Tu Chahat Hai
If Side A began with Rahul Roy so must Side B. That is the law.
According to legend, the Roy signed 47 films in just 11 days after Aashiqui (link), in the way a frog lays eggs, and so it was only natural that the 90s would be flooded with his tadpoles.
One such Roy classic is Pyaar Ka Saaya. Pronounced by Bengalis as Pyar ka Shaaya (The Love Petticoat), was a rip off from “Ghost”, with Patrick Swayze replaced by Rahul Roy, Whoopie Goldberg by Amrita Singh, and Demi Moore by Sheeba. If Amish has popularized Shiva in the 2010s, Sheeba popularized Niramish (non-vegetarian) in the 1990s. While I am fine with you judging me for it, I was a fan to the extent that I tolerated Ravi Behl in “Boyfriend” just for her, was possibly the only person in the world who saw “Hum Hai Kamaal Ke”, had the song “Main Naheen Kaheta” from Salman Khan’s Suryavangshi on a mixtape (okay I love the song just for the song) and went to the theater to see “Suraksha”.
But this song, “Tu Chahat Hai”, like the concept of “Chahat” is so much than the sum of its parts. Rahul Roy as the 90s Hairy Potter, as he shows an abundance of growth on his chest while doing pottery with Sheeba, frames like the one above, the genius of the composition, as you can see, the smoothly romantic notes, and then of course the lady herself.
I have and always shall be madam, your Pradhan Sheebak.
Honton Pe Bas Tera
From the second Kajol keeps the cup down and leans forward and then back, the explosions would begin in my head, back when I was young, and then when she snaps her fingers, all I would contemplate was the loneliness of my existence. This is perhaps the most sensual of 90s songs, because of how it builds up, slow and deliberate, with none of the “Tip Tip Barsa Paani” hyperactive prancing about, then flows to Saif Ali Khan taking off earrings with his mouth, and transitions to a subtle mellow sadness, especially the tune between the two antaras, sadness because the truth of the most perfect moment is that everything else after it will be, in comparison, a disappointment.
And yes all you Priya Prakash Varrier fans. This is my wink.
This is my moment.
Maine Yeh Dil Tumko Diya
Jaan Tere Naam, starring Ronit Roy and what-Harman-Baweja-was-to-Hrithik-she-was-to-Madhuri Farheen is one of those quintessentially 90s albums, out of place in any other day and age, and the kind of music that would make millennials scratch their heads as to what is so intensely moving about all this. Jaan Tere Naam has many hit songs—“Yeh Aakha India Jaanta Hai”, very popular with “band parties” because Ronit Roy plays a band party boy here, “Tum Lakh Chupaaye Pyar Magar”, “Rone Na Dijiyega”, ” Kal College Bandha Ho Jayega”, and the Kanhaiya theme song “Maana ke college mein padna chahiye, likhna chahiye, par Revolution ka bhi ek lecture hona chahiye” (Ok it was Romance ka bhi ek lecture).
But the one I still love to play, whenever I wade into my 90s world of nostalgia, is “Maine Yeh Dil Tumko Diya”.
That place where “Dheere Dheere Se” was recorded.
And “Tum bhi karo kuch faisla”, which reminds me, even now, of the decisions I have had to take in the 90s, Computer Science or Economics, PhD or MBA, to say what was in my heart or to stay quiet, as I came to many an uneasy crossroad in my life.
The lead couple did it too. Take decisions.
Ronit Roy went on to become one of the best actors working in Mumbai today.
Farheen quit films and married Manoj Prabhakar.
Ae Kash Ke Hum
The greatest Shahrukh film. Period.
The biggest risk SRK ever took was not to play the villain with the thumping lines, trembling lips and guaranteed audience sympathy, but to do, in the beginning of his career, the role of a shifty cowardly loser.
So here it is. To every lie. To every half-truth.
To all of you, who have done something less than honorable to get a half shot at love.
Here is your song.
Adayein Bhi Hain
If Maine Pyar Kiya gave us caps with “Friend” written on them, Dil Hai Ki Manta Naheen made sailor caps the rage during that year’s Pujo.
Lifted from “It Happened One Night”, this is a throwback to the days when Aamir Khan took himself a little less seriously, or at least that’s what we thought, and was not flooding China with “Made in Aamir” products.
There are three songs, I had to choose between: “Tu Pyar Hai Kisi Aur Ka”, the typical 90s situation of someone else getting the girl and extras dancing lock step in party while hero/heroine sings sad songs, and “Dil Tujpe Aa Gaya”, the typical 90s song that was added after the movie was released, to get people to watch it again.
And then this.
Why “Adayein Bhi Hain” won over the two is not just because it is a super song, but that it captures that other stock 90s trope, of telling a girl you like her, but using a non-existent third person to convey that little fact, so as to hedge against rejection.
I say 90s trope, not just a 90s movie trope.
Baaki, you figure out.
Tum To Dhokebaaz Ho
How can you have romance without two Yahoo chat windows open at the same time?
