Roundup 2018 : BEST OF MUSIC IN BENGALI FILMS

We start the year end roundup for 2018 by looking back at some of the best that Bengali Film Music had to offer, but then music is often above language. And happy to start on the note that it has actually been a good year for music in Bengali Cinema. For the past couple of years, other than one album here and two songs there, nothing was good enough to stay with you for long. But this year, there have at least been a few albums and quite a few songs that have played on playlists through the year. Here is looking at the best overall bengali film albums and the most memorable bengali songs from the year. Tune in…

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The Best of the Versatile Genius – Rafi Saab

Mohammad Rafi:Khuda ke insaan” is what he would be often referred to… I personally think he is Khuda himself, and will always remain so for music… It will be 38 long years when he will be gone securing his abode in God’s place, but there is not a single moment when he is not a part of our everyday life through his immortal music.. ‘Suron ke Sartaj‘ Mohammad Rafi will continue to breathe amidst us every day.. There are songs of his that I listen to every single day, and here is recalling my #MostFavorite25 of his solo songs in no particular order… After all, its almost impossible to choose his top 5 or top 10 songs or rank them… And there is a treasure out there of so much more…

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Favorite Albums of Pancham!

PANCHAM, the true successor of the genius of Sachin Dev Burman, was no less a magician by himself. The man who broke every conventional barrier through his music, and composed way ahead of his time, was again at his sublime best when he was dealing with pure unadulterated melody. 60s first tasted the power of his music, the glorious 70s and even 80s thrived with his compositions, and even when he was written off in 90s, he created some of his finest work in those testing times completely pushed against the wall. Challenging the status quo of every singer, he really provided the flight beneath their wings for them to soar new heights, and with that his eternal music found its unbound skies as well. Too many classics, too many game changers, and then the trailblazer was suddenly gone too soon.

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Lata Kishore duets not celebrated enough!

Film music to me means Asha Bhosle and Md. Rafi, and they personify everything that is melody, expressions, pathos for me.. Bhagwan ki awaz – in the true sense..

But it also remains a fact that relatively Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar have enjoyed far more popularity through the ages.. They have had some really popular songs, and more often than not we keep celebrating their duets from Abhimaan, Aandhi, Ghar, Guide, Jewel Thief, Doosra Aadmi, Bade dil wala, Aap ki kasam or Ajnabee while remembering their songs.. They are all great songs no doubt, but I personally love some of their other duets so much more. These are not very often quoted as the best duets of Kishore-Lata unfortunately while they are far more melodious and impactful.. Here is listing a dozen of such lovely duets, that I think need to be celebrated far more than the usual ones.. They clearly set themselves apart for me, and form a part of my favorites playlist…

1. Bahut door mujhe chale jana hai
Film & Composer – Heera Panna / R D Burman

 

2. Kuchh bhi kar lo ek din tumko 
Film & Composer – Joshila / R D Burman

 

3. Kaali palak teri gori 
Film & Composer – Do chor / Composer – R D Burman

 

4. Palkon ke peechhe se kya tumne kehe dala
Film & Composer – Talaash / S D Burman

 

5. Likha hain teri aankhon me 
Film & Composer – Teen Deviyan / S D Burman

 

6. Deewana karke chhodoge
Film & Composer – Mere jeevan saathi / R D Burman

 

7. Chanda dekhe chanda 
Film & Composer – Jhoothi / Bappi Lahiri

 

8. Dil se dil milne ka koi kaaran hoga 
Film & Composer – Charitraheen / R D Burman

 

9. Shokhiyon me ghola jaaye 
Film & Composer – Prem Pujari / S D Burman

 

10. Jeevan ki bagiya mehekegi 
Film & Composer – Tere mere sapne / S D Burman

 

11. Sun ja aye thandi hawa 
Film & Composer – Haathi mere saathi / R D Burman

 

12. Kitni khoobsurat yeh tasveer hain (along with Suresh Wadekar)
Film & Composer – Bemisaal / R D Burman

 

Are there others that you would like to add to this – the rather less popular but lovely numbers from the singer duo?

Shaadi Mubarak – Unabashed Entertainment!

