Best Classical Songs of Bollywood

The Greatest Ever Classical Songs of Bollywood

Hindustani Classical Music in Bollywood

Bollywood music, the most popular genre of music in India and one of the most popular in the world, largely owes its existence, evolution, sustenance and longevity to the classical musical tradition, from which it has heavily borrowed, particularly during the first few decades of its evolution.

Classical based songs blossomed in Bollywood during a period that witnessed a great renaissance of musical compositions in Hindi Cinema, particuarly during the fifties, and in the process, created a trend that continued right up to early eighties. This period, particularly the fifties saw some great numbers, which inspired a whole generation of Bollywood musicians to adopt classical music and consequently led to what is often referred as the 'Golden Period' of Bollywood Music. In the process, it also created many legends whose work continues to be extremely popular even today.

Here are the TEN ALL TIME BEST Bollywood songs based on Raagas of Hindustani music. They are best due to the way in which they have preserved the integrity of the Raag (the original classical composition) and yet delivered a unique musical proposition that is reasonably pure and yet popular in the masses!

Bollywood music itself is not classical music. These are numbers composed by adhering closely to the classical Raag and sung almost to perfection by the legendary masters.

(Raag BHAIRAVI; Movie: DIL HI TO HAI, 1963)

One of the greatest classical songs of Bollywood
One of the greatest classical songs of Bollywood

Laga chunari mein daag....

Arguably, the greatest ever classical song in the history of Bollywood. It is composed in Raag BHAIRAVI , a classical music composition of Hindustani music, which is very commonly used by music composers of Bollywood. It is sung by Mannade , one of the greatest exponents of classical music in the history of Bollywood, who has rendered it with extreme precision without violating the raag, and yet incorporated enough of his own innovation to make it stand apart from other ordinary compositions. Backed by nice lyrics, written by Sahir Ludhianwi and some great music composed by Roshan, it is a perennial delight of the classical connoisseurs of Bollywood music.

(Raag BASANT BAHAR; movie: BASANT BAHAR, 1956)

One of the greatest classical songs with Bhimsen Joshi & Mannadey
One of the greatest classical songs with Bhimsen Joshi & Mannadey

Ketaki, gulab, juhi ......

This number is unique simply because it brought together two young singers, destined to achieve legendary fame in classical vocal music. Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, one of the greatest Indian classical singers joins one of the greatest classical singers of Bollywood, Mannade in what must be a contender of best ever classical vocal jugalbandi of Bollywood, set in Raag BASANT BAHAR, a classical composition of Hindustani music. Music is composed by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics written by Shailendra.

(Raag AHIR BHAIRAV; Movie: MERI SURAT TERI AANKHEN, 1963)

An excellent example of Raag Ahir Bhairav
An excellent example of Raag Ahir Bhairav

Puchho na kaise maine rain bitayee....

Another great classical rendition from the great master, Mannade, this time in Raag AHIR BHAIRAV, another composition of Hindustani Classical music. This song is in two parts, the first of which is sung by S D Batish. The music for this song was composed by S D Burman, another legend in Bollywood, while lyrics are written by Shailendra. An eternal classical number that will survive the onslaught of time, from a movie that gave us some of the best classical numbers ever heard in Bollywood.

(Raag BHARAIVI; Movie: BAIJU BAWARA, 1952)

One of the great classical numbers from a landmark musical of Bollywood
One of the great classical numbers from a landmark musical of Bollywood

Tu Ganga ki mauj mein....

A great number, almost sung to perfection by Mohammed Rafi, one of the greatest singers of Bollywood, in Raag BHAIRAVI (tal DADRA). It was composed by Naushad, another all time great, with lyrics by Shakeel Badayuni. The movie is one of the earliest in the long tradition of musicals based on Hindustani classical music, it heralded a golden era of Bollywood music that overshadowed all other forms of popular music in India. It is also a great depiction of those times.

(Raag KAFI; Movie: CHASHM-E-BADDOOR, 1980)

A great number based on Raag KAFI with the genius of YESUDAS
A great number based on Raag KAFI with the genius of YESUDAS

Kaali ghodi dwar khadi .....

A great example of Raag KAFI , this number combines the genius of Yesudas with the simplicity of Kafi to produce a great rendition, very simple and yet requiring immense expertise. Hemanti Shukla (female singer) joins Yesudas to make it eternal. Music was composed by Rajkamal for a highly acclaimed comedy of the eighties. The song is screened in a simple but innovative way and the lyrics written by Indu Jain make the song very meaningful.

(Raag CHARUKESI; Movie: DASTAK, 1970)

A great exposition of Raag CHARUKESI by the living legend, Lata Mangeshkar
A great exposition of Raag CHARUKESI by the living legend, Lata Mangeshkar

Baiyan na dharo ....

One of the great numbers based on Raag CHARUKESI, a composition of Hindustani classical music, sung by Lata Mangeshkar, a living legend, to near perfection. The music for this number was composed by Madan Mohan, who always reserved his best for Lata, who was also near the peak of her singing prowess at that time. The result is an eternal melody not only for classical connoisseurs, but for every one. The tal is a mix of Punjabi Theka and Kaherva. Ironically, the movie is a tale of how ladies in singing profession were looked down by the society.

(Rag BAGESHWARI; Movie: ANARKALI, 1953)

 A great duet, based on Raag Bageshwari by Lata Mageshkar & Hemant Kumar
A great duet, based on Raag Bageshwari by Lata Mageshkar & Hemant Kumar

Jaag dard-e-ishk jaag ....

A great duet, based on Raag BAGESHWARI (taal Dadra), which has also been very popular among the Bollywood music composers of fifties and sixties. Sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mageshkar, two great voices of Bollywood. The music was composed by C Ramachandra and the lyrics are by Rajinder Krishna. The movie is based on the tale of Anarkali, a courtesan in the palace of Moghul Emperor, with whom the Heir Prince falls in love, creating a havoc! A great musical depiction of the crisis.

(Raag BHAIRAVI; Movie: MERI SURAT TERI AANKHEN, 1963)

A great number from Mohammed Rafi, based on Raag Bhairavi
A great number from Mohammed Rafi, based on Raag Bhairavi

Nache man mora ...

Another all time great rendition from a great singer, in a movie that was a landmark for classical music in Bollywood, composed by arguably the all time greatest music composer of Bollywood, in a Raag that has been one of most popular ones in Bollywood. The Raag is BHAIRAVI , (tal is teentaal/kaherva) , singer is Mohammed Rafi and music was composed by S D Burman. Asha Parekh's dancing performance on the screen lends it an additional color.

(Raag BHAIRAVI; Movie: AMAR, 1954)

Another great rendition by Mohammed Rafi, classical music that touches your heart
Another great rendition by Mohammed Rafi, classical music that touches your heart

Insaaf ka mandir hai yeh ...

A great number, that is not just a near perfect rendition of a song based on Hindustani classical music, but one which conveys a lot, making use of the different effects of classical compositions. It is based on Raag BHAIRAVI, and sung by Mohammed Rafi - an evidence of why Rafi is considered by so many as the greatest ever singer of Bollywood (amidst protests from fans of Kishore, Lata and Mukesh, of course!). The music was composed by Naushad, lyrics of Shakeel Badayuni are special and expressions of Dilip Kumar and Madhubala (actors) complete the story.

(Raag BHUPALI; Movie: RUDALI, 1993)

Bhupen Hazarika's gift to the world of Bollywood music
Bhupen Hazarika's gift to the world of Bollywood music

Dil hoom hoom kare ....

Bhupen Hazarika has not been involved in many Bollywood movies, but this song will be enough to carry his legacy till there are people who follow classical based music produced in Bollywood. From a classic movie, Rudali, acclaimed for its bold and realistic depiction of one of the less known societies, the song was composed and sung by Hazarika, in Raag BHUPALI. The number brings out the power of Hindustani classical music and why it is considered such a great gift - a real treasure that can never decay.

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© 2012 V Kumar

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Comments 1 comment

jamshed 2 years ago

Mujhe bachpan se hi sangeet ne apni kaid me jakad rkha hai aur mai sangeet ko apni aatma se sikhna chahta hu.

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