Tag Archives: pop culture

Relatives Collaborating In Hindi Film Songs

This blog post started as a Twitter thread. The idea was to create a list of Hindi film music artists who are related in real life and share credits in a song. There were many artists who were related but didn’t share credits in any Hindi film song. These artists were not included in the list. The post focuses on just the three main music credits – Singer, Music Director, and Lyricist. Relatives who collaborated in roles beyond these are not in this exercise’s scope. The intent was not to create an exhaustive list of songs in which relatives shared credits. Instead, it was to share as comprehensive a list of relationships as possible using the fewest number of songs.

I focused only on “close relationships” which I defined as direct relatives – Father/Mother, Husband/Wife, Son/Daughter, and Siblings; and their direct relatives – Grandfather/Grandmother, Grandson/Granddaughter, Uncles/Aunts, Father-in-law/Mother-in-law, Brother-in-law/Sister-in-law, Son-in-law/Daughter-in-law, and Nephews/Nieces.

I used MySwar’s Advanced Search feature to identify these associations. This feature can be used to further explore the breadth (roles in a song) and depth (number of songs for a given combination) of the relationships listed here.

The original list featured about 100 posts. The list has expanded considerably since then thanks to the inputs from the members of the RMIM music group as well as from Twitter acquaintances. I have added an Addendum at the end to list a few examples of artists who are related and share credits in non-film songs. The Addendum is not intended to be comprehensive.

