BHOOT BUNGLA (Immortal Gems by Pancham #3)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Bhoot Bungla (1965)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Hasrat Jaipuri
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

The next edition in the ‘Immortal Gems by Pancham’ series brings us to Bhoot Bungla, an album that is remembered as Pancham’s first ‘hit’ album. Before writing this article, Miraya and I both, only knew about ‘Aao Twist Karein’, so it was interesting to find out what other songs Pancham’s first hit album constituted of. Now, the film was a horror comedy, and as we know, even today, horror comedies have less scope for music. Mehmood, impressed with R.D.’s work in “Chhote Nawab” (we can definitely see why), decided to rope him in even for this film, and what’s more, the film was Pancham’s first (and only) collaboration with lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, who was known as a lyricist who wrote deep shaayari-esque lyrics! Certainly, an odd combination, but we are stoked to see what Pancham had to offer! Another interesting fact is that Pancham was offered a small acting cameo in the film too!


Aao Twist Karein is undoubtedly the most popular song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ even today. And rightfully so — it is a very peppy and upbeat number, perfect for onstage performances. The first time the legendary Manna Dey worked with Pancham, and Pancham made him sing a song that was entirely opposite to his usual songs in those days! The song was a party number, not a solemn semiclassical number as Manna Dey was known to sing. The hookline of the song itself has been lifted from Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again”, but Pancham has given it some proper Bollywoodisations, and has built a lot based on that base. The drums, guitars and brass instruments, as well as the backing chorus, all help make the song sound aptly Western; I’m guessing the composer was trying to bring a bit of a Western touch into the album with this song. The song also features some crazy audience interaction bits where Mehmood talks to the audience and even gets responses from them. (Achieving what ‘Karz’ did much before ‘Karz’ released!) Hasrat Jaipuri too, known to write very meaningful and poetic lyrics, had tried his chance at writing a party anthem — “Parwaano, dilwaalo, aa aao, masti ki saazon pe gaa gaao!” The party becomes more lively towards the end, when Pancham cranks up the beat on the drums, and a nice trumpet+woodwinds combination brings the song to its end. All in all, this is a situational number that is better watched than just heard.


The next song O Mere Pyaar Aaja begins with just Lata ji’s vocals and the majority of the song is dominated with just that along with the sound of Tablas and dholaks. R.D. uses very little instruments in this one, but one is mesmerised by the calming use of the occasional strings, and wind instruments. The melody is a gorgeous one, simple and elegant, and he allows it to remain such with just the tabla, the piano, the strings and the wonderfully sharp vocals by Lata di making up most of it. The way she sings “Paaun na chain haaye” with small nuances every time, perfectly coveys the longing in the song which Tanuja too, aptly enacts. The lyrics are simple and make it very easy to connect, thank Hasrat Jaipuri for moulding his lyrics according to the film’s requirements. The song has two antaras, but still short and crisp. And although this song is a quintessential longing song, still the melody is pleasant and not overly sad or drawn out. Overall, the song is a splendid listen, quintessential Bollywood golden era romance.


Following ‘Aao Twist Karein’, Pyaar Karta Ja happens to be Manna Dey’s second song for R.D. Burman. This song is one of the best songs of the album and one of our personal favourites. This song begins with his deep voice calling out “hey, hey… ho ho…” and then a brass instrument pretty much mimics that tune in a haunting way, followed by the flute and then one instrument after the other keeps getting added till the whole melody explodes in a flourish of orchestral grandeur – in a quintessential R.D. Burman way… This is hands-down the best prelude that we have witnessed thus far in this series! He uses the claps and the vocals to create melody and the classic echo effect is brought about not by machines like today, but by the vocalist singing a few steps away from the mike. The first few lines befit a horror movie more, before the tune becomes peppier and more romantic. The smorgasbord of instruments (there’s the classic dholaks, strings, bongo drums, flutes and guitars but also the more unimaginable instruments such as the glass tinkling, the resso-resso, the accordion and the mandolin-like one in the interludes) used in this song kind of blows your mind away. But, to top that, there’s also the characerstic “uh-huh-uh-huh” of Burman which creates a vocal instrument as if the available weren’t enough, but it all comes together quite fascinatingly and doesn’t sound like a mishmash of odd sounds, in the process creating a melody that is amazing. The use of chorus somewhat anticipates how R.D. Burman is going to use the chorus in ‘Main Inpe Marta Hoon’ a year later in ‘Teesri Manzil’. In the antaras, the song gets philosophical courtesy lyricist Hasrat saab — “Chhota bada, ab jo bhi ho, apne liye sabhi ek hai, yeh kya dharam hai!” The hook lyrics are wonderful — “Pyaar karta jaa, dil kehta hai, kaanton mein bhi gul khila!” Such positivity is highly lacking in today’s music. Manna Dey does an amazing job delivering the upbeat number, and it is a delight to listen to his little variations throughout the song, they are refreshing, but grounded and composed, at the same time.


The Bhoot Bungla theme (Main Bhookha) starts off sounding (intentionally) comical, with a very Bengali accented “Bhoooooot bongola” followed by Pancham creating his sinister tunes with the help of brass instruments, piano, and sound effects of laughing. A kind of mystery ‘Pink Panther’-esque rhythm starts around the middle of the song, where the actual lyrics start (and end right away). The song is the first song R.D. Burman lent his vocals to, and he is supported by Mehmood and Suresh, probably in the backing vocals. Well, one can’t expect much more creativity than this for the theme song of a horror comedy film. 


The first of the Kishore-Pancham era, Jaago Sonewaalo begins with a flamenco prelude followed by Kishore Kumar’s high-pitched voice and his characteristic yodelling. The music is characteristically scary with violins giving you an eerie feel and a simple rhythm on the bongos and resso-resso. Pancham ably supports it with flutes and Spanish guitars in the interludes. The music is very characteristic of many Kishore Kumar songs composed by Pancham, and now we know where it all started! It’s a warning to the people from the protagonist, to learn from what he has gone through and not make the same mistakes as him. The antaras are sung in a lower pitch and the music changes before the antara making it more sinister and ominous, and like most R.D. Burman songs, this is the real medium conveying the darker mood of the song. The entire song is a warning and a plea to the people to really understand what is going on. With words like, “Hansne lage, duniyaa ke log, koi huaa barbaad” and “Yeh unch neech duniyaa ke beech, aakhir yeh kyun bolo koi / jo hai bhala, woh kyun bura, hum toh na samjhe yeh raaz!” we know what Hasrat Jaipuri saab is warning us against. If the social commentary in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’ motivates you, the social commentary in this song sends chills down your spine, and is probably the only song in this horror movie that actually talks about the horrors in the world, though metaphorically. The thing that really gives the listener the chills though, is the “ta ra re ra ra re ru” which is in contrast to the dark theme, almost like the vocals are mocking him (which is quite a theatrical device to be used here) while he says to wake up and realise what’s most important. The third stanza is more painful with him questioning “insaaniyat kahaan hain?” and really, the music beautifully rises in a crescendo-like manner churning all sorts of emotions in you, like fear and pain and guilt and hope, which is what the aim is, before it drops and only the vocals of Kishore da are audible, softer here, more imploring as they say – “jaago sone walo…” until it reaches the end. The whole song, with the music and lyrics and the voice is pretty much impeccable in nailing the narrative. Yes, it has us convinced – and awakened to it – by the end of the song. 


Another song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ that hinges on audience interaction, and catering to the young audience, Ek Sawaal Hai is a fun and peppy number that ends the album off as Kishore Kumar sings his second song for the composer. The tune is classic Pancham — you can hear the jazzy groove and rhythms from ‘O Haseena Zulfonwali’ and ‘Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera’ in this song — and the camaraderie between the guitars and drums most prominent. Kishore da obviously delivers the song with utmost performance skills. The way he modulates his voice to different styles, the way he creates tabla rhythms with his mouth after singing “Tabley ki thaap ho“, the way he laughs musically, the way he talks to the children throughout the song — this song has it all to be played to any child who would have been afraid and not just of ghosts, but the ingenious Jaipuri saab makes sure the song is universal — “Duniya ki raahon mein, darte ho kyun bhala?” The song is not just about driving the fear of ghosts away, but the fear of everything in the whole world! Close on the heels of the previous song with its social commentary, Hasrat saab writes “Roohein hawa ke jhonke, hamare dil ke sunehre dhokhe, insaan se badhkar koi na zaalim!” Pancham’s tune is aptly upbeat, making the song palatable to young ones too, the target audience. I wonder why this song isn’t as popular as ‘Aao Twist Karein’. Maybe that one was the ‘instant hit’. 


All in all, the album that started off quite mildly, and initially had us wondering whether there would be anything to learn from it, actually ended up having quite some enjoyable numbers. With the amazing orchestration Pancham has done in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’, we now learn how he was able to do the ‘Teesri Manzil’ songs so brilliantly, and with the promise of melody he shows in ‘O Mere Pyaar’ and ‘Jaago Sonewaalo’, we can understand that his melodies were quite strong even in a horror comedy film. The album was his first commercial success, and we can see why. Also, unlike ‘Chhote Nawab’, the album has no hangover from S.D. Burman’s or Shankar-Jaikishan’s works – it sounds like a true-blue Pancham musical – his niche has been carved and we cannot wait to see how he develops it further!

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Pyaar Karta Ja

Music Mastani’s favourite: Pyaar Karta Ja

Please let us know which song from Bhoot Bungla is your favourite? 😊

CHHOTE NAWAB (Immortal Gems by Pancham #2)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Chhote Nawab (1961)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Shailendra
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

For the second issue of “Immortal Gems by Pancham”, Miraya and I are rewinding in time a bit from the first album we visited, and going back to Pancham’s first solo movie album, which was “Chhote Nawab” in 1961, an album for a film produced by and starring Mehmood. The legend behind Pancham’s debut album was quite funny. It was initially offered to S.D. Burman, who, at the time was busy with other work. Remember, he was strongly against Pancham starting off as a solo composer when Guru Dutt offered him ‘Raaz’ which later got shelved. Little did he know that rejecting this Mehmood film would lead Mehmood to his friend Pancham, who constantly dented Mehmood’s car with his incessant hand drumming (haha)! And thus, Pancham landed his first Hindi film album!

Now, this film, was a social drama, quite typical of those times, when Hindi cinema was evolving and trying to be accessible to the common public as well. The film apparently tells the story of a pampered young man called “Chhote Nawab” (Mehmood), who finds his mature self on meeting with Roshan (Ameeta). However, he strays on the path of ill habits after the passing of his father and a chance meet with a cabaret dancer Sophie (Helen). The love of his life played by Ameeta tries to bring him back on the “good path”, so to say, and Pancham’s music supports the script throughout the film. Let us revisit the album where the magic all started!


The first thing that hits you when you listen to Matwaali Aankhon Wale, is the intro piece – which is a good 25 seconds long. The jugalbandi of castanets and the guitars instantly transports you to Spain and you feel like you are in a Zorro movie, but then you hear the high-pitched Arabic style vocals of Mohd Rafi and you know that this is going to be a musical treat from Pancham. With castanets and guitar taking the centre stage again and sound of violins thrown in for good measure, the long one and a half minutes of vocal and instrumental prelude sets up an amazing Flamenco backdrop. Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals just breeze through, gliding smoothly from one note to the other, especially her intro with “Ohhhhh”, like she is a flamenco dancer dancing through this tune. Rafi sounds a little off in comparison, probably because of the pitch or because he is more focused in giving the wonderful performance (obviously we didn’t have voice correction softwares those days), but his delivery of phrases like “dhokha ho gaya”, “Main woh nahin,” still steals the show. The entire melody has European sounds and the vocals match it with Arabic inflexions but the Spanish tune throws you for a loop and keeps you hooked. Probably with contemporary lyrics this song could sit quite well in today’s Bollywood too (hope Tanishk is not reading this). Like most songs of those days, this too has three antaras and both Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar demonstrate a fun repartee with gusto with Lata trying to seduce Rafi — “Dil tera ho rahega, gar tu ise apnaa le“, and Rafi resisting through Shailendra’s lyrics — “Mujhpe apna jaadoo na chala, kaha mera sunn, kahin aur jaa!” It just shows that even though we don’t give her enough credit for it, Lata too, had the amazing talent for singing such songs, and not only Asha Bhosle. The manually created reverb effects that Pancham has managed with the singers’ voices are amazing. The grand orchestra of clarinets, bongos and strings to go with the Spanish sounds are brilliant, and it is good to know that Pancham had a penchant for Spanish sounds right from his first album, when most people think that he developed it as he progressed as a composer. The song is something that hits you right at Go and stays with you for long, and before you know it, you end up humming it at odd hours. 


With lyrics like these you’d expect Aam Chhum Taam Chhum to be a situational number at best, and at most something that would probably be worth just a listen once, but in the hands of Pancham it becomes something worthy. It was said that Pancham was great at turning mediocre lyrics into amazing tunes, and this song demonstrates that amply. If you’ve heard the lyrics of the song “Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai” from ‘Ijaazat’, you’d be like “Come on! Mediocre at best” – and yet this song went on to receive a National Award thanks to Asha Bhosle’s amazing vocals and Pancham’s tunes. He turned this into something poignant and philosophical, and he drives home a similar point with this song too. At the start of the song, when the chorus of children sing, it seems like a kids’ nursery rhyme, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be – kids having fun and doing what they do best. But then Mohd. Rafi starts his piece and suddenly there’s gravitas and philosophy added – as he says, “haar ho ya jeet ho, khel mein rahein magan” (we should continue to play!). The song alternates between a nursery rhyme and something more worthwhile as the vocals alternate between the kids chorus and the “totla” Mohd Rafi. It’s quite a song, if you wait a while and listen to it carefully, and rather than simply being a better version of a nursery rhyme to be sung in schools, it gives an important message. It’s a good listen and we enjoyed it quite a lot, not the least for the fact that it’s been quite a while that we’ve heard a nursery rhyme presented in such a way, in mainstream cinema. Though, it was a genre in itself in the golden era! 


By now, we know that Pancham had a penchant for long preludes to his songs. And Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala also supports our observation, with a prelude full of guitars, strings and Pancham’s staple, the bongos, supported by an amazing saxophone piece. This prelude makes way for a kind of second interlude, where the guitars and strings take centre stage. This is a song showcasing the realisation that strikes the characters who are in love and nothing says it better than Lata Mangeshkar’s high pitched singing. After the long prelude, the way she sings “Gaate  chale hum” and “Tu hi bata humdum mere” is enough to give you goosebumps. The lost-in-love lyrics by Shailendra saab are ably supported by her upbeat rendition, and Pancham supports it with cute and fluffy arrangements. Lines like “Bheegi fizaayein, thandi hawaayein, humko kahaan le chale…” and “Khwaabon mein jiske, khoye huye the, aakhir woh din aa gaya…” ensure that the song is a perfect Bollywood song where everything is unicorns and rainbows. The entry of the dholaks in the antaras further make this song a typical Bollywood love song of the 60s, but trust Pancham to throw the mouth organ in to remind us that this is NOT a Shankar-Jaikishan or S.D. Burman song as the melody would like us to believe. Rafi does not enter until the third antara, which winds up the song in just one minute (nowadays an antara takes way more than one minute to end the song). Rafi and Lata sing the last hook as a duet, and I am definitely not the first person saying that their voices complement each other so well! It’s a pretty and sweet song, a romantic song of the 1960s.


Ilahi Tu Sun Le Hamari Dua indeed starts off like a prayer (dua) with Pancham on his oft-used xylophonic sound coupled with strings. The composition is a dulcet, slow and sweet one, creating a beautiful lullaby. Rafi’s singing is halting and lisped, suggesting the character of Mehmood who was literally a pampered man-child at this point in the film. Sound effects are abundant in the song, such as that of the wind. R.D. Burman uses a peaceful arrangement of violins throughout the song, coupled with flutes. The waltzy rhythm and strings coupled with the Sufi touches in the lyrics remind us that fusion in Hindi film music isn’t something that has cropped up in our generation — experimentation with music has been going on since the earliest days of Hindi film music! The song suggests that Mehmood is pleading to the divine power as his father lies on his deathbed and that’s why the lyics of Shailendra become so poignant. “Naaz uthaye, jisne paala, pyaal hal dam kiya humse, woh na ho juda”, sung by Rafi with the innocence of a child and the vulnerability of an adult, becomes the hallmark of this song because you feel how a man-child who was dependent completely on his parents would suddenly feel if bereft of the canopy of his parents’ love. The music before the second antara changes with the introduction of added beats, violins and the sound of the storm as it continues to increase its tempo to frenzied levels before it completely drops for a few seconds. The silence at this point is beautifully used to create emotions through the music – the father has indeed passed away. And then the vocals take over in sort of an unplugged manner with very little instruments. The rhythm becomes slower and softer and all this obviously suggests that he has lost his father at this point. The lyrics too change and say that the only person left to take care of him is God, and the way he innocently pleads to God – “Humein sirf ek aasra hai tera”, to not leave him like his father has, leaves you feeling sad and vulnerable.  Rafi’s tone likewise becomes huskier and he uses vocal fry quite well to depict that the hero is crying. The way music, lyrics and the vocals all three complement each other is noteworthy, because the change in the song midway is felt at all three levels and that was something pretty remarkable of that time period – aptly known as the “golden era of music”. Overall, it is a song that provides respite among the other upbeat songs and dance numbers in this album.


A philosophical song, Jeenewale Muskuraake Jee begins with minimal instruments and Lata’s adorable vocals (this time, again for Helen) as she tells Rafi (singing for Johny Walker this time) not to bother much with life and live each moment to the fullest as no one knows what life would bring next. This carefree attitude isn’t too well worn by our hero and this repartee is all in good fun as she coaxes him to let go. It’s a fun song, and the music complements the vocals perfectly, with guitars and strings and trumpets all strewn together to give a very peppy feel to the song. We loved the “A… Aa aah!?” employed by Rafi; these expressions give the added oomph to the song and would suit on someone like Ranveer Singh in today’s time. The way Rafi sings some words like “Aapka“, “Arey waah waah!” brings out the mocking nature of his character; he is just not ready to aceept the advice being given to him in a golden platter! The last antara has Rafi leading with “Zindagi kya cheez hain kya jaano tum!” If Rafi’s “aa aa…” gives the added oomph, Lata’s expressions at “Khabarrrr kisko”, and “Do din ki hai zindagi” are positively divine — at the end the way she calls him “Patthar dil” is absolutely endearing. It adds a new dimension to the song and this is the reason why vocalists in those days, weren’t merely voices or instruments as some composers today feel, but rather an essential part of the song. The delivery is so precise, it’s like they tell the story of the song with the way they sing. The song is a cute, short and hummable melody that stays with you for long, but propelled to new stages by the vocalists!


