Bombay & Bollywood Songs

Bombay. Bambai. Mumbai. This city doesn't need any introduction. Some call it मायानगरी while some call it "City of Dreams". Some hate the fast pace of this city while some just don't want to leave this city. Such is the vibe of this city. You can never be in two thoughts about this city. You either LOVE IT or HATE IT. Born and brought up in Bombay (I still love calling it that), this city has been an integral part of my life. The city has taught me many things - to love/hate people, never get bogged down by bad things, never trust anyone other than the person in a mirror & basically it has taught me to embrace life the way it is.

By now you may be thinking what nonsense I am talking of. This is supposed to be an article about films, music & other related things. Why the fuck am writing about Bombay? Aaah... got carried away. Well lets start now. Bollywood which churns out maximum number of films per year in the entire world is based in Bombay. Many directors over the years have tried to capture Bombay/Mumbai in their films & some have also used this city as a character (OUATIM, Shor In The City, Wake Up Sid!) in their films. Visually it has always been captured well by several cinematographers. I can't recollect old films but in recent past films like The Lunchbox, Ship of Theseus, Wake Up Sid!, Kaminey, Aamir, A Wednesday etc. Bombay has been showcased visually stunning.

For me it was always about music & songs. Hence I always used to find out about all those songs that were based on Bombay or depicted Bombay, its lifestyle, hardships of people living here and its madness. But most probably only one song comes to our mind when we think of Bombay and that it is classic Mohd. Rafi number "Yeh hai Bombay Meri Jaan" featured on Jhonny Walker saab. Other than that there are several other songs which describes something or other about Bombay - some are known while some are severely underrated.

So here in this article I will list out all those worthy tracks where lyricists have tried to pen their thoughts to describe Bombay & would also state that part of lyrics that I feel describes Bombay aptly. And yeah... it would always be tough to figure out which is the best song on Bombay, so I've decided to put all the songs in their order of appearance. Here goes the list -

1. Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan (C.I.D. - 1956)

Music - O P Nayyar
Lyrics - Majrooh Sultanpuri
Singers - Mohd. Rafi & Geeta Bali

Probably the first ever Bollywood song on Bombay according to me. I researched a lot but couldn't find any other song about Bombay prior to this. Guru Dutt's protege Raj Khosla's directorial debut C.I.D. was a classic investigative thriller with a brilliant performance by Dev Anand. Interestingly this song was featured on Johnny Walker's character who plays a pickpocketer & important witness in the murder mystery instead of Dev saab. Song is such a classic that it served as an inspiration to several other songs & films in future. Nishikant Kamat used the same song in the closing credit of his critically acclaimed Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008) as a tribute to Bombay's undying spirit. Mohd. Rafi's rendition was brilliant while O P Nayyar kept his music simple yet engaging. But it was definitely Majrooh Sultanpuri's lyrics that makes this song a cult classic and unforgettable. Lyrics had bittersweet quality to it where Sultanpuri brilliantly reflected that era ('50s) with lines like
 कहीं बिल्डिंग कहीं ट्रामे कहीं मोटर कहीं मील, 
मिलता है यहाँ सब कुछ पर मिलता नहीं एक दिल.

Now buildings have been replaced by skyscrapers, trams with Metro & Monorail and mills with shopping malls & multiplexes yet somewhere this city is still soulless. Another great thing about this song is that instead of shooting it in a studio they shot it on a real locations (Marine Drive, VT Station) & you can actually see in that Carriage scene where public is running behind the Carriage trying to get into the frame of camera.

Best Part in Lyrics -
बेघर को आवारा यहाँ केहते हस हस,
खुद काटे गले सबके कहे इसको बिज़नेस,
एक चीज़ के है कई नाम यहाँ,
ज़रा हटके ज़रा बचके ये है बॉम्बे मेरी जान.

