Musical Chairs #1: My Most Favorite Bollywood Soundtracks Ever

With this blog post, I am starting a new space, called Musical Chairs, dedicated to music. As an ardent music lover, I would like to share my anecdotes and experiences related to Music through this special section.

Bollywood movies have always been musicals. Till today if your music is well received before the release, half the battle is won at the box office. The music industry in India today is sadly going through a major crisis as the there is a lack of creativity and originality. But in retrospect, Bollywood has produced some terrific soundtracks in the past. I would like to share my favorite 5  in this blog post.

1) Rangeela – A R Rahman – 1995

Rangeela is my favorite soundtrack of all time. This Ram Gopal Varma movie experiments with various genres of music like no other soundtrack. For me A. R. Rahman has been the best music director I have heard. His repertoire and quality are unmatched. Rangeela being his maiden Bollywood venture is special and, ironically and arguably his best work so far.

The best song on the soundtrack is the title track ‘Ho Ja Rangeela Re’  sung by the evergreen Asha Bhosle. The song written by Mehboob has some unusual lyrics but is so much fun. Like most Rahman tracks, this one too has two different antras and an interlude by Aditya Narayan.

My second favorite track is ‘Mangta Hai Kya’ by Rahman and Shweta Shetty. Shweta Shetty sings this completely whacky track like a dream and Rahman too is great.

Next on the list is the semi-classical, ‘Hay Rama Ye Kya Hua’ by Swarnalatha and Hariharan. The song is laced with Indian beats and elements of thrill. And Swarnalatha and Hariharan are fantastic with their vocals.

Other Notable Songs : ‘Yaron Sunlo Zara’ – KS Chithra and Udit Narayan, ‘Tanha Tanha’ – Asha Bhosle, ‘Kya Kare Kya na Kare’ – Udit Narayan

2) Taal – AR Rahman – 1999

My second most favorite soundtrack is also composed by Rahman. Taal it is! This Subhash Ghai musical has a perfect blend of western and Indian beats. And Anand Bakshi’s lyrics complement Rahman’s tunes perfectly. Song #1 for me has to be the Asha Bhosle track ‘Kahin Aag Lage’. The lyrics, the tune, the chorus and Asha Bhosle’s voice everything is just perfect.

Next on my list is the Title Song ‘Taal Se Taal Mila’ sung by one of the most versatile voices ever, Alka Yagnik. Udit Narayan has sung the male part but it is Alka who takes away the spotlight with her soulful rendition. Especially in the antara she is unmatchable.

Song #3 is ‘Ishq Bina Kya Jeena’ by Sonu Nigam, Sujatha Mohan, and Anuradha Sriram. A winner all the way from the word go. I love the way Rahman uses his harmonies and also the chorus in the song. The sound of the tabla and the flute, laced with the sound of the ghungroo in a song that is essentially a qawwali, only Rahman can create a musical gem of this sort.

Other notable songs: Ramta Jogi – Alka Yagnik and Sukhwinder Singh, Nahin Samne – Hariharan and Sukhwinder Singh

3) Pyar Tune Kya Kiya – Sandeep Chowta – 2001

Pyar Tune Kya Kiya is remembered for two things – #1 Urmila Matondkar’s breathtaking acting and #2 its ear-pleasing music. Sandeep Chowta has always been one of my most favorite music directors ever. He too being a southern import uses the beats brilliantly. Another RGV production this soundtrack created a lot of noise when it hit the stores. No wonder it topped all the charts in 2001.

My most favorite track from this movie is also my most favorite song ever. Again an Asha Bhosle track, Kambakht Ishq is simply awesome. The song was a rage when it came out and still remains Sandeep Chowta’s most accomplished work. Sukhwinder Singh and Sonu Nigam support Asha Bhosle very well in this high on energy dance number.

