For an industry that is endlessly plagued by the RRR (Remix-Rap-RipOff) Syndrome, 2022 was not an extraordinary year for Bollywood yet not an entirely disastrous one. Some of the best Bollywood soundtracks and songs from the year gone by, surprisingly, were made by young composers who are on their way up the ladder of success. There has been experimentation galore in songs that were brilliantly produced and cheekily written.
Below is 2022’s music scene in a nutshell:
The Return of The Retro
The biggest takeaway from Hindi film music in 2022 is the return of retro sound. Delivering the year’s finest soundtracks were Achint Thakker, who took us back to the sounds of the ‘70s through the crackling OST of Monica, O My Darling, and Amit Trivedi, who created the haunting soundscape of the ‘30s in Qala.
Lyricists Showcase Their Quirks
I was thrilled when Amitabh Bhattacharya cheekily inserted the much-mocked ‘love storiyaan’ in ‘Kesariya’ from Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva. Later, in Bhediya he threw at us the super-creative Baaki Sab Theek and veteran Gulzar proved he is still the boss man with Darlings’ super-cute ‘Pleaj!’.
AR Rahman Maintains a Low Profile
In Heropanti 2, the composer gave us two Sufi-tinged tracks (‘Jalwanuma’ and ‘Rehnuma’). Towards the end of 2022, he returned to offer a couple of memorable, dulcet songs in Mili – both of which screamed his characteristic style. The techno-heavy numbers in the former didn’t work and it wasn’t really a good year for the maestro in Bollywood although it was a different picture down South with multiple memorable albums in Tamil and Malayalam.
The Return of Amit Trivedi
Amit Trivedi who has been doing less work for a while made a giant splash in 2022 with a long list of memorable tracks. Qala proved to be an instant classic and Badhaai Do was lapped by Instagram users. The composers delivered a bunch of peppy numbers in Doctor G, Uunchai and Good Bye among others.
Pritam – The Mainstream Moghul
The composer has nothing left to prove. And it isn’t a surprise that Pritam is the first choice for almost all event films today. Having said that, the soundtrack of Brahmasta – Part One: Shiva and Laal Singh Chaddha didn’t live up to the composer’s own high standards despite one smashing number in each and the presence of Sonu Nigam in the latter.
The Mithoon & Bhansali Magic We Missed
If Mithoon is in his element, he would knock our socks off with tunes that remind us of the golden ‘90s besides remaining in our playlists for a very long time. The composer accomplishes it in the grossly underrated soundtrack of Shamshera which does not have a single false note.
As for Sanjay Leela Bhansali, nobody makes movies like him. The statement stands true for the soundtracks that he composes himself. The music of Gangubai Kathiawadi gleams with the ethos of Bhansali films –they are soulful, over-the-top and equally heartbreaking.
Club Anthems To Vibe
OAFF and Savera Mehta kicked off the year with a bang as ‘Doobey’ became a national rage. There were several songs with a ‘groovy’ quality including ‘Shaamat’ from Ek Villain Returns and ‘Atak Gaya Hai’ from Badhaai Do before Vishal-Sheykhar ended the year in style with ‘Besharam Rang’ from Pathaan. Kavita Seth’s Rangi Saari tried to enter the zone but it didn’t work for me, especially in the film. Dhaakad’s ‘She’s On Fire’ sounded unintentionally funny and the weird picturization didn’t help much.
20 Years of Shreya Ghoshal & KK’s untimely demise
2022 marked the versatile vocalist completing two decades in Bollywood. It was a decent year for Shreya Ghoshal with several of her songs hogging the music charts, including two in my Top 25.
None of us was ready for KK’s sudden death and we ought to thank composer Shantanu Moitra for giving the gifted singer a fitting swansong in the form of ‘Dhoop Paani Behne De’ in Sherdil (which even otherwise is a fine OST).
The Era of Splendid Music Production
It was while skimming through the soundtrack of Goodluck Jerry that I re-realized how superb music production could enhance catchy tunes and fine vocals to greater degrees. I would also say that for a series of soundtracks including Gangubai Kathiawadi, Qala, Monica, O My Darling and Gehraiyaan.
The Rise of New Female Vocalists
A good chunk of 2022’s chart-busting numbers was crooned by relatively new female singers. We have Archana Gore, Janhvi Shrimankar, Pooja Tiwari, Vasundhara Vee, Katyayani, Manya Narang, Yohani, Abhilasha Sinha, Anupama Chakraborty Shrivastava, Sarita Vaz and Sireesha Bhagavatula.