2. Do Deewane Sheher Mein & Ek Akela Iss Sheher Mein (Gharaonda - 1977)

Music - Jaidev
Lyrics - Gulzar
Singers - Bhupinder Singh & Runa Laila

The best part about this film is Gulzar's screenplay. It is very simple and explores various human emotions throughout the film. Gharaonda (Nest) is a story of Sudip (Amol Palekar) & Chaya (Zarina Wahab) who belong to middle class section of Bombay and work in the same office. Sudip shares his house with his friends while Chaya lives with her siblings. They soon plan to get married and hence save every penny to buy a new house for them. They go house hunting in Bombay which suits their budget. They finally invest in a flat of an under construction building. But when their dreams were about to come to reality, a tragedy strikes their lives. Director Bhimsain Khurana beautifully explores the situation of several people dreaming of owning their house in Bombay which still remains a dream for many.

Such was the story & setting of Gharaonda that film had not one but two songs on Bombay. Gulzar who wrote screenplay also served as lyricist & trust me Gulzar never disappoints. Film's music was composed by very underrated composer Jaidev. The first song "Do Deewane Sheher Mein" is mostly shot in an under construction building where Sudip & Chaya have decided to buy a flat. Sung by Bhupinder Singh & Pakistani singer Runa Laila, song is basically a conversational number where characters are quite happy about their lives.

Best Part in Lyrics -
दो दीवाने शेहर में, रात में या दोपहर में,
आबुदाना ढूंढते  हैं, आशियाना  ढूंढते  हैं,
इन भुलभुलिया गलियों में, अपना भी एक घर होगा,
अम्बर पे खुलेगी खिड़की या खिड़की पे खुला अम्बर होगा.

The emotions of both characters were so beautifully expressed through these lines specially the last one. And for your simplicity आबुदाना stands for food & water while आशियाना stands for a home. The second song "Ek Akela Iss Sheher Main" is kind of a sad version of previous song but its Gulzar who makes that sadness even more beautiful. Song comes at that point in a film when tragedy has stricken Sudip's life and Chhaya is now no more in his life (that doesn't mean she is dead, plot twist is brilliant. I don't wanna spoil it. Just watch the film) to support him. Even song is conceived superbly by showing crowded Bombay with streets full of ambassadors, trains, high buildings & Amol Palekar's character is just wandering alone in all these places. It subtly shows that even this crowded city sometimes we are still all alone.

Best Part in Lyrics -
  इन उम्रो से लंबी सडको को, मंजिल पे  पहुँचते  देखा नहीं,
बस दौड़ती फिरती रहती है, हमने तो  ठहरते  देखा नहीं,
इस अजनबी से शहर  में, जाना पहचाना ढूंढता  हैं.

3. Seene Mein Jalan (Gaman - 1978)

Music - Jaidev
Lyrics - Shahryar
Singer - Suresh Wadkar

Even Before Muzaffar Ali made hugely popular & National Award winning Umrao Jaan (1981), he made his directorial debut with this lesser known film called Gaman (Departure). Gaman is a story of a migrant Ghulam Hasan (Farooque Sheikh) who has migrated from his village in UP to improve his living in Bombay. How he faces hardships but finally settles down in the city is the basic story of Gaman. Film is very underrated (even I am yet to watch this one) and soundtrack again by Jaidev is even more underrated. In spite of winning National Award for best music, songs never became that popular. Jaidev's classical base to the song was fascinating & Suresh Wadkar just nailed this song with his flawless rendition. It was I guess Wadkar's debut in Bollywood. But 2 brilliant aspects of this song again is its lyrics & the way it is shot. Shahryar's lyrics were just brilliant & showcased protagonist's trying to understand the lifestyle & fast life of this city. This song shows busy city life of Bombay in '70s like no other film in that era did with amazing aerial shots showcasing Bombay's skyline. Watch out for that aerial shot post 2 minutes in the video. Its simply awesome.

Best Part in Lyrics -
सीने में जलन, आँखों में तूफान सा क्यूँ है,
इस शहर में हर शख्स परेशान सा क्यूँ है.