Coming to arguably one of the most popular songs to come out of this album, Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra was the song that brought Lata Mangeshkar back into the Burman household, after the brief tiff she had with S.D. Burman sahab. Based on the Raag Malgunji, a lesser-used Raag in Hindi film music, this semi-classical song talks of the longing of the heroine for the hero. This song was supposedly initially composed by Pancham da to include in Guru Dutt’s ‘Raaz’ which was supposed to be his first album, but the film got scrapped. The Roopak taal is used wonderfully, and coupled with amazing sounds of the ghunghroos, sets up a traditional Bollywood Mujra. The break in the rhythm employed with the “Dhak Dhak” and the “Tap Tip”, really makes the listener sit up and take notice. Beautifully worded by Shailendra as “Ghar aaja ghir aaye badra saawariya,” the heroine talks of how the rain clouds have arrived (an oft-used metaphor for the arrival of the beloved in Hindustani classical music) and it’s time now for her darling to come home. The picturisation is also beautiful; in one place Mehmood is watching a Mujra dance, while the lyrics talk of Ameeta back home, longing for him to return home. The moment you hear these words, and that tune, you feel the longing and the hope that she so desperately wants to convey. And no wonder, because the raag on which this song is based is a combination of two raags – Rageshri and Bageshri – one describing separation and the other a reunion of sorts. The perfect harkatein that Lata Mangeshkar employs (in words such as “bairang“, “jiya“, “bijuriya“) shows her impeccable command over the classical. The way Lata di sings this with a fluid grace, is simply a cherry on the top. “Soona Soona Ghar more dasne ko aye re…” and many more words like this by the wonderful Shailendra, really brings out the pathos in the melody, which makes it one of our favourite numbers and this beautiful melody makes us miss the semiclassical numbers in the current mainstream Bollywood now, because apart from the occasional number by Shreya Ghoshal, you literally have very few semi-classical songs and none as pure as this. This happens to be the root of Bollywood music, that seems to have gotten lost somewhere. In a sea of raps and rocks that we always get to hear, genres like ghazals and semiclassical songs seem to have gotten lost and this song makes us miss the purity of the raagas and the pure emotions they can evoke. 


Chura Ke Dil Ban Rahe Hain Bhole is the other mujra in the album, again one with a sad undertone to it just like ‘Ghar Aaja’. The song cuts directly to the chase, with Lata Mangeshkar’s sweet vocals supported by Dholaks and Tablas. Pancham wonderfully decorates the song with the sound of ghunghroos and an amazingly catchy beat on the Tabla. An amazing sitar-sarangi-tabla combination follows in one of the interludes. The situation is classic Bollywood — the heroine played by Ameeta, as a last resort to try and bring the hero played by Mehmood back to the path of virtue, visits the kotha disguised as a mujra dancer. As we can see a look of recognition on Mehmood’s face throughout the song, Ameeta portrays the helplessness beautifully, and the same is brought out in Lata’s heartfelt vocals. Shailendra Ji’s lyrics too bring out the pathos — “Abhi chand roz pehle, pehli mulakat mein, kuchh keh rahe the humse, haath leke haath mein” and “Koi batao ki hum kare kya, woh humko pehchaante nahin!” The feelings don’t hit you in full force till the third antara, where lyrics, music and vocals come together — “Woh bhi ek raat pyaari… Aur hi thi baat tab ki, aaj aur baat hai” and especially “jaane woh kahan hai jo yahaan hai aur saath hai” as if she cannot believe the drastic change that he has undergone. The song is a sad song disguised as a casual mujra number, just as the leading lady is disguised — Smart! 


The next song Koi Aane Ko Hai happens to be a Qawwali, rendered splendidly by Rafi saab and Shamshad Begum, and who other than these two stalwarts would have been better for this song? The adlib in the beginning sets up the scene of a Mehfil quite perfectly, and god, if there’s anything that proves Rafi’s singing prowess, it should be this adlib – this speak-singing that he is doing includes soft nuances while he speaks and that extra stress on the “daag”. Until the Dadra taal picks up and the harmonium, bulbultarang, rabaab and backing chorus ably pitches in to support Rafi, he completely dominates this song with the way he sings. The rapid scale change while singing “Iss intezaar ka aalam na puchhiye humse” before he brings it back to the original scale brings out the emotions wonderfully well. The song pauses many times to showcase the lead vocalist’s singing prowess, as is normal in traditional Qawwalis. As the Begum enters in the antara, you realise that you’ve never heard her voice in many Pancham songs, probably because this was the only one! And soon it’s a jugalbandi between the lead vocalists, and we lean more towards Shamshad Begum simply because of the ease with which she seems to sing it, but really, it’s a tough fight. So enjoyable, as a jugalbandi should be! Shailendra’s lyrics aptly describe the situation of the arrival of someone special — “Koi aane ko hai, dil machalne laga“. The chaste Urdu with which the song starts soon dissolves into colloquial Urdu+Hindi, and the upbeat rhythm on the Dholaks helps the song to appear more accessible to the common listener. Since we seem to enjoy qawwalis as a genre on the whole, this song is really amongst our favourites from this album. But let’s not forget, we’ve heard a Hindustani classical number, a Spanish/Arabian dance number, an out and out qawwali and a sweet love song, all in this one album. It speaks of the variety that Pancham offers right in his first album, and the brilliance that is about to come in the albums we will visit in the future. 


The Chhote Nawab Title Music is a nice amalgamation of Hindustani classical sounds produced on the sitar and the tabla, giving a very royal sound to the track, and the Western influences that we heard in ‘Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala’ — guitars, strings, percussions, and wind instruments. The track very beautifully sums up the variety that the album showcases and thus, is a perfect instrumental piece for the album, that ends very intriguingly with the sounds of glass tinkling and strings! 


All in all, Chhote Nawab turns out to be a very versatile debut solo album of Pancham da. And although he kind of ‘arrived’ with ‘Teesri Manzil’, we find this album, with its repertoire of Hindustani classical, mujras, jazz, Sufi, Spanish/Arabian and Hindustani blended tracks, dance numbers, romantic songs, Lullabies, Nursery rhymes, named “Chhote Nawab” more of a “Bade Badshah” in the land of music. 

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra

Music Mastani’s favourite: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra & Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala

Please let us know which song from Chhote Nawab is your favourite? 😊

HAMARE PYARE SHANKAR-EHSAAN-LOY!! (MERE PYARE PRIME MINISTER – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy & C. Ramchandra
♪ Lyrics by: Gulzar & Bharat Vyas
♪ Music Label: Sony Music / Saregama
♪ Music Released On: 1st March 2019 / “Bajaa Bajaa Bajaa Dhol Bajaa Re” on 5th March 2019
♪ Movie Released On: 15th March 2019

Mere Pyare Prime Minister Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the songs: iTunes

Listen to “Bajaa Bajaa Bajaa Dhol Bajaa Re”: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy “Bajaa Bajaa Bajaa Dhol Bajaa Re”: iTunes


Mere Pyare Prime Minister is a Bollywood film starring Anjali Patil, Om Kanojiya, Atul Kulkarni and Makrand Deshpande. The film is directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, and produced by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, P.S. Bharathi, Navmeet Singh, Rajiv Tandon and Arpit Vyas. The film revolves around the journey of an eight-year-old boy who dreams of building a toilet for his mother, after she gets raped because of having to defecate in the open. The film follows his journey from Mumbai’s slums to Delhi, in order to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister of India, because he has taken it upon himself to improve the living conditions of the slum. One would not imagine that music would have a huge scope in this film, but where there’s Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Gulzar, there can be no doubt. After ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ and ‘Mirzya’, both top class albums for the director by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and going by the director’s previous associations with A.R. Rahman in ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Delhi 6’, this album too is no doubt, something we can expect a lot from. So let’s see, whether and how humare pyare Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy pamper Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra again!


The composer trio opens their third collaboration with director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra with a quirky and cute Title Song, one that starts with a very trademark Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy groove, and a catchy whistle. The breezy tune is something that I’d have loved to hear in Shankar or Siddharth Mahadevan’s voice, but the trio exercises its expertise in voice casting and brings a fresher option to the listeners, in Arijit Singh. The man renders the composition beautifully, with impeccable falsettos where needed, and the composers employ a well-appointed male chorus on the background in the interlude and hooklines. The arrangements are peppy, the brass band playing a major part in making them lively; and obviously the aforementioned whistle. Gulzar saab’s lyrics are a plea (an arzi) to the Prime Minister, as though written from a small child’s point of view, and that is so cute! Lines like “Chaali Toh Di Hai, Shauchaalay Bhi De De“, and “Arzi Meri, Marzi Teri“, speak volumes. What could’ve been improved on though, is the composition, only because we know Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are capable of much better, and they had the scope!
That complaint is handled by the trio with the next song, Rezgaariyan, a groovy Qawwali-ish number with all the stock Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy elements you can think of — a rock guitar groove with a repeating couplet that also starts the song off, one that is again written spectacularly by Gulzar — “Daana Daana Uparwala Dega Dega, Neeche Wala Jo Bhi Dega, Paisa Lega!” The hookline is composition goals; it must be really tough to crack the tune for a word like “Rezgaariyan”, meaning “loose coins”, or the colloquial Hindi Chillar. And once you know the meaning of the central word of the song, everything fits into place quite beautifully; the song takes on a social message which is hard to dislike. Shankar and Shivam, the father-son duo, handle the vocals very well, and I’m surprised to see Arif Lohar mentioned in the credits, after the recent events concerning India and Pakistan, but I’m glad to see the taint of that hasn’t reached art. This one is a song that’ll play in your head on loop once you hear it once.
It’s time for more fun when Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy remake a very cute old Holi song, ‘Ja Re Hatt Natkhat’ (Navrang), a classic by C. Ramchandra. Rechristened Bajaa Bajaa Bajaa Dhol Bajaa Re, this one is the most fun a song can get these days. The lyrics mention dafli, khanjri, dhol and whatnot, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s sampling of the old song is just genius — I like how these seasoned composers always keep that in mind while recreating a song — Vishal-Shekhar in ‘The Disco Song’ (Student of The Year), Amit Trivedi in ‘Hungama Ho Gaya’ (Queen) retained the original singer’s voices, and so do Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for this one, and in a very creative way. They spin an original mukhda which cleverly and unsuspectingly leads to the hook of the old song, making it sound all the more cute and fascinating. The vocals are a powerhouse on this track; Shankar Mahadevan leading the male portions while Rekha Bhardwaj delivers a spunky performance in the female portions alongside the sampling of Asha Bhosle from the old song. Other supporting singers include Divya Kumar, Shrinidhi Ghatate and Neela Mulhekar. The arrangements are amazing; the dhols, dafli and that whole ‘Dhadang Dhang’ (Rowdy Rathore) -esque rhythm, make the song really enjoyable all in all, as does the synthesiser playing the old song’s hook tune. And, however advanced we are getting in terms of quirky lyrics, it is only from the pen of Gulzar that we can still rely on hearing lines like “Thodi thodi bakri hansi, thoda thoda murga hansa, ekdum ek drumroll baja re!” All in all, this is one of the best remakes I’ve heard, forget in a long time, but in my whole life!
The trio decides to end the album on a sombre note, with Kanna Re Kanna, a beautiful lullaby that is rendered to perfection by Rekha Bhardwaj. The song starts with her humming, to be accompanied by mellow piano notes and a divine flute in a while. The trio’s composition is par excellence; even if it doesn’t pique the interest of normal listeners, it will surely interest the classical/semi-classical music aficionados, as they will find something to connect to in this five minutes of heaven. It is rare to get such an intricate lullaby from Bollywood, especially in the year 2019. Obviously, without Rekha Bhardwaj’s scintillating rendition, it would’ve remained just half as touching. The trio’s other lullaby this year, ‘Tak Taki’ (Manikarnika), suffered from lack of connect, because of the heavy orchestration and lyrics there, but this one is a direct heart-to-heart conversation, and will especially touch a chord in the hearts of all the sons out there. Gulzar writes lines like “Inch inch beta mera bada bhi hoga / Zindagi se chhota mota jhagda bhi hoga / Chot lagegi kabhi, lahu bhi girega / zindagi ghaseetegi toh tagda bhi hoga” — simple and very direct, but very emotional. A beautiful finale to the short and sweet album! 😊


