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Rewind 2017: The best Hindi film songs of the year

Romantic to soft rock, remix to unconventional, 2017 saw some memorable tracks.

Mayur Lookhar

What would Indian films be without music? The constraints of time today may not allow filmmakers to incorporate as many songs as they once used to, but even so you ignore music only at your own peril.

The year that is drawing to a close may not have produced as many great tracks as we saw in 2016, but it still had its share of memorable numbers across genres. Invariably romantic tracks are to dear to us, but this year also produced some refreshing music and a few new voices. And there were some fine remixes too.

So, without wasting any more time, let's replay the 12 finest Hindi film songs of 2017.

12. 'Laila Main Laila' – Raees

To expect anyone to overshadow the ultimate sex symbol Zeenat Aman is wishful thinking. But Sunny Leone has carved her own niche as a sexy 'item' girl and did her best to make sure you didn't miss Zeenie baby too much. Dressed in desi attire, she left you gasping with her desi moves. The highlight was her coiled dance step while leaning on Shah Rukh Khan's shoulder.

Ram Sampath did not tinker much with the core beats of the original Kalyanji-Anandji composition, simply adding his own dimension and creating a rollicking tune. Credit to young singer Pawni Pandey, too, whose voice may not be very melodious, but still touched your heart. 'Laila' knows she is a sex bomb, and that arrogance flowed through Pandey’s voice. 'Laila Main Laila' was arguably the most popular 'item' number of 2017.

11. 'Safar' – Jab Harry Met Sejal

There is something about Shah Rukh Khan that makes him fit for journey songs. He is able to bring out the vagabond not just in his character, but also in the audience. Thirteen years after 'Yunhi Chala Chal Rahi' from Swades (2004), Khan returned as a vagabond in Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. And the song was aptly titled 'Safar', meaning journey. Irshad Kamil’s inspired lyrics and Pritam’s fine pop-rock score were backed by Arijit Singh’s stupendous performance.

Also see: Cinestaan.com's 10 best Hindi films of 2017

Crystal-clear voices never go well with rock music. If the lyrics smack of despair, the voice needs to reflect that. And there was both controlled grief and a sense of frustration in Arijit Singh’s voice.

Perhaps there is restrained suffering in 'Safar'. The hurt, however, cries out when Arijit Singh says in a toxic tone, 'Jabse gaon se main shahar hua, itna kadva ho gaya ki zeher hua, main toh rozana na chahta tha ye hojana.' The vagaries of life leave us bruised, battered and bitter. Such is life in the metros. These emotions get reflected in Kamil’s lyrics.

10. 'Zindagi Meri Dance Dance' – Daddy

Remixes were in vogue this year and director Ashim Ahluwalia gave a fitting tribute to Bappi Lahiri's composition 'Zindagi Meri Dance Dance' from Babbar Subhash’s Dance Dance (1987). Ahluwalia entrusted the task of recreating the number to Norwegian DJ Olefonken. The beauty of the remake was that Ahluwalia and Olefonken retained the original vocals of Alisha Chinai and Vijay Benedict. The original track was a slow dance number, Olefonken added rhythm and pace and turned it into a fantastically groovy disco number.

A disco number is no good without the classic easy disco moves. Such tracks rely heavily on freestyle dance moves. Serbian import Natasa Stankovic and her co-dancer were no Mandakini and Mithun Chakraborty, but they recreated some of the steps that were a rage back in the 1980s. It was a fitting tribute to Chakraborty, Lahiri and the Indian disco era.

9. 'Ban Ja Rani' – Tumhari Sulu

Fittingly, this song was launched on the day when one silly politician called for the Taj Mahal to be destroyed. The 'Ban Ja Rani' track was a firm and timely reminder of how the monument continues to be a symbol of love for most people even today.

Guru Randhawa and Haji Springer had released the track as a single in 2016. For Tumhari Sulu, Randhawa and Rajat Nagpal created a peppier, more delightful score with more meat in the music and more energy in Randhawa's voice. Add the comical but innocent dance by Manav Kaul and 'Ban Ja Rani' became a thoroughly enjoyable number. While Kaul couldn’t quite pull it off, the track offers great scope for professional dancers to innovate.

8. 'Ullu Ka Pattha' – Jagga Jasoos

The unconventional was taken to another level with the 'Ullu Ka Pattha' song shot in Morocco. Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif pulled off some delirious dance moves. The freestyle acrobatic moves beginning at 0.40 seconds leave you exclaiming ‘wow’ or ‘whoa’.

Also see: Cinestaan.com's 10 Best Actors (Hindi) of 2017

Amitabh Bhattacharya penned a joyful track that appears to have stayed true to director Anurag Basu’s brief. Pritam’s pop score was tinged with a touch of African (check out the 'ulule' refrain). Nikita Gandhi’s energetic show helped her gain a foot over co-singer Arijit Singh. Listeners and viewers could not stop tapping their feet.

7. 'Galti Se Mistake' – Jagga Jasoos

Making Jagga Jasoos was, perhaps, a mistake, but there is no faulting its refreshing, entertaining music  None of the songs were poetry, but Amitabh Bhattacharya penned catchy, quirky lyrics, none better than 'Galti Se Mistake'. Make mistakes, for youth is the age to err.

The spirit of the song was brought alive by Arijit Singh and Amit Mishra’s youthful singing and Pritam’s desi peppy tunes. But it was the unconventional yet entertaining choreography by Vijay Ganguly that had you mesmerized and made you want to join in. The song picturization was like nothing we have seen before. And Ranbir Kapoor himself hasn’t grooved in this manner before. The peppy music and unconventional choreography made 'Galti Se Mistake' 2017's finest party track.

