‘Lawani’ Songs from Hindi Films

When the Hindi talkie films started in India, the film songs were usually based on Indian classical music. It also had an influence of musical plays that were popular those days. The result was the songs were not easy to hum and if we listen to some of the songs, they sound like a chant. As the Hindi film industry progressed and advanced in Maharashtra, it was obvious that the local folk music would enter Hindi films someday.

Lawani (लावणी) is one of the most popular folk dance form from Maharashtra. Its catchy rhythm, fast pace, graceful dance, मुद्राभिनय by the dancer made it popular. It’s usually performed on stage in a program named Tamasha (तमाशा). The artistes of the group are called ‘तमासगीर’. The group includes the dancers, singers and the musicians. Usually there is a main female dancer who takes the centre stage and the extra dancers take the second row. The crew also includes male artistes called ‌‌नाच्या or सोंगाड्या. They usually play comedy roles, but also participate in the dance.

lawani 1

Dholaki, Harmonium, Ghungaroo and Tabla are the minimum instruments used for it, though Sarangi, Shehnai are also used frequently.


A peculiar string instrument called, तुणतुणं  is always played in a Lawani.

The dancers wear a nine yards long saree (नऊवारी साडी), and other typical Maharashtrian jewelry like nath (नथ), bugadi (बुगडी), kolhapuri saaj (कोल्हापुरी साज), kamarpatta (कंबरपट्टा), various types of ear rings (कर्णफुले) and of course, ghungaroo (also called as ‘चाळ’ in this context) etc. Traditionally and popularly the saree from Paithan, called पैठणी is a preferred choice. The saree and the jewelry is also mentioned many times in the song.

The word Lawani is most likely derived from the word, ‘लावण्य’ which means beauty. But its exact origin is unknown.
The origin of lawani can be traced back to the medieval times. The Peshawas (पेशवे), promoted it in the form of बैठकीची लावणी to a great extent. The lawani at the time used to be a combination of Indian classical music and folk music.
The lawanis throw light on the contemporary social and cultural life of Maharashtra.
The shahirs (शाहिर) used to incorporate various subjects and sometimes contemporary political affairs in it. It is said that the lawani artistes used to travel with the troupes to the battleground, where it was presented as a part of entertainment and to boost the morals of the soldiers. Soon the culture spread to the areas of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where the sardars from Maharashtra had migrated.
Lawani is also arranged as a part of local fairs and other festivals.

Lawani 2

The Lawani songs are usually erotic and are sung with sensuous expressions. But at the same time, the songs are full of liveliness and decency. The delicate hand and eye movements with good facial expressions make it a perfectly enjoyable dance form. Unfortunately, vulgarity and double meaning lyrics of the lawani have taken over nowadays. So the original lawani has lost his charm and लोकाश्रय (public support).

The Lawani has two forms, based on the type of performance.

1 Fadachi Lawani (फडाची लावणी)
2 Baithakichi Lawani (बैठकीची लावणी)

The first form is made immensely popular by Marathi films, which in an era used to have tamasha as a central theme. The artistes perform a dance publically on a stage along with the song. Usually the songs revolve around female beauty, a lady waiting for her prince charming, or other शृंगारिक subjects. Sometimes the song takes the form of सवाल जवाब, where one of the parties puts forth a question and the other party answers it, all musically. Such songs were common in Marathi films.

The second form is without a dance. The singer recites in a private mehfil. The expressions are conveyed mainly by singing and facial gestures. So it’s mainly about singing and there the Indian classical music comes in. Mostly the compositions are based on Thumri. The singer also has to have a basic knowledge of acting.

The shahirs of the yesteryears, who witnessed the golden period of lawani include, शाहिर रामजोशी, होनाजी बाळा, परशराम, अनंत फंदी, प्रभाकर, पठ्ठे बापुराव, etc.
It was very obvious that when Marathi films started focusing on Tamasha, the talented and prolific lyricists from, ग दि माडगूळकर, पी सावळाराम, जगदीश खेबूडकर to the lyricists of the current era like सौमित्र, गुरू ठाकूर, all greatly contributed to the Lawani songs in Marathi films.

