On Antakshari

Sometimes when I am doing random household chores and am not sure if I want to listen to music, but need music nevertheless, I end up playing antakshari with myself.

This is how we entertained ourselves for years. As kids. As college students. Especially on bus rides. I blame my giant and nearly pointless knowledge of 50s Hindi film music on antakshari. In fact, there were times when I hadn’t heard the actual song for years, having caught only the first stanza in the endless rounds of the game. Hopefully people, especially those young ‘uns in their early teens still amuse themselves with such games. All I can say is that people fought for me to be on their teams. I was that good. Really.

The good thing about antakshari – especially between teams is that your singing ability can be zilch. In fact, what is basically respected is your ability to recall certain songs, and remember the “real first line” of a song. As a sample – there was this song which was often used by hapless teams when they had to had to start a song with “H”.

Hum tum ek kamre mein band ho“… They would start. And the other team would leap and say scream their protests. The song starts with a “Andar se koi bahar na jaa sakeBahar se koi andar na aa sake“. The song starts with an “Ba” and not a “H”.

So playing antakshari with yourself basically involves switching the radio on. Wait for a song if it’s not already playing one. Count to 15 seconds, and pick the consonant. I do admit that after about doing 25 rounds with myself I get a little bored, but I make it more challenging by never singing Ramaya Vasta Vayya. For some reason, generations of antakshari players turn to that song when they are stumped for a “R”. And when they’ve run out of ideas. The minute I hit on Ramaya Vasta.. I move on.

Fondly thinking of the times when our young throats would go sore – flinging the first stanza of film songs at each other. Some songs abused, and others stolen from memory. Some even stealthily concocted. Some limp with overuse. Others a complete surprise.

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39 Responses to On Antakshari

  1. Shefaly says:

    Apart from much-older cousins’ weddings many years ago, I cannot recall many times I played antakshari. Now of course some of my cousins’ kids are getting married. They are all more interested in dancing than in singing it seems. The cousins however like the singing bit. I am due to attend a wedding later this year so let’s see.


  2. If one does a history of Antakshari, my hunch is that one will find that Antakshari began in the 60s and the 70s, because by then, there would’ve been enough Hindi film songs to play with, and the players would still be young enough and enthusiastic enough to play. This would explain why songs of the 50s and the 60s are still so popular in Antakshari – the first generation of players pioneered their popularity and generations passed them on…


  3. Grasshopper says:

    I cant believe this. The number of times we fought over that Bobby number!
    But I don’t see anyone these days playing antakshari. Hey, Neha, next time you come to India, we shall play, ok?

    I hope your back is better. How much of my advice did you follow, btw?


    • I followed all advice, took rest, did yoga, ate well, compression and the stuff. 🙂 Back is much better. And yes, whenever we meet – antakshari on the cards!


  4. dipali says:

    I’ve loved Antakshari and used to know loads of ancient songs.
    I’ve been trying to formulate a game in which we get to use the zillion letters which don’t usually get a hearing.


  5. Inky says:

    Waise, the song begins with “bahar se koi andar na aa sakey” 😛


  6. Oh Antakshari has always been a favorite with me as well ….
    Ramayya vatavayya for Ra and Laila O Laila for La … such cult songs of Antakshari.
    Also some songs would invariably end with a musical note … Hum tumse juda hoke always ended with the background music note


  7. Kavi says:

    The Antakshari was not a personal favourite. Because, hardly knew hindi or Hindi songs !

    It used to be such a major irritant when people would say ‘lets play antakshari’ for i had to go quiet !

    but the sheer energy that used to flow through people was something to be seen to be believed !



  8. Can you believe we did the same thing!!?!

    And Ramayya Vastavayya used to be my very South Indian Hindi movie hating Dad’s ONLY song contribution IF at all he sang 🙂

    I loved, loved this post!


  9. Jairam says:

    For some funny reason Antakshari as a concept and a game has been more popular with the North Indians more than the South Indians. I guess all us Tam Brahms are happier gossiping about the neighbors, distant uncles and cousins rather than fooling around trying to remember old Hindi songs.



    • I don’t think Tam songs are very suitable for antakshari. I’ve tried – but somehow it doesn’t work. I think it requires a bit more shamelessness than most Tams are capable of. 🙂


  10. Jagadish says:

    The most hilarious Antakshari I’ve been involved in was a Tamil v Hindi one where we (Tam side) sang “Nela adhu vaanadhu mele” and ended it as “Palaa pazham thongudhu keezhe” (??? ???? ???????? ????) asking the Hindi side to begin with “Zha” (?) :). I kept switching sides throughout, but firmly stayed in the Tam side when this happened 🙂


  11. Primalsoup says:

    Antakshari used to be much fun. The last time I played it was during my brother’s wedding which was eight years ago. We killed the ponnu side people. You refer to young ‘uns and are fondly reminiscing about “young” throats? Why? Why? Why?


  12. Shefaly says:


    Set up an online game – so we can all show off the obscure numbers we know. 😉


    The choice of Yamma Yama may be a function of age 🙂 My cousins are much older and they knew – and duly imparted to us – songs like ‘Yeh jo chilman hai’, ‘yeh jo halka halka suroor hai’, ‘yeh jo mohabbat hai’ etc. Now I am wondering why ‘yeh’ must be followed by ‘jo’ in Hindi film songs. :-/


    • And Yaad aa rahi hai, Yeh raatein yeh mausam, Yeh mera dil pyaar ka, Yahaan kaun hai tera, Yehi woh jagah hai, Ya dil ki sunon duniya waalon, Yeh shaam mastaani….