  1. Umrazia Begum sang Tum Bin Naiya Mori Kaun Tarave (Swarg Ki Seedhi, 1935) for her husband Ghulam Haider. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSS0N_8Wo5g
  2. Brothers K.L. Saigal and Mohinder Saigal sang Nis Din Barsat Nain Hamare (Bhakta Surdas, 1942). This was probably Mohinder Saigal’s only Hindi film song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs2TjiKNFtI
  3. The debut Hindi film song of playback singer Manna Dey (born Prabodh Chandra Dey) was composed by his mentor and uncle KC Dey – Jaago Jaago Jaago Aayi Usha (Tamanna, 1942)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXSxIxraG80
  4. Parul Ghosh, nee Biswas sang Papiha Re Mere Piya Se Kahiyo Jaye (Kismet, 1943) for her brother Anil Biswas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_yA1Kg4DNg
  5. Parul Ghosh sang Aaj Pehloo Mein Dard Sa Kya Hai (Sawaal, 1943) composed by her husband Pannalal Gosh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtNdatbrnKk
  6. Kalyani Das sang for her husband Kamal Dasgupta in Papiha Papiha Tu Piyu Ko Pukar (Zamin Asman, 1946)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GUcqQfIV_M
  7. Husband-wife Arun Kumar Ahuja and Nirmala Devi sang Naa Maaro Ji (Sehra, 1948). Film actor Govinda is their son. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-1IyO1u7TM
  8. Ashalata Biswas had a few spoken words in Aagre Ko Ghaghro Mangwa De Raja (Ladli, 1949). She produced the film and her husband Anil Biswas composed its music. They divorced later and Anil Biswas married singer Meena Kapoor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rd5_qo-NhQ
  9. Brothers Husnlal and Bhagatram Batish formed the first music director duo in Hindi films, Husnlal – Bhagatram. Husnlal sang Ae Chaand Zara Sun Le (Pyar Ki Manzil, 1950), a Husnlal – Bhagatram composition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoG2cwI3PTc
  10. Before meeting success with Boond Jo Ban Gayee Moti (1967), Satish Bhatia composed the music of obscure Maldar (1951). His sister Usha, a well-known AIR singer, sang a few songs in the film including Aji Hamari Pehli Mulaqat Ban Gayi Prem Kahanihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44QwXLz4r_s
  11. Premlata sang Yeh Raat Chandni Badi Suhani (Ghazab, 1951) composed by her husband Nashad (Shaukat Dehlvi). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHW4MdcTKcI
  12. Aayi Bahar Kiye Solah Singaar (Nav Durga, 1953) was possibly the only Hindi film song sung by sisters Geeta Dutt and Laxmi Roy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2JVedG5XW4
  13. Lalita Phadke, nee Deulkar sang Hisab Zara Sunte Jana Ji (Pehli Tarikh, 1954) composed by her husband Sudhir Phadke. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kglM0gha9cQ
  14. Kaumudi Munshi sang Baansuriya Bajaye Re Saanwariya (Teen Tasveeren, 1954) composed by her husband Neenu Majumdar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIm0z3C-Uhk
  15. OP Nayyar’s wife Saroj Mohini Nayyar wrote the lyrics of his song Preetam Aan Milo (Mr. & Mrs. ’55, 1955). OPN had originally recorded it as a non-film song sung by C.H. Atma. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wyRHrKtVdo
  16. Geeta Dutt sang Yeh Rut Yeh Raat Jawan (Sailaab, 1956) composed by her brother Mukul Roy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-Dg05I_k5U
  17. Laxmi Roy, the sister of Geeta Dutt and Mukul Roy, sang Baje Dil Ki Taar Kare Yeh Pukar (Sailaab, 1956) composed by Mukul. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAU4RX3iz8k
  18. Duniya Mein Hum Hain To (Mother India, 1957) was sung by the Mangeshkar sisters Lata, Meena and Usha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjYhUk6M0iM
  19. Sulochana Vyas sang Maalik Ki Marzi Ke Aage (Bhakt Raj, 1960) for her husband Avinash Vyas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIFRS5rO8wA
  20. Brothers Shankar and Shambhu Qawwal sang Nigah-E-Naaz Ke Maaron (Barsaat Ki Raat, 1960)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzUPvANvsq8
  21. Sabita Chowdhury sang Chand Kabhi Tha Baahon Mein (Sapan Suhane, 1961) composed by her husband Salil Chowdhury. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk7S2cRqSNws
  22. Mujhe Tumse Mohabbat Hai (Bachpan, 1963) was composed by Sardar Malik and written by his brother-in-law (wife’s brother) Hasrat Jaipuri. Lesser heard beauty! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIefoTwgn4s
  23. Sisters Suman Kalyanpur, nee Hemady and Shyama Hemady sang Jhankti Hai Meri Aankhon Se Qaza (Dooj Ka Chaand, 1964)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFpRXKmDGAg
  24. Jagjeet Kaur sang the lovely Tum Apna Ranj-O-Gham (Shagoon, 1964) composed by her husband Khayyam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smVd3lcLc_k
  25. Meena Kapoor sang Kuchh Aur Zamana Kehta Hai (Chhoti Chhoti Baten, 1965) composed by her husband Anil Biswas. This was his last film as a music director. He focused on his career in All India Radio after that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5a0hB0bbHU
  26. Bela Mukherjee sang Ae Deendayal Daya Do Hamen (Faraar, 1965), a bhajan composed by her husband Hemant Kumar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0KAxo4SW3o
  27. Manohar Lal Sonik aka Master Sonik partnered with his nephew Om Prakash Sonik to form the music director duo of Sonik – Omi. The title song of Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya (1966) is probably their best-known work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRk15scBE0o
  28. Brothers Kishore and Anoop Kumar sang a song composed by Kishore – Do Dino Ki Hai Kahani (Hum Do Daaku, 1967)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc3jZUw0cps
  29. Music directors Kalyanji – Anandji were brothers. Anandji was credited as a singer in this chorus song composed by them – One Two Three Four Everybody Go (Parivar, 1967)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kERIvmT7w0U
  30. Ranu Mukherjee sang Ab To Muskuraiye Zara (Do Dooni Chaar, 1968) composed by her father Hemant Kumar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otFFu-09ZqA
  31. Hum Jiyen Ya Maren (Harishchandra Taramati, 1970) was composed by Hridaynath Mangeshkar and sung by his sisters Lata, Asha and Usha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNuo_FoLEME
  32. Raina Soyi Soyi Naina Jaage Jaage (Ye Gulistan Hamara, 1972) was the only Hindi film song in which father and son S.D. Burman and R.D. Burman were credited as singers. The song was composed by S.D. Burman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkaxx1W5eJ0
  33. Brothers Rajan – Nagendra composed Aisa Gaana Gaaoon (Miss Chalbaaz, 1972). Miss Chalbaaz was the Hindi-dubbed version of the Kannada film Kulla Agent 000 (1972). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-Ve4wvIpzA
  34. Four brothers, collectively called the Sharma Bandhu, sang the Doordarshan favourite Jaise Suraj Ki Garmi Se (Parinay, 1974)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqHM7h0Jkjo
  35. Jane Kahan Gaye Tum (Aaja Sanam, 1975) was composed by Usha Khanna and its lyrics were written by her father Manohar Khanna, who used the pen name M.K. Javed in this film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzwJ2oI0YJA
  36. Gitanjali Singh wrote the lyrics for Kyon Hum Tum Rahen Akele (Kadambari, 1975) which was sung and composed by her husband Ajit Singh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyBWrwyYTI4
  37. Ram Shankar, the son of Shankar of Shankar-Shambhu, was credited as a singer in Yeh Khuda Wale Mustafa Wale (Hind Ke Wali, 1975) which was composed by the qawwal duo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izvHYkkIFfk
  38. Husband-wife A.V. Ramanan and Uma Ramanan sang the Hindi film song Haay Ek Buddhu Chhora (Play Boy, 1975)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn2epGkSKJk
  39. Winnie Paranjpe sang lyrics penned by her mother Sai Paranjpe in Achhe Bachche Nahin Jaagte (Sikandar, 1976). She was credited as Vinita Joglekar in it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30G-CTk25PM
  40. Bansari Lahiri sang Bhool Gaye Hum Sab Kuchh (Tere Pyar Mein, 1977) composed by her son Bappi Lahiri. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efhaLYvsVmE
  41. Antara Chowdhury sang Teri Galiyon Mein Hum Aaye (Minoo, 1977) composed by her father Salil Chowdhury. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-2Ktatrab4
  42. Sisters Padmini Kolhapure and Shivangi Kolhapure (Shakti Kapoor’s wife and Shraddha Kapoor’s mother) sang Masterji Ki Aa Gayi Chitthi (Kitaab, 1977). Gulzar’s quirky lyrics mention “agarbatii Kachhua chhaap” and “VIP underwear banian”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hxmbkoJStw
  43. Saraswati Rane sang Mondar Baaju Re (Bhumika, 1977) with her granddaughter Meena Phatarpekar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioXLeskRmo0
  44. Siblings Yogesh and Rachana, the children of playback singer Meena Khadikar (nee Mangeshkar), sang Chanda Chhode Chandni (Khel Kismat Ka, 1977)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h21rA0k-blA
  45. Amit Kumar sang Daur-E-Khizan Tha Dil Ke Chaman Mein (Shabash Daddy, 1978) his father Kishore Kumar’s composition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjM136f6Mlo
  46. Buddhe Teri Chaal Buddhe (Ek Baap Chhe Bete, 1978) credited father-son Mehmood and Lucky Ali as singers (Lucky had a few spoken words at the end of the song). The film, directed and written by Mehmood, was apparently autobiographical and featured Mehmood along with his family members, including Lucky. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGVcTQKvxwQ
  47. Usha Khanna and Saawan Kumar Tak were married for about 7 years between the mid-70s and early 80s. The song O Jaani Jaani Tum Roothe Roothe (Saajan Bina Suhagan, 1978) was composed by Usha Khanna and written by Saawan Kumar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvoTv52Xr7Q
  48. Pandit Jasraj’s daughter Durga Jasraj acted in the film Raja Raneeko Chahiye Paseena  (1978) and was also credited as a singer. The film’s songs were composed by her brother Sharang Dev. Atkan Chatkan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73_ctMqmNng
  49. Bansari Lahiri sang Nahin Maane Jiyara Hamaar (Subhash Chandra, 1978) for her husband Apresh Lahiri. Music director Bappi Lahiri was their son. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lTK5-wV2DI
  50. Sagarika, playback singer Shaan’s sister, debuted at the age of 9 with a song composed by her father Manas Mukherjee – Khushboo Hoon Main Phool Nahin (Shaayad, 1979)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOqt1Pl10Vs
  51. The song Saqiya Tu Koi Shayar Nahin Hai (Sansani, 1981) was composed by Hemant Bhosle and sung by his mother Asha Bhosle and his sister Varsha Bhosle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sdbZ7M1FyA
  52.  Anu Malik showed early promise in Poonam (1981) with songs like Mohabbat Rang Layegi Janab Ahista Ahista. This song was written by his uncle/mama Hasrat Jaipuri. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScrOw2UfTJQ
  53. Babla struck out on his own with Khara Khota (1981) after assisting his brothers Kalyanji-Anandji for many years. His wife Kanchan sang Achha Hai Tera Nishana Toh Kya in his debut film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlngoK34LTo
  54. Laxmikant Kudalkar’s daughter Rajeshwari was the child’s voice in Laxmikant – Pyarelal’s Hey Raju Oh Daddy (Ek Hi Bhool, 1981)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-c6GwI5mgA
  55. Sisters Sulakshana, Vijayeta and Rashi Pandit sang Tum Jo Hamen Itni Pyari Lagti Ho (Raaz, 1981)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtvjXBnwWSs
  56. Chandrani Mukherjee sang Koi Bhi Dil Mein Naa Aaya Tha (Laparwah, 1981) composed by her brother-in-law (sister Chitrani’s husband) Bappi Lahiri. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29HhSdQqEwo
  57. Amitabh Bachchan sang Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali (Silsila, 1981) whose lyrics were credited to his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf92MOkrbEw
  58. Husband and wife Jagjit and Chitra Singh sang Tum Ko Dekha To Yeh Khayal Aaya (Saath Saath, 1982)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GRqHkV9Bls
  59. Sulakshana Pandit sang Tere Bina Jiya Naa Lage (Dil Hi Dil Mein, 1982) composed by her brothers Mandheer-Jatin. Mandheer-Jatin lasted only a few films. After they parted ways, Jatin Pandit partnered with younger brother Lalit to form the Jatin-Lalit duo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDbDo9HSrOUSiblings Nazia and Zoheb Hassan sang Jaana Zindagi Se Na Jaana (Star, 1982)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCWYRrTX7yQ
  60. Real-life couple Parveen Sultana and Dilshad Khan were credited as singers (along with others) in Shubh Ghadi Aayi Re (Razia Sultan, 1983)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhTyKV45hy8
  61. Anu Malik sang Khushiyon Ke Kuch Pal Aise Hain (Nigahain, 1983) composed and written by his father Sardar Malik. The shelved film Nigahain involved the senior Malik, his three sons Annu, Abbu and Krish/Daboo and his brother-in-law Hasrat Jaipuri in various capacities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pycx_dWshp4
  62. Naushad’s son Raju Naushad composed the song Dil Kyun Hai Beqarar (Yahan Se Shahr Ko Dekho, 1983) whose lyrics were written by his father-in-law Majrooh Sultanpuri. Raju Naushad was married to Majrooh’s daughter Saba. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1z3Fu9YpGw
  63. Bhaj Man Ram Naam (Prerana, 1984) was sung by Moti Sagar with his daughters Preeti Sagar, Namita Sagar, and Niti Sagar in the chorus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIhzAOuRv-c
  64. Husband and wife Rajendra and Nina Mehta not only sang Taj Mahal Mein Aa Jana (Yahan Wahan, 1984) but also appeared on screen for it. The song first appeared in their 1980 non-film album Humsafar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyX2UXSSVJo
  65. Brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra were credited as singers in the songs of Sur Sangam (1985), a remake of Sankarabharanam. However, some point out that one can hear the voice of only one singer in each of these songs. Aaye Sur Ke Panchhi Aaye  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLpcOiAyq3g
  66. Vijayeta Pandit sang Ek Dil Mera Kanwara (Bhai Ka Dushman Bhai, 1986) with brother Jatin. The song was composed by her brothers – Mandheer – Jatin. (The song will remind you of a Jatin-Lalit song). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh1Wpcn5rAk
  67. The lyrics of Saat Phere (Wahem, 1987), Vishal Bhardwaj’s debut Hindi film song as a music director, were written by his father Ram Bhardwaj. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9b1iKVfnvU#t=6m13s
  68. Sonali Jalota sang Haathon Pe Mere Mehndi Lagi Hai (Jhuke Jhuke Naina, 1987) composed by her husband Anoop Jalota. She divorced him later and got married to Roop Kumar Rathod. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojycbuycC08
  69. Pandit Jasraj sang Jheeni Jheeni Beeni Re Chadariya (Susman, 1987) composed by his son Shaarang Dev. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7H9hBhENoA
  70. Leena Ganguly, née Chandavarkar sang Naa Re Naa Mujhse Door Na Jaana (Mamta Ki Chhaon Mein, 1988) for her husband Kishore Kumar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIpVh6VOW-0
  71. R.D. Burman composed Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gai (Libaas, 1988) sung by his sister-in-law Lata Mangeshkar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_i0uCP9SmM
  72. R.D. Burman composed Dhak Dhak Jiya Kare (Joshilaay, 1989) sung by his wife Asha Bhosle and sister-in-law Usha Mangeshkar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9HEeVbzJrE
  73. Brothers Anu Malik, Abu Malik and Daboo Malik (Krish Malik) sang Dushman Kya Maarega Humko (Zordaar, 1989). The mukhda’s tune was taken from It’s A Sin by Pet Shop Boys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgYzfdMPkkk
  74. Anjaan and his son Sameer were jointly credited as lyricists in Paap Ka Ant (1989)Saari Raat Hum Tum Dance Karenge – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fggQyxKAafA
  75. Siblings Shaan and Sagarika sang in two versions of Kitni Hai Pyari Pyari (Parinda, 1989)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f8_udZ1AQo
  76. Anuradha Paudwal sang Mere Liye Zaroori Pyar Tera (Meera Ka Mohan, 1992) for her husband Arun Paudwal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtMYy0M3jSw
  77. Shravan Rathod of Nadeem – Shravan was the brother of singers Vinod and Roop Kumar Rathod. The popular Nadeem-Shravan song Aisi Deewangi Dekhi Nahin Kahin (Deewana, 1992) featured Vinod Rathod’s voice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwpqME_Cmpc
  78. Dilip Sen collaborated with his nephew (brother Shambhu Sen’s son) Sameer to form a music director pair. Dilip Sen – Sameer Sen composed Goriya Re Goriya Re Mera Dil Chura Ke Le Ja (Aaina, 1993)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3szeLDA3hk
  79. A.R. Rahman had his nephew G.V. Prakash Kumar (son of sister Raihanh) sing the title track of Chor Chor (1993)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ka_LvDGJIA
  80. Actress Bhagyashree’s father Vijay Singh, the king of the erstwhile princely state of Sangli, was a music director and filmmaker. He had his daughter Purnima Patwardhan sing Chidiya Bole Chun Chun Chun (Ghar Aaya Mera Pardesi, 1993)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMtNx5uTS_Y
  81. Brothers Neeraj and Uttank Vora teamed up to compose the music for the film Pehla Nasha (1993). Aaj Raat Bas Mein Nahin Dil – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNyH5Ttq-Ks
  82. Music director Pandit Shivram’s sons got together to form the music director duo of Jugal Kishore – Tilak Raj. Their sister Jayshree Shivram sang Jhoomta Gaata Mausam (Birjoo, 1993) composed by them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpyOnafyIlU
  83. Anuradha Paudwal sang Dhadkanon Ko Khabar Na Hone Di (Aajaa Sanam, 1994) in which her daughter Kavita Paudwal was credited as the music director. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5TyZmQDZMQ
  84. Udit Narayan sang the title song of Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995) with his son Aditya Narayan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHsccf8Embs
  85. The Indian Sabri Brothers, Aftab and Hashim Sabri, sang Nahin Hona Tha (Pardes, 1997)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rt8UxyAlpE
  86. Vijayeta Pandit sang Jab Se Mile Do Dil (Deewana Hoon Pagal Nahin, 1998) composed by her husband Aadesh Shrivastava. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4xkdlFO8qk
  87. Jaswinder Singh sang Saanu Aa Mil Yaar Pyareya (Train To Pakistan, 1998) with his father Kuldeep Singh, who also composed the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpOxid9jfVY
  88. The Punjabi lyrics in Sukhwinder Singh’s Thayya Thayya (Dil Se, 1998) were written by his wife Tejpal Kaur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SthPfdRyi4Y
  89. Sanjeev-Darshan, the sons of Shravan Rathod (of Nadeem – Shravan), composed Mera Mann Kyun Tumhen Chahe (Mann, 1999)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQJzmqVlaY4
  90. Kamal Haasan shared singing credits with daughter Shruti Haasan in the title song of Hey Raam (2000)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G_sWEBfp4s
  91. Preeti Uttam sang Musafir Jaane Wale (Gadar – Ek Prem Katha, 2001) for her father Uttam Singh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2nQfiux2sk
  92. Brothers Vinod Rathod and Roop Kumar Rathod sang Ho Aaj Mazhab Koi (Censor, 2001). (Does it remind you of another Jatin-Lalit song – just a bit?) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR4U9-t0OBI
  93. Sisters Shraddha and Shweta Pandit sang Hansaata Hai Rulaata Hai (Soch, 2002) composed by their uncles Jatin – Lalit. Their father Vishwaraj Pandit aka Mandheer is Jatin and Lalit’s elder brother. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTCBc3FoTLU
  94. Hum Hain Indian (Mission Mumbai, 2003) was sung by the married couple Roop Kumar and Sonali Rathod. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Btv_LXQwUxk
  95. Franco Simon sang Kya Takdir Likhi Hai Likhne Wale Ne (Freaky Chakra, 2003) for his uncle (mother’s brother) Ouseppachan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2yjg_jCYvo
  96. Sons of Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Murtuza and Qadir Mustafa, sang Noor-Un-Ala-Noor (Meenaxi: A Tale Of Three Cities, 2004)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0onEDnB3KV4
  97. Brothers Ahmed Hussain and Mohammed Hussain sang Aaya Tere Dar Par (Veer Zaara, 2004)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_ShYllfh9I
  98. Father and daughter Ajoy Chakrabarty and Kaushiki Chakraborty sang Vaishnava Janato (Water, 2005)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs9UMm16avc
  99. Shobha Gurtu sang her son Trilok Gurtu’s composition Expression Of Love. The track was originally released in the album Remembrance and later included in the film Dor (2006). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_y94x0CytQ
  100. Bappa Lahiri used the voices of his father Bappi Lahiri and sister Rema Lahiri in the song Khoka (C Kkompany, 2008)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4GFxv5XbIU
  101. Father-son Kishore Kumar and Sumit Kumar were credited as singers in Bachna Ae Haseeno (Bachna Ae Haseeno, 2008). Kishore Kumar’s lines from Bachna Ae Haseeno (Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, 1977) were mixed with newly recorded lines by Sumit Kumar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4PMUZ055vc
  102. Farhan Akhtar sang Tum Ho Toh (Rock On, 2009) with lyrics by his father Javed Akhtar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3rQkFFqCiI
  103. Salim Merchant and Sulaiman Merchant of the Salim-Sulaiman duo are brothers. Salim sang Pankhon Ko (Rocket Singh – Salesman Of The Year, 2009) composed by Salim – Sulaiman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox-d84A3tuw
  104. Bhavatharini sang this well-known tune composed by her father Ilaiyaraaja – Gumm Summ Gumm (Paa, 2009)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESQJh7dFmc8
  105. Jolly Mukherjee, the playback singer, and his wife Romilla were credited as the music directors of Detective Naani (2009). Romilla also wrote the songs’ lyrics, wrote/directed the film and co-produced it with her husband. Jolly Mukherjee was also credited as a singer in its title track Hey Nani.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mykTr2Ywn0c
  106. Antara Chowdhury sang Zindagi Uljhano Se Bhari (Suno Na: Ek Nanhi Aawaz, 2009)composed by her brother Sanjoy Chowdhury. Antara and Sanjoy are music director Salil Chowdhury’s children. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xuKATUiEz4
  107. Father and daughter Loy Mendonsa and Alyssa Mendonsa got singing credits in Oh Girl You’re Mine (Housefull, 2010). Loy probably just sang the chorus lines. He’s part of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio who composed the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxfTgQNwywU
  108. Rekha Bhardwaj sang Ab Mujhe Koi Intezar Kahan (Ishqiya, 2010) for her husband Vishal. Ishqiya was the only instance of a husband and wife winning National Film Awards in the music category. Vishal Bhardwaj won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction (Songs) and Rekha Bhardwaj won it for Best Female Playback Singer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9oVHgKBEso
  109. Hrithik Roshan sang Kites In The Sky (Kites, 2010) for his uncle Rajesh Roshan (brother of his father Raakesh Roshan).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY5LnvIPYGc
  110. Abhishek Bachchan performed rap in this song sung by his father Amitabh Bachchan – Go Meera Go (Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap, 2011)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGxUo_XsoFw
  111. RDB (short for Rhythm, Dhol, Bass) was a UK-based band comprising brothers Kuldeep, Manjeet and Surjeet Ral. Saadi Gali (Tanu Weds Manu, 2011) is probably their best-known work in Bollywood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_HaezV0DqI
  112. Brothers Puranchand Wadali and Pyare Lal Wadali are brothers. The Wadali Brothers sang Ae Rangrez Mere (Tanu Weds Manu, 2011)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwhUGiKZVVU
  113. Husband-wife Kunal and Gayatri Ganjawala, nee Iyer sang Take It Easy (My Friend Pinto, 2011)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnu3AxGm-bA
  114. Brothers Sangeet and Siddharth Haldipur, sons of music director Amar Haldipur, composed the song Aa Zara Kareeb Se (Murder 2, 2011)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UHSYC_8YQs
  115. Gurdeep Mehndi composed the song Dil Ne Maana (Meri Shadi Karo, 2012), co-wrote its lyrics with his mother Nikki, and sang it with his sister Ajit. (Gurdeep also starred in the film, which was produced by his father Daler Mehndi). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On3u43irWhY
  116. Swanand Kirkire not only wrote the lyrics for Navrai Maajhi (English Vinglish, 2012) but also sang it along with his mother Neelambari. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEHNef66HT0
  117. Anmol Malik sang Suno Suno (Gali Gali Chor Hai, 2012) composed by her father Anu Malik. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAK_8A67g4I
  118. Sisters Neha Kakkar and Sonu Kakkar sang Good Boys Bad Boys (Mr. Bhatti On Chutti, 2012) composed and written by their brother Tony Kakkar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNlxssI1qYs
  119. M.M. Kreem had his son Kaala Bhairava record Sapnon Ki Ek Duniya Hai (Makkhi, 2012)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srY-B7d6yMU
  120. Brothers Daler Mehndi and Mika Singh sang Chal Hand Uthake Nachche (Besharam, 2013)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw1xL7g8ij8
  121. Sona Mohapatra sang Ambarsariya (Fukrey, 2013) composed by her husband Ram Sampath. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1-af46DoqM
  122. Sonu Nigam not only composed the title song of Singh Saab The Great (2013) but also sang it with his sister Teesha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHE4S0xQm6E
  123. Preeti Pillai sang and wrote the lyrics for Ishq Ki Ada (Sixteen, 2013) composed by her brother Prashant Pillai. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpeGZIRNbZs
  124. Shankar Mahadevan sang the chorus in Bol Beliya (Kill Dil, 2014) sung by his son Siddharth. The song was composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3l6c1aPeyU
  125. Palak Muchhal sang Tu Hi Hai Aashiqui (Dishkiyaoon, 2014) composed by her brother Palash. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hGPFU2z1rA
  126. Sisters Jyoti and Sultana Nooran sang Patakha Guddi (Highway, 2014)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cprez2G15LI
  127. Madhuri Dixit sang Rangi Saari Gulabi (Gulaab Gang, 2014) with her mother Snehalatha Dixit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9GJQV_kg6k
  128. Brothers Harmeet Singh and Manmeet Singh sang Selfiyaan (Sharafat Gayi Tel Lene, 2014). Harmeet & Manmeet are Meet Bros. Selfiyaan was composed by Meet Bross Anjjan, the brothers’ collaboration with Anjjan Bhattacharya. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bETAiMfQgKk
  129. Brothers Sajid – Wajid composed Joganiyan (Tevar, 2014)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyLVu753XJw
  130. Daboo Malik composed Aana Nahi (W, 2014) sung by his sons Armaan and Amaal. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbxDTBqvkms
  131. A.R. Rahman sang with his sister Raihanah in his song Aye Jawaan (Kochadaiiyaan, 2014)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI56AKA4cjY
  132. Kavita Krishnamurthy sang Vaishnava Janato (Gour Hari Dastaan, 2015) composed by her husband L. Subramaniam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej3vapUtsHc
  133. Bindu Subramaniam sang and wrote the lyrics for Right Now (Gour Hari Dastaan, 2015) composed by her father L. Subramaniam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdm3o-zZNWY
  134. Priya Saraiya nee Panchal is married to Jigar of Sachin-Jigar. She sang and wrote the lyrics for Sachin-Jigar’s Sun Saathiya (ABCD: Any Body Can Dance – 2, 2015)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGpG56pg3UU
  135. Husband-wife Clinton and Dominique Cerejo sang Iss Tarah (Meri Pyaari Bindu, 2017)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3o4lt-56hI
  136. Mujtaba Aziz Nazan sang Chadhta Sooraj Dheere Dheere (Indu Sarkar, 2017), a qawwali that was originally sung and composed by his father Aziz Nazan. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4MAjGv0TsM
  137. Brothers Ajay and Atul Gogavale sang their own composition Zingaat (Dhadak, 2018), the Hindi version of a song they had originally composed for the Marathi film Sairaat (2016). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd9wF5fAnVw
  138. When playback singer Akriti Kakar made her Hindi film debut as a music director for the song Jobless (Milan Talkies, 2019), she roped in her sisters Sukriti and Prakriti to sing with her. Akriti also wrote the song’s lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_0bG6V1IAU
  139. Shankar Mahadevan sang Rezgaariyaan (Mere Pyare Prime Minister, 2019) with his son Shivam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWhqxvsdsCI
  140. Sachin Sanghvi, of the music director duo Sachin-Jigar, had his daughter Tanishka sing Ek Zindagi Meri Sau Khwahishan (Angrezi Medium, 2020)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05DrDxjMEbU
  141. A.R. Ameen recorded Never Never Say Goodbye (Dil Bechara, 2020) for his father A.R. Rahman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftJODeE_qg8
  142. Arijit Singh composed the songs of Pagglait (2021) and used his sister Amrita’s voice in a few songs in it. He also sang the film’s title track with her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLtOcPbjCF0
  143. Khatija Rahman sang Tum Bhi Raahi Hum Bhi Raahi (Mili, 2022) for her father A.R. Rahman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuhKuTduAuY
  144. Rangi Saari Gulabi Chunariya Re (Jugjugg Jeeyo, 2022) was sung and jointly composed by Kavita Seth and her son Kavish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSAlE_WgHxY
  145. Palak Muchhal sang Yun Tere Hue Hum (Salaam Venky, 2022) composed by her husband Mithoon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOEs6Ggs5xA
  146. Neha Bhasin sang Yeh Jo Sang Ho Rahin Hain Tafriyan (Jogi, 2022) composed by her husband Sameer Uddin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja5mA82IOqE
  147. Brothers Altamash and Shadab Faridi sang the qawwali portions in Tere Vaaste (Zara Hatke Zara Bachke, 2023)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5WZLO8BAC8
  148. Sunidhi Chauhan sang Yeh Raat Hi Subah Bulayegi (Zwigato, 2023) composed by husband Hitesh Sonik. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSCg_MEfaQM

