The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time

The best music albums from classic Bollywood have been chosen. Which songs made the list of Bollywood’s top 30 greatest?

Raj Kapoor Nargis Iconic BarsaatIntroduction

Welcome to the greatest music of classic Bollywood! We at Mr. and Mrs. 55 – Classic Bollywood Revisited! have compiled our ultimate list of the top 30 best classic Bollywood film soundtracks of all-time. Music is the very soul of classic Bollywood, a legacy of beauty and style that once lit the world. These soundtracks showcase the most talented artists of Bollywood and are as diverse and transformative as the films to which they lent their magic. Long after the cinema lights fade, this music remains in the air, haunting us with desire, sustaining us through tragedy, and enchanting our daily experiences in the world.

Soundtracks of all Hindi films released between the years of 1945 to 1985 were considered and ranked based on the merit of lyrics, musical composition and complexity, historical and cultural value, vocal performance, and accomplishments of the soundtrack elements as an ensemble. Topping our list are composers Sachin Dev Burman, Rahul Dev Burman, Naushad, and the duo Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal (often credited as Shankar-Jaikishen) whose works both defined and reinvented Bollywood. Like our enormously popular list of the Top 30 Greatest Classic Bollywood Films of All Time, these soundtracks embrace the unexpected.

The advent of music in Bollywood binds the stormy history of a shackled India emerging from depression and war with the golden age of Hollywood musical film. Many believe that films with de rigeur musical numbers is a unique hallmark of Hindi cinema. However, the early “talkie” pictures of India such as Alam Ara (1931) were heavily influenced by the popular western films like The Jazz Singer (1927) and Showboat (1929) in which the new sound technology instantly propelled musical film as the most profitable genre. Hollywood directors like Busby Berkeley whose signature spectacle was the mass ornament and nimble-footed singer-dancers like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers helped contribute to the hundreds and hundreds of musical films cherished by the western world during the 1930s-1950s. The then universal convention of five to seven musical numbers peppering a film was easily embraced and adapted by Hindi movie directors who introduced Hindustani musical traditions to their work. Playback singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar, and Asha Bhonsle were as celebrated as the actors for whom they lent their voices. Often before a film was released, a Bollywood movie’s soundtrack was played repeatedly on the radio, reaching the hearts of millions across the country who may not have afforded the luxury to see the actual film in theatres.

While Hollywood eventually diverged from the musical film genre by the late 1960s, India was awakening to its own golden era of film in which music dominated the sensory milieu. Perhaps it was the escapism of music with its perfect harmonies and piercing poetry that touched the newly freed country still finding its identity. From solemn hymns of the countryside to feverish cabarets of city nightlife, from extravagant orchestras to solitary sitar solos, and from singers whose voices seem to descend from heaven, these soundtracks unleashed new eras of possibility and romance. The music of classic Bollywood will change you forever. For a few fleeting minutes, the ideals you dreamed of are made real.

Take this journey with us through the best music albums of yesteryear Hindi cinema. This music the way is was meant to be. This is classic Bollywood.

The Top 30 Best Classic Bollywood Soundtracks of All Time:

1. Pakeezah

Pakeezah Meena Kumari Chalte Chalte

Ghulam Mohammed and Naushad, 1971

2. Guide

Guide

S.D. Burman, 1965

3. Mughal-e-Azam

Mughal-e-Azam

Naushad, 1960

4. Nagin

Nagin

Hemant Kumar, 1954

5. Aradhana

Aradhana

S.D. Burman, 1969

6. Teesri Manzil

Teesri Manzil

R.D. Burman, 1966

  • Aaja Aaja – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Deewana Mujhsa Nahin – Mohammed Rafi
  • O Haseena Zulfonwali – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • O Mere Sona Re – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tumne Mujhe Dekha – Mohammed Rafi

7. Barsaat

Barsaat

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1949

  • Hawa Mein Udta Jaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chhod Gaye Balam – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Jiya Beqarar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhe Kisise Pyar – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Patli Kamar Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh

