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The best romantic songs ever – Valentine's Day special

From 'Pyar Hua' to 'Chalo Dildar Chalo' and 'Dekha Ek Khwab' to 'Tujhe Dekha Toh', many of these love songs have stood the test of time.

Mayur Lookhar

A heart without love is a heart of stone. Similarly, Hindi cinema without music would have been cinema without soul. And more often than not the music that Hindi cinema loves is the music of love.

Over the last eight decades, the Hindi film industry has produced some timeless romantic numbers whose popularity cuts across generations. On Valentine’s Day, we present 25 such numbers that look certain to last for a long, long time, perhaps even forever. We hope you enjoy this presentation.

1. 'Bade Armano Se Rakha Hai Balam' – Malhar (1951)

'Bade armano se rakha hai balam teri kasam, pyar ki duniya mein yeh pehla kadam'. The lyrics by Indivar spoke about taking the first step in love. Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar’s young voices matched the innocent love protrayed by Shammi and Arjun Bakshi in Malhar (1951). It is moot if there has been a better song that defines first love than this classic Roshan composition. If you can think of one, put it down in the message board below.

2. 'Pyar Hua Ikraar Hua' – Shree 420 (1955)

A conman he was in this film. But he wasn't lying when Ranbir (Raj Kapoor) professed his love for Vidya (Nargis). If 'Bade Armano Se' was the first step in love, then this classic composition by Shankar-Jaikishan can be deemed the first melodious proposal, one made through the magical voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey.

3. 'Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mein Hum' – Chori Chori (1956)

Raj Kapoor and Nargis renewed their on-screen love affair with Chori Chori. As with Shree 420, it was the duo of Shankar and Jaikishan providing the divine, madhur (melodious) tunes. Lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri was the architect of this poetry. Needless to say that it was Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey behind the mike again. 

4. 'Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi' – Chori Chori (1956)

Manna Dey and Lata Mangeshkar outdid themselves in the same movie. This time around, the poet whose lyrics were sung was Shailendra. Actually, it is really hard to pick a best from Chori Chori for all its tracks are classics.

5. 'Aankhon Mein Kya Ji' – Nau Do Gyarah (1957)

Lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri’s duet sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar couldn’t get sweeter. Yes. the young woman (Kalpana Kartik) asks all the questions and the young man (Dev Anand) answers, in befitting rhyme and meter. Sachin Dev Burman was the master of this melody.

6. 'Chhod Do Aanchal' – Paying Guest (1957)

Dev Anand and Nutan celebrated love while thumbing their noses at the prudes. And if you thought people back then were prudes, you should see some of the moral police in action today. Asha Bhosle rose from the shadows of her elder sister Lata Mangeshkar to make her own mark with this song in the company of Kishore Kumar, the voice of Dev Anand.

7. 'Tumne Mujhe Dekha' – Teesri Manzil (1966)

It is impossible to say what made this song more romantic, Shammi Kapoor’s intense personality on screen or the magic of Mohammed Rafi’s voice behind the scenes. Rahul Dev Burman carried forward the tegacy of his illustrious composer father SD Burman, but, more importantly, the young composer scored his first big hit with Teesri Manzil.

8. 'Likhe Jo Khat Tujhe' – Kanyadan (1968)

This song has survived the world's transition from postcards to e-mail. Blame it on Mohammed Rafi for making it immortal. Shankar-Jaikishan proved their class yet again while unheralded lyricist Gopaldas Saxena 'Neeraj' carved his name among the pantheon of greats.

9. 'Chalo Dildar Chalo' – Pakeezah (1972)

Love comes singing from beyond the grave. This celestial track is, well, otherworldly. The divine words penned by Kaif Bhopali and Ghulam Mohammed's delightful composition just take you into a different world.

10. 'Aapki Aankhon Mein' – Ghar (1978)

Quintessential Gulzar poetry. And yet another gem sung by Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar. Aptly titled Ghar, this romantic number has been played across most homes and cutting across generations.

11. 'Dekha Ek Khwaab' – Silsila (1981)

Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar recorded many great duets. But this one, under the baton of music maestros Shivkumar Sharma and Hariprasad Chaurasia, saw them jam together like never before. The song was shot in the Keukenhof tulip gardens in The Netherlands and some parts in Pahalgam, Kashmir. Javed Akhtar has written many a great song, but it is hard to look beyond Dekha Ek Khwab for his finest romantic number.

12. 'Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun' – Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai (1981)

Much before Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora did their ‘Chainyya Chainyya’ routine atop a train, Ravi (Rishi Kapoor) professed his love for Kanchan (Padmini Kolhapure) on the roof of a train. Shailendra Singh’s unique and romantic voice drove this melody straight into the hearts of fans.

