The Best Film Albums of 2014

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2014 was a marginally better year than 2013 what with the listeners getting to hear a wide variety of albums coming from composers with diverse styles. The sad part was that a lot of albums boasting of some high quality songs, got unnoticed because of poor marketing and various other reasons. While old war horses like A.R Rahman, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Vishal Bhardwaj did not disappoint, relatively newbies like Sachin-Jigar and Sohail Sen further strengthened their position in the industry with hit numbers. Pritam, the busiest composer a while back, took a short break to rejuvenate himself. He promises to come back with lots of music in 2015.

You might have skipped, ignored or overlooked a couple of albums in the following list. I would request you to give those albums a patient listening. You might hate them or fall in love with them!

1. Kill Dil
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics: Gulzar

All of Shaad Ali’s films, irrespective of their fate at the box office, have always scored on the musical front. ‘Kill Dil’ was a massive album, with as many as eight original tracks. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s gorgeous tunes, mounted on elaborate orchestral arrangements, were augmented by Gulzar’s lyrics. The title track of the film, with some terrific singing by Sonu Nigam and Shankar Mahadevan, could entice Quentin Tarantino to use it in one of his films! “Sajde”, with its pleasant Sufi vibes and an old world charm, was one of the best songs in 2014. While “Happy Budday” and “Nakhriley” would compel you to hit the dance floor, “Baawara” would tug at your heartstrings with its sombre feel. “Bol Beliya” was a celebration number modelled on Punjabi folk music whereas “Sweeta” was a two-minute piece inspired by the sound of Broadway musicals. ‘Kill Dil’ has something for everyone. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy brought their sensibilities to this masala soundtrack. The album is the best Yash Raj Films’ soundtrack in a long time but due to the poor marketing, it did not reach out to as many as listeners as it should have ideally reached. The good news is that the songs got good airplay on music channels, even after the dismal performance of the film at the box office. Massy music with a lot of class – that sums up ‘Kill Dil’s music.

2. Lekar Hum Deewana Dil
Music: A.R Rahman
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya

‘A.R Rahman’s music takes time to grow’ – an adage associated with the composer ever since he made his debut. People always have their opinions on a Rahman soundtrack, whenever it releases. This time though, people chose to ignore! The music of ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’ was marketed fairly well but for some strange and inexplicable reasons, the album went completely unnoticed. Rahman created music that was completely in sync with the youthful flavor of the film. Amitabh Bhattacharya merged the lingo used by the youth with deep, soulful poetry and created magic with his first outing with Rahman. While he wrote catchy lines like ‘Chhapan Chhuri Chattisgadhi, Akhiyan Teri Naksalwaadi’, he also wrote some wonderfully poetic lines like ‘Main Ghair Mamooli Kartab Dikha Ke Ab Saabit Karun Bol Kya, Kya Hai Tu Mere Liye Seedhe Saade Se Lafzon Mein Sun Le Zara.’ Songs like “Khalifa”, “Mawalli Qawalli” and “Tu Shining” represented the youthful spirit of the film and in “Maloom”, “Alaahda” and “Beqasoor”, the listeners got some soulful melodies that can be played forever. ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’ is the most underrated A.R Rahman album in recent times.


3. Haider
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics: Gulzar and Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The music churned out by Vishal Bhardwaj has started sounding a tad familiar with respect to his earlier songs. The composer-filmmaker still makes great music, though. Vishal, who introduced Hindi film music listeners to rock music years ago with ‘Paanch’ and gave us a brilliant rock based number in the form of “Aao Na”. “Khul Kabhi Toh”, though sounds similar to Vishal’s own “Baadalon Se Kaat Kaat Ke” from Satya, is highly melodious. He composes “Gulon Mein Rang Bhare” and “Aaj Ke Naam”, based on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry and excels. The most innovative song of the album, undoubtedly is “Bismil”. The protagonist narrates a story through this song and the way Vishal has woven a tune around Gulzar’s poetry is spellbinding. The album has influences of Kashmiri folk music with Vishal’s inimitable style. We would definitely like to see Vishal experiment a bit with his forthcoming albums.

4. Rang Rasiya
Music: Sandesh Shandilya
Lyrics: Manoj Muntashir

Sandesh Shandilya had scored the music of ‘Rang Rasiya’ seven years back. It was one of the first films that Manoj Muntashir wrote the lyrics for. But, as fate would have it, the film got stuck for various reasons and finally released in 2014. Sandesh made just some slight alterations in the songs, as he did not feel the music sounds dated. The music was released but was barely promoted. Sandesh’s classical/semi classical compositions had enough popular appeal and could have reached out a lot of people had the album been promoted well. Sunidhi Chauhan sings the phrase ‘Rang Rasiya’ for a minute and a half and Sandesh demonstrates his expertise as a composer by playing with these two words for the same duration and weaving a tune around them. Sandesh tries a more modern sound with “Kahe Sataye”, where one gets to hear some wonderfully restrained piano notes. Sonu Nigam’s “O Kamini” pales in comparison to the other tracks in the album but is worth a listen because of Sonu’s expressive singing and Manoj’s thoughtful lyrics. Nothing to get disappointed about as the album has three other tracks that would satiate a music connoisseur. “Anhad Naad”, a delightful number that calls for spiritual awakening, has some wonderful jugalbandi by Kailash Kher and Anwar Khan. “Sun Balam” is wonderfully rendered by classical singer, Rajeshwari Pathak. The remixed version of the title track springs a pleasant surprise by turning out to be a carefully arranged and remixed number that, apart from its electronic sound, boasts of some Indian instruments like sarangi, which were not used in the original version. If you are looking for an album filled with rich classical/semi classical songs, brimming with high quality lyrics and splendid singing by some brilliant vocalists, you just can’t give this one a miss!