8. Anarkali

Anarkali

C. Ramachandra, 1953

  • Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Zindagi Ke Denewale – Hemant Kumar
  • O Aasmanwale – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jaag Dard-e-Ishq – Lata Mangeshkar and Hemant Kumar
  • Mohabbat Aisi Dhadhkan Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Mujhse Mat Pooch – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Ab To Aaja – Lata Mangeshkar

9. Kati Patang

Kati Patang

R.D. Burman, 1970

  • Jis Gali Mein – Mukesh
  • Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Na Koi Umang Hai – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Shaam Mastani – Kishore Kumar
  • Pyaar Diwanaa Hota Hai – Kishore Kumar
  • Aaj Na Chhodenge – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar

10. Chori Chori

Chori Chori

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Panchi Banoon Udti – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aaja Sanam – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Jahan Main Jaati Hoon – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Yeh Raat Bheegi Bheegi – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey
  • Rasik Balma – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Man Bhavan Ke Ghar – Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle

11. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Roshan, 1963

12. Hum Dono

Hum Dono Abhi Na Jao Dev Anand Sadhana

Jaidev, 1961

13. Jewel Thief

Jewel Thief

S.D. Burman, 1967

  • Honton Pe Aisi Baat – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Aasman Ke Neeche – Lata Mangeshkar and Kishore Kumar
  • Dil Pukare – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Rulake Gaya Sapna – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Yeh Dil Na Hota – Kishore Kumar
  • Title Music

14. Caravan

Caravan

R.D. Burman, 1971

  • Piya Tu Ab To – Asha Bhonsle
  • Chadti Jawani – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kitna Pyara Wada – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Goriya Kahan – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Ab Jo Mile Hai – Asha Bhonsle

15. Bobby

Bobby Main Shayar To Nahin

Laxmikant Shantaram Kudalkar and Pyarelal Ramprasad Sharma, 1973

  • Main Shayar To Nahin – Shailendra Singh
  • Bahar Se Koi Andhar – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Jhoot Bole Kauwa Kate – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai – Lata Mangeshkar and Shailendra Singh
  • Na Mangoon Sona Chandi – Manna Dey and Shailendra Singh

16. Pyaasa

Pyaasa

S.D. Burman, 1957

  • Jaane Woh Kaise – Hemant Kumar
  • Aaj Sajan Mohe – Geeta Dutt
  • Hum Aap Ki Ankhon Mein – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Jane Kya Tune Kahi – Asha Bhonsle
  • Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye – Mohammed Rafi

17. Abhiman

Abhiman

S.D. Burman, 1973

18. Anand

Anand

Salil Choudhury, 1971

19. Kabhi Kabhi

Kabhi Kabhi

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1976

20. Baiju Bawra

Baiju bawra

Naushad, 1952

  • O Duniya Ke Rakhwale – Mohammed Rafi
  • Man Tarpat Hari Dar – Mohammed Rafi
  • Mohe Bhool Gaye Sanwariya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jhoole Mein Pawan Ke – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi
  • Tu Ganga Ki Mauj – Lata Mangeshkar and Mohammed Rafi

21. Mother India

Mother India

Naushad, 1957

22. Madhumati

Madhumati

Salil Choudhury, 1958

  • Aaja Re Pardesi – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Dil Tadap Tadap – Lata Mangeshkar and Mukesh
  • Suhana Safar – Mukesh
  • Ghadi Ghadi Mora Dil – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Chadh Gayo Papi Bichua – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

23. Basant Bahar

Basant Bahar

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1956

  • Duniya Na Bhaye Mohammed Rafi
  • Bhaye Bhanjana – Manna Dey
  • Ja Ja Re Ja – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Main Piya Teri – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Nain Mile Chain Kahan – Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey

24. Aar Paar

Aar Paar

O.P. Nayyar, 1954

  • Babuji Dheere Chalna – Geeta Dutt
  • Sun Sun Sun Zalima – Geeta Dutt and Mohammed Rafi
  • Kabhi Aar Kabhi Par – Shamshad Begum
  • Yeh Lo Main Haari Piya – Geeta Dutt
  • Hoon Abhi Main Jawan – Geeta Dutt

