By this Friday, February 14, restaurants across the world will be booked solid, florist shops will be sold out, and boxes of chocolates will be almost impossible to find. Given Bollywood’s devotion to all things pyaar, ishq, aur mohabbat, it would be almost shameful to not pay tribute to some of Bollywood’s eternal love ballads this Valentines’s Day. Whether you eagerly anticipate or overtly dread the arrival of February 14 each year, here’s hoping this playlist will help carry you through Cupid’s busiest work day.
“Ehsaan Tera Hoga” from Junglee
After practicing his greatest snow jumps in “Yahooo,” Shammi Kapoor’s aristocratic Shekhar desperately pleads with Saira Banu’s girl-next-door Rajkumari to bestow upon him the favor of letting him love her. They just don’t make guys like they used in the 1960s. Seriously.
“Jiye To Jiye Kaise” from Saajan
Hard to pick just one love song from this 1991 film that made mullets look good and featured a love triangle between Salman Khan, Sanjay Dutt, and Madhuri Dixit. So I opted to pick the song that has 3 different versions scattered throughout the movie, as each of the three leads ponder the prospect of living life without their beloved.
“Tum Se Hi” from Jab We Met
Shahid Kapoor’s Aditya was lost without Kareena Kapoor’s Geet in this 2007 romantic comedy. This Valentines’ Day, may we all miss trains and find dashing millionaire industrialists who will not only safely get us home, but will subsequently fall head-over-heels in love with us.
“Tu Meri Zindagi Hai” from Aashiqui
When Aashiqui released in 1990, it was a breath of fresh air from the predominantly horrendous 1980s Bollywood music. The entire album in and of itself could be a Valentine’s Day playlist, but “Tu Meri Zindagi Hai” has always been my personal favorite. The 2013 sequel to this movie, creatively titled Aashiqui 2, also has a great soundtrack.
“Tujhe Dekha To” from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Bollywood’s ode to love at first sight via Kajol, Shahrukh Khan, marigolds, and running — lots of running. What’s not to love?
“Tere Bina Zindagi Se” from Aandhi
This 1975 song takes a look at a man and woman who abandoned their love for one another in their younger days, only to reunite years later and realize that while they had no complaints with life without each other, neither one was truly living without the other. This classic song was re-done years later in the 2002 film Dil Vil Pyaar Vyar that was almost entirely inspired by R.D. Burman‘s music.
“Laal Ishq” from Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela
“Meri Mehbooba” from Pardes
Shahrukh Khan’s role as the perpetually loyal Arjun in this 1997 Subhash Ghai romantic drama would win over pretty much any girl, Valentine’s Day or not. Because really, who wouldn’t want to be the picture in SRK’s mind? All creepiness aside, of course.
“Dil Deewana” from Maine Pyar Kiya
The female version of this song from Salman Khan’s 1989 debut film highlights quite possibly the longest and most bizarre date in Bollywood history. Cotton candy showers, throngs of random children, and intermittent cart-wheeling aside, it’s hard not to love this song, especially since it has an equally awesome male version.
“Ek Ladki Ko Dekha To” from 1942: A Love Story
As the last soundtrack to ever be composed by musical maestro R.D. Burman, it’s no surprise that this 1994 movie has unforgettable love songs. Released after his death, 1942: A Love Story earned R.D. Burman a posthumous Filmfare Award for Best Music Director.
“Aai Mere Humsafar” from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
Bollywood’s 1988 stab at re-creating Romeo and Juliet introduced the world to the very popular Juhi Chawla-Aamir Khan onscreen duo.
“Ek Din Aap” from Yes Boss
This song never got anywhere near as much credit as it deserved because it was only featured in the opening credits of this 1997 SRK and Juhi Chawla movie. It’s still my favorite song from the film, despite it being a perpetual enabler of Bollywood’s idealization of the soulmate search.
“Youn Hi Hum Tumse Pyaar Karte Rahe” from Khakee
This song was the only reason I went to watch this 2004 action flick starring Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan, and Amitabh Bachchan. After 3+ hours of anxiously awaiting for this song to appear, I left the theater sorely disappointed that the filmmakers had picked this song to exclude from the movie. Typical.
“Saanson Ko Saanson Main” from Hum Tum
Bollywood’s 2004 take on When Harry Met Sally featured Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee in the lead roles as two friends who would never have guessed that they would fall for each other.
“Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein” from Kabhi Kabhie
This 1976 film’s complicated love saga spans multiple generations, the nuances of which have likely all been forgotten unlike Kabhi Kabhie’s memorable soundtrack. The album won multiple accolades (Filmfare awards for best music, best lyricist, and best male playback singer) and continues to charm listeners years later.
“Pehla Nasha” from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
Young (read: pre-botox) Aamir Khan dancing with his sweater, skipping through fields, and tumbling through leaves all in the name of young love. Enough said.
“Mere Haath Mein” from Fanaa
This 2006 movie starring Kajol and Aamir Khan had an outstanding soundtrack, but the lyrical poetry and soothing instrumentals featured in “Mere Haath Mein” help it stand out.
“Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Leave it to rom-com king Karan Johar’s debut 1998 feature to have the song that captures all of our Valentine’s Day sentiments with one catchy line. Don’t deny it. That something-something will really get you.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, so please let us know about any of your favorite love songs that aren’t listed here!
Farah Naz Khan is an internal medicine resident at Emory University. After graduating from college in Boston, she returned to her Alabama hometown to attend medical school, and was reunited with the mix of Southern hospitality and South Asian flair that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com.