Addendum: Collaborations in non-film/unreleased songs

  1. Meera Dev Burman sang Daali Daali Phool Khile (1947) for her husband S.D. Burman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRg3WqWGwIo
  2. Kalyanaji – Anandji recorded Hey Re Dayamay for the film Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1970) but the song was not used. It is probably the only song in which Mukesh sang with his son Nitin Mukesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZz77xt8MsI
  3. Husband-wife Bhupinder and Mitalee Singh sang Aaj Ki Raat (Aao Aise Mohabbat Karen, 1984). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7xgtC6MFGw
  4. Trilok Singh Loomba composed the music for his daughter Raageshwari’s debut pop album Duniya (1997). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=994kJP-_O6k
  5. Norah Jones sang Traces of You (2013) co-written by her half-sister Anoushka Shankar. They are daughters of the sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Anoushka performed the sitar in the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEJSWIftX98

2016 Bollywood Music Review and Top 20 Songs


As in the past, critics were not happy with the state of Hindi film music in 2016. The charge – yet again – was that it Hindi films were using an “assembly line” approach to create songs using multiple composers and re-packaging hit songs from the past. One thing is certain – music is no longer crucial to the film’s storytelling. This is not an entirely new phenomenon. A spurt of action films in 1970s/1980s had also rendered film music insignificant for a period. Increasingly, music is being seen as a means to promote the film. To the surprise of film audiences, songs that top the charts, end up being abridged in the film or part of the film’s background score. Some don’t even make it to the film.