As expected, Mere Pyare Prime Minister turns out to be yet another golden collaboration between the director and music directors, but this time, it will sadly go a bit less noticed than the previous two! Four songs spanning huge variety, in an album to a film with not much musical scope, is not a nominal feat, and just makes me believe that no matter how much of the new trends are setting in, Bollywood’s home composers, of which Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy constitute a substantial part, will always be there to supposedly salvage the wreckage.

 

Total Points Scored by This Album: 8 + 8.5 + 9 + 9.5 = 35

Album Percentage: 87.5%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < प < ध < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Kanna Re Kanna = Bajaa Bajaa Bajaa Dhol Bajaa Re > Rezgaariyan > Mere Pyare Prime Minister 

 

Which is your favourite song from Mere Pyare Prime Minister? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

PRODUCERS KA HALKA HALKA GHUROOR!! (FANNEY KHAN – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Amit Trivedi, Tanishk Bagchi, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Shankar-Jaikishan
♪ Lyrics by: Irshad Kamil & Hasrat Jaipuri
♪ Music Label: T-Series / ‘Badan Pe Sitare’ on Saregama
♪ Music Released On: 19th July 2018
♪ Movie Released On: 3rd August 20181400x1400bb3

Listen to the songs: Saavn | Gaana

Buy the songs: iTunes

Listen to ‘Achche Din Ab Aaye Re’: Saavn

Listen to ‘Badan Pe Sitare’: Saavn | Buy on iTunes


Fanney Khan is an upcoming Bollywood film starring Anil Kapoor, Pihu Sand, Rajkummar Rao and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in crucial roles. The film is directed by Atul Manjrekar and produced by Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Kussum Arora, Nishant Pitti, Anil Kapoor, P.S. Bharathi and Rajiv Tandon. The film is an adaptation of the Dutch film ‘Everybody’s Famous’, and it deals with the issue of body-shaming. The music of the film has been composed by Amit Trivedi, with one guest composition, (#NotARemake) by Tanishk Bagchi. This is Trivedi’s fifth album of the year, and out of the four previous ones, ‘Bhavesh Joshi Superhero’ and ‘Pad Man’s were the only solo albums, whereas in ‘Raid’ and ‘Blackmail’, T-Series had forced songs by other composers. Thankfully, in both the albums, the guest songs weren’t bad or frustrating. In fact, in ‘Blackmail’, it was Trivedi who wasn’t at the top of his game. Well, seeing as to how this album is 6/7th his, maybe this will be one of the better ‘multicomposer’ albums of his this year. Let’s dive in!


As is the norm, I usually get the guest composition done with at the beginnjng, or leave it for the very end; here, I will get it over with. So Tanishk’s guest composition Mohabbat, which has left many confused as to whether it’s a remake of Noor Jehan’s ‘Jawaan Hai Mohabbat’, (but which clearly isn’t a remake of that, if you pay attention to the tune), starts the album off. And it is one of the most disappointing original songs by Tanishk. First of all, he creates some weird sounds that hurt the ears, and continues it with grating programming of Sunidhi’s voice that makes her sound horrible! The composition is quite simple, and a bit catchy on and off, but for the most part, it is a very forgettable tune, that could’ve been propped up by Sunidhi’s vocals, if the composer hadn’t programmed it so badly! Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are nothing great, and when the song isn’t interesting, the lyrics don’t really matter that much.

Amit Trivedi too, uses Sunidhi for his first song, Halka Halka, an EDM reimagination of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s famous Qawwali. The difference in Sunidhi’s voice itself shows you what Tanishk had done wrong in the first song. Anyway, the song as a remake, is quite creative — the composer adds a pacy drop to the song after the hookline, and I love the new padding he has composed before the hookline, as the mukhda; it has a beautiful tune, which Sunidhi delivers fascinatingly. However, I didn’t quite like that the hookline has been extended to four lines. The original hookline with two lines was good enough! Divya Kumar complements Sunidhi well, and against the EDM backdrop, both of them, a duo not yet tested by composers, sound magical, and I’m glad Trivedi did try such a contrasting pair for a song.

Trivedi is also made to remake Shankar-Jaikishan-Mohd. Rafi’s iconic Badan Pe Sitare and who better than Sonu Nigam to sing a version of that song? We’ve been hearing the man sing his take on the song ever since I can’t even remember when, and to hear a proper mixed and mastered audio version of him singing the song is a treat for his fans. Amit Trivedi does an awesome job recreating the actual raw orchestra touch of the original song — drums and trumpets owning the arrangements. And obviously, Sonu Nigam owning the song with his energetic and boisterous performance!

The original part of the album is not as exciting as the remake part, sadly, but Amit still manages to give one beautiful song, Achche Din, which has a sweet middle-class touch to it, in both lyrics and tune. Amit’s heartfelt rendition helps the song sound genuine as well, and it suits the setting of Anil Kapoor playing a taxi driver waiting for his fortune to get better. Irshad KamilsK lyrics have a sense of genuineness in them, which propels the song further and Amit’s use of clarinets (I.D. Rao) and flutes is wonderful. But what keeps the song together is the strong composition. The reprise version type of song, Achche Din Ab Aaye Re is the same audio file with a little additional coda at the end, where the lyrics have been tweaked to let us know that Anil Kapoor’s character’s fortune has sparkled.

The rest of the album is sung by Monali Thakur, who is the voice for Pihu Sand, who plays Kapoor’s daughter in the film. The first of the songs, Tere Jaisa Tu Hai, is straight out of the ‘Secret Superstar’ soundtrack, with a less stronger voice than Meghna Mishra. Monali Thakur seems to be struggling with the high notes in this song; the song itself has nothing new to offer beyond the soaring trumpet portions, but then, we heard something similar in ‘Main Kaun Hoon’ (Secret Superstar), so it doesn’t strike me as anything special. Irshad KamklsK lyrics are meaningful, but only good to listen to as long as the song plays; they are easily forgotten after the song ends.

The last song Fu Bai Fu is like those Bollywood medleys that used to feature in our movies, except, since the music label might not possess rights to all the songs, the composer has composed a song and the lyricist sprinkles different lyrics throughout that tune. The songs featured are quite fun to listen to, but nothing beyond that. The use of the Marathi folk song ”’ Bai Fu’ merely raises eyebrows — why was it needed? And was it needed? The arrangements are some of the most bland arrangements Trivedi has provided in recent times — a repetitive loop of the same sounds plays all throughout the song. Monali’s rendition is good in this song, though, and so are her imitations in the interlude. But again, why?


The whole album seems like the producers were way too overconfident with their movie, and in the process, their halka halka ghuroor seems to have made them pay no attention to the quality of the music album! A letdown of a music album for a movie that revolves around music!

 

Total Points Scored by This Album: 6 + 7 + 7 + 7.5 + 7.5 + 6.5 + 6 = 

Album Percentage: 67.86%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < प < < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Achche Din = Achche Din Ab Aaye Re > Badan Pe Sitaare = Halka Halka > Tere Jaisa Tu Hai > Mohabbat = Fu Bai Fu

Remake Counter:
No. Of Remakes : 30 (from previous albums) + 02 = 32

Which is your favourite song from Fanney Khan? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

DANCE, ROMANCE AUR GANGSTERPANTI!! (SAHEB BIWI AUR GANGSTER 3 – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Rana Mazumder, Siddharth Pandit, Anjjan Bhattacharya & Madan Mohan
♪ Lyrics by: Kumaar, Revant Shergill, Sandeep Nath, Kausar Munir & Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
♪ Music Label: Saregama
♪ Music Released On: 26th July 2018
♪ Movie Released On: 27th July 2018

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 Album Cover

 

Listen to the songs: Saavn | Gaana

Buy the songs: iTunes


Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 is a Bollywood action / crime thriller starring Sanjay Dutt, Jimmy Shergill, Chitrangada Singh and Mahie Gill in lead roles, directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and produced by Rahul Mittra and Tigmanshu Dhulia. The film opened to mostly negative reviews, but thankfully, we music reviewers don’t have to poke our little noses into that. The music album of the film is primarily composed by Rana Mazumder, who made a spectacular  debut last year with Tigmanshu Dhulia’s ‘Raag Desh’, in which the guest composer was Siddharth Pandit, also featuring as guest composer here. They are joined by Anjjan Bhattacharya too, the second guest composer. Now, I barely remember any tracks from the previous installments of this franchise, showing how short their repeat value was. Let’s see whether the tracks in this instalment are any better.


