Best Hindi Movie Soundtracks Of All Time
This is as definitive as it gets. Pandolin, after several re-listening of albums and careful observation, picks the best Hindi movie albums of all time!
Barsaat is one of Hindi cinema’s most iconic soundtrack for two reasons. One, it introduced India to the brilliance of Shankar Jaikishan. And two, it surmounted the then young Lata Mangeshkar as the voice to look for. And soon enough, she became the voice of an entire generation of people. It was considered one of the best albums of its time, and is easily counted among the great ones.
The success of Awara’s music could be heard all the way in the Soviet Union, where the movie and its songs turned Raj Kapoor into a Russian sensation. However bizarre that development may have seemed back then, Shankar Jaikishan’s masterly work with the film’s music make it an album for the times.
Shree 420, 1955
The image of a dainty Nargis and a perky Raj Kapoor under a black umbrella in the rain may just have catapulted this movie to iconic status, along with the song, ‘Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua’ that they were crooning to. But it was truly ‘Mera Joota Hai Japani’ that became the unofficial anthem of the country. Truly, Shankar Jaikishan and Raj Kapoor made for an effective combination.
The great O. P. Nayyar composed the music for the taut thriller responsible for introducing the gentle Waheeda Rehman to the movies. But of the delightfully pleasant album, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil Jeena Yahan’ became the song that would be sung by every Mumbaikar to this day. Picturised on the effervescent Johnny Walker, the song continues to remain a symbol of the city.
The early years of Hindi cinema established a formidable partnership. That when a Raj Kapoor movie had music by Shankar Jaikishan, it could never go wrong. Anari’s soundtrack too gained prominence, especially for the easy-flowing vocals of both, Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh.
That Mughal-E-Azam is a film for centuries is very established, but it is the great Naushad’s music that is recollected with fond memories even today. The exorbitant use of Indian classical ragas is absolutely noteworthy, as is Madhubala dancing to the elaborately composed ‘Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kiya’.
Yet another Raj Kapoor movie with a Shankar Jaikishan soundtrack, it’s almost impossible to not associate the trio with a musically brilliant amalgamation. It stood out as one of the more enduring soundtracks of that decade.
Guide was not just one of Hindi cinema’s best attempts at adapting a noteworthy work of literature but the music by S D Burman continues to remain one of its many brilliant additions, with the songs standing out as beautiful paintings against a very masterful work of celluloid. ‘Gaata rahe mera dil’, indeed.
Jewel Thief, 1967
Jewel Thief has a memorable soundtrack, not just for S D Burman’s enduring compositions but also because it cemented Majrooh Sultanpuri as a lyricist of immense credibility.
The most enduring scene and song from the movie remains the war of music between the naive and loveable Sunil Dutt, actually sung for by a hiding Kishore Kumar, and the quirky, Mehmood, as a south Indian suitor, sung for in real life by the inimitable Manna Dey. That scene of insatiable humour became one of the strongest musical moments in Hindi cinema history.
Aradhana’s music received double treatment from both, S D Burman and R D Burman, when the latter took over recording the album as S D Burman fell sick. But Rajesh Khanna wooing Sharmila Tagore from a van as she pretends to read a book in the train is not the only enduring history to the movie’s music, with some great names like Kersi Lord and Homi Mullan associated with it.
Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s classic, Anand, wasn’t just known for Rajesh Khanna’s heartbreaking portrayal of a dying man, but also for the immensely enjoyable music composed by Salil Choudhury. Rajesh Khanna who’d until then been synonymous with Kishore Kumar’s vocals actually had Mukesh sing his music. The result was two of the singers most well known songs – ‘Maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne’ and ‘Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye’.
Caravan was a tale which, when seen now, was rather hippiesque in nature, as a wandering Jeetendra fell in love with a runaway, Asha Parekh. The music too, embodied this free spirit. But if carefully considered, of the brilliant album by R.D. Burman, one song, ‘Daiya Ye Main Kahan’ sung by the vocally tenacious Asha Bhosle stands as an example of brilliant composition.
