Up for a Bollywood playlist revamp? Here’s the top 25 from 2017…
2017 is closing the curtains and talks are abound on how the year was particularly terrible for the industry. Supplementing this popular statement, one must also concur with the fact that the year saw receding standards of Hindi music as well and markedly so. We saw a sudden surge or remixed numbers, most of which further tampered their pedestrian originals. Well, that’s a different discussion altogether! So here we go with the year’s finest original Hindi film songs that redefines our trust in the industry’s illustrious musical legacy…
Disco Disco (A Gentleman)
A trippy, uptown club number that’s also original. How common is that in these days of blatant remixes? Not quite! Sachin-Jigar tosses a crackling album for A Gentleman that, sadly, went down the drain as the film tanked at the box office. This foot-tapping number came in the end credits of the film and forms the perfect closure to its madcap premise. And the icing on the cake? Shirley Setia’s super-fresh vocals. Woah!
Saajan Aayo Re (OK Jaanu)
Ever thought OK Jaanu was one charmless love story? Not at the cost of overlooking some of AR Rahman’s songs from the original that were rehashed to perfection with Gulzar’s words to boot. So, what if the lead pair gave us a trainwreck of film? Listen to this shimmering semi-classical duet by Jonita Gandhi and Nakash Aziz and you might just feel like warming up to OK Kanmani again.
Sapne Re (Secret Superstar)
The least pretentious one from Secret Superstar’s lineup of songs, the lyrics are worth a million bucks in ‘Sapne Re’. Meghna Mishra’s singing reflects a child’s unbreakable optimism as does the composer Amit Trivedi’s tune that is accompanied by simple instrumentation.
Main Tere Kaabil Hoon (Kaabil)
When it comes to pure, unadulterated melodies, you can’t beat our yesteryear composers. Rajesh Roshan steers clear of artifice in this saccharine sweet song of love rendered with panache by Zubin and Palak Mucchal. With a foot-tapping rhythm pattern as this, it is hard not to remember the composer’s heydays in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The song could have had a greater place on this list if the lyrics writer had a better day at work.
Mere Miyan Gaye England (Rangoon)
Now that’s how you churn an inspired number! True to the era that it is set in, ‘Mere Miya Gaye England’ comes with some spectacular words (Gulzar) and Rekha Bhardwaj’s rendition makes it all the more delectable. Yes, the orchestration and the rhythm are rather predictable but the song is a charming tribute to the ‘40s.
“Ke Hitler chauke naa…”
Jogi (Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana)
Arko has his way of delivering exactly the kind of music that we grew up enjoying in the pre-remix era. ‘Jogi’ from Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, like many of the composer’s tunes, is proud to flaunt its strong classical influence. The harkats, the choicest instruments being picked and the overall soul of the number reinstates that the composer is here to stay! The song comes in several versions and it has to be Shafqat Amanat Ali’s take on Jogi that leaves the strongest impact.
Rozana (Naam Shabana)
What’s a list of songs sans a number by Shreya Ghoshal? No, this isn’t one of those mandatory additions but Shreya’s evocative rendition here makes us miss her all the more in Bollywood. Although Rochak Kohli’s composition comes with a certain amount of familiarity, the lady behind the mic does what the number truly deserves. Magic, that is.
O Re Kaharo (Begum Jaan)
Strategically placed in the film, Kalpana Patowary’s melancholic ‘O Re Kahore’ has to be one of 2017’s best sung numbers. The slight Arabic flavour mixed with the usual Anu Malik melodiousness, the song manages to strike a chord in an album that abounds in quality singles.
Saat Rangon Se (Dear Maya)
What is it about Anupam Roy’s compositions that makes it hard to disassociate them from the films they are a part of? Be it Piku’s situation tracks or his National-award winning single from Praktan, his music sounds the best when enjoyed within the film. Dear Maya’s storyline craves for empathy and a song like ‘Saat Rangon Se’ is exactly what the narrative demands. Sung by Rekha Bhardwaj, it is a delight to witness Manisha Koirala’s turn around in this simple number with significant emphasis on lyrics (Irshad Kamil).
O Sona Tere Liye (Mom)
Now, this is a genre of music that AR Rahman excels at. While I am completely in awe of almost everything that the song offers, I wish the song was a full-blown female number rather – despite Rahman’s voice striking all right chords. There’s nothing amiss but there exists a possibility of what could have been rather.
Ik Vaari Aa (Raabta)
A very Pritam-esque number – ‘Ik Vaari Aa’ fuses an EDM-like rhythm with the classic Bollywood melody with pretty decent results. Amped with an instrumentation to die for, Arijit Singh’s full-throated rendition guarantees a hit for Jam 8.
Barfani (Babumoshai Bandookbaaz)
Gaurav Bhattacharya’s sleepy ‘Barfani’ bears a weird A R Rahman sound throughout. It is as if the mystique of Thakshak’s ‘Boondon Se Baatein’ returns to present day Bollywood. Not to mention how Ghalib Asad Bhopali’s lyrics that make the song all the more exquisite. Orunima Bhattacharya lends style and originality as opposed to the other versions which seem bleak in comparison.
Jhumritalaiyya (Jagga Jasoos)
Now, this is one album that is stellar by all means. However, the popularly marketed numbers are no patch on the beautiful music pieces that take the story forward. As is the case with this dulcet number that is child-like and evocative to equal measures. Pritam is at his minimal best and Arijit Singh takes a lovely break from his usual style, that yours truly isn’t a big fan of.
