Every year, we scroll through year-end music lists and raise a common complaint, “This year has been so bad, musically,” While that might be true to a great extent due to the heavy inflow of tasteless remixes, one can’t also deny how there have been a good number of songs which merited a listen or two – or even more. So, here goes the list of 2019’s best Hindi film songs which, predictably, overlooks remixes.
25. Kaash (The Zoya Factor)
Did you miss the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy sound from the 2000s? Did you miss Alyssa Mendonsa’s delectably anglicized Hindi pronunciation? If either of the above is a yes, you’re going to dish ‘Kaash’ from The Zoya Factor. The lyrics penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, too, is oh-so-2000’s in its flavour. “Tu khat mera, aur khat ka pata hai tu,” croon the lovers and you get the gist. Arijit Singh is tad repetitive and it remains a mystery why both the singers do not enunciate the word ‘kaash’ properly despite it being the song’s title.
24. Sapna Hai Sach Hai (Panipat)
The most fascinating aspect of this slow romantic number from Panipat is the operatic instrumental piece that runs in the background throughout. While adding a larger-than-life aura to the song, the piece goes on to get further robust as it progresses; then it pauses, allowing the singers to put their vocals to great use. Abhay Jodhpurkar and Shreya Ghoshal form a formidable duo and glide effortlessly the song’s grand mounting and vivid poetry (Javed Akhtar). The dramatic chorus portion is quite the icing on the cake.
23. Ho Jaa Awara (Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas)
Personally, I am no longer a fan of throaty high-octane numbers pure for the fact that the genre has gone for an overkill today. However, for a love story centred on extreme sports, ‘Ho Jaa Awara’ from Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas is a good enough number that effectively translates the thrill that occurs to the lead players. Composed by Tanishk Bagchi and written by Siddharth-Garima, the song sees the singers in their enthusiastic best, with Monali Thakur unleashing an all-new dimension in her voice – despite intermittent strains. The echo effect, although clichéd, works to good effect with the way the song has been shot.
22. Pehla Pyaar (Kabir Singh)
A simple song which emanates the composed-on-guitar vibe, this dulcet Armaan Malik-sung number from Kabir Singh shines in its conventional skin. Even though it’s a little irksome to listen Malik over-emote in places, his voice is fluid enough to not bore you at any point. The lyrics are rather pedestrian but the versatile tune, minimal instrumentation and enthusiastic rendition make it memorable. One wish that remains is that the song could have been way better if it were to be mellower. Let’s blame that on the times that we live.
21. Meri Gully Mein (Gully Boy)
Rap as an effective sub-genre in film music was yet to be fully established in Hindi cinema until Gully Boy hit the industry like a massive truck. A dance number featuring the leading men (Ranveer Singh and Siddhant Chaturvedi), the lyrics (DIVINE and Naezy) steal the show here and expectedly so. The verve and rhythm are very much in tandem with the film’s overall pulse and it only helps that it comes with some snazzy choreography.
20. Dankila (Manikarnika)
A dance number set around the First War for Independence in Rani Laxmi Bai’s presence. The brief given to the composers and the lyrics itself is dicey and one that can be easily overdone provided they were to visualize it with people who were not fictitious beings. To give Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy due credit, ‘Dankila’ gets the folk-Bollywood blend to the hilt and ends up a cracker of a song. The elaborate instrumentation matches the singers’ (Prajukta Shukre, Shrinidhi Ghatate, Siddharth Mahadevan and Arunaja) tremendous energy, resulting in a song that is not anachronistic.
19. Kal Ki Hi Baat Hai (Chhichhore)
Oh boy, you have KK wielding the microphone for this one. I was sold looking at his name on the jukebox but, wait, there’s a reason why Pritam has hired the much-loved vocalist for this breezy, nostalgic number. The simple strumming behind soothingly complements KK, especially in the higher notes. The flute strain that accompanies the hook-line is yet another delightful element in this breezy number.
18. Ve Maahi (Kesari)
We are aware of Bollywood’s obsession for Arijit Singh and all things Punjabi in nature. However, in a rare instance where both the elements hit the bulls eye, Kesari’s ‘Ve Maahi’ boasts of a certain purity in its melody. While the instruments (loved the shehnai, of all) used are appropriate to the era, the programming renders the output appear a wee bit contemporary.
17. Aasma (Saand Ki Aankh)
Towards the end of Saand Ki Aankh appeared a song that completely caught me by surprise. Unlike the film’s main lead’s extremely laboured performances, here was a song that instantly transported me into the mind space of two elderly women wanting the best for their children. No, it didn’t take me long enough to identify the voice behind this soulfully situational number – Asha Bhosle. Composer Vishal Mishra keeps the score minimal with a flute piece and light percussion doing the needful while letting the legendary singer’s voice spin all the magic. Raj Shekhar’s lyrics are tell-tale but somewhat perfect for the film’s overall storytelling style.
16. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas (Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas)
The most conventional number in the list, perhaps, the title track of Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas comes with some fantastic instrumentation, which is clearly the reason why the song merits this rank. The percussion mix created with tabla strains thrown in beautifully gives it a delectable retro feel while the contemporary elements, too, are blended with equal panache. As much as I appreciate the re-recording here, the melody by Sachet-Parampara, too, is equally smooth and easy on the ears.
15. Mard Maratha (Panipat)
If not anything else, a stellar music score is one thing that we would expect from an Ashutosh Gowariker film. He is one of the rare Bollywood filmmakers who could sell the idea of group songs to mainstream Hindi film viewers. In his latest war drama Panipat, Gowariker recreates the pulse of Jodhaa Akbar’s ‘Azeem-O-Shaan Shehenshah’ in the thumping, Marathi-tinged ‘Mard Maratha’ which brims with energy. Composers Ajay-Atul keep the melody quotient in the forefront whereas Javed Akhtar’s evocative lyrics simply add to the effect.
14. Tum Hi Aana (Marjaavaan)
One of 2019’s most popular numbers, ‘Tum Hi Aana’, incidentally is composed by vocalist Payal Dev. Now, I do not remember the last time a female composer delivered a chartbuster of this proportions. That said, keeping the gender aspect aside, this love song from Marjaavaan is every bit of a heartstopper. The hook line, in particular, has a distinctive classical tinge, reminiscent of the ‘70s. The minimal instrumentation lets the voices of Jubin Nautiyal and Payal Dev take over and the impact is rock-solid.
13. Ghungroo (War)
It’s not easy to dish out a trippy club number and that’s precisely the reason why music labels insist on remixing yesteryear chartbusters. Many a time, they work due to nostalgia value but the sizzle goes out a month or two after the said film’s release. Yash Raj Films’ insistence of churning out only originals bears fruit for Vishal-Shekhar as they spin a foot-tapping song in the genre which has Arijit Singh in his absolute elements. The re-recording mix is equally racy, making it a surefire hit for youngsters the burn the dance floors. The charan portion where the pace dips are also neatly balanced to the song’s overall vibrancy.
12. Dil Hi To Hai (The Sky Is Pink)
I miss Gulzar. As a filmmaker. As a dialogue writer. As a lyricist. Talking about the last, I miss looking up the Hindi dictionary for new words. ‘Dil Hi To Hai’ made me do that for ‘kooche’ and ‘khurpech’. The tune is pretty basic Pritam material but the vibe is extremely pleasant, making the song highly hummable. Antara Mitra’s portions sound better purely because do not have overt use of high notes. That said, I simply lost my heart to the song when Singh went, “Na pooch ye dil hai Munshi, Magistrate, Qazi,” followed by a shimmering accordion piece. Maybe it’s my bias for Gulzar and the said musical instrument. Well, maybe.
11. Dil Ka Telephone (Dream Girl)
Tring tring! Say hello to the peppiest Hindi film song of 2019. I had it on my lips from the first time I happen to hear in Dream Girl’s trailer. Saucy and coquettish to the hilt, Jonita Gandhi sings it with gay abandon. Hummability aside, ‘Dil Ka Telephone’ also has to be one of the best-utilized songs in a film. Simple, cheesy poetry (Kumaar) with a ‘90s flavoured tune (Meet Bros) easily add to the song’s appeal.
10. Yeh Aaina (Kabir Singh)
Shreya Ghoshal, people. Shreya Ghoshal. In the day and age of extreme mediocrity, hers is a name that adds weight to a playlist by default. While Kabir Singh does boast of a list of decent love songs, the best number happens to Ghoshal’s solo ‘Yeh Aaina’ which could have easily been ordinary if crooned by a less proficient singer. The composer (Amaal Malik) gives her a good enough opportunity to traverse through a range of high and low notes. Fairly simple in its composition structure, Irshad Kamil’s lyrics exude a lot of feeling too.
9. Sonchiraiya (Sonchiriya)
Sometimes you watch a film and a visual or an element continues to haunt you – for days, weeks, months and more. Sonchiriya’s title track did that to me. The disturbing visual of the film’s protagonists sailing in a tiny canoe and the song appears somewhere in the background. Rekha Bhardwaj’s evocative vocals are put to great use to by composer Vishal Bhardwaj. Varun Grover’s lyrics contain an introspective quality and it would be equally pleasurable to read it out as poetry.
8. Ghar More Pardesiya (Kalank)
This semi-classical number for Kalank, for starters, earns brownie points purely for bringing back the genre to Bollywood from extinction. When was the last time we heard full-fledged sargams in a Hindi film song? Frankly, I can’t remember. And to Pritam’s credit, the song has been designed with utmost care while doing justice to its genre and also making it a commercially saleable one (read, hummable). Shreya Ghoshal is in her absolute elements as she grabs the rare opportunity that the song is. Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics which talk about chapters from the Ramayana is suitably pitched into this high energy yet supremely melodious number.
7. Nakhrewali (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota)
Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is a crackling contemporary OST and I had a tough time picking a favourite here. ‘Nakhrewali’ takes the cake for brimming with great amounts of attitude as far lyrics, composition and rendition are concerned. High on instrumentation, the song blends f vocal and background sounds with dexterity without stripping the song off its melody quotient. At places, the song resembles the sound of A R Rahman from the ’90s, which in no way is an ordinary compliment. The singer-composer Karan Kulkarni is indeed a talent to watch out for in mainstream Hindi cinema.
6. Apna Time Aayega (Gully Boy)
The song that closed Gully Boy in style. The lyric that’s there on a thousand t-shirts and hoodies. ‘Apna Time Aayega’ might possibly be the most successful and all-encompassing single from any film in 2019. That said, the song does deserve every bit of the adulation that’s coming its way. While Ranveer Singh’s rendition and the music are pitch-perfect, what impressed me manifold in this immensely powerful number were its lyrics – the kind that would make us get up from our seats and applaud in unison. Could Zoya Akhtar have asked for a better closing song? Not quite.
5. Rajaji (Manikarnika)
While there’s nothing much to write home about Manikarnika as a film, there’s a lot to revel its lilting soundtrack. In the romantic ‘Rajaji’, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy reveals an all-new facet of theirs by working a folkish tune which is totally in sync with the era that the story is set. The instrumentation, high on traditional instruments, is extremely pleasing – especially the percussion pieces. Pratibha Singh’s earthy vocals add further sheen to Prasoon Joshi’s utterly original words.
4. Chashni (Bharat)
Let me begin this with a minor complaint. This Vishal-Shekhar song is highly replaceable. I mean, put it in any film of Ali Abbas Zafar starring his favourites Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, it would have fit just fine. But, but… the sizzle in the composition is such that it makes us beam with pride for Hindi films having the song-and-dance culture. Sung with a great deal of freshness by Abhijeet Srivastava, the song is shamelessly formulaic and yet so addictive, if you happen to love the classic sound of Bollywood music. Even little things such as keeping the beats prominent enough to tap your feet (or palms), the song is designed to make you to hum, smile, dance and fantasize along.
3. Jugraafiya (Super 30)
When it comes to a Bollywood love song, I love elements that spring an instant smile on my face. Udit Narayan’s name has one such quality. Five seconds into this Ajay-Atul composition, the singer’s shimmering voice brightens things up. By the time the song reached the line, ‘Zara sa kitaabon mein…’, I was absolutely immersed in its magic. Of course, the song is in the composer duo’s tried-and-tested style but it didn’t matter one bit since the packaging was a delight from the word. The ‘90s style elaborate orchestration is of the variety (take note of that violin piece in the middle) that would make us want the song to go on for few more minutes. Complemented greatly Shreya Ghoshal, the song penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya talks about mathematics and geography while expressing love. I like, I like.
2. Katthai Katthai (Malaal)
It wouldn’t be a surprise to say that, on this date, it is filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali who composes the best songs for Shreya Ghoshal in Hindi films. The fact is proven yet again with this underrated number for Malaal which comes with an unusual melody. Be it with the sudden progressions and the unconventional sync that it finds with the background, ‘Katthai Katthai’ is a unique concoction that mainstream Bollywood music does not create any more. The sound, I must add, is lightly reminiscent of Sandeep Chowta from the early 2000s. A. M. Turaz’s lyrics too gleams with a certain vintage sheen whereas the instrumentation is purposely kept minimal to let Ghoshal soar to realms of greatness – as is the case with several songs in the list.
1. Teri Mitti (Kesari)
Okay, so Parineeti Chopra isn’t getting the best of films despite her proven talent. Instead, she occasionally lands herself in mega-blockbusters, playing minuscule parts. Alright, let’s not get into her acting career woes and come straight to the point. People, Parineeti Chopra is blessed with a phenomenal singing voice, and I cannot thank the composers enough who choose to hire her to go behind the microphone. That unusually raspy voice is so original that Chopra can easily give many a contemporary professional singer a run for their money. In Kesari’s reprise version of ‘Teri Mitti’, Parineeti Chopra breathes fire. It is the kind of rendition that will make you shed copious tears. I do not deny that the composition (Arko Pravo Mukherjee) and lyrics (Manoj Muntashir) are any less components of the song as they too contribute amply in making it the finest song of the year, however, it is Chopra’s deeply felt voice that takes the cake and the whole bakery out there.
To give credit where its due, the male version by B Praak is also immensely moving and it would still have merited a top rank (if not the very same spot) in the absence of a female version.
P.S.: The last time Parineeti Chopra lent her voice to a film song was in 2017’s Meri Pyaari Bindu and, interestingly enough, the song (Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin) topped the list that year.
ALSO READ: The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2021
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – 3 songs
Pritam – 3 songs
Ajay-Atul – 3 songs
Best Sung Song (Male): Chashni by Abhijeet Srivastava (Bharat)
Best Sung Songs (Female): ‘Teri Mitti’ by Parineeti Chopra (Kesari) & ‘Katthai Katthai’ by Shreya Ghoshal (Malaal)