Amar Prem, 1971
The usually effervescently western R D Burman dove deep into the realm of Indian classical music with Amar Prem, giving it one of the most nuanced soundtracks of Hindi cinema. The movie is, in fact, a musical journey, with the songs perfectly bringing to life the complex emotions of the characters.
Pakeezah is a movie and a soundtrack seeped in tragedy. With the demise of the great composer Naushad much before the movie could be completed, it was Ghulam Mohammed who stepped in to finish the compositions, that comprised songs of the cultural space that could be found in the courtesan mansions.
Jawani Diwani, 1972
The R D Burman composed soundtrack was a clear winner of its year in depicting young, urban love with chart-topping blockbuster songs. But for Pancham Da’s brilliant musical storytelling, look no further than this movie’s ‘Jaane Jaan Dhoondta Phir Raha’, because what Asha Bhosle and Kishore Kumar do to the song is the stuff music lessons are made of.
Yaadon ki Baaraat, 1973
Yaadon ki Baaraat was yet another one of R D Burman’s several composition gems. In fact, the track, ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo Dil Ko’ remains one of the most enduring hits of this Nasser Hussain hit.
This movie, often described as a ‘real-to-reel’ depiction portrayed the journey of a couple through music, under the masterful vision of Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The composition, by S D Burman, is seeped in Indian classical music and was critically hailed for its mastery.
The movie that remained unreleased for a long time due to its strong correspondence to Indira Gandhi at the time remains very much memorable for its short, but brilliantly composed soundtrack. The combination of R D Burman and Gulzar with its four classic numbers remains truly cherished.
Kabhie Kabhie, 1976
Kabhie Kabhie’s soundtrack is composed of poetic sonnets, what with Khayyam’s euphonic compositions and Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry-to-paper lyrics. Perfected by the lead protagonist’s poetry leaning, the soundtrack does absolute justice to this beautiful Yash Chopra landscape.
Amar Akbar Anthony, 1977
The soundtrack of Amar Akbar Anthony by Laxmikant-Pyarelal is a cue to create a jukebox for what was, at the time, the ultimate mainstream film in Hindi cinema. The album had a qawwali, one comic number, one romantic-comedy number, and one number of unifying chorus, which in those days meant, a song sung by two or more protagonists.
Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, 1977
The most enduring moment of the love triangle that Hum Kisise Kum Naheen was, was the grand song medley played out between Rishi Kapoor and Tariq Khan. The soundtrack by R D Burman was an absolute rage of its time, especially with the combination of Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi in the album.
Laxmikant Pyarelal had churned out a masterful soundtrack for this musical blockbuster. With Tony being a musician, the songs played by him gained severe fame. Whether it was the energetic ‘Om Shaanti Om’, the soulfully rendered ‘Dard-e-Dil’, or the dramatically enthused title track.
Qurbani’s soundtrack by Kalyanji-Anandji gained commercial and critical acclaim of the time, but the one track that stood out was the one composed by the man who understood disco best, Biddu. It was the Biddu composed ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, where he roped in Nasia Hassan as the vocalist, that became the chart-buster of its time.
Umrao Jaan, 1981
Umrao Jaan not just established Rekha as an actor of great grace and wistfulness, but also one, the music of which brings back the era of courtesans and the musical culture that dominated that period. Khayyam went on to be hailed for the tracks, sung by Asha Bhosle, which were described as legendary compositions.
Disco Dancer, 1982
Bappi Lahiri can be credited with bollywood-ising disco music, if such a verb did exist, with Disco Dancer. In this Mithun Chakraborty’s dance opus, he graciously mixed synth with minimal electronic elements and composed an album that went on to become a nationwide rage.
Saagar is not just notable for being Dimple Kapadia’s comeback film and for that delightful Kamal Hassan performance, but also for the fascinating combination that the music of R D Burman and the vocals of S P Balasubramaniam came to be. Songs like ‘Sach Mere Yaar Hai; and ‘Jaane Do Na’ remain enduring hits.
