The Hindi film music scene in 2015 chugged along without any transformative innovation. If I was to point to a specific trend, it may be the minor resurgence of jazz, or filmy-jazz, to be specific. There’s the entire Bombay Velvet soundtrack by Amit Trivedi, ‘Old School Girl’ in Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Drishyam’s ‘Kya pata’ (by Vishal Bhardwaj), Margarita with a Straw’s ‘I need a man’ (by Mikey McCleary) and Dil Dhadakne Do’s ‘Girls like to Swing’ (by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) to name a few. Amit’s labour of love, Bombay Velvet, got the short end of the stick, courtesy the film’s fortunes. But, as a soundtrack, it delivered and how! The variety of tunes recreating the Bombay of yore, demonstrated aptly the kind of ambition Amit set for himself, and he got some phenomenal singers to deliver.Krsna had produced stellar music in Tanu Weds Manu. For the film’s sequel, he created a fitting follow-up that was Indian and rich. Rounding off the top three is Rahman’s Tamasha, a thematic soundtrack that so beautifully weaves through Imtiaz’s narrative.
Ilaiyaraaja, Balki’s regular (and only) composer, made a grand comeback in Hindi this year with Shamitabh. Ignore the film’s fate and you hear a fantastic, and often nostalgic, tapestry of sounds from the veteran. Prolific Pritam was less active this year, though he had some delightful tunes across Phantom, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Dilwale. Anupam Roy’s long-awaited Hindi debut, Piku, was a welcome note, while the trio, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy produced better output in Marathi (Katyar Kaljat Ghusli) than in Hindi, though their music was very-Zoya in Dil Dhadakne Do. Amaal Mallik takes the top honours in the songs list though, with his incredibly infectious and enthusiastic techno sound in ‘Sooraj Dooba Hai’ from Roy. Sanjay Leela Bhansali finally got his musical tuning right in Bajirao Mastani, while Ram Sