Composing music for a contemporary Bollywood film has to be high on the list of thankless jobs in the film industry. Music labels strong-arm musicians into signing away the rights to their songs, lyricists have to fight for credit on music streaming platforms, and composers have no guarantee that every song in a film will find a home in the album — which is what happened to Pritam in Anurag Basu’s 29-song musical Jagga Jasoos. But most heartbreaking of all is that if the film tanks, the soundtrack will usually sink right along with it no matter how good it is.
How can that be fair? As connoisseurs of good music, we must be able to discern and celebrate a quality soundtrack even if it’s from a movie that bombed, or simply wasn’t up to scratch. Here then are 19 excellent albums that deserve to be heard even if the films they were in do not deserve to be seen.
1. Kyun! Ho Gaya Na… (2004)
Samir Karnik’s film made all kinds of headlines because it was the first to co-star the then real-life couple of Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai. It had some wonderful music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy that was wasted on Oberoi and Rai’s yawn-inducing love story. ‘Pyaar Mein Sau Uljhane Hai’ with its gypsy influences, the relatively conventional ballad ’Aao Na’, and the vibrant ‘Bas Main Hoon’ are all good songs if you shut your eyes to the lukewarm, insincere romance between the film’s leads. Most criminal of all is that a brilliant song called ‘Dheere Dheere’, sung by a mesmerising Shankar Mahadevan, is wasted in the film’s final 20 minutes. Highly unlikely that anyone was even awake to hear it by then.
2. Lakeer: Forbidden Lines (2004)
Choreographer-turned-director Ahmed Khan’s wish was granted when A R Rahman agreed to compose music for his directorial debut. The star-studded cast (well for that time at least) of Sunny Deol, Suniel Shetty, Sohail Khan, John Abraham and Nauheed Cyrusi, and potboiler-ish drama (although a love triangle was very dated...