Number #2 has to be the title track which has two versions. One is the faster one sung by Sonu Nigam and Alka Yagnik. It is sung well but the version that sounds like heaven is the KS Chitra one. She is as always brilliant in this haunting melody. The song just validates the Padma Shri and the 6 National Awards won by this mesmerizing voice.

The next track is the offbeat Alisha Chinai number ‘Rounde’. This too has two versions, the second one sung by Sowmya Raoh. But I like Alisha’s version more. I remember once Vishal Dadlani tweeting that Alisha Chinai is a terrible singer. He should listen to this track and eat back his words. Alisha Chinai is one of the finest the country has ever produced and this song only vindicates this further.

Other notable songs – Mujhko Khuda Ne De Diya – Sonu Nigam and Kavita Krishnamurthy, Ku Ku Ku – Sonu Nigam

4) Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein – Harris Jayaraj – 2001

Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein is probably one album where it is the most difficult to give a ranking to the songs. Each creation by the wonderful Harris Jayaraj is equally breathtaking. But if I have to pick the top 3 from the lot, which is really difficult, I will be going with the below three.

#1 Zara Zara – This song brilliantly sung by the Academy Award nominee Bombay Jaishree, is just intoxicating. Arguably one of the best songs India has ever produced, this song created huge ripples when released in 2001. Soulful, sensuous and serene.

#2 is Dilko Tumse Pyar Hua by Roop Kumar Rathod. I have numerous times listened to this track on loop for days. The use of minimum orchestration adds to the vocals of Roop Kumar Rathod and the guitar in the interlude just blows your mind.

#3 on my list is the title track sung by Sonu Nigam and Kavita Krishnamurthy. This soundtrack had several title tracks but this is the best pick of the lot. Sonu Nigam and Kavita Krishnamurthy do complete justice to this brilliant composition. Essentially an upbeat number, it also has a Carnatic touch to it. Co-incidently the top 4 soundtracks on my list are all composed by Southern composers.

Other notable songs – Sach Keh Raha Hai – KK, Aaya Re Aaya Re – Priti-Pinky (composed by guest composer Vishal-Shekhar), O Mama Mama – Sonu Nigam

5) Raaz- Nadeem-Shravan – 2002

Nadeem-Shravan were the most successful music composers in the 90s. With hits like Aashiqui, Raja Hindustani, Saajan, Beta, Pardes, Hum Hai Raahi Pyaar Ke, Dhadkan, Barsaat and numerous more, they delivered hits after hits in the 90s. But my favorite soundtrack from the duo is the 2002 supernatural Raaz. The album for me epitomizes melody and romance.

The best of the lot is the awesomely sung ‘Aapke Pyar Me’. The track also happens to be my favorite Alka Yagnik number. The song intertwines thrill, passion, and romance like never before. Special mention to Sameer for the brilliantly penned lyrics. This very year Alka Yagnik for me deserved all the awards but was unexpectedly snubbed in favor of Shreya Ghoshal and Kavita Krishnamurthy for Dola Re from Devdas. In fact, the entire movie was snubbed by all the awards in spite of being the biggest hit and the highest selling soundtrack that year.

Number #2 has to be the Alka Yagnik Udit Narayan duet ‘Jo Bhi Kasmein’. This has to be my favorite Udit Narayan song. This song was hummed by the entire nation when Raaz hit theaters. The combination of Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik is one of the best ever and this song is a testimony for the same. The beats, the lyrics, the melody everything is brilliant.

Next on the list is ‘Agar Saamne’ by Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Alka Yagnik. Essentially a wedding song, this one has more soul attached to it than frolic. Alka Yagnik is again top notch and Abhijeet supports her well.

Other notable songs – Kitna Pyaara Hai Ye Chehraa – Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik.

My top 5 Soundtracks not on the list
My top 5 Soundtracks not on the list

So these were my all time favorite Bollywood soundtracks. Do let me know which are your favorite ones and if you agree with my list or not.

P.S. – Any soundtrack to be eligible has to have minimum three awesome songs.