Let’s get the songs by the two guest composers covered first — just my OCD, nothing else. 😂

Kesariya Jugni is another of the countless takes on the ‘Jugni’ folk song, but other than the tumbi nothing reminds me of the original, so I don’t think I’d classify it as a recreation! Anjjan Bhattacharya, who I always believed to be the melody master when Meet Bros. Anjjan was still a trio, takes the opposite path here; he relies more on the sound to propel his song forth. The aforementioned tumbi gives the song its required Punjabi energy, while other techno sounds help give it a universal connect. Dhols and all are present, but don’t contribute much. My favourite touch was the “Aao ji aao sarkar…” portion sung by Amit Gupta. The Nooran Sisters (whose surprisingly it is the first song of the year ONLY! 😕) carry the entire song on the shoulders; whenever it starts getting remotely repetitive, the Noorans keep it interesting and listen-worthy. Kumaar’s lyrics are something that would fit into a ‘Tanu Weds Manu 3’ as well, but Anjjan’s music it what makes it suit the vibe of this franchise.

The other guest composer Siddharth Pandit creates the Baba Theme, which succeeds as a gangster song, but fails to keep the listener attentive. Revant Shergill’s rendition is weak, the composition is closer to a recitation of sorts, and the arrangements are way too repetitive (more than Sanju’s ‘Baba Bolta Hai’ too!) for my liking. Revant Shergill even pens the lyrics, which again, are unsatisfactory. This song is something to skip if you get bored of repetitive sounds in songs.

Rana Mazumder starts his portion of the album with a recreation (more like a cover) of Lag Ja Gale from ‘Woh Kaun Thi’. After Lata Mangeshkar, the only singer who’s gotten even close to her rendition was Shreya Ghoshal, who I’ve been fortunate enough to hear singing this live! Rana Mazumder though, ropes in Jonita Gandhi, who had me floored by her rendition! Obviously not close to Lata di’s rendition, but from the current crop of singers, it’s only Gandhi who can get even this close to Shreya’s rendition too. What’s an added bonus, is that Mazumder keeps the arrangements really, really wonderful. The calmness and emotion of the original song has been kept intact, since Rana has used a beautiful orchestra, wonderful twinkling sounds, a mellifluous flute, chimes, and even a well-placed, iconic sitar. Of course, Madan Mohan ji‘s song is immortal, but I’m pleasantly surprised with this presentation of it. It is definitely a recreation I’d want to reach a million views in a day, but sadly, that kind of ‘recognition’ is in some other song’s fortune. 😦

As we veer over to Rana Mazumder’s original part of the album, we see a shift in the music from the modern, gangster-y music which the two guest composers had used in their songs, to a noticeably Pancham-ish vibe in Mazumder’s original songs. Three of the next five songs have that distinct Pancham touch, the first one being Andheron Mein Rishtey, which features in two versions, both with the same jazzy arrangement, which was a staple arrangement for detective/gangster films in the 70s or so. The trumpets are fascinating, as is the bass, and the composition is aptly sinister, as are Sandeep Nath’s lyrics. The Male Version by Arijit Singh falls below the Female Version by Mandakini Bora (newcomer?) though; Arijit’s sleepy voice just didn’t suit the theme of the song. Mandakini renders the song sensuously; such songs are best in female voices, I feel. That said though, her voice isn’t something I’d listen to the song solely for.

More along the Panchamda vibe is Dil Ka Parinda, which is crooned by the composer along with Usha Uthup. It starts with a pacy Latin rhythm with amazing Spanish guitars and Caribbean-style percussions. The first time around, the song sounds a bit pretentious, but it grows on you with the number of times you listen to it; Usha Uthup as usual is at her best in such songs; she leaves no stone unturned in making it her own song. Even composer Rana Mazumder tries to pull off a Pancham, but he doesn’t do it as well as he had done under Vishal-Shekhar’s music direction in ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ (The Dirty Picture). Even if you don’t like retro songs, you should listen to this song if only for the guitars and percussions. Sandeep Nath’s lyrics, yet again, are fun, though nothing exciting.

Rana departs from the Pancham vibe gradually, but Aye Huzoor still has some distinct Pancham touches in the arrangements. Rana uses sitar wonderfully again, and a very commendable use of muffled tabla sounds makes it a very delightful composition. The ‘Hey Shona’ (Ta Ra Rum Pum) duo Shaan and Sunidhi Chauhan render the song beautifully; Sunidhi is singing in the same voice which she had sung in, in that song as well. Though the composition is listener-friendly, I don’t think I see myself revisiting it many times in the future. Kausar Munir has written some cliché Bollywood romance lyrics, but they’re not dated as in irritating at all.

The last song, Davaa Bhi Woh, is drastically different from the previous songs of the album. It is entirely reminiscent of the Ismail Darbar – Sanjay Leela Bhansali combinations in ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ and ‘Devdas’, especially the latter. Right from the female chorus in the beginning, to the overbearing tablas and kathak sounds, like the ghungroos and bols, this song is splendid. The new singer Saberi Bhattacharya is wonderful as well, and reminds me of Alka Yagnik in places. Rana Mazumder spins a beautiful melody based on Raag Khamaaj (I believe; don’t quote me) and reminds you of other songs like ‘Jagaave Saari Raina’ (Dedh Ishqiya). The conclusion to the song is magnificent as it should be, and I wonder what it is doing here in this soundtrack. 🙄


Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 turns out to be the most memorable album of the franchise; I can see myself humming most of these tunes in the near future at least! Rana Mazumder manages to churn out entertainingly varied songs even for a gangster flick!

 

Total Points Scored by This Album: 6.5 + 4 + 8.5 + 6 + 6.5 + 7 + 7.5 + 9 = 55

Album Percentage: 68.75%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < प < < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Davaa Bhi Woh > Lag Ja Gale > Aye Huzoor > Dil Ka Parinda > Andheron Mein Rishtey (Female) = Kesariya Jugni > Andheron Mein Rishtey (Male) > Baba Theme

Remake Counter:
No. Of Remakes : 29 (from previous albums) + 01 = 30

Which is your favourite song from Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

MY FAVOURITE A.R. RAHMAN SONGS (PART 1: 1992-1999)

So, I had asked my followers on Twitter which composer they would like me to make a list on about my favourite songs by that composer. The options were A.R. Rahman, Jatin-Lalit, Anu Malik and Nadeem-Shravan, four of the most prominent Bollywood composers in the 90s. Of course, only one of them is just as relevant now as he was then, and that is Mr. A.R. Rahman, and maybe that’s the reason he ended up winning this poll.

My Favourite A.R. Rahman Songs from 1992-1999

But then I thought, How am I ever, ever going to cover my favourite ARR songs in one post? The man has so far had a very illustrious career in the music industry, ranging from Tamil to Hindi and even making us proud by composing entire soundtracks for so many Hollywood feature films! So I thought of splitting my post about him into four parts. Or maybe three. Let’s see. Also I’m sure I can’t limit myself in number of songs in such posts, so for whatever composer it may be, I will list as many songs as I feel, really deserve to be listed! So let’s get started with my favourite songs of A.R. Rahman from 1992 to 1999!

P.S. The following list is in order of release of the movies.

P.P.S: Including dubbed Hindi versions of the songs as well, because there are some real gems in those albums. 🙂

Here’s the Saavn playlist so you can listen along.

Song titles listed in pink have been added on 15/7/2019 — a few songs I missed in 2018 and had to add now that I have caught up on them. They have been added on the Saavn playlist as well 🙂


1. Chhoti Si Asha (Roja; 1992)

Singer: Minmini, Lyrics by: P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Magnasound Media Pvt. Ltd.

Well, Wikipedia tells me that initially, Alka Yagnik was going to sing this song, one of my most favourite songs from when I was a child, but due to date issues, it had to be sung by Minmini, who sang the original Tamil version as well. And little did I know then that this song marked the debut of a young composer who would later on be so influential and bring a sound revolution to Bollywood! This song’s composition is like a dream realised in the mode of a song, and the lyrics, even though they’re dubbed, resonate in some way with each and every one of us! And that iconic opening flute just fills you with happiness whenever you hear it. Enjoy!

2. Yeh Haseen Vaadiyaan (Roja; 1992)

Singers: S.P. Balasubrahmanyam & K.S. Chithra, Lyrics by: P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Magnasound Media Pvt. Ltd.

Another classic from the historic debut album of the maestro, this one is a lilting romantic number that gives me goosebumps everytime I listen to it. SPB and Chithra complement each other oh so well, and the song really reaches its peak when the singers sing “Mere jaane jaan…” The sensuous composition by Rahman and the digital beats that accompany it, are well managed, and Mishra’s lyrics are spot on!

3. Roja Jaanemann (Version 2) [Roja; 1992]

Singer: Hariharan & Sujatha Mohan, Lyrics by P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Magnasound Media Pvt Ltd.