Maine Pyaar Kiya, 1989
The movie that established S P Balasubramaniam as the irreplaceable voice for Salman Khan, Maine Pyaar Kiya is most notable for its strong western influence, abled with generous guitar and percussion arrangements.
Aashiqui was piqued as a musical blockbuster and that’s what it indeed was. Depicting a romantic drama, the soundtrack by Nadeem-Shravan truly cemented the musical duo as the ultimate music composers of the early 90s. With each track tailor-made for the film’s engaging story-line, it was quite the rage among the youth.
An inclusion of Saajan’s music in the storyline of Ritesh Batra’s acclaimed movie The Lunchbox is a testament to how popular the soundtrack really was. Truly, the Nadeem-Shravan composed album went on to rule when it came to cassette sales of the time.
1942 A Love Story, 1994
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s tale of timeless love is best remembered for being the great R D Burman’s last composition, as the movie released, after him having passed away. The album, thus, remains as one of R D Burman’s most immortal work.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun, 1994
The durability of Hum Aapke Hain Koun’s soundtrack can be best found at Indian weddings, even today. The mega-musical drama that runs a generous three hours long and is intercepted with music in every few events was well loved, not just for the family-friendly movie it was, but also the delightful numbers.
Rangeela is one Rahman’s soundtrack that was way ahead of its time to be duly appreciated. Sure, the album was a rage at its time with every song, especially the title track, achieving mass appreciation. But a keen re-listen is required to appreciate the ingenious behind the tracks ‘Maangta Hai Kya’ and ‘Hai Rama’.
The movie, remade in Hindi, by Mahesh Bhatt gained commercial recognition for the music by M. M. Keeravani. The track, ‘Tum Mile Dil Khile’, especially the male version by Kumar Sanu was the legitimate chart-buster of the time.
While all of Rahman’s Tamil to Hindi albums were massively loved and appreciated, Bombay is that one early Rahman album that achieves variety and the distinction of being absolutely brilliant to sound. From the one-tabla beat leading ‘Kehna hi Kya’, to the inimitable ‘Humma Humma’, along with the heart stirring Bombay theme. Each track is a true testament to his individual style.
This brilliant cinematic experience by Gulzar must be thanked for two reasons. One, for introducing Vishal Bhardwaj as a composer par excellence, and two, for giving us the more enduring creative partnerships of Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj. The music is a timeless classic, beautifully composed to perfection.
Khamoshi, the musical, was as the name suggested a deftly and, might we add, beautifully handled soundtrack that ably demonstrated the movie’s many interpersonal relationships. Jatin-Lalit, who by then, had become the default composers for ballad renditions composed an album that remains to this day one of their very best.
Dil to Paagal Hai, 1997
Dil to Paagal Hai was a movie and soundtrack celebrated for initiating Yash Chopra’s classic style of romance into the house of cool. The songs, composed by Uttam Singh, were all reminiscent of romantic Bollywood, with an urban makeover, even with Lata Mangeshkar honing the vocals.
Dil Se, 1998
Dil Se may have been a 5 track album, but each song was a work of ingenuity. The great Guy Pratt of Pink Floyd played the spectacular bass on the title track, while ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ became a song to be reckoned with in the West. The great Lata Mangeshkar led vocals to the Hindi-Malayalam hybrid, ‘Jiya Jale’, while Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam crooned and enthused in ‘Ey Ajnabee’ and ‘Satrangi Re’ respectively.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, 1999
Ismail Darbar’s masterful debut was the colourful Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. A soundtrack as seeped in Indian classical music as it was in fusing it with folk elements. The title track sung by Kavita Krishnamurthy stands out as a work of pure classical rendition.