I am a sucker of well-made entertaining cinema, and to the average urban Indian nothing entertains more than the #BigFatIndianWedding or all the hullabaloo that goes on around it! Hindi cinema has used this theme of opulent and colorful Indian weddings to the fullest to rake in moolah and deliver huge commercial successes in milestone hits like ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ or ‘Hum Aapke Hain Kaun’ (and a host of other Barjatya films)! We have also seen some wonderful entertainment dished out our way in the backdrop of an Indian wedding with an ‘English Vinglish’ or ‘Yeh Jawaani Hain Diwani’ or even ‘2 States’, but these films had a stronger ongoing core theme overshadowing the wedding plot!

So just when the ‘shaadi ka season’ is kicking in around most parts of India, it just felt like a good time to go back to 3 films that had the theme of an Indian wedding running all through the film, and yet were very different from each other! The only commonality between them? They are all well-made films, thoroughly entertaining, and have lived on well beyond the years they were made!

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Meera Nair brought together an outstanding ensemble of very strong performers sixteen years ago, to create her own unadulterated version of full on exuberant ‘bollywood’ entertainment! It was time for the Vermas to wed off their darling daughter in the true extravagant Punjabi fashion, but this central façade of festivities did not deter the larger circus going on within the family to reveal itself in full glory – whether it was the hollow and yet endearing world of show-off of Lalit and Pimmi Verma (Naseeruddin Shah and Lillete Dubey), or the still-can’t-let-it-go feelings of the would be bride Aditi (Vasundhara Das) for her much married boss Vikram (Sameer Arya), the classy elegance of the NRI groom and his parents (Pravin Dabas with Roshan Seth and Soni Razdan), the crankiness of elder uncles in Chaddhas (Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Kamini Khanna), the dark devastating secret of child abuse that Aditi’s elder cousin Ria (Shefali Shah) exposes off the family patriarch (Rajat Kapoor), or whether it was the most entertaining track of a quirky and yet an utterly sweet take on romance between the event planner Dubey and the house help Alice (Vijay Raaz and Tilottama Shome)! It was a complete potboiler entertainer and yet did not compromise on the cinematic aesthetics for a moment! Vijay Raaz, Tilottama Shome and Shefali Shah were show-stealers even in their limited roles, while Naseeruddin and Lillete brilliantly held the completely crazy lot together like the perfect party hosts! Ultimately, it was Nair’s victory though who brought in her finesse and experience of meaningful cinema and seeped it within the bright, colorful canvas of an over the top and yet restrained musical! With #MonsoonWedding, she created this happy film that celebrates the diversity of human aspirations and fallacies in its full glory! It is clearly my pick as the quintessential Indian wedding drama – one that makes you dance to ‘Kaava kaava kaava aaj mera ji karda’ at any time in any mood!

Band Baaja Baaraat (2010)

Debutant director Maneesh Sharma takes us behind the scenes of the ‘binness’ of lavish, extravagant marriages with wedding planners Shruti Kakkad and Bittu Sharma and their journey of ‘Shaadi Mubarak’! It may have been the tale of opposites fight and eventually attract, but the freshness with which Sharma presents the ups and downs that this charming couple goes through, makes it such a warm entertainer! Delhi, its by-lanes and the real people that live there, is presented as a full-blown character and adds a lot of authenticity to the overall texture of the film! The initial banter of Shruti and Bittu is particularly spunky and enjoyable on how they set out to achieve their goals with certain promises of not mixing personal professional relationships, and what happens along the way when they deviate from those goals in both the spaces, and have their own journeys of self-denial and realization. Had Sharma not stretched out the end, this journey would have become so much more impactful! Ranveer Singh was pitched perfectly as the typical Delhi boy and nails Bittu Sharma in his unpolished and confident best like no one else! Looking back, it was good thing that Ranbir Kapoor refused this role, and hence Singh made his golden debut as his replacement. Anushka Sharma also essentially got noticed brightly with this film after her lackluster stint in her earlier films and made a perfect casting for the ambitious and yet honest Shruti Kakkad. With some pretty sharp writing, and foot tapping music from Salim Suleiman to go with it, #BandBaajaBaraat was the breezy watch as the unassumingly charming and surprisingly fresh entertainer from the Yash Raj camp!