5. Dedh Ishqiya
Music: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics: Gulzar

‘Ishqiya’ had two extremely popular numbers – “Dil To Bachcha Hai Ji” and “Ibn-E-Batuta”. Vishal Bhardwaj came up with a better album in ‘Dedh Ishqiya’, but this time he had no ‘instant chartbusters’ in the offering. ‘Dedh Ishqiya’ had songs, seeped in rich classical/semi classical music that required patient listening by an average Hindi film music buff. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan got two ghazals, “Dil Ka Mizaaj Ishqiya” and “Zabaan Jale Hai”, to sing and he excelled as always. Rekha Bhardwaj’s spunky rendition of the techno-thumri “Hamari Atariya” matched Madhuri’s graceful dance to perfection. Vishal experimented by bringing in Yo Yo Honey Singh to rap for “Horn OK Please” and the result was a foot tapping number. The best track was the eight minute long qawalli “Kya Hoga”, sung by Master Saleem, Shahid Mallya and Jazim Sharma.


6. Queen
Music: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Anvita Dutt

‘Queen’ is a brilliant album, no doubt. But Amit is getting repetitive and monotonous. While “London Thumakda” reminds one of “Faarukha Baadi” from ‘Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana’, “Badra Bahaar” comes across as an improved version of the ‘Ghanchakkar’ title track; “O Gujariya” brings back memories of “Manhattan” from English Vinglish and the rest of the tracks sounded like mish-mash of different songs composed by Amit in the past. The composer had started showing signs of creative ageing in 2011 but he proved that he still has creative juices flowing in him by coming up with some fresh music in films like ‘Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu’, ‘Ishaqzaade’, ‘Lootera’ and Kai Po Che’. He seems to be back to his old form with ‘Queen.’ Having said that, Queen is a brilliant album with each and every song high on melody and carefully laid out orchestral arrangements. Even though the album has a sense of déjà vu due to its sound, it still scores.

7. Highway
Music: A.R Rahman
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

A.R Rahman joined hands with Imtiaz Ali and came up with one of the best Hindi film albums one has heard in the last decade. The music of ‘Rockstar’ has found more admirers with time and went on to become a modern day classic. Expectations were huge from ‘Highway’, the team’s latest collaboration. Highway, would probably be a good example, to justify the adage that Rahman’s music takes time to grow. Rahman refuses to make any compromises and delivers a soundtrack that strictly adheres to the theme of the film. That said, after a couple of listening, you might warm up to the album as well. “Patakha Guddi”, with its Punjabi folk setting, and “Mahi Ve”, with its atmospheric, techno sound, make an instant impression. The rest of the songs do take some time to grow but with some patient listening, you would eventually appreciate their beauty too. “Patakha Guddi” has another version sung by Rahman, which is more layered with regard to the orchestral arrangements. A music piece that stands out is “Implosive Silence” – the piece just has Jonita Gandhi humming and yet, it makes a huge impact with the various expressions of the singer.

8. Gunday
Music: Sohail Sen
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Sohail Sen has been doing very less work but he manages to impress with most of the albums that he comes out with. Sohail was asked by director Ali Abbas Zafar to create music that would bear influences of the music of the early 80s and at the same time, must come across as contemporary. Sohail managed to do this successfully and packed in the album with songs of different genres and moods. The film had “Jashn-E-Ishqa” that celebrated the bond between the two male protagonists, “Tune Maari Entriyaan” and “Assalam-E-Ishqum” as two dance numbers, the romantic “Jiya”, the sombre “Saiyyan”, the qawalli “Mann Kunto Maula” and a short, spunky title track. Gunday had a lot of variety and scored high on the entertainment quotient.

9. Happy Ending
Music: Sachin Jigar
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Priya Panchal and Ashish Pandit

Sachin-Jigar just had two solo releases in Hindi in 2014 with ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Happy Ending’. They did contribute three songs in ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ and composed a song each for ‘Finding Fanny’ and ‘Ungli’. While their music in ‘Entertainment’ was decent, they delivered a very good soundtrack for Raj & D.K’s ‘Happy Ending’. Apart from having some good to average, foot tapping numbers like “Paaji Tussi Such A Pussy Cat”, “G Phaad Ke” and “Haseena Tu Kameena Main”, it also had a soulful song like “Mileya Mileya” which only grows on you after every listening. Sachin-Jigar used their song “Meher Meher” from the Telugu film ‘D For Dopidi’ in this film as “Jaise Mera Tu” – a lovely romantic number that deserved more attention than it got. “Khamma Ghani”, though seemed out of place with the film, was a worthy addition to the album.

10. 2 States
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya

‘2 States’ does not match up to the standards of ‘Kill Dil’, the best soundtrack the trio delivered in 2014 but is good, nevertheless. A romantic film always has a lot of scope for music. The composers were required to deliver two youthful and fun numbers in the form of “Locha-E-Ulfat” and “Offo”, a love song in “Mast Magan”, a sad song in “Chaandaniya”, a dance number in the form of “Iski Uski” and a celebration song in “Hulla Re”. The album did not have uniformity as far as quality is concerned; there was a mix of brilliant, good and average numbers. All of it resulted in a fairly satisfactory experience, though.

Disclaimer: The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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