SONGS playing a major part in the identity of Hindi cinema have resulted in eye-catching dances being included to add a special visual touch to the musical numbers. Over the years, the dance-driven songs have ranged from being very simple and celebratory to technically-brilliant and innovative.

There are others that have tried something different and ones that have had choreography so brilliant that the movements became a work of art. Some became enduring because they were so cheesy.

Eastern Eye went back through time to find 50 of the most magical dance numbers of all-time for different situations. We are already prepared for the fact you may disagree because there are just so many great ones to choose from, which have impacted Bollywood film fans in so many ways. Long may it continue.

50. Rang Jamake (Naseeb): There was a phase in Hindi cinema when movies would conclude with the good guys disguising themselves and, erm, doing a musical number in the bad guy’s lair. The moves for this 1981 dance number were terrible, but who can forget the leads dressing up as a Spaniard, a Russian and Charlie Chaplin. They sang, danced and then had one big fight with the villains. What is not to love?

49. Ajao Nagraja Tum Ajao (Maqsad): While two ageing heroes Rajesh Khanna and Jeetendra sang the song in the 1984 film, the two young heroines, Jaya Prada and Sridevi, delivered a high-energy classical Indian dance number. Although they were in perfect sync with one another, this was very much a dance-off because in real life they were competing to become the queen of Bollywood. Both were brilliant in the technically-flawless high-energy routine inspired by ancient snake dance.

48. Dil Cheez Kya Hai (Umrao Jaan 1981): Rekha cornered the dancing market during her heyday, and this film was her finest moment. She brought beautifully-constructed music to life with dance moves that showed that less definitely is more. The dance is full of grace and one that truely makes her shine.

47. Dilli Wali Girlfriend (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani): Badtameez Dil was a great dance number in the hit 2013 movie, but this was so much more because it showed two of the hottest stars of the modern era in full flight with dance moves that would inspire even the most shy individual to bust a move or three.

46. Gopi Krishna solos (Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje): One of the earliest technicolour films made in India starred professional dancer Gopi Krishna in the lead role. So it was only natural that the maestro would have eye-catching solos scattered throughout the 1955 film, and that is why we can’t single out just one. This was also one of the rare occasions where a classical Indian male dancer was given a free reign to show off his dancing skills.

45. Mauja Hi Mauja (Jab We Met): A happy ending deserves a great dance number, and this one was perfect for this fabulous 2007 film. Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor generated major electricity with this turbo-charged tune. The dance has remained alive long after the movie, with many trying to copy the moves at parties.

44. My Name Is Lakhan (Ram Lakhan): No, your eyes are not deceiving you: Anil Kapoor has made it into the greatest dance numbers of all-time with this legendary 1989 effort. The moves weren’t world class, but they were simple and so easy to follow that every non-dancer since then has emulated them. Admit it, you too have done those hand signals and waved your arms around on the dance floor.

43. The serpent dance (Guide): Waheeda Rehman was a trained classical Indian dancer, but rarely got to show that off because she was such a great actress and was largely cast in performance-driven roles. In 1965 classic Guide the legendary leading lady played a professional dancer, so had many moments to show off those impressive moves, including an eye-catching snake dance to instrum-ental music, which was filled with passion, power and grace.

42. Kaahe Chhed Mohe (Devdas): Although Madhuri was marvellous in Maar Daala in the same film, this number makes the list for the simple reason that she danced effortlessly in a costume that weighed nearly 30kg. Another person who was mesmerised by Madhuri was kathak dance legend Pandit Birju Maharaj, who choreographed the stunning 2002 number and described her as the best in Bollywood.

41. Reshmi Salwaar Kurta Jali Ka (Naya Daur): The 1957 man versus machine drama was path-breaking on many levels and a major game-chan-ger for Hindi cinema. One of the interesting mom-ents was this dance number that saw two women playing a courting couple, male and female in a stage production. The idea of a Bollywood musical number being incorporated into a stage producti-on would be copied countless times in subseque-
nt decades.

40. Say Shava Shava (Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham): There have been great dance sequences featuring families, and this 2001 song was undoubtedly one of the most memorable. There are great inter-cuts between the rich mansion and poorer part of town as everyone is united by the joy of dance. The starry cast, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukerji and Kajol, added to the magic.

39. Muqabla Hum Se Na Karo (Prince): In the golden era of Bollywood, the top two female dancers were Vyjayanthimala and item bomb Helen. It was Shammi Kapoor who got heroes dancing. In this superb 1969 song, they all come together for a dance-off that incorporates various styles from across India and around the world.

