Mid-January (13th to 15th) marks the transition of the sun from the zodiac of Sagittarius (Dhanu) to Capricorn (Makar). Since the sun is regarded to have moved from the southern hemisphere to the northern hemisphere on this day in the Hindu calendar, the 14th (and occasionally on, as in this year, the 15th) is also referred to as Uttarayan, Makar Sankranti, Sakrat or Biku. In the South, it is observed as Pongal or Makara Villaku, while in Punjab, the 13th is celebrated as Lohri. Some neighboring countries like Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia also observe this festival. And there are various names and derivations given to it.
While the occasion is celebrated in diverse ways across the country, the most colorful is the way it is observed with kite-flying in Maharashtra and Gujarat, with sweetmeats made with til (sesame), peanuts, gram and jiggery offered to God and shared.
In cinema, the kite-flying festival has given rise to many songs, some of which show the festival on screen, while others merely compare life and love with kites (Kites, Patang, Kati Patang and so on, or the song Meri zindgai hai kya ek kati patang hai (my life is a kite with a broken string) from the last-mentioned film).
Here, then, are 9 songs that celebrate the joie de vivre of the festival.
Ari chhod di sajaniya – Nagin / 1954 / Singers: Lata Mangeshkar-Hemant Kumar / Music: Hemant Kumar / Lyrics: Rajendra Krishan
This is a song enacted on stage by lead players Vyjayanthimala and Pradeep Kumar, and the song compares the string attached to the kite as the bond that signifies the love between the two sweethearts. The hero and heroine exhibit the pulling of the kite-strings within their dance movements.
Ambarsariya / Fukrey / 2013 / Sona Mohapatra / Ram Sampath / Munna Dhiman
The girl (Priya Anand) gently reprimands her newfound love (Pulkit Samrat) on the occasion of the kite festival.
Chali chali re patang – Bhabhi / 1957 / Lata Mangeshkar & Mohammed Rafi / Chitragupta / Rajendra Krishan
Veteran actress Nanda and comedian Jagdeep (best known to today’s folks as Jaaved Jafferi’s father!) sing together on screen as they fly their kites. The two were romantically teamed in this family melodrama.
Kai po chhe / Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam / 1999 / KK, Shankar Mahadevan, Jyotsna Hardikar & Dominique Cerejo / Ismail Darbar / Mehboob
The festival was shown in its colorful and vibrant splendor in this Sanjay Leela Bhansali extravaganza as an ecstatic and lovelorn Salman Khan dances, while the lyrics are a symbolic portent for the future.
Manjha / Kai Po Che / 2013 / Amit Trivedi / Amit Trivedi / Swanand Kirkire
The non lip-synch song was filmed on the three protagonists—Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao with a hint at religious harmony as people of both Hindu and Muslim faiths join to celebrate the festival.
Meri pyari patang / Dillagi / 1949 / Shamshad Begum & Uma Devi / Naushad / Shakeel Badayuni
In this Suraiya hit, her on-screen friends sing this song with typical-for-those-times subdued gaiety as they observe the occasion by flying kites.
Rut aa gayi re / 1947 (Earth) / 1999 / Sukhwinder Singh / A.R. Rahman / Javed Akhtar
The film based on the Partition of India and Pakistan had at its base the love story between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl, and this song was a background number with the two lovers, with the Muslim boy teaching his ladylove how to fly kites.
Udi udi jaaye / Raees / 2017 / Keerthi Sargathia, Bhoomi Trivedi & Sukhwinder Singh / Ram Sampath / Javed Akhtar
Shah Rukh Khan and Mahira Khan go all out in this biopic of a Gujarat-based (Muslim) don on the day of Uttarayan.
Yeh duniya patang – Patang / 1960 / Mohammed Rafi / Chitragupta / Rajendra Krishan
Om Prakash delightfully flies a kite and philosophically looks at a supreme power directing its flight, even going on to extol on the different kind of kites of the haves and the have-nots!