Before MP3s and iPods there were cassette tapes and Walkmans — and I still have boxes filled with tapes of Bollywood soundtracks that I used to eagerly buy every time my family took weekend trips to Atlanta.
It’s probably safe to assume that a majority of my favorite songs from the cassette tape era featured Bollywood singers Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan, so I obviously leapt at the opportunity to see them perform live in Atlanta this past week! It’s hard to believe that both of these accomplished singers have Bollywood careers that span over three decades, especially since their live voices sounded exactly as fantastic as they did all those years ago when I used to listen to tapes of their songs on my hot pink Walkman knock-off. Don’t judge.
In order to help you all experience the same Bollywood nostalgia that happily consumed me last Friday night, let’s take a trip down memory lane with some of Alka Yagnik’s and Udit Narayan’s greatest hits. Brace yourself, I’m about to indulge myself, so it’s not going to be a short trip. Don’t have enough time? No worries, read no further, and just head on over to this playlist that I made. You’ll thank me later.
Alka Yagnik has been singing since she was only four-years-old, so her awe-inspiring career speaks for itself. But here are some of my personal favorites featuring her solo vocals:
“Gali Mein Aaj Chand Nikla” from Zakhm
A little bit of context about this 1998 Mahesh Bhatt film centered on the religious tensions in Indian society helps give this song deeper meaning. Long story short, Pooja Bhatt’s on-screen marriage to Nagarjuna’s Hindu film producer character, Raman Desai, was unacknowledged secondary to their religious differences. Hence the conflicted emotions portrayed in this touching song when her husband comes to visit his secret family.
“Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Main” from Raja Hindustani
Alka’s soulful singing in this 1996 song almost made me believe that Karishma Kapoor’s wealthy and spoiled character Aarti could fall in love with Aamir Khan’s charming taxi-driver character Raja. Almost.
Born in Nepal, Udit Narayan moved to Bombay in the late 1970s, and he’s been making Bollywood musical history ever since. Here are some of his classic solo performances that he performed in Atlanta.
“Jaadu Teri Nazar” from Darr
The fact that this 1993 song is featured on SRK’s stalker character, Rahul Mehra, makes this track all the more memorable. Or is it just creepier? Take your pick.
“Papa Kehte Hain” from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
My anti-Bollywood brother has loved this 1988 song for as long as I can remember…..don’t ask me why, I’m still trying to figure it out.
Alright, alright, alright (sorry, I couldn’t resist the urge to have my own Matthew McConaughey moment), it’s time to get to the songs that made this dynamic duo one of the most popular Bollywood singing pairs of all-time.
“Sun Jaane Jaan” from Sannata
Ever wonder what song this duo first sang together? Well, wonder no more, this 1981 song with all of its awkward choreography introduced the world to Alka+Udit, and it was love at first listen.
“Ae Mere Humsafar” from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak
“Taal Se Taal” from Taal
This 1999 song featured A.R. Rahman’s music, Anand Bakshi’s lyrics, and Alka and Udit’s vocals — what more could you ask for? Oh, and Aishwarya’s dancing in the rain in this video. Boom.
“Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
“Pardesi Pardesi” from Raja Hindustani
Another gem from this 1998 rich-girl-falls-in-love-with-a-taxi-driver movie. Only this time, there’s some trouble in paradise. Ruh roh.
“O Saathiya” from Saaya
“Tip Tip Barsa Pani” from Mohra
This 1994 song perhaps is more well-known for Raveena Tandon’s yellow-sari-rain-dance than for anything else. But hey, we can all appreciate a good song too, right? Only if you can overlook this video’s bizarre dance moves.
“Raja Ko Rani Se” Akele Hum Akele Tum
A 1995 movie about a love story between two on-screen aspiring singers featuring a song by two of my favorite off-screen Bollywood singers. Winning.
“Tinak Tin Tana” from Mann
Bollywood’s 1999 remake of the Hollywood classic An Affair to Remember featured Alka and Udit’s vocals in this catchy, upbeat song that culminated in tragedy for the movie’s on-screen duo.
“Dil Ne Yeh Kaha Hai Dil Se” from Dhadkan
If you can ignore Akshay Kumar’s ridiculous hair and goofy sweater in this video, then you’ll love this 2000 love song as much as I do.
“Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai” from Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai
Because who wouldn’t want to be stranded on a beach with Hrithik Roshan while he’s serenading you with this 2000 song? Let’s be real.
“Hai Mera Dil” from Josh
“Jaane Kyon” from Dil Chahta Hai
This 2001 Alka-Udit song simultaneously asks and then answers all of our toughest questions about love. You didn’t think Bollywood could solve your love life woes with a simple 5 minute song? Psh.
“Chupke Se Sun” from Mission Kashmir
This song was one of the few snippets of serenity within this otherwise overwhelmingly action-packed thriller film from 2000.
“Mere Mehboob Mere Sanam” from Duplicate
One of the many good songs from this otherwise mostly silly and sometimes ridiculous 1998 movie. Who am I kidding…..I’m pretty sure I loved this movie.
“Saanson Ka Chalna” from Jeet
I definitely made it a point to watch this 1996 movie after all the manual rewinds I did of this Alka-Udit song on my portable pink tape player. Let’s just say that the soundtrack was infinitely more impressive than the movie.
“Chand Chupa Badal Main” from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
For most of my high school years, this 1999 song was the track that woke me up every weekday morning. And with that, cue my sudden urge to fall asleep and bring this epic Alka-Udit musical journey to a close. If you ever get a chance to see these two perform live — go, go, go!
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 culture that had shaped her childhood. Follow her on Twitter @farah287 or read some of her thoughts at farah287.blogspot.com.