Contemporary Hindi film music is exploring new sounds and showing a lot of promise. 2007 saw a list of new singers, music directors and lyricists create an impact of their own and make their presence felt. Here’s my list of some songs that deserve a mention for their composition/singing and poetry. They are not listed in any particular order:
Song: Ay Hairathe
Movie: Guru
Singers: Alka Yagnik and Hariharan
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: A.R.Rehman

The year started with another masterful composition by A.R.Rehman. Weaving Gulzar’s words into a tune is no mean task – very few composers have done this right consistently : Pancham in the past and Vishal Bhardwaj and Rehman in the present are the only composers who have done complete justice to his ethereal poetry.
Alka Yagnik and Hariharan’s voice are perfect for this romantic syrupy love song of two people completely immersed in each other. The “dum dara dum dara” chant adds an aura of mysticism to the composition. If there is one composer who uses “chorus” singing effectively, its Rehman. Towards the end of the song listen to how Alka’s silky smooth voice emerges from the chorus.

Gulzar’s words are once again crafty and paradoxical to express that ever favorite topic of poets – Love. His use of repetition of words is always spot on:
“Ay hairathe aashiqui jagaa mat, pairon se zameen, zameen lagaa mat”
Listen to the subtle change in pitch the singers take when going from one “zameen” to the other.
This line also reminds of that gem of the 70s from “Ghar” – “Aajkal paon zameen par nahin padte mere”.

Song: Jaage hain der tak
Movie: Guru
Singers: A.R. Rehman, Chitra, Madras Chorale Group
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: A.R.Rehman

A symphony in Hindi film music? This composition will knock your socks off and take you to a musical orgasm by the time its over. ARR’s earthy voice and the Madras Chorale Group take this composition to such a crescendo – the closest feeling I can describe in physicality is the feeling when your roller coaster cart slowly creeps to the top and stays there for a brief second before plummeting downwards.
The composition evokes feelings of desperation, hopelessness and the constant race to prove yourself to the world (personal opinion of course).
If I had to, had to give numbers to the songs of 2007, this one will be #1 through #5. This is perfect example of the words, singers and musicians becoming one whole being.

Song: Parbaton pe barfaan
Movie: The Blue Umbrella
Singer: Sukhwinder Singh
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: Vishal Bharadwaj

“Parbaton pe barfaan barfaan barsan laagi re
Parbaton pe thandi barfaan barsan laagi re
Oh re beliya lautiyaan ghar aa re”

There’s that repetition of words again, it never becomes too much or too predictable. It is like salt in a recipe – must have it in the right quantity to bring all other flavors together.
This song is about that lost someone or something (not necessarily your lover – could be anyone or anything to each one – your childhood, your lost love, your mother, your youth, your favorite toy – aptly that’s what the Blue Umbrella stands for in the movie too).
Vishal’s use of instruments of Pahaadi Himachal and Sukhwinder’s earthy distant voice build an atmosphere of a cold snowy night in the mountains. Put this on a snowy night with your lights turned off and listen to the snow flakes illuminate with glimpses of the past.

Song: Khoya Khoya Chaand
Movie: Khoya Khoya Chaand
Singers: Swanand Kirkire, Abhay Jhingaran
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire
Music: Shantanu Moitra

The Shantanu Moitra and Swanand Kirkire team (referred to as S&S henceforth) is slowly becoming the “RD-Gulzar” of the 21st century (for those of who would guillotine me for making this comparison – note the “becoming” – there is still a long way to go for them). Their music and poetry compliment each others work – noteworthy compositions – “Piya bole” and “Kastho mazaa hain” from Parineeta; “Baawra Mann” from Hazaron Khwaishein Aisee.

This Jazz+Qawaali composition is a new sound and the two singers are in perfect harmony. They are in perfect unison even in the high notes which I think is probably a very difficult feat to achieve. (I am no singer and this in no way is a critical review). The reason I say this is because some lines from this song make a brief appearance in another song from the same movie, this time Sonu Nigam crooning them. He falters big time in the high notes, he shrieks and gasps and tries hard to keep up.

Special mention to Swanand Kirkire’s poetry:
“Dil ko samjhana kehdo kya aasan kaam hain
Dil toh fitrat se sun lo na beimaan hain
Yeh khush nahin hain jo mila, bass mangta hi hain chala
Jaanta hain har lagee ka dard hi hain bass ek silaa”

Perfect words for today’s “Consume Sucka Consume” and “I want more and more and more” society.

Song: Hum toh Aise hain bhaiyaa
Movie: Laaga Chunari Mein Daag
Singers: Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Swanand Kirkire
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire
Music: Shantanu Moitra

Another composition by the S&S team. This song is all about Benares and eventually the essence of Indian-ness. True blue ode to “We are like this only!”. Shreya and Sunidhi are in sync all through the song. The words and tune are completely rooted in the North Indian rural setting.
The song touches a lot of themes:
– celebrating Benares and the Ganga:
“Aaja Benares ka rass chakh le aa, Ganga mein jaake tu dubki lagaa
Rabdi ke sang sang chaba le na ungali, maathe pe bhang ka rang chadha”

“Ek galee mein bum bum bole, dooji gali mein Allah-miyaa”

“Subki ragon mein lahoo bahein hain, humari ragon mein Ganga Maiyaa”

– how the Ganga takes all humanity in her with equal measure:
“Patna se aayibe Paris se aayibe, Gangaji mein har koi nanga nahai be”

– the middle class struggles of an Indian household aspiring of a richer life:
“Amma bechari pisne hain aayee, raat din such-dukh ki chukki chalayee
Aur ghar baithe baithe Babuji humaare lottery mein dhoondate hain kismet ke taare”

Finally despite of how miserable, nonsensical and wretched life is for a lot of Indians it celebrates the fact that this wretchedness and disorder itself identifies us in this world:
“Jeb mein humari doohi rupaiyaa, duniya ko rakkhe thenge pe bhaiyaa
Sukh dukh ko khoonti pe taange aur paap punya choti se baandhe”

“Majhdhaar mein humri naiyaan, fir bhi dekho mast hain hum bhaiyaa
Hum toh aise hain bhaiyaa”!

That my friend is an ordinary Indian’s attitude to life and its miseries.
This is not an exhaustive list in any sense. It is just a mention of some songs that stood out for me in 2007.

Special mention must go to the following:

– “Ya Rabba” sung by Kailash Kher for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy from Salaam-e-ishq
A broken heart’s pangs – not new for Hindi film music – this one falls in that category but has you humming and makes you want to have a broken heart just to sing this one out loud.

– “Johnny Gaddar” sung by Akriti Kakkar and Suraj Jagan for S-E-L from Johnny Gaddar
This one is a very unconventional song for a Hindi film music album. But then the movie itself was unconventional. The lyrics of Jaideep Sahni are in line for this crime caper. S-E-L are truly the most versatile composers around today.

– All songs from “Black Friday” by Indian Ocean.
The rock ballads of Indian Ocean are in perfect mood for this movie based on the 1993 Bombay Blasts. Special mention to “”Bharam bhaap ke”.

– “Jab bhi cigarette jalti hain” by Adnan Sami from “No Smoking”
This is a Gulzar and Vishal combination – a philosophical song about smoking. Interesting poetry here.

Care to pen down your favorites of 2007?