25. Kashmir Ki Kali

Kashmir Ki Kali

O.P. Nayyar, 1964

26. Bandini

Bandini

S.D. Burman, 1963

  • Ab Ke Baras Bhej – Asha Bhonsle
  • O Re Mahji – S.D. Burman
  • Mora Gora Ang Laile – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Jogi Jab Se Tu Aaya – Lata Mangeshkar
  • O Janewale Ho Sake – Mukesh

27. Sangam

Sangam

Shankarsingh Raghuwanshi and Jaikishan Dayabhai Panchal, 1964

28. Yaadon Ki Baraat

Yaadon Ki Baraat

R.D. Burman, 1973

  • Chura Liya Hai – Asha Bhonsle and Mohammed Rafi
  • Aapke Kamre Mein – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Lekar Hum Deewana Dil – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Meri Soni Meri Tamana – Asha Bhonsle and Kishore Kumar
  • Yaadon Ki Baraat – Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar

29. Amar Prem

Rajesh Khanna Amar Prem

R.D. Burman, 1972

  • Chingari Koi Bhadke – Kishore Kumar
  • Raina Beeti Jaaye – Lata Mangeshkar
  • Kuch To Log Kahenge – Kishore Kumar
  • Yeh Kya Hua – Kishore Kumar
  • Bada Natkhat Hai Yeh – Lata Mangeshkar

30. Umrao Jaan

Rekha2_UmraoJaan

Mohammed Zayur Khayyam, 1981

Find out more about these and other classic Bollywood soundtracks on our song pages! Which soundtracks do you consider among classic Bollywood’s all-time best and why? Leave us a comment and let us know!

– Mrs. 55

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Teer-e Nazar Dekhenge Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

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Bedecked in a white gown symbolic of her own death, Pakeezah dances at the celebration of her lover’s marriage to another woman in Pakeezah (1971).

We now showcase the lyrics and English translation to Lata Mangeshkar’s “Teer-e Nazar” from the cinematic jewel Pakeezah (1971). One of classic Bollywood’s most iconic and daring song sequences, “Teer-e Nazar” dazzles the audience by the audacity of its stunning visual fabric–the magnum opus of the industry’s greatest artists with a story worthy of their union. In an ironic twist, the film’s heroine Pakeezah is asked to perform a mujraa at the wedding of her lover to another woman. Throughout the striking song that follows, director Kamal Amrohi deliberately transforms our understanding of beauty and love into omens of murder and death.

Lyricist Kaif Bhopali’s title phrase “teer-e nazar,” while otherwise a romantic reference to a lover’s piercing gaze, assumes a sinister implication, a literal means of wounding its target. Pakeezah once more dances a graceful kathak dance, but this time she is dressed for a funeral in all-white. The death she celebrates is her own. Her beautiful dance suddenly re-invents itself when she purposefully smashes a glass chandelier across the pristine white floor. The moment is one of the most shocking in Bollywood history, with a dramatic shift in the room’s dynamics to accompany the jarring musical screech. Before this moment, Pakeezah was a mere witness to the injustice of her society’s prejudices. Now, Pakeezah wields a commanding power, entrancing a captive audience to which she willingly presents herself as a ritual sacrifice in the name of her own unfulfilled love.

Teer-e-nazar 4
Like a veiled Lady of Shallot, the effervescent Meena Kumari as Pakeezah realizes the show is coming to an end tonight.

Unleashing a passion she had been trained for so long to suppress, Pakeezah dances upon the jagged broken glass with a frenzied energy. Her blood, the bright red of wedding bliss she has been denied, stains the floor with every footstep. As evidenced by the film’s famous dialogue, feet play an important sensual role in Pakeezah. The blood-smeared feet ironically mirror the once dainty red foot paint of a dancer–the vehicle by which Rajkumar first fell in love with Pakeezah in a train compartment, begging her romantically to never allow them to touch the ground. With each step, Pakeezah regains her identity by destroying the constraints of her past.

Director Kamal Amrohi brilliantly shapes the scene through a chaotic editing pattern as fragmented and disturbing as the glass upon which she dances. Below is a short gallery of some of the many gorgeous shots that compose this scene, each more violent than the next.

