Chittagong to Shanghai: 16 fantastic Bollywood albums that we're all guilty of overlooking

To be honest, there hasn't been a single memorable Bollywood album this year.

2017 has been a terrible year for Bollywood music. Repackaging old songs to create ‘hits’ became the norm this year.  To be honest, there hasn’t been a single memorable Bollywood album this year. The closest thing to an interesting album we had this year, is Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon – which was also far from perfect.

It would be also wrong to just blame the composers and musicians for not giving us good music. There are many albums (especially those by mainstream Bollywood’s four premier composers) which got forgotten in time.  It’s a mystery why these soundtracks never became ‘hits’.

ALSO READ: Humma Humma to Oonchi Hai Building: What 2017’s remixes tell us about the year’s Bollywood music

Here’s a list of some of 16 criminally-neglected soundtracks by ‘hit music directors’ to help you get over the terrible year that 2017 has been:

Shankar Ehsaan Loy

1. Armaan
Honey Irani’s directorial debut where everyone had interesting hairdos, had a beautiful album including Meri Zindagi Mein Aaye and Mere Dil Ka Tumse Hai Kehna, both songs featuring a playful piano riff in the background. Unfortunately, the film’s failure meant that no one would remember the trio’s great music.

2. Luck By Chance
Scoring for Zoya Akhtar’s directorial debut, the trio put together an eclectic mix of songs. Starting with the resolute Sapno Se Bhare Naina (with a classical bend), the carinvalesque Baawre, the splendid song from the opening credits – Yeh Zindagi Bhi, the album just had it all. And yet, anyone hardly remembers the music of this film.

3. Chittagong
Hardly seen by anyone in India, Bedabrata Pain’s film had a splendid soundtrack with heavy influences of Bengali folk. Set in 1930s Bangladesh, the soundtrack makes full use of Baul influences, replete with khol, mondira and a contemporary twist to it. The album opens with the oh-so-wonderful Bolo Na sung by Shankar himself.

4. Mirzya
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ambitious misfire boasted of some of the best music composed in the last decade. A soundtrack built around the gypsies of Rajasthan, the music obviously had influences of the desert fused with coarse electronic sounds and progressive trance. The album also featured the OMG-talented Kaushiki Chakroborty, making her Bollywood debut with Kaaga Re.

AR Rahman

1. Daud
Closely on the heels of their superhit collaboration in Rangeela, many parts of the audience couldn’t quite process the randomness of Daud’s soundtrack. A quirky road-movie along with a bunch of colourful characters, meant that the music could be anything but normal. And Rahman understood that before any of us did, which explains songs like O Bhanwre and the frenetic Idhar Daud Hai.

2. Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities
MF Hussain’s movie might have been an evolved artistic undertaking which not many people understood, but Rahman’s soundtrack for the film was absolutely spot-on. From Yeh Rishta to Chinamma Chilakamma to Sonu Nigam’s Do Kadam. The soundtrack was criminally underrated, in spite of having the best Bollywood qawwali of all time – Noor-un-allah.

3. Ada…a way of life
Another small film which got lost in time, Rahman’s soundtrack for the film was absolutely first grade. Starting with Rashid Ali’s Ishq Dawa Hai, which was refreshingly dark/broody without ever getting into moping territory, the soundtrack becomes progressively happier with Hawa Sunn Hawaa and Gulfisha, both sung by Sonu Nigam.

4. Jhootha Hi Sahi
A good sountrack wasted on a terrible, terrible film – the soundtrack saw Rahman use a lot of electronic influences since the film was set in London. This is the soundtrack where singer Rashid Ali took centre-stage with Cry Cry and Call Me Dil. It also had Sonu Nigam’s brilliant song Do Nishaaniyaan, which the film had no business.


1. Shabd
Leena Yadav’s film featured the work of a sprightly-version of the duo – when they were experimenting with new sounds in nearly all films while keeping it mainstream. Similarly with this film, the duo composed the brilliant Khoya Khoya and Bolo Na, both of which were wasted on Zayed Khan.

2. Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.
Reema Kagti’s off-centre debut, had an in-form Vishal Shekhar pushing the limits of contemporary Bollywood music. The bass-heavy Sajna Ji Vaari Vaari became famous at that time, along with Pyaar Ki Yeh Kahaani which had heavy Spanish influences of Salsa music. Even the lesser-known songs like Shreya Ghoshal’s Jaane Hai Woh Kahaan deserved more recognition.

3. Shanghai
Dibakar Banerjee’s fantastic film saw the duo reinvent themselves to create the ‘item number’ (Imported Kamariya) along with the street procession song (Bharat Mata Ki). They even composed another two songs Duaa and Khudaaya which didn’t make it to the final film, but are so good that they deserve a situation of their own.

4. Banjo
Composing a film around a single instrument, Vishal-Shekhar’s soundtrack evenly balanced its use for the film’s different situations. And they managed to compose an album which was unabashedly street, mainstream and were still great melodies.

Amit Trivedi

1. Striker (one song)
For Siddharth’s film, which featured many composers including Blaaze, Shailendra Barve and Yuvan Shankar Raja – the song that stood out the most was Amit Trivedi’s zany Bombay Bombay. Sung by the actor himself and featuring additional vocals of Trivedi, this was classic Amit Trivedi.

2. I Am
Onir’s fantastic movie featured 3 songs by Amit Trivedi including the brilliant Yeh Bangur Jaisi Duniya sung by the rustic Mame Khan. Featuring rough electronic influences, the songs of this album were perfectly folkish.

3. Aiyyaa
Dreamum Wakeupum was a huge hit when the trailer dropped, but as soon as the film released it alieanted its audience, deeming the soundtrack completely irrelevant. Which means, people missed out on Shreya Ghoshal’s brilliant outing with Mahek Bhi and also weirdly off-centre What To Do (featuring Sneha Khanwalkar).

4. Bombay Velvet
Anurag Kashyap’s epic crash-and-burn film would mean that Amit Trivedi’s meticulous 14-track album would sink too. Something the musician had spent 18 months putting together, didn’t have a single ‘hit song’. Even though the album beautifully recreated the Jazz of the 1950s Hindi film music through songs like Naak Pe Jo Gussa, Ka Kha Ga and Sylvia.

Bollywood music has often rested on the film’s box office fate, to find mention amongst the masses. We owe a debt as great to music composers as much as to the film stars, it’s time to show that by remembering their work.