6. 'Nachdi Phira' – Secret Superstar

Aamir Khan introduced us to the stunning talent of Zaira Wasim in Dangal (2016). In Secret Superstar (2017) he introduced us to the precocious talent of 15-year-old singer Meghna Mishra. Meghna Mishra was the true 'secret superstar' as she was the voice of the film's lead character Insiya (Zaira).

The quality of a singer Is reflected in the range of her voice and how swiftly she can move from low to high and vice-versa. Despite her tender age, Mishra sang the 'Nachdi Phira' song with ease. Perhaps the 'Main Kaun Hoon' track had better lyrics, but as a singer Meghna Mishra shone with 'Nachdi Phira'. One can just get lost in the power of her voice without paying attention to the lyrics. Her performance deserved a standing ovation.

Also see: Cinestaan.com's 10 Best Actresses (Hindi) of 2017

Kausar Munir penned yet another inspirational track that urges you to dream. Though not very poetic, the lyrics played out perfectly to the visuals (Insiya dreaming of winning a musical reality show). And Amit Trivedi provided a gripping score to go with the inspirational lyrics.

5. 'Roke Na Ruke Naina' – Badrinath Ki Dulhania

The 'Tamma Tamma' remix and 'Humsafar' tracks were, perhaps, the more popular numbers from Badrinath Ki Dulhania, but it is 'Roke Na Ruke Naina' that really stands out as a modern classic. The soulful ballad by Kumaar struck a chord with those who are truly deeply madly in love and missing their beloved.

Fine poetry is not exactly Kumaar's forte, but the lyricist dug deep in his heart to conjure up a soulful number. And it was backed by an endearing score by Amaal Malik and a heartwarming performance by Arijit Singh.

4. 'Jaane De' – Qarib Qarib Singlle

As someone who is not a big fan of Atif Aslam, the Pakistani singer surprised us pleasantly with a delightful performance in the 'Jaane De' track. Qarib Qarib Singlle was a unique film that gave birth to a new relationship status, and 'Jaane De' beautifully explained the relationship between Yogi (Irrfan Khan) and Jaya (Parvathy). Something is brewing between them but they are too scared to make the leap of faith.

The wonderful haal-e-dil (plight of the heart) track was a creation of lyricist Raj Shekhar. Perhaps not since 'Kuch Is Tarah Teri Palke' have we enjoyed an Atif Aslam track so much. Not that the Pakistani perfected sur-taal here, but there is an unbridled joy in his voice that lights up the track. And the contemporary soft rock music by Vishal Verma makes you want to go back to 'Jaane De' time and again.

3. 'Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin' – Meri Pyaari Bindu

Parineeti Chopra sang the first version, which turned out to be quite popular. However, the true magic of 'Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin' was brought out in the duet, with Chopra joined by seasoned campaigner Sonu Nigam. With new talent mushrooming, Nigam is no longer the industry's in-demand male playback singer and with this number he reminded all music directors what they are missing.

Also see: Cinestaan.com's 10 worst films (Hindi) of 2017

Apart from a great voice, Nigam has the gift of thairaav (stillness) in his voice and he croons soft romantic melodies with consummate ease. Kausar Munir penned a sombre but sweet ballad in 'Maana Ke Hum Yaar Nahin'. It’s hard to find too many ballads in the modern era that speak so eloquently about one-sided love. The music by Sachin-Jigar had both a touch of the contemporary and of the ghazal.

2. 'Sahiba' – Phillauri

The film was a gem but its average showing at the box office overshadowed its soulful Sufi music. With music at the film's heart, writer-lyricist Anvita Dutt penned some magical tracks, none more divine than 'Sahiba'. The film wasn’t based on the legend, but the love story of Shashi (Anushka Sharma) and Phillauri, pen name of Diljit Dosanjh’s character Rool Lal, was a fitting ode to the Mirza-Sahiban legend. A Sufi track sewn from the silken threads that bind Dutt’s heart, the song has to be a frontrunner for the Best Lyrics award.

'Sahiba' introduced us to the Sufi voice of Romy. Sufi singers have a distinct voice and style and you are left in awe of the unheralded singer. The final verse — Tere bina... O tere bina saans bhi kaanch si, kaanch si, kaate, kaate re / O tere bina, Jind'di raakh si, raakh si lage re — and Romy’s performance simply take your breath away. And let us not forget the brief but significant contribution of Pawni Pandey. Shashwat Sachdev has done full justice to Dutt’s divine lyrics. Some would rate it the best track of 2017, but 'Sahiba' lags a bit in terms of mass appeal.

1. 'Hawayein' – Jab Harry Met Sejal

The hallmark of great film songs is that from lyrics to music to singing, each element stands out. There is a dearth of good lyricists today but, thankfully, the likes of Irshad Kamil carry the burden manfully. Director Imtiaz Ali, composer Pritam and lyricist Kamil gave us memorable film albums like Jab We Met (2007) and Love Aaj Kal (2009). The trio came together again for Jab Harry Met Sejal (2017). 

The film was a disappointment but you could not fault its music. 'Hawayein' came as a breath of fresh air, reaffirming our belief that good lyrics are important for a classic track. Kamil’s refreshing poetry was backed by a divine score by Pritam, and Arijit Singh mesmerized us with his soulful voice, touching the depths of the listener's heart. The way he sings the last stanza is spell-binding. Not to forget that the song features the 'king of romance' Shah Rukh Khan. With this all-round magic, how could it not top our list?

What did you think of our list? Let us know in the Comments below.