That said, 2016 did have some bright spots. Towering above the rest was Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy’s “Mirzya”. Given a free rein by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, S-E-L packed the album with uninhibited experimentation. “Mirzya” pushed the boundaries of film music and then some. The other highlight of the year was Amit Trivedi’s comeback after the brilliant, but commercially disastrous, “Bombay Velvet” (2015). He had three superb albums ins 2016 – “Udta Punjab”, “Fitoor” and “Dear Zindagi”. Pritam also did quite well in 2016 with “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and “Dangal” after a relatively lukewarm 2015. At the end of this post, we list the year’s 20 top-rated songs. Here is a longer list of 2016’s best Hindi film and non-film songs.

Some brilliant artists bode us farewell in 2016 – lyricist Nida Fazli, composers Ajit Varman and Omi (of Sonik – Omi), singer Mubarak Begum and Carnatic musician and vocalist M. Balamuralikrishna.

Some notable debuts in 2016 were:

Bollywood made 150 films with 872 songs between them in 2016.

The most prolific composers of the year were:

  1. Vishal – Shekhar – 5 films, 34 songs
  2. Amit Trivedi – 3 films, 24 songs
  3. Clinton Cerejo – 3 films, 20 songs

Vishal – Shekhar compensated for their dry spell in 2015 (they didn’t score any film that year) by being the most prolific composers in 2016. Unfortunately, the quality of their output didn’t match the quantity. Amit Trivedi won 2016 with his consistency, creating 3 albums that won the hearts of music lovers. After staying in the sidelines for years, Clinton Cerejo finally had the spotlight shining on him with 3 films as solo music director (although “Jugni” did have one song by A.R. Rahman, I think it’s fair to slot it as a solo Clinton album). It’s interesting to note that Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari, who followed closely with 18 songs each, had more films to their credit in 2016 than the top 3 most prolific composers. It turns out that they happen to be part of multi-composer albums quite a lot.

The most prolific lyricists of 2016 were:

  1. Kumaar – 27 films, 74 songs
  2. Manoj Muntashir – 16 films, 55 songs
  3. Amitabh Bhattacharya – 5 films, 21 songs
  4. Javed Akhtar – 5 films, 21 songs

Kumaar has been on the most prolific list for some years now. It’s amazing how little we know about a lyricist who’s been as prolific as him. Manoj Mutashir’s presence on the list was a surprise as well, with big name lyricists like Amitabh Bhattacharya and Javed Akhtar relegated to the third spot.

The most prolific male singers of 2016 were:

  1. Arijit Singh – 48 songs
  2. Vishal Dadlani – 23 songs
  3. Armaan Malik – 18 songs

Unsurprisingly, and in my opinion, deservedly, Arijit Singh dominated the male singers list with more than double the number of songs sung by the next most prolific singer.

The most prolific female singers of 2016 were:

  1. Sunidhi Chauhan – 22 songs
  2. Palak Muchhal – 19 songs
  3. Neha Kakkar – 18 songs

For some reason, two of my most favourite singers were conspicuously low key in 2016 – Shreya Ghoshal and Neeti Mohan. I hope they come back with a bang in 2017.

Based on the ratings of their 2016 songs, here are the best-rated artists of the year:

  1. Composers: Amit Trivedi, Vishal – Shekhar, Clinton Cerejo
  2. Lyricists: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Swanand Kirkire, Shellee
  3. Male Singers: Arijit Singh, Vishal Dadlani, Amit Trivedi

And the top 20 songs of 2016:

  1. Channa Mereya (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
  2. Aave Re Hichki (Mirzya)
  3. Dugg Duggi Dugg (Jugni)
  4. Hass Nach Le (Udta Punjab)
  5. Taareefon Se (Dear Zindagi)
  6. Haminastu (Fitoor)
  7. Pashmina (Fitoor)
  8. Hota Hai (Mirzya)
  9. Chitta Ve (Udta Punjab)
  10. Da Da Dasse (Udta Punjab)
  11. Ikk Kudi (Udta Punjab)
  12. Ud-Daa Punjab (Udta Punjab)
  13. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil)
  14. Titli (Bollywood Diaries)
  15. Love You Zindagi (Dear Zindagi)
  16. Kaaga (Mirzya)
  17. Bulleya (Sultan)
  18. Rootha (Te3n)
  19. Tu Hi Hai (Dear Zindagi)
  20. Hone Do Batiyan (Fitoor)

2014 Bollywood Music Review


2014 was not a great year for Hindi film music. The Indian Express carried a bleak piece discussing the death of Hindi film music in 2014. We have observed the rise of multi-composer albums and albums riding on one or two item songs for a few years now. This trend continued in 2014. The other thing that happened in 2014 was that there were fewer solid, single-composer albums to offset the mediocre ones. For example, while 2014 had only Queen, Haider and Highway as the hit-the-ball-out-of-the-park albums, 2013 had Lootera, Kai Po Che, Raanjhana, Aashiqui 2, Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani, Bhaag Milka Bhaag and D-Day.

Moving on, to digging deeper into the year. 2014 saw the release of 142 films with 982 songs between them.

The year saw the passing away of Chandrashekhar Gadgil, Juthika Roy, Raghunath Seth and Sitara Devi. It also saw influx of new talent. Some of the notable debuts of 2014 were:

The most prolific composers in 2014 were:

  1. A.R. Rahman – 7 films, 68 songs
  2. Himesh Reshammiya – 4 films, 46 songs
  3. Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy – 4 films, 24 songs
  4. Vishal – Shekhar – 3 films, 24 songs

Since Rahman’s list includes 2 Hollywood films (“Million Dollar Arm” and “The Hundred-Foot Journey”) and 3 Tamil films dubbed in Hindi (“Kochadaiiyaan”, “Lingaa” and “I”), we have included 4 composers in this list instead of the usual 3.

The most prolific lyricists in 2014 were:

  1. Kumaar – 22 films, 60 songs
  2. Irshad Kamil – 9 films, 55 songs
  3. Amitabh Bhattacharya – 8 films, 39 songs

Kumaar tops the lyricist list again. As we had mentioned last year, the disconnect between how much he gets talked about and the volume of his work output is stark. Other than Irshad Kamil and Amitabh Bhattacharya switching spots, this list is the same as last year’s. The stability of this list gives us an indication of how much value Bollywood places on these three lyricists.

The most prolific male singers of 2014 were:

  1. Arijit Singh – 62 songs
  2. Mika Singh – 37 songs
  3. Himesh Reshammiya – 22 songs

If 2013, with Aashiqui 2, was Arijit Singh’s breakout year, 2014 was the year he established his dominance. With 62 songs, he ruled the charts and the airwaves. Despite murmurs of “over-exposure”, Arijit has managed to appeal to both the masses and the critics. Mika Singh’s presence on this list shows Bollywood’s continued and, for us, inexplicable, fascination for his voice and/or the genre he represents. Singer Himesh Reshammiya can thank music director Himesh Reshammiya for all the songs he got to sing in 2014.

The most prolific female singers of 2014 were:

  1. Neeti Mohan – 42 songs
  2. Shreya Ghoshal – 32 songs
  3. Shalmali Kholgade – 21 songs

The careers of Neeti Mohan and Shalmali Kholgade continue to be on the rise and deservedly so. Shreya Ghoshal is still placed comfortably although she seems to have lost a bit of her sheen. It is very clear that Sunidhi Chauhan is getting fewer offers, although, as you’ll see below, the songs she does sing are well-liked.

