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Year Ender |  05 Jan 2009 12:43 |  By chiragsutar

The Bollywood music scene '08

Bollywood saw over 100 big budget releases this year, there were songs which got us instantly hooked and there were those overhyped musicals or music scores which fell flat. Out of the huge number of releases, few had songs that were timeless. We wonder, did Bollywood give us music that we can recall and relive again and again?

Unfortunately, from the long list of films released under Bollywood, and the long list of 'tracks' that came with those films, there wasn't much the songs delivered sparing a few 20 tracks. The songs lacked creative quality and most importantly – timelessness. The 2008 trend was peppy, fast paced music – it didn't matter if the lyrics made sense or the tunes repetitive. Without doubt we can call 2008 Bollywood's 'peppy-beat-era's' inception year.

However, there were few composers who we could count on to fulfil our musical cravings and A R Rahman tops the list – the undisputed King. Though Rahman received the Golden Globe, many felt it was too late – probably the westerners had not heard the 'Mozart of India' before. SEL gave us on Rock On, and duo Vishal Shekhar surprised with their year end release Dostana. Kailash–Naresh – Paresh seemed to be the most promising composers and Amit Trivedi's calming 'Ek Lau' came out as one of the best scores of the year.

So who offered what for the listeners to cherish? Let's have a look.

Rahman, the undisputed King of 2008

As far as composers go, Rahman tops the list with albums likes Jodhaa Akbar, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Yuvvraaj, Ghajini and Slumdog Millionaire. Rahman experimented with genres and subjects of varied kinds. Be it the period film Jodhaa Akbar, the youth centric Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na or the larger than life Yuvvraaj. Though Yuvvraaj didn't garner much at the box office, the man behind the music had nothing to worry about – he won the Golden globe for Slumdog Millionaire. Towards the year-end, Rahman came with Ghajini. The music for this film was far more 'experimental' compared to his earlier releases. It's interesting to note that the songs that caught on like wild fire (Jashn-E-Bahaara, Aditi, Pappu Cant Dance) were sung by new comers – there are many new voices that Rahman introduced this year – Benny Dayal, Karthik, Vijay Prakash and Rashid Ali.

SEL banks on Rock On

Shankar – Ehsaan- Loy's 'Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic' may not have clicked in the earlier half of the year, but with Rock On, the trio cleared the mental block that Bollywood deemed about 'Rock Music'. Farhan went a step ahead and got into the skin of the character. Rock On also introduced Farhan Akhtar the director as debutant singer and actor. Javed Akhtar could be seen experimenting with words and moving away from the conventional. Believe it or not, the music for this film was done in a record five days at the SEL's studio. Initially, the music took time to grow and get accepted. However, it soon caught on – and there was no stopping. SEL, at an individual level, are proficient musicians in their own right. With Shankar's expertise in classical and carnatic music, Ehsaan's rock music background and Loy's skills on the Keys as well as programming, their music has developed a unique all rounded sound. Their exposure to varied genres allows them to shift genres at a drop of a hat. It was also heard that many music critics re-reviewed Rock On's music after watching the film. This certainly makes for India's best rock album.

Now the pulse is on their future projects: My Name is Khan, Chandni Chowk to China, Delhi Belly and Luck by Chance.

Dostana-the must have album

Duo Vishal - Shekhar started the year with Bhoothnath and then Tashan. The latter failed at the box office, but the music did moderately well. Their next was Ranbir-Deepika starrer Bachna Ae Haseeno, but unfortunately, that too had just one track (Khuda Jaane) worth repeating. However, with Dostana the duo hit the bulls-eye. One can call Vishal- Shekhar Bollywood's most efficient 'Hinglish' composers. Dostana had all the ingredients of Bollywood and offered much more than just fancy beats – which was the ongoing trend then. Through fun track 'Maa da Laadla' the duo introduced one of Punjab's well known talents Saleem to bollwood. Besides this, songs like Desi Girl, radio friendly Khabar Nahi and Vishal's poetic genius 'Kuch Kum' offered variety. Party track 'Shut up & Bounce' and 'the-easy-to-hum' Jaane Kyun gripped listeners. The album had all the songs which were in one word 'workable', thus making it a must have album of the year.

