This was a long time coming. I've been meaning to put up a list of my top-10 Hindi film soundtracks for a while now. Opinions in this regard will vary greatly and some degree of bias will creep in. This is completely subjective and film lovers could argue over such lists till the the cows come home. However I will attempt to attach some method to the madness by using the following parameters: lyrics, instrumentation, on screen fit and of course the tune itself. Another trait I was looking for in the soundtrack was for each and every song on it to be a classic, unlike the one hit wonder soundtracks of today. There are times when all of these just come together to create unforgettable moments in cinema, moments which live on for future generations to discover and enjoy. The list is not ranked in order, but is a collection of the ten musically richest soundtracks which, according to me, Hindi cinema would have been poorer without.
1. Baiju Bawra (1952)
Lyrics: Shakeel Badayuni
A true classic. Perhaps Naushad's definitive soundtrack. Contains classical gems like 'Man tarpat Hari' and 'Mohe bhool gaye sawariya'. Lets not forget Rafi's silken voice on 'Duniya ke rakhwale' and 'Tu ganga ki mauj'. The highlight for me is the jugalbandi with Ustad Amir Khan and Pt. DV Paluskar, 'Aaj gawat man mero'. A classical feast.
Trivia: Bharat Bhushan lost out to Dilip Kumar for the Filmfare award that year but won next year for 'Chaitanya Mahaprabhu'. Despite being a huge star in those years, he died in penury.
2. Shree 420 (1955)
Music: Shankar Jaikishan
Lyrics: Shailendra and Hajrat Jaipuri
I had a tough time deciding between this film and 'Awara', another Raj Kapoor classic. I decided to go with this one beacuse this soundtrack was more accessable than Awara. The anthemic 'Joota hai japaani' continues to introduce new generations to Shankar Jaikishan's brilliance. Manna Dey's singing complements the music directors' songs perfectly. 'Dil ka haal', 'Mud mud ke na dekh' and 'Ramaiya vastvaiya' were all great songs. There was also 'Pyar hua ikrar hua', which still conjures up the magic of the Raj Kapoor-Nargis pair in your head. You can see them standing in the rain with the umbrella...a true cinematic 'Kodak moment'. Also on the soundtrack were 'Ichak dana' and 'O jaanewale'.
3. Pyaasa (1957)
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Sahir Ludhiyanvi
Guru Dutt's masterpiece. SD Burman at his peak. Mohd. Rafi and Hemant Kumar. The combination is just sublime. Each and every track on this album is fabulous. We have the peppy 'Jaane kya tune kahi' and 'Sar jo tera chakraye' and the soulful and poignant 'Jaane woh kaise log the' by Hemant Kumar. Also contains one of the great duets of the time, 'Hum aap ki aankhon mein'. What can be said of Sahir's lyrical genius? 'Jaane woh kaise log the?'
Trivia: Apparently, 'Sar jo tera chakraye' was an RD Burman tune!
4. Madhumati (1958)
Music: Salil Choudhary
Bimal Roy's biggest hit. This tale of reincarnation had some amazing music and gave Salil Choudhary his only Filmfare award. Mukesh takes centre stage here with songs like 'Suhana safar' and 'Dil tadap tadap ke' (with Lata Mangeshkar). Evergreen songs like 'Ghadi ghadi mera dil dhadke' and the haunting 'Aaja re pardesi' give Lata Mangeshkar ample scope to stamp her class on the proceedings. Not one filler here.
Trivia: The story and script was actually by a gentleman named Ritwik Ghatak.
5. Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958)
Music: SD Burman
Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
This Marx Brothers-esque laugh riot is still one of the most enjoyable comedies to come out of India's film factory. The Ganguly brothers team up with SD Burman to create a magical soundtrack which revels in its own lunacy! The songs were fun, peppy, bouncy and had a strong western influence. 'Baboo samjho ishare'(great singing by Manna Dey and Kishore Kumar), 'Paanch rupaiya barah aana' and 'Ek ladki bhigi bhagi si' were fun, fast paced and delightful. There was also the naughty love song, 'Haal kaisa hai janaab ka', which went on to become the Ceylon Radio song of the year in 1958. Majrooh's lyrics were brilliant in their simplicity. Baaaajuu...!!!
