Songs of Holi

March 6, 2015

Wishing Happy Holi to all

HoliThis is the fifth year of Songs of Yore, and I have not yet done a post on Holi songs. Every time Holi came, I thought everyone would be doing a list of Holi songs, and my doing one would be trivial, and may contain overlapping songs. Along the way, I strayed into writing ‘serious’ articles on Holi, culminating in a review of ‘Sangam’ last year.

In the year of Naushad, how else can I continue my tribute to him unless I write a post on Holi songs, topped by his songs? So, you guessed it would start with Holi ayi re Kanhai Holi ayi re? This is what I had intended. But when I started making a mental list, Naushad was crowded out by classical/semi-classical compositions.

Rooted in the Puranic legend of the victory of good over evil, symbolised by the burning of Holika – the evil sister of the demon King, Hiranyakashipu – in popular culture Holi has become synonymous with joyous celebration (often degenerating into ribaldry), colours, song and dance. This draws its source from Krishna lore. Krishna is a colourful God, full of pranks and mischief; he teases the gopis, plays the flute to them and dances with them, sending them to ecstasy. This has spawned many forms of folk dance and song, as well as classical/semi-classical forms, such as Kathak (dance), Thumri (music) etc. Some exceptionally delightful Holis are in Raga Kafi; readers may recall some Holi songs have appeared in my posts on KL Saigal and KC Dey – these were all non-film songs, and mostly in Kafi.

So here are my favourite Holi songs; Naushad gives precedence to classical/semi-classical gems. I am sure he would not mind it, as he used to often describe himself as a nacheez, who did nothing but dip into our great fountain of classical music and present it in popular forms.

1. Ab piya to maanat naahi, Mishra Kafi thumri by Pt Bhimsen Joshi

I am perhaps stretching; Pandit Bhimsen Joshi may not have meant it as a Holi song. But Kafi is a good enough reason to present it here. Rooted in folk, Kafi is not considered weighty enough for a maestro. So, aren’t we blessed that Panditji had no such qualms? He makes it weighty enough for the connoisseur, and it has the lightness to mesmerize a lay listener. I am imagining it is spring when even the stoniest heart is pierced by the Cupid’s arrow, but here is the piya, in deep sulk, who has forgotten all the preet purani. The desirous lady, having tried all means to no avail, is making a plaintive appeal, in slow tempo: Could someone please tell me, Ab kaun gunan se manaaun re, piya to maanat naahi. Since she would be trying in a hundred ways to please the lover, thumri allows Panditji to interpret the same words and lines in a hundred different ways. See how he changes the stress, the time he lingers on and the way he elongates different vowels in a word – sometimes ‘se’, sometimes ‘naa’ in ‘manaaun’, sometimes ‘maanat’ and so on. And, since the lady would be trying Kaun gunan se manaaun re at all times of the day, the Thumri singer has the liberty to take shades of other Ragas, appropriate to that time. The ‘nithur piya’ does not relent, making the lady restless; she starts repeating Piya to maant naahi re ho at a fast pace, as if in a trance, oblivious of herself and her surroundings. Now I can imagine, when Panditji brings the crescendo to a close on sam (सम), the sulking piya finally melts, allowing himself a flicker of smile, bringing the lovers to a blissful union. I start my post with this supreme thumri, which has become a signature piece of Pt Bhimsen Joshi.


2. Rangi sari gulabi chunariya ho mohe maarey nazariya sanwariya re by Shobha Gurtu

From a sulking piya we come to a playful sanwariya who drenches the clothes of the lady awash in pink, and also throws naughty glances. I mentioned the feeling of a roller-coaster ride while discussing Rafi songs by OP Nayyar. Rangi sari gulabi chunariya ho is the ultimate in gentle glides, rise to the top, sharp bends, curves and loops, crests and troughs of a vocal roller-coaster ride.  A music expert used a very nice expression to describe Shobha Gurtu’s singing: A classical-trained voice garnished with the नमक of the Indian Ocean (Born in Karnataka, married to a Kashmiri, she settled down in Bombay).


3. Aaj Biraj mein Holi re rasiya by Shobha Gurtu

Now I come to what can be considered a generic Holi song. Every singer sings it. In a simpler form it is sung as folk chorus, or bhajan, making it a theme song of Holi celebrations in Braj. But Shobha Gurtu, with her superb, full-throated voice, is a class by herself. SSW had posted her Holi in Raga Pilu: Holi khelan kaise jaaun, in his comment on Subodh’s article on this Raga. But that song is very slow paced. Aaj Biraj mein in Kafi has the real feel of Holi, and teasing and playfulness we associate with the legendary Shobha Gurtu.


4. Kaisi ye dhoom machai by Begum Akhtar (introduction by Pt Jasraj)

In my tribute to the Ghazal Queen Begum Akhtar last year on her Centenary we discussed her ghazals. She can be described with equal force as the Queen of Thumri, Dadra and Purvi folk. This quintessential Holi, in Kafi again, is preceded by a very reverential introduction by a great doyen of classical music, Pt Jasraj, who unhesitatingly admits he was inspired to take up music as a profession by the songs of Ammi.


