Think about it. How many Hindi movies can you recall without songs in them? And how many without title songs? Luke Kenny jogs down memory lane to explore an old trend that has come full circle.
Indian cinema is the only film fraternity in the world to continually include songs in its stories. It has been this constant co-joined phenomenon that has led to much dancing in the streets, in a manner of speaking.
One of the other unique trends that came out of this was the branding of the ‘title song’. For every film that has its bouquet of situational ditties, one of them would inadvertently be a melody woven around the title of the film, thereby popularising the film instantly by having a catchy melody with the name of the film on everybody’s lips months before the release.
So let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly of Hindi film title songs. Most recently, a lot of the films released had a title song to their credit, but that’s probably because the titles of the films were titles of yesteryear song hits, namely Bachna Ae Haseeno and Aa Dekhen Zara and the title songs were themselves reworkings of the original songs.
But a lot of films recently boasted of title tracks to compliment the film itself, Race, De Taali, Krazzy 4, Mission Istanbul, One Two Three, Money hai to Honey Hai, Singh Is King, Fashion, Delhi 6 and Rock On!
Each of these title songs became invariably successful regardless of the fate of the films themselves. Uniquely, Jaane Tu..ya jaane na, which is a line from a yesteryear classic, ‘Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi’ from Manmohan Desai’s 1973 classic Aa Gale Lag Jaa, did not have a reworked track, yet it did form the title track which has won its creator AR Rahman many awards. 2007 also saw most of its big releases with hugely successful title songs— Om Shanti Om, Taare Zameen Par, Chak De India, Partner, Welcome, Bhool Bhulaiya, Heyy Babyy, Ta ra Rum Pum, Cash among others.
Yet there were a few films over the past few years that did not have the mandatory title song to push it further.. Veer Zara, Guru, Ghajini, Jodha Akbar, Rab Ne Banadi Jodi (although the latter is a song from the 1979 Amitabh Bachchan starrer, Suhaag).
The ’90s boasted of some really big hit title songs, some of which were really good (for that time), some are dated (in today’s time) and some were outrageously bad.
Although the composers were only trying to entertain a demographic, some of the songs are inexcusable.
Ok first up, what I think are good title songs, a random selection from the ’90s, Ismail Darbar’s Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, AR Rahman’s Taal se taal mila and Dil Se, Anu Malik’s Baadshah, Jatin Lalit’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, are a few of the all time greats.
The dated ones are probably, Nadeem Shravan’s Saajan, Aashiqui & Raja Hindustani, Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Khuda Gawah and Khalnayak, Illayaraja’s Coolie No.1 etc.
The downright worst ones ever (with all due respect) are Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Aashiq Awara, Anu Malik’s Main Khiladi Tu Anari and Soldier, Dilip & Sameer Sen’s Aflatoon, Viju Shah’s Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Jatin Lalit’s Pyar Toh Hona Hi Tha, Raam Laxman’s Hum Saath Saath Hain among many others. And these were the just the title songs.
Cut to the ’80s— in my opinion the worst phase for Hindi films overall—yet, in that crassness, lie some genuine gems and lots of unintentional, ‘What were they thinking?’ situations. But it happens to the best of us so let us look back with a bit of affection.
Over here I will desist from commenting on the quality of the songs because they happened to me at a very unevolved time in my younger days, so for me they will always remain fun songs from a brighter time.
The ’80s for me was one word— Shaan and RD Burman’s title song summed up the entire flawed philosophy of the ’80s commercial Hindi cinema. Other Hindi film title song gems that invigorated my young musical mind were, Kalyanji Anandji’s Qurbani, Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Ek Duje Ke Liye, Hero(the flute song) and Mr. India, RD Burman’s Satte Pe Satta & The Burning Train(scintillating opening credits); Amar Utpal’s Shahehshah (Andheri raaton mein), Raamlaxman’s Maine Pyar Kiya (aai laav yoo) among many others.
But the ’80s were fun, a time of discovery and evolution of new media. The Sunday movies on Doordarshan and the golden era of Vividh Bharti on radio furthered my education of Hindi films (and music) when I watched (and heard) the various hits of the last thirty years dating right back to the early ’50s. Let me give you a quick decade-wise reminisce of some classic title songs of those past thirty years.
A bit of a pause here to mention the inimitable Bappi Lahiri, who single handedly, crossed over decades with his catchy title songs from films like Chalte Chalte, Disco Dancer, Kasam Paida Karnewale Ki, Dil Se Mile Dil, Tarzan etc. He remains the only composer in Hindi films still active since the ’70s and has built up a prolific 35 year body of work.
Ok, first up, the seventies… Laxmikant Pyarelal’s Bobby (Hum Tum..) & Amar Akbar Anthony; Kalyanji Anandji’s Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (that bike and jacket), Don (arrey dewanon!) & Hera Pheri, RD Burman’s Hum Kisise Kum Naheen, Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai (what qawwalis!) and Yaadon Ki Baaraat. Fabulous stuff here.
Then, in the ’60s, one can only imagine our mommies and daddies grooving to Shankar Jaikishen’s An Evening in Paris, spending many moonlit nights to Ravi’s Chaudhvin Ka Chand. It is interesting to note here that although the sixties had huge hit films like, Aradhana, Mughal-e-Azam, Junglee, Jab jab Phool Khile, Farz, Ek Musafir Ek Haseena, Jeene Ki Raah, Waqt, Upkar, Hamraaz and the awesome Teesri Manzil among many others, none of these films had a title song.
Similarly the ’50s too had its share of super hits like, Mother India, Naya daur, Shree 420, Madhumati, Anarkali, Albela, Udan Khatola, Navrang, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi etc and yet none of these had a title song amongst the stellar music they contained, save for the latter film that had the song, Babu Samjho Ishaare, which contained the line ‘Yahan chalti ko gaadi kehte hain pyaare..’ .
And just for discussion’s sake and to close the circle, almost none of the films of the forties— glorious hits like Kismet, Anmol Ghadi, Sikander, Andaz, Chandralekha, Barsaat et al, had any semblance of a title song at all. The few that did were just the mere mention in a line of a song like, Ramesh Saigal’s Shaheed (with Dilip Kumar).
In conclusion, one finds that the title song was a trend that started in the ’60s on a minimal level, intensified as the glamorous ’70s came into vogue, was used in the ’80s as an in-your-face instrument of popularisation, standardised in the ’90s and has again become the fashionable thing to do in the 2000’s.
Well, as long as the music is memorable and the songs are good, it can’t be a bad thing now, can it?