…as chosen by a white Australian guy (me). To be slightly more truthful, not all of these actually involve dancing and I’m well aware that Bollywood actors lip-sync.
10. Chaiyya Chaiyya from Dil Se
Yes, I’ve only put this in 10th place, despite it being the most famous one of all. Who on earth decides to stage a song-and-dance sequence aboard a moving train, anyway?
The song Chaiyya Chaiyya also appeared in the West End musical “Bombay Dreams” and over the opening credits of Spike Lee’s 2006 movie Inside Man, for no apparent reason.
And the song and dance sequence itself? As anybody who’s seen Dil Se will know, it appears very soon after the start of the movie. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, at all.
9. Gallan Goodiyaan from Dil Dhadakne Do
Not the best movie by any means, but this song and dance sequence was done in one take. Which explains why it’s a bit chaotic. It looks like they had fun filming it though.
8. Dekhle Aankhon Mein Aankhien Daal from Munna Bhai M.B.B.S
This may be the first one on this list that you have to watch the movie to understand fully. Actually, I recommend it. Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. is a terrific film.
7. Woh Larki Hai Kahan from Dil Chahta Hai
Yes, this one is utterly ludicrous. I believe it’s a homage to various early Bollywood song-and-dance sequences. It’s still great fun. Dil Chahta Hai is one of the most influential Hindi films of all time and several of the other song-and-dance sequences from the film are also good.
6. Chale Jaise Hawayein from Main Hoon Na
It’s hard to believe we never saw much of Amrita Rao. Let’s face it, she’s terrific in this. And, if this isn’t quite all in one take like Gallan Goodiyaan, the dancing is better.
5. Say Shava Shava from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
This is the best song in what was a blockbuster film. It’s worth saying that despite his fame, the Big B doesn’t actually have a very good record at starring in song and dance sequences. This is probably his best.
4. Deewangi Deewangi from Om Shanti Om
Deepika Padukone’s breakthrough film, though don’t expect to see her in this sequence. On the other hand you see more movie stars in this clip than you’ve ever seen in any film, ever. The sequence adds nothing to the film whatsoever – but it was magic seeing it at the cinema.
3. Dola Re Dola from Devdas
I’ll admit to cheating with this one. I figured Madhuri Dixit had to be on the list but how do you pick one of her performances over any other? I simply can’t, so I figured this one was her most famous and went with it.
2. Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s most famous film, and probably the second most famous song and dance sequence of all after Dil Se’s Chaiyya Chaiyya. In the 2017 film Tiger Zinda Hai, it’s this song that the nurses are singing in the bus just prior to their being hijacked. The film itself has been running at the Maratha Mandir cinema in Mumbai since 1995. After running for 1009 straight weeks it was reported that the movie would finally close. There was such a backlash that it was still going at the time of writing (January 2019).
1. Ae Mohabbat Zindabad from Mughal-E-Azam
Historians say that the relationship between the court dancer Anarkali and the Mughal Prince Salim, son of Akbar, never happened. Whatever the truth, the story is popular and was depicted in Hindi films in 1928, 1935 and 1953. The 1953 film was so popular that it was the biggest hit of the year and one of the biggest of the decade. There was no reason to think Bollywood wouldn’t keep making new versions.
Then Mughal-E-Azam came out in 1960 and Bollywood hasn’t touched the story since. There’s simply no point; the movie is so good it’s near unimprovable. The American writer Joseph Keller, who wrote Catch-22, was once told that he hadn’t written anything as good since. His response was: “Nor has anyone else.” Mughal-E-Azam falls into the same category.
There are several other song-and-dance sequences in the movie and they’re each good in their own right. Pyar Kiya To Darna Kiya in particular is famous for its many reflections of Madhubala. But it still isn’t as good as Ae Mohabbat Zindabad, a masterpiece within a masterpiece.
So, that’s my list. Ten is a rather arbitrary number so what didn’t quite make it? Actually, there are loads of other song and dance sequences I love. To name just three, I could easily drop item number three from this list and replace it with Maahi Ve from Kal Ho Naa Ho. Taal, the 1999 smash hit, has some worthy entries including especially the reprise of Ishq Bina. And cheesy as it is, I love Sayanji Baiyan Chhudake from the mostly forgettable 2004 movie Masti.