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014)

Nearly twenty years after a generation got wooed by the iconic love story of Raj and Simran, Shashank Khaitan essentially revisits DDLJ, but with his own refreshing take of the same with this Alia Bhatt & Varun Dhawan starrer! The overall context with which the film starts is far from real, but it’s the earnest performances of the cast and overall presentation that makes it a harmless and fun watch all along! Khaitan stays away from trying too hard to reinvent the wheel, but his treatment does not become too formulaic or aspirational, and hence retains its captivating texture. We always know what is going to happen, but still do not get bored. Ashutosh Rana is particularly solid amidst a pretty believable supporting cast as are Humpty’s cute friends Poplu and Shonti, Alia Bhatt is effectively pleasing as the bubbly Kavya who discovers her own self along the way; but it is Varun Dhawan who shines the brightest as the sweet, rough, and sincere Humpty who knows that he is far from perfect, but does not shy away from that realization! It is this earnest charm of his that wins everyone over eventually including his dulhania! It was rather disappointing then that Khaitan and the same lead pair could not take forward this happy charm in the second film of the franchise which ended up being rather cringe worthy in its entire approach! And maybe just maybe, it is the endearing and the fresh treatment of #HumptySharmaKiDulhania that still leaves that flickering hope that Khaitan may still not completely butcher Sairat in his remake!

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A decade of terrific performances – Ranbir Kapoor

#10YearsOfRanbirKapoor

Yes – its hard to imagine that it is already a decade when a supremely talented Ranbir Kapoor made his on screen debut with the highly underrated Saawariya exactly on this date! The film was way ahead of its times and it did sink, but the young actor shone, and how! Today, he is easily the best amongst his generation, lending credibility to everything he does, making his characters so much believable by the sheer strength of his acting prowess, that they stay on with you even if the film loses steam in a few cases! He has never stepped back from challenging his own self and the range of his characters portrayals is astonishing!

Even when he walked the similar path of a man lost in his ways of finding himself with Imtiaz Ali or Ayan Mukherjee or Karan Johar; his musician Jordan was very different from the robotically lost Ved, the explorer in Kabir Thapar had a very different graph to the kid at heart Sid Mehra and to the Londoner Ayan in very unique ways, and there is a generation who identified with each one of them since you could touch and feel them and indulge in their pain! At the same time, he attempted the terrific earnestness of Barfi!, stepped into the magical world of Jagga, dared to live the big Bombay dreams with Johny Balraj, sold dreams to others as Harpreet Singh, tasted the dirt of Indian politics as Samar Pratap, and made everyone laugh through Prem Shankar! And all of them ended up being some of the most memorable characters of last decade, with some of them having started to age well as cults who will be remembered even 30 years from now! Of course, he did some forgettable work in Roy, Besharam and their likes in between as well, but they are far and few.

The best of Ranbir Kapoor is yet to come, and over many more years! I hope to see him work with a Shoojit Sircar and a Zoya Akhtar and a Dibakar Banerjee in years to come; along with his continued successful associations with Imtiaz, Ayan or Anurag! And may be Kashyap and Kapoor again too for more fire works on screen! I am also looking forward to him partnering with Alia Bhatt, Ranveer Singh, Rajkumar Rao in more challenging roles other than his traditional co-stars

To many more decades of Ranbir Kapoor and his brand of powerful performances!

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The Best of AR Rahman

AR Rahman can easily be credited to create the most distinct sound of this generation! He ensured that Bollywood film music does not go listless after it lost Pancham rather suddenly, and after Pancham had composed his brilliant 1942-A love story! It is also somewhat coincidental that Rahman started almost at the same time when Pancham stopped, and its hard to think that its been 25 years of Roja already, that we looked back at a few months ago! Today, we look back at some of the best albums that Rahman has composed in his quarter decade of work, again restricting it what was created or recreated in Hindi only for this discussion. It is not hard to guess through his body of work that some of the best music of Rahman in Hindi cinema has been composed for Imtiaz Ali, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Mani Ratnam and its natural then that they will feature more often than the others in this list.