I promise, the 26 years late ‘Roja’ madness will be over; this is the last one! But I love them all so much, especially this one and especially one of the songs I’m cutting out (Bharat Humko) and just had to insert this one here because… It’s so good!! Deliberately listing the Hariharan version because hey, his aalaaps are goosebumps-inducing and also, SPB got his Roja song on this list. Sujatha Mohan’s haunting humming throughout the song is just 😍.

After that he did a number of Tamil films, which definitely were dubbed in Hindi, but I’ve heard only some of those songs, and I like even fewer.

4. Muqabala Muqabala (Hum Se Hai Muqabala; 1995)

Singers: Mano & Swarnalatha, Lyrics by P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Venus

This has become a dance anthem, thanks to Prabhudheva’s moves in this song, and the beats are just as worthy of making this song so popular. The quirky (though bad) lyrics help the song sound silly but likeable, and Rahman’s tune is really catchy — the song isn’t so famous for nothing!

5. Sun Ri Sakhi (Hum Se Hai Muqabala; 1995)

Singer: Hariharan, Lyrics by P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Venus

Rahman experiments a lot with strings and tablas in this one, a beautifully charming romantic number that melts your heart by sweetness. Hariharan gracefully renders Rahman’s just as sweet tune, and it results in a song that I’d listen to for years to come.

6. Kehna Hi Kya (Bombay; 1995)

Singer: K.S. Chithra, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd.

I don’t think I know a soul on this planet who has heard this song and doesn’t like it, except for the 567 souls who have disliked it on YouTube. God bless their ears. This song is a showcase of Rahman’s versatility, composing such a heart touching composition and adorning it with splendid tablas, santoor (I believe) and the Qawwali part which he sings (again, I believe) is so beautiful. Chithra’s voice us as sweet as honey, and the way she pronounced “Unhe” is adorable. The most iconic portion of the song is probably the rushed female chorus, awkwardly trying to fit Mehboob’s lyrics into Rahman’s tune that goes too fast, but it’s an immortal classic by now and we all enjoy it so, nothing more can be said!

 7. Tu Hi Re (Bombay; 1995)

Singers: Hariharan & Kavita Krishnamurthy, Lyrics by: Mehboob, Music Label: Universal Music India Pvt. Ltd.

Now don’t tell me you came here looking for my favourite Rahman songs and didn’t expect me to include this gem. Yes, it’s highly popular and it’s quite surprising to see such craze for a dubbed Hindi song! I mean, the recent dubbed albums by Rahman almost went unnoticed! Rahman’s lilting composition gives me the goosebumps everytime and Hariharan’s silky smooth voice is the USP of the song, coupled with Kavita Krishnamurthy’s strong “Aayi re..” followed by a whole stanza sung by her. The plucked strings give the song its necessary haunting touch, and that high portion in the antara is composition at its best.

8. Hai Rama (Rangeela; 1995)

Singers: Hariharan & Swarnalatha, Lyrics by: Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

Yet again, another song you should have expected to feature here even before clicking the link. Indian Classical music is one of the best pacifiers in the world, and in ‘Hai Rama’, Rahman creates a very sensuous atmosphere with the opening music itself — a Bandish from the Raaga Puriya Dhanashree starts the song off supported by the ever faithful tanpura, followed by addictive percussion (Thavil?) and again, immersive strings. The melody only starts and makes things even better. Here, Hariharan sounds quite different from what he did in his previous songs with Rahman, all the gentle qualities shed off and he assumes more of a bold voice here, while Late Swarnalatha does wonders with her voice. 😍 The interludes in this song are amazing, again relying on percussion, flutes and low pitched vocals that are so haunting. The sound Rahman has introduced with this song should have been utilised more by other composers, but I somehow think they would never have accomplished it and hence, didn’t try.

9. Pyaar Yeh Jaane Kaisa Hai (Rangeela; 1995)

Singers: Kavita Krishnamurthy & Suresh Wadkar, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

Now this song is a showcase of Rahman’s splendid work with strings. The same string loop plays repeatedly in the background, never sounding tedious, but making the song more inmersive and accentuating the melody along with enhancing the listening experience. The thumping sounds Rahman included alongside that violin loop, are great and the interludes yet again, are a class apart, especially the violin solo from 2:40 to 3:10 in the video below. And what can one say about Kavita Krishnamurthy’s voice? The great Suresh Wadkar himself, with all due respect to him, fizzles out in front of her. Rahman must make such songs again!

10. Tanha Tanha (Rangeela; 1995)

Singer: Asha Bhosle, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

Again, splendid work with strings and flutes makes this song stand out. With a distinct oriental sound, this one is a great song to listen to when you want to chill out. Asha Bhosle’s naughty voice makes her sound younger than she ever had before, and every time I listen to the song, she reminds me why she is my favourite Mangeshkar sister. I’ve spoken less about Rahman with this song, because the maestro very graciously sits back and let’s Asha ji do her thing while he adds mere digital beats during her vocal portions, and steps forward for the mind blowing prelude and interludes.

11. Yaaron Sun Lo Zara (Rangeela; 1995)

Singers: Udit Narayan & K.S. Chithra, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

Hey, stop complaining about this whole list being about ‘Rangeela’! It is my favourite album from the 90s and I’ve no qualms in including all the songs from it on the list (don’t worry, I won’t!) Also how can I ignore Aamir Khan? All the others have been picturized on Jackie Shroff. This song is one of my favorites for a reason — the upbeat composition by Rahman doesn’t impend him from adding cool stuff with strings, especially in the interludes, where the entire orchestra pitches in. And that quirky sound at the beginning is so iconic! Again, Chitra sounds so cute with her Hindi pronunciation, and Udit Narayan as always sounds young. He still does. That doesn’t mean we should remake this song, Bollywood.

12. Telephone Dhun Mein (Hindustani; 1996)

Singers: Hariharan & Kavita Krishnamurthy, Lyrics by P.K. Mishra, Music Label: Tips Music

One of the most exemplary songs when it comes to bad Tamil to Hindi dubbing, this one actually has a strong and catchy ‘Dhun’, and it seems like a sign for things to come as Rahman would compose something similar five years later for ‘Lagaan’ in the song ‘Ghanan Ghanan’. Hariharan again, changes all preconceptions about him, and sings wonderfully even in a calm but fun dance number. Rahman does his job great with the nice percussions.

13. Awaara Bhanwre (Sapnay; 1997)

Singers: Hema Sardesai & Malaysia Vasudevan, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: Saregama 

Thankfully this dud of a movie had good music. This song is an ode to nature of sorts, and Rahman’s catchy composition is so beautiful. Sadly, my friends think that this song is an original song from the Pears (or was it Ponds) TVC. Rahman’s inclusion of the hill tribe folk music in the interludes is engaging, as are the catchy but minimalistic beats which the melody is based on. Hema Sardesai sounds a lot better here than she does in Anu Malik songs.

14. Chanda Re (Sapnay; 1997)

Singers: Sadhana Sargam & Hariharan, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: Saregama

If this list were in the order of my favourite song to my least favourite song, this one would be somewhere at the very top. The beautiful santoor tune that follows the hook line each time, is goosebumps-inducing, and Hariharan singing the high notes along with Sadhana Sargam’s beautiful voice, are a treat to listen to. The composition of ‘Inn dhundhli dhundhli..” is so ravishing! Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are heart warming as well.

15. Shabba Shabba (Daud; 1997)

Singers: Ranu Mukherjee, Sonu Nigam & Neeraj Vora, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

This song is just as addictive as the characters in the film find whatever it is they’re drinking. I’ve never heard of the singer Ranu Mukherjee, but I commend ARR for finding her because her voice is so perfect for this song. Sonu Nigam seems to be struggling to create a husky voice texture, but Rahman’s addictive tune and wonderful tribal folksy music makes up for it. And don’t miss interlude 2, with an amazing, amazing violin portion!

16. Yeh Jaan (Daud; 1997)

Singers: Kavita Krishnamurthy & Vinod Rathod, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Tips Music

Another one along the lines of ‘Pyar Yeh Jaane Kaisa’ (Rangeela), this one is another sensuous romantic song. This time though, substituting the strings that repeated in that song, is a low pitched tuba, that sounds just as majestic. The legendarily low pitched Vinod Rathod complement Krishnamurthy well, and the slow and haunting tune by Rahman works wonders. Also, is it just me or does the tube remind you of ‘Roja Jaanemann’ too?

17. Ajooba (Jeans; 1998)

Singers: Hariharan & Sadhana Sargam, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: T-Series

One of my childhood favourites, this song is as beautiful as whatever the most beautiful thing you can think of is. Name it, and this song is more beautiful if not as beautiful, as it. With that impressive flute melody, you cant really go wrong. And Hariharan. And Sadhana Sargam. What can go wrong? And nothing seems to have, even in the picturization. Aishwarya Rai. The seven wonders of the world. What else can you ask for! 😍

18. Tauba Tauba (Jeans; 1998)

Singers: Hariharan & Anuradha Sriram, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: T-Series

Yet another song that looks as wonderful as it sounds, with Rahman doing a great job with the percussion and the intermittent Qawwali touches. Hariharan obviously sounds great; by the end of this list it’ll probably be 1000 times I say it. Again, great work with the folksy sounds that Rahman has produced for the song, especially the Dandiya and the claps etc. The female chorus is wonderful and Anuradha’s haubting humming is a nice addition. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics make it all the better!

 

19. Kehta Hai Mera Yeh Dil (Jeans; 1998)

Singer: Kavita Krishnamurthy, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: T-Series

This one being based on a Carnatic raaga, it is, I believe, Rahman’s forte. And right from the vocal rhythm by Krishnamurthy, to the flute, to the melodious composition, this song is brilliant. There is some funky stuff going on in the video, what with two Aishwaryas, skeletons and whatnot. But the song as a song, is something I’ve loved since childhood. A pure Carnatic song.

