Best Hindi film albums of this decade, from Gully Boy, AR Rahman's Rockstar to Amit Trivedi's Manmarziyaan
Hindi film song in the 2010s saw exceptional music composers, gifted vocalists, and skilled lyricists bring their best game to the table.
What a decade it has been for the Hindi film music! Just when audiences thought it was heading into oblivion, the 2010s have actually seen some kind of resurgence in its fortunes.
Composers Amit Trivedi, AR Rahman, and Pritam all walked the tightrope in balancing commercial tastes with their own ingenuity with great aplomb. A bunch of lyricists – Irshad Kamil, and Amitabh Bhattacharya – continued the rich tradition of embellishing the Hindi film song with their own unique flavor of poetic metaphors and novel imagery.
New voices found acceptance with the audience in just the same way that listeners also wholeheartedly embraced alternative soundtracks such as Gangs of Wasseypur.
Here are the 10 best Hindi film albums of the last decade, whose songs made our hearts sing, and gave us a lot to feel good about.
Rockstar is perhaps the best film soundtrack of the decade. And one that holds its own against the best Hindi film albums of the past.
Imtiaz Ali’s films – Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, and Highway – have always been known for their quality music, but Rockstar is at an altogether different level. Composer AR Rahman and songwriter Irshad Kamil combine to deliver the perfect one-two punch with their music and lyrics.
Be it the Sufi strains of ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ or the heart-wrenching pathos of ‘Jo Bhi Main Kehna Chaahoon’ or the liberating vibe of ‘Phir Se Udd Chala’, each of the Rockstar songs, mostly sung in the inimitable voice of Mohit Chauhan, is a polished gem.
When the opening line of a song goes, ‘Aafaton ke parindey, ishaqzaadey’ you take notice. But when you hear ‘Aashiqon main jis ka title Titanic, muaah kinaara dikha kar ke dooba de gaya,' you let out a series of waah-waahs, and ask for more. And there is more in this outstanding film album by lyricist Kausar Munir.
There is a noticeably different andaaz to her writing as further manifested in the wonderful ‘Main Pareshaan’ and the melodious title song. Credit is due to composer Amit Trivedi as well. He does not just get the right playback artiste for each scintillating composition but also retains the special quality of never letting his musical arrangement drown out great lyrics.
Gangs of Wasseypur I, II (2012)
An absolutely avant-garde soundtrack that explores so many different ideas and charters so many new frontiers. An entire bunch of songs from the film, ‘O Womaniya’, ‘Hunter’, ‘Teri Keh Ke Loonga’ or ‘Chhi Chha Leather,' have achieved cult status.
The music, inspired from diverse cultural backgrounds such as Bihar and the Caribbean, pushes the envelope as to what a Hindi film song can be. Composer Sneha Khanwalkar and lyricist Varun Grover, who worked on most of the songs, deserve much applause for leaving their listeners enriched by the extent of their creative work in this film.
Just like the name of the film, the album is a delectable treat. The many lyricists who worked on the songs of the film, outshine each other with their fine contributions. If the title track penned by Swanand Kirkire is teeming with fun, then Neelesh Mishra’s ‘Kyun’ gives suitable poetic expression to the joy of being in love.
Sayeed Quadri leaves the heart yearning for more with ‘Phir Le Aaya Dil’, the Rekha Bhardwaj version of the ditty being manna for impoverished souls. Music composer Pritam, though, merits the biggest pat on the back as he imbues every composition in Barfi! with feeling, a quality sorely lacking in so many contemporary film albums.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy may not have another album on this list, but what an album Bhaag Milkjha Bhaag is! They serve up something remarkably different than the usual with their stimulating musical arrangements for ‘Maston Ka Jhund’ and ‘Mera Yaar’.
Equally, if there is a ‘Zinda’, which leaves the listener charged up and raring to go, then there is also the carefully crafted ‘O Rangrez,' which gives this soundtrack an all-round flavor. Songwriter Prasoon Joshi also appears to be in top form as he imparts his own unique flavor to each of the songs, including ‘Slow Motion Angreza’.
It is possibly the most underrated soundtrack of the last 10 years. Each song in the film is exquisitely chiseled. Every number is delicate. Every track tugs at the heart. If in ‘Zinda Hoon Yaar,’ lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya refashions the same sentiment as in the classic ‘Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke’ (Nau Do Gyaarah, 1957) and ‘Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhaata Chala Gaya’ (Hum Dono, 1961), then composer Amit Trivedi is at his playful best with 'Sawaar Loon.'
But here, too, the number that goes almost unnoticed, but is actually the pièce de résistance of the film is ‘Manmarziyan’. Singer Shilpa Rao shines as she delivers every note in the song with absolute perfection.
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013)
It is an album with a distinctly youthful vibe, but one which is also rich with substance. For every chartbuster such as 'Dilli Waali Girlfriend,' there is also the spiritually inclined 'Kabira.' Pritam retains his Midas touch as he delivers one superhit after another, with ‘Ilaahi’ and 'Ghaagra.'
But it is lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya, who with his exceptional imagery – ‘Aaj saarey, chaand taarey, bann gaye hain disco lights’ (‘Budtameez Dil’) – and delightful metaphors – ‘Itna mazaa, kyun aa raha hai, tuney hawa mein bhaang milaaya’ (‘Balam Pichkaari’) – works his magic to the advantage of the film.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)
Once again, the troika of Dharma productions, Pritam, and Amitabh Bhattacharya strike gold. Pritam’s ability to consistently deliver commercially successful songs is worth envying, something that is true of the Dharma banner too. They know the pulse of the audience like few others in the industry, going by the success of ‘Cutiepie’ and ‘Break Up Song’.
Bhattacharya gives depth to these chartbusters, as evident in ‘Zameen pe na sahi, toh aasmaan mein aa mil’ for the title song. The icing on the cake, though, is the extremely soulful rendition of ‘Channa Mereya’ by singer Arijit Singh, arguably the find of the playback scene in the last decade. Bahut khoob!
Trust Anurag Kashyap to come up with something different. Although the Manmarziyaan score is not anywhere near as unconventional as Kashyap’s Gulaal (2009) or Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), it is still very, very interesting.
‘Dhyaan Kitthey Dhyaanchand’ is quirky and exciting while ‘F For Fyaar’ hits home with its intense, raw appeal. Amit Trivedi does a terrific job in merging the rustic, Punjabi vibe of the film with new-age techno beats. But the real star of the soundtrack is the lyricist Shellee. Be it ‘Gray Waala Shade’ or ‘Daryaa’ or even ‘F For Fyaar’, Shellee examines romance, its highs and lows, in an altogether different light. Vadhiyaa ji, vadhiyaa!
Gully Boy (2019)
The voice of the Mumbai ghetto takes centre stage. The beauty of the double digit-song soundtrack is that no single artiste can claim credit for its absolutely spectacular range of rap, hip-hop songs. A big shout-out to music supervisor Ankur Tewari, nonetheless, for helming an eclectic bunch of artistes, and extracting the very best from them.
The charged-up political nature of the numbers – Dub Sharma’s ‘Jingostan’ and ‘Azadi’, Divine’s ‘Sher Aaya Sher’ – is something that has been missing from mainstream Hindi cinema for decades now. And who can forget 'Apna Time Aayega,' which has become an anthem for the younger, more marginalized sections of our society.
All images from YouTube.
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