Taal was probably the first Rahman album that saw the maestro achieving a brilliant remix of the existing title track, but that’s not why it’s in this list. The soundtrack was elaborately composed to abet the musical that the movie was, with each song theatrically arranged, giving it an almost Broadway like rendition. The album was a rage of its time!
This Nadeem-Shravan album was the rage of 2000, played at almost every indoor and outdoor event alike, easily becoming the most played album of the year. Truth be told, it was much the average soundtrack with no superseding elements, but its commercial success tells a different story of its receptiveness.
Rahman might seem pretty much a fixture on this list, and its hard to pick one album of his. But Pukar’s soundtrack was what led a rather underwhelming level of attention towards the movie to subsequently grow. Of all the songs, it was ‘Kay Sera Sera’ that was the immaculately composed winner.
Dil Chahta Hai, 2001
Dil Chahta Hai was the first album that pushed Shankar Ehsaan Loy to mainstream success. The album, along with the movie, rode in with a much needed urban swagger that was woefully missing. From a disco number, to a road trip anthem, and even a soulful ballad, the album had them all.
Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein, 2001
The Harris Jayraj soundtrack may just have been a rehash of the original Tamil one, with a few original additions but that hasn’t stopped its music from achieving a cult status. From the title track to ‘Zara Zara’, along with ‘Dil Ko’, and ‘Sach Keh Raha Hai Deewana’ are songs that achieve the replay multiple times.
Lagaan, the movie selected by the Academy Awards, was a mega epic in every way, right from the direction, to the story, to the treatment. The credit also goes to Rahman’s beautiful soundtrack that echoes a yearning for the hinterland, where every track is a reminder of a rooted, earthy spirit, yet each track embodies Rahman’s elaborate arrangement.
Ismail Darbar clearly had a knack with churning out a soundtrack seeped in the Indian classical space with musical arrangements screaming out grandeur. The album of Devdas was reminiscent of Broadway style of composition with a heavy dose of instrumentalisation.
Saathiya’s music may have been the album redone from its original Tamil counterpart Alaipayuthey, but as is the case with most of Rahman’s adapted soundtracks, the lyrical prowess of Saathiya is a soulful trump card.
Kal Ho Na Ho, 2003
Kal Ho Na Ho is one of the most memorable albums of Hindi cinema, purely because of a title track, sung by Sonu Nigam, that remains one of the most soulful renditions of our time. But otherwise too, the Shankar Ehsaan Loy soundtrack is a thoroughly well balanced addition to the movie.
Veer-Zaara’s music was a trip down memory lane, as they say. With rise in funky electronic beats in Hindi music, the inclusion of legendary Madan Mohan to a Yash Raj directional piece, with Lata Mangeshkar taking over the vocals of every song was a retrogressive feel people had become to miss back then. Unsurprisingly, the album won accolades.
Adnan Sami of the melodramatic pop ballads fame churned out a classically motivated soundtrack to root for. Featuring the legendary voices of both Lata Mangeshkhar and Asha Bhosle, and his own, amongst others, his grand arrangements are probably the most memorable part of the movie.
It was not just Vidya Balan who stood out as one to watch out for in Pradeep Sarkar’s memorable debut. But it was also that music composer Shantanu Moitra could do justice to retrogressive music, whether that was a song imbibing classical Indian overtones, or one that is reminiscent of the jazz that played host at Calcutta’s poshest restaurants.
In this hinterland adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’, Vishal Bhardwaj delivered one of the finest dramas of our time. But with it, the resident composer also gave us one of the most balanced soundtracks that does well, by inheriting the accurate emotion behind the movie. ‘Beedi Jalai Le’ may have been the commercial winner but ‘Naina Thag Lenge’, ‘Namak Isq Ka’ and ‘O Saathi Re’ are works of pure brilliance.
Pritam who had, until then, fashioned himself after commercially appealing pop numbers took a whole new turn with Gangster, at once delivering a cleverly composed album, that is both, soulful and memorable. But it was him introducing Bangladesh’s James to India’s music scene with the song ‘Bheegi Bheegi’ that we’re most thankful for.
