9 Old Hindi Movie Songs that Stand the Test of Time
Yashica Dutt · March 28, 2018 · 3 Minute Read
While each Bollywood era has its distinct tone and reflects the signs of its times, the depth and inventiveness of old Hindi film songs make them ageless. We can’t possibly list everyone single golden oldies classic for you, but we do have nine enduring songs that’ll take you back in time.
Guide’s entire album, directed by the masterful S.D. Burman, is a lesson in all things music. Experts have long called it the greatest work by a composer for a Hindi feature film. Waheeda Rehman delivers among her best dance performances on this one as she calls out Dev Anand for breaking her trust. While the music is fast-paced and rhythmic, the lyrics are heartbreakingly sad, making this Bollywood song a one of its kind in the history of Hindi film music.
Bollywood auteur Guru Dutt’s films, sadly too few in number, were known to be exceptional in every aspect. But the music in his films somehow stood out even more. From his 1954 classic, Jaal, this hauntingly beautiful track was composed by S.D. Burman and sung by the soulful Hemant Kumar. On this track, the melody, vocals, and arrangement blend so flawlessly, that when Kumar sings ‘Bheegi Hawaon Mein Thandi Thandi Aag Hai’ you almost feel an evening beach breeze rustle your face.
In the late 1960s, Rajesh Khanna was the Hindi film industry’s biggest superstar. Between 1969 and 1971, he starred in 17 consecutive Bollywood hits while featuring on innumerable chart-topping songs. But even among those hits, the decades-long airwave-ruling streak of this song continues to this day. Listen to any Hindi film music radio station and you can still hear this song play almost daily.
Among the many melodious black and white era songs, we can’t think of a better antidote for melancholia than this cheery track from the 1961 film Hum Dono. Filmed on Dev Anand and Sadhana, it is especially striking for its lyrics. While most Bollywood songs then relied on the somewhat literary and heavy Urdu, lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi created simple, conversational words for this track that feel at home even today.
Widely considered among R.D. Burman’s best soundtracks, each song on Padosan is as memorable as it is euphoric. Bhai Battur, which literally translates to Dear Friend, was shot to look like a visual representation of its melody – sweet, bubbly, and joyful. An innocent looking Saira Banu matches the youthful charm of Lata Mangeshkar’s voice as she twirls around in a nightgown and frolics in soapy bubbles, making it a delight to watch every single time.
If this sounds deeply familiar even though you’ve never heard it before, it’s because music director Salil Chowdhury based this one directly on Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. But despite the telltale similarities and the nearly impossible task of one-upping Mozart, Chowdhury still managed to make it his own. With a Hindustani film music arrangement and Lata Mangeshkar and Talat Mehmood’s voices, even Chowdhury’s borrowed arrangement shines brightly.
Ghazals in the late ’70s and early ’80s were what item numbers are to Hindi movies today – each at least had one. The music director-lyricist duo of Khaiyyam and Gulzar were especially known for their lilting tunes that would hang in the air long after the track was over. This ghazal by Bhupendra is one such Bollywood tune that can still reach places in your heart that you didn’t even know existed.
S.D. Burman was a gifted composer but also an equally talented singer. From his 1969 hit, Aradhana, his raw and earthy harmonies summon the situation perfectly on screen – Sharmila Tagore mourning the death of her beloved while riding in a bullock cart. The cadences and lilts of Burman Sr.’s voice accurately match the jolts and bumps of both the cart and Tagore’s character’s mental state on screen. This Bollywood performance is one that still holds up.
While definitely not the oldest of Hindi films, Indra Kumar’s Dil came out nearly 30 years ago. This classic track is surely one of the most memorable songs from 1990 Bollywood hit. The lyrics are all about love, pain, and heartbreak, which you can feel in Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit’s performances. The voices of Anand-Milind and Anuradha Paudwal’s are filled with such tenderness, as the singers perform alternate verses. The result is a Hindi classic that is undoubtedly beautiful. The music of Dil won’t be lost to time because Dil is the type of love story that’s truly eternal.
For more of your favorite Old Hindi Songs, check out our incredibly curated playlist. Every track is sure to bring back memories of a bygone Bollywood era.