1. ‘Rimjhim Gire Saaawan’: R D Burman’s timeless rain ditty from Basu Chatterjee’s Manzil comes in two versions. The Kishore Kumar version of the song is a bit of a damper on screen as Amitabh Bachchan sings it at a small get-together .A bit like a butterfly in jar. Many eminent off-mainstream directors of the past like Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee had no idea of how to film a classic song. My choice is the Lata Mangeshkar version of the Manzil melody. It is shot in the pouring Mumbai rains as Mr Bachchan and Moushumi Chatterjee make a dash for it. The great Yogesh’s lyrics just make you want to fill your senses with nostalgia over chai and pakodas.
2. ‘Pani Re Pani Tera Rang Kaisa’: Manoj Kumar’s Shor featured another melody ‘Ek Pyar Ka Naghma Hai’ that surpassed this rain song. But my favourite is this Varma Malik-written masterpiece about what the rain means to different sections of people. For some it’s a luxury. For others it’s leaky roof. Manoj Kumar shot the number in a chawl with tight close-ups of drenched women heaving and thrusting. Yuck. But the number’s poignancy is conveyed in the way Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh enunciated those lines filled with fatalism and fury.
3. ‘Kali Ghata Chaye’: Asha Bhosle on Nutan in Bimal Roy’s Sujata. That was a rarity indeed. Ideally the song should have been sung by most illustrious of the Mangeshkar sisters Lata Mangeshkar. Here’s how Ashaji wangled this amazing number. Composr Sachin Dev Burman had a 3-year fall-out with his favourite ‘Lota’. Sis Asha made the best of the break. Shailendra was the break ke Bard who wrote the elegant ‘Kali Ghata Chaye More Jiya Tarsaye/Aise Mein Kahin Koi Mil Jaye’. Amen to that.
4. ‘Rimjim Ke Geet Saawan Gaye’: Oooof! The mood of uncontrollable romance that Mohammad Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar build in this song from the film Anjana about finding passion in the sound of raindrops. …Though the two actors Rajendra Kumar and Babita enacting the wonderful song were uncommitted to fuelling a friction between aag and pani the composition (by Laxmikant-Pyarelal) was so seductive so appealing it didn’t matter even if two wet lampposts emoted to the sexy lyrics.
5. ‘Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein’: Zeenat Aman featured in two utterly sexy rain songs ‘Haye Haye Yeh Majboori’ (Roti Kapada Aur Makaan) and ‘Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein’ in the film Ajnabee .The latter wins by a slender margin. It is voluptuous and vibrant, smooth and sexy as any R D Burman knew how. And then the two singers Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar did the rest. I rest my case.