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Best Folk Songs of Bollywood
Ten Great Folk Songs from Hindi Movies
Folk Music: Celebration of Human Life
Music evolved as the sound of celebration that humans used to convey and express their emotions and joy in developing civilizations. It was a means of entertainment too, used by people when they were laboring with nature, in farms and households, as well as when they were content, happy and joyful.
The folk music of India is closely associated with its traditions. It still survives in the rural heartlands, even though much of it is now replaced by more sophisticated music, easily available through modern technology. It is still visible in marriages, ceremonies, devotional rituals, traditions, farmlands and even roadside gatherings.
Here are the ten best folk songs of Bollywood, depicting different moods and having their origin in different parts of India. As is always the case with Bollywood, these are adaptations of the original (if there was one) to the Bollywood style, with words in local dialects sometimes replaced by Hindi lyrics, without compromising on flair or style.
Welcome to the folk music of India.
Movie: Hum Aapke Hain Koun (1994)
"Babul jo tumne ..."
This bidai song can be considered one of the best expressions of the Indian tradition and social values. The occasion is that of bidai, when the bride leaves her own family to goes on with the groom's family, now her own for the rest of her life. It is always a tender moment, even in modern India, marking a new beginning in the girl's life. The song talks about how the girl is supposed to take whatever she has learned from her parents and use it to become the central pillar of a new family, adapting to a new household. This melodious number is sung by Sharda Sinha, its lyrics written by Ravinder Rawal and its music composed by Ramlaxman.
Movie: Dushmani (1995)
"Banno teri ankhiyan surmedaani ..."
A melodious celebration of marriage in the form of a song for a "haldi," a traditional ceremony where turmeric paste is applied on the body of the bride as part of preparing her for the weding ceremony. In the Indian proverb, "haath peele karna" (yellowing hands of the girl) is considered synonymous with "wedding." It is a tradition that is celebrated with music and joy—an all-women affair, where the would-be bride is at the center and women celebrate and enjoy. This very melodious number is sung by Sapna Awasthi, and its music composed by Anand Milind. The lyrics are written by Sameer.
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Movie: Lamhe (1991)
"Morni bagaan mein boli ..."
When it comes to melody, Rajasthani folk stands out! It has been one of the major attractions for foreign tourists to India, and the Indians visiting Rajasthan are equally mesmerised by it. The drier the terrain, the more colorful its music and dances get, perhaps depicting the ingenuity with which humanity can balance and harmonise with the scarcities of nature. This song, a celebration of love, sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Ila Arun, and composed by the very classical Shiv-Hari, is as melodious as a pleasant desert night gathering can be! The lyrics of this number, adapted from the local original, were written by Anand Bakhshi.
Movie: Achhut Kanya (1936)
"Dhire baho nadiya ... dhire baho ..."
This number is as close to real-life folk music as one can possibly get. Sung by Kusum Kumari and a chorus, in an era when actors sung their own songs in front of the camera, this song was recorded for Achhut Kanya, a milestone movie, in 1936, only a few years after talking movies began to be made in India. The song shows women singing while carrying on with their daily chores together. Its music was composed by a woman, Saraswati Devi, while its lyrics were written by J. S. Kasshyap.
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Movie: Maachis (1996)
"Chappa chappa charkha chale ...."
This melodious piece of music is a reminder of the enormous wealth that remains hidden in local traditions and memories, if only somebody had the will and capacity to polish and preserve it the way Gulzar (lyricist and director) and Vishal Bhardwaj (music composer) have done in this number. Sung by Hariharan and Suresh Wadkar, this Punjabi folk song shows a bunch of revolutionaries, hiding in isolation, and feeling nostalgic about memories of their lives and families that they have left behind. A beautiful depiction of how music can add glamour to life, even at its loneliest moments.
Movie: Nadiya Ke Paar (1982)
"Kaun disa mein leke chala re batohiya ...."
Coming at a time when Bollywood was almost having a musical void, this song, based on the folk music of Eastern India, became a rage. Its simple lyrics, traditional melodies and the very Indian humane touch make it an all-time great number of Bollywood. The singers are Hemlata and Jaspal Singh, while Ravindra Jain wrote the lyrics and composed the music. This number may very well be the all-time most popular folk song of Bollywood.
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Movie: Teesri Kasam (1967)
"Lali lali doliya mein lali re dulhania ...."
The way marriage is celebrated in India lets you know how important it is in Indian society, where traditionally, divorce was not even a possibility, and extramarital sex a crime worse than murder. Marriage, supposed to be a union of two families, depended on the integration of the new bride into the groom's family, and everybody celebrated her entry into the new household, as seen in this number, with village children welcoming the couple, giving blessings to the bride and advice to the groom on how to delicately deal with his new life-partner. This simple but touching number is sung by Asha Bhonsle with a chorus. The music was composed by Shanker Jaikishan and the lyrics written by Shailendra.
Movie: Do Boond Pani (1971)
"Peetal ki mori gaagri ...."
Fetching water for the household used to be a major exercise for the womenfolk of the villages. Usually, the women would go together to get water, enjoying their mini-voyage with whatever means they had at their disposal. Music is one way in which they can keep themselves occupied, as they do here, boasting about the water pot that they have purchased from Delhi, and the pride they feel in using it for collecting water. This number, sung by Parveen Sultana and Meenu Purushottam, celebrates the happiness that can accumulate from life's trivial delights. The music of Jaidev is magical, and the lyrics of Kaifi Azmi complement the scene with perfection. The second part of the song, where they cannot find water as the well has dried up, is very touching, and documents how scarce water has been for millions, even in the twentieth century.
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Movie: Teesri Kasam (1967)
"Chalat musafir moh liya re ...."
Roadside stalls have been the center of community action in semi-urban India for more than a century now. People collect there in the morning to know what is going on, and in the evening to share their grievances and frustrations, their achievements and sorrows, and finally, as in this number, to relax and enjoy some indigenous folk music. A very melodious number, and very authentic in its depiction of folk music, sung by Manna Dey and a chorus. Its music was composed by Shanker Jaikishan and lyrics written by Shailendra.
Movie: Ganga Jamuna (1962)
"Nain lad jaihen to ..."
This piece of folk music from the Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is an ode to the manner in which legitimate, transparent love, with commitment for life, came to be welcomed by the people, even in highly traditional Indian society. The open expression of love, as in this number, is not shunned, but celebrated by the village community, which shares the joy of those in love and supports them, even while pulling their legs. It is sung by Mohammad Rafi and chorus, its music composed by Naushad and its lyrics written by Shakeel Badayuni.
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