Every मराठी माणूस gets enchanted with the opening Dholaki pieces of Lawani. The fast paced, extremely rhythmic and catchy music instantly grabs our attention.


I don’t know when Lawani made its first appearance in Hindi films, but right from the early 1950s to the current decade Lawani songs have appeared on the silver screen.

My today’s attempt is to present Lawani songs from Hindi films. I’ve tried to get songs from each decade, so I’ve included the songs past 2010 as well. Come on then, let’s start the journey.

1. Dekho Aaya Yeh Kaisa Zamana – Daag (1952) Lata Mangeshkar / Shankar Jaikishan – Shailendra
Usha Kiran dances to a home audience. It’s not a stage performance. She describes her experiences after visiting a big city. This Lawani is an unusual one. It talks about the society and its double standards. Not being a professional performance, she has no jewelry or a fancy sari. Just a simple attire. But she does a good job.
I don’t know if it’s the first appearance of Lawani in Hindi films. But it’s the oldest song on today’s list.

2. Achhi Surat Ya Hui Musibat – Pehli Jhalak (1954) Lata Mangeshkar & Chorus / C Ramchandra – Rajendra Krishan
A delightful Lawani by Vaijayanti Mala. A stage performance that speaks about the cons of being a good looking young girl. The rhythm is quite sober, Dholaki and tabla are much softer than a typical Lawani. Chitalkar’s own style also shows itself. Vaijayanti Mala in typical Maharashtrian नऊवारी साडी and the jewelry looks absolutely lovely.

3. Meri Aur Unki Preet Purani – Chand Aur Suraj (1965) Asha Bhosle / Salil Choudhari – Shailendra
I came across the song when I was researching for Asha Bhosle songs by Salil Choudhary. Madhumati dances gracefully and talks about her beloved in Mumbai. Though not a great song, it fits perfectly.

4. Main to Chhail Chhabili Naar – Sant Dnyaneshwar (1964) Lata Mangeshkar / Laxmikant Pyarelal – Bharat Vyas
It was one of the earlier movies, Laxmikant Pyarelal composed for. It was a religious movie, and the duo composed excellent songs. It’s worth noting that though Bharat Vyas was typecast for such kinds of movies, he penned a wonderful Lawani. Madhumati dancing very gracefully in a perfect Lawani attire. Her movements are beautiful and apt for it. It seems the Lawani found its place in the film owing to the Maharashtrian backdrop of the story.

5. Pehen Ke Main Nau Gaz Ki Sadi – Narad Leela (1972) Mubarak Begum / Narayan Dutt – Madan Bharati
Tuntun is trying to distract a sage, who’s in penance. She looks very funny in the sari. The sage gets irritated and tries to run away from her. It’s fun watching. I don’t know why the song is composed in Lawani style! After all, it’s a mythological movie.
I know it’s not a well known film, and I’m not familiar with the song either. But I came across it while I was researching for the Mubarak Begum post. Not an impressive song, I agree. But fits here.

6. Pyar Mein Tere Main Duniya Bhool Gayi – Shirdi Ke Saibaba (1977) Asha Bhosle / Pandurang Dixit – Dev Kishan
A good Lawani, sung by Asha Bhosle, performed by Marathi actress, Usha Chavan. Sachin Pilgaonkar has played quite the opposite of his regular screen image. I think being a Maharashtra based movie, that too with a rural background, the Lawani made its appearance. Otherwise, why should there be a Lawani in a religious movie?

7. Tu Aisa Kaisa Mard – Akrosh (1980) Madhuri Purandare / Ajit Verman – Vasant Dev
A lot of Marathi actors in the song. I had never thought of Reema Lagu as a Lawani dancer. But for a Maharashtrian story, a Lawani song is most welcome. The lyrics are very clearly a bit OTT. I was rather uncomfortable listening to it with family. But Lawani is known to have such kind of lyrics as most of the audience finds it pleasing to their senses. Reema Lagu dances well though she appears a bit conscious about her dance steps.

8. Laungi Mirach Main Kolhapur Ki – Ashanti (1982) Asha Bhosle & Lata Mangeshkar / R D Burman – Anand Bakshi
A completely enjoyable Lawani. It has all the elements for a perfect Lawani. A perfect orchestration and a perfect rendition. Asha adds words like, दाजिबा, पाव्हनं that gives it a perfect Marathi touch.
It’s a usual thing to find Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi in a dance performance. But Shabana Aazmi and dance, that too a Lawani. It does sound interesting. Isn’t it?