13. 'Mere Pyaar Ki Umar Ho Itni Sanam' – Waaris (1988)

Lata Mangeshkar’s maturing voice was at its peak in this duet which also benefited from the voice of the underrated singer Manmohan Singh. A late bloomer, lyricist Verma Malik shot to fame with the number 'Ektara Bole' from Manoj Kumar's Yadgaar (1970). However, later generations are likely to remember him more for this number from Waaris.

14. 'Maine Pyaar Kiya' – Maine Pyaar Kiya (1989)

This titular track is from the heart of the frontbencher, the die-hard Hindi film lover. Nothing can match the power of the song’s full-throated declaration of love. Salman Khan and Bhagyashree became overnight stars and SP Balasubrahmanyam became Khan's voice for years to follow.

15. 'Saathiya Toone Kya Kiya' – Love (1991)

SP Balasubrahmanyam was the voice of Salman Khan in the early part of the actor’s career. Southern songstress KS Chithra made her foray into Hindi cinema with ‘Love’. An early North-South classic was forged.

16. 'Pehla Nasha' – Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1991)

Though romance wasn’t the theme of this film which was more about sports, brotherly affection and college rivalries, Aamir Khan and singers Udit Narayan and Sadhana Sargam had a nation drunk on ‘Pehla Nasha’. Brothers Jatin and Lalit Pandit arrived on the big stage with this track. The acclaimed music directors Nadeem-Shravan finally had some competition.

17. 'Ye Haseen Vaadiyan' – Roja (1992)

After Love (1991), SP Balasubrahmanyam and KS Chithra joined forces for Roja, a film that revealed the Mozart of Madras, AR Rehman, and the beauty and tragedy of Kashmir to the nation at large.

18. 'Tere Dar Par Sanam' – Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Aayi (1993)

This was an Anu Malik original. Really. The film did not do well at the box office. But the romantic melody defined a generation. It will also always be included in every compilation of singer Kumar Sanu’s classics.

19. 'Ae Kaash Ke Hum' – Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)

Following his hugely successful portrayal of negative characters in Darr (1993) and Baazigar (1993), Shah Rukh Khan played the boy-next-door in Kundan Shah’s Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. Once again Kumar Sanu worked his magic. Jatin-Lalit added another feather in their cap while the track is recognised as one of Majrooh Sultanpuri's finest works in the last leg of his career.

20. 'Tujhe Dekha To' – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)

We can argue till the cows come home if this was the greatest romantic Hindi film of all time. But there is no doubt that the Kumar Sanu and Lata Mangeshkar song defined the 1990s lover and will make it to any top 10 romantic songs list. And who better to play the immortal romantics than Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) and Simran (Kajol)? Aditya Chopra struck all the right chords with his directorial debut, while Jatin-Lalit established their postion as numero uno music directors.

21. 'Kab Tak Chup Baithe' – Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)

Exotic locations. Music flowing from the hills. Ambient music for a Yash Raj Films love nest. Though seasoned singers both, Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan's voices had a youthful anixety in this song. Music director Uttam Singh did not disappoint in his lone work for a Yash Chopra film.

22. 'Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagin' – One 2 Ka 4 (2001)

A new millennium, new music, but Lata Mangeshkar only got better with age. And her co-singers only got younger. Sonu Nigam was perhaps born to sing 'Khamoshiyan Gungunane Lagi' with the living legend.

23. 'Hum Hai Iss Pal Yahan' – Kisna (2005)

Subhash Ghai's Kisna: The Warrior Poet was a disastrous film but the lone highlight was this heavenly track that was sung by Udit Narayan and the underrated Madhushree. The music by AR Rahman here was one that perhaps beats across the heavenly hills.

24. 'Tum Se Hi' – Jab We Met (2007)

Mohit Chauhan had given us a glimpse of his talent with his band Silk Route. The shy singer got his first big break in films with Imtiaz Ali's coming-of-age love saga Jab We Met. Irshad Kamil underlined why he was going to carry the baton forward from Javed Akhtar. It's hard to look beyond the 'Tum Se Hi' track as the most joyful romantic number of the new millennium so far. And let's not forget that the architect of this soothing number was Pritam.

25. 'In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein' – Jodhaa-Akbar (2008)

Period dramas with classic poetry and divine music were considered well nigh extinct after Mughal-e-Azam (1960), the ultimate in the genre. It took Javed Akhtar and AR Rahman to create an epic legend of their own in Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa-Akbar. Sonu Nigam and Madhushree gave what are perhaps their best performances.