ’70s now, the decade of Rajesh Khanna, so how could we miss this one: Khelenge hum holi from the biggest 1970 hit, Kati Patang? The music was by that genius, R.D.Burman, and so, not surprisingly, this and all the other songs from the film went on to become chartbusters.

And another superb R.D. offering, sung by Manna Dey and Asha Bhonsle for the 1971 film Paraya Dhan.

Meanwhile, just to make sure everyone knew that daddy Sachin Dev Burman still had it in him while young Pancham was going great guns, S.D. came up with this number, with the still gorgeous Waheeda dancing to it in Phagun (1973).

Next – are we biased, or what? –  :-) in 1975, it was R.D. once more with Holi ke din in Sholay.  Watch Basanti dance up the first of her storms for Veeru, and elsewhere, Jai longing to drench the pretty widow in Holi colors. Quite, quite unforgettable.

Of course, no such compilation is complete if it doesn’t include this most popular of Holi songs, and one of the first that Amitabh Bachchan sang in his own voice, Rang barse from his 1981 film Silsila.  Amitabh brought to this song the quintessential UP flavour of Holi, and we don’t think any Holi party worth its name ends without this piece being played or sung in drunken and tuneless chorus. :-)

We also seriously approve of this other 1981 song, Maro bhar bhar kar pichkari, sung by Kishore Kumar for a fading Rajesh Khanna, with music by Hridaynath Mangeshkar for the film Dhanwaan.

Our next choice is Saat rang me khel rahi hain from Akhir Kyon (1985). Those of you who think Hrithik’s gorgeous complexion, speaking eyes, and gentle smile (er, should we stop the rhapsody there?) came from out of nowhere, take a look at the Holi gulaal on his father Rakesh Roshan’s face.

The ’90s saw something of a drought in terms of good Holi songs, so we segue into the new millennium with Anu Malik’s surprisingly melodious Holi re holi re for the film Mumbai Se Aya Mera Dost (2003).

2003 also brought the very popular Baghban Holi number Hori khele raghubeera, a reworking of an old Awadhi folk song, once again in the inimitable Bachchan voice.

In 2005, Anu Malik pulled another striking Holi number out of his hat, this time, a very contemporary fusion-ish piece with a smattering of English words and a raga-based tune set to a peppy dance beat: Do me a favour let’s play holi from Waqt- The Race Against Time.

But our 2005 winner is definitely the Mangal Pandey number Dekho ayi holi, and the reason for that, folks, is hardly a mystery: the music came from the studio of none other than A.R.Rahman and bears all the hallmarks of his inimitable style.

The next year, i.e. in 2006, another lovely Holi song appeared in the film Banaras. With some gorgeous raga-based portions, Rang dalo also had top class cinematography, and the music was directed by…. seriously?? …. Himesh Reshammiya??

Also on our list of all-time Holi hits: Balam pichkari from the 2013 Ranbir-Deepika starter Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, music by Pritam.

And of course, Deepika wasn’t yet done with Holi songs that year, because she also had the energetic dandiya number Lahu Muhn Lag Gaya still to come in Ram Leela. We like this song because her dancing is so amazing and because the piece almost brings together Holi and Navratri with its very Gujarati garba look and feel.

Feeling inspired? Go out there, colour everyone around you green and silver and shocking pink, tuck into gujiyas, and sing, sing, sing! Happy Holi!