9. Main Kolhapur se Aayi Hoon – Anjaam (1994) Sadhna Sargam / Anand Milind – Sameer
Shah Rukh attends a stage performance, but imagines Madhuri as the dancer. His mind is completely occupied with her thoughts.
The song was quite popular during its release. No wonder when beautiful Madhuri Dixit dances to a Lawani, that is so well choreographed it has to get acclaimed! It’s sung perfectly by Sadhna Sargam and well arranged as far as the orchestration is concerned. Enjoy the song. I’m glad her costume and the dance steps are good and not vulgar.

10. Mala Jaau De – Ferrari Ki Sawari (2012) Urmila Dhangar / Pritam – Guru Thakur
A total dhamal Lawani known for its perfect rendition by Urmila Dhangar and crisp dance by Vidya Balan.

I want to mention a couple of Lawani songs, where the video of the song is not available, but the songs are evidently Lawani.

11. Chahe Lakh Zamana Roke – Chandan (1958) Asha Bhosle & Chorus / Madan Mohan – Rajendra Krishan
A good Lawani song, but in the absence of the video, has to be enjoyed just as an audio.

12. Saaf Karo Insaaf Karo – Aashirwad (1968) Asha Bhosle, Hemlata, Ashok Kumar, Harindranath Chatopadhyay & Chorus / Vasant Desai – Gulzar
A perfect example of सवाल जवाब Lawani. I dare say, it’s never boring even though ten minutes long. This type is extremely popular in Marathi films as well.
I remember watching the video of the song a couple of years back, though the video is not available as of today. Leela Gandhi, a popular Marathi actress, known for her dance, appears in the song.

Some of the Hindi film songs open in a perfect Lawani style, but later turn into either a routine film song or another form of song. Or the song sounds like a Lawani, but not at all picturised as one. The prime examples of such songs are,

13. Dhitang Dhitang Bole – Aawaz (1956) Lata Mangeshkar & Chorus / Salil Choudhary – Prem Dhawan
The song opens with an excellent Dholaki piece in exact Lawani style. But the song later transforms into a koli geet. The transition is a smooth one. Though a typical Maharashtrian folk flavour accompanies it throughout, it never sounds like a Lawani thereafter.


14. Kaisi Yeh Mohabbat Ki Sazaa – Jhanak Jhanak Paayal Baje (1955) Lata Mangeshkar / Vasant Desai – Hasrat Jaipuri
The film obviously has no scope for a Lawani. But the structure and instrumental arrangements of the song are very similar to a Lawani. It has an unmistakable aroma of Maharashtrian folk music. Sandhya’s dance in her own style adds pleasure too. When I heard the song for the first time, I imagined it as a Lawani, though it’s a routine dance performance in the movie.

Or some of the Hindi film songs take a course of Lawani song without a proper Lawani style opening or picturisation.

15. Chhed Na Sajna Kuchh To Samajhna – Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere (1960) Suman Kalyanpur & Chorus / Kalyanji Anandji – Akhtar Romani
It was the debut film of Dharmendra. Kumkum was his co-star. The song mixes a few Indian folk styles, Lawani being one of them. The opening lines of the song are sung in Lawani style, with a typical Dholaki rhythm. Kumkum and the other dancers also wear a नऊवारी साडी, and dance gracefully. The song maintains perfect decency. The dance steps are also good and some of those are like Lawani dance.

Would you add songs to the list?

Disclaimer –
Mehfil Mein Meri, claims no credit for any image, screenshots or songs posted on this site. Images on this blog are posted to make the text interesting. The images and screenshots are the copyright of their original owners. The song links are shared from YouTube, only for the listening convenience of music lovers. The copyright of these songs rests with the respective owners, producers and music companies.

29 Replies to “‘Lawani’ Songs from Hindi Films”

  1. Anup ji,

    A very interesting and informative write up. Gives lots of details about Laavni. Having grown up in a Marathi neighborhood I was exposed to this art from in my childhood and I like many Laavnis from Marathi movies.

