Most music connoisseurs consider the 50s and 60s as the golden era of music. All the music directors of this era were at the height of their creativity and prowess. The 70s saw a gradual decrease in melodic content with each passing year, due to the increase in crime oriented, dishum-dishum films leaving little scope for melody. The 80s saw plenty of techno and disco oriented music, with melodies a rarity. I paid very little attention to music during the 70s and 80s, but my interest perked up when I started hearing a number of romantic melodies from the 90s.
Music directors like Anu Malik, Nadeem-Shravan, Viju Shah and Jatin-Lalit deserve a lot of credit for creating a number of genuine, musical hits with pleasing, romantic melodies during these years. These songs are not high pitched, percussion heavy but are very soulful and pleasant. In many cases, the composers also used technology and instruments imaginatively to create attractive embellishments to the melodies.
While there were several romantic melodies from the 90s, this decade was also known for innumerable charges of plagiarism levelled against almost all music composers. Apart from copying western songs, composers like Anand-Milind also used South Indian hits extensively in their films. The song Dhak Dhak Karne Laga (Beta), a super hit song on Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor, is a straight copy of an Ilayaraja chartbuster from Telugu, Abba nee teeyani debba.
Some of the romantic melodies from the 90s were also breakthrough films for some composers and singers that enabled them to grab the limelight and rise to the top. Roja was a breakthrough film for A R Rahman and he had a number of notable films in the 90s – I will devote a separate post for this genius.
Here is a playlist of 20 romantic melodies from the 90s.
( A tip to enhance your listening pleasure: When listening to the songs in the playlist, if you want to browse further on this site or another one, open a new window for further browsing. The player will continue to play the songs in the current window while you are browsing)
Anu Malik who debuted in 1978 had a lackluster period in the 80s. Later, he started using more of western arrangements and orchestration and finally got a big breakthrough with Baazigar. Anul Malik must be credited with creating outstanding music despite the fact that this movie was all about deception, crime and murders. The title song Baazigar O Baazigar is a good example of romantic melodies from the 90s, with attractive orchestration and arrangements, especially the imaginative use of the violin.
Nadeem-Shravan also had a lackluster period prior to the release of their breakthrough movie Aashiqui in 1990. Apart from Nadeem-Shravan, this was also a breakthrough movie for Kumar Sanu and Anuradha Paudwal. For listeners who were groomed on Rafi and Kishore, there were a number of years of disappointment where many aspiring singers tried to sound like Rafi, but failed to make an impact on the listeners. Kumar Sanu came as a welcome relief during these times. The initial reaction to Kumar Sanu’s voice in Aashiqui was negative for a number of people, till the voice grew on them. Nazar ke saamne and Saanson ki zaroorat were two popular songs among many other popular songs from this movie.
Anuradha Paudwal, who got a big boost with Aashiqui competed briefly with Alka Yagnik for the top spot among female singers, but gradually faded out.
Viju Shah (son of Kalyanji, the elder brother in the famous Kalyanji-Anandji duo) had a major role to play in the music of Tridev in the late 80s. He was an arranger and musician for a number of music directors. Mohra was his breakthrough movie as a composer. Again, Viju Shah deserves a lot of credit for creating a blockbuster musical hit in a movie full of gory killings, revenge and deception. Subah se lekar shaam tak is a delightful romantic melody with pleasant arrangements.
Jatin-Lalit were popular even before Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. However, this movie can perhaps be considered as the ultimate of all breakthroughs, having smashed a number of records. Tujhe dekha to ye jaana sanam became a benchmark among all the romantic melodies from the 90s.
The soft, crooning voice of Kumar Sanu was a perfect fit for many soulful and romantic melodies from the 90s. Do dil mil rahen hain from Pardes is a good example of a soulful melody with meaningful lyrics. The easy flowing Ek ladki ko dekha from 1942: Love story (R D Burman’s swan song) is one more feather in Kumar Sanu’s cap.
Na kajre ki dhaar also from Mohra, was a lovely melody in the voices of Pankaj Udhas and Sadhana Sargam. Interestingly, this song written by Indivar, was originally recorded as a Kalyanji-Anandji composition in Mukesh’s voice, but was never used in any film. I do not want take anything away from Pankaj Udhas or Sadhana Sargam, but I urge you to hear the original Mukesh song (click below). You will realize why Mukesh was loved by so many fans, mainly because of his crystal clear diction, emphasis on key words and his unique soulful rendition of any song.
Chupana bhi nahin aata from Baazigar and Pehla pehla pyar hai (Hum aapke hain kaun) are also soft, romantic and soulful melodies. Saajan also featured some soulful numbers from Nadeem-Shravan like Jiye to jiyen kaise and Mera dil bhi kitna paagal hai.
Jatin-Lalit came with a strong pedigree – they are nephews of Pandit Jasraj. Most of their songs are wonderful melodies with a strong classical and folk connection. In addition, they created several chartbusters using instruments and arrangements creatively to add attractive embellishments to the main melody.
Pehla Nasha (Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar) is a super hit song with lovely use of the piano. Another of their super hits, the title song of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai has a very attractive rhythm pattern with percussion instruments in the prelude that can also be heard in several places in the song. In a similar vein, they made superb use of guitar and percussion to create an attractive rhythm pattern in Jo haal dil ka (Sarfarosh).
Jatin-Lalit also created a song with pleasant use of saxophone and chorus in Meri duniya hai (Vaastav).
Nadeem-Shravan were known for their use of the same repetitive rhythm pattern and not for imaginative use of instruments or arrangements. However, Tumhe apna banane ki kasam (Sadak) features pleasant use of guitar. Two songs from Deewana also feature attractive, fast paced arrangements – Aisi Deewangi and Sochenge tumhe pyaar. Sochenge tumhe pyaar has lovely sitar and flute embellishments. Incidentally, Aisi deewangi is based on a Rajan-Nagendra superhit song in Telugu, Merupula Raali.
Uttam Singh, for some strange reason, did not have many Hindi films to his credit, despite creating the blockbuster songs in Dil to Paagal hai. Arre re Arre ye is a lovely song with interesting arrangements including the beautiful sound of the whistle.
As mentioned earlier, Anu Malik made the transition to western instruments and arrangements and shot to popularity. Some of his songs were melodious and endearing, but it appears that he carried his enthusiasm for arrangements too far and created lengthy songs with long preludes and interludes. In some cases, the antras are longer than usual and occassionally, he repeats the same lines over and over again. All his songs in Border vary from 7 minutes to 10 minutes in length!
Consider the soft and soothing song Raah mein unki (Vijaypath). Apart from the lengthy prelude and antras, he also literally translates the lyrics about rain into the sounds of the rain. Churake dil mera (Main Khiladi Tu Anari) is an attractive song that has lengthy antras and for good measure, Anu Malik also added a lengthy ending.
The 90s were pleasant with a number of musical hits created by talented composers. They dared to swim against the tide and brought melody back into film music. Hats off to the composers, lyricists and singers who created these romantic melodies from the 90s.