If Gore’s evocative throw of words might jerk a barrage of tears, Chakraborty Shrivastava’s velvety voice is a unique mix of Asha Bhosle and Kavita Krishnamurthy. Tiwari seems to be on her way to becoming an A R Rahman regular. Shrimankar’s robust rendition of ‘Dholida’ matched Alia Bhatt’s energy to a T. Bhagavatula, with the most number of songs in this list, is the best find of the year.
The Missing Dance Numbers
Why didn’t 2022 give us a good number of original, pacy dance tracks that would rock the wedding sangeets? Nobody knows. That said, my favourite from the year is the under-appreciated ‘Firecracker’ from Jayeshbhai Jordaar featuring an infectious hook line and Vishal Dadlani’s enigmatic vocals. It breaks my heart that the song isn’t a wedding/festival favourite already. ‘Lafda Zala’ from Jhund is an interesting track on the lines of the composers’ (Ajay-Atul) own iconic ‘Zingaat’ whereas Shamshera’s energetic ‘Ji Huzoor’ powered by Aditya Narayan’s raspy rendition is a treat. I enjoyed ‘Dil Dhak Dhak Dhak Karta Hai’ thanks to Raj Burman who reminds me of a young Udit Narayan. Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 banked solely on recreations whilst the original tracks in Phone Bhoot, Govinda Naam Mera and Cirkus were utterly forgettable.
The worst album of the year, without a doubt, is Liger composed by various artists. However, since I didn’t breed an iota of expectation from the musicians or lyricists involved in it, its existence didn’t affect me as much.
The biggest personal disappointment – for the second year in a row – came from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy whose album for Samrat Prithviraj was lacklustre (except for a catchy title track). Even the lyricist Varun Grover (who had a fantastic year otherwise) felt out of sync with the project. The long list of composers in Maja Ma couldn’t ensure a chartbuster for dancing diva Madhuri Dixit. Himesh Reshammiya delivered a massive cropper in the form of Raksha Bandhan although I have a soft corner for Nihal Tauro’s heartfelt rendition of ‘Tere Saath Hoon Main’. Tanishq Bagchi beats all contenders in the hall of shame with Cuttputli’s ‘Saathiya’ which – by a mile – is the worst Hindi film song of the year beating the collective cacophony of Liger songs.
Below are the year’s Top 25 Bollywood songs, ranked in reverse order:
25. Doobey (Gehraiyaan)
24. Taali Taali (Double XL)
23. Lafda Zala (Jhund)
22. Tum Bhi Raahi (Mili)
21. Asli Action Chaalu (An Action Hero)
20. Ji Huzoor (Shamshera)
19. Jalwanuma (Heropanti 2)
18. Dhoop Paani Bahne De (Sherdil)
17. Dil (Ek Villain 2)
16. Beqaaboo (Gehraiyaan)
15. Baaki Sab Theek (Bhediya)
14. Ghodey Pe Sawaar (Qala)
13. Meri Jaan (Gangubai Kathiawadi)
12. Atak Gaya Hai (Badhaai Do)
11. Firecracker (Jayeshbhai Jordaar)
10. Cutie Cutie (Good Luck Jerry)
9. Phero Na Najariya (Qala)
8. Tere Hawaale (Laal Singh Chaddha)
7. Rasiya (Brahmastra – Part One: Shiva)
6. Yeh Ek Zindagi (Monica, O My Darling)
5. Shauq (Qala)
4. Fitoor (Shamshera)
3. Shikayat (Gangubai Kathiawadi)
2. Farsh Pe Khade (Monica, O My Darling)
1. Rubaaiyaan (Qala)
Listen to the playlist on Spotify.
Hall of Fame
SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR: Qala (Amit Trivedi, Sagar Desai)
BEST SUNG SONG (MALE): Swanand Kirkire, Shahid Mallya (‘Shauq’ – Qala)
BEST SUNG SONG (FEMALE): Archana Gore and Chorus (‘Shikayat’ – Gangubai Kathiawadi)
BEST WRITTEN SONG: Varun Grover (‘Shauq’ – Qala)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Achint Thakkar (Monica, O My Darling), Gaurav Chatterji (Jalsa) and Sagar Desai (Qala)
BEST MUSIC PRODUCTION: Parag Chhabra, Vineeth Jayan (Good Luck Jerry)
Hall of Shame
WORST SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR: Liger (Various Artists)
WORST ORIGINAL SONG OF THE YEAR: Saathiya (Cuttputli) – Tanishk Bagchi, Nikhil D’Souza, Zahrah Khan