Spring is here, which means that it’s time for the best holiday that has been turned into corporate marketing that isn’t Christmas. It’s Holi!
For all you folks whose office, school, or frisbee golf team is planning a fundraising Color Run because it’s fun and colorful and trendy, please just don’t. If you do, I hope no brown person ever divulges the secrets to getting the powder off, nor tells you where to find the affordable stuff. Also, if you’re going to culturally appropriate, at least pick the “women get drunk and beat men with sticks” part that happens in some parts of India.
Holi is the Hindu festival of colors that has been adopted by many Indian diasporic communities around the world. There’s also a whole thing about good triumphing over evil, but since people have columbused the shit out of this holiday, that’s not really a great marker of the holiday. Instead, it’s a huge festival celebrating spring and the Indian diaspora. New York City based Indo-Caribbeans and Indians are well aware of the huge Queens-based Holi parade and festival. That parade has been going on for over 27 years (not counting last year’s cancelled parade) and attracts over 80,000 people annually. Let’s be real, these Holi celebrations look way more fun than any Color Run.
To get you in the Holi spirit, here’s a playlist with old and new Bollywood songs.
“Holi Aayi Re Kanhai” – Mother India (1957)
Want a song that will be played at least hourly by every Hindi-language, or Indian-diasporic radio station at least hourly? Enjoy this song from Mother India, a movie that holds the distinction of being the first Indian film submission to Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film.
“Ang Se Ang Lagana” – Darr (1993)
I only chose this song because the charisma void that is Sunny Deol is completely countered by Juhi Chalwa who still looks as lovely and charming as she does in this 20-year old song.
“Soni Soni” – Mohabbatein (2000)
This movie appeared on my Diwali playlist, so it appears here as well. This movie feels as long as the chronology it covers. Watch for the weird Carrie moment at 4:19.
“Balam Pichkari” – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)
Hear that sweet autotune? That’s how you know it’s from this decade. At least Deepika Padukone is stunning.
“Aaj Na Chhodenge” – Kati Patang (1970)
Watch this song if you want to understand the appeal of Rajesh Khanna. I’m joking, that’s inexplicable, but Asha Parekh is demure and adorable.
“Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali” – Silsila (1981)
Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, and Rekha in one of the most famous movies for both the onscreen and offscreen drama and the way the onscreen echoed offscreen, “supposedly.” Amitabh Bachchan also sings in this, if you ever wanted to hear the most famous Bollywood actor ever kind of embarrass himself. Every brown dad has sung this to his children to make them laugh or cringe. This is a fact.
“Holi Ke Din” – Sholay (1975)
How many times can I talk about Hema Malini? This song is great, this movie is great, she is great. Amitabh Bachchan is also in this movie. It’s also another song that will be played all over Indian-diasporic communities for the next two days. It’s the perfect last song for this list.
Happy Holi, everyone!