So here are the #Top20Albums of #ARRahman ranked based on their wholesome goodness quotient, celebrating #25YearsOfRahman. These are albums where almost all / most of the songs leave a mark, but I will also list down my favorite tracks from the album too…

#20. TAMASHA – Uneven, with some good tracks!
Agar Tum Saath Ho / Heer to Badi Sad Hain

#19 JAANE TU YA JAANE NA – Young at heart!
Kahin to Hogi Woh / Nazrein Milana

#18 1947 EARTH – Earthy, Rustic!
Dheemi Dheemi / Rut Aa Gayi Re

#17 JODHA AKBAR – Royal & Grand!
Man Mohana / Kehne to Jashne Bahara Hain

#16 HIGHWAY – Its got a zing to it!
Maahi Ve / Heera

#15 YUVA – Very quirky, Very fresh!
Kabhi Neem Neem / Baadal / Fanaa

#14 WATER – An underrated masterpiece
Naina Neer Bahaye / Shyam Rang Rang Doon

#13 ZUBEIDAA – Another lesser known classic
Hain Na / Dheeme Dheeme Gaoon

#12 ROCKSTAR – Terrific Songs in a not so terrific film!
Kun Faya Kun / Nadaan Parinde

#11 GURU – Efficient and Effective soundtrack like the lead!
Jaage Hain Der Tak / Aye Hairathe Ashiqui

#10 BOMBAY – Background score is also brilliant!
Tu Hi Re / Kehna Hi Kya / Kuchh Bhi Na Socho

#09 DELHI-6 – Brilliant Album wasted in a messed up film
Arziyaan / Sasural Genda Phool

#08 LAGAAN – Rage of the Nation
O Paalanhare / Mitwa / Ghanana Ghanana

#07 TAAL – Justifies the name!
Nahi Saamne Tu / Ni Main Samajh Gayi / Kariye Na

#06 RAANJHANA – Uniquely Different, Uniquely Lovely
Banarasiya / Tum Tak / Piya Milenge / Aye Sakhi

#05 DIL SE – Rahman’s playback debut, and how!
Satrangi Re / Aye Ajnabi / Dil Se Re

#04 SAATHIYA – Young Fresh Romance & Soundtrack!
Mera Yaar Mila De / Aye Udi Udi Udi / Chhalka Chhalka Re

#03 RANG DE BASANTI – Lovely Youth Beats loaded with Patriotism
Lukka Chhuppi / Tu Bin Bataye / Khoon Chala / Roobaroo

#02 SWADES – Pure Gold just like the film
Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera / Pal Pal Hain Bhari / Yeh Tara Woh Tara / Saawariya

#01 ROJA – First and the Best, Still fresh as a Rose
Dil Hain Chhota Sa / Roja Jaaneman / Bharat Humko / Yeh Haseen Waadiya

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Pancham and Lata – Melody Galore

Those who know me, know that neither RD Burman nor Lata Mangeshkar are my most favorite composer or singer.. Its not that I don’t like them, but I am hugely devoted to Pancham’s father and Lata’s younger sibling and hence rest of the love feels muted.. But it is more true than anything that when it comes to Pancham, he always reserved his best songs for the magical Lata Mangeshkar always, in spite of all the space that Asha occupied in his life, so much so that some times that has appeared rather unfair to me! (Until ofcourse he composed the materpiece album of his life and got Asha to sing all the 4 exemplary songs in the same  )

But, today this post is about recalling the brilliant gems that Lata and RD created together – there is so much melody and an ethereal feel to these songs that it can add colors to any day, it can suck you in to its beauty at any time.. These are all of my favorite #solos that Lata sang for Pancham (and yes of course she has sung exceptional duets as well on RD tunes), and the era of this work spans across more than 20 years from one of his first sensational hits in Bahaaron ke sapne (1967) to the obscure Libaas (1988) for which we are still awaiting a theatrical release…

These would be my Top15 songs of Lata ranked, that she sang for RD Burman… Yes, there are not so popular ones too, but I feel they are severely underrated..