    BHUMIKA, 1977, by Shyam Benegal, based on Marathi actress Hansa Wadkar’s life, got the National Best Actress award for Smita Patil. The movie opens with a Laavni by Smita Patil and group as the titles role.

    Mera ziskila baalam na aaya…

    Preeti Sagar & chorus; Vasant Dev, Vanraj Bhatia.


    1. Thank you Pradeepji for the appreciation.
      I should have remembered the song and the film. I completely for got to mention it in the writeup. Thanks a lot for reminding me about it.
      And, thanks for sharing the Lawani from the film.
      Here it is,


  2. Very informative post, Anupji. I would like to add a song from the movie Teen Batti Chaar Raasta (1953). It is a multilingual song with dances of various states/regions being presented. There is Shashikala presenting a lawani, set to music by Vasant Desai. Its the fourth of a series of dances. This movie of V Shantaram aimed at promoting national integration.


    1. Thank you Anitaji for your appreciation.
      I had thought of the song from Teen Batti Char Rasta. But dropped later. Thanks for posting it.
      Shashikala singing lawani.
      I’m sharing the video link again.


  3. Dr. Anup,
    A really enjoyable and interesting post on Lawani songs in Hindi Cinema.
    मराठमोळ्या भाषेत बोलायचे तर – ठसकेबाज ! झकास !

    I liked the details and the description of the different types of Lawani mentioned at the beginning.
    Lawani occupies a special place in the hearts of Maharashtrians. We all have our favourite ones!!

    One feels that there would be many Lawani songs in Hindi films. But actually, its not a very long list when you start recollecting the numbers- a few in each decade.
    From your list, I heard songs no.4,5,11, and 13 for the first time.

    Here’s one enjoyable lawani from recent times picturized on Rani Mukherji from
    Aiyya 2012.
    Heroine mujhe bana dena sava dollar chadaungi badle mein – Sunidhi Chauhan

    Another one from Hu Tu Tu 1999
    Nikla neem ke tale se nikla – Kavita, Anuradha, Roop Kumar Rathod


    1. Dr Rajesh,
      Glad you liked the post. There are less number of Lawani songs in Hindi films.
      The song from Aiyya fits, though I think the one from Hu Tu Tu starts as a Lawani, though not entirely a Lawani.
      As I have included such songs on my list, the song can of course be added.
      It has more of a Maharashtrain folk flavour than just a Lawani.
      Thanks for the songs.


  4. Nice theme and compilation. I don’t know whether Sulochana Chavan (formerly Kadam has sung several hindi film songs) undisputed Lawani queen in Marathi, has sung any lawani for Hindi films. Keen to know and will be glad if she has such song in Hindi films.


  5. Dear Anupji,

    You have dealt with a complex subject very deftly. The sound of the opening bars of the dholak is sure to set the heart racing and the feet tapping, not to speak of the body swaying involuntarily.

    If लावणी is to be really appreciated, nothing less than a Marathi Film will do, say NATA SAMRAT or even SANGTE AIKA. You should have considered including some from the Hindi version of PINJRA.

    By the way, that song “Dhitang Dhitang Bole” is from a Bangla Folk Tune composed by Salil Chowdhury in 1954 and rendered by Hemant Kumar :

    If you slow down the pace, you may find strains of “MI DOLKARA….”.

    With warm regards



    1. Thank you Partha ji for appreciation.
      Of course, for real appreciation, Marathi film Lawani songs are the best.
      I didn’t include the songs from Hindi Pinjara because the Maharashtrian backdrop of the original was replaced by North Indian nautanki setting and the Hindi version had no Lawani songs.
      Thanks for sharing the Bengali original of Dhitang Dhitang Bole

      It’s so nice.


  6. Thank you for this interesting post. I became interested Lavani (which I am used to spelling with a “v”) five years ago and did a post on the dance as it appears in Marathi films. (Unfortunately, most of the clips that I found for that post have disappeared.)

    One of the dancers whom I immediately associated with Lavani was Sandhya, especially since I had become a Sandhya fan. I thought of pointing out the Hindi version of Pinjra to you – as Partha did – but I could not find more than a couple of clips from that when I looked this time, and the ones that I watched actually did not look like Lavani to me. Now, based on your explanation about that, I see why.

