13 for 2013 – The Year’s Best Music! (Bollywood)

My favorite music from 2013, arranged in no particular order.

Titli (Chennai-Express)

Once in a while, megastar Shahrukh Khan comes around with yet another mindless movie that reminds you of his Ram Jaane days (Yes, we haven’t forgotten). In Chennai Express, our Rahul is over 40 and relies mostly on repeating ad-nauseam scenes from Bollywood movies we still find endearing, killing all our nostalgia for Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in the process. Add Rohit Shetty type Golmaal action to it, and you appease an audience that cannot sit through more arms and legs swaying in the wind romantic sequences. Still, it’s on Netflix and a good introduction to what real masala Bollywood movies are all about. I must admit that it was entertaining once I shut off my brain.

Tum Tak (Raanjhana)

Dhanush (of Why this Kolaveri Di? fame) is so endearing in his first debut Bollywood movie that his uncomfortable, aggressive, one-sided love for Sonam Kapoor’s character has been welcomed as a sweet, love story. Shobha De says the movie glorifies stalking and I tend to agree, but it is worth a watch, if only for the performances and A.R. Rahman’s music. It’s definitely one of the better soundtracks of the year.

Khalbali (3G)

3G is supposed to be a horror movie but the soundtrack is actually soothing, melodious and nothing resembling horror. Under-rated composer Mithoon is back with a full album after a long while, and he delivers some memorable tracks. It’s definitely one of the better soundtracks of the year. I have a playlist of only Mithoon on Spotify if anyone wants to listen to more of his sufi-influenced music.

Be Intehaan (Race 2)

Pakistani singer, Atif Aslam, gets better with each Bollywood song. However, Race 2, a sequel to Race, is barely tolerable.

Jeene Laga Hoon (Ramaiya Vastavaiya)

Jeene Laga Hoon is another romantic Atif Aslam and Shreya Ghoshal song, which ruled the charts this year, despite a lackluster movie.

Tum Hi Ho (Aashiqui 2)

I remember Aashiqui in 1990. I recall how Rahul Roy, a talentless hack with a cool haircut, became the new face of Bollywood over-night, if only for a short while. The original Aashiqui boasted of terrible acting, a weak plot, and the same old contrived formula of yesteryear’s romance: two people loved each other but their parents didn’t agree to it so they eloped. The movie was a hit only due to the splendid soundtrack. So when I heard there was an Aashiqui 2, I groaned inwardly about why terrible movies needed sequels but then I heard the crooning voice of Arjit Singh in “Tum Hi Ho” and Shreya Ghoshal in “Sunn Raha Hai” and I gave in. Aashiqui 2 was also a hit, mostly due to the music. Next time, they should just release the Aashiqui 3 soundtrack alone, and save us the torture of sitting through the movies.

Meethi Boliyaan (Kai Po Che)

Up and coming Amit Trivedi is one of the most under-rated Indian musicians. He composed three songs for Kai Po Che, and all of them are brilliant, with Meethi Boliyaan being a personal favorite. The movie, Kai Po Che, is available for streaming on Netflix, and is worth a watch.

Balam Pichkari and Kabira (Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani)

Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani is one of my favorite movies. The movie boasts of a superb soundtrack by Pritam so it was hard to pick just one song. I picked Balam Pichkari because our generation desperately needed a holi song. How long are we supposed to listen to Rang Barse?

And with its haunting lyrics, Kabira is easily the best song of the year. I do wonder where Pritam lifted these tracks from but maybe they are original compositions for once.

Sawaar Loon (Lootera)

Is that a song from the 1950s? Well, the movie is set in the 1950s and the music harkens back to the days of Rahul Dev Burman, evoking nostalgia for many of our parents. I watched Lootera during one of my trips to New York, and loved the subtlety and simplicity of it.

Ambarsariya (Fukrey)

Ambarsariya is a Punjabi song from the movie Fukrey, a low-budget caper with heart and substance. Through Fukrey, Amit Trivedi also introduced Bollywood to Dubstep, which may or may not be a good thing. The movie was also a good time-pass, and there are rumors about a sequel.