Finally, based on a combination of ratings and number of well-rated songs in 2014, the most popular artists of 2014 were:

  1. Most popular composers: A.R. Rahman, Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy, Vishal – Shekhar, Pritam
  2. Most popular lyricists: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Gulzar, Irshad Kamil
  3. Most popular male singers: Arijit Singh, Vishal Dadlani, Papon
  4. Most popular female singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan, Sunidhi Chauhan

“Song Templates” And Innovation In Hindi Film Music

This post is prompted by a conversation I had yesterday on Twitter regarding a lovely new song that had just come out – the Amit Trivedi composed, K. Mohan sung Kinare (Queen, 2014).

There were other such comparisons of Queen’s soundtrack with Amit Trivedi’s prior work including Dev.D, Lootera (comment above), Udaan, Isahqzaade and Kai Po Che. Within these comparisons is a critique (not always explicit) of Amit Trivedi’s work – that he is not experimenting enough or that he’s using “song templates” that are making his work predictable. In this post, I intend to present an alternate view.

But before that, here is an observation that most will agree with  – that Amit Trivedi has a sweet spot in terms of genres – Pop/Rock, and Pop/Rock fused with semi-classical or folk music. So then the question becomes if his sweet spot takes away from his music. My opinion is that it does not. Trivedi’s sweet spot is not a spot, it’s really a large, multi-dimensional kaleidoscopic canvas. Considering that history has produced great artists who’ve spent their entire careers on a single genre of music, even if Amit Trivedi restricts his music to a combination of only Pop/Rock/Semi-classical/Folk – he will still be able to produce a rich, solid body of work, provided he keeps producing the kind of stellar tracks that he has till date. My personal belief is that he will do that and more.

Now my take on the “song template” criticisms.

A lot of the time, when people talk about “templates” or “hangover” in the context of music, I believe they’re referring to the artist’s signature or style – a pattern for structuring and arranging songs. Pancham’s was one such, easily identifiable signature. For me, the signature is not necessarily a bad thing. It is possible for the signature to be used in several different songs and still stay fresh. The appeal of Pancham’s signature thrived across not just many Pancham songs, but also songs composed by other composers, eg: Ulfut Mein Zamane Ki (composed by Sapan – Jagmohan) and Vaada Karo Jaanam (composed by Basu – Manohari).

In the instance of Kinare (Queen), Shikayatein (Lootera) and Naav Hai Teri (Udaan), in addition to Amit Trivedi’s signature, there are additional elements of similarity – the singer – K. Mohan – and the general theme/mood of these songs. It appears to me that for some people, a combination of these similarities is distracting enough to appreciate what are really very different songs. I draw consolation from the fact that even A.R. Rahman, has not escaped the “song template” criticism – a song as lovely as “Aise Na Dekho” (“Raanjhana”) had people disapprovingly talking about how similar it sounded to “Tu Bole Main Boloon” (“Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na”).

Progress in Hindi film music has been incremental for the most part. There are very few music directors who have been innovative enough to change the course of music in Hindi films. There are two who come to my mind in terms of the biggest impact – R.D. Burman for his experiments with instruments and arrangement and A.R. Rahman for experiments with the song structure. However, depending on your taste in music, you may like the work of other composers more than R.D. Burman’s or A.R. Rahman’s – and that’s all right. In other words, our taste in music isn’t determined by how innovative the artist is – it is quite simply what sounds good to our ears. Innovation in music is great as an aspiration but doesn’t always make for songs we like. In fact, experiments may not always have the desired effect – I felt that Raanjhana’s music was cluttered and Milliblog’s verdict on Highway -“occasionally accessible”. Conversely, there are several composers through history who may not be known for their experimentation but are considered great nevertheless. Therefore, I believe it is as meaningless to exhort musicians, who make good music otherwise, to experiment more as it is to pull good composers down if their experiments don’t work. They all play a role in the music ecosystem and I believe we should encourage and support them.

And to seal the argument, here is a video that proves that all hit pop songs are really the same. (Kidding!)

PS: Plagiarists and truly unimaginative music directors (you know who they are) are out of the scope of this discussion.

2013 Bollywood Music Review

Another eventful year had come to an end and it’s time to take stock of year that was for Hindi film music. We did a similar review last year, if you’re interested.

2013 saw the release of 154 films with 999 songs between them.

We lost a number of artists in 2013. Some were young and their end was unexpected – Ajay Jhingran, Rituparno Ghosh and Sandeep Acharya. Others left behind a substantial musical legacy – Lakshmi ShankarMadhubala Zaveri, P.B. Sreenivas, Pran, Reshma, Shamshad Begum, VaaliVitthalbhai Patel and the last of the male singers from the classic era of Hindi films – Manna Dey.

But the show went on and a number of new artists made their debuts. While some of them were indie artists making what might just be a brief foray into Bollywood, others are probably going to be Bollywood staple in years to come. Some of the notable debuts of 2013 were:

  1. Composer: Advait Nemlekar,  Akshay Hariharan, Atif Afzal, Bramfatura, Harpreet Singh, Indraneel HariharanKaran Kulkarni, The Lightyears ExplodeMaatibaani, Mangesh DhakdeModern Mafia
  2. Lyricists: Ali Hayat RizviGurpreet SainiPunam HariharanRam Ramesh SharmaSiddharth – GarimaUbaid Azam Azmi
  3. Male Singers: Atif AfzalGeet SagarGopi SunderIndraneel HariharanMunawar MasoomNajim ArshadNitesh KadamOsman MirPadmanabh GaikwadSanam PuriVikas Ambhore
  4. Female Singers: Chaitra AmbadipudiJonita GandhiMili Nair, Nirali KartikSaba AzadZebunnissa Bangash

The most prolific composers in 2013 were:

  1. Pritam – 8 films, 51 songs
  2. Sachin – Jigar – 7 films, 37 songs
  3. Sajid – Wajid – 5 films, 23 songs

While Pritam’s appearance at the top of this list is no surprise, 2013 will be seen as the year Sachin – Jigar established themselves as bankable composers and entrenched themselves in Bollywood. Surprisingly, Sajid – Wajid continue to be on this list despite their lackluster scores.

The most prolific lyricists in 2013 were:

  1. Kumaar – 16 films, 72 songs
  2. Amitabh Bhattacharya – 11 films, 42 songs
  3. Irshad Kamil – 5 films, 37 songs

Kumaar has been perhaps the most low profile of the current lot of lyricists so his name at this top of this list and the margin between him and the Amitabh Bhattacharya comes as a surprise.

The most prolific male singers of 2013 were:

  1. Mika Singh – 49 songs
  2. Sonu Nigam – 31 songs
  3. Arijit Singh – 28 songs

Mika Singh appears to be the industry’s favorite singer right now. It’s pity though that he is stuck in a rut in terms of the kinds of songs he sings. 2013 was Arijit Singh’s breakout year in terms of both the number of songs he sang as well as the mass appeal he was able to generate, thanks primarily to Ashiqui 2.

The most prolific female singers of 2013 were:

  1. Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan – 38 songs each
  2. Monali Thakur, Palak Muchhal – 14 songs each
  3. Mamta Sharma, Shalmali Kholgade – 13 songs each

While the divas – Shreya Ghoshal and Sunidhi Chauhan – continue to dominate the scene, there seems to be a lot of competition amongst female singers. It’s good to see a newbie – Shalmali Kholgade (2012 was her debut year) on this list as it is to see Monali Thakur, who as been around for a few years now, finally get her due.

Finally, based on  a combination of ratings and number of well-rated songs in 2013, the most popular artists of 2013 were:

  1. Most popular composers: Pritam, Amit Trivedi, Sachin – Jigar
  2. Most popular lyricists: Irshad Kamil, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Kumaar
  3. Most popular male singers: Arijit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Amit Trivedi
  4. Most popular female singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Palak Muchhal

Why Lootera Is A Better Music Album Than Raanjhanaa

Before I delve into the post, let me state two things:

  • I’d rather not make comparisons but I saw the albums being compared on social media and was disappointed at how dismissive some people were about Lootera – as if it did not even deserve to be compared with Raanjhanaa! I thought it was important that someone present an alternate view.
  • This is not a comparison between A.R. Rahman and Amit Trivedi. I have the deepest respect for both and love their music. I completely agree with Amit Trivedi when he says “there can’t be another Rahman”. Based on the music he has made so far, I also believe there can’t be another Amit Trivedi.