5. Holi ayi re Kanhai Holi ayi re by Shamshad Begum and others from Mother India (1957), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Now it is time to turn to Naushad. Had I forced myself to limit my post to film songs, this would have been at the top without doubt. Naushad is a master of chorus in interludes. The rural setting of the film gave him opportunity to showcase his talents in folk. The song has terrific dance by Kumkum and the other major actors in the film. And you have the bonus of a most lively dance by Sitara Devi preceding the song, which turned out to be her last film appearance. We lost her on 25 November 2014, so this also becomes a tribute to her. A timeless Holi song, created by the Great Mughal.


6. Khelo rang hamarey sang by Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum from Aan (1952), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Holi is the time when even the common folk can throw colour at the imperious royalty. Nimmi defiantly throws mud at Premnath, because that is what she can conveniently lay her hands on. Aaj koi raja na aaj koi rani hai, pyar bharey jeevan ki ek hi kahani hai goes the song, as Naushad puts in different colours in the composition – changing the tune and the tempo in different stanzas.


7. Tan rang lo ji aaj man rang lo by Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar from Kohinoor (1960), lyrics Shakeel Badayuni, music Naushad

Naushad continues to put in a variety of colours in this Holi song, mixing classical and folk, and different melodies and beats, all blending beautifully with the chorus.


8. Are ja re hat natkhat by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle from Navrang (1959), lyrics Bharat Bhushan, music C Ramchandra

I am paying tribute to C Ramchandra in tandem with Naushad. Here is an iconic Holi, which you would find on everyone’s list of favourites.   With Lata Mangeshkar’s departure from his fold because of some spat, his music floundered.  But Navrang became one of the exceptionally good scores without her.  Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhosle became the gainers in the process.


9. Bhigoyi mori saari re dekho bheege na choli by Khursheed and Ishwarlal from Shaadi (1941), lyrics Munshi Dil, music Khemchand Prakash

Readers are aware of my fascination for the Vintage Era female songs. This gem is by the Great Master, Khemchand Prakash, who had been a mentor of Naushad. Khursheed is one of the most prominent female singers of the Vintage Era, who had her best songs by him. In my opening post on Naushad on January 1, I had been facile in tracing the history of film music from RC Boral/Pankaj to Anil Biswas to Naushad. Richard mentioned my omission of Khemchand Prakash. This great Holi song makes up for that omission, and I hope to do a full post on him later.


10. Phagun ki rut ayi re zara baaje bansuri by Sitara Devi and Amrit Lal from Holi (1940), music Khemchand Prakash

Going further back, the Great Master had another gem of a Holi. And the legend Sitara Devi appears again, now as a singer. The song must have been picturised on her as she also acted in the film.


11. Holi ka din hai pyar karein by Zohra Ambalewali and Sardar Malik from Renuka (1947), lyrics Qamar Jalalabadi, music Sardar Malik

Continuing the vintage feel, we have this song by Zohra Ambalewali, whose distinctly husky voice was an asset in the Vintage Era, but became a liability and led to her faster disappearance in the Lata Mangeshkar era.


12. Holi khelat Nandlal Biraj mein by Rafi from Godaan (1963), lyrics Anjaan (?), music Ravi Shankar

Now we have a Holi film song in Kafi, composed by Pt Ravi Shankar. This is another generic tune, drawn from folk traditions.


13. Holi khele Nandlala Biraj mein by Ira Majumdar and others from Raahi (1953), lyrics Dashrath Lal(?), music Anil Biswas

Readers may recall Anil Biswas had composed Holi Nandlala khele Biraj mein earlier in Rahi (1953), which is truer to the real folk. This has gone into oblivion now, but as you listen (and watch the picturisation), this version grows more on you.


14.  More Kanha jo aye palat ke ab ke Holi main khelungi dat ke by Asha Bhosle from Sardari Begum (1996), lyrics Javed Akhtar, music Vanraj Bhatia.

In Navrang, Asha Bhosle sings Palat ke dungi aaj tohey gaari re. Many years later, there is more throw in her Palat ke in this beautiful thumri from Sardari Begum based on the life of the eponymous courtesan singer.

The film got several acclaims, one of which was for the singer Aarti Ankalikar. Here is her version of this thumri.


15. Balam pichkari jo tune mujhe mari by Vishal Dadlani and Shalmali Khogade from Ye Jawani Hai Diwani (2013), lyrics Amitabh Bhattacharya, music Preetam

I started with a delicate रंगी सारी गुलाबी चुनरिया हो, मोहे मारे नज़रिया संवरिया रे।   The modern poet says the same thing as तेरी मलमल की कुरती गुलाबी हो गई…..तो सीधी साधी छोरी शराबी हो गई. The last time I posted some songs from 2010s, some readers could not recover from the shock. But, Holi is the time when we stretch the boundaries. It is not always a speck of some dignified dry abir, applied delicately on your forehead; it could also be all kinds of wet colours, paints and unacceptable material, thrown at you in a rowdy manner. So, take it as ‘from sublime to the ridiculous’, if you will; or that I have some weird taste in recent music – I end with this song from 2013 in the spirit of Bura na maano Holi hai.


