2009 was a very good year for Bollywood musically, a lot of music directors, old and new, coming out with many beautiful compositions. It was a good year for us too, considering we started in 2009! And here we present our analysis of 2009 Bollywood music. We have gone composer by composer for all prominent ones, in descending order of the number of quality albums they have produced. With the exception of Rahman who we are starting the list off with in spite of just two albums this year because, well, he is A R Rahman! A caveat at the outset – The list has been compiled from songs that we happened to hear over the year, as those are the ones we can comment definitively on. There might be albums/people we missed out in the review so apologies in advance for that.
A R Rahman
Any talk about Indian music in 2009 would invariably have to start with that million dollar moment of Indian musical history – Rahman standing with the twin Oscars in his outstretched arms at the Kodak theatre. Rahman had it coming all these years, it was just a question of when that prefix of “Academy Award winning composer” would get added to his name. However as a Rahman fan there was a slight pang somewhere to see ARR collect the Oscar for a work which would not quite qualify as his best. If the Academy found the music of Slumdog.. to be fit for Oscars, wonder what they would say to soundtracks like Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Lagaan and so on. Nevertheless glad that the Academy saw it fit to honour the maestro at least this year.
On the Bollywood front, this year Rahman fans weren’t subjected to a treat like last year atleast in numbers, with just two albums getting released. But Delhi 6, with its stupendous assortment, was worth two albums in itself! Blue however didn’t turn out to be as elegant, probably maligned by the Akshay Kumar element. That is not to say it didn’t have its gems, Aaj Dil and Bhoola Tujhe being the stand-out ones. Though this is a Bollywood roundup one cannot go without mentioning Rahman’s Hollywood ventures this year for their musical brilliance – Shekhar Kapoor’s Passage and Vince Vaughn’s Couples Retreat. The big one next year is going to be Mani Ratnam’s Raavan. Apart from that unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anything in store for Bollywood, though down south there is much more in the offing.
The year went pretty decent for the trio, both in terms of the number of releases and the quality. Though some like Shortkut weren’t quite impressive and some contained just one or two songs, like Sikander, SEL produced some wonderful songs for 13B, Luck By Chance, Wake Up Sid and ended their 2009 run on a high note with London Dreams. Major releases for SEL next year are My Name is Khan and Karthik Calling Karthik. I am not very hopeful about My Name.., being a KJo movie, it is Karthik Calling Karthik I really look forward to. SEL have always been at their productive best with Farhan Akhtar.
After SEL the Merchant brothers were another set of composers who stood out for their consistency in 2009. Minor faux pas like Kambakkth Ishq and average albums like Luck and Pyaar Impossible notwithstanding, the MDs gave some exquisite scores in movies like 8×10 Tasveer, Kurbaan and Rocket Singh. Their first assignment for 2010 is Teen Patti. Hopefully that will come out to be much better than the middling Luck, though the genre looks to be the same. Either ways, looking at the way their career graph has been moving over the past couple of years, 2010 does hold a lot of promise.
Tum Mile was Pritam’s master work of 2009, a soundtrack that added another feather to the Bhatt legacy. Billu Barber, Love Aaj Kal, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and New York, in spite of their regular Pritamesque elements, were reasonably endearing. But that just about ends the list of Pritam’s good albums from 2009, which is far outweighed by the number of his crappy compositions – De Dana Dan, Ek, Love Khichdi etc being just a few of them. It would be better if Pritam stopped taking so many assignments, and stuck to a few good soundtracks every year. That would obviate the need to lift tunes as well I suppose!
His score for Aamir had got heads turning in 2008, but the absolute stunner came at the start of 2009 with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D. Ranging from jazz to folk to classical to Punjabi, Amit proved his mastery over almost every genre of music with this 18-song soundtrack. The background score for Wake Up Sid alongside the one song Iktara in the OST went on to show that Dev.D was not going to be a flash-in-the-pan case. Amit currently has a couple of projects under production, like Chiller Party and Aisha which must hopefully come out in 2010; I am all ears!
2009 saw Sagar Desai, composer for Rajat Kapoor’s movies like Mixed Doubles, Bheja Fry etc, graduate from parallel movies to mainstream cinema – at least more mainstream than what he had previously done. And he made wonderful use of the opportunity he got. First there was Straight where he gave a rock music-oriented score. And then came Quick Gun Murugun, in which he expanded the ambit with classical, wild west et al, creating an unexpected winner out of a comedy soundtrack. Bollywood Hungama talks of a movie called Meridian under production which has Sagar’s score. Hoping that the soundtrack comes out soon enough. This man surely has a lot more to offer.
Though in all their works of 2009 they had to share space with other composers (Raaz, Jashnn, Jail), the Sabri brothers proved their mettle even with those attempts. Unfortunately the movies they worked for didn’t do great in the box office either, thereby resulting in most of the songs going unnoticed. Hopefully 2010 will see them get a full soundtrack to themselves. And a decent movie at that, please.
