Category Archives: Bollywood 90’s Music

Listening to: Saajan (1991)

Saajan 1991What a blockbuster this was! Remembering the music to be quite decent, I decided to re-watch it yesterday.  I am neither a fan of Salman Khan, nor of Sanjay Dutt, so I was questioning myself even as I sat down to watch it.

I need not have hesitated. In fact, it was quite a well made film, if a bit formulaic. It has a number of irresistible features  :

(1) One spirited and beautiful woman  √
(2) One sensitive, poetic but disabled young man with a debt towards (3) √
(3) One rich playboy with a heart of gold √
(4) One indulgent dad, one pretty, maternal mum √
(5) One annoying man-servant for comedy in bad taste √
(6) One beautiful hill-station √
(7) Low Self-Esteem, Lies, Blind Love, Stupid And Unnecessary Self-Sacrifice, A Conversation with God, Angry Trashing of a Room, Over-Emotional Drama, Bad Men Who Attack Women, Dancing On Slopes, Singing Sadly On Lost Love and many other such essential ingredients to a good Bollywood masala √

Aman  is a young orphan under the care of a priest. Physically disabled, he is picked on by other children. Akaash is the only son of rich and loving parents. He comes to Aman’s aid and they become good friends. Though they are like chalk and cheese, there is love and affection between these two which leads to Aman being adopted by Akaash’s family.

Akaash (Salman Khan) grows up to be a rather spoilt young man, seemingly interested only in pretty girls and having a good time. Aman (Sanjay Dutt) is quite the opposite. A serious young man, he is academically successful and a poet who goes by the name ‘Sagar’ to guard his identity.  Aman suffers from low self-esteem due to his physical disability and his background as a penniless orphan. An incident with a silly young woman reinforces his low self-esteem.

Pooja is a lively young woman who deeply admires Sagar’s poetry and writes to him. A pen-friendship develops, leading to unexpressed deeper emotions. But Aman’s lack of confidence does not allow him to take this any further. When Aman goes to Ooty on business, he meets Pooja and recognizes her from a photograph. Seeing that this is Madhuri, one can see quite easily why he becomes so enchanted with her. He doesn’t reveal himself, instead he pretends to be a friend of Sagar.

When Akaash comes for a visit, by Bollywoodian-coincidence, he sees Pooja and it is love at first sight. When Aman learns of this, he decides to sacrifice his love for his friend. But is this such a selfless act after all? Is he not just hiding his cowardice in this so called selfless act? Though Akaash is initially reluctant, he takes Aman’s advices and pretends to be Sagar to win Pooja’s hand. Soon they are to be wed.

Aman’s slow withdrawal from him raises Akaash’s suspicions. He finds out that Aman is actually Sagar and that Aman is in love with Pooja. How will this triangle be resolved? Who will get the girl? Whom does Pooja really love – her poet or the man she thinks is the poet? Well, I am not giving away the ending, so you’ll have to see it for yourself!

The script is well written and the characters well developed. My serious objections to a girl’s affections being bartered and shared between two men as if she is a commodity were reflected in Pooja’s outburst in the climax, so I was appeased somewhat.

Madhuri is a glowing beauty, outstanding even in this Bollywood world of beauties. Her smile shines like a 1000 watt bulb. She is also a very good actress and brings conviction to the character. Salman Khan looks much more appealing in this pre-over-muscled-bulk form. Sanjay Dutt is well suited to play a poet with his heavy-lidded eyes and sleepy manner. Both men are adequate in the normal moments but fail in the emotional or dramatic scenes. Sanjay’s dialogue-with-God should have been a tear-jerker for the matinee-ladies, but I would be surprised if it induced even one sniff! Salman gets his moment of drama later but again, I was unmoved. Madhuri’s righteous anger was much more convincing. In spite of all my criticisms, the movie is quite watchable, so I am not trying to dissuade anyone.

Given that it is a movie about a poet, I eagerly watched out from nice Shayari but unfortunately, it was but average. I’ve some examples for you below, what do you think?

यह वक़्त बतायेगा कि मैं शोला हूँ या शबनम |
आँसूं हूँ अभी वक़्त के पलकों में रुका हूँ ||

बड़ी मुद्दत से मेरे दिल में इक तस्वीर बैठी है |
तेरे जुल्फों के छाओं में मेरी तकदीर बैठी है ||

दूर तक जहाँ भी यह नज़र चली जाए |
मुझे तू ही तू हर पल नज़र आये ||

The music by Nadeem-Shravan is not as good as I remembered, but still, I’ll call it easy listening. The lyrics by Sameer are a bit pedestrian, but there are a couple of nice lines. The one thing which grates terribly is the choice of S.P.Balasubramanyan as the voice of Salman Khan. I admire SPB’s singing in Tamil and Telugu films but somehow his Hindi always sounds wrong. More than the accent, it’s the intonation which is disturbing.

