Krishna Bhajans have a range of emotions. They capture the playfulness of Bal Gopal in Gokul, his youthfulness in Raas Leela with Gopis of Braj Bhumi and the devotion of his devotees in numerous others. Shringar Ras & Bhakti Ras are always the dominant Rasas in the poetry written for him. Some of these have been captured in the Krishna Bhajans in Bollywood.
Krishna Bhajans from Bollywood Films
This is a curated list arranged chronologically.
Mohe Panghat Pe – Mughal-E-Azam (1960)
The beginning of this iconic song indicates the celebration of Janmashtami. The song itself describes the longing through a playful incident between a Gopi and Krishna. The delicate dance of Madhubala in a colorful costume in a delight to watch.
Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re – Kohinoor (1960)
One of the few songs that talk about Radha than Krishna, it is like hearing Krishna introduce you to his favorite Sakhi, his beloved Gopika.
Govinda Aala Re – Govinda – Bluffmaster (1963)
This is probably the first song that shows the Dahi Handi festival and no one can be better to play Govinda than the carefree Shammi Kapoor with the mesmerizing voice of Mohd Rafi. Black and white scene actually takes me back in time and to how the festival must have been in those days. I like the crescendo in the song towards the end and the closeup of what all is hung in Handi for those who dare. Do not miss the old currency notes there. Watch the movie version here on Youtube.
Krishna O Kale Krishna – Main Bhi Ladki Hoon Song (1964)
I discovered this song purely by chance while researching for this post. Meena Kumari as a dark girl tells how the color of Krishna has become her curse. I think quite a relevant one to remind our white skin obsessed country that our favorite god is dark-skinned so much so that he is even known by the name of the color of his skin – Krishna.
Badi Der Bhai Nandlala – Khandan (1965)
This Krishna Bhajan tells the longing of a Gopika in Braj for the Nandalala. It is also a call to Krishna to come and save the world once again.
Kanha Aan Padi Mai Tere Dwar – Shagird (1967)
This is a Krishna Bhajan soaked in the devotion of Sri Krishna. It reminds me of the times when probably singing bhajans every morning was a part of the lifestyle in Indian homes.
O Kanhaiya – Raja Aur Runk (1968)
This little known but long song captures the episode between Rukmini and Satyabhama – the two wives of Sri Krishna, that is also a lesson in what devotion really is. Incidentally, not many songs talk about Sri Krishna’s wives. This song or a dance drama also combines the storytelling mode of poetry and singing.
Shor Mach Gaya Shor – Badla (1974)
The song captures the rawness of the festival of Dahi Handi, the masti of young men have literally as young Gopala’s trying to get hold of the Handis hung by Gopis. Music is similar to the old Govinda Ala Re Song of Shammi Kapoor.
Shyam Teri Bansi Pukare – Geet Gaata Chal (1975)
One of those Krishna Bhajans that try to explain how each one related to Sri Krishna. He belongs to everyone – equally.
Yashomati Maiyya Se – Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)
This song has many personal memories for me. I used to sing it a lot as a child, on stage, in gatherings and just like that. We used to listen to it in an LP record where it used to play twice, once the version shared here and another the grown-up version of this song. So, this remains a favorite Krishna Bhajan for me & I think I hear it at least ever Janmashtami.
Mere To Giridhar Gopal – Meera (1979)
Meera Bhajan ‘Mere to Giridhar Gopal’ in the devotional voice of Vani Jairam with the music of Pt Ravi Shankar is the only popular song in films on Meera’s poetry.
Read More – Meera’s Temple in Chittorgarh
Tu Man Ki Ati Bhori – Gopal Krishna (1979)
My favorite of the Soordas Krishna Bhajans is ‘Maiya Mori Mein Nahi Makhan Khayo’. It seems no filmmaker has used this poem in their films. Tu Man ki Ati Bhori is the closest I could get to like the song that describes Krishna’s dealings with the Gopikas complaining about his stealing butter from their homes to his foster mother Yashoda. The child actor playing Krishna is so damn cute.
Mach Gaya Shor Sari Nagari Re – Khuddar (1982)
This Amitabh Bachchan, Parveen Babi song captures the playfulness of the Dahi Handi festival, when the unsaid is said in the garb of all the singing and dancing. Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar sing to the music of Roshan.
Karna Fakiri Phir Kya Dilgiri – Bade Ghar Ki Beti Songs (1989)
This is another song that I could find on Meera’s poetry and in fact my favorite Meera poem. This version has some filmi insertions into the original poem but nonetheless, it is a nice rendition.
You can also watch the Meera Film version of it here
Ala re Govinda – Kala Bazar (1989)
Another take on the original Govinda Aala Re Song. Guess the contemporary renditions of this song will keep coming in every age.
Mohe Chedo Na Nand Ke Lala – Lamhe (1991)
When I watched this film soon after its release, this is the song I remembered most, despite the film having so many other popular songs. I think what touched me the most was this friendly relation between God and the devotee, where is imagines herself as a Brajbala or an ordinary girl of Braj, where everyone is in love with Krishna. Sri Devi looks beautiful and her expressions are priceless.
More Kanha jo Aaye Palat Ke – Sardari Begum (1996)
This Thumri depicts the Holi in Braj, where Radha and Gopikas preparing to play with the Kanha. In their imaginary world, they are playing Holi with, hurling abuses at him as he colors them while they await him.
Radha Kaise Na Jale – Lagaan (2001)
Radha Kaise Na Jale captures the Ras Leela of Sri Krishna in Braj where he dances with the Gopis including Radha. The emotions of Radha are the emotion of every Gopi of Braj. Asha Bhosle’s voice portrays the envy so well and the Udit Narayan’s displays the playful calmness of Sri Krishna. You can not call it a Krishna Bhajan but this is one of the few songs that capture the Raas Leela aspect of Krishna.
Woh Kisna Hai – Kisna The Warrior Poet (2004)
A rather modern rendition of the devotion of Krishna that still used the flute as the base instrument. I love Sukhwinder Singh’s powerful that makes this song even more endearing.
Mohe rang do Lal – Bajirao Mastani (2015)
One of the few bhajans in our films that have a classical singing as well as dancing to it. This song makes it to this list just for that.
How I chose this playlist?
I started with the ones I knew like Yashomato Maiyya & Mach Gaya Shor. YouTube suggestions helped me discover many more like Oh Kale Krishna. There are many songs that use the words, Krishna, Govinda and lately Radha, however, they have no relevance to Sri Krishna as such, so I let them go. There were others that were more relevant for the film than as bhajans, so I let them go. I chose the ones that celebrate Sri Krishna and his life.
If you know of any more of the bhajans that might fit here, do leave the name & reference in the comment. Till then – Jai Sri Krishna!