4. Ee Hai Bambai Nagariya (Don - 1978)

Music - Kalyanji Anandji
Lyrics - Anjaan
Singer - Kishore Kumar

Another popular song that comes to our mind when we think about Bombay. Farhan Akhtar's version of Don may be stylish but it will never be as iconic as Chandra Barot's original. Vijay is a simpleton who earns some money by doing such street acts & feeds 2 foster kids. One thing that Farhan Akhtar smartly did in his remake was that he didn't make SRK do something like this & instead made him do that Ganpati Visarjan track. Because in today's time hardly anyone has time to stop in their busy life & take a look at such street acts. And now-a-days they are almost extinct at least in metros. Kalyanji Anandji's music had a folk feel with dholaks & shehnaai. Even though Anjaan tried to weave the theme of "Attraction for Bombay by outsiders" through his lyrics but real star of song was definitely Kishore Kumar's vocals. His singing had that slight UP twang which very well established Vijay's character and goofiness. Its a fun song on Bombay which is very well directed by Chandra Barot.

Best Part in Lyrics -
देखो दूर दूर से, लोग दूर दूर से,
इहाँ आते है दाव लगाने, इहाँ आते है दाँव लगाने,
देस गाँव  छोड़ के, प्रीत प्यार तोड़ के,
सोया सोया नसीबा जगाने, सोया सोया नसीबा जगाने.

I am not into much of '80s & '90s Bollywood music. Baring few soundtracks, most of the music in those decades was bland & unimaginative. There were some songs on Bombay during those times too but I chose not to write on those songs because I didn't find them that exciting. Some of them were  -

5. Mumbhai (Bombay Boys - 1998)

Music, Lyrics & Vocals - Javed Jaffrey

Even before Kaizad Gustad made crapshit films like Boom (2003) & Jackpot (2013), he made a nice English language indie dark comedy called Bombay Boys (1998). It was a story of 3 NRIs - Ricardo (Rahul Bose), Krishna (Naveen Andrews) & Xerxes (Alexander Gifford) who have come to Mumbai for a purpose. Ricardo is in search for his missing brother, Xerxes wants to make music & Krishna is here to act in Bollywood. How their lives affects each other forms the story of the film. But one character I totally loved was of Bollywood producer/Gangster Don Mastana played brilliantly by Naseeruddin Shah. It was like Delhi Belly of '90s set in Bombay. In spite of been critically acclaimed film never became that famous. Instead what became famous was this song by Javed Jaffrey. Song is a part of end credits & has gained tremendous cult following over the years with its tapori/bhai style lyrics. Javed Jaffrey's music may not have anything worth talking of but what really is commendable is his lyrics & brilliant rap sections. Another reason this song is perfect about Bombay is the way Jaffrey dons various bambaiya characters like bhai, muslim butcher, SoBo guy, eunuch, marvari businessman & parsi guy all effortlessly. Watch out for that brilliant last part & some typical tapori words like रापचंदुस, पंगा, त्रास, खोपचा & nudding.

Best Part in Lyrics -
नेता, अभिनेता या हो कोई builder,
भाई को देगा सुपारी करवाता है murder,
हाथ में उसका power है, सब उसका आगे झुकता,
उसका खोपड़ी सनक गया तोह पूरा मुंबई रुकता.

6. Ye Kaisa Hai Sheher (Paanch - 2002)

Music - Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics - Abbas Tyrewala
Singer - Dominique Cerejo

Having penned Satya which is definitely one of the finest Underworld films of Bollywood set in Bombay, Anurag Kashyap knew Bombay right since early '90s when he first landed in this city. His still unreleased directorial debut Paanch was also set in Bombay and explored the life of 5 individuals who form a rock band & are very much involved into drugs, sex & smoke. This song about Mumbai comes at that point when band wants to earn some good money & a bit of fame. Set in a posh lounge where band performs this song. Music composer Vishal Bhardwaj took the entire song into wonderful Jazz/lounge space with brilliant use of trumpets, guitars & mouth organ. Dominique Cerejo who later sang popular songs like Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein (Rock On!!) & Dhoom Again (Dhoom 2) did a wonderful rendition to this song. But song definitely belongs to lyricist Abbas Tyrewala who in his pre-Aditi days (Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na) did some amazing work. He wrote screenplay for Maqbool and served as lyricist/dialogue writer for films like Paanch, Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and Main Hoon Na. He superbly explores the loneliness, hustle bustle, selfish attitude & madness of the Bombay through his lyrics. Paanch even had a classical song called "Ankhiyan Chipki" sung by legendary Ustad Sultan Khan. Do watch out for that too.