  • Pehli Baar Mile Hain – SPB. Should have been an upbeat melody but instead I felt a thread of sadness – music director has failed in triggering the right emotion. Orchestration is very old fashioned. Sad smile
  • Bahut Pyar Karte Hain – (female version) Anuradha Paudwal,  (male version) SPB. A nice melody. Unfortunately Anuradha has a ‘little girl’ sound to her voice which I don’t like and SPB’s vocal flourishes are misplaced.  I don't know smile
  • Mera Dil Bhi Kitna  – Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. This title song is a slow and pleasant and the singers do justice to it.  Some nice sitar work in the instrumentals. The picturisation is very nice.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Tu Shayar Hai – Alka Yagnik. The refrain with its instrumentals is very unusual and memorable. Alka has sung very well. Madhuri is watchable in spite of some bad choreography and horrendous costume design.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Tum Se Milne Ki Tamanna hai – SPB. Not to my taste. Sad smile
  • Jiyen To Jiyen Kaise – (version 1) Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, SPB (version 2) Pankaj Udhas. This ghazal has a beautiful melody. The singer selection ruins version 1 for me, but Pankaj Udhas is very very pleasant to hear. Lyrics are not too bad :कैसे कहूं बिना तेरे ज़िन्दगी ये क्या होगी
    जैसे कोई सज़ा कोई बद-दुआ  होगी
    मैंने किया है ये फैसला
    जीना नहीं है तेरे बिना  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Dekha Hai Pehli Bar – SPB, Alka Yagnik. Nadeem-Shravan have re-used the refrain-with-instrumentals like in the Tu Shayar Hai song in this film. I quite like it, it is unusual. The 90’s choreography is odd, looking at times like an aerobics routine and Madhuri’s wardrobe is a shame. Smile

To listen to the whole album, click here.

My selection is evidently Jiyen to Jiyen Kaise. I present a version by Pankaj Udhas, not from the film, but in a live performance. Its quite lovely, enjoy!


Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Pankaj Udhas

Listening to: Roja (1992)


This film is proof that a decent film can be made with a simple concept. In essence, Roja is a love story painted on a background of terrorism. The first part describes the arranged marriage which brings the protagonists together and the small hiccups before the pair settle down. Then the movie moves on to the young man being abducted while on an assignment in Kashmir and the trauma that both people go through in quite different ways. It ends happily for those who, like me, prefer happy endings.

There are deeper questions which are addressed superficially – individual well-being vs collective interest, nationalism vs zealotry, terrorism and its cost, the ethics of prisoner exchange, child soldiers, collateral damage in war etc. All these are only touched upon with not much commentary; the director keeps his eyes focused on the protagonists. 

The leads Arvind Swamy and Madhoo give good performances. The director, Mani Ratnam, retains a reasonable pace and holds our interest throughout. But for me, the films stands out for two exceptional factors, the cinematography and the music.

One cannot see the film without noticing the extraordinary camera work. The lighting is so perfect! Each shot seems to be lovingly composed. Be it the lovely lush village of the South or the snow peaked wilderness of the North, the camera has captured the beauty of all it has surveyed. I paused often, looking at a frame like I would look at a painting in a museum. Santosh Sivan is not without reason the most awarded Director of Photography in India. He is an artist extraordinaire. I am a fan.

Musically, this film is very important because it is the debut movie score of wunderkind A.R.Rahman. With two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, four National Awards and fifteen Filmfare Awards, to name a few, his career has been exemplary. I fell in love with the music of Roja when I first heard it in 1992; nearly 20 years later I still listen to this album with great pleasure. In fact, I believe I like this early phase of Rahman’s music more than his later work.  This score was included in the Time Magazine Top-10 Soundtracks of all time in 2005. Vairamuthu’s lyrics are a good match for the beauty of Rahman’s music. A collector’s album. Note: The songs were translated into Hindi as well but as I listen only to the Tamil version, I cannot comment on them.

  • Chinna Chinna Asai – Minmini. A lovely list of wishes, this song reminds me of the sweetness of ‘favourite things’ from Sound of Music.

