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From Ikk Kudi to Ek Do Teen — the best & worst of Bollywood music this decade

The decade saw a sea change in the kind of music Bollywood produced, courtesy a more discerning audience.

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This past decade has been important for Indian cinema for many reasons. One could almost map the major shift in the way we make and view films now, when compared to 2010. One aspect of Bollywood where this paradigm shift is evident is in music.

Earlier, one movie would have one composer. Now, it has an ensemble cast of composers. This also means each one is less concerned about how his or her song fits into the movie’s tone, and more worried about dropping the big hit.

Still, there are many who are fighting the system to produce sounds that go back to the roots of music — meaningful lyrics with innovative beats and Indie music are no longer as unusual as they were at the start of the decade, when the likes of ShaitanLove Sex Aur Dhokha and Gangs of Wasseypur were the exception to the rule.

It’s extremely hard to list just 10 songs out of such an eventful decade that were memorable in good or bad ways, but here is an attempt.

Songs that make us cringe:

Ek Do Teen (Baaghi 2, 2018): This remix of the original superhit starring Madhuri Dixit was a travesty for more than one reason — it was jarring and badly composed, and the dance video that went along with it just made it worse. Jacqueline’s performance, too, was an insult to the classic that made India fall in love with Madhuri.

Fevicol Se (Dabangg 2, 2012): It was the year of sexism, because this gaudy song became a major hit despite its problematic lyrics and rudimentary beats. The lyrics literally commodify the woman singing it, with lines like, “Main toh tanduri murgi hoon yaar, gatkale saiyan alcohol se.” The fact that even young children were singing and dancing this song set off alarm bells and the filmmakers faced severe backlash, especially post the 2012 bus gang rape in Delhi, which set off a wider conversation about the role of popular culture in creating rape culture.

Ice Cream Khaungi (THE Xpose, 2014): A deadly combination of Himesh Reshammiya and Yo Yo Honey Singh makes for a confusing, nonsensical and downright strange number that you would do anything to forget. The music is (badly) inspired by ’60s music and has Reshammiya sporting a suit and a serious expression, while a woman sings, “Ice cream khaungi/Kashmir jaaungi/Sholon mein bhadke jiyaa.” While the absurdity of the entire number can be laughed off, it’s astounding that so much money was put into producing such sub-standard work.

Caller Tune (Humshakals, 2014):Mujhe apni bana le caller tune soniye/ Everytime I see you/ I’m over the moon soniye/ Tujhe chahun summer, winter, monsoon, soniye!

Possibly the worst song from the worst film of 2014, this song will make a five-year-old’s lyrics look Grammy-worthy. While the ‘comedy’ film had many issues, its music, composed by Reshammiya, the song makes no sense, adds no value to the film and just perpetuates Bollywood’s love for white extras.

Tinku Jiya (Yamla Pagla Deewana, 2010): Ah, a 60-year-old drunk man creepily trying to romance a woman 40 years his junior — classic Bollywood. The lyrics literally tells you to ‘rub the toothpaste of love’ — “Pal pal na maane tinku jiya, haan tinku jiya / Isak ka manjan ghisey hai piya.” Can it get more gross? We don’t think so.

What you should listen to instead

Gulon Mein Rang Bhare (Haider, 2014): Taken from the famous ghazal by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, this song acts as a soothing balm for a broken heart. The lyrics become even more meaningful when you consider the context it is set in — a Shakespearean drama with Kashmir as the backdrop. The combination of Vishal Bhardwaj’s composition and Faiz’s lyrics elevates the relationships explored in the film as well — between Haider and his mother and between Haider and Arshia.

O Womaniya (Gangs Of Wasseypur, 2012): This quirky, underrated number is a great song for many reasons — it’s unconventional, funny and empowering. The song is used to show the transition of Faizal Khan and Mohsina’s relationship — which is equally unconventional. Not to mention, the song does dole out good advice.  

Ikk Kudi (Udta Punjab, 2016): Sung by Shahid Mallya, this Punjabi song went viral thanks to its beautiful lyrics and equally beautiful rendition. Based on a poem by Punjabi poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi, the soulful number acts like a missing persons ad for love. In the film, it also symbolises hopelessness and the struggle to break through.

Patakha Guddi (Highway, 2014): An upbeat song, this feminist number not only plays up the ‘boisterous’ girl but also evokes imagery of powerful women. In the film, Alia Bhatt’s character is defined by this song as she is defiant and strong even in times of crisis and abuse. Composed by A. R. Rahman and sung by the Nooran sisters, the song dominated the charts in 2014.

Kabira (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2013): While this became an anthem for the broken-hearted, it is actually a thought-provoking song that spells frustration and hopelessness. It demands responsibility, compassion and groundedness from a lover. Sung by Rekha Bhardwaj and Tochi Raina, it was the defining song of the film — which was a box-office hit.

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