Now, on to why I believe Lootera is a better album. The answer to that lies partly in why I like Raanjhanaa less. Many have used words like textured and layered to describe Raanjhanaa’s music and they are right, except that I found Raanjhanaa’s music to be too textured. There is a LOT going on and many of those individual elements are brilliant (like the sitar in Banarasiya and how he’s used the KMMC Sufi Ensemble in Piya Milenge), but put together the music feels cluttered. The whole is less than the sum of parts. For example, Ay Sakhi uses the following percussion instruments – tabla, ghatam/matka, drum sticks, dafli, dhol and maybe others that my ears did not catch. It’s overwhelming and not in a pleasant way. The second issue, I have with Raanjhanaa is a very basic one – except for two or three of songs (my favorite being Tu Mun Shudi), I found the songs “unhummable”. A lot has been said about Rahman defying norms (like not using traditional song structures with mukhda/antara) but it isn’t this that makes his music work. It makes his music interesting and it gives his music that unique ARR character. But, what makes his music really work – for me – is the underlying melody. I found Raanjhanaa’s music lacking in this regard.

On the other hand, I love Lootera because it is a collection of simple and beautiful songs. After Barfi, it’s the first album that I liked after a single listen (although it took a few listens for me to get over Sawar Loon’s percussions). Every song is extremely melodic, the singers do a superb job (Monali Thakur, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Amit Trivedi, K. Mohan, Swanand Kirkire and Shilpa Rao will all count Lootera amongst their best work as singers) and I can easily see myself listening to and humming these songs for years to come. A key strength of the album is it’s no fuss, no frill approach. I am not sure if all great things are simple but Lootera’s music certainly supports the adage.

That said, I encourage everyone to buy both these albums – for both albums deserve to be heard – and form their own opinion. I don’t agree with people who wring their hands and claim that the music today ’s music isn’t as good as it used to be. Every generation says that and that’s nostalgic bullshit. I think we’re lucky to be living in the times of composers like A.R. Rahman and Amit Trivedi. It is a privilege to have both of them release albums within days of each other and it is as good a time as any to be a music lover.

Why People Don’t Talk About Pirate Consumers

I engaged in a long debate on Twitter yesterday with popular blogger, Karthik Srinivasan (entire conversation at the end of his post). To boil things down, I was asking why illegal downloaders don’t get called out for doing the wrong thing and his point was that it was not really going to make a difference. That argument didn’t sit well with me because ever since social media gave all of us a microphone, we haven’t really held back on anything just because nobody was listening. People rant about plagiarism (Heck, Karthik runs a blog dedicated to it!), traffic, politicians, air travel and noisy neighbours. Why are they wishy-washy about illegal downloading?

Yesterday’s Twitter debate didn’t answer that question for me, so I decided to write about the potential reasons for the deafening silence on this subject.

Publishers are not doing enough to solve service and content availability issues. I have written earlier about how difficult it is sometimes to get hold of content legally. It is hard to not empathize with people who depend on illegal sources when they can’t get it legally.

Piracy is seen as a victimless crime. People don’t see piracy as impacting individuals directly. In fact, some people feel that piracy works as a marketing tool and helps artists increase their fan-base. As for the content publishers, they’re not really losing any money and if they are, the greedy corporations deserve it.

Pirates have managed to spin themselves as being hip and anti-establishment. They have managed to project themselves as people who are helping solve the service and availability issues that exist in the market today. It’s another matter that they also distribute content that is available legally and easily. Nobody wants to call out the pirates unless it’s someone like Kim Dotcom who does not manage his PR as well as his peers have.

People don’t want to say things that others don’t want to listen to. If a large number of your followers, readers, etc. are illegal downloaders (which I believe is the case in India today), calling them out is not really going to help you win the social media popularity contest. In fact, being soft on piracy is probably going to win you brownie points. My guess is that I am not winning any with this and yesterday’s post.

People with a voice (bloggers, influencers, journalists, etc.) are engaging in piracy themselves. Not only are they not in a position to speak out against piracy, they, in fact, have to find justifications for their actions so they can retain their high moral ground. Nobody likes to feel guilty.

Why are you not calling out illegal downloaders?

You Will Never Kill Piracy, and Piracy Will Never Kill You http://t.co/SGy622uE “Realize piracy is a service problem”
2/20/12 10:40 AM
@beastoftraal Intellectual, theoretical & flawed. Most people I know who download stuff do it because they don’t want to pay for stuff.
2/20/12 10:51 AM
@taparam Yes, I’m aware of that. Service is an issue that has not been tried adequately. Difference in timing of availability, in specific.
2/20/12 10:59 AM
@beastoftraal My problem is that the valid argument of service/availability gives a clean chit to a lot of freeloaders.
2/20/12 11:02 AM
@taparam Unless we try, how do we know that freeloaders are freeloaders just for the heck of it? They will exist anyway, no?
2/20/12 11:03 AM
@beastoftraal People freeload even when there are no service/avl issues. Too many people taking easy/cool route of railing against “system”.
2/20/12 11:19 AM
@taparam Have we given people enough paid options that are convenient to opt for?
2/20/12 11:22 AM
@beastoftraal Last week you got a recco to buy a cheaper, DOS based laptop because you can get a Windows CD “anywhere”. What was that about?
2/20/12 11:23 AM
@taparam Buying Windows CD separately. I can order it along with the DOS-based laptop and can choose a cheaper version.
2/20/12 11:25 AM
@beastoftraal That’s you. Am positive the guy making the recco didn’t have a purchase in mind.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
@taparam The only other option in that model was the same config with Win premium something. Base home version would do for me.
2/20/12 11:26 AM
@taparam Why should that be a problem? If there was a Win-based cheaper option, assumption is, he’d have chosen that.
2/20/12 11:27 AM
.@taparam Don’t you think we/RIAA/everybody is talking ONLY about freeloading pirates right now? 🙂 And not about service *at all*?
2/20/12 12:02 PM
@beastoftraal Can you point me to discussions on moral/ethical issues around piracy? Not focussing on Kim Dotcoms but on consumers.Genuine q
2/20/12 12:58 PM
@taparam Haven’t come across any on moral/ethics of it – best dealt with churches, IMO. Pointless to go in that direction. If that be the…
2/20/12 1:26 PM
@taparam …case, we should also have periodic articles on rape and theft, and how both are ethically wrong, leave alone legally.
2/20/12 1:27 PM
@taparam This Techdirt piece tries to be more sane – dissecting numbers quoted by RIAA/industry http://t.co/QGgeIAhO
2/20/12 1:29 PM
@beastoftraal Disagree that morality should be left to religion. Society must decide. Solid examples of religion messing up morality.
2/20/12 2:11 PM
@taparam Didn’t mean it that way; just meant that there’s nothing solid to put forward, as an argument, in the moral debate. That it’s 1/2
2/20/12 2:12 PM
@taparam 2/2 obvious, but given the endless supply, people don;t see it as wrong. Question then is, if moral argument has any point at all.
2/20/12 2:13 PM
@beastoftraal Think the discussion is important. Problem in India is widespread. Many of my friends/relatives download. Feel bad.
2/20/12 2:27 PM
@taparam When people buy pirated CDs on the roadside, of films that released the previous day, why should this be any badder?
2/20/12 2:29 PM
@taparam There is no point in the ‘It is wrong, morally/legally. You could go to jail’ argument. Only Burma Bazaar pirates are arrested…
2/20/12 2:29 PM
@taparam …’cos they do it in large scale. Individual downloaders may never feel anything wrong whatever media writes about morals here.
2/20/12 2:30 PM


Piracy Is Mainstream

I’ve been an anti-piracy advocate in my friend circle for many years now. Over time though, I realized that people like me were rare and specially in India, we became outcasts. Friends and relatives look at me like I am nuts when I refuse to lend them my iPod so they can copy songs from it. The burden of guilt was specially heavy when I refused to copy songs on a USB drive for my niece (I bought her CDs instead). It has now come to pass that I have to exercise caution while expressing my views on piracy and people who indulge in piracy don’t give a damn! How the heck did we get to this stage?