Right from Maachis, Vishal’s music has always stood out for its raw unconventionality. Kaminey‘s score was again totally conformant to that tradition, but with a tinge of sophistication added to it, like the surf-rockish Dhan Te Nan and the orchestrally extravagant Kaminey. With the wonderfully rendition of the title song the man also proved that he could do a thing or two behind the microphone as well. Next up is Ishqiya, and from the TV teasers I can already sense a delicacy!
It took 11 years for Piyush Mishra to get his first music directorial venture. And what a debut it was! Gulaal would easily count among the best soundtracks of 2009, Piyush Mishra going on to display a Vishal Bharadwaj-like streak in his works. The man wouldn’t be restricted to composing alone, writing some splendid lyrics alongside Swanand Kirkire to pay a lasting tribute to Sahir Ludhianvi, and also singing a couple of songs to good effect.
Listening of the music of Paa alongside the visuals in the theatre definitely increased the appeal of the songs, but I still maintain that Ilayaraja should be doing much more than just reusing his older tunes if he is to make a lasting impact in Bollywood. Mudhi Mudhi was wonderfully effective on that front, but others didn’t exactly match up. Raja’s other work in 2009, Chal Chalein, was a rather forgettable affair. I am waiting for that one Raja album akin to Rahman’s Rangeela. But wonder if its too late now.
Like I said for Paa, the visual element has contributed a great deal to the charm of 3 Idiots’ soundtrack, but that still doesn’t make up for the repetitive feel that Shantanu Moitra’s composition carries about it. It is high time he changed his style.
It was a relatively quiet year for the composer duo, the only release being Aladin. Even that, though entertaining, was left wanting for fresh tunes, most songs being tributes to Amitabh Bachchan and hence evocative of his songs of yore. Vishal had a much better year as a singer, singing some very good songs for SEL, Salim Sulaiman and the other Vishal. Even Shekhar had that beautiful melody in Luck By Chance. Hope that 2010 will see as much of Vishal Shekhar the composers as Vishal and Shekhar the singers.
As usual, Sajid-Wajid’s contributions this year too were mostly limited to Salman Khan movies and comedy flicks with the exception of Kal Kissne Dekha. And as usual most of their scores were middling. But the duo produced a surprise winner just a week back with their music for Veer. The movie had some exquisite tunes, and hopefully this will inspire them to produce more good scores in 2010.
Sohail Sen wasted the wonderful opportunity he got with What’s Your Rashee (okay may be not so wonderful from the movie perspective, but an opportunity nevertheless with 13 songs!), producing just a couple of good tunes which got lost in the melee of the other average or below average tunes. Sandesh Shandilya, as usual, came in a couple of those multi-composer flicks, giving some memorable tunes but also some shoddy songs. I look forward to the day when he will get a complete soundtrack to himself. Shamir Tandon did a commendable job in 99. Nouman Javaid impressed with his two songs for Jashnn. Ankur Tewari gave decent music alongside others in Aao Wish Karein but lost his footing when solo, in Raat Gayi Baat Gayi. On the other hand he gave some very amusing lyrics for QGM. Monty Sharma made his presence felt with a couple of average albums, but after Saawariya his has been a consistent downward journey. Some new composers like Vipin Mishra, Bappa Lahiri showed promise, while some other veterans like Lalit Pandit (of Jatin Lalit), Anu Malik were consistent in their mediocrity.
That just about wraps up our rather long roundup of the music of 2009. Before we close, we leave you with our list of 15 best songs of the year. Wishing all of our readers a wonderful 2010! We hope the new year brings you a lot more good music.
(Songs listed in alphabetical order in the format: Song(Movie)Â Composer|Singer(s))
Aaj Dil (Blue) A R Rahman|Sukhwinder Singh,Shreya Ghoshal
Aasma Odh Kar (13B) Shankar Ehsaan Loy|Shankar Mahadevan, Chitra
Arziyaan (Dilli 6) A R Rahman|Javed Ali,Kailash Kher
Dil Gira (Dilli 6) A R Rahman|Ash King, Chinmayee
Emosanal Atyachaar (Dev D) Amit Trivedi|Rangeela, Rasila
Iktara (Wake Up Sid) Amit Trivedi|Kavitha Seth, Amitabh Bhattacharya
Kaminey (Kaminey) Vishal Bharadwaj|Vishal Bharadwaj
Khanabadosh (London Dreams) Shankar Ehsaan Loy|Mohan
Mudhi Mudhi (Paa) Ilayaraja|Shilpa Rao
Paayaliya (Dev D) Amit Trivedi|Shruti Pathak
Pankhon Ko (Rocket Singh) Salim Sulaiman|Salim Merchant
Sapnon Se Bhare (Luck By Chance) Shankar Ehsaan Loy|Shankar Mahadevan
Taali (Veer) Sajid Wajid|Sukhwinder Singh,Sonu Nigam,Neuman Pinto, Wajid
Tu Hi Haqeeqat (Tum Mile) Pritam|Javed Ali
Yaara Maula (Gulaal) Piyush Mishra|Rahul Ram
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