    சின்ன சின்ன ஆசை சிறகடிக்கும் ஆசை
    முத்து முத்து ஆசை முடிந்து வைத்த ஆசை
    வெண்ணிலவு தொட்டு முத்தமிட ஆசை
    என்னை இந்த பூமி சுற்றிவர ஆசை
    மல்லிகை பூவாய் மாறிவிட ஆசை
    தென்றலை கண்டு மாலை இட ஆசை
    மேகங்களை எல்லாம் தொட்டுவிட ஆசை
    சோகங்களை எல்லாம் விட்டுவிட ஆசை
    Little wishes, winged wishes,
    Pearl like wishes, secreted wishes,
    A wish to touch the moon and kiss it,
    A wish that the world circle around me,
    A wish to change into a Jasmine flower,
    A wish to garland a spring breeze,
    A wish to touch all the clouds,
    A wish to leave all sadness.
    Open-mouthed smile Red heart

  •  Rukmani – S.P.Balasubramaniam, Chitra. The lyrics make me uncomfortable as they are explicit, on the edge of vulgar, but the melody is very appealing. The rhythm section of Rahman’s ensemble conduct a veritable masterclass! A.R.Rahman’s magic is woven throughout. The choreography is excellent, this song is both worth listening to and worth watching. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Pudhu Vellai Mazhai – Sujatha, Unni Menon. A slow and gentle song beautifully sung by Sujatha and Unni Menon. I love the instrumental interludes. Open-mouthed smile
  • Kadal Rojave – Sujatha, S.P.Balasubramaniam. Simply perfect! Lovely melody and equally beautiful interludes. How romantic are the lyrics! கண்ணுக்குள் நீதான் கண்ணீரில் நீதான் கண்மூடிப் பார்த்தால் நெஞ்சுக்குள் நீதான். ‘Only you in my eyes, only you in my tears, and if I close my eyes and see, only you in my heart.’ Well said! Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Tamizha Tamizha – Hariharan.  A nationalistic song, it starts quietly but rises to this wonderful exuberant crescendo which brings on goosebumps! Great music. Open-mouthed smile

You can listen to the album here.

I have selected two songs for you. Kadal Rojave is my favourite from this album.

And you must watch Rukmani for the dancing and the rhythms :


Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Chitra, S.P.Balasubramaniam

Listening to : DDLJ (1995)


A movie so successful, so famous that its known only by its acronym, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge is iconic in the minds of Hindi film viewers. I was reminded of this film when I was browsing through my music collection looking for my children’s favourite albums before going on a recent road trip. Oddly, even though I remember enjoying the film, I almost never play its music.  So didn’t I like it in truth? Curious, I decided to re-watch the film.

After seeing it I am still trying to pinpoint the reason for this movie’s phenomenal success. A variation of a formulaic story, it has a good cast, good looking leads, decent music, great locales, some comedy, some romance, some drama, some patriotism, some dancing, some villainy and a handful of magic stardust which make this a truly watchable film.

The music by Jatin-Lalit duo is catchy but I wouldn’t classify it as extraordinary. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics are very apt but are they poetry? I’m not sure. What I like is how perfectly placed the songs are in the film, a song for every step as the story unfolds!

  • Meet The Girl Song = Mere Khwabon Mein – Lata Mangeshkar. I think Lata’s voice sounds too old for Kajol. But the melody is lovely and the lyrics are apt. Open-mouthed smile
  • The Teasing Song = Ruk Ja O Dil Deewane – Udit Narayan. Boy decides to bait girl to get her attention. The song didn’t appeal to me. I also cringed when Shah Rukh jumps on the piano and plays with his shoes..really!! Disappointed smile
  • The Girl Loosens Up Song = Zara Sa Jhoom Le – Asha Bhonsle, Abhijeet. Now this is a lovely little song with a great melody and fun lyrics. I really enjoyed both the song and leads’ antics.  Kajol is in her element in situations like this, she lights up the screen. I am a fan! And as for the singing, this is a song made for Asha and Abhijeet keeps up impressively with his senior colleague.Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Love Realisation Song = Ho Gaya Hai Tujhko – Lata Mangeshkar, Udit Narayan. I don’t think the prelude and the main song go well together at all. Lata’s voice is just too old for Kajol but Udit Narayan sounds really good. For me this doesn’t work. I liked the picturisation though. Disappointed smile
  • The Declaration Song = Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jana Sanam – Lata Mangeshkar, Kumar Sanu. This is a lovely song but if only it had been sung by a young Lata and Kishore!! It would have been so perfect!! As it is, I like it well enough but Kumar Sanu tries to hard to be Kishore and Lata…well you know my complaints. Open-mouthed smile
  • The Wedding Dance Song = Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna – Lata Mangeshkar, Udit Narayan. Lata’s voice sounds better in this, still……why don’t people retire in time? The song however is excellent and Udit Narayan is wonderful. I really like the lyrics too. Shah Rukh’s dancing is fun and I fell big time for this song on screen.  I can clearly see why Shah Rukh climbed the ladder to King Khan status – the man has oodles of charm! Memorable Moment: Achala Sachdev’s smile towards the end when Amrish Puri sings O Mere Zohra Jabeen.  Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • The Nostalgia Song = Ghar Aaja Pardesi – Manpreet Singh, Pamela Chopra. They play it often throughout the movie and by the end I quite liked it. Smile

You can listen to the whole album here.