      • Shefaly says:

        Maydum, it is not _Yahaan_ Kaun Hai Tera but _Wahaan_ Kaun Hai Tera. 😛

        Most of them still begin with ‘Yeh’ incl Yeh raat yeh chaandni phir kahan, Yeh saayen hain yeh duniya hai, Yeh dil deewana hai, Yeh laal rang kab mujhe, Yeh kaali kaali aankhen yeh gore gore gaal.

        Although Yaad isn’t far behind with Yaad na jaaye beete dinon ki, Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum, and the overused Yaadon ki baaraat…

        And of course Yaari hai imaan mera is open to the same criticism – starts with Ghar khuda etc. But then there is Yun hi tum mujh se baat karti ho..

        Now do you want me on your side? At least when ‘ya’ is upon you?


      • Of course – Wahaan kaun hai tera.

        Yeh joh mohabbat hai, Yaar bina chain kahan re, Yeh mera ghar yeh tera ghar, Yeh saaye hain, Yoon zindagi ki raah mein…

        (Surely am not bad either!)


  13. Shivani says:

    another one to add to the ‘Y’.. “Yun to humne lakh haseen dekhein hain, tumsa nahi dekha..”… ALWAYS !!
    I was so surprised when I caught the song on TV much later & knew the entire mukhda without having seen it EVER.

    Lovely post 🙂


  14. Shivani says:

    And other usual suspects:

    Sh — ‘Shaayad meri shaadi ka khayaal..’ because there were very few others apparently & once this was ‘taken’, the opposing team had to rack their brains to think of another one till the other team starts chanting 10 — 9 — 8

    Th — ‘Thande, thande paani mein nahaana chahiye’…. as far as I can remember there was NO other song for this 😀

    Got totally carried away. Friday afternoon + nostalgia!



    • Sh – Shaam dhale, khidki tale – tum seeti bajana chhod do!, then there is Sheesha ho ya dil ho, aakhir toot jaata hai, .. and for Th – damn.. can’t think of any right now!


      • S says:

        well we use to always sing thare rahiyo o baanke yaar re…


      • Shefaly says:

        Thandi hawa yeh chaandni suhani?

        Thandi hawayen lehra ke aayen?

        Thande thande paani se (although I have a feeling someone will correct me here with some obscure mukhda)?


  15. Jagadish says:

    Thandi hawa kaali ghata (Mr & Mrs 55)
    Thandi hawaayen lehraake aayen (Naujawan)
    Thade rahiyo o baanke yaar (Pakeezah)
    Thandi hawa ye chaandni suhaani (Jhumroo)

    So many more 🙂


  16. Shefaly says:


    It is not ‘Yoon zindagi ki raah mein’ but ‘Kyon zindagi ki raah mein’. 😛


  17. Shivani says:

    @ Shefaly & Jagadish: I doff my hat to thee 🙂

    @ Shefaly: I just realised that it’s ‘Thande, thande pani SE’ and not ‘paani MEIN’.. to think I was singing it like that all these years :-))


  18. Shefaly says:


    Depends on whether you were thinking shower or bath. Shower would be ‘se’ and bath would be ‘mein’ 😉

    In the film, they were sitting in the bathroom/ bathtub and using a bucket and mug. Parsing that is quite difficult.


  19. Inbavalli says:

    We played lots of Tamil Anthakshari in school and college with the language’s pa/ba, ka/ga confusion leading to bloodbath. Within 15 minutes of the game we would modify the rules to include jana gana mana for J 😉


  20. kusublakki says:

    This post brought back so many memories –the school boy girl antakshari days, the bacche vs bade family antaksharis on road trips, to modern day utube antakshari

    Nice fun-filled post 🙂


  21. Banno says:

    🙂 Hot summers and ‘antakshari’ went very well together, I remember. Somehow it lost its charm when it became a game show on television.


  22. Chevalier says:

    Oh, I’ve been humming Hindi songs all day because of you! You’ve brought back some memories…

    And sorry to be pedantic, but it’s closer to ‘Ramayya Vastav Ayya’, rather than ‘Ramayya Vasta Vayya’…vastav being ‘come’, and ‘ayya’ being a term of endearment in this context, or generally just a way of calling out to a guy. So ‘Ramayya Vastav Ayya’ means ‘Ramayya, will you come?’

    Funnily enough, ‘Ramayya’ itself is Ram + ayya….


  23. Gauri says:

    🙂 all the way through the post and 🙂 all the way through the comments
    Awesome stuff !!


  24. pv says:

    we used to sing ramaya vastav aaya, maine dil tujhko diya and end up with shaam ko vapas liya shaam ko vapas liya ….or also singing ad songs zandu bam zandu bam peeda hari bam (in front of our prof. Mr.Bam (his name was Bam and once he allowed us to play in the class, and never after that
    ;))or ye der se kapde main kaise dhooun, acha sabun kaunsa laoon……ahh those college days:)


  25. shiks says:

    Nostalgia!! pathetic as I was in the game, I never forgot the few songs starting from “Ee”…eechack dana, beechak dana…i hope its not a “h” song

    Ps: leaving acomment on your blog is tedious. why ask for all this info? I have reasons to suspect your intentions 😉


  26. Reshma says:

    ditto to Aparna- I wonder why we always sang yamma yamma for y. BTW First timer here! nice blog 🙂 will visit often.


  27. prasun says:

    undoutedly, antakshari is a unanimous game for people grouped in bundle..it not only unites people bt has a soothing effect ..bt again it is dominated by one who has a sound knowledge of songs…in my adolescent stage, i had done antakshari with my families..my new songs even though not with a correct beggining used to get accepted ..nd i easily able to get away owing to their cognizance limited to old songs..even today also antakshari being such an plausible and amicable game u never know when u will be put under such a trial.


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