Is it June already? Once again, a whole year seems to flash by in an instant and what felt like January is now actually December. Bollywood runs at such a pace it’s so hard to remember what came out last month and the trailer that got you excited a few weeks ago, is now the movie that’s already finished in theatres. So, it’s time to take a quick stop and restock and have a look at the 10 best songs so far this year.
10. ‘Beh Chala’ – Uri
Uri is the story based on real events of a critical strike by Indian Special Forces. But even the strongest, the fittest and the best of the best need a moment to be human. ‘Beh Chala’ reminds us that these are people both as individuals and a strike force team. Families, paperwork and the uniform all must find a way to be balanced. All that with janglestick and acoustic guitar sung smoothly by Yasser Desai and Shashwat Sachdev.
9. ‘Bolo Kab Pratikaar Karoge’ – Manikarnika
“Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi” is the children’s poem that we all know to do with the great warrior Rani Laxmibai. Having been removed from her palace, she begins her legendary fight back to what Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy imagine to be her inner music as sung by Sukhwinder Singh and backed by Shankar Mahadevan. A stirring melody to ramp up the excitement in early raiding battle scenes.
8. ‘Ek Onkaar’ – Kesari
Speaking of great feats on the battlefield, Kesari is subtitled “The bravest battle ever fought”. Like its Greek equivalent 300, this is the battle of a lifetime with impossible odds with nothing more than the hope that God is on your side. So, no more fitting then for this song to be an important part of this film, with nothing more than Jasbir Jassi, a backing chorus and bell. In times of need, its important to keep the message clear and simple.
7. ‘Rappan Rappi Rap’ – Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota
But enough of the sadness of power, back to its fun side. Marvel may spend millions in Hollywood creating larger-then-life superheroes but Bollywood isn’t backing away from the challenge and our heroes get a full album to boot. Benny Dayal was the obvious choice for this mixture of film references and just endless fun. Whether its your “aakhon ka laser” or the dragons you’re growing in your fridge, the important thing to remember is “yeh bandhan to hai pyar ka bandhan”.
6. ‘Rezgaariyan’ – Mere Pyare Prime Minister
Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy are well-known for some of the greatest film songs in Karan Johar and Farhan Akhtar productions , but that’s never stopped them taking on small projects like Mere Pyare Prime Minister. The best song to come out of this album, although all the songs are both brilliant and poignant, is ‘Rezgaariyan’. If you don’t understand what it means, its fine cause they invented it for the song. But the lyrics penned by Gulzar and video of this song make it quickly clear what this is all about.
5. ‘Gud Naal Ishq Mitta’ – Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga
It’s been a bit of long time, over the great career that has been Anil Kapoor’s, that we’ve seen him do a hit song. So, what better time then on a remake of one of those great song sequences then for him to come back at full power. Navraj Hans and Harshdeep Kaur bring new life to this traditional Punjabi wedding tune reminding us that love is even sweeter than sweets. Sonam Kapoor also gets in on the act with Anil Kapoor looking both super cool and ever-loving dad in this clip.
4. ‘Kalank’ – Kalank
Lahore pre 1947 today seems like almost a utopian state with Hindu and Muslim standing side by side with no reason for conflict outside of those that people deal with every day. Each looking on the other as human, not as Indian, not as a member of a religion. Of course, love must have occurred here like anywhere else but as Arijit Singh sings “Hazaro mein kisi ko taqdeer aisi, mili hai ek Ranjha aur Heer jaise”. This love story is immortal, it’s perfect in its conception but it is a Kalank on the society it dwells in. Pritam brings a minimum of instruments, leaving the visuals and the epic voice of Arijit to take care of a great sound.
3. ‘Apna Time Aayega’ – Gully Boy
From the lovely to the hard, Gully Boy is about the rise of the Gully Gang as directed by Zoya Akhtar and led on-screen by Ranveer Singh. As this is a story that Bollywood has never done before, about one of the growths of an entirely new genre of the music industry in India, its music was very different to what has come before. Hard beats, hard words, short and sharp is the way to go to be a Gully Gang member and Ranveer certainly seems to have gained membership. For this one it’s lighters in the air!
2. ‘Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga’ – Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To Aisa Laga
This list started with war and the Gully Gang aren’t afraid to tell us about the harsh realities of life, however the early part of 2019 seems destined to be owned by love. If Kalank is an epic tale of love, this song is more its heart. While it is a remake of RD Burman’s last great album title song, in this case it really was necessary to remake it. The original was an almost childish reflection of boy meets girl whereas this one is love distilled. It takes no prisoners, asks no questions, just gives a heartfelt rendition of what it means to feel love for the first time.
1. ‘Ghar More Pardesiyan’ – Kalank
When this song was released, I labelled it an early contender for song of the year. Nothing I’ve heard since has changed my mind on that! Indian classical music isn’t often tried in Bollywood today because it doesn’t gel with visions of New York, London or Paris so when it is used it always sounds spectacular. And of course, Pritam used Shreya Ghosal to sing this song as the perfect exponent of the level of technical skill needed. I would recommend to anyone to try and sing this song for themselves to appreciate how hard it really is. Just in case you weren’t satisfied simply by the skill and mastery of Shreya though, we have Madhuri Dixit and her new pupil Alia Bhatt to admire on-screen with moves previously unseen by Alia.
Bollywood is a mysterious thing… the film that finished in theatres last week may not be remembered but it only takes 1 memorable song for that album to be a major hit. And yet even in 10 songs, we’ve represented 8 films many of which made the previous song on the list redundant. On another hand, in years to come some of these songs will be remembered as the best songs of a decade/generation/era with listeners finding these songs in playlists of greatest hits of the singer and cinemagoers tying the song to the memory of the film tied to events in their own life. That is the magic of Bollywood that keeps dragging us back into cinemas.