38. Nagada Sang Dhol (Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela): The garba-inspired song featuring Deepika Padukone had all the hallmarks of a great dance number you associate with a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. The visually-spectacular 2013 dance combined well with the catchy song sung by Shreya Ghoshal to create what can best be described as a Bollywood work of art.

37. Ghar Ayaa Mera Pardesi (Awaara): This other-worldly number with the lavish set was only added to the 1951 film to give it extra value, and it worked. Although not technically a dance number, it had some beautiful choreography that was in sync with the song and dream-like sequence. Awaara would become the highest grossing Bollywood film of all-time at the date of its release, and the song would go down in history as one of the most popular.

36. Main Aisa Kyun Hoon (Lakshya): It is almost impossible to categorise this 2004 dance, and that is the beauty of it. Dance legend Prabhu Deva won multiple honours for his choreography and made full use of the fact Hrithik Roshan could do extraordinary things with his body. Today, it is the only thing audiences really remember about the war drama and still get hypnotised by the moves.

35. Kahin Aag Lage (Taal): With Dil To Pagal Hai and later Taal, dance master Shiamak Davar added something new to Bollywood with his masterful choreography. This 1999 song was a perfect illustration of how he brought western-inspired modern touches to the cinematic dance landscape. Look carefully and you can see a fresh-faced Shahid Kapoor as one of the backing dancers in this song.

34. Mohe Rang Do Laal (Bajirao Mastani): The classy 2015 dance number lit up the hit historical drama and brought back an old world charm for cinema audiences. Deepika Padukone took kathak lessons from dance legend Pandit Birju Maharaj, who also choreogr-aphed the number and won a Filmfare Award for his efforts.

33. Muqabala Muqabala (Hum Se Hai Muqabala): The south Indian soundtrack composed by AR Rahman was so good that they just had to have a Hindi version. Prabhu Deva channe-lled his inner Michael Jackson with his moves and took his first major dance steps towards the big time. He had a whole generation trying to copy those moves from the 1994 film.

32. Deewangi Deewangi (Om Shanti Om): Dance choreographer-turned-director Farah Khan assembled a record-breaking number of Bollywood stars for this 2007 party song. Lead star Shah Rukh Khan welcomes a galaxy of big names for the upbeat number, and busts some great dance moves with them. This song spilled over into parties everywhere and made the world dance.

31. Kay Sera Sera (Pukar): Take two of the greatest dancers in Indian cinema history, add a dash of Bob Fosse-inspired choreography, a catchy song and incredible chemistry, and you get this magnificent number. Dance maestros Madhuri Dixit and Prabhu Deva were so incredible together in this 2000 number that no one dared to pair them up again

30. Sharmaye Kaahe Ghabraye (Baazi): Director Guru Dutt was great at incorporating songs into the story, and did it skilfully well in his directorial debut in 1951 with this song. The dance number was particularly path-breaking because it had a leading lady doing what would be considered sexy dancing, something they were not doing. Geeta Bali showed other leading ladies it wasn’t dishonourable to express yourself through dance on screen.

29. Barso Re (Guru): Bollywood does love a good rain-soaked dance number, and this one from the hit 2007 film was one of the finest. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan dances in the rain like no one is watching, and it made such a big impact that Saroj Khan won another Best Choreographer award for the marvellous moves.

28. Patli Qamar Hai Tirchhi Nazar Hai (Barsaat): The musical hit Bollywood in a big way with the advent of talkies in the 1930s, but it wasn’t the done thing for leading ladies to dance. Early pioneers like Azoorie were hired to add the odd dance number. Then a dancer named Cuckoo helped to create and popularise the item number in the 1940s, including this song in the blockbuster 1949 hit. She would be hotly in-demand and the item number was properly born.

27. Dhak Dhak Karne Laga (Beta): This isn’t a dance number in the traditional sense, but has to make the list because of the amazing impact it made. The moves got audiences hot under the collar. The gyrations of dance queen Madhuri Dixit so mesmerised audiences that she was given the nickname ‘dhak dhak’ girl after this sensual 1992 song came out.

26. Shola Jo Bhadke Dil Mera (Albela): This 1951 Hawaii-inspired dance number featuring Bhagwan Dada and Geeta Bali helped the movie become a blockbuster. The gentle dance moves were ones everyone could copy, and that is exactly what Bollywood fans in the 1950s did whenever this song came on. It still puts a smile on your face nearly 70 years later.

25. Munni Badnaam Hui (Dabangg): Malaika Arora has built a Bollywood career on eye-catching item numbers, and this was one of her finest. She used those dangerous hips to good effect with what was just a great dance number. In fact, the 2010 song was so good that it brought out some nice moves from non-dancer Salman Khan and made audiences want to bust their own.

