Home » Spotlight » The Best Hindi Film Songs of 2018

The sporadic practice of recreating old songs and using them in films has now become a trend. While Tanishk Bagchi is the uncrowned prince of remixes, there are other composers like Amit Trivedi (“Halka Halka” – ‘Fanney Khan’) who have been made to recreate old songs by labels or producers. While I am not a proponent of this trend, I am fine with the idea of listening to a recreated track, if the composer puts in some good effort to bring some freshness to it. In this list, featuring ten songs which I consider to be the best that I heard this year, there is one song which is a rehashed version of a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan number.

1. Aahista – Laila Majnu

Singers: Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi

Music: Niladri Kumar

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Niladri Kumar is hugely respected as a sitarist and is widely known as the man who invented the zitar, an instrument which have the qualities of both the guitar and the sitar. His five songs in ‘Laila Majnu’ are incredible in their own right but the one song that stands out and is my favourite Hindi film song of the year is “Aahista”. Kumar and lyricist Irshad Kamil weave a nice concoction of ecstasy and melancholy in equal measures in this wonderfully pleasant and addictive melody which has been fantastically sung by Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi. The lines “mere hona aahista aahista…hota kya hai aahista aahista” linger in your mind long after you are finished listening to the song. You also get to hear a bit of zitar towards the final moments of the song.

2. Dilbaro – Raazi

Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Lyrics: Gulzar

Singers: Harshdeep Kaur and Shankar Mahadevan

The fact that the film is based in Kashmir comes across quite prominently in ‘Dilbaro’. Apart from some lines written in Kashmiri, it has a bunch of Kashmiri instruments like rabab and dotara playing in the background. The song gives one an impression that it is a ‘bidaai’ number that will play when Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) gets married and goes to Pakistan with her husband. It is masterfully composed track with some evocative lines by Gulzar that stay with you long after you have heard the song. There is a very nice portion that arrives at 3:17 minutes where Shankar Mahadevan renders a couple of beautiful lines that covey the emotions of Sehmat’s father (Rajit Kapur). Through her singing, Harshdeep Kaur reiterates the fact she is somebody who deserves to be heard a lot more often.

3. Grey Waala Shade – Manmarziyaan

Music: Amit Trivedi

Lyrics: Shellee

Singers: Harshdeep Kaur and Jazim Sharma

“Daryaa” might be the most popular song from the film but my favourite song remains to be “Grey Waala Shade”. “Kaala na safed hai, ishqe da rang yaara grey waala shade” – these are the opening lines of the interestingly titled “Grey Waala Shade”.  Clearly, Anurag Kashyap’s quirkiness was at work here. Both the tune and the arrangements sound very fresh; there is a nice mix of the traditional music and modern arrangements here. The old world charm comes across very nicely in the song. Harshdeep Kaur and Jazim Sharma’s voices sound highly appealing to the ears. Both of them come together again for “Chonch Ladiyaan”, a song which, with its old world charm and melody, sounds like an extension of “Grey Waala Shade”.

4. Mere Naam Tu – Zero

Music: Ajay-Atul

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Singers: Abhay Jodhpurkar

Ajay-Atul’s sense of large-scale orchestration and melody is prominently evident in this love ballad from ‘Zero’. The use of violins add to the grandeur of the song. Abhay Jodhapurkar does a very good job as a vocalist, though his voice and diction reminded one of the way singers from the South Indian Film industry used to render Hindi songs. Irshad Kamil writes some simple but highly effective lines that stay with you for a long time. The film had a wonderful soundtrack to boast of but only a few songs were promoted before the release of the film. The full album dropped a day after the film released. Unlike the album, this one song was promoted extensively and got its due.

5. Challa Chaap Chunariya – Daas Dev

Music: Sandesh Shandilya

Lyrics: Deepak Ramola

Singer: Rekha Bhardwaj

‘Daas Dev’ was a good example of multiple composers coming together for an album, doing things their own and all of it working wonderfully for the soundtrack. The best song on the album was Sandesh Shandilya’s “Challa Chaap Chunariya”. Sandesh sets to tune a classic poem/verse by the late poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. He pays a fitting tribute to the legendary poet by weaving a beguiling tune around his verses. The lounge-ish arrangements give a hypnotic feel to the song. Papon, who has sung several compositions based on the work of legendary poets, is excellent with her rendition here and so is newcomer Shraddha Mishra.

6. Dekhte Dekhte – Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Original music and lyrics: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Music: Rochak Kohli

Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir

I am not extremely pleased at the regularity at which recreations are being doled out but Rochak Kohli does a splendid job at recreating Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s immortal qawalli “Dekhte Dekhte” for the film. Though the original was an out-and-out qawalli, the qawalli bit comes across prominently only intermittently (“who hawa ho gaye…”) in this new version. Rochak gives a nice filmy touch to the song and makes it very accessible for those who may not be very fond of listening to qawallis. There are two versions of the song – one sung by Atif Aslam and the other rendered by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Both the tracks make for a great hear.

7. Title Track – Dhadak

Music: Ajay-Atul

Lyrics: Shreya Ghoshal and Ajay Gogavale

While I am not sure if it is a recreated version of one of Ajay-Atul’s Marathi hits, it is definitely not a rehashed version of any of the songs from ‘Sairat’. The song has a heavy orchestral sound, something which is a hallmark of Ajay-Atul’s music. The song is extremely soothing and the feathery lyrics written by Amitabh Bhattacharya make an impression instantly. Though a lot of music directors seem to prefer a similar-sounding Palak Muchhal for younger voices over Shreya Ghoshal, the latter proves that her voice sounds as fresh as it did several years ago. Ajay Gogavale is a good singer but his voice sounds too mature for Ishaan.

8. Aazadiyan – 3 Storeys

Music: Clinton Cerejo

Lyrics: Shellee

Singer: Clinton Cerejo and Bianca Gomes

“Azaadiyaan” is reminiscent of the kind of sound one associates with the song Clinton Cerejo composes or arranges. The song has a lounge-ish quality top it which almost makes you hypnotic. The background is laced with subtle, electronic beats and is in perfect sync with the compositional structure of the track. Listen to this track when you go on a long drive with your loved one or after you get home after a long day at work.

9. Manwaa – October

Music: Shantanu Moitra

Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire

Singer: Sunidhi Chauhan

Composed by Shantanu Moitra, “Manwaa” is a semi-classical tune that has been layered with a western orchestral structure. The song is steeped in some wonderfully melancholy lyrics (Swanand Kirkire). The pads and the keyboard provide a nice contrasting sound for the semi-classical structure of the song. Sunidhi Chauhan sings the song fabulously well and one cannot help but wonder why her voice is heard so infrequently in films these days.

10. Balmaa – Pataakha

Music: Vishal Bhardwaj

Lyrics: Gulzar

Singer: Rekha Bhardwaj and Sunidhi Chauhan

“Balmaa” is an earworm of a number which encapsulates the attitude the two warring sisters have towards each other in the film. The ‘jugalbandi’ between Rekha and Sunidhi is incredible. Interestingly, if you watch the video of the song carefully, you will realise both the singers take turns to sing for each of the two actresses. Unlike the other songs on the album which take a while to grow on you, this one gets on your lips instantly.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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