Best Part in Lyrics -

क्या दिन क्या रात है यहाँ पर, के साला दोनों बराबर,
ना रास्ते कभी हो खाली, ना बंध होती है गाली,
माँ बेहन की याद सबको आती हर पहेर,
हल्ला गुल्ला शोरगुल ये कैसा है शेहेर.

7. Sahi Hai Re (Jhankaar Beats - 2003)

Music - Vishal Shekhar
Lyrics - Vishal Dadlani
Singer - Udit Narayan

Sujoy Ghosh's directorial debut Jhankaar Beats was an out and out tribute to musical maestro R D Burman. Composer duo Vishal Shekhar whose previous works like Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi (1999) & Supari (2003) were liked by few but it was their soundtrack for Jhankaar Beats that made them instantly famous. Their soundtrack complimented the film's premise brilliantly and even won them Filmfare R D Burman Award for New Music Talent. In a flawless soundtrack which boasted some extremely popular songs like Tu Aashiqui HaiHumein Tumse Pyar KitnaSuno Na & Ruk Ruk Rukna Na; there was this underrated yet awesome song called Sahi Hai Re dedicated to Mumbai. Penned by Vishal Dadlani himself, song was focused on transformations in the city from Bombay to Mumbai yet everything was same here. Only thing that changed was name. Vocal percussion & Udit Narayan's singing are reasons enough to listen to this underrated track.

Best Part in Lyrics -
Building है, बस्ती है, tension है, मस्ती है,
जितनी महंगाई है जान उतनी सस्ती है,
दुनिया के शेहेरो को देखा फिर भी ऐसा और नहीं है रे,
है ये जैसा वैसा भी सही है रे.

8. Boombai Nagariya (Taxi No. 9211 - 2006)

Music - Vishal Shekhar
Lyrics - Vishal Dadlani
Singer - Bappi Lahiri, Nana Patekar & John Abraham

Another Vishal Shekhar entry in this list. In spite of being loosely based on Hollywood film Changing Lanes (2002), Taxi No. 9211 was an entertaining film thanks to terrific performance by Nana Patekar. One thing I really liked in this film was that it seamlessly fused different lifestyle of two unknown people very well. In fact, I love such films where various strata of society are thrown together for a cracking story. For eg. Sudhir Mishra's Yeh Saali Zindagi (Old Delhi & New Delhi were nicely fused together), Raj & DK's Shor In The City and Abhinay Deo's Delhi Belly. Here it was a wealthy young businessman & a poor Taxi driver disguised as an Insurance agent. The reason song became instant hit was due to inclusion of famous dialogues by lead actors, Bappi Lahiri's rendition & peppy tune. Song which forms the cool opening credits of the film is also well shot & edited. Though entire song is great but my favourite lyrics here are from 2 different paragraphs.

Best Part in Lyrics -
लाख लाख रोज़ आके बस जाते है,
इस शहर से दिल लगाके फस जाते है,
सोने की राहों में सोने को जगह नहीं,
साला इधर तोह footpath भी housefull है.

उतर जाए रगों में जो तो ये नशा है,
इसकी आदत जो पड़ गयी तो ये सज़ा है.

9. Bade Sheher Ke Bade Nakhre (Raat Gayi Baat Gayi - 2009)

Music & Lyrics - Ankur Tewari
Singer - Anushka Manchanda

Coming from Rajat Kapoor's "Low budget high concept" group of films, Saurabh Shukla's Raat Gayi Baat Gayi? sadly went unnoticed just because of bad releasing strategy. Film was released a week after Rajkumar Hirani's mega blockbuster 3 Idiots. Honestly, film was a one time watch experience with excellent mix of art-house actors. Film was basically set in rich society of Mumbai specifically SoBo (South Bombay) and revolved around the themes of infidelity and marital crisis. It had one heck of a catchy soundtrack by Indie composer Ankur Tewari with couple of jazz numbers & several acoustic ballads. If you have heard Ankur's first indie album Jannat, then you will surely get a hang of what kind of music he follows. Acoustic ballads are his forte & soundtrack of RGBG had that in plenty composed by him & other members from his band Ankur & The Ghalat Family. This track was one of the 2 jazz numbers from the soundtrack which was sung seductively by Anushka Manchanda. Ankur Tewari's lyrics described the modern, selfish & rich lifestyle of people in cities & taking potshots on upper class folks' mentality. You can listen to fabulous soundtrack of Raat Gayi Baat Gayi? here.