24. Chane Ke Khet Mein (Anjaam): The stand-out moment from this 1994 film was the legendary dance number performed by Madhuri Dixit, which contained a magnificent move incorporated into a twirl. It was a number that could only have been performed by a dancer at the very top of their game. The dance became such a sensation and found its way into every celebratory event.

23. Nimbooda Nimbooda (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam): This was not only a star-making turn for Aishwarya Rai, it would also set a blueprint for the kind of opulent dance numbers director Sanjay Leela Bhansali would create in subsequent years. Dance legend Saroj Khan would win yet another Filmfare Best Choreography award for the stunning moves she created in the hit 1999 film.

22. Kate Nahin Kat Te (Mr India): One of the key factors that helped elevate Sridevi to become the queen of Bollywood was her amazing dance abili-ty and her skill to adapt to any type of musical number. That included dancing with an invisible man in this song. The blue sari worn by the actress as she did sensual dance moves became legendary and helped the movie become the biggest hit of 1987.

21. Dance-off (Amrapali): This was one of the rare occasions where Bollywood presented a classical Indian dance in its purest form. Two dancers, one of whom was the legendary Vyjayanthimala, in eye-catching costumes have what can be best descri-bed as a good old fashioned dance-off as classical Indian music plays in the background. The classy 1966 historical would be put forward as India’s entry into the Oscars.

20. I Am A Disco Dancer (Disco Dancer): Think of disco and this 1982 song immediately comes to mind. Mithun Chakraborty had a career-defining moment in a sparkly suit doing lots of hip gyrations. The dance moves were silly and the lyrics made little sense, but the good-time atmosphere spilled over into parties around the world, including today, and resulted in greatness.

19. Aage Teri Marzi (Devdas): The courtesan has been an integral part of Bollywood since the early days, but really came to the forefront in the 1955 adaptation of classic novel Devdas. Rising star Vyjayanthimala delivered a stunning portrayal of Chandramukhi despite being just 19 years old, and that included this memorable classical dance number. The dancing diva was given a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award, but refused it because she felt her role was just as important as the other female lead.

18. Kajra Re (Bunty Aur Babli): The 2005 dance number swept the globe like wildfire when it was released and ignited dance floors everywhere. The combination of Aishwarya Rai dancing with Amitabh Bachchan and future husband Abhishek Bachchan delighted audiences. Vaibhavi Merch-ant’s skilful choreography helped give the song th-at magical touch, including a dance move everyone tried to copy.

17. Main Teri Dushman, Dushman Tu Mera (Nagina): Pretty much all the dance numbers in Bollywood have a friendly vibe, but not this fearsome snake dance by legendary actress Sridevi. The 1986 song sees her shape-shifting nagin character take on snake charmers playing their hypnotic instruments in order to take her down. The sharp dance movements complement the incendiary lyrics. The greatest snake dance ever done still charms Bollywood fans today and has been viewed well over 60 million times on video-sharing sites.

16. O Haseena Zulfon Waali (Teesri Manzil): Director Vijay Anand was a master of filming dance numbers and was on fine form with this 1966 rock n roll-inspired classic. The clever camerawork made audiences feel like they too were dancing with Shammi Kapoor and Helen. The infectious RD Burman-composed song added extra colour to the dance and turned the movie into a huge success.

15. Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast (Mohra): Look at this 1994 dance number today and it hasn’t really aged well, but at the time of release it was a global sensation. Raveena Tandon and Akshay Kumar bringing the song to life helped turn the movie into a huge hit. Many dressed up as them at stage shows after. Bollywood recreated the song in 2017, but it just didn’t have the magic of the original. Chinni Prakash would go on to win a Filmfare Best Choreography award.

14. Sheila Ki Jawani (Tees Maar Khan): The aw-ful 2010 film had this most incredible highlight in it. Katrina Kaif melted the screen with her sizzling hot moves and branded herself onto the minds of audiences forever. One of the greatest item numbers in history was so good that she became hotly in-demand to deliver more of the same, which Kat did in so many subsequent films. Farah Khan would win another Filmfare Best Choreography award for her efforts.

13. Didi Tera Devar Deewana (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun): Some of the greatest dance numbers have occurred during wedding-related scenes, and this was undoubtedly the most memorable. The iconic 1994 number centring on Madhuri Dixit was the stand-out moment of what would become the highest grossing Bollywood release in history when it was released. It was fun, fabulous and full of life. Every Indian wedding has been trying to recapture its magic ever since.