Or the 90s without Govinda?
That would be like the Congress party without some DNA from Nehru.
“Tum toh Dhokebaaz Ho” is classic Govinda-Dhawan. Colors of the kind you get only from color bar in a Sonodyne TV. Govinda dancing with his expressions. One shot cutting to another perfectly, in sync with the rhythm.
Memory isolation between two processes, context switching, multi tasking, busy waiting, redudancy—all here. And more.
This is Computer Science. In song.
I owe my living to this. I really do.
Paheli Baar Mile Hain
You could not go to a Puja pandal in 1991 without “Dekha Hai Paheli Baar” blaring from the “mic”, so ubiquitous was Saajan in my times. But it was not my favorite song from the film, not “Jiye toh jeeya kaise” nor “Mera dil bhi kitna paagal hai”, I found them a bit too maudlin and rather generic, and there are parts of “Tu shayar hai” and “Tumse milne ki tamanna hai” I love, but “Paheli Baar Mile Hai” is pretty much the package.
A song about serial monogamy with some overlap, this captures the spirit of Salman Khan in so many ways, and S P Balasubramanium as the voice of Bhai just gives it the poignancy needed to make this list.
That and the fact that this is a song I used to sing from memory.
Perhaps still can.
Yeh Dua Hai Meri Rab Se
From time to time, the playback singers of the 90s would come out from the back to the front. Anu Malik and Vinod Rathod in “Chupana Bhi Naheen Aata” from Baazigar. Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik in “Saapne Saajan Ke”, Lawrence D’Souza’s spiritual sequel to “Saajan”, which flopped badly, despite Rahul Roy’s animal magnetism.
This is the song for when, on the last day of high school, you slip in a note to that special person you have been wanting to say something to, and that person comes to you and says “Oh but I always thought of you as a friend”.
“Yeh dua hai mera rab se,
Tujhe doston main sab se,
Meri dosti pasand aaye.”
This song is for that time. This song is for those quiet tears.
Tera Bemar Mera Dil
Hot. Hot. Hot.
Why is Rohini Hattangadi breathing heavy? What exactly has she seen through the keyhole?
A much better take on the Sita-Geeta twin story than the original, this is Sridevi at her very best, so awesome that she out-Rajanikants Rajanikant.
But we are talking about the song. We have to. Else I will have to write about Shakti Kapoor and the magic that is Chaalbaaz.
This is the first song I start hearing on Friday evenings.
The very first.
Hum Jante Hai Tum
It is unfair to make a 90s love songs mix tape without the mafia. And no I am not talking about the Usha Uthup song Mamafia, from the movie Mafia.
Khilona is on my mind.
Visionary producer of the 90s, Mukesh Duggal, visionary because he produced Gopi Kishan (“Mera do do baap” and “SODA” from Gopi Kishan are two of 90s greatest Tshirt fronts) as well as Khilona, was gunned down right after this movie came out. The heroine, and this was her first and perhaps only major marquee film, on whom this rather dolorous song is picturized, is none other than the legendary Monica Bedi, later to become famous as the wife of mafia hitman, Abu Salem, accused to be the man behind the murder of Gulshan Kumar, the czar of T-series and the pioneer of the 90s music genre.
And of course there is Aditya Pancholi.
While the more famous song from Khilona is “Panditji panditji”, rumored to be playing on a loop in the walkman of Nehru-fan Ramchandra Guha from the 90s, there is nothing more soulfully appropriate than the tragic notes of “Hum jaante hai tum hume barbaad karoge” to capture the essence of the mafia era and the ultimate fate of the people associated with it all.
Deewana Main Tera Deewana
Originally, I thought I would have only one SRK song. In the interest of fairness.
But I would claim I still do.
Because this is pretty much only Sonali Bendre.
And how can you have lived through the 90s if you had not had a crush on her? Or on anyone who remotely, even remotely, looked like her?
A straight shoot-out between “Aankhon Main Base Ho Tum”, and “Deewana Main Tera Deewana”, this wins out, because this is more classically 90s in its arrangement, has that little touch of melancholia which makes it perfect for rum-coke nostalgia, and perhaps most importantly, Kumar Sanu, who you would have figured out by now I am a huge fan of, at his absolute best.
Aap Ka Aana
Everything comes to an end.
Youth. Innocence. The 90s. This virtual cassette.
And all that is left is sadness.
For the decisions not taken, the songs not selected, the words not said, or not at the right time, the futures not lived.
So here it is. The last song.
From Kurukshetra, released in 2000.
“Aap Ka Aana”. Arguably Kejriwal’s favorite and one of the last songs of the 90s genre, the others all being from Dhadkan.
Why do I love it, love it enough to have it in a sequence in Sultan of Delhi Part 2: Resurrection?
Why do I?
I really don’t know. Nor does it really matter.
Because if there is anything that the 90s has taught us, it is that love cannot be rationalized.
It can only, and only be, lived.