World Music Day: From Mughal-e-Azam to Disco Dancer and Gangs of Wasseypur, soundtracks that transformed Bollywood

Jun 21, 2022 02:53 PM IST

On World Music Day 2022, we take a look at the Bollywood film soundtracks that changed the music scene over the years. The list includes works of stalwarts like Naushad, RD Burman, and AR Rahman, and SD Burman .

Hindi cinema and music have been synonymous since the era of talkies began decades ago. Unlike its Western counterpart, Bollywood does not have a separate genre called ‘musicals’. Almost every major Hindi film over the years has had multiple songs interwoven into the narrative. This has given the listeners several memorable songs. And every once in a while, comes an album or a film soundtrack, which is the complete package. Also read: With AR Rahman, Coke Studio, Riz Ahmed, and Jalebi Baby, Ms Marvel brings desi music to Marvel Cinematic Universe

From Mughal-e-Azam and Disco Dancer to Dil Se and Gangs of Wasseypur, Bollywood has seen several soundtracks that have bucked the trend.
From Mughal-e-Azam and Disco Dancer to Dil Se and Gangs of Wasseypur, Bollywood has seen several soundtracks that have bucked the trend.

On World Music Day, we take a look at some of the best Bollywood soundtracks from over the years that changed the way music was conducted and orchestrated in the film industry.

Barsaat (1949)

The Raj Kapoor and Nargis-starrer had music by Shankar-Jaikishan with lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri, Shailendra, Ramesh Shastri and Jalal Mahilabadi. The album contained some of the most memorable songs of all times, including classics like Hawa Mein Udta Jaaye and Patli Kamar Hai. The film also provided the breakthrough for a young Lata Mangeshkar, paving the way for her dominance over the next three decades.

Mughal-e-Azam (1960)

Perhaps the grandest Indian film ever made, Mughal-e-Azam needed grand music as well. The period drama saw composer Naushad at his best as he lent music to the words of Shakeel Badayuni. Most of the film’s songs have survived the test of time with tracks like Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, Teri Mehfil Mein, and Mohabbat Ki Jhooti Kahani considered all-time classics. The soundtrack also featured two songs by legendary classical vocalist Bade Ghulam Ali Khan in his only performance for a film.

Guide (1965)

Considered the most complete Bollywood soundtrack by many musicians in the Hindi film industry, Guide had music by SD Burman with lyrics by Shailendra. It has often been noted that each and every song of the film is a classic, be it the peppy Gaata Rahe Mera Dil to the tragic Kya Se Kya Ho Gaya, and even the classical Piya Tose Naina Laage Re. Interestingly, in the song Saiyaan Beimaan, renowned santoor player Pandit Shivkumar Sharma played the tabla.

Aradhana (1969)

Aradhana was a turning point for Bollywood music as SD Burman collaborated with his son RD Burman, who had till then, been in his shadows. And the rest, as they say, is history. The songs were written by Anand Bakshi and the film introduced a new kind of sound to listeners with tracks like Mere Sapno Ki Rani and Roop Tera Mastana. With Mohammed Rafi on tour, Kishore Kumar sang all the songs in the film, which transformed his career and made him the pre-eminent singer in the industry.

Disco Dancer (1982)

Disco arrived in the West in the 70s but it took a decade for India to catch the disco fever. And in the end, it was Bappi Lahiri who introduced this genre to India through one of the highest-selling albums India has seen. The songs, written by Anjaan and Faruk Kaiser, became chartbusters globally, launching the careers of singers like Usha Uthup and Suresh Wadkar.

Dil Se (1997)

AR Rahman had already proved his mettle down south with amazing soundtracks like Roja and Bombay. He had also given Rangeela in the Hindi film industry but Dil Se was when he truly showed the world his genius. In a soundtrack of only six albums, Rahman was able to give such diverse songs as Chhaiyya Chhaiyya and Ae Ajnabi. Gulzar’s lyrics and Rahman’s tune made the soundtrack a memorable one. The album also bucked the established trend of composers using one singer for most songs as Rahman used 14 singers in five songs. This trend of variety in vocals is something that has continued till date.

Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

No recent Bollywood soundtrack has been as experimentative as this Sneha Khanwalkar project on Anurag Kashyap’s two-part cult classic film. Sneha used folk singers, chutney music experts, and even a girl who sang in trains to lend the earthy authenticity that the story needed. The result was a funky album that has become part of pop culture. Tracks like Keh Ke Lunga, Womaniya, and Kaala Rey became favourites across India. The songs, written by Varun Grover and Piyush Mishra, may not have been as melodious or even as popular as some of the others from the last decade, but they showed composers how to experiment and take the beaten path.

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