To supreme melodies and musical diwalis… Do leave your thoughts on this and your choices of Lata RDB gems…

#15 DILBAR DIL SE PYAARE (Caravan)

 

#14 HUMNE SANAM KO KHAT LIKHA (Shakti)

 

#13 JAANE KYA BAAT HAI (Sunny)

 

#12 AB KE NA SAAWAN BARSE (Kinara)

 

#11 CHHOTI SI EK KALI KHILI THI (Jurmana)

 

#10 TUM MUJHSE ROOTHE HO (Phir Kab Milogi)

 

#09 BAAHON ME CHALE AAO (Anamika)

 

#08 AAJ KAL PAAON ZAMEEN PAR (Ghar)

 

#07 TERE LIYE PALKON KI JHALAR BUNU (Harjayee)

 

#06 AAJA PIYA TOHE PYAR DOON (Bahaaron ke Sapne)

 

#05 AYE RI PAWAN (Bemisaal)

 

#04 TUJHSE NARAZ NAHI ZINDAGI (Masoom)

 

#03 DO NAINON ME AASOON BHARE HAIN (Khushboo)

 

#02 PHIR KISI SHAAKH NA PHEKI CHHAO (Libaas)

 

#01 BADA NATKHAT HAIN RE (Amar Prem)

Amitabh Bachchan – most memorable characters!

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The Biggest Superstar ever of Hindi Cinema turns 75 today! The range of his body of work is incomparable, and he has been tremendous in everything that he has done from Action to Comedy to Drama to Extrovert to Introvert to you name it, but my favorite ones have been his serious understated types! Making his debut as the voice narrator in Mrinal Sen’s award winning Bhuvan Shome in 1969, the Maestro has come a long way! 4 national awards, 15 filmfare awards, 41 filmfare nominations and a host of innumerable other accolades and counting, his journey continues! May be his performance of the lifetime is yet to come!

While we wait for that, here is wishing AMITABH BACHCHAN a very HAPPY 75TH BIRTHDAY!

It is also the opportune time for me to try listing my TOP 15 FAVORITE CHARACTERS of the Maestro! It is like searching for needles sprinkled in hay stack! I do also know that he is THE most favorite for many other cine-lovers, and everyone will have their personal favorites from his body of work, hence looking forward to exchange notes as well!

So here is a ranking of my favorite roles that he played.. what will be yours?

Honorable Mentions – Satte pe Satta, Silsila, Trishul, Jurmana, Namak Halaal, Sharabi, Aankhein… too long to list…

15. Alok Prasad – Alaap
14. Deepak Sehgal – Pink
13. ACP Anant Srivastava – Khakee
12. Subhash Nagre – Sarkar
11. Moti – Saudagar
10. Vijay Pal Singh – Kaala Patthar
09. Prof. Sukumar Sinha – Chupke Chupke
08. Auro – Paa
07. Dr. Sudhir Roy – Bemisaal
06. Harish Mishra – The Last Lear
05. Amit Malhotra – Kabhi Kabhie
04. Jai – Sholay
03. Dr. Bhaskar Banerjee – Anand
02. Subir Kumar – Abhimaan
01. Shekhar Dayal – Mili

Amitabh Bachhan has himself always maintained that Hrishikesh Mukherjee explored the best side of him as an actor and we couldn’t agree more. Yash Chopra would possibly come next.

In the hope that the actor still has enough in him to slip in a new entry into this list in days to come with another brilliant performance. He can if he chooses well. We will wait.

Shabana Azmi & her lovely songs

Happy birthday to one of the finest actresses of Indian screen –  Shabana Azmi! Contrary to her image, it is the perfect time to recall some of the most beautiful songs picturised on her on this special day – an aspect of films we don’t typically associate her with! My favorites include…

– Phir kisi shaakh ne phenki chhao (Libaas)
– Do naina aur ek kahaani (Masoom)
– Phir se aiyyo badra bidesi (Namkeen)
– Halke halke aayi chalke (Apne Paraaye)
– Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho (Arth)
– Bheega bheega mausam (Suraag)
– Pal bhar me yeh kya ho gaya (Swami)
– Ajnabee kaun ho tum (Sweekar kiya maine)
– Khali pyala dhundhla darpan (Sparsh)
– Hazaar rahein mudke dekhi (Thodi si bewafai)