The year of extremes

The year of extremes
Musically, film music touched extremes — from awesome to awful! — in 2015. There was also little connection between musical and lyrical calibre and popularity. It was all about how aggressively songs were promoted in various media.

Certain trends in the last many years continued. Like the fact that songs were largely independent promotional tools and their lyrics, music and visuals were not necessarily linked to the plot of the film — a malaise that started two decades ago with Rangeela. The traditional maxim of a song telling a part of the story musically was not followed in most cases.

GenY continued to seek transient pleasures in ‘groovy’ songs, with their never-quenching thirst for a supply that thus gave little premium to quality or aesthetics, forget longevity.

Every film album that mattered (revenue-wise!) had to have an appealing video, whether it was a part of the script, a tagged-in “item”, an end-credit song or just a promotional number not used in the movie. There were more compulsions: a variety of liked or novel voices and standard “saleable” elements like the use of hybridised English, youth-friendly hooks and — even if incomprehensible or ungrammatical — phonetically neat-sounding Urdu (termed a Sufiana colour) and Punjabi. So pronounced was the Punjabi content that a wag quipped that he hoped that Punjabi films would now be studded with Hindi songs. Music also took another major departure from the original: for the first time in 2015, more significant movies had multiple composers rather than single entities at the musical helm.

The chartbusters
Strangely enough, despite all this escapism, the unanimous top song of the year purely as an audio track was the elegant and zingy “Sooraj dooba hai” from Roy, composed by Amaal Mallik and sung by Arijit Singh with Aditi Singh Sharma. This flop film broke the recent tradition of a poor box-office performer’s music sinking into anonymity by becoming the highest-selling music album of the year, with another winner, “Chitthiyaan kalaiyaan” composed by Meet Bros. Anjjan and warbled by Kanika Kapoor. Ankit Tiwari’s “Tui hai ke nahin” was another hit.

Arijit Singh continued to be the most in-demand singer for the third year in succession, getting to sing an array of diverse songs. Kanika Kapoor, on the other hand, was the passing sensation, also getting other popular numbers, despite her creative limitations and a severe lack of variation in singing skills.

Another entertaining number that zoomed up the charts was “Banno tera swagger” sung by Brijesh Shandilya and Swati Sharma and composed by Tanishk and Vayu as their sole contribution to Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

Ek Paheli-Leela also had a few winners: “Tere bin nahi laage jeeya” re-created by Amaal Mallik from a Pakistani Uzair Jaiswal number and “Desi Look” sung by Kanika and composed by Dr Zeus.

Three flop movies from the Bhatt stable also made ripples for some of the songs, Khamoshiyan (“Khamoshiyan,” “Tu har lamha” and “Baatein yeh kabhi na”), Mr X (“Tu jo hain”) and Hamari Adhuri Kahani (the title-track), proving that the Vishesh Films’ musical magic was on the wane but still having some sparks left.

Passing winners at the charts due to aggressive promotions included “Katra katra” (Alone), “Teri meri kahaani” (Gabbar Is Back), “Tung tung baaje” (Singh Is Bliing), “Bezubaan phir se” and “Sun saathiya” (ABCD 2), “Afghan jalebi” (Phantom), “Matargashti” (Tamasha) and, purely because of Salman Khan’s rendition, “Main hoon hero tera” (Hero).

Lost treasure
The small film, Ishq Ke Parindey, had two beauties composed by small-time composer Vijay Vermaa that would have been a rage in better setups: KK’s splendid “Dil todke jaanewale” and Sonu Nigam’s duet with a new singer Keka Ghoshal, “Ek hatheli teri ho”. Lost to the world also were the soothing Shreya Ghoshal lullaby “Gaaye jaa” and the Sonu-Neeti Mohan duet “Sapna jahaan” from Ajay-Atul’s Brothers, also one of the year’s lyrically finest songs (Amitabh Bhattacharya).

Upwardly Mobile
Besides Arijit Singh and music maker Amaal Mallik, the foremost upwardly-mobile talents were singer Neeti Mohan and lyricists Amitabh Bhattacharya, Rashmi Virag (a Bhatt favourite now) and Mayur Puri (Bajrangi Bhaijaan, ABCD 2).

Pritam continued to be top gun among the composers, Irshad Kamil among the lyricists and Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Nigam and KK continued their hold on quality. But thanks primarily to T-Series and the Bhatts, piecemeal composers Jeet Gannguly, Mithoon, Ankit Tiwari and Meet Bros. Anjjan continued to deliver popular numbers, ditto lyricists Kumaar and Shabbir Ahmed.

Standout albums of the year
By leaps and bounds, the four big albums of the year were the Sanjay Leela Bhansali-composed Bajirao Mastani, Pritam’s splendid Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sachin-Jigar’s intense Badlapur and M M Kreem’s melodious Bahubali-The Beginning (the dubbed Hindi version’s appeal was naturally diluted within the film due to the dubbing and the general Southern ethos, but the audio, along with lovely lyrics by Manoj Muntashir, stood out).

Four more scores stood out for their overall calibre: Pritam’s Dilwale, Krsna’s Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Himesh Reshammiya’s Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo and Anu Malik’s Dum Laga Ke Haisha.

As also, Mayur Puri’s beautifully penned “Chicken kuk-doo-koo” and the chartbusting “Selfie le le re” (Bajrangi Bhaijaan) to the exceptional Arijit Singh rendition of “Aayat” (arguably the most haunting song of 2015), these scores probably represented the true sargam of 2015.

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