When millennials think back on Hindi film music from the 1990s that is not by AR Rahman, chances are they are thinking of Nadeem-Shravan. If Rahman’s music was about the future of Bollywood sound, Nadeem Akhtar Saifi and Shravan Kumar Rathod’s tunes spoke of the influences of the previous decades, particularly Laxmikant-Pyarelal.
Rathod died on April 22 from Covid-19 in Mumbai. He was 66. His collaboration with Saifi, which lasted until 2005, produced smash hits that lifted the fortunes of several movies, including Aashiqui, Saajan, Raja Hindustani, Dhadkan and Raaz.
The partnership suffered a setback when Saifi was accused of plotting the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar in 1997. Saifi fled to London, from where he paid tribute to his departed friend in Times of India on Thursday: “We’ve grown up with each other in many ways…We never lost touch and no physical distance could ever separate the two of us.”
Nadeem-Shravan’s hugely popular ballads, which can still be heard in autorickshaws and at barbershops, were a throwback to mid-tempo film songs of yore. The simple arrangements typically comprised a mix of dholaks, tablas, keyboards and flute. Snatches of the ghazal were frequently heard in their tunes. Many of the singers they worked with – Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Anuradha Paudwal, Kavita Krishnamurthy and Sadhana Sargam – had singing styles that were throwbacks to older Hindi film music.
Some of the tunes were blatantly ripped off from Western or Pakistani pop. Here’s looking at 10 of their best original songs.
Bas Ek Sanam Chahiye, Aashiqui (1990)
The soundtrack for Aashiqui turned a mediocre movie into a blockbuster and boosted the careers of Nadeem-Shravan, lyricist Sameer and singer Kumar Sanu.
Mera Dil Bhi Kitna Pagal Hai, Saajan (1991)
A genuinely sweet melody, lovingly directed and lensed by Lawrence D’Souza. Its timelessness was reaffirmed by the 2013 film The Lunchbox.
Aisi Deewangi, Deewana (1992)
Easily a top-five Divya Bharti song, Aise Deewangi is interesting for the odd contrast between the voices of Vinod Rathod and Alka Yagnik.
Ghoonghat Ki Aad Se, Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke (1993)
The Laxmikant-Pyarelal touch in Nadeem-Shravan’s music has never felt stronger.
Poocho Zara Poocho, Raja Hindustani (1996)
This is perhaps the most fun Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik had in a duet.
Do Dil Mil Rahe Hai, Pardes (1997)
An uncharacteristic Nadeem-Shravan song with shades of RD Burman, this track shows what the duo were capable of in the hands of a filmmaker expecting more than their trademark dholak pop.
Dilbar, Sirf Tum (1999)
This track has a hook for the ages. Tanishk Bagchi is proof.
Dil Ne Yeh Kaha Dil Se, Dhadkan (2000)
Definitely Nadeem-Shravan’s last great romantic tune.
Aapke Pyaar Mein, Raaz (2002)
Trust Nadeem-Shravan to score an erotic thriller in this manner.
Masoom Chehra, Ansh (2002)
Nadeem-Shravan’s production was never polished, but you can hear progressive elements in their later work, such as the ghost of a bassline here.