20. Jiya Jale (Dil Se; 1998)

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar & M.G. Sreekumar, Lyrics by Gulzar, Malayalam Lyrics by Girish Pulthenchri, Music Label: Venus

Now this is where the actual Rahman magic actually starts, for me. Picking a singer who was almost towards the end of her career, and giving her a boost by making her sing a song with the essence of Kerala in its beats, and knowing it would do so well, I wish every composer had brains like Rahman. While others composers during this period were miscasting Lata Mangeshkar and making her sound too old for the songs she sung, Rahman skillfully managed to create this song in such a pitch that the songstress wouldn’t have to sound strained. And what can I say about Sreekumar’s Malayalam portions? They’re heavenly! And probably the only Malayalam most Indians know. Gulzar’s poetic lyrics (I believe a first for Rahman) served the song well, and wow. Just wow. This song is wow.

21. Ae Ajnabi (Dil Se; 1998)

Singers: Udit Narayan & Mahalakshmi Iyer, Lyrics By Gulzar, Music Label: Venus

If this list seems generic, it’s because it is. Nobody can ignore these songs when it comes to talking about the best Rahman songs! ‘Ae Ajnabi’ is one of those, complete with its haunting classical melody, especially in the antara, where Udit Narayan goes mind bogglingly high, and manages to pull it off effortlessly. Rahman equips a minimalistic duff rhythm in the backdrop, which has been heavily overused these days when composers want to evoke pathos. But some things work only once.

22. Satrangi Re (Dil Se; 1998)

Singers: Sonu Nigam & Kavita Krishnamurthy, Lyrics by Gulzar, Music Label: Venus

The Arabic influence in this song is spectacular, and Sonu Nigam’s vocals, spot-on. The little nuances in his voice are wonderful to listen to, while Kavita’s haunting whispery portions send chills down your spine. Rahman creates a catchy tune, with the accordion (?) that plays the Arabic tune over and over again throughout the song. This song is goosebumps.

23. Dil Se Re (Dil Se; 1998)

Singers: A.R. Rahman, Anuradha Sriram, Anupama & Febi Mani, Lyrics by Gulzar, Music Label: Venus

The iconic title song for ‘Dil Se’ was I believe, Rahman’s singing debut in Hindi (@phanishankar reminds me his Hindi singing debut is ‘Mangta hai Kya’ from ‘Rangeela’), and the man did sing as well as he composed. The way this song goes from soft to loud in a fraction of a second, is worthy of compliments, and especially the classically inclined bits like ‘Piya piya…’ are beautiful. Again, the composer has done amazing work with strings, percussions and made the song sound grand. The song starts with minimalistic bass doing the whole job but goes on to include some really cool percussion.

24. Chhaiyya Chhaiyya (Dil Se; 1998)

Singers Sukhwinder Singh & Sapna Awasthi, Lyrics by Gulzar, Music Label: Venus

Yeah, that’s pretty much the entire album of ‘Dil Se’ I have on this list, but I couldn’t help it! No introductions for this song, just sit back and groove to that irresistible groove that Rahman has equipped it with. And of course, the vocal powerhouses that Sukhwinder and Sapna are!

25. Taram Pum Taram Pum (Doli Saja Ke Rakhna; 1998)

Singers: Babul Supriyo & Srinivas, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: T-Series

A fun song, but Rahman never compromised melody in his songs, so in this song, we get a strong, actually, very strong, melody that not only is catchy, but also melodious. Babul Supriyo and Srinivas have a blast singing it, but the melodious portions in the second stanza onwards are the best. Rahman’s percussion again, is mind blowing and the flute is beautiful. This was one of my favourite songs as a child!

26. Bol Sajni Mori Sajni (Doli Saja Ke Rakhna; 1998)

Singers: Sonu Nigam & Kavita Krishnamurthy, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: T-Series

Now this is a song I discovered a year or two ago, and immediately fell in love with it, making it one of my favourite Rahman songs ever. The way he starts the song with a trademark Kathak portion, complete with Bola and Tablas, and switches over to an immersive romantic melody, decorated with his signature flutes, is commendable. Sonu Nigam has delievered one of his best renditions, and Kavita Krishnamurthy takes control of the song because her portions are quite louder and higher pitched than Sonu’s, making them stand out among the calm rest of the song.

27. Kissa Hum Likhenge (Doli Saja Ke Rakhna; 1998)

Singers: Anuradha Paudwal & M.G. Sreekumar, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: T-Series

The first time T-Series maanaged to ‘let’ Rahman use the melodious voice of Ms. PaudwalThe first time T-Series managed to ‘let’ Rahman use the melodious voice of Ms. Paudwal (I’m just glad they haven’t managed to do so with today’s equivalent of Ms. Paudwal, as of now) resulted in a beautiful romantic song. The lilting composition was supported very well by addictive tabla beats, and the flute in the first interlude, and the orchestra with the veena in the seocnd, are worthy of high praise, as are the old-world-charm lyrics by Mehboob. The male singer could’ve been better, though;my only grouse with the song.

28. Tu Hi Tu (Kabhi Na Kabhi; 1998)

Singers: M.G. Sreekumar, K.S. Chithra, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: Shemaroo

A pacy romantic song in Tamil-movie Rahman style, it was probably the first time such an experiment was heard in Bollywood. It starts like a cranked up version of ‘Yeh Haseen Vaadiyaan’ (Roja), and goes on to a haunting melodious piece delivered meticulously by Chithra against the tanpura’s magical sound. Again, the male singer could’ve been replaced by somebody else. The magic Rahman does with strings (both Western and Indian classical) in this song, is remarkable!!

29. Tum Ho Meri Nigaahon Mein (Kabhi Na Kabhi; 1998)

Singers: Hariharan & Sujatha Mohan, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: Shemaroo

The waltzy start to thustsong instantly plugs you back to two songs that have already been listed on this list — ”Sun Ri Sakhi” (Humse Hai Muqabala) and “Bol Sajni” (Doli Saja ke Rakhna). The flute and strings provide a playful start to the song, and Hariharan’s silky voice is a delight to listen to as always. The interludes too, are delightful with the strings. Sujatha’s aalaap in the second interlude is lovely! This is a song to cherish.

30. Mil Gayee Woh Manzilein (Kabhi Na Kabhi; 1998)

Singers: Alka Yagnik & Kumar Sanu, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: Shemaroo

This goes down in history as Kumar Sanu’s only song with A.R. Rahman, a big thing because both were so huge and prominent in that decade, one would expect more! Still, I remember this song more for the pleasant melody by the maestro, and Alka’s sweet-as-sugar voice (her first released song for Rahman, am I right?), than for anything by Sanu. This could’ve been sung by Hariharan and I wouldn’t have minded, obviously. There is a lot going on in the flutes section in the song, even though the beats backing the main melody are standard 90s beats. The antara has a beautiful tune that harks back to ‘Tanha Tanha’ (Rangeela). Turns out I knew this song but never knew the name or movie, and so in my mind it was an Anu Malik song. 😂

 31. Ishq Bina (Taal; 1999)

Singers: Sonu Nigam, A.R. Rahman, Anuradha Sriram & Sujatha, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Music Label: Tips Music/Zee Music Company/Mukta Audio

Here comes the Titan of a soundtrack, Taal, but don’t worry, I won’t include all 12 songs on the list. The most popular song from ‘Taal’, and it truly deserves to be that. Rahman fuses Qawwali elements with other Indian sounds like ‘Manjeeras’, instruments you’d normally hear in bhajans and the like. But this is a Rahman song and nothing is demarcated within rigid rule barriers. Anuradha takes the female lead quite charmingly, but it is Sonu towards the end who takes the song away, and Rahman with his Qawwali portions, provides a nice break from the repetitiveness (not in a negative way) of the female part. The bass in the female part accentuates the composition, while the violin before Sonu Nigam’s part is wonderful. And who cannot notice Anand Bakshi’s metaphorical lines? 👌

32. Nahin Saamne (Taal; 1999)

Singers: Hariharan & Sukhwinder Singh, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Music Label: Tips Music/Zee Music Company/Mukta Audio

This song. This song. This song. What can I even say? Probably the best use of piano and sitar (in a non classical song, of course) in any Bollywood song till now. And the beautiful humming, that haunting portion, that goosebumps-inducing portion, and Hariharan’s silky voice, never faltering even one bit, and that beautiful antara. Sorry if that was incoherent. It was, but, I can’t gather ny thoughts about this song just yet. NOTE: Sounds best when heard when it’s raining.

33. Taal Se Taal Mila (Taal; 1999)

Singers: Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan & Sukhwinder Singh, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Music Label: Tips Music/Zee Music Company/ Mukta Audio

Another quite obvious choice, another rain song, another song where Sukhwinder is relegated to the background but does an amazing job. In this song he is the harbinger of the entire song, singing that classical portion before the song starts, before the female chorus starts, backed by Rahman’s wonderful Indian beats comprising matkas and whatnot, the sounds of raindrops, paayals, ghungroos, how beautiful the soundscape of this song is! And then that BEAUTIFUL flute! The rhythm of the song is really passionate, so befitting for a rain song. And that SARANGI, Wow! Listening to it after so long, in the monsoon season itself, is such an experience! Alka Yagnik (isn’t it her first with Rahman?) sounds cute to say the least, while I just keep waiting for Udit’s part to play, because it is one of my favourite portions of the song, when I could see Akshaye Khanna on screen,an actor I somehow sensed was a good actor, in my childhood. 😂 Even if I write 1000 more words on this song, they won’t do justice to the song. So listen to it yourselves. And also, special shoutout to the Western Version of the song — another auditory “sight” to behold.

