In 2017, Bollywood was easily beaten by other film industries, particularly the ones in the South, when it came to producing earworms.
This year saw Entammede Jimikki Kammal from the Malayalam film Velipadinte Pusthakam reach viral fame on the lines of Why This Kolaveri Di? The soundtrack for Baahubali 2: The Conclusion was released in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi and was a success in all four languages. Ace Tamil composer Anirudh Ravichander made his long-awaited debut in Telugu cinema with the upcoming Pawan Kalyan film Agnyaathavaasi.
A majority of the hit Hindi film songs in 2017 were remixes of material from the back catalogue of the music company and producer, reworked regional pop hits (Sukhbir’s Ishq Tera Tadpave and Guru Randhawa’s Suit Suit used in Hindi Medium; Ban Ja Rani used in Tumhari Sulu) or recreations of older Pakistani hits (Hawa Hawa in Mubarakan, Mere Rashke Qamar in Baadshaho).
The two original compositions that were both good and rightfully emerged victorious in the charts are Kanha from Shubh Mangal Savdhaan (composed by Tanishk-Vayu) and Maana Ke Hum Yar Nahin from Meri Pyaari Bindu (composed by Sachin-Jigar).
Arijit Singh continued to dominate the charts with the softer romantic ballads for the most part of the year. The best ones included Enna Sona from OK Jaanu, Zaalima from Raees, Yeh Ishq Hai from Rangoon,Roke Na Ruke Naina from Badrinath ki Dulhania, Haareya from Meri Pyaari Bindu and Hawayein from Jab Harry Met Sejal.
The bilingual film Solo, made in Malayalam and Tamil, showed that multi-composer albums need not be dull. The soundtrack traversed genres, switching from rap to kuthu to classical to electronic to metal, and despite having songs that often broke conventional film-song structures, produced hits such as the slow, electro-ambient track Sita Kalyanam, the hard rock song Aigiri Nandini – Eye for an Eye and and the tremendously catchy Roshomon.
But the song that really cut across languages and film industries and attained sweeping viral fame was Entammede Jimikki Kammal from Velipadinte Pusthakam. The most watched Malayalam song ever on YouTube, Entammede Jimikki Kammal inspired countless cover versions and dance videos from across India and the world. Released in September, Entammede Jimikki Kammal continues to be the numero uno song in iTunes’ regional Indian chart of 2017.
Entammede Jimikki Kammal composer Shaan Rahman’s bigger achievement was his superb soundtrack for Godha which produced the superhit Aaro Nenjil, among other goodies.
The pop rock track Lailakame from the February 2017 release Ezra was a seriously unforgettable song. The best romantic duets to top Mollywood charts this year were Ee Kattu from Adam Joan, Njanum Neeyum from Theeram and Kannile Poika from Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum.
The breezy Enthaavo from Njandukalude Nattil Oridavela was one of the year’s best Malayalam songs, and fully deserved the popularity it got. Angamaly Diaries and its soundtrack (composed by Prashant Pillai) had Theeyame, a sprightly folk track resting on horns and a brass band percussion.
Avial guitarist and film composer Rex Vijayan was firing on all cylinders with his soundtracks for Parava and Mayaanadhi. Parava’s soundtrack, consisting of 19 tracks (three songs and 16 instrumentals), was an expansive musical affair in terms of length and ambition. Its lead single, Pyaar Pyaar, had a compelling tune that is hardly the album’s best, but was definitely the one with the most pop appeal.
Vijayan’s Mayaanadhi soundtrack was choc-a-bloc with compositions that bring a spring in the step, but the lead single, Uyirin Nadhiye, a slow romantic song held together by an uptempo electronic beat with sarangi and guitars for company, was the standout track.
AR Rahman reigned supreme over Tamil film music in 2017. He began the year on a high note with Kaatru Veliyidai. The soundtrack was a far bigger success than the film itself. From the peppy Azhagiye and Jugni to the wedding song Saarattu Vandiyila, Rahman’s soundtrack produced a series of hits.
Tamil pride found a new home in Aalapooran Thamizhan, the most loved song from Rahman’s soundtrack for the blockbuster Mersal.
Anirudh Ravichander had a smashing year, producing soundtracks for three big-ticket Tamil films: Vivegam, Velaikkaran, and the yet-to-be-released Thaanaa Serndha Koottam. Vivegam’s fast-paced and hip Surviva raced to the top of the charts upon release.