Note: I have put question mark in the lyricist of #12 and 13, because I find it a little odd when traditional compositions are credited to the lyricist of the films.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hans March 6, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Very good article and a nice selection of songs. You have really worded on the description of songs. Songs 10, 11 were new to me. The last 2 were new too and the Sardari Begum songs are also great. Holi is a festival of celebration and it always brings memories of past incidents and I would relate an incident of fun later. For now, have a look at the holi song composed by Anil Biswas in Char Dil Char Rahen ‘kachi hai umaria’

2 Hans March 6, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Correction. Read ‘worked’ in place of ‘worded’ in the 2nd line.

3 mumbaikar8 March 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Holi Mubarak to SOY family!
I am in the process of enjoying the songs, after enjoying the win over West Indies.

4 AK March 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation. Nice song Kachchi hai umariya.

5 N Venkataraman March 6, 2015 at 10:41 pm

Thank you for the delightful package of Holi songs. Holi signifies revitalization of life/energy. With the advent of spring the southern wind invigorates everything and nature is in full bloom. There is the spirit of joy and vitality all around. Had a great evening listening to the songs. All the four light/semi classical numbers were wonderful. Both the Sobha Gurtu’s numbers and Begum Akhtar’s Thumri were delightful and enlivened my spirits. I enjoyed your interpretation of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi’s rendition of the Thumri Ab Piya to maanat naahi and of course the rendition too. Kafi and Hori go together well. Your conclusion, that the Piya ultimately melts resulting in the blissful union of the lovers, paves the way for placing this Thumri in the broad spectrum of Hori songs. Among the film songs both the Sardari Begum Songs and songs 12 and 13 were my favourites. Some of the vintage numbers were new to me.
Yesterday I could gather some momentum and decided to visit the recent posts that I had missed out. I decided to start with the post on Pilu today, but found your write-up on Songs of Holi posted. Then I decided to go through this post first and revert back to the earlier posts that I had missed out.
Here are some of my favourite Holi song, a vintage number by Gauhar Jaan.–DutFOTKC8

I have listened to Radha-Shyam Holi songs, also Maithili songs on Ram-Sita Holi. But when I first heard the song, Mere Husraat ne Madeene mein manayi Holi, it was a pleasant surprise. Finally let me present a wonderfull Holi song by Pt. Channulal Mishra describing Lord Shiva playing Holi. The Chaiti is an added bonus.

Thank you once again for the wonderful post.

6 arvindersharma March 6, 2015 at 10:48 pm

AK ji and SoY family,
HOLI greetings to all.
Once again, congratulations to AK Ji for an excellent post on HOLI songs. The classical pieces were all new to me and I hope to enjoy them in my leisure time.
Hans Ji’s song, ‘Kachhi hai umariya’, is a special favorite of mine, and till I started watching YouTube, I was not aware that it was a HOLI song.
You have posted beautiful Naushad songs which are all my favorites.
Now I’ll put some of my favorites here, starting with the immortal K L Saigal.
k.l.saigal..hori ho vraj dulare..geet.1933-34:

Second song is a beautiful one from ‘Jogan’ by Geeta Dutt, music Bulo. C. Rani
Bulo. C. Rani_Jogan (1950)_Geeta Dutt_Daro Re Rang Daro Re Rasiya:

Thirdly, a lovely double song from ‘Durgeshnandini’, sung by Lata, Hemant and chorus, music by Hemant Kumar.Mat Maro Shyam Pichkari – Lata, Bina Rai, Pradeep…:

7 ksbhatia March 6, 2015 at 11:29 pm

AK’ji, SOY family ; Happy Holi to all of you and thanks for the Holi songs which carries the vintage colors . I go with the beautiful selection and the add on and inputs by every one . Like Arvinder sharma ji I am also great fan of Naushad sahib . Beside Aan and Kohinoor song I wish to add one more of Naushad’s great composition ….. ” Mohe panghat mein nandlal shhead gayo re ” from Mughal e azam . When we think of Holi we are also reminded of ‘ Bansuri, Murli , Kanhaaiya , Rang etc’ . With these words a few of my fav songs are …….. 1. O more sanwale salone piya tohe milne ko tarse jiya .2 Mane rang le aaj chunariya sajna tore rang mein .3. O kanhaiya ,o kanhaiya aaj aana khaab mein . 4 Murli, murli bairan bahi kanhaiya tori murli bairan bahi .

8 ksbhatia March 6, 2015 at 11:48 pm

….. in continuation . 5. Kahan hai kahan hai kanhaiya , sumjhe na pyar mera .