34. Kahin Aag Lage Lag Jaaye (Taal; 1999)

Singers: Asha Bhosle, Aditya Narayan & Richa Sharma, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Music Label: Tips Music/Zee Music Company/Mukta Audio

A spectacular song in all fronts, this one has the same passion that is carried in the title song, but this time, not in so pronounced of an Indian way, if that makes sense. Sure,there are those very adorable Aditya Narayan interactions and tribal portions throughout the song, but it really hinges upon the symphonic arrangements by Rahman — the orchestra, African drums and whatnot. Not that he doesn’t include a lot of Indian music elements. And of course, once they had Asha Bhosle on board, other composers sat back and relaxed, but Rahman has clearly not taken it for granted.

35. Kariye Na (Taal; 1999)

Singers: Sukhwinder Singh & Alka Yagnik, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Music Label: Tips Music/Zee Music Company/Mukta Audio

Another recent acquisition for me wih respect to favourite Rahman songs,this song was very badly overshadowed because of the popularity of the other songs. Again,Rahman uses many Indian music elements like the Matka to make the song sound beautiful,abd Sukhwinder’s voice amongst that minimal background is a must-hear. And Alma’s Punjabi portion is so cute! Anand Bakshi’s lyrics though, are the highlight of the song for me.

36. Ruth Aa Gayee Re (1947 Earth; 1999)

Singer: Sukhwinder Singh, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: T-Series

The Sukhwinder-ARR collaboration was going really strong in the 90s. This song is yet another example of how beautiful the two were together. Here, Rahman takes a typical Qawwali-ish rhythm and composes a motivating song around it, very Indian in its sound, and Sukhwinder’s booming vocals do the rest. No wonder this song became so popular!

37. Dheemi Dheemi (1947 Earth; 1999)

Singer: Hariharan, Lyrics by Javed Akhtar, Music Label: T-Series

The song starts with a piano piece interlaced with Hariharan’s beautiful humming, joined by a beautiful flute portion, and as the melody starts, you can see how the Rahman of ‘Roja’ and the Rahman that was yet to come — say, of ‘Swades’ and ‘Saathiya’, kind of come to a confluence in this song! The composition is so addictive, with the piano arpeggio going on throughout the song, along with the flute!

38. Rang De (Thakshak; 1999)

Singer: Asha Bhosle, Lyrics by Sukhwinder Singh & Tejpal Kaur, Music Label: Saregama

This song is the quintessential Bollywood grand dance number. Rahman has included everything that is necessary for a hit number, in this song. Asha Bhosle going into the low notes quite effortlessly and sensuously, a captivating tune harking to folk music, engaging arrangements and a wonderful backing chorus. And who knew Sukhwinder Singh was the lyricist for this song? I didn’t! The percussions in this song are marvellous, and so is that flute in the interludes. Ah, sweet memories. If only Tabu could dance better.

39. Ae Nazneen Suno Na (Dil Hi Dil Mein; 1999)

Singer: Abhijeet Bhattacharya, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Sony Music 

Disclaimer: I knew the songs from ‘Dil Hi Dil Mein’ even last year when I did this feature. Maybe I thought the film is a 2000 film, so I hadn’t included them back then. This one is magical. Abhijeet’s first with Rahman, this one is a soaring love song, the word used because of the soaring strings that kick it off. When the rhythm kicks in you can’t help but groove along to it. The antara is splendidly composed, lots of twists in the melody, and Abhijeet renders it beautifully — probably the perfect choice for the song. The Duff rhythm throughout the song is addictive.

40. Imtihaan Hum Pyaar Ka Deke (Dola Dola) [Dil Hi Dil Mein; 1999]

Singers: Srinivas & Swarnalatha, Lyrics by Mehboob, Music Label: Sony Music 

This is a trademark Rahman composition, and the duet by Srinivas and Swarnalatha is astounding, especially the breathless parts in the antara. The Qawwali-esque arrangements are astonishing, with the claps and flute dominating the soundscape, and a beautiful flute and violin interlude. The haunting composition, as mentioned before, is trademark Rahman, and this has been a song I’ve loved since childhood, so can’t dissect it technically and start unloving it now!


Those were my favourite Rahman songs from 1992 to 1999! I hope I wasn’t too obvious and you got to learn some new songs. If not, you’re already an encyclopedia that contains all the knowledge about every Rahman song ever. Stay tuned fir the next part of the series, where I’ll cover songs from 2000 onwards (most probably till 2008)! And thanks for reading such a long post! 😁

5 SONGS THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN REMADE!! (MUSICAL LIST #1)

So today marks the start of a new section in the blog — The “LISTS” Section, where I’ll be listing songs based on one particular theme, depending on what theme I’m feeling like listing songs about. :p

What better way to start this section off, than doing it in collaboration with one of my close blogger friends, Jemma Rajyaguru from the Girl At The Piano blog! Her blog is full of random musical thoughts, lists of songs, throwbacks to the Golden Era of Bollywood music, and new releases by new and upcoming artists!

Today, we will both be listing five songs each, which we wish would never have been remade! And yes, after reading my list, be sure to read Jemma’s, as her song choices are just as exciting, if not more exciting, than mine!! Correction: they definitely are more exciting!😁 So let’s get started with my five songs so you can check her list out! 🙂 If you want to check it out now though, here it is!

P.S.: I believe no song should be remade, but these are the ones where I just don’t agree with the remake!

P.P.S: These are in no particular order; it isn’t a Top5 list 🙂


1. Mere Rashke Qamar (Pop Song by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)

• Original Song Details:

Music by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Lyrics by Ustad Qamar Jalalvi, Sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, First Performed in 1988, Music Label: Hi-Tech Music

• Remake Details:

Music recreation by Tanishk Bagchi, Lyrics by Fana Buland Shehri & Manoj Muntashir, Sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Tulsi Kumar, Used in 2017 Bollywood film ‘Baadshaho’, Music Label: T-Series

One would think that nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan would object to mauling his uncle’s gem of a qawwali, but instead, he helps maul it even more, with loud and screechy vocals that would even make the laziest person cringe. Tanishk Bagchi’s constant mandolin hook doesn’t help when it keeps repeating itself all the time amidst the din of Rahat and the backing vocalists shouting.


2. Dum Maaro Dum (Hare Rama Hare Krishna; 1971)

• Original Song Details

Music by R.D. Burman, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Sung by Asha Bhosle, for the 1971 Bollywood film ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, Music Label: Saregama

• Remake Details

Music recreation by Pritam Chakraborty, New Lyrics by Jaideep Sahni, Sung by Anushka Manchanda, for the 2011 Bollywood film ‘Dum Maaro Dum’, Music Label: T-Series

One of the party songs I doubt Pritam is proud of making, ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ stands high as a song that ruined the original for me big time. Yes, a lot of cool stuff is going on in the music, but the major letdown is Anushka Manchanda’s vocals, where they create a mess of what Asha Bhosle ji and R.D. Burman actually created in the 70s. And don’t even ask me about the rap.


3. Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast (Mohra; 1994)

• Original Song Details

Music by Viju Shah, Lyrics by Anand Bakshi, Sung by Udit Narayan & Kavita Krishnamurthy, for the 1994 Bollywood film ‘Mohra’, Music Label: Venus Music

• Remake Details

Music recreation by Tanishk Bagchi, New Lyrics by Shabbir Ahmed, Sung by Udit Narayan & Neha Kakkar, for the 2017 Bollywood film ‘Machine’, Music Label: T-Series

Probably the best remake on the list, but again, Tanishk stuck to his mandolin template here, where he kept repeating the hook of the song on mandolin, and though Neha Kakkar sounds passable, Udit Narayan seems to be the saving grace of the song, sounding younger than ever. The awkward dubstep mid way through the song is just *awkward*!


4. Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas (Blackmail; 1973)

• Original Song Details

Music by Kalyanji-Anandji, Lyrics by Rajendra Kishan, Sung by Kishore Kumar, for the 1973 Bollywood film ‘Blackmail’, Music Label: Universal Music

• Remake Details

Music recreation by Abhijit Vaghani, Lyrics by Rajendra Kishan retained, Sung by Arijit Singh, Tulsi Kumar & Neumann Pinto, for the 2016 Bollywood film ‘Wajah Tum Ho’, Music Label: T-Series

Arijit himself wasn’t happy with the way Abhijit Vaghani programmed his voice in this one; and I can’t help but agree! How would you like it if you got to remake a song by the legendary Kishore Kumar, and get your voice all destroyed by electronic touches? To complement Arijit’s bad voice, we had Tulsi Kumar, who surprisingly sounded better!


5. Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam (Kaagaz Ke Phool; 1959)

• Original Song Details

Music by S.D. Burman, Lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, Sung by Geeta Dutt, for the 1959 Bollywood film ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’, Music Label: Saregama-HMV

• Remake Details

Music recreation by Rohan-Vinayak, Lyrics by Kaifi Azmi retained, Sung by Amitabh Bachchan, for the 2018 Bollywood film ‘102 Not Out’, Music Label: Saregama

The most recent remake on the list. One would think Amitabh Bachchan ji would be a bit more sensitive when singing old classics as these, but sadly, he drones the song out in such a way, that you wonder “Waqt ne Kiya, kya Haseen sitam”. Rohan-Vinayak literally do nothing but stand and watch as they treat the listeners to almost six minutes of that torture without any enjoyable music in the background either!!


Well, all in all, I feel recreations were fine until they started to be blown out of proportion and being forced into every single album that Bollywood produced. Thanks to Jemma for giving me the mauka and dastoor to vent out my feelings about remakes; I hope you guys enjoyed our collaboration, and please make sure to check out Jemma’s list (it’s amazing)!

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more such lists about varied topics! 😁