Ravichander aced once again in the foot-stomping kuthu space that he has virtually made his own since 2015’s Maari Thara Local (Maari) and Aaluma Dolama (Vedalam). Velaikkaran’s Karuthavanlaam Galeejam and Thaanaa Serndha Koottam’s Sodakku felt very familiar but were irresistible dance numbers nonetheless.
Karuppu Vellai, pretty much the theme of Vikram Vedha, was an exciting, power-packed song. Even though it was the duet Yaanji that led the battery of Vikram Vedha’s hit songs (composed by Sam CS) in the charts, Karuppu Vellai remained the dark horse in the soundtrack.
Santhosh Narayanan, after a series of envelope-pushing soundtracks for offbeat projects, hit the big league in 2016 with Rajinikanth starrer Kabali. With Vijay starrer Bairavaa, he got to make another stab at a commercial entertainer with a top star that took the edge off his music. But the hits came, regardless. The one song in which Narayanan lived up to his standards was Varlaam Varlaam Vaa, a “mass” hero-entry song reminiscent of Kabali’s Neruppu Da, with which it shared both its singer and its style.
Before Rahman, Ravichander and Narayanan took over the year, a stellar composition, Maruvaarthai from the stalled Gautham Menon project Enai Noki Paayum Thota (composed by newcomer Darbuka Siva, founder of the popular Tamil folk fusion band La Pongal) topped the charts in the first quarter.
From among other notable Tamil hits of the year, Paarthen (The Youth of Power Paandi) from Power Paandi stood out in an all-round fantastic soundtrack by Sean Roldan.
Telugu film music in 2017 was dominated by the soundtracks for Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Arjun Reddy. Saahore Baahubali, the rousing title track sung by Daler Mehndi, became the most watched Telugu video in 2017. Its other songs became super-hits too, particularly, the romantic duet Hamsa Naava (the album’s best song), and the gloomy ballad Dandaalayyaa.
The most popular track from the breakout movie Arjun Reddy was The Breakup Song, a close cousin of Amit Trivedi’s angst-driven songs from the Dev.D soundtrack. Classical met dubstep in another hit, Madhurame. The real star of the album was the comparatively less famous chartbuster – the spirited rock ballad Emitemitemito.
Old gun Devi Sri Prasad, with a Pritam-like understanding of his listeners’ tastes, composed for the big star vehicles of the year: Chiranjeevi’s comeback film Khaidi No 150, Nani starrers Nenu Local and Middle Class Abbayi, Naga Chaitanya starrer Rarandoi Veduka Chudham, Allu Arjun starrer Duvvada Jagannadham, and NTR Jr starrer Jai Lava Kusa. His music was mostly one-note and focused on producing compelling beats for the stars to pose and groove to.
The best among them was Ammadu Let’s Do Kummudu from Khaidi No 150, which began with the declaration: “It’s not a mass song, it’s the boss song, the genuinely sweet Rarandoi Veduka Chudham title track and the infectious Gudilo Badilo from Duvvada Jagannadham.
Young composer Shakthikanth Karthick proved his mettle with his splendid soundtrack for the low-key romantic comedy Fidaa. The film spawned several hit songs, its best being the fun and frothy Pillagaada, a saccharine sweet song whose hookline is hard to forget.
The juggernaut that is Anirudh Ravichander’s Telugu debut, the soundtrack for Pawan Kalyan starrer Agnyaathavaasi, is slowly snaking up the charts at the end of the year. Ravichander’s first single for Agnyaathavaasi was the cheerful Gaali Vaaluga, a tribute to the film’s “Power Star” Kalyan.
Preetiya Hesare Neenu from Happy New Year saw singer-composer Raghu Dixit in fine, fine form. The unplugged version was where the magic was.
Judah Sandhy’s soundtrack for Chamak was a well-produced album with electronic flourishes and some not-so-bad tunes. Its best song, Kush Kush, deserved a mention.
Sachin-Jigar lent their talent to four Gujarati releases in 2017. Their Love Ni Bhavai soundtrack was an all-round success that gave multiple hits. Dhun Lagi, from the album, was its standout song.
Like every year, Arijit Singh graced Bengali films with a bunch of songs in 2017. The staple romantic duets became hits. Maula Re from Chaamp, however, was the best song by Singh in the year.
Bondhu Tor Laaigya Re is a popular folk composition by Syed Shah Noor that was revisited by singer Kalika Prasad Bhattacharjee for Bishorjon. The pathos-filled song slowly became popular following the film’s success.
The best songs from among the Punjabi hits of 2017 were attempts to go beyond the standard dhol-and-tumbi base, including Laari from Vekh Bartaan Challiyan, Fer Ohi Hoyea from Sargi, and the beautiful Akhar from Lahoriye.