Every Bollywood male star has that one song with which he is synonymous. The makers of Jawaani Jaaneman correctly figured that for its lead actor and producer Saif Ali Khan, that song is Ole Ole from Yeh Dillagi (1994). It appears in a remixed form in Nitin Kakkar’s January 31 release.

The re-use of Ole Ole in a film in which 49-year-old Khan plays a middle-aged playboy is a throwback to his roles as a bratty womaniser. A line from the original track has been replaced with “swag wahi purana”.

If the catchy and energetically choreographed Ole Ole makes you instantly think of Saif Ali Khan, which tune makes you close your eyes and go, “Ranveer Singh” or “Varun Dhawan”? The current crop of seasoned and newer stars each has a track they can claim for themselves, as our survey reveals.

Ole Ole, Yeh Dillagi (1994).

Salman Khan: Oh Oh Jaane Jana, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya

The image of the cheerful and ultra-fit man of the masses began arguably with this song. Despite the touches that now seem comic, such as as the well-oiled and chiseled Khan grooving with a cordless electric guitar, the song’s infectious charm screams “bhai”.

Oh Oh Jaane Jana, Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998).

Aamir Khan: Papa Kehte Hai, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak

Daddy says I will be famous someday – what a song for Aamir Khan to sing in his debut film as a leading man, written and produced by his father, Nasir Hussain. Talk about being prescient.

Papa Kehte Hai, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988).

Shah Rukh Khan: Tujhe Dekha, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Once he realised that stretching his arms wide and breaking into a half-smile would win over women and viewers, Shah Rukh Khan kept at it for over two decades. One reason for this song’s strong association with Khan is its constant referencing by the movie star and others and its endless scope for parody.

Tujhe Dekha, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995).

Govinda: Kisi Disco Mein Jaaye, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan

The opening bars and the hook of the Viju Shah tune are what you might instantly hear if Govinda walks into the room. The actor has a bunch of memorable songs to his name, but none as recognisable as this one.

Kisi Disco Mein Jaaye, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998).

Sanjay Dutt: Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hoon Main, Khalnayak

The Khalnayak title track, written by Anand Bakshi, tapped right into the heart of the Sanjay Dutt bad-boy persona, which got a fresh lease of life around the film’s release months after Dutt had been jailed in relation to the 1993 Mumbai seriabl bomb blasts.

Nayak Nahi Khalnayak Hoon Main, Khalnayak (1993).

Anil Kapoor: My Name Is Lakhan, Ram Lakhan

Nothing exemplifies Anil Kapoor’s single-screen superstar image better than Subhash Ghai’s My Name Is Lakhan. The song is devoted to his character, with a sequence that begins with consecutive shots that gradually introduce Kapoor’s face and declare, look who’s here.

My Name Is Lakhan, Ram Lakhan (1989).

Sunny Deol: Yaara O Yaara, Ziddi

Like his contemporaries Jackie Shroff and Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol was saddled with two left feet. But the way the bulky star owns the easy and strikingly memorable steps of Yaara O Yaara, in addition to the quaint choreography, has made it the quintessential Sunny Deol song.

Hrithik Roshan: Ek Pal Ka Jeena, Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai

Hindi cinema hasn’t had a better dancing hero since Hrithik Roshan, and it was this song in his debut film in which he displayed his terpsichorean talents. The signature move, which resembles someone signalling a person to help him push his vehicle, has been endlessly referenced and parodied in films, television shows, and dancing competitions.

Ek Pal Ka Jeena, Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai (2000).

Shahid Kapoor: Mauja Hi Mauja, Jab We Met

Shahid Kapoor had already established himself as a strong dancer by 2007, when Jab We Met was released, but he was yet to have that one signature song. Imtiaz Ali’s movie was Kapoor’s biggest hit at the time. Mauja Hi Mauja was anyway a superb tune, and the video featured Kapoor at his most effortless while shaking a leg.

Mauja Hi Mauja, Jab We Met (2007).

Emraan Hashmi: Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai, Gangster

The typical Emraan Hashmi song is a passionate solo male ballad which the star will lip-sync as he stalks and/or serenades the heroine from one spot to another. Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai created a template for the Emraan Hashmi Way and sealed Hashmi’s image as a roguish crooner.

Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai, Gangster (2006).

Ranbir Kapoor: Nadaan Parindey, Rockstar

The screen image of Ranbir Kapoor as a lost lamb with existential issues was fully formed in Imtiaz Ali’s hit 2011 musical. Kapoor acts and acts out in Nadaan Parindey, in which his character is singing about how he has lost his way in life.

Nadaan Parindey, Rockstar (2011).

Ranveer Singh: Tattad Tattad, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela

The hyper-energetic and garishly dressed avatar of Ranveer Singh first appeared in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela in 2013. The Tattad Tattad song established Singh as a sex symbol bursting with swagger and suggestiveness.

Tattad Tattad, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013).

Aditya Roy Kapur, Sunn Raha Hai Na Tu, Aashiqui 2

Aashiqui 2, Aditya Roy Kapur’s first film as the lead, and its chartbusting soundtrack marked the actor’s first and strongest appearance as an angst-bitten leading man.


Varun Dhawan: Palat, Main Tera Hero

Varun Dhawan has been trying out Govinda’s shoes for a while. He shares with the older actor a zeal to entertain at all costs. The lyrics of Palat make his intention clear: Give me your attention, for I, the hero, is here.

Palat, Main Tera Hero (2014).

Siddharth Malhotra: Galliyan, Ek Villain

He is perhaps the only actor on this list who is yet to find his groove as a leading man. Though Malhotra does not have many hits to his name yet, or many hit songs for that matter, Galliyan from his most successful film till date is a fan favourite.