From 'Zaalima' to 'Swag Se Swaagat': What Bollywood music was like in 2017

Suryasarathi Bhattacharya

Dec 31, 2017 13:00:24 IST

This article is part of our 2017: A Year In Review series.

Bollywood music is a reflection of the ever-transforming popular culture in India. The filmy music shares an inseparable bond with the contemporary surroundings and shapes itself accordingly; it is more of a symbiotic relationship. Exploring this aspect, when we analyse, in retrospective, the music of 2017 has been rather eclectic, inclusive and interesting.

This year, in particular, has not been one of the best years for the industry as it was marked with major flops. Some of the biggest films, that too starring the biggest of names, ended up falling flat on their faces. The pros: Small, independent or small budget films cast a spell with interesting storylines and impeccable performances. But the music was independent of box-office performances and was marked by a huge variety of songs, trend-setting lyrics and introduction of new voices.

Here's a look at Bollywood's musicscape in 2017:

Blast from the past

If not anything, one would definitely agree that 2017 was the year of retro mashups/remixes/reprises/(or whatever it could be called). Many films relied upon successful Hindi songs from the past and rejigged them. Be it Raees' 'Laila Main Laila', Machine's 'Tu Cheez Badi', Badrinath Ki Dulhania's 'Tamma Tamma Again', Ok Jaanu's 'The Humma Song' or much recently, Tumhari Sulu's 'Hawa Hawai 2.0' — each of these songs ruled the charts then (the year when the original songs were released) and even now. The best part is people listen to the original versions even today, years after they came into being.

At the same time, these songs were also panned by a large number of folks who chose to stick to the standards set by the original songs. They came from the school of thought which screamed, 'Some classics are better left untouched.'

Sticking to the Indian roots

In the days when Bollywood music is predominantly technological — use of EDM in songs, auto-tuning singer's voice and inclination to make every song a dance number — there were also some welcome changes in the musicscape. Some of the best songs of the year also happen to be the ones which are inspired by Indian folk/regional music or has its roots in Indian classical music.

It is always a positive and welcome change when amid monotonous heavy-beat/mechanised music, one gets to have an experience filled with warmth, rich music and some desi flavour. Tumhari Sulu's 'Rafu', Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan's 'Kanha' or Baahubali 2's 'So Ja Zara' were some songs this year that had a classical touch and were beautifully sung and composed. Then Phillauri's 'Sahiba' and Baadshaaho's 'Mere Rashke Qamar' were songs that brought in the earthiness of rural Punjab or the old-time Bollywood qawwali.

New brigade

Of course, this year's music was ruled by industry stalwarts like Pritam, singing sensation Arijit Singh and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya — both as a team as well as in their individual capacities. But 2017 also saw a bevy of new music directors, singers and lyricists on the block. The other remarkable thing about this new crop is that they are multi-faceted: they write, compose and also sing. Vayu, Amaal and Armaan Malik, Manoj Muntashir, Arko Pravo Mukherjee, Jonita Gandhi, Tushar Joshi, Nakash Aziz and the list is endless.

These are the voices, thoughts and music of the upcoming generation. We can only hope that they bring in variety and make the Bollywood musicscape a bit more inclusive.

Here is our pick of this year's 10 best Bollywood songs: (arranged in no particular order)

'Sahiba', Phillauri:


Sung by Romy and Pawni Pandey, 'Sahiba' rightly encapsulated the rustic, innocent love between Diljit Dosanjh and Anushka Sharma's characters in the film.

'Kanha', Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan:

Singer Sashaa Tirupati and composers Tanishk-Vayu presented a musical gem in this year's Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan. Arranged in a semi-classical format and yet lyrically upbeat, the song is an example how Indian classical sensibilities coupled with contemporary style could make for a popular musical number.

'Nazm Nazm', Bareilly Ki Barfi:

Much like the film, the song 'Nazm Nazm' was filled with love. Composer-singer Arko could very well complement the narrative of with its music.

'Hawaayein', Jab Harry Met Sejal:

Pritam and Arijit Singh, yet again, deliver one of their best songs from the year. Though the film Jab Harry Met Sejal did not strike with the audience, the songs were too good — be it 'Radha' or 'Ghar', to name a few.

'So Ja Zara', Baahubali 2: The Conclusion:

Amid the fan-frenzied Baahubali 2: The Conclusion's revenge story filled with action, state-of-the-art VFX, this song was a breath of fresh air. Plus, it was one of the moments to see Anushka Shetty's Devasena form dancing and merrymaking — otherwise, she has either been shown fighting or captive and chained in the film. MM Kreem's music, Madhushree's vocals and Manoj Muntashir's lyrics make this song a must-watch.

