How Amitabh Bachchan came to be associated with two most iconic Holi songs
'Rang Barse' is a song that every Indian who has celebrated Holi or even seen people celebrating this spring festival must have heard. For as long as we can remember, the song has been a part of Holi celebrations, parties, and get-togethers. The song is from the late Yash Chopra's 1981 melodrama Silsila and features, among others of the movie's gigantic cast, Amitabh Bachchan. Oh, and he has also provided vocals to the song. Big B, as the Hindi film megastar is often called by his adoring legions of fans, is actually also associated with the other popular Holi song. We are talking about 'Hori Khele Raghuveera' from Baghban.
Here is how the two songs came to be:
'Rang Barse Bhige Chunar Wali'
Composed by Shiv-Hari and penned by none other than Amitabh's father, the noted poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan, the Silsila song was a runaway hit. In the video, the main cast of the movie dances to the song. And for this reason, the song became a staple in Holi celebrations around the country. The song we know may be fairly new (1981) but it is based on a folk song that is said to date back to the 16th century and bears a connection with mystic poet and a major figure in the Bhakti movement, Mirabai. The original Awadhi dialect of the folk song was modified by Harivansh Rai Bachchan to turn it into a Holi song in a Hindi movie.
While speaking to Spotbye, Amitabh had revealed in 2021, "That's a legacy of my father. I learnt of this song through him. I used to sing ‘Rang Barse’ and ‘Mere Angnein Mein’ at all the Holi get-togethers at our house. That's where Yashji (director Yash Chopra) and Prakashji (Prakash Mehra) heard these songs, got them into Silsila and Lawaaris and asked me to sing them. So I am in no way instrumental in getting these songs into the movies."
Another folk song, this time from the state of Uttar Pradesh's historical Awadh region (northeastern UP), 'Holi Khele Raghuveera Awadh Mein' from Baghban, as mentioned above, is another predominant Holi song in celebrations. Aadesh Shrivastava, the music director of the film, convinced Big B to give his vocals to the song. Once again, it was Harivansh Rai Bachchan (who sadly died before the film could release) who modified the lyrics to fit the old folk song into the modern context.