Promising composers: Kailash-Naresh-Paresh, Amit Trivedi and Sneha Khanvilkar

Kailash-Naresh-Paresh seemed to be one of the most promising composers of the year. After Pranali, the trio's second film was Dasvidaniya. Kailash Kher had earlier tasted success in the non-film category thorugh his solo albums like Ya Rabba, Jhoomo Re and Kailasa. The music of Dasvidaniya had the 'timeless' element, especially in songs like Alvida and Mumma. Kher, as we know is also a gifted writer; his lyrics are known for their unconventional nature – making them easily standout. Kher's earthy voice has shown its magic in the Kailasa albums and now with his foray into bollywood, the listeners can hope to hear more of his compositions in coming years – for both film and non-film.

Amit Trivedi surprised us with 'Ek Lau' last year. His forthcoming 'Dev D' is already generating curiosity. Marathi mulgi Sneha Khanwalkar has surely got many admirers after her Punjabi oeuvres in 'Oye lucky lucky oye'. Her debut film 'Run' failed, but post OLLO, the twenty something director has shown great potential – We'll be rooting for you!

There were several gems on the Bollywood music horizon in 2008, but we picked out a few that stood out and begged praise, a notch higher than the others. We are sure you will agree with our reasoning...

Song : Tu Bole Main Boloon

Film: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Singer : A R Rahman

Music Director : A R Rahman

Lyrics : Abbas Tyrewala

One can't deny that it's challenging to compose a pure jazz 'Hindi' song like Tu Bole Main Boloon. The arrangements in the song are akin to any jazz band's – trumpets, saxophone and the jazz drumming grooves. This can be considered as the best Bollwood jazz song of the year. The lyrics by Abbas Tyrewala are simple and appealing, the paradoxical ideas – at its best.

Song: Ek lau..

Film: Aamir

Singer: Amitabh, Shilpa Rao

Music Director: Amit Trivedi

Lyrics: Amitabh

Ek Lau is perhaps the best written song of the year. The organic flow of the song and Shilpa Rao's husky vocals takes the track to a new level. As far as the arrangement goes, it's simple and has an alternative rock sound. If you haven't heard this, you've missed one of the best tracks of the year!

Song: Pappu Can't Dance

Film: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Singer: Anupama Deshpande, Benny Dayal, Blaze, Darshana,

Mohd Aslam, Satish Subramanium, Tanvi

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Abbas Tyrewala

This crazy fun song can easily 'up' anybody's mood. We may all have danced to this party track a thousand times, but fun tracks like these aren't easy to make. Kudos to Abbas Tyrewala for the super unconventional lyrics – he's got his finger on the pulse of the youth there. Not all composers can use a traffic cop whistle the way Rahman did.

Song: Pichle Saat Dinon Mein

Film: Rock On

Singer: Farhan Akhtar

Music Director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar's unconventional lyrics of Pichle Saat Dinon Mein and Ehsaan's distorted guitar riffs go well with the song. Farhan Akhtar ain't a trained singer, but he did go behind the mic and gave skin to his onscreen rock star image.

He may not be a rock star, but his voice did show the 'Magik'!

Song: Kabhi Kabhi Aditi Zindagi

Film: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Singer: Rashid Ali

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Abbas Tyrewala

Rahman's guitarist Rashid Ali took the mic for this track and received acclaim as well. The reggae inclined 'Aditi' was most played song on the radio this year. Needless to say, Abbas Tyrewala was at his best lyrically. The track was such a rage, many felt jaded because of the constant repetitions. 'Your Beautiful' by James Blunt faced a similar dilemma after it was released in 2003.

Song: Vaada Tumse Hain Vaada

Film: 1920

Singer: Pandit Jasraj

Music Director: Adnam Sami

Lyrics: Sameer

Bollywood composers experimented with all genres, but none tried our very own classical music in its purest form. Through Vaada Tumse Hain Vaada, Adnan Sami got Pandit Jasraj to sing for Bollywood (for the first time). The classical improvisations in this song are unsurpassed. The other version by Parveen Sultana is equally good. If you're a classical music lover, you wouldn't have missed this!

