At the 95th Academy Awards, “Nattu Nattu,” from the Telugu movie “RRR,” made history. It became the first Indian movie song to win the Oscars for Best Original Song.
Composed by M.M. Keeravaani and written by Chandrabose, this electrifying song, which plays during a significant scene in “RRR,” has become a global sensation. The Western audience, in particular, has been blown away by its energetic choreography along with the peppy beat, which can automatically make most people shake their legs and hit the dance floor.
But after its win an important question has been circulating among Indian movie fans; is it the best movie song India has ever produced?
A simple and plain answer is: no.
While “Nattu Nattu” did highlight the rich Indian musical heritage to a global audience, there are Indian movie songs that are way better than this, which should have won Oscars before, or at least which are worthy of your attention.
Here are some movie songs I would suggest you watch and listen to if you liked “Nattu Nattu,” and are craving more and/or better Indian movie songs.
1. “Chaiyya Chaiyya” (1998)
In 2002 when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) did a poll on the top-ten most popular songs of all time, “Chaiyya Chaiyya” secured the ninth position.
Composed by A. R. Rahman, and sung by Sukhwinder Singh and Sapna Awasthi, “Chaiyya Chaiyya” is popularly known as the “train song” among Indian movie lovers. The song is from the movie, “Dil Se,” which features the most celebrated Hindi movie actor of all time — Shah Rukh Khan.
What makes this song beautiful is its poetic lyrics written by Gulzar as well as its outstanding but nerve-wracking choreography, as the whole song takes place on top of a moving train.
Trust me, there’s a reason why this song is so popular among Bollywood buffs. I wouldn’t be surprised if you start playing this song on your phone the next time you catch a train.
2. “Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya” (1960)
When K. Asif, the director of the epic “Mughal-e-Azam,” shot this song, its budget was believed to be more than the entire movie. I mean how couldn’t it be? Just look at the video of the song. The elaborate set designs, the mirror works, the extravagant costumes—everything screams of royalty and heritage.
However, that’s not the only thing that makes this song iconic. Over the years, the song has regained cult status for being the song of lovers, as in the movie, it is performed during a crucial scene, when a courtesan, Anarkali declares her love for Prince Salim — a union that is destined to be doomed.
“Pyar kiya koi chori nahi ki. Chup chup aahein bharna kya. Jab pyar kiya toh darna kya. Pyaar Kiya toh darna kya.” (You’re in love, it’s not a crime. Why should you hide and sigh. Why fear if you’re in love.)
This is sheer poetry.
3. “Chalte Chalte” (1972)
Another classic, “Chale Chalte” from “Pakeezah” (1972) is poetry in motion. The beautiful Urdu lyrics of the song which Kaifi Azmi wrote are a short story in itself. Featuring the lead character Nargis (played by Meena Kumari), the song is a Mujra performance, a traditional dance form of the Mughal era. In this song, Kumari, a tawaif (an entertainer), is expressing her longing for an aristocrat through this song.
And what a beautiful expression it is. Not only does she use her body to express her emotions, but her eyes also do a lot of talking as they show the pain she is suffering from.
Just to witness the magic that acting, music, and dance can bring on the celluloid, I would suggest you watch this masterpiece.
4. “Piya Tose Naina Lage Re” (1965)
No doubt the choreography of “Nattu Nattu,” was rousing, but was it as graceful as Waheeda Rehman’s performance in “Piya Tose Naina Laga Re” (1965)? Perhaps not. Because in this song Rehman epitomizes beauty and elegance. Her beautiful aura and stunning dance performance light the whole screen, making viewers instantly fall for her.
And yes, there are beautiful intricate costumes, hundreds of background dancers doing the same steps, and extravagant sets in this song, making it a classic Indian song.
5. “Naadan Parinde” (2011)
This is a personal favorite song of mine. I find this piece of art by A. R. Rahman so powerful that my whole life journey appears in front of my eyes when I listen to it.
To give context to our readers, this song was a part of “Rockstar” (2011), a love story based on the life of a troubled musician with an inflated ego. As the story unfolds, he reaches a self-destructive stage of his life: he loses his lover, and his life goes haywire.
This song is so impactful because reflects his self-realization — he understands that there’s no going back from this shithole called life. Trust me, again. And go and download this song on Spotify!
6. “Ami Chini Go Chini” (1964)
Satyajit Ray was one of India’s finest filmmakers whose body of work has traveled all over the world. One of my favorite movies from his rich filmography is “Charulata” (1964), a story of a homemaker who falls in love with her brother-in-law.
There are so many beautiful scenes throughout the movie that capture the chaos happening inside the lead character’s heart. However, a particular scene that stood out for me is when the brother-in-law plays the piano and sings “Ami Chini Go Chini” for our lead character who has fallen for him but has to control her feelings. Such a poignant way of expressing emotions through a song.
7. “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” (2001)
In Bollywood in 2001, a first-time director, Farhan Akhtar, made a classic called “Dil Chahta Hai,” which still rules people’s hearts. An urban edgy drama that explores the roller coaster of emotions brought by love and friendship, this movie features one of the best soundtracks produced in the Hindi film fraternity.
However, “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe” is my favorite. It’s a youthful song, filled with a vibrant energy that every time I listen to it, I want to hit the dance floor and be happy about the life I have got (even if I spend the whole next day crying over it).
8. “Uyire Uyire” (1995)
Are you the kind of person who plays a song when they miss someone in their life and act as if they are the main character of a movie? Then, my friend, this song’s for you. Especially on days when you are low and are missing someone in your life, you should play this classic, which A. R. Rahman composed for the movie, “Bombay.”
Besides giving you goosebumps, I am certain that this song will make every inch of you sad. It is that powerful. So, next time if you are near the lake, on your phone, and want to play a sad song, this is an option for you.
9. “Urvasi Urvasi” (1994)
The actors of “Nattu Nattu,” are great dancers, but they can never compete with the OG of Dance in the Indian movie industry—Prabhu Deva. A famous movie choreographer, Deva made many special appearances in Indian movie songs where he flexed his dancing skills.
The way Deva can move his body, makes me think he doesn’t have bones — his body is made of elastic. Nevertheless, the song is engaging, and joyful and captures the youthfulness of its time.
10. “Dola re Dola” (2002)
Honestly, if you were impressed with “Nattu Nattu’s,”‘ grandeur, then you will be blown away by the opulence of “Dola re Dola.”
Featuring two of the most popular Hindi actresses of all time — Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan—this song is loud, colorful, and feminine in all the ways it can be. Also, the amazing dance performance deserves special applause as the hip movements, the hand gestures, and the popular hook-step, all are done with ease and grace, making it one of the most memorable songs in Indian film history.
Hi, friends. I am Ankit Khadgi, a Bollywood buff and also the Managing Editor of F Newsmagazine. I am starting a new column called Bollywood 101. Through this column, I want to share my love of Bollywood with our readers, offer movie suggestions, and bust the myths people have about the Hindi film industry. I hope you will enjoy reading my work.
But how many of these songs were written by the indigenous people? Why are you catering to the UC, privileged artists?