Yeh Jawaani Teri (Meri Pyaari Bindu)
One that celebrates the ‘90s kitsch, ‘Yeh Jawaani Teri’ from Meri Pyaari Bindu could have easily been identified as a Bappi Lahiri or Laxmikant-Pyarelal number. Be it the electric guitar instrumentation or the flowing yet studied pace, the song has all ingredients to supplement the cause it serves in the film.
A stunningly produced number, ‘Tippa’ seems straight out of a Hollywood musical which is exactly what makes the song special. Then again, the fantastic ensemble of singers and the varying pace and contours don’t go unnoticed either. Instances where we are duly reminded that Vishal Bhardwaj is a musician first, and a director later.
Khana Khake Daaru Peeke (Jagga Jasoos)
Bollywood makes a full-blown musical after ages and how can we not expect an earworm of a number in it? ‘Khana Khake Daaru Peeke’ hooks right on at the first watch and is hard to get off your mind. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are simple to the hilt and Pritam delivers what seems like the easiest hook line ever. What a winner!
Nazm Nazm (Bareilly Ki Barfi)
One with an impromptu jam feel, ‘Nazm Nazm’ has Arko Pravo Mukherjee at his melodious best. The song appears in three distinct solo versions – one each by composer Arko, Sumedha and Ayushmann Khurrana. While each of them has their own individual merits, it is Khurrana’s version that strikes the strongest chord. Arko’s vocals are way too polished to get that unsaid balance between being perfect and imperfect that Ayushmann’s screen character stands for.
Bandook Meri Laila (A Gentleman)
Situational but kickass and groovy as anything. Many of Bollywood’s music makers ought to learn from Sachin-Jigar on how to create songs that take the narrative forward. With some solid orchestration and smart integration of probable background noise, ‘Bandook Meri Laila’ is one of the most creative pieces from 2017.
Mora Piya Matlab Ka Yaar (Anaarkali of Aarah)
Now here’s one film which has its premise revolving around music – the much-looked-down-upon nautanki performances from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The song situation has a spirited Anaarkali entering a professional recording studio for the first time. She belts out, “Hamra ke confujiya ke gaya, khidki se Patna dikhake gaya…” Give it to Swati Sharma’s tremendous fervour behind the mic or Swara Bhaskar’s acting chops, the song creates an instant stir in your mind and proves how and why Anaarkali can’t do without music – even if it happens to not belong to the Lata Mangeshkar territory.
Rafu (Tumhari Sulu)
First of all, ‘Rafu’ doesn’t come across as a track that is excessively mastered for perfection. There’s very minimal use of instruments and even hear the singer breath and break her lines. All of it adds to a tinge of magic each to this little gem from Tumhari Sulu. Sung with great precision by Ronkini Gupta, the song is written and composed by Santanu Ghatak – whose lyrics form the best part of it.
Prem Mein Tohre (Begum Jaan)
Asha Bhosle. Age can’t challenge this magnificent songstress who made an outstanding return in 2017 with Anu Malik’s achingly beautiful ‘Prem Mein Tohre’. A slow, semi-classical ballad that talks about the first flush of love, Kausar Munir’s lyrics add depth Malik’s powerful composition. The version by Kavita Seth carries a different sound and it is Bhosle’s version that I prefer – all for its sharpness and seemingly improvised tonal shifts.
Hawayein (Jab Harry Met Sejal)
2017 was quite hectic for Arijit Singh and the man also delivers ‘Hawayein’ in the mayhem, which exemplifies everything that one associates with Shahrukh Khan – chivalry, passion and the classic Bollywood mush. One must say that neither do Pritam’s composition not Singh’s velvety rendition do injustice to Khan’s illustrious array of similar songs – ones that have categorically taught us how to woo our women. Not to mention Irshad Kamil lyrics that form the perfect comrade to the song’s dreamy feel.
Kanha (Shubh Mangal Saavdhan)
Shasha Tirupati headlines this beautiful romantic track from Shubh Mangal Saavdhan that is oh-so-confident in its semi-classical identity. Inspite of minimal instruments in use, the melody here is hard to go unnoticed as is the case with somewhat edgy lyrics that it comes with. The song also appears as a reprise version by Ayushmann Khurrana which makes for an equally pleasant listen.
Dunaliya Mein Jung (Anaarkali of Aarah)
A musical feature, Anaarkali of Aarah comes with a bunch of well-researched female solos that are drenched in the region’s local culture. It is, somehow, Swati Sharma’s ‘Dunaliya Mein Jung’ that has impressed me the most with its sheer power, authenticity and unabashed vigour. The song scores full marks in all departments and vindicates how one can a pay a respectful tribute to an art form that is otherwise easy to be ridiculed.
Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi (Meri Pyaari Bindu)
Quite easily, it is Sachin-Jigar’s heart-stopping ‘Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahi’ that bags the top slot in this list filled with 2017’s sensational songs. Making her debut behind the mic, Parineeti Chopra’s husky vocals are perfect to convey the complex emotions that the song deals with. With such brilliant poetry by Kausar Munir, it is hard to not to sit-down and take notice of its lyrical nuances. Also appearing as a duet with Sonu Nigam, the song is placed beautifully in the film’s climax and is bound to make you shed a tear or two for its sheer poignancy and haunting base melody. Not to mention the perfect choice of instruments and meticulous production, especially in the solo version.
Honourary Mention: ‘Kanha So Jaa Zara’ from Baahubali 2: The Conclusion which didn’t make it to the final list as the film was dubbed from Telugu.