These days, a lot of filmmakers opt for or are sometimes forced to take multiple composers in their films by the music companies. The music of films like ‘Sanam Re’, ‘Baaghi’, ‘Junooniyat’ and ‘Baar Baar Dekho’, among others, which had more than one composer at the helm of affairs went on to become quite popular. But, seasoned directors continued to pick one composer and let him/her create the entire soundtrack for the film. Incidentally, most of the albums that feature on our list had just one (solo composer/duo/trio) credited with composing the music for the album.
Click on the film title to read the full music review, where available.
1. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
No other soundtrack this year made me feel as exuberant as ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ did. I have always had doubt on Pritam’s ability to compose Indian melodies but in “Channa Mereya”, he delivered the best Hindi film song of the year. While there were romantic numbers like “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, “Channa Mereya” and “Bulleya”, you also find yourself tapping your feet to bouncy tracks like “The Breakup Song” and “Cutie Pie.” There was also “Alizeh” which underlined the dynamics of the relationship shared by Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and Alizeh (Anushka Sharma). The deluxe edition of the album which came out a little later had a reprised version of “Bulleya” sung by Arijit Singh and the wonderfully immersive “Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo”.
The colossal failure of the film at the box-office ensured that the music would never reach out to a larger gamut of listeners. Most of the songs in the album were the kind which would take time grow on an average listener but if you are looking for quality music within the mainstream Bollywood space, look no further. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra continues to have a good repertoire of films with excellent music. After the grossly underrated soundtrack of ‘Kill Dil’ (2014), Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Gulzar deliver yet another soundtrack, which despite its high quality, failed to reach out to listeners.
Over the years, one had stopped expecting spectacular music from Salman Khan’s films. But, ‘Sultan’ changed things and how! It is one of the best soundtracks scored by Vishal and Shekhar and the best music one has heard in a Salman Khan starrer in years. The album had as many as eight tracks and not a single track was the kind that would hurt your ears. The soundtrack did complete justice to theme and the rustic milieu of the film. Apart from the composition, lyrics and vocals, it is the finely designed orchestral arrangement, courtesy Sameeruddin, which stood out in this album.
Clinton Cerejo, in a career spanning two decades, has worked as a vocalist, arranger, programmer, composer and a music producer. While in the past, he had composed sporadically for films like ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’, with ‘Jugni’ he proved that he holds so much promise as a composer. The film, which traced the journey of a music producer in search of a voice that would do wonders to her composition, served as the perfect palette for Clinton to prove his mettle as a composer. Later this year, he put together some decent songs for ‘TE3N’ and ‘Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh’ but ‘Jugni’ was several notches above these albums.
While ‘Fitoor’ failed to create the buzz at the box-office, Abhishek Kapoor lived up to his reputation of being a filmmaker who knows his music. The last couple of albums scored by Amit Trivedi had music which mildly reeked of creative bankruptcy as the composer seemed to be recycling his old tunes again and again. Amit put those days behind him as he created a dew fresh soundtrack consisting of compositions that do not come across as leftovers from his earlier albums. ‘Fitoor’ was a highly immersive soundtrack that was in sync with the film and at the same time, had tremendous repeat value.
6. Udta Punjab
A lot of credit must go to writer-director Abhishek Chaubey and co-writer Sudeep Sharma for finding out some really pertinent points where songs could be placed into the film. The scene in which Tommy (Shahid Kapoor) is indulging in a fight with some goons as “Ikk Kudi” plays in the background was one of the most memorable moments from the film. After two successful musical collaborations with Vishal Bhardwaj, Abhishek Chaubey strikes a good professional partnership with Amit Trivedi and gives the listeners a highly engaging soundtrack. Amit gives a fresh new spin to the kind of Punjabi music Bollywood is known to churn out and delivers a winner of an album.
7. Tum Bin 2
The music of ‘Tum Bin’ (2001) was a highpoint in Nikhil-Vinay’s chequered career as music directors. The composer duo has faded into oblivion and the reins for the music of the second instalment in the franchise were handed over to Ankit Tiwari. Ankit put in some sincere effort towards composing the music for his first solo album as a music director. Each song in the album had its own distinct identity and did not sound jaded like most of Tiwari’s recent compositions from other films. ‘Tum Bin 2’ was a highly engaging soundtrack without a single song that would make you go for the forward button.
8. Mohenjo Daro
‘Mohenjo Daro’ was, perhaps, A.R. Rahman’s least talked about Hindi film albums in the recent times. The failure of the film scrapped away whatever little chance the music had to become popular. It is not an easy album to like and most of the songs will take their own sweet time to grow on you. The earlier three soundtracks that Rahman put together for Ashutosh Gowariker were path-breaking in their own right and grew on listeners in a very little time. This soundtrack was faithful to the theme of the film and had some commendable songs/music pieces that would grow on the listener with patient hearing.
Amaal Mallik seems to be going from strength to strength as he is belting out quality music consistently. Even Ankit Tiwari, who disappointed with his last few outings, delivered a good, foot-tapping number in “Dil Cheez Tujhe Dedi”. With names like Nikkhil Advani and Bhushan Kumar associated with the project, one knew that even an intense thriller like ‘Airlift’ would carry a couple of tuneful songs. However, what one got is more than one expected. Most of the songs from the album turned to become popular. The music turned out to be a big selling point for a slightly offbeat film like this.
10. Rock On!! 2
The music of Rock On!! 2 was not as good as that of Rock On!!. Still, it worked for me. Unfortunately, for most people it did not. Unlike ‘Rock On!!’, Farhan Akhtar was not burdened with the responsibility of singing too many songs and Shraddha Kapoor (a revelation) was given ample opportunity to shine as a vocalist. Despite having a rock sound that dominates the album, the music of ‘Rock On!! 2’ sounded quite different from that of ‘Rock On!!’. In spite of the parameters they were bound by, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy manage to experiment and plug in different kind of sounds while keeping the rock music element intact.
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