Today I present Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna, my favourite from this album.

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Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Lata Mangeshkar, Udit Narayan

Listening to: Taal (1999)

This album used to be a family favourite once upon a time. But like much of filmi music, it lost favour after a while and then got relegated to history. But it had been played often enough  for the songs to have been etched in memory. So out of curiosity to see what had attracted us to this album, I decided to listen to the music and re-watch the film as well.

The film, though not fascinating, didn’t force me into too many fast-forwards. Some miscellaneous things which caught my attention :

  • Akshay Khanna has hair on his head!
  • Aishwarya has aged after all! She looks very young and flawless in this film.
  • She’s good at Yoga, really flexible.
  • The latest digital camera of those times looks like a brick.
  • Cliff edges are dangerous places to do yoga..and if you’ve once fallen off a cliff, I would expect you to avoid it at all costs..
  • Amrish Puri has a fantastic voice and his diction is SO good.

Except for these very salient observations, I’ll go on to the music as this blog is not about movie reviews. But you must read this very amusing review by Roger Ebert, it left me giggling !

This is thing – the music didn’t grab me. I was surprised, as both music director A.R.Rehman and lyricist Anand Bakshi won Filmfare awards for their efforts. Oh, it was good of course, but didn’t feel great.  Judge for yourself :

  • Kariye na – Alka Yagnik, Sukhwinder Singh. Very nice folk song. Smile
  • Taal se Taal – Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan. The second version is with Sukhwinder Singh, I like this one better. A good title song, it tends to stick in memory. Excellent choreography and dancing.Smile
  • Ishq bina  – Anuradha Sriram, Sujatha, Sonu Nigam, A.R.Rehman. There is a second version by Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sukhwinder Singh. which I liked better. Nice choreography again.  Thinking smile
  • Ni main samajh gayee – Sukhwinder Singh, Richa Sharma. Lovely ethnic sounds.Open-mouthed smile
  • Kahin Aag Lage – Asha Bhonsle, Aditya Narayan, Richa Sharma. Great choreography but the song I can pass.Disappointed smile
  • Ramta jogi – Sukhwinder Singh, Alka Yagnik. Now this is a fun song, very memorable. Nice choreography again. I remember my daughter wrapping herself in a white sheet and trying to imitate Aishu. It always brings a smile to my lips. Open-mouthed smile
  • Nahin Samne – Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan. A slow and soft song. The picturisation in a windswept street is very nice, poetic almost. Smile

Here’s a link to the album.

And my choice for the day? In memory of my daughter-in-a-sheet, its Aishwarya bending in all ways in Ramta Jogi:

Ramta Jogi–Sukhwinder Singh, Alka Yagnik

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Filed under Alka Yagnik, Bollywood 90's Music, Sukhwinder Singh

Listening to: Rudaali (1993)

Rudaali is the story of a professional mourner. When I think of this film, I remember the beauty of Dimple Kapadia, the wonder of Rajasthan’s landscape but above all I remember the music of Bhupen Hazarika. A movie about laments and lamenters  needed to have soulful, mournful sounds which melt the heart and fill one’s eyes.  Bhupen Hazarika does a commendable job, especially with the song I have chosen to present today.  The power of the film was such that nearly 18 years after seeing it, the interwoven images and music still linger in my mind, leaving a gentle sorrow for a woman who was but a fiction of someone’s imagination. A good film with good music.

Gulzar’s lyrics are impeccable as always. How I envy a poet his power over words!! Bhupen Hazarika (born 1926) is of Assamese origins and brings an Eastern Indian touch to the music which has a Rajasthani flavour as well. He did not compose for many Hindi films and Rudaali was his most successful work in Bollywood. I am unfortunately not familiar with his Assamese work but I have a CD of his singing Bengali music which I enjoy.

Here are the songs from this album, and a link to it in MusicIndiaOnline. I think Lata’s voice quality is not at its best, but still, she is Lata and she delivers.