Rang De Basanti, 2006
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ode to revolution is not just memorable for the brilliant movie it was, but also for Rahman’s delightful bass-employed soundtrack. Rahman merged western electronica with a classic Delhi-feel, armed with Prasoon Joshi’s lyrics to absolute perfection.
Namastey London, 2007
Free from the ‘sound’s like Himesh’ stereotype that had become the mainstream then, Himesh’ Reshammiya went classical with Namastey London’s soundtrack, giving us an album of not 5 or 6, but a whole 19 songs. The most for any Hindi movie soundtrack. Employing the efficient voices of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Krishna and himself, the album is a soothing ode to love, with some house numbers thrown in for good effect. A pure A+ just for the momentous effort.
Rock On, 2008
Rock On! was India’s first commercial ode to rock music, replete with a long-haired guitar player, played by Arjun Rampal, and band member bonhomie and rift. While the album is more commercial sounding than how ‘rock music’ is definitely classified as, soulful melodies and Loy’s imposingly pleasant rock influence more than made up to make a much popular soundtrack. Also, it told us that Farhan Akhtar’s grunge baritone sounds beautiful when put to rhythm.
Delhi 6, 2009
From the rhythmically fluid ‘Dil Gira Daftan’ to the hip-hop fused ‘Genda Phool’, from the synth-based title track to the ballad that was ‘Rehna Tu’, the Delhi 6 soundtrack is quite easily Rahman’s most accomplished work in recent years. The variety in the album is masterfully genius, with each track holding its own pedestal against the other!
Dev D, 2009
Dev D won its composer, Amit Trivedi, the National Award for Best Movie Soundtrack and what an unsurprising turn of events that had been. For the then rising Trivedi gave us one of the most gobsmackingly brilliant albums of the new century, fusing folk, rock, synth and elements of its leading protagonist’s psychedelic spirit with absolute abandon. Every song is a testament to powerful character understanding and almost drives that chaotic storyline.
In 2010, Rajshree Ojha, Rhea Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor and Devika Bhagat gave us one of the most pleasant movie watching experiences with Aisha. The movie had quirky women characters and may have been a reflection of the rich and elite, but what the able Amit Trivedi did with the soundtrack is often severely underrated. In a complete urban revamp, the songs came with jazzy, indie overtones. Not to forget, the absolutely lovable ‘Gal Mitthi Mitthi Bol’.
Imtiaz Ali’s tale of a disgruntled, dissatisfied, angsty musician propelled by his passionate love for his woman was fuelled with necessary emotion by A R Rahman’s stupendous soundtrack. And the fact that for once, one musician, in this case Mohit Chauhan, was realistically used as the consistent vocalist throughout earns the soundtrack brownie points.
Gangs of Wasseypur, 2012
A two part soundtrack that helped further Sneha Khanwalkar as a composer of quirky ingenuity with great understanding of the tunes that dominate the country’s heartlands. The albums, both of them, make great use of folk as Khanwalkar abandons any mainstream constriction to fully fuse it with contemporary sound and depth.
Lootera is pure poetic submissiveness to classic melody and understated sound. Amit Trivedi uses elaborate musical arrangements that are sure to remind you of the exclusive era of music, that once was, replete with lyrical, soulful rendition.
Anyone who argues that Rahman has gone rather soft on his compositions can lend a listen to Highway’s brilliantly composed album. While ‘Patakha Guddi’ and ‘Maahi Ve’ may have been the crowd favourites, musicians and keen listeners are quick to note the brilliance of ‘Sooha Saha’ and ‘Implosive Silence’.
Haider won Vishal Bhardwaj a much deserved National Award for music. From the accurate to sound rock anthem ‘Aao Na’, to the theatrically lyrical ‘Bismil’, Haider is the perfect example of a movie aiding soundtrack. The grave-digger version of ‘Aao Na’ will haunt you long later. And so will Gulzar’s lyrical ingenious.
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