    When I did this post five years ago, I had also just watched an interesting documentary about this dance and it is because of what I saw there that I gathered that I would have to look for Lavani mainly in Marathi films. But someone in comments pointed out that there were quite a few Hindi films with Lavani dances too.

    There was one dance that someone pointed out to me which was by one of my favorite South-Indian-born dancers, in a Hindi film that I had enjoyed. I had seen that film sometime earlier but had not made the connection in retrospect that it was a Lavani dance.

    But I guess it is… The dance might have a few non-Lavani quirks to it(?), but I think it fits. It’s a Padmini song in the 1960 Kalpana:


    1. Thank you Richard. I’m glad you found the post interesting.
      Yes, primarily one should look into Marathi films for Lawani. There was an era in the 60s – 70s, when Marathi films had glorious Lawani songs. Jayashree gadkar, Leela Gandhi, Sandhya were the usual suspects. I think Sandhya made it more popular to non Marathi audience, though I guess Pinjara was her only Marathi film with Lawani.
      Actress Sulochana had a sober onscreen image, and to break it she also danced a Lawani. The audience didn’t like it and she received letters from her fans against it.
      Let me add the song here

      खुलविते मेंदी माझा रंग गोरापान (henna glorifies my fair complexion)

      And thanks for sharing the song from Kalpana. As you have pointed out, the song has other folk elements added to Lawani. But the primary colour is that of Lawani in my opinion. So it fits.

      Will you please share the link for your Lawani post?



  7. Anup ji ,
    दसऱ्याच्या शुभेच्छा .

    हटके theme
    Deep research
    Gr8 info about लावणी
    Excellent selection of लावणी songs with the 2 additions of ढोलकीच्या तालावर videos.

    It was so nice to see Tuntun doing a लावणी nd so was लावणी by Reema Lagoo .

    Sandhya … she did some बहारदार लावणी in अमर भूपाळी including the superhit
    “लटपट लटपट तुझं चालणं मोठ्या नखऱ्याचं”

    In चंदनाची चोळी अंग अंग जाळी , she danced लावणी in the title song nd in
    “हिरवा शालू हिरवी चोळी ….
    लाजलाजून मी गोरीमोरी झाल्ले …”

    I remember , Geeta Bali doing a लावणी in अजी बस शुक्रिया
    ” सच कहता हैं जॉनी वॉकर
    घर की मूर्गी दाल बराबर ”

    It is good that U hav mentioned the 2 types of लावणी
    For the benefit of non – marathi viewers , I wud recommend to add one बैठकीची लावणी from एक होता विदूषक performed by मधु कांबीकर … it is very interesting to watch how मधु कांबीकर enacts the words पिवळ्या पंखाचा पक्षी in different ways . ( It reminds me of Vaijayantimala dances in आम्रपाली … नील गगन की छाँवोंमें … in which Vaijayantimala enacts the line दिल पंछी बन उड जाता हैं in so many ways .)

    Well , the आशा भोसले – मधु कांबीकर लावणी in एक होता विदूषक
    ” भरलं आभाळ पावसाळी पाहुणा ग
    बाई श्रावणाचं ऊन मला झेपेना ”

    Anup ji ,
    Njoyed the post .
    Hats off 2 U for the efforts .

    With best wishes ,
    Pramod Godbole .


    1. “दसऱ्याच्या शुभेच्छा”

      Same to you too Pramodji.
      Thanks for the appreciation, and I hope everything is fine in Thane.
      Yes, Actually I knew about लटपट लटपट तुझं चालणं मोठ्या नखऱ्याचं.
      But had forgotten about चंदनाची चोळी अंग अंग जाळी. Thanks for reminding me about the songs.
      Richard has added the link for the former song in his comment.
      I had thought of Sach Kehta Hai Johny Walker, but it was more of a Koli Geet than a Lawani for me. So I dropped it.
      But I take the opportunity to add the song from एक होता विदूषक. I also like it a lot. Excellent rendition by Asha Bhosle.