'Maana Ki Hum Yaar Nahin', Meri Pyari Bindu:

Parineeti Chopra never ceases to amaze her fans; the fact she is a good actress is known and also that she is a trained classical singer is available in public domain. This song justifies that and even more. Sachin-Jigar skillfully utilise Chopra's voice in a composition that never overpowers her singing, which is a rare feat to achieve these days.

'Main Kaun Hoon', Secret Superstar:

This song is a must-include on every list this year. Secret Superstar, the super hit film that it turned out to be, had many factors supporting it — Zaira Wasim's performance, the film's tight screenplay and Meghna Mishra's voice. In so many ways, 'Main Kaun Hoon' encapsulates the whole of Wasim's character in the film.

'Yeh Ishq Hai', Rangoon:

What happens when lyricist/poet extraordinaire Gulzar meets raw romanticism of Vishal Bhardwaj? Sheer magic. That is what this song is; to further its spell, there is Arijit Singh's vocals. This song, in particular, has a tendency to seep into one's skin and then take them into a trance.

'Dil Diyan Galla', Ek Tha Tiger:

When Salman Khan's Tiger is not charging at his enemies and dodging bullets and bazookas, he is the best lover any girl could ask for. If Tiger Zinda Hai's 'Swag Se Swagat' was all about celebrating the cliched Salman style and Katrina's dancing skills, this song lies at the other end of the spectrum — all romance, beautiful composition and amazing visuals.

'Rafu', Tumhari Sulu:

Seldom come songs that weave into the narrative of a film and at the same time, evoke a stream of consciousness that flows through different memories of one's life. Vidya Balan's Tumhari Sulu was definitely the slice-of-life film it promised to be, but this song, lyrically and metaphorically, defines Sulu's struggles in life and her approach towards dealing with them.

Special Mentions:

A playlist like the above cannot go without some special mentions. These songs were equally good, but as they say, when we have to choose, we just have to. We are sure some of you might agree with the above-mentioned list and at the same time, some will not. So here are some songs that you might just pick and replace with songs in the above list.

'Ghoomar', Padmavat(i):

Even though, the film has been slated for a 2018 release, the song 'Ghoomar' was very much a 2017's song. Receiving such high number of hits on YouTube or facing the wrath of fringe groups, 'Ghoomar' has seen it all. Another song, woven in Indian classical ragas and folk arrangement made the whole nation groove to its beats and hence definitely needs a special mention.

'Manva Likes To Fly', Tumhari Sulu:

This is the most appropriate song that defines Vidya Balan's Sulu, the protagonist of Tumhari Sulu. The spirit of free will, open thinking and independence are what Sulu always dreamt of, and that is exactly what this song gives.

'Zaalima', Raees:

SRK's Raees was this year's first blockbuster. Pumped with action-packed lines, guns and a lot of drama, the Rahul Dholakia directorial tried to explore the other side of the King of Romance. This Arijit Singh number was, in fact, a great combination of Raees' machismo and SRK's romance.

'Enna Sona', OK Jaanu:

AR Rahman and Gulzar work together again coupled with Arijit Singh's mellifluous voice — the result is this soothing number from OK Jaanu. Singh masterfully evokes true-blue youth romance in his voice that beautifully captures the nuances of Aditya Roy Kapoor-Shraddha Kapoor's relationship.

'Ullu Ka Pattha', Jagga Jasoos:

If not anything, we have to give it to music composer-singer duo Pritam, Arijit Singh and filmmaker Anurag Basu to come up with the musical Jagga Jasoos and also ensure that these songs do not remain merely musical escapes but a conduit to take Jagga's journey further. This song, in particular, has a very interesting musical structure that is very international, but then the lyrics bring in the desi element to it.

'Meet', Simran:

This Arijit Singh song evoked the right amount of companionship and emotional friendship that Kangana Ranaut's character was searching for in the film Simran.

'Rangdaari', Lucknow Central:

Composer Arjunna Harjaie and Arijit Singh teamed up for this song which sounds so similar to Singh's 2016 superhit song 'Channa Mereya'. 'Rangdaari' also exemplified how a good usage of a popular musical structure, teamed up with rural brushstrokes could result in a great music composition.

Updated Date: Jan 02, 2018 10:59:38 IST

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