Best Part in Lyrics -
यूँ अपने में खोये है सब, अपने से अपने को मतलब,
बड़े शेहेर के बड़े नखरे है, समजा ना इनको कोई.

एक दौड़ में भागे हे सब, फुरसत का जाने ना मतलब,
पडोसी भी है पडोसी से अजनबी, होगा अनजाना कोई.

10. Bombay Bombay (Striker - 2009)

Music - Amit Trivedi
Lyrics - Prashant Ingole
Singers - Siddharth

Promotional video

Chandan Arora is a criminally underrated director. His previous 2 films, Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon (2003) & Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh (2005) were moderately successful on box office but no one knew the director. His next, Striker was stuck for 4 years and finally got a theatrical release & simultaneous Youtube premiere in 2009. Though film was a disaster on Box Office but it was well appreciated by critics for authentic production design & performances (Ankur Vikal, Siddharth, Anupam Kher). It also had a terrific multi-composer soundtrack with composers like Vishal Bhardwaj, Amit Trivedi, Blaaze, Swanand Kirkire, Yuvan Shankar Raja & Shailendra Barve. This song "Bombay Bombay" was a promotional song composed by Amit Trivedi & sung by actor Siddharth himself. Thinking of best part in lyrics would be tough because every line written by Prashant Ingole is hard hitting & mindblowing. His choice of words perfectly describe the city Bombay/Mumbai - the City of Dreams & City that never Sleeps.

Entire Song

Best Part in Lyrics -
सपने लेके आते है यहाँ सारे, किस्मत फुटी दुनिया लुटी हारे,
कभी कंधों पे ये बिठा दे, कभी तुझे ये रोंग दे.

साला ये शेहेर भी अजीब है,
जन्नत से दूर पर मन्नत के करीब है,
मांगता मेहनत पर चलता सिर्फ नसीब है.

Building तो सब बहोत solid है यहाँ,
पर रिश्तों में वोह बात कहाँ,
आज इधर कल उधर,
किसको मालूम कल गुजरी रात कहाँ.

The Special One - Boondon Ke Moti (Wake Up Sid! - 2009 )

Music - Amit Trivedi
Lyrics - Amitabh Bhattacharya
Singer - Salim Merchant

Many may complain that lyrics of this song doesn't contain a single word that would describe Bombay but still this track is there on this list. Ayan Mukherjee's excellent coming-of-age debut Wake Up Sid! (2009) was a story of lazy, rich & aimless guy named Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) who realizes his dreams, aims & responsibilities after meeting a free spirited & independent women Aisha (Konkana Sen Sharma). This song was a part of background score (which was never officially released though Karan Johar did plan to do it post terrific success of "Iktara") which was done entirely by Amit Trivedi. Sung by Salim Merchant & penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya, song comprised of a wonderful climax leading towards happy ending. These song finds its place in this list only because of 2 reasons - stunning cinematography & classy epilogue by Konkana Sen Sharma. Never before Bombay looked so beautifully in rains with a whiff of Arabian Sea, smell of rains, breezy wind near Marine Drive & realization of love. Totally Awesome!!!

Mumbai जीतनी खुबसुरत है, उतनी सख्त भी,
अपने मंज़िल के पीछे दौड़ते हुए, 
हमारी नज़र कई बातों से हट जाती है.

इसलिए.... कुछ देर के लिए ही सही,
अपनी busy जिंदगी से नज़र हटाये और उस special एहसास को धुन्दिये, 
जो आपके शेहेर, आपकी जिंदगी को .... आपके लिए और भी खुबसुरत बनाता है.

क्या पता आपको भी एक हमसफ़र मिल जाए......


{ Manuj } at: August 26, 2014 at 2:56 AM said...

Brilliantly written, heartiest congratulations Jay

{ rajesh } at: June 30, 2017 at 4:54 AM said...

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