9 N Venkataraman March 6, 2015 at 11:54 pm

I am posting the Hori song again on Shivji by Pt Channulal Misra

10 Anant Desai March 7, 2015 at 1:34 am

Nice write-up on holi. Here are two rare gems:
Deere se gagari utar, mera dhul dhul Jaye singar. Very tender lyrics in Lata’s silky and soulful rendition of Roshan’s composition.
Another in the same mood: Mat maro Shyam pichkari
Similar mood and expression from Durgesh Dandini.
Every holi my sister and I would wait eagerly for these songs which were beyond reach until YT brought them back.

Pandit Jasraj-ji has presented haveli Sangeet in classical perfection. Shakeel shows the same depth in holi aayi re and Tan Ranglo.
Khatir karle nayi gujaria, Rasiya thado tere dwar.
I cold not find this on YT so please post it if you have it.
Shyam rang chadh jaye jadina, whe Jaye beda paar.

So this is the true meaning of holi. If we get soaked in the Shyam rang of the Lord then we will cross this bhavsagar. Chhoote na rang aisi rang de chunariya, Dhobaniya dhove chahe saari umariya, Mohe bh aye na harjayi rang Halake, …. I hope this will enhance the theme of Holi presented here.

11 Anant Desai March 7, 2015 at 7:25 am

Let me add another rare classic by Asha. Phagun ke din char re, Holi khel mana re:

As you may have guessed by now that I go for rare songs and lyrics with depth and spiritual implications. All art in India has deeper spiritual or “adhyatmic” symbolism. My hope is to spread this for the benefit of a wider audience. Let me know if this is helpful and interesting.

12 AK March 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

Thanks a lot for your appreciation
Your vintage songs prompted me to go on a pleasure trip of more classical and vintage pieces. I just discovered that Pt Bhimsen Joshi had sung a proper Hori too, in Mishra Kafi again. I would still have put in Ab piya to maanat naahi with my creative interpretation, because that has been my great favourite for many decades. However, here is Panditji’s Hori, as usual great.

Holi khelat Nandkumar, Mishra Kafi Hori by Pt Bhimsen Joshi

Gauhar Jan’s Holi is wonderful. It is surprising the recording quality is so good, it must be of a later period. But what is Kanhaiya’s connection to Alwar? The song list in the CD with Vikram Sampat’s book has at least two more Horis. One is the now famous in Begum Akhtar’s voice Kaisi ye dhoom machaayi and the other Khelan ko Hari Radhe sang holi in Raag Desh. I wish the uploader puts up these too.

In the same genre here is a Holi by Malka Jan of Agra. You have the endearing announcement of her name at the end of the record, which was the prevalent style those days. This seems to be in Bhairavi.

Maaro pichkari ji Kanhaiya by Malka Jan of Agra

Here is the wonderful Hori by Janki Bai Jamuna tat Ram khele hori. So Ram also played Holi at the banks of Jamuna? You may recall Anil Biswas sang the same Holi, but it was Shyam obviously at Jamuna tat, in Aurat (1940).

Jamuna tat Ram khele hori by Janki Bai

I am a fan of Pt Chhanulal Mishra. Shiv Holi is very good. Thanks a lot for linking it.

13 AK March 7, 2015 at 10:38 am

Arvinder Sharmaji,
Thank you Sharmaji for your appreciation. Hori ho Brajraj dulare is one of my KL Saigal’s top favourites. I had included this song in my post on his non-film songs. Mat maaro Shyam pichkari is my great favourite. Is this a two-in-one song, with Pyar ke rang mein Sainya mori rang de chunariya?

14 AK March 7, 2015 at 10:40 am

KS Bhatiaji,
Thanks a lot for adding those beautiful songs. I had forgotten the two songs from Kanhaiya.

15 AK March 7, 2015 at 11:03 am

Anant Desai,
Thanks a lot. You have added some of the most beautiful songs. Mat maaro Shyam pichkari has been mentioned by Arvinder Sharmaji. Everyone at SoY is a great fan of Dheere se gagari utaar; it has been mentioned earlier by me very prominently in my post on Lata Mangeshkar’s songs by Roshan, and more recently by Subodh in his article on Pilu.

Yes, Krishna-Radha Holi lore has a strong spiritual interpretation. Thanks for mentioning it.

Pt Jasraj is one of the singers whose every rendering I like a lot. In sweetness of the voice, he has few parallels. I could not locate the Haveli songs you have mentioned, but there are YT links in other voices. However, here is a beautiful Haveli Sangeet by him, coincidentally in Mishra Kafi. It is very strongly devotional, but it is about the one who lives in Vraj, who steals butter and the heart of Radha. So it fits here eminently.

Vraje vasantam – Pt Jasraj – Haveli Sangeet – Mishra Kafi

16 maheshmamadapur March 7, 2015 at 11:32 am

Mukesh and Suraiyya in “Maashooka” 1953 under Shailendra and Roshan.

I read the last 5 words for the 15th song description once again before commenting anything on “noise pollution”.