Take this exchange on Twitter  –

Guy 1 – “I notice it is without Windows and only with DOS. Possible reason for low price I suppose.”

Guy 2 – “Yes comes with DOS. You can get the windows CD anywhere. I bought this laptop 2 months ago. It’s amazing.”

Guy 2 is recommending a lower-priced laptop which does not have Windows on it because “you can get windows CD anywhere”. In other words, why pay for something when you can get a pirated copy for free. I found this conversation disturbing to say the least:

  1. Guy 2 is advocating piracy in public and doesn’t give a damn
  2. This exchange has a fairly wide audience. Guy 2 has 6000+ followers and Guy 1 has almost 7000 followers and my guess is that they share many followers (like me) who are following this exchange.

It’s important to point out that Guy 1 is asking an innocent question and from what I know of him (via his tweets and blog posts) someone who goes out of his way to get stuff legally.

This kind of exchange is hardly an exception. Conversations on socials networks range from discreet (sanitized references to piracy like “download”, “link please”, “linkesh”, “pdf version”) to “naughty” (nudges and winks indicated through an assortment of smileys) to outright blatant (railing against the ban of pirate sites).

As I have said in a previous post, one of the root causes of piracy is the poor availability of content from legal sources. While I don’t support that argument, I do understand it. The other root cause is simply people not wanting to pay for stuff. Many of these people rationalize their “downloading” ways by citing arguments that sound intellectual but are basically flawed – “Why should I pay for bad quality content?”, “Unfair pricing”, “Big companies are greedy”, “Sharing is good for content creators”, etc).

However, the biggest emerging cause for piracy seems to be the fact that people don’t even think of unpaid downloads as piracy. It has become mainstream. How can something be wrong if everyone is doing it? This is probably the single biggest problem the music industry faces today.

India Losing Music Genres Due To Bollywood?

The title of this post is a direct quote from an interview with Shubha Mudgal. Many months ago, I made a similar observation is a post titled Is Bollywood Overdose Killing India Music?.

There is no denying the fact that Bollywood music’s overwhelming popularity suppresses non-film music. But isn’t Bollywood itself a melting pot of many genres? How then could we lose Indian genres to Bollywood?

To answer this question, I tried to find out how Bollywood has used non-filmi genres over the years and understand if there is a decline in the usage of these genres. With Thej’s help, I put together this chart from MySwar data:

x-axis: Genres, y-axis: Number of songs

Here is my interpretation of this data:

  • Sugam sangeet is a big part of Bollywood. Sugam (or Geet or light classical music) has always been a big part of Bollywood and continues to be. As long as this continues, Bollywood will continue to promote Indian classical music forms (albeit indirectly).
  • But is threatened by the Western music juggernaut. Western musical forms have always influenced Bollywood but the growth of this influence of the 2000s has been mind-boggling. The 2000s represent the first decade in which Pop music influenced a greater number of Bollywood songs that Sugam music did. In fact Western musical forms (Electronic, Hip-hop, Pop, Rock, Western Classical) influenced almost 50% of the songs made in Bollywood in the 2000s!
  • Indian genres can’t beat Bollywood but they can join Bollywood. Folk music has always been a relatively insignificant influence on Bollywood music. However, over the last decade Bhangra and other Punjabi folk music has taken Bollywood by storm. My take is that Bollywood adopted Punjabi folk music with gusto when the likes of Daler Mehndi popularized the genre by producing a series of successful albums.

My conclusion from this analysis is that things indeed don’t look very good for non-filmi Indian genres. But the analysis also points that the solution to this problem lies outside the film industry. The rise of Punjabi folk music and Western music in Bollywood is not incidental. Bollywood films are commercial ventures and they produce music they think people want to listen to and right now they think people like Bhangra, Pop, Electronic, Hip-hop and Rock. Indian musical genres must find ways of making themselves popular independently before Bollywood embraces them.

Nostalgic 90’s with Kumar Sanu

Writing about the Hindi film music of 90’s is like writing about one single man and that’s Kumar Sanu. If I say that the man ruled the Hindi cinema in that decade, it wont be wrong. What he gave to the listeners in 90’s with some brilliant music by the duo Nadeem-Shravan was magical. You can still find people humming to Sanu’s songs on every other street in Mumbai and you’ll find some people playing “Jaan E Jigar Jaaneman” (“Aashiqui”) or “Pardesi Pardesi” (“Raja Hindustani”) loudly on their so-called China handsets in Mumbai locals. People like me who were born in the late 80’s will be able to relate to his songs. I was just 6 years old when I heard him for the first time in “Baazigar” and we all know the song “Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen”. It has been 18 years since then and when I play his music now in 2011 I feel nostalgic. Most of us tend to forget these songs with the current numbers like “Dhinka Chika”. But try and search for his songs on your playlist and play one and I bet you’ll end up listening to his tracks throughout the day. Here are 10 songs of Kumar Sanu which make me feel nostalgic. Hope you will be able to catch up some old memories with these numbers.

Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Pagal Hai
This one from Saajan is one of the best melodies from the duo Nadeem-Shravan. Unlike their songs in Aashiqui which were more popish in nature, this one had the melody with Tabla, Veena and Violin covering major part of the song. And the best part of the song is the singing by the best in the business then Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. The song gave Sanu his 2nd Filmfare after “Ab Tere Bin” from Aashiqui.

Dil Hai Ke Maanta Nahin
When I heard this for the first time I thought this was just exactly like the song I heard before in Saajan. But hats off to the duo that they hit it off every time they came up with a song using the same formula, a SUCCESS formula (Violin Orchestra, Tabla and Veena). But not to forget the melody which makes you hum whenever you listen to it.

Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh
This one from 1942 A Love Story had everything which a successful song required. A feel good song with some good melody, a sweet voice that of Kumar Sanu and some brilliant instrumentation by R.D. Burman. There was a period of time when people had started to believe that Pancham’s time was over. So this definitely was a comeback album for R.D.Burman and he proved that he still had some good music left in him. But unfortunately he wasn’t there to celebrate his success of getting his 3rd Filmfare award.

Tum Mile Dil Khile
The lyrics of the song gels very well with some good composition by MM Kreem. Great vocals, especially the female one which gives a little pop feel to the song. Kumar Sanu definitely had something in him during those days that he delivered every time he sang.

Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam
Still remains at the top ten list of songs on most of the playlists. It still is in mine. Well written lyrics by Anand Bakshi to match some very good music by Jatin-Lalit. Kumar Sanu and Lata Di’s vocals complete the song and makes it special for the listener. Together they created magic 16 years ago called “Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jaana Sanam”.

Chura Ke Dil Mera
A sizzling number. One of the few songs that captures both melody and keeps pop alive with some guitar bits and a saxophone. Some good work by Anu Malik with the music and the voice of Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu makes it a super hit song of that year (1994).

Humko Sirf Tumse Pyaar hai
This was probably the nth time that Nadeem-Shravan and Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik came together and they still were able to deliver their best. The song was able to create the magic with the youth. It had everything to compete with some major releases that year (1995).

Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain
This solo from Kumar Sanu inspired a lot of people to take guitar lessons. A very well composed mellow romantic song with just acoustic guitar playing throughout. Full marks to the duo again.

Jab Kisi Ki Taraf Dil
The only song in the entire album which tells you that its Jatin-Lalit. A nice and a mellow song which definitely makes you hum it. Got some simple lyrics which makes it easy for the listener to connect. The only thing which surprises me is the style that Kumar Sanu sings, sounds same in all the songs. Still a good one this, won’t disappoint if you are a Bollywood buff.

Ek Din Aap
One of my favorite duets of Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. Don’t know why, but this song keeps repeating on my playlist. Guess the lyrics of the song are just brilliantly written by Javed Akhtar especially the 1st antra “Dil Ki Daali Pe Kaliyaan Si Khilne Lagi, Jab Nigaahein Nigaahon Se Milne lagi’. I’m being too filmy now! Some really good music by Jatin-Lalit in this one as well.


Want more? Check out Kumar Sanu’s complete discography on MySwar.