Best Bollywood Soundtracks 2017

Well, I will be honest and confess how eagerly I was awaiting Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati to arrive in 2017. Not because of the fact that the costume drama is entangled in needless controversies but Bhansali’s sensibility for music is to die for. After the film’s postponement, I had a relook at what the year had to offer Bollywood in terms of music and I was shocked to realize that it wasn’t as bad as it is pictured in the mainstream media. There were composers – some seasoned and a plethora of newbies – trying to come up with a variety of soundtracks. Some of them were, sadly, beaten by the quality of films they were a part of (Jab Harry Met SejalBegum Jaan to name a few). So, here goes the final 10 for 2017…

10. Jab Harry Met Sejal

For me, Jab Harry Met Sejal doesn’t work in entirety. Especially as I view the way they have been used in the film, the impact lessened further. Songs like ‘Beech Beech Mein’ and ‘Safar’ which worked quite well in the soundtrack doesn’t rise above the pedestrian levels, visually. Then again, it is Imtiaz Ali’s repertoire that I was perhaps comparing these songs with, which in a way is being unfair to them as singles. Jab Harry Met Sejal remains a better OST on audio than in the film, with ‘Hawayein’ being an absolute favourite.

9. Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana

Staying true to the trend of having a list of music composers longer than the ensemble cast, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana has music by Anand Raj Anand, JAM8, Arko, Zain-Saim-Raees and Rashid Khan and contributors to the lyrics are Kumaar, Shakeel Azmi, Gaurav Krishna Bansal, Arko and Kunal Verma. Before you could gasp over these names, I must tell you that the songs aren’t half as bad. Be it Arko’s lilting Jogi (the best song of the album) or Asit Tripathy’s ‘90s-tinged Tu Banja Gali Banaras Ki, the album comes with a sound that is true to its small-town setting.

8. Bareilly Ki Barfi

Again, set in the quaint town of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, the film stays faithful to its milieu. Sample these words that bring out the regional flavour with remarkable beauty:

“Sweety tera drama macha de hungama
Ladayein jo nazaraiya julam ho gaya
Haan tere hain deewane Tu maane ya na maane
Arey sun le gujariya balam hoyi gawa…”

Even the popular romantic number Nazm Nazm has its reasons for being so poetic. The leading man Chirag (Ayushmann Khurrana) plays a romantic writer if you weren’t aware.

7. Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Directed by RS Prasanna, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan luckily opts for the composer duo Tanishk – Vayu as opposed to hiring a string of musicians. This, somehow, reflects in the soundtrack which forms an essential tool in Prasanna’s storytelling. Extremely witty and dialogue-heavy, the film’s songs too flaunt shades of being humorous, thus complementing the narrative to the T. An exception is the semi-classical Kanha which also reminds me of the film’s earthy background score that abounds in flute, veena and other Indian instruments. What a delight!

6. Rangoon

It’s often that we tend to forget that Vishal Bhardwaj is a musician first, and a filmmaker later. Rangoon is one the composer’s finest endeavours in the recent past. The songs are melodious, foot-tapping and all things worth writing home about. Having said that, what Bhardwaj deserves brownie points is for the way these songs organically belong to pre-50s’era. With the selective use of instruments and apt ensemble vocalists, the songs sound even better in the cinema amped by Shajith Koyeri’s magnificent sound design.

5. Begum Jaan

The thing with Begum Jaan’s soundtrack is that it is so like Anu Malik’s telling attempt to let the world know of his mettle. One that features 8 numbers rooted in the Partition era, the album comes with dazzling variety and rightfully places Malik amongst the best we have, or we ever had. One that is filled with slow, resounding tracks, the composer also attempts to contemporize a couple of them with some upbeat instrumentation. Case in point being Shreya Ghoshal and Anmoll Malik’s ‘Holi Khelein’ and Arijit Singh’s ‘Murshida’.

4. A Gentleman – Sundar, Susheel, Risky

For starters, there is not one song in this Sachin-Jigar OST that can be termed ordinary. Although weirdly placed in the film, ‘Laagi Na Choote’ has Shreya Ghoshal singing in a lower octave reminding us of last year’s Rehnuma (Rocky Handsome). ‘Disco Disco’ cuts for an original club number which is groovy from the word go. Same element of originality runs through ‘Baat Ban Jaaye’ as well, which also boasts of Siddharth Basrur and Priya Saraiya’s fresh vocals. ‘Chandralekha’ could well have been an opportunity to rip off yet another yesteryear classic but the filmmaker (Raj & DK) and composer duos had different plans. Last but not the least, the trippy ‘Bandook Meri Laila’ is easily the best song of the OST. Way to go, Sachin-Jigar.

3. Meri Pyaari Bindu

It is hard to get the ‘90s and the early 2000s sound right. More so with the latter as our music sensibilities haven’t wavered much, except for a handful technological advancements – that, anyway, do not concern a regular listener drastically. Meri Pyaari Bindu stays faithful to its fluctuating setting(s) as its characters changing cities, garbs and evolve into complex beings. The film kicks off with the teenybopper tribute to Bappi Lahiri called ‘Yeh Jawaani Teri’ and ends on a stupendously high note with the Sonu Nigam-Parineeti Chopra duet – ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin’. The ones that come in between are breezy and have a personal flavour to each of them.

2. Anaarkali of Aarah

Avinash Das’s debut directorial venture is centred on music. And that too not the ordinary kind of film music but the art form from the Hindi heartlands – the nautanki theatre. Swara Bhasker’s Anaarkali is a fierce performer with oodles of oomph and a tantalizing voice. Composer Rohit Sharma picks Swati Sharma and Pawni Pandey as the actor’s voice and comes out trumps with a bunch of sizzling folk numbers. Not to mention ‘Lahanga Jhaanke’ and ‘Hamre Jobna Pe’ by Indu Sonali who is a popular voice from the Bhojpuri belt. Also present in the album are songs by Sonu Nigam and Rekha Bhardwaj, all of which remind us of the golden days of Hindi film music when songs weren’t made for the music charts.

1. Jagga Jasoos

So, decades after Amol Palekar’s Thodasa Roomani Hojaye, Hindi cinema’s skewed idea of the musical genre finally stands busted. While almost all of our films believe in song-and-dance routines, what we shy away from are sweeping musicals like Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Wizard of Oz et al. Director Anurag Basu and the musical team of Pritam and Amitabh Bhattacharya risk it out and give us a daring film that’s anything but a full-blown musical. While the popular, choreographed numbers are quite impressive individually, one can’t deny how the tracks that take the story forward make for a stellar ensemble. Be it the adorable ‘Chocolatey Chunnu’ or the pacy ‘Khana Khake Daaru Peeke’, you will be spoilt for choice in Jagga Jasoos. Quite easily the album of the year!

Special Mention: Secret Superstar, predominantly for Kausar Munir’s moving lyrics. Just that compositions and the signature vocals could barely transorm these magical words to memorable musical pieces.