Song: Tu Meri Dost Hain

Film: Yuvvraaj

Singer: Benny Dayal

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Gulzar

"The Tu mera dost hai" track from Yuvvraaj is dear to me because all our songs have always referred to the beloved as 'mehbooba', 'maashuqa' and so on. Never a 'dost'" – the approach is something which makes the song different. Otherwise, we know how relationships are perceived in bollwood music," said veteran composer Gulzar.

It's a good sign that lyric writing in Bollywood is changing slowly. Both Benny Dayal and Shreya Goshal sound brilliant on vocals.

Song: Kaise Mujhe

Film: Ghajini

Singer: Benny Dayal, Shreya Ghoshal

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi

Not many songs express the forlorn feel the way 'Kaise Mujhe' does. The song is not something which instantly hits – it gets you hooked slowly.


Movie Name: Jodhaa Akbar

Singer: Javed Ali

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

A heart-warming romantic track, Jashn-e-bahaara makes you hit the repeat button several times. The soothing slow paced melodious restraints of strings and tabla flow freely. Javed Ali is vocalist par excellence.

The lyrics of the song may not be easy to understand, but that will not stop you from humming this brilliant piece of work.

Song: Mar Jawaan

Film: Fashion

Singer : Shruti Pathak

Music Director : Salim-Sulaiman

Lyrics : Irfan Siddique

'Mar Jaava' is a gloomy lounge track. Shruti Pathak's husky and low-key voice spins magic in this Salim-Sulaiman composition. It doesn't take long to get hooked. 'Mar Jaava' is apt for a quiet evening with yourself.


Movie Name: Ghajini

Singer: Karthik

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Prasoon Joshi

This was one of the most difficult songs for lyricist Prasoon Joshi to pen, he had mentioned in an earlier interview to We know Rahman does not follow a set song structure when it comes to composing, and Behka is surely 'unstructured'. Hear this for its downright craziness and bewilderment.

Song: Ishq Ada

Film: Ada

Singer: Rashid Ali

Music Director: A R Rahman

Lyrics: Raqeeb Alam

It is believed that the music of the film actually took six years to release (the work on the film started in 2002). As a result, the music has an old school feel. Here's your chance to cherish the old Rahmanisque feel through Ada.

Song : Mumma

Film: Dasvidaniya

Singer: Kailash Kher

Music Director: Kailash Kher

Apart from singing, Kailash Kher is at his poetic best in 'Mumma'. It's a simple song with minimalistic arrangements – Kher does a lot with very little…

Song: Jugni

Movie Name: Oye Lucky Lucky Oye

Singer: Des Raj Lachkani

Music Director: Sneha Khanwalkar

Lyrics: Dibakar Banerjee

The 70 year old vocalist Des Raj Lakhani is traditionally amusing in the age old Punjabi folklore 'Jugni'. This track is emancipated with ethnical verses penned with strong and engrossing verbose punches. The song has a UK bhangra touch to it with thriving western arrangements. Through this, Sneha Khanwalkar takes the 'Punjabi' music genre to a new level.

Song: Maa Da Laadla

Film: Dostana

Singer: Saleem

Lyrics: Kumaar

Music Director: Vishal-Shekhar

'Maa Da Laadla' is sung by Saleem, the song is fun and of the kind which forces you to break into an impromptu jig. Saleem is one of the renowned talents of Punjab. 'Maa Da Laadla' may not be a 'chart-topper', but wait and watch – there's a lot this man can deliver.

Song: Jaane Kyun

Film: Dostana

Singer: Vishal Dadlani

Lyrics: Anvita Dutt Guptan

Music Director: Vishal-Shekhar

'Jaane Kyun' had all the elements to be a sure-shot chartbuster. The song has the most 'catchiest' tune. With jazz improvisations, Hinglish lyrics, hip-hop claps and a super organic melody, the Vishal-Shekhar duo nails it. Though it's archetypal Bollywood, it's – sensible!