17 Hans March 7, 2015 at 1:48 pm

“I read the last 5 words for the 15th song description once again before commenting anything on “noise pollution”.”

Nice one. AK was wise enough to put the disclaimer on.

18 Arunkumar Deshmukh March 7, 2015 at 2:12 pm

AK ji,

Very appropriate posting indeed.
About your ‘Note’.
You have otherwise rightly said that Lyricist should not put his name for songs which are traditional.
But in effect,i have found that most of the times only the first few lines or only the Mukhada is taken from the traditional songs,but the rest of the song is written by the Lyricist himself.
In case of song No. 13,Dashrath Lal’s name is given as a Lyricist. I checked the original song-traditional,that is- and the lyrics of this song of Raahi-53 and I find that except few lines,like the Mukhda,the song is totally different.So in this case atleast the Lyricist is Dashrath Lal,all right. I have not checked the song No.12 lyrics,but it too could be the same case.
I felt that matters should be seen in the right perspective,so…
Thanks for a very thoughtful selection of songs.

19 Hans March 7, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Here I would second Arunji. That has been the case in many songs though the traditional songs have been slightly modified also to fit the tune or to make it more attractive. Madan Mohan was known to be master of such changes. He used to get some catchy mukhda from folk songs or old ghazals and ask lyricist to write lyrics as per the tune. His song Jhumka gira re is a prime example, where except mukhda their is nothing taken from the folk song.

Another method was to take the tune and get some different lyrics written for the situation of the song. An example for this is ‘sar par topi laal hath men resham ka rumal’ in Tumsa Nahin Dekha. OPN used the tune (as it is without any modification) of a famous Haryanvi folk song which ran like this ‘cycle aale mane batha le adde tak le chaal, ho tera ke kehna’. In Hindi it would be ‘cycle wale mujhe bitha le adde (bus stand) tak le chal’.

The song from Zindafi Aur Hum posted here by Anant Desai ‘dheere se gagari utar’ is also according to me derived from some folk song. As per the theme of the song the song appears to be a titillating song (actually I dont know the lyrics of the folk song, may be Arunji can confirm) used as a female song on various celebratory occasions like marriage or in phagun or sawan months. In the film the middle antara has been added to give it a viraha touch and the tune has been set in viraha mode.

Actually Roshan was not the only one to use this tune. Salil Choudhary used this tune earlier in Jagte Raho in the song ‘Thandi thandi sawan ki phuhar’

Roshan did not even change the tune in antara. Perhaps it would not have looked as classy in any other tune. But I would say that Asha’s rendition is better and she has been able to express the emotions in a better way. I wonder where the standing of Lata would have been had Asha got better songs than she got – all of which Lata got because she had grabbed all the space.

20 AK March 7, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Mahesh, Hans
Another Holi khele Nandlala Biraj mein. Nice one. I had not heard it before. You can never go wrong with this.

As the new songs go, I quite enjoy Balam pichkari, but regardless of the disclaimer you can give your frank opinion.

21 AK March 7, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Arunji, Hans
Point conceded on traditional songs. But there should be some recognition that it was based on a traditional song. Otherwise, many of us would remain unaware of the origin of many songs.

Thandi thandi saawan ki phuhar re reminded me of Ab ke baras bhej, and not Dheere se gagari utaar re. Pilu is common to all, but the underlying pain, desolation and sadness, and Asha Bhosle’s voice take me there.

22 SSW March 7, 2015 at 5:58 pm

AK great post. Two songs of Shobha Gurtu. What’s not to like? Yummy.
On ” Thandi Thandi sawan ki pukar” and “Dheere se gagri” and Hans’s claim. The inspiration could be a snatch of some folk tune. In every tune there is another tune struggling to be heard. Just as easily Roshan could have been inspired by Salilda.

The base raga in the “Jagte Raho” song is not Pilu, it is Tilak Kamod. The alaap itself sets the tone . Notice the orchestration in the interludes, it is western in influence and changes chords unexpectedly you’ll never find that in traditional Indian music. Also the way the antara melds into the tune of the mukhda is lovely “papihe ne man ki , agni bhujaayi, pyaasa raha mera pyaar .” and then “piya aaj ..”. There is a suggestion of incompleteness, a rest beat and then it segues into the tune of the mukhda, longings left behind, a plea.

Roshan’s tune to me does not have that subtlety here, the movement from the mukhda to the antara is straightforward there is no arresting rest because it is all longing. However there is a subtle complexity in the antara “ban mein boli ..kaali koyaliya ” there is a wistful degree of playfulness in the notes before it moves back to where it came, that makes it beautiful.

And the lyrics, conveying the different types of separation, wonderful. Nothing to do with holi actually but I do love Shobha Gurtu and of course Begum Akhtar. 🙂

23 AK March 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Thanks a lot for your appreciation, and the detailed exposition of the two songs, Thandi thandi hawa ki and Dheere se gagri. My identification of a Raga is purely based on familiarity with other compositions in the same Raga. You must be right. But is there a great overlap between the chalan of Pilu and Tilak Kamod?. Because, even after you mention it, my mind hovers around Pilu.

