When the biggest hits of the year are banal reworkings of dated Punjabi bangers, its safe to say that its hardly been a milestone year for Bollywood musical offerings. Neither was it a forgettable one however with Amit Trivedi concocting arguably his most uniformly excellent soundtrack yet for Udta Punjab.
There’s a reason why many of its songs show up in this list. He is the next A.R. Rahman, if ever such a person exists.
10. SANAM RE, Music Director: Mithoon, Artist: Arijit Singh
A wistful ballad that, although doesn’t hold a candle to Singh’s now classic, Tum Hi Ho, is nevertheless a gem in an otherwise godawful Bollywood B-grade flick.
9. JABRA, Music Directors: Vishal & Shekhar, Artist: Nakash Aziz
A sashaying rhythm with bellowing vocal ticks woven in, not unlike those Moloko used to make so well pre-millennium, is what makes this dance ditty come alive.
8. HUMMA SONG, Music Directors: A.R. Rahman, Badshaah & Tanishk Bagchi, Singers: Jubin Nautiyal & Shashaa Tirupati
The success of this cover lies in its ability to seamlessly reinvent A.R. Rahman’s ’90s New Jack Swing-inspired club-stomper, Hamma Hamma, and transform it into intimate bedroom techno, all the while retaining the original’s rich melodies. Those bitching about the rap section are forgetting that A.R. Rahman is a huge hip-hop head himself.
7. CHITTA VE, Music Director: Amit Trivedi, Artists: Shahid Mallya, Baabu Haabi & Bhanu Pratap
Impassioned, raw spoken-word give away to Trivedi’s intriuging take on psych-pop. Tame Impala and POND would be jealous.
6. NASHE SI CHADH GAYI, Music Directors: Vishal & Shekhar, Singer: Arijit Singh
Concrete evidence that Bollywood dance-pop doesn’t have to be loud and brash. This one invites listeners to sway gently along with it.
5. NACHDE NE SAARE, Music: Jasleen Royal, Singers: Jasleen Royal, Harshdeep Kaur & Siddharth Mahadevan
While most Bollywood dancefloor fillers of late are generic sounding, relying on stale EDM beats and a lethargic three-word chorus to hypnotize the masses into submission, Nachde Ne Saare is anything but. It’s organic in its sound, melodically lush and yes it’s a tad bit hokey, but that ultimately proves to be a part of its charm.
4. DA DA DASSE, Music Director: Amit Trivedi, Singer: Kanika Kapoor, Spoken Word: Babu Haabi
Opening with a synth line that sounds like a theremin, Da Da Dassee then gets progressively weirder. Meanwhile, Kanika Kapoor (Baby Doll)’s vocals are both detached and alluring; they never take center stage but instead dissolve gracefully into the frenetic mix.
3. TU HAI, Music Director: A.R. Rahman, Singers: A.R. Rahman & Sanah Moidutty
Try as hard as he might (and he has), Trivedi hasn’t yet reached A.R. Rahman’s mastery of genre-bending hyper-pop. Tu Hai is a continuum of the master composer’s legacy – its squarely distinctive and instantly catchy.
2. PASHMINA, Music Director: Amit Trivedi, Singer: Amit Trivedi
Like its Kashmiri namesake, Pashmina‘s melody is feather-soft while its instrumentation, a not so ordinary concoction that ebbs, flows and occasionally jars, is as intricate as the Kani weave. The result sounds less like a cinematic ballad and more like a meditation on love.
1. IKK KUDI (Club Mix), Music Director: Amit Trivedi, Singers: Alia Bhatt & Diljit Dosanjh
It’s only fitting that the late renowned Punjabi wordsmith, Shri Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s haunting description of an NRI woman wrestling with a cultural identity crisis, is sung by two of India’s favorite millennials and that its swathed in electronica – a product of globalization. Bhatt’s palpably fragile voice glides over the shimmering beats to bring out the poem’s vulnerable aspect while Dosanjh brings out its spirituality. The pairing couldn’t be more perfect. Neither could this song, that, while isn’t as sonically adventurous as Trivedi’s other works, is still incontestably beautiful.