  1. Dil Hoon Hoon Kare – Lata Mangeshkar  Open-mouthed smile
  2. Samay O Dhire Chalo – Bhupen Hazarika Smile
  3. Beete na Beete na Raina – Lata Mangeshkar Thinking smile
  4. Samay O Dhire Chalo 2 – Lata Mangeshkar Smile
  5. Dil Hoon Hoon Kare 2 – Bhupen Hazarika Open-mouthed smileRed heart  Very soulful.
  6. Maula O Maula – Bhupen Hazarika Sad smile
  7. Jhooti Mooti Mitwa – Lata Mangeshkar Open-mouthed smile

To honour the composer, I am presenting below a song sung by him:

Dil hoon hoon kare–Bhupen Hazarika

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Filed under Bhupen Hazarika, Bollywood 90's Music

Listing to: Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999)


Album : Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Music : Ismail Darbar

Lyrics : Mehboob


This album remains one of my favourites from the 90’s. I fell in love with the music the first time I heard it, even before the movie was released. It has something unique, this album. The music is fresh yet traditional, hummable yet complex. Credit goes to both to Ismail Darbar and Mehboob, the composer and the lyricist, for this beautiful work in what was their debut in the Hindi film industry. Though both of them were nominated for Filmfare awards, they lost out to Taal, which had superb music as well. But Darbar went on to win the National Award. When I finally saw the film, the gorgeous visuals imprinted themselves in my brain and it has remained there all these years, in multi-coloured glory.

  • Chand Chupa Badal Mein (Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik) A gentle and playful song,  it won the Filmfare award for Udit Narayan. I love the sound of the violin at the end. Darbar started his career as a violinist and the violin plays an important role in many of his compositions.  Open-mouthed smile
  • Nimbooda (Kavitha Krishnamurthy) This song with its touch of folk music (film is set in Gujarat) won a nomination for Kavita in the Filmfare awards. Though she sings superbly, I prefer her songs set to a lower pitch. She does an admirable job on this fast number. Check out the nice bol at min 1:41. Check out youtube, Aish dances very well.   Smile
  • Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyan (Kumar Sanu, Kavitha Krishnamurthy) Beautiful, romantic and sultry. How can a song like this be forgotten? And the lyrics are very beautiful उठी आँखें जो बात ना कह सकीं, झुकी आँख कहते हैं। (The downturned eyes say what the raised eyes could not say). Well done Mehboob! This won Kumar Sanu a nomination in the Filmfare awards. Open-mouthed smileRed heart
  • Man Mohini (Shankar Mahadevan) I admire Shankar Mahadevan very much, both as a composer and a singer. He has done a competent job on this folksy and rhythmic number. Thinking smile
  • Jhonka Hawa Ka (Hariharan, Kavita Krishnamurthy) A slow and melodic number, it suits Hariharan’s style.  I love the interlude with the Vedic chants. The instrumental which follows resembles the sitar interlude in the song ‘Hamesha Tumko Chaha’ from Devdas (2002) composed again by Ismail Mechant. Smile
  • Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje (Kavita Krishnamurthy, Vidod Rathod) Another folksy and highly rhythmic number, I love it’s start. I find myself dancing in my chair as I listen to this! The Dhol sounds great too! Check it out in youtube, its a great dance. Thinking smile
  • Tadap Tadap (Kay Kay) Very sad number, well sung by the Kay Kay. This song won him a nomination in the Filmfare awards. Its an interesting composition, I am not sure I like the way there are so many discrete bits to it.I don't know smile
  • Albela Sajan (Ustad Sultan Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, Kavitha Krishnamurthy) With my weakness for classical music, this appeals of course. Ustad Sultan Khan is a Sarangi player, I believe this is the first film in which he has given voice. He went on to sing successfully in other films and also brought out a light music album with Chitra which I like very much. Both Shankar Mahadevan and Kavita show off their classical competence. Smile
  • Kaipoche (Shankar Mahadevan) Another folk number, it is my least favourite number in this album.  Sad smile
  • Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (Kavita Krishnamurthy, Mohammed Salamat, Dominique)  It is one of the most extraordinarily beautiful song that I have ever heard. The composition stuns and its beautifully sung by Kavita who won a nomination for this song too.   Open-mouthed smileRed heart

Today however I present for your viewing pleasure ‘Aankhon ki gustakhiyan’ – and viewing pleasure it indeed is! Aishwarya Rai makes it clear why she won her Miss.World title,  this is a beautiful song enhanced by a stunning woman..

Aankhon Ki Gutakhiyan–Kumar Sanu, Kavita Krishnamurthy

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Filed under Bollywood 90's Music, Kavita Subramaniam, Kumar Sanu