You are right about the merits of the two compositions, but I have something about Asha Bhosle, and, therefore, I like Dheere se gagri a lot.

24 mumbaikar8 March 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Fascinated by your collection I was looking for some more Holi songs, I found this one by Mohd Bandi very interesting.
I tried to get more information about the person singing but could not find anything.
Arunkumarji ,
Can you help me with this?

25 Anant Desai March 7, 2015 at 9:24 pm

SofY Friends,
Looks like a lot of interest in songs and lyrics based on tradition. I agree with the opinion that if the antara words are new, the poet gets the credit. More difficult for tunes. SJ and SDB in the style of Anilda and Pankaj Malik always have creative twists appropriate for the expression of the lyrics.

Roshan’s Ae ri main to prem diwani from Nau Bahar has greatly better lyrics than the traditional version. His composition rises to match the lofty lyrics. Asha ke phoolon ki maala, Sanson ke sangeet, In par phooli chali rizane, Apane man ka meet; Liye ri maine, nain dor mein, sapane liye piroy. Lyrics and tune rise together to the final climax.

In Malhar, original traditional version in Lata’s voice goes well beyond the later duet Garajat Barasat from Barsat ki Raat in spite of new lyrics by the great Sahir.

Finally, a very learned friend who is a great musician and the son of a Rudra Veena maestro thought that Thandi Thandi Sawan ki Phuhar would sound better in Lata’s voice. Here again it is a choice between purity and silky softness against character, strength comparison. I like both. In my childhood, I thought that Lata and Rafi were voices of perfection produced by some synthesizer! My Mummy told me otherwise. It is a great credit to both that they also express the requisite emotive content to the hilt. This is why their originals are rarely equalled, let alone exceeded by others or even themselves!

Asha reaches her heights in Kali Ghate Chhaye and Ab ke Baras under SDB. She also holds her own in duets with Lata many many times.

BTW, Naushad said Mohe Panaghat Pe is in Gara. He did not distinguish Pancham se. My only wish would be that if they had identified the base Raga, we would have learned them while we learned the tunes. I agree with AK-ji in identifying ragas by comparison. It is not the notes but the curves of slides that make the true character of a raga and takes years to master. Rashid Khan gives a brief pakad of both Yaman and Hameer that are so perfect that if I start with them, my rendition of songs in those ragas improves significantly. Maestros can show a raga in one note! Pt. Jasraj shows Malhar character with all shuddha swaras and straight sargam. Hence my conjecture that it is not the notes. Kalingada uses the notes of Bhairav Thaat cleanly and in a straightforward manner. It is a better reference for the Thaat as is Mohe bhool gaye sanvariya is for me. Same true for Jhinjhoti and Khamaj Thaat. Khamaj raga has more texture. Notice the SJ’s Ja Ja re Ja Balamwa has his own stamp that enhances the raga, as most of his ground breaking compositions in Basant Bahar whit stunned the traditional musical community at the time.
This got too long but I let it flow as it came to me. Thanks for your patience.

26 Arunkumar Deshmukh March 7, 2015 at 9:45 pm

Mumbaikar 8
Ref comment No. 24
Contrary to what the name indicates,Mohd. Bandi was a Courtesan from Patna. During the period 1902 to 1908, there was a surge of recording songs from any willing Bai,Jaan or a Bandi (Bandi was a nomenclature for a certain type of courtesans).Mohd. Bandi of Patna was a well known singer who recorded several song of many Raagas too. All these recorded songs are available courtesy SIRC.
I have only this much information about Mohd. Bandi.

27 AK March 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm

You have solved one mystery. I was puzzled how Mohammad Bandi could sound like a female.

28 mumbaikar8 March 7, 2015 at 10:18 pm

I had my doubts. You cleared them all.

29 Antara March 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm

A great collection of Holi songs… and a simply awesome website!!!
I will keep coming back here for references and resources and of course credit a link back to you for any information I source from your articles for our write ups.
I chanced upon this website today while researching an article. Must say its a treasure house.
We compiled a list of Holi songs used in Hindi films from 1953 to 2014, thanks to helpful suggestions from our readers and visitors. Please do check it out and I would welcome your feedback!
Thank you!

30 AK March 7, 2015 at 11:49 pm

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your compliments. Do keep visiting. I looked up your site. You have a very nice selection of Holi songs. And the site has a very eclectic mix of articles.

31 Antara March 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

Thank you AK!

We do have a small section on music which is basically with regard to 100 years of Indian cinema. We are trying to build on it. Songs of Yore for sure is going to be my primary source of reference material from now!

This article has most certainly been an eye opener for me. Also the one on SDB’s bilingual music… I would be quoting from your article in my write up with a link back to your article. Should I refer to you as AK or Arun Kumar? Please confirm.

Thanks again!!

