In today’s times, where every music label and filmmaker wants to recreate old songs, it is refreshing to come across albums which have original music and where each and every song leaves a lasting impression on you. 2018 was an interesting year for Hindi film music. The trend of remixing/recreating old songs and using them in films reached its peak. Pritam, who had a dream run last year, took a break from work and did not have a single release this year. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, on the contrary, had quite an eventful year (after a quiet 2017) with two exciting soundtracks (‘Raazi’ and ‘Soorma’) and one (‘Halka’) that ha fairly decent songs.
These are my favourite albums of 2018.
1. Laila Majnu
Music: Niladri Kumar, Joi Barua and Alif
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil, Mehmood Naami and Mohammed Muneem
What happens when a sitar (and zitar) maestro and a musician who specialises in rock music come together? You get ‘Laila Majnu’, which, in my opinion, the best Hindi film soundtrack of 2018. Both Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua have a good body of work behind them but this is the first time they composed for an out-and-out mainstream Hindi film soundtrack. Their contrasting sensibilities worked very well for the film and together, they delivered a winner of a soundtrack. My favourite song from the album (which is also my favourite song of the year) is Niladri Kumar’s “Aahista”. Joi Barua’s “O Meri Laila” comes a close second. ‘Laila Majnu’ is also the most underrated soundtrack of the year. The doomed fate of the film did not help the album either. If you are one of those who have not heard the album, go listen to it right away.
Music: Amit Trivedi
Amit Trivedi was roped in for ‘Manmarziyaan’ when director Sameer Sharma was directing. The two of them, who had earlier collaborated together on ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’, had even locked a couple of songs for the film before Sameer had to opt out of the film because of creative differences with producer Aanand L. Rai. Anurag took over the reins of the film and the result was another terrific soundtrack from the duo after ‘Dev D’ and ‘Bombay Velvet’. The team took a lot of brave decisions including getting most of the songs written in chaste Punjabi from Shellee. Though “Daryaa” was the most popular song from the album, my personal favourite is “Grey Waala Shade”, a song with a lovely old world charm to it.
After a no-show in 2017, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy opened 2018 with ‘Raazi’, a spy thriller. ‘Raazi’ was an album which was low on quantity – it had just about three original songs (plus an alternate version of ‘Aye Watan’). But, quality-wise there was not much to complain. While ‘Aye Watan’ was a song dipped in patriotic fervour, ‘Dilbaro’ was a wonderfully traditional bidaai number. The title track “Raazi Hai” highlighted the sense of urgency and the underlying tension running through the film. Meghna Gulzar shows that she has a good ear for music as she continues to extract good music from her composers.
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Composer duo Ajay-Atul retained two of their original compositions from ‘Sairat’ in ‘Dhadak’ and there were two songs that were created fresh for the Hindi remake. “Yaad Lagla” was recreated as “Pehli Baar” and “Zingaat” was, well, “Zingaat”. The two original songs were the title track and “Vaara Re”. You might be tempted to compare the album with that of ‘Sairat’ but I would suggest you not to do that. The soundtrack encapsulates the feeling of young love pretty well. The only thing that did not work for me is Ajay Gogavale, who owns a mature, full throttle voice, singing for a very young Ishaan Khatter.
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Abhishek Kapoor continues to demonstrate the fact that he has a good ear for music. Right from his debut film ‘Aryan –The Unbreakable’, all his films had boasted of good music. ‘Kedarnath’ marks his third collaboration with composer Amit Trivedi after ‘Kai Po Che’ and ‘Fitoor’, both of which were arguably better soundtracks. Though not every song in the album is of chartbuster variety, quality-wise there is not much to complain about here.
6. Daas Dev
Music: Sandesh Shandilya, Vipin Patwa, Arko, Anupama Raag and Shamir Tandon
Lyrics: Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Bulle Shah, Sameer Anjaan, Deepak Ramola, Arko, Munir Niazi, Gaurav Solanki and Dr Sagar
All the films, based on the late Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classic Bengali novel Devdas, have boasted of great music. Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Daas Dev’ is not an exception. The film further exemplifies the fact that Sudhir Mishra has a good taste in music. Despite having multiple composers on board, he manages to extract a largely pathos-filled soundtrack from them. The best songs on the album are “Challa Chaap Chunariya” and “Raat Din Yun Hi”, both composed by Sandesh Shandilya whom Mishra had earlier collaborated on ‘Chameli’.
7. 3 Storeys
Music: Clinton Cerejo, Amjad-Nadeem
Lyrics: Puneet Krishna, Alaukik Rahi, Amjad-Nadeem, Shellee and Pushaan Mukherjee
It is interesting to see Clinton Cerejo and Amjad-Nadeem, two (or three if you count them individually) composers who come from different schools of music share the credits for the same film/album. While Clinton does the heavy-lifting by composing three out of four songs, Amjad-Nadeem pitch in with a very impressive number as well. ‘3 Storeys’ is actually a good album that keeps you thoroughly hooked to it as you play all the four tracks on the album.
8. Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran
Music: Sachin-Jigar and Jeet Gannguli
Lyrics: Vayu, Kumar Vishwas, RashmiVirag and Sachin Sanghvi
Though 2018 was not as eventful for Sachin-Jigar as last year, they managed to come up with a bunch of interesting tracks. The duo put together an incredible soundtrack for ‘Parmanu – The Story Of Pokhran’ and it is a pity that most of the songs were not even used in the film. There were a couple of songs one got to hear in bits and parts. This was one of those instances where a soundtrack got a good film but not the kind which used it well.
Music: Jasleen Royal
Lyrics: Jaideep Sahni, Raj Shekhar, David Klyton, Aditya Sharma and Neeraj Rajawat
Jasleen Royal, proved her naysayers, one of whom is this writer, wrong by putting together a good range of songs and proving that she is far from being a composer who has limited skills or control over a fixed set of sounds or tunes. The music of ‘Hichki’ is actually much better than what one would normally expect from a film which, because of various factors, does not have much scope for songs.
Music: Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Arora
Lyrics: Swanand Kirkire, Tanveer Ghazi and Abhiruchi Chand
As is the case with most of Shoojit Sircar’s films, the music of ‘October’ strictly adheres to the theme of the film. Shantanu Moitra, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Arora create quite an engaging album keeping the script and the characters in mind. Shantanu Moitra’s “Manwaa”, which is the best song on the album, tragically plays in the end credits. If you listen to the song carefully, you will realise no other song song does as much justice to the narrative of the film as this one does.