This iconic song is among Bollywood’s greatest cinematic moments–made even more fascinating by the behind-the-scenes gossip between Meena Kumari and stunt double Padma Khanna who actually dances in this sequence! Follow along with the video, and we hope you enjoy our lyrics and English translation to the awe-inducing “Teer-e Nazar” from Pakeezah (1971) below!

Teer-e Nazar Dekhenge Lyrics and Translation:

Aaj hum apnii du’aao.n kaa asar dekhe.Nge
Today I shall behold the image of my prayers
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Aap to aa.Nkh milaate hue sharmaate hai.N
Upon meeting my eyes, you feel embarrassed
Aap to dil ke dhaDakne se bhi Dar jaate hai.N
You are even afraid of your own heartbeat
Phir bhi yeh zidd hai ki ham zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
Nonetheless I remain stubborn to witness the wounds of my heart
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Pyaar karna dil-e betaab buraa hotaa hai
It is unfortunate for a weak heart to fall in love
Sunte aaye hai ki yeh khwaab buraa hota hai
I have heard that this dream of mine is also cursed
Aaj is khwaab ke taabiir magar dekhe.Nge
But today I will interpret the meaning of that dream
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Jaan levaa hai mohabbat ka samaa aaj ki raat
Tonight this atmosphere of love feels fatal
Shamaa ho jaayegii jal jal ke dhuaa.N aaj ki raat
Tonight the lamps shall burn into smoke
Aaj ki raat bache.Nge to sahar dekhe.Nge
If I escape tonight, then I shall see the dawn
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Aaj hum apnii du’aao.n kaa asar dekhe.Nge
Today I shall behold the image of my prayers
Teer-e nazar dekhe.Nge, zakhm-e jigar dekhe.Nge
I shall see arrows from your glances, I shall see the wounds of my heart

Glossary:

du’aa: prayer; asar: sign, image; teer: arrow; nazar: glance; zakhm: wound; jigar: heart; aankh milaanaa: to make eye contact; sharmaanaa: to become embarrassed, to be shy; dhaDaknaa: to beat [heart]; Dar jaanaa: to become afraid; zidd: stubborness, firm; betaab: weak; buraa: bad, unfortunate; khwaab ke taabir: interpretation of a dream; jaan levaa: fatal; mohabbat: love; samaa: atmosphere; shamaa: lamp; dhuaa.N: smoke; sahar: dawn

teer-e-nazar 2
Oh, Meena Kumari, will there ever live a woman so breathtakingly classy again?

This fantastic Pakeezah hit was requested by fans VintageBollywood and Moosa Desai! Thank you for the epic request!

Arguably, Pakeezah’s wild dance following the chandelier shattering contains the most thrilling music (composed by the great Ghulam Mohammed) in the entire film. But there’s a big unsolved mystery here. Does the ambiguity of the diegetic soundscape in this sequence bother anyone else but me? Think about it: If Pakeezah had just smashed a chandelier to the ground, ruffling the entire audience, and then starts bleeding all over the party floor, is it likely that the band would carry on as usual? But on the other hand, if the music is, in fact, non-diegetic, what are the odds her dance movements are still so perfectly coordinated to the beat? Is she in theory really dancing like a maniac to a silent room while the furious strings Kamal Amrohi added are for the film viewers’ ears alone? This is going to keep me awake at night.

For lighter moments from the iconic film, check out our translations of Pakeezah‘s immortal Chalte Chalte, Mausam Hai Aashiqaana, and Inhi Logo.N Ne!

-Mrs. 55

Inhi Logon Ne Lyrics and Translation: Let’s Learn Urdu-Hindi

MK
The tragically beautiful film Pakeezah (1972) stars Meena Kumari in its leading role.

Today, we continue our series on the eternally beautiful Pakeezah (1972) by providing the lyrics and English translation to inhii.n logo.n ne, a classic gem that has defined the genre of Bollywood mujras since its release.  

