Okay, we all know songs have always been an intrinsic part of Hindi cinema. Our actors sing when they are happy, sing when they are sad…there’s a song for every occasion. But what about those films where the songs and music take the story forward? Here are the films where songs were not a conceit but a necessity.
- Abhimaan(1973): Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film about a husband who won’t allow his more talented wife to go forward in her life and career , was actually based on Kishore Kumar and his first wife Ruma Guha Thakurta. How do I know? Because Hrishida himself told me. Music in Abhimaan was the soul, and Lata Mangeshkar the voice of the film. Naturally! Hrishida adored Lataji. He once told she never charged a single penny for songs in his films. Jaya Bhaduri who played the singer-wife studied Lataji’s recordings and copied her style. Sachin Dev Burman’s songs Piya bina piiya bina, Ab toh hai tumse har khushi apni, Nadia kinare hiraye aye kangana, Tere mere Milan ki yeh raina were gems . This is a musical with perfect music.
- Anurodh(1976): One of the less acknowledged fruits of the famous Rajesh Khanna-Shakti Samanta collaborations, Anurodh had Khanna playing a singer. It featured some brilliant Laxmikant-Pyarelal compositions sung by Kishore Kumar like Jab dard nahin ttha seene mein,Aate jate khubsoorat awaara sadkon mein, Aapke anurodh pe …Samanta and Khanna always worked with composer R D Burman. They made an exception for this musical, an underrated melodious marvel of a movie.Rajesh Khanna had a temporary fall-out with RD, hence the musical replacement. But the music did not suffer in the absence of Rajesh Khanna’s permanent muse.
- Heer Ranjha(1970): Chetan Anand’s legendary love tale was woven around the songs and music written by the great Kaifi Azmi and composed by Madan Mohan. Every line that the lovers Raj Kumar and Priya Rajvansh spoke was poetry penned by Kaifi Saab.And Madan Mohan came up with the score of his lifetime: Milo na tum toh hum ghabraye, Do dil toote, Yeh duniya yeh mehfil, Meri duniya mein tum aaye and of course the mother of all bidaai songs Doli chad de. Can’t get any better than this.
- Rock On(2008): A game changer for Bollywood musicals. The first Hindi film about a rock band featuring Arjun Rampal,Purab Kohli,Luke Kenny and Farhan Akhtar, The film gave us Farhan the actor and the singer. The songs composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy were functional in a very professional kind of way.This is the kind of modern poetry(Javed Akhtar) that we expected these characters to sing.Farhan’s singing voice provides an interesting counterpoint to the velvety playback singers who came before.
- Aashiqui 2(2013): The last ‘great’ Bollywood musical.Well okay,not so great a re-telling of the Star Is Born tale of two singers who come together through their shared passion for music and fall apart because of it. Aditya Roy Kapur and Shradha Kapoor were passably impressive.But the film’s intense intentions were manifested in the songs composed by Mithoon, Jeet Ganguly and Amit Trivedi. Mithoon’s Tum hi ho and Amit Trivedi’s Sun raha hai stand out.