32 AK March 8, 2015 at 9:37 am

Please refer to me as AK (in any case I am not Arun Kumar).

33 Antara March 8, 2015 at 10:46 am

Thanks AK! Got it!
Will send you the link to the article once it is published.

34 ASHOK M VAISHNAV March 8, 2015 at 8:57 pm

Very well composed article and equally quality discussion thereto.
It would be interesting how other music directors to have done justice to this festival – may be in next year’s article !

35 Arunkumar Deshmukh March 8, 2015 at 8:58 pm

AK ji,
As far as using and posting some songs from 2010 or 2013 is not bad at all,if you feel the offerings are worth it.
I always believed in ” Not all that was created before 1970 was good as much as not all that was created after 1970 is bad “.
As long as the music touches a chord in you,it is a good music,whatever the period.
It is another thing that good created after 70 is not even 5% of any bad created before 70.
Musical tastes are highly subjective and my opinions may not match with that of some others.

36 AK March 9, 2015 at 7:47 am

Thank you, Ashokji for your appreciation.

So I presume you too like Balam pichkari, and O Radha teri chunri and Gori tera thumka bada kinky kinky type da….Har limit ki height pe chadhkar tu dance Basanti?

37 Arunkumar Deshmukh March 9, 2015 at 9:22 am

Yes.I do.

38 SSW March 9, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Talking of modern Holi songs this one is quite decent though it is set way before the Songs of Yore time period and I’m not sure that this type of rhythm would have been common in Barrackpore in 1857.:-)

I like Shalmali Khogade’s voice.

39 Abhijit March 10, 2015 at 9:18 pm


Your choice of songs are excellent . I am just bringing to your & all respected contributors that recently somebody put Holi songs to the poll in Facebook. Most popular choices are songs from Sholay,Kati Patang & Ye Jawani Hai Deewani.This is just for your & information.


40 Abhijit March 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Arun Kumar Deshmukhji,

I agree with your viewpoint that every thing is not bad nowadays.My opinion is that downward journey of film songs started from eighties ,when a music director suddenly rose into prominence.He survived by only dishing out trash .Side by side most marketable MD duo of that era lost their touch & started producing bad quality music.Worst of all the the good music of the last genius (He was also getting exhausted) was driven out by bad music from the market. Things never became same. again.


41 AK March 10, 2015 at 9:54 pm

Thanks a lot. ‘Most popular choices’ – Not surprised, because for many, anything pre-70s would be ancient.

42 Soumya Banerji March 14, 2015 at 5:08 am

Holi with its air of boisterous ribaldry has never been a festival that I cared for. The same applies to its depiction in film songs. However non-film songs are a different matter altogether and you have presented quite a few of the good ones. It is ironic that I prefer Holi songs that are pensive or romantic with none of the raucous musical accompaniment. I have a soft spot for this Yaman-based Meera bhajan by Lata.
Kenu Sang Khelun Holi:

43 AK March 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm

Kenu sang khelun Holi is a very nice song. Holi songs in light classical Ragas are not boisterous, but very soft and melodious, and, at times, deeply moving.

44 Hans March 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

With reference to song 14, I have found a song written by Sugunpiya and composed by Hanuman Prasad. Have a look
Holi main khelungi un sang dat ke – Gaali (1944)

So, after all the copy-master Javed Akhtar, who stole ideas from old films for writing his films is found to have stolen the idea for this song also. Many may not be knowing that his most famous saga of success Sholay is a duet version of the Dharmendra solo Mera Gaon Mera Desh.

45 AK March 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm

This is a wonderful song. Thanks a lot. So, Manju’s songs outside Rattan too are very good. Palat ke and Dat ke is obviously a traditional motif in Holi songs. Another one in which I would have put a question mark against the lyricist’s name. I hope experts enlighten us on the Ragas. Does not sound Kafi to me.

46 arvind March 17, 2015 at 7:32 pm

song #14.
comments 44th &45th.
the antara/ the lines :
…unke peechhe main chupke se jaake,
…ye gulaal apne tan se lagaake,
…rang doongi unhen bhi lipat ke
…ab ke hori khelungi main dat ke

was/were in all probability written by NAWAB WAJID ALI SHAH who also penned ..babul mora naihar chhuto jaye…
(source: Indian Express Delhi Ed. dated march 5, 2015 (page 6 of the pull out. the article by suanshu khurana is titled….Pink is the Warmest Colour….))

47 AK March 17, 2015 at 9:21 pm

What flight of imagination!

48 arvind March 18, 2015 at 5:54 pm
is the link to the article referred to in comment #46.

49 Hans March 19, 2015 at 1:37 am

Thanks for the link. But, I had already read if after your first post where you named the article and that was enough to locate it. I think AK had said it all in his four words. Such writers hardly know anything, they just make use of the space available to them by virtue of their connections. They know nothing about why horis or holi songs were so popular among general public. They just know about Wajid Ali and courtesans.