      ” भरलं आभाळ पावसाळी पाहुणा ग
      बाई श्रावणाचं ऊन मला झेपेना ”



  8. Anup, thank you for the Sulochana clip. That was nice; it’s unfortunate that people complained about it. (I could complain about the quality of this clip, though. It’s a bit blurry and it’s unfortunate that the sound comes out through only one channel – it was the first video I played today, and I thought my headphones had broken. 🙂 )

    Regarding some of the dancers that you mentioned, my post included both Jayshree Gadkar (whom I had known about for a while) and Leela Gandhi. The Leela Gandhi clip is gone from the post as of this comment, but I think I have seen another copy and I will replace it soon.

    Regarding Sandhya’s Lavani dances… She did Lavani in her debut Shantaram film, Amar Bhoopali (1951). Here is a dance from that. (By the way, I guess this is colorized; I don’t think there were any color versions originally. But it’s also the nicest version available.)

    In my post, I also showed a Sandhya Lavani dance from a film made a few years after Pinjra. Unfortunately, that clip is gone, too.

    Here is the link to my post:



    1. “it was the first video I played today, and I thought my headphones had broken.”

      oh! so sorry for that! But we usually don’t get good prints of the old Marathi songs.
      Thank you for sharing Lata’s wonderful Lawani from Amar Bhoopali

      and , thanks for sharing the link for your Lawani post. It is very good and I liked the exchange of thoughts between you and Anu Warrier. Both of you have put forth some interesting points.


      1. Anup, you’re welcome; I am happy to see that you liked my post on this subject!

        Regarding the film clip, though I am more inclined to call it a Sandhya Lavani (or Lawani 🙂 ), Lata’s singing certainly does help to make it memorable!

        I am also glad that you liked the exchange between me and Anu Warrier. Since it’s been five years, I had forgotten that we had such an involved conversation about this, so I enjoyed rereading it, myself, too! 🙂


        1. Yes,
          It’s certainly a combo of Lata+Sandhya doing the magic for all of us.
          And, though I don’t like much of Sandhya’s dance, her dedication to a given role is praiseworthy. She certainly tries to go into the skin of a character’s and perform it. Her dancing looks a bit weird and at times funny too. But I admire her.


  9. Anup,
    This is an excellent post. We could recognise Lavani by nine yard sari, one end of which is tucked in the back. Now I know it’s background, cultural context and significance. Modern modes of entertainment have spelt a demise of folk forms in all parts of the country. The only means of revival they think to revive it is to make it more vulgar which is unfortunate.


  10. CHAND AUR SURAJ, 1965.

    Meri aur unki preet purani Chal chal jaaooya Mumbaila
    Asha Bhosle, Shailendra, Salil Chowdhury.

    Is it Madhumati doing the laavni?


  11. Oh ! I should have reread the post !

    To make good for the folly, here is a laavni from a Kannada movie, DOORADA BETTA, 1973 , featuring Rajkumar and Usha Chavhan. It is a Sawaal Jawaab song.

    Sawaalu haaki ellara solisi….

    Asha Bhosle, P B Srinivas, another male voice & chorus; G K Venkatesh.

    Today is Kannada Rajyotsava day, the day the state of Karnataka ( Mysore ,then ) was formed.


    1. Oh. I didn’t know Lawani has been Incorporated in Kannada movies as well.
      Best wishes on Kannada Rajyotsava day.
      The song is divided in two parts, in the first part, Usha Chavan puts the question and in second part, Rajkumar answers it.
      Let me add the videos. The tune is typical of Sawal jawab Lawani.

      Thanks for sharing the song.


  12. Internet problems laid me low for quite some time. You are really a great narrator and an excellent teacher. I got good knowledge of what ‘lavani’ is from your post. Accretion of new item is part of everyone. I thank you very much for this post. Most of these songs are unknown to me. I doubt very much whether I will be able to spot a lavani in Hindi films on my own mainly because of lack of Hindi diction. Continue in the same vein and you will be my teacher.


    1. Oh!
      Thank you for your kind words Ranganji.
      I am very happy I could introduce you to something new.
      Lawani songs usually always start with a magnificent Dholak piece, and has a typical style of singing.
      Plus the typical Maharashtrian attire of Nau Wari Sari helps to identify it.


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