Trivia: The song 'Hum the woh thi' was influenced by a western tune. SD Burman didn't want to include the song, but was forced into doing so by Kishore Kumar.
6. Guide (1965)
Music: SD Burman
The evergreen Dev Anand's pinnacle. 'Dada Burman' at this time was at the peak of his powers. Guide's music broke records all over the country. It contained such mersmerising tracks such as 'Din dhal jaye', 'Tere mere sapne', 'Aaj phir jeene ki' and 'Piya tose naina'. And who could forget the only Kishore song on the album, 'Gata rahe mera dil'? The lyrics by Shailendra are touching and apt. The music is as evergreen as Dev 'Raju Guide' Anand.
Trivia: Guide was made in English as well, the script being written by Pearl S Buck (the author's only film script). However, it failed at the Box Office.
7. Ghar (1978)
Music: RD Burman
One of RD's more underrated movie scores. This Vinod Mehra-Rekha starrer didn't fare well at the box office and hence the music perhaps failed to catch on. It is a personal favourite. The Kishore/RD/Gulzar combination was simply unbeatable! Each and every track here is pure genius. Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar both get ample scope to display their versitality on the solos 'Phir wohi raat hai' and 'Aaj kal paaon' respectively. Then there is the classic duet 'Aap ki aankhon mein'. Then there is the other Lata classic 'Tere bina jiya jaaye na'. A solid effort by the indomitable 'Panchamda'.
8. Umrao Jaan (1981)
Muzzafar Ali's masterpiece was a true musical gem. Khayyam's tunes were so apt for that era. The lyrics were amazing as well. It highlights the beauty and the depth of the Urdu language perfectly. High point in Rekha's career. I would also hasten to say that it was the same for Asha Bhosle. 'In aankhon ki masti', 'Dil cheez kya hai' and 'Yeh kya jagah hai doston' will stay with listener for ever. Personal favourite is the duet 'Zindgai jab bhi teri bazm mein'. Simply gorgeous.
Trivia: JP Dutta is making a remake of this classic with the possible choices of the lead being Priyanka Chopra or Aishwarya Rai! Shabana Azmi will play the lead's mother.
9. Ijaazat (1988)
Music: RD Burman
The RD/ Gulzar team at it again. The words, the music and the vocals. Very few times in the history of cinema have these three elements fused to make such magic. Asha Bhosle's singing leaves you breathless. 'Mera kuch saaman' has to go down as one of the best songs ever written in the history of Hindi cinema. Asha's singing on 'Choti si kahani' and 'Khali haath shaam' is her best ever. Not to forget 'Katra katra', a track on which RD introduced twin track recording to Indian cinema. The richness of this album leaves you spellbound.
10. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)
Music: Jatin Lalit
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
The last of the modern classics. A hge hit, this established Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as huge stars. Sometimes the soundtrack of the film is the true star, which was the case with this film. The banjo heavy 'Tujhe dekha to ye jaana' went on to be the love anthem of the 90s. The whole album had a peppy, upbeat feel to it. 'Zara sa jhoom loon' and 'Ruk jaa o dil deewane' are examples. 'Ho gaya hai' also showcases the veteren Lata Mangeshkar's versitality. This album also spawned the wedding anthem of this generation,'Doli sajha ke rakhna'. Jatin Lalit's swan song.
Phew! That took a lot of doing. There can be no absolute list as music is an individual experience. It was tough to leave out so many great pieces of work. The ones that narrowly missed out are:
Kaagaz Ke Phool, Abhimaan (SD Burman), Bees Saal Baad (Hemant Kumar), Anand (Salil Choudhury), Teesri Manzil, Aradhana, Amar Prem, Aandhi, Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi, Masoom, 1942- A Love Story (RD Burman), Alam Ara, Mausam ( Madan Mohan), Utsav (Laxmikant Pyarelal) , Kashmir Ki Kali, CID (OP Nayyar) , Qayamat se Qayamat Tak (Anand Milind) and Dil Se (AR Rahman).