Tuned by Ghulam Mohammed and penned by Majrooh Sultanpuri, this song was perhaps the most widely appreciated number (it reached #2 on the 1972 Binaca Geet Mala list!) from a soundtrack full of memorable compositions like chalte chalte and mausam hai aashiqaanaa. Although its light, Yaman-based melody evokes a playful sprit, the underlying tragedy expressed in the lyrics of this song is unexpectedly ironic. In spite of the pain she suffers from being stigmatized as a tavaaif, Meena Kumari is forced to render this mujraa with verve and a smile for her patrons at the brothel. While addressing her beloved saiyaa.n, she laments how the men around her have stolen her innocence and modesty, which is symbolically represented by the loss of her DupaTTaa. To persuade her lover, she implores him to ask three characters in the song to confirm that her virtue was soiled against her will: the cloth merchant, the cloth dyer, and the constable. Representing different facets of society, these characters serve as witnesses to her loss of innocence and sometimes take part in the process (e.g. when the constable snatches her scarf away at the market.) To add to the irony, the red color of the lost scarf and Meena Kumari’s on-screen outfit are reminiscent of the colors adorning a South Asian bride on her wedding day. Yet, the audience is acutely aware that a courtesan in such a position will provoke condemnation and disgust for attempting to engage in the conventional structures of love and marriage established by the society around her. 

In addition to carrying a powerful message about social stigma in Indian society, these lyrics are memorable for their apabhransa (corrupt, non-grammatical) use of Urdu-Hindi. Reminiscent of the Awadhi dialect, a number of modifications to modern standard Hindi have been used here for poetic effect:

le liinaa = le liyaa (have taken)
bajajvaa = bajaj (cloth merchant)
hamrii = hamaarii (my, our)
sipaiyaa = sipaahii (constable)
bajariyaa = bazaar (market)

These substitutions really stick in the listener’s mind and give the lyrics of inhii.n logo.n ne a unique linguistic flavor that stands out from other compositions from the same period. Non-standard dialects such as Braj find prominence in classical Hindustani bandishes, but the lyricists for Bollywood cinema of the Golden Age tended to rely on standard Urdu-Hindi for most of their work. 

Songs like inhii.n logo.n ne have historically cast a sympathetic light on the tragic lives led by courtesans of yesteryear, and it is a well-known fact that fans have been fascinated with this genre of music and movies since the earliest days of the Hindi film industry. To conclude, I’ll leave you with a thought-provoking question: given the conservative social climate of 1960s and 1970s India, why did courtesan-based films (e.g. Pakeezah, Mughal-e-Azam, Amar Prem) resonate intimately with Indian audiences? Although deep-seated stigmas surround tavaaifs and their profession, what is the driving force behind India’s obsession with the story of a courtesan with a heart of gold? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

-Mr. 55

P.S. Check out a rare black and white version of this song filmed on a younger Meena Kumari in 1956 (16 years before the film’s eventual release)!

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Meena Kumari’s playful spirit in ‘inhii.n logo.n ne belies the tragic reality of her profession as a courtesan in Pakeezah (1972).

Inhi Logon Ne: Lyrics and Translation

inhii.n logo.n ne, inhii.n logo.n ne
These people, these people
inhii.n logo.n ne le liina DupaTTaa meraa

These people have taken away my scarf of modesty.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.nbajajvaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the cloth merchant
jis ne asharfii gaj diinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who sold me a yard of its fabric for a gold coin.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.n, ra.ng rajvaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the cloth dyer
jis ne gulaabii ra.ng diinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who gave my scarf its pink color.

hamrii na maano, saiyaa.n, sipaiyaa se puuchho
If you don’t accept my word, oh beloved, ask the constable
jis ne bajariyaa me.n chhiinaa DupaTTaa meraa
who stripped away my scarf at the market.

inhii.n logo.n ne le liinaa DupaTTaa meraa
These people have taken away my scarf of modesty.

Glossary

le lenaa: to take away; DupaTTaa: a long scarf covering a woman’s chest, a traditional symbol of modesty and honor for Indian women; hamrii (baat): my word; maannaa: to accept, believe; bajajvaa: cloth merchant; asharfii: a gold coin issued by Muslim dynasties; gaj: a unit of measurement equivalent to a yard; saiyaa.n: beloved; rang rajvaa: cloth dyer; gulaabii: pink; sipaiyaa: constable; bajariyaa: market; chiinnaa: to strip away.

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Adorned in red and gold ornaments, Meena Kumari’s appearance resembles that of an Indian bride in Pakeezah (1972).