Since most of us are of the same age group, we must remember how scarce the colours and gulal were even in cities and towns. Villages hardly knew anything of them. This is the case after chemical colours had already been invented. Wajid Ali Shah’s time was about 200 years ago and there were only natural colours and were perhaps very rare. How people were colouring their whole body with gulal and transfering it ‘lipat ke’ is hardly imaginable.

50 Siddharth March 24, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Although commenting late, but I was expecting this post as Naushad has given some great Holi songs.
A word on Vanraj Bhatia- underrated but he has given some excellent music. I really like his songs sung by Preeti Sagar.

51 AK March 24, 2015 at 4:34 pm

So, I didn’t disappoint you!

Vanraj Bhatia – Preeti Sagar would be way out of my zone of focus. Would you like to share your favourite songs?

52 Siddharth March 25, 2015 at 12:29 pm

You never disappoint.
Here are some of my favourite songs of Vanraj Bhatia-Preeti Sagar –
Link –
2. Mero gaam, Manthan (1976)
Link –
3. Shamsheer barehna maang ghazab – Film Mandi
Link –
4. Saawan Ke Din Aaye – Film Bhoomika
Link –

53 arvindersharma March 25, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Sidharth Ji,
On Vanraj Bhatia/Preeti Sagar duo, I am with you.
I still remember,how I used to play repeatedly the EP of ‘Bhumika’.
And many thanks for rekindling the memory of a very melodious duet, ‘Barkha jays tarsaye sajanva’.
A favorite of mine from the film is this song
Mera Ziskila Balam Na Aaya Preeti Sagar Bhumika (1977) Vanraj Bhatia / V…:

54 AK March 25, 2015 at 3:14 pm

Thanks a lot for reminding me. These all are my great favourites.

55 Abhijit. March 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm


Present generation of music lovers are quite aware of Kohinoor,Navarang or Aan songs. In northern part of India,during Holi season these songs are played from all corners.People even hire high decibel amplifiers & play Holi songs at full volumes from their rooftops for the benefit (?) of others but names like Sitara Devi or Ira Mazumdar are very much alien to all which includes senior citizens.In fact singers,except for Samshad Bugum,of forties have gone into oblivion & not remembered any more. Recently I have found a very interesting phenomenon, which is the reason for writing this post. In Facebook,which is basically a domain of younger generation, I have found on many occasions ,SD composed Amirbai Karnataki song “Pehle Na SamjhaPyar Tha”is posted & liked by many.This song at least have not lost its magic even after 70 years & leaped through the generation barriers.

Finally, I also fall in the category of the those citizens who have never heard of Ira Mazumdar. Can any of knowledgeable help me by giving some details of the singer?


56 RAVI SINHA May 16, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Very nice article on Holi songs.I went through it with intent but I was disappointed when the 8 min 24 sec duet of film Durgesh nandini by Hemant Kumar and Lata was missing. Choise of song is purely personal .As a member of SoY,I feel that I must express my thought about Holi songs and for me Mat maro Shyam Pichkari coupled with Khel na dil se holi gori from Durgesh nandini is the most beautiful and enchanting song.The music by Hemant Da haunts in the memory lane for decades.
Of course,the Holi song that catches my attention most is fromNavrang -“Arey ja hat natkhat” with music by C.Ramchandra and lyrics by Bharat Vyas.
Ravi Sinha

57 AK May 17, 2015 at 6:01 am

Ravi Sinha,
Thanks a lot for your response. Mat maro Shyam pichkari is my great favourite too. But one can include only so many songs. After semi-classical, Naushad, CR and some vintage songs, not much room was left.

58 RAVI SINHA June 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

Very good article.But,surprisingly you have not mentioned of an amazingly sweet Holi song from film Durgeshnandini – ‘MAT MARO SHYAM PICHKARI’ in continuation with ‘KHEL NA DIL SE HOLI GORI BAALI HAI UMARIA’ sung by Lata and Hemant Kumar.M.D – Hemant Kumar. The music,the voice of Lata in particular & Hemant Kumar and the LYRICS are simply outstanding.I think it is based on the feelings on the day of Holi in the romance of Radha-Krishna & the gopies of Mathura.
It is so enchanting that in my younger days in college I would never forget to listen to this song on Vividh Bharti or Radio Ceylone on the day of Holi.
Ravi Sinha

59 AK June 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Ravi Sinha,
I give only a few selected songs. Readers add a lot of songs in their comments. Yet by no means all the best songs of Holi can be covered in a post. Mat maro Shyam pichkari is my favourite. Arvinder Sharmaji has mentioned this song in his comment #6.

60 Anurag mathur March 3, 2017 at 11:57 am

very nice collection of Holi songs.
In Mathur community , holi songs are still being sung in households during the month of `faag’. Most of these are classical hindi songs some may be of folk. Can some one help me with Holi songs of Ram-Sita ?

61 AK March 3, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Welcome to SoY and thanks a lot for your appreciation.

How about Holi khele Raghuvira Awadh mein?

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