12. Inhi Logon Ne (Pakeezah): Courtesans in Bollywood have been most associated with dance. The greatest courtesan film of them all, the 1972 classic had this artistically shot dance number featuring lead star Meena Kumari that was just so full of grace. Each frame of the sensational dance number is like a work of art that has been beautifully frozen in time.

11. Naino Mein Sapna (Himmatwala): The star-making 1983 turn for Sridevi saw the actress match steps with jumping Jack Jeetendra and twirl her way towards becoming an icon. The colourful dance number helped the masala entertainer become the highest grossing film of that year, and the stunning presence Sridevi had in it packed an entire generation of leading ladies into retirement.

10. Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay): A big dance highlight in the action dominated 1970s saw item bomb Helen deliver an explosive performance in the heart of the bad guy’s lair in the record-breaking 1975 curry western. Many others would perform musical numbers for Bollywood bad guys, but none matched the high-energy hip thrusts of Helen and the catchy song accompanying it.

9. Chhaiya Chhaiya (Dil Se): Choreographer Farah Khan managed to create a compelling dance scene despite the 1998 song being set on a moving train, and won a Filmfare Best Choreography award for her efforts. The dance number featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora would become iconic. It would also greatly inspire Andrew Lloyd Webber to create the hit West End musical Bomb-ay Dreams.

8. Choli Ke Peeche (Khalnayak): Although many remember the 1993 song for the naughty lyrics, it reached greatness because of the magnificent moves of Madhuri Dixit. The undisputed queen of the Bollywood dance was on fire and unleashed a series of sizzling hot hip thrusts that gave audience members acute whiplash and set their eyeballs ablaze. Saroj Khan would win her fifth Filmfare Award in six years for Best Choreography for the song.

7. Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan): Item bomb Helen delivered another explosive dance performance in this musically-perfect number in 1971, which would become iconic and go down in history as one of the finest. The various visuals in the abstract song, including the giant cage, became a part of Hindi cinema folklore, as would the heavy breathing and that unforgettable cry of “Monica, O My Darling”.

6. Kamli (Dhoom 3): There have been countless dance numbers on film and television used for auditions in storylines, but this 2013 turn was perh-aps the finest. Katrina Kaif was at her scintillating best with a contemporary dance number that mixed up eye-catching choreography with gymnastics and sensuality. The immense popularity of the dance number is such that it has been viewed over 175 million times on YouTube and, yes, she passed the audition in the record-breaking film.

5. Hothon Mein Aisi Baat (Jewel Thief): The greatest dance numbers from the golden era of Bollywood featured bharatanatyam beauty Vyjayanthimala. For this innovative 1967 number, the passion-filled dance moves were complemented with mind-blowing camerawork, which took audiences into the heart of the action. What makes this even more remarkable is when you consider how big the cameras were back in the 1960s and how incredibly difficult they were to move around. The sublimely-shot musical number still remains brilliant 50 years on.

4. Ek Pal Ka Jeena (Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai): Let’s face it, female Bollywood audiences had relatively little to cheer about as far as eye candy was concerned in comparison to what male audieces have enjoyed. However, everything changed for commercial Hindi cinema with the raw sex appeal of Hrithik Roshan in this breathtaking 2000 dance number. He sent women into a frenzy and raised the bar for the Bollywood leading men who follo-wed in his footsteps. After this, Hrithik would hot step his way to becoming the greatest male dancer in Bollywood history.

3. Ek Do Teen (Tezaab): This dance made such an impact that it turned Madhuri Dixit into a major star and reintroduced the item number into Bollywood in a big way. It also inspired the long-running Filmfare Awards to start giving out a trophy for Best Choreographer, and Saroj Khan happily accepted the first of many she would go on to win. The song was also largely responsible for making Tezaab the highest grosser of 1988, with many people taking repeat trips to the cinema just to watch Madhuri dance.

2. Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya (Mughal-e-Azam): She may have arguably been the most beautiful Bollywood star of all-time, but Madhubala wasn’t known for her dance moves. But with this song everything fell in place for the legendary leading lady, and the result was one of the truly great dance moments in cinematic history. From the drama of the moment, heartfelt lyrics and amazing costumes to the most expensive set ever built and graceful dance moves – everything came together to create a historical moment in Bollywood’s greatest film in 1960.

1. Dola Re Dola (Devdas): The perfect Bollywood number needs an amazing set, incredible choreography, wonderful dancers, shining stars, beautiful costumes and a larger-than-life feel. This song from the 2002 remake had all that and more. Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai delivered a technically-flawless routine perfectly in sync and twirled their way towards Bollywood’s best ever dance number. Bollywood’s greatest choreographer Saroj Khan admitted it was the toughest dance number she ever worked on and was rewarded with a stack of major awards for her efforts.