Nagada Sang Dhol (Ram-Leela)

This year Deepika Padukone delivered four hit movies, three of them earning over 100 crores. While Padukone isn’t of the same acting caliber as Tabu, Rani Mukerji or Madhuri Dixit, she gets better with every movie, and is quite possibly the most gorgeous of the lot. In Nagada Sang Dhol from the movie Ram-Leela, Padukone delivers a top-notch performance as both actor and dancer extradordinaire. She actually developed blisters and wounds on her feet while training for this song, and danced with her feet taped, probably in excruciating pain. Expect her to take home several awards at every award function that matters.

Dhoom Machale (Dhoom 3)

I almost didn’t put this on the list because I can’t stand Katrina Kaif for more than a few seconds a year. She’s awful as an actor, has ruined many good movies for me (Jab Tak Hai Jaan, anyone?), and the only thing she is good at is expressionless dancing. Besides, she’s half-white and represents everything that is wrong with Bollywood’s Eurocentric beauty standards. However, Dhoom 3 is slashing all records at the box office mostly due to Aamir Khan, so you may as well get acquainted with a real Bollywood action flick. Dhoom and Dhoom 2 are both on Netflix.

That’s all for now. I have a more extensive playlist for 2013 on Spotify. My partner says listening to Bollywood is like listening to American Top 40, and while that is true, I am not sure how else to access better Indian music.

Got any favorites to share?

Beats for Bangladesh


On April 24th a nine-story garment factory in the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed. It is estimated that over 6,000 people worked in the building and as of today, the death toll is at 1,129. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building. Brands and companies producing their clothing in the building included Benetton, Wal-Mart, Gap, JCPenney, and H&M, among others. It is considered to be the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history

Friend of this blog, Taz Ahmed, in collaboration with South Asian artists from across the country, put this wonderful album together, as a benefit for the orphans of the garment factory workers. Notable names include Red Baraat, Vijay Iyer, Mandeep Sethi, and another friend, Shahid Buttar, who is incidentally a great musician while also being the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

Taz writes on her blog:

For the past month I have been working day and night on my latest project – because ever since I saw images of Rana Plaza collapsed and all those people and
garment piled in rubble, I couldn’t help but think about how my garment industry owning Bangladeshi family may have been connected. And by default, how I as a Bangladeshi-American was connected. Sure, the family there was not directly connected, but they were part of the Bangladeshi garment industry complex that was feeding into the consumerism complex in the US that I as an activist was often fighting against. I knew I couldn’t save the people in Bangladesh directly, but I could do what I could from here. So I produced an album, with the help of one of my favorite musicians who executive produced & co-curated: Brooklyn Shanti

Way to go Taz.

The album is only $15, which is probably less than the t-shirt you own from Bangladesh.

Check it out here.



EP – Waqt (Time)

Entity Paradigm, a Pakistani pop band, broke up quite a while ago. But not before delivering one of the most telling songs that I can relate to my life.

this is how the story
goes, in and out
one minute u’re there, the
next time runs out
its a figure of speech as
a matter of fact
did u ever really think
about the time you had
its the grain that falls
every second that crawls
to the minute to the hour
till infinity recalls
its a barricade of twigs
that’s really never there
did u ever really think
that time even cares

Read More …

Ik Din Aayega – A Day Will Come – Jal the Band

Something from my favorite band, Jal. Dedicated to every person who lives their life in limbo and dreams of a better tomorrow.


Teri ankhein ab hoon gi na kabhi nam
Your eyes will never cloud over with unshed tears
Tu jo dekh le to bhula doon mein saray gham
Whenever I see you I forget all my griefs
Tu jo chahay to badlay ga mausam
If you want, you can change this season

Yeh jo pal hain inhain khushion se bhar lo tum
These moments, fill them with happiness
Woh beetay din unhain yaad phir se kar lo tum
Remember those days, days long gone

Tu jo chahay to badlay ga mausam
But if you want, you can change this season

Ke dil tu rona nahi
Your heart will not cry
Yeh khuwab adhooray nahin
Your Dreams are will not go unfulfilled
Yeh armaan saray tere hongay pooray kabhi
Those desire of yours will soon be fulfilled
Aik din ayega tu yun gaye ga
One day will come and you will become

In the meantime, focus on becoming.