We chased them for days, weeks. Our esteemed jury comprised 15 fabulous people from the music industry - singers, music composers and lyricists. Bringing them together was not an easy task. What was tougher still was for them to nominate what they thought were the top 10 Hindi film songs, ever.
(No, they couldn't choose the songs they were involved with). But they came up with interesting, refreshing, sometimes surprising choices.
What emerged through the weeks of putting this story together was a wonderful look at our film history. Old songs sounded as fresh as those composed yesterday, forgotten melodies made us stop and hum along, lyrics made us re-examine the nature of life itself. So what are your favourites? Are they in here?
KAILASH KHER's list. Pop-Sufi-Bollywood singer Kailash Kher shot to fame after he sang Allah ke bandey
1. Aaegaa aanewala (Mahal, 1949). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Khemchand Prakash. Lyrics: Nakhshab Jaaravchi
"It was a time when India had just become independent. On the radio, even though it's a haunting love song, it sounded to me like a song of hope. It sounded like a change is just about to happen."
2. Chaudhvin ka chaand (Chaudhvin Ka Chaand, 1960). Singer: Mohd Rafi. Music: Ravi Sharma. Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
"It describes 'beauty' so imaginatively. It glorifies it and has become an anthem for anyone wanting to woo a girl."
3. Bahaaron phool barsaao (Suraj, 1966). Singer: Mohd Rafi. Music: Shankar-Jaikishan. Lyrics: Hasrat Jaipuri
"It's that evergreen Hindi film song that has become a part of our lives. Go anywhere in the world, to any function and it will be played."
4. Pyaar kiya to darna kya (Mughal-e-Azam, 1960). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Naushad. Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
"Beautiful lyrics. The song has become an example of love against all odds forever."
5. Jiya jale jaan jale (Dil Se, 1998). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: AR Rahman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"It's a song of new times. I was a teenager then, and this song came to epitomise romance. The lyrics are laden with emotion. And 'Ang ang mein jalti hain dard ki chingariya' is full of promise of lovemaking."
6. Mausam hai aashiqana (Pakeezah, 1972) Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Ghulam Muhammad. Lyrics: Kamal Amrohi
"Before this, movies were made about real problems, this one mixed love, fantasy and complicated relationships. And this song is so imaginative, it takes you away from the problems in life."
7. Nainon ki mat maaniyo re (Omkara, 2006). Singer: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Music: Vishal Bhardwaj. Lyrics: Gulzar
"I love the philosophy of this song. All the problems of love start with the eyes. It's the poetry of our times."
8. Din dhal jaye (Guide, 1965). Singer: Mohd Rafi. Music: SD Burman. Lyrics: Shailendra
"If you believe in poetry, this song will pierce your heart. It will touch anyone who's gone through heartbreak."
9. Zulmi sang aankh ladi (Madhumati, 1958). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Salil Chaudhury. Lyrics: Shailendra
"The meaning appeals to me because of its lyrics. It's a universal story of love because of instant attraction. The song is intense as well as poetic."
10. Yeh jo des hai tera (Swades, 2004). Singer: AR Rahman. Music: AR Rahman. Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
"After years came a song that evoked patriotic feelings. It's like a genuine call from your nation. It's sung beautifully and the lyrics add value to it."
- as told to Parul Khanna
SHILPA RAO's list. Singer. She debuted in 2006 and has famously sung Khuda jaane from Bachna Ae Haseeno
1. Jaane kya tune kahi (Pyaasa, 1957). Singer: Geeta Dutt. Music: SD Burman. Lyrics: Sahir Ludhianvi
"It's a very fresh, fun and feel good song and makes you want to smile each time you listen to it."
2. Tum pukaar lo (Khamoshi, 1970). Singer: Hemant Kumar. Music: Hemant Kumar. Lyrics: Gulzar
"I remember hearing this song on Doordarshan on a Sunday. The underlying message reaches out to everyone and stays with you long after you've heard it."
3. Chalte chalte (Pakeezah, 1972). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Ghulam Mohammed. Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
"This song never sounds dated. It has a cool groove to it and is a timeless melody."
4. Justaju jiski thi (Umrao Jaan, 1981). Singer: Asha Bhosle. Music: Khayyam. Lyrics: Shahryar
"When I first saw the film, it was difficult to connect with. But the more you watch it, the more forms it takes. It's easily a cult album."
5. Din dhal jaaye (Guide, 1965). Singer: Mohd Rafi. Music: SD Burman. Lyrics: Shailendra
"Whenever it plays, you need to stop doing whatever it is and divert your attention to this song. It's very captivating."
6. Oh re taal mile nadi ke jal mein (Anokhi Raat, 1969). Singer: Mukesh. Music: Roshan. Lyrics: Indeevar
"There are great life lessons to be learnt from this song and each one can interpret it in their own way. You take away something unique each time you hear it."
7. Aye ajnabi (Dil Se, 1998). Singer: Udit Narayan. Music: AR Rahman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"This song makes you want to reach out to the person you care for."
8. Musafir hoon yaaron (Parichay, 1972). Singer: Kishore Kumar. Music: RD Burman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"It talks about a person who is directionless and signifies that hope is within reach."
9. Tujhse naaraaz nahi zindagi (Masoom, 1983). Singer: Anoop Ghoshal. Music: RD Burman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"This song always fills me with emotion. Your eyes well up, and it offers a great perspective on life."
10. Kaminey (Kaminey, 2009). Singer: Vishal Bhardwaj. Music: Vishal Bhardwaj. Lyrics: Gulzar
"All the problems of life are summed up in this song. Why we're happy, why we're sad - these questions are answered beautifully through this song."
- as told to Shreya Sethuraman
SALIM MERCHANT's list. Composer of music duo Salim-Suleiman, he's scored music for Chak De! India
1. Lag ja gale (Woh Kaun Thi, 1964). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Madan Mohan. Lyrics: Raja Mehdi Ali Khan
"You can feel the romance in each and every word of this song."
2. Rasme ulfat ko nibhaye (Dil Ki Rahen, 1973). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Madan Mohan. Lyrics: Naqsh Lyallpuri
"The complexity and melody in this ghazal is missing from the songs of today."
3. Tum jo mil gaye ho (Hanste Zakhm, 1973). Singer: Mohd Rafi. Music: Madan Mohan. Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi
"I simply love the composition and the arrangement of the song and Rafi saab has sung the song beautifully."
4. Tere bina zindagi se (Aandhi, 1975). Singers: Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. Music: RD Burman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"The composition is fantastic, especially the antara. RD Burman had this amazing style - he would shock you with different variations, giving you goosebumps."
5. Ram teri Ganga maili (Ram Teri Ganga Maili, 1985). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: Ravindra Jain. Lyrics: Ravindra Jain
"I find a great deal of spirituality in this song."
6. Baahon mein chale aao (Anamika, 1973). Singer: Lata Mangeshkar. Music: RD Burman. Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
"The singing here is what appeals to me!"
7. Aye zindagi gale laga le (Sadma, 1983). Singer: Suresh Wadkar. Music: Ilayaraja. Lyrics: Gulzar
"It's an extremely powerful song. The antara has a beautiful cross melody."
8. Chupke se (Saathiya, 2002). Singer: Sadhana Sargam. Music: AR Rahman. Lyrics: Gulzar
"This song is a classic."
9. Har ghadi badal rahi hai (Kal Ho Na Ho, 2003). Singer: Sonu Niigaam. Music: Shankar-Ehsan-Loy. Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
"Everything about this song is beautiful, from the lyrics to the composition to the way it has been sung flawlessly."
10. Ye honsla kaise (Dor, 2006). Singer: Shafqat Amanat Ali. Music: Salim-Suleiman. Lyrics: Mir Ali Husain
"The song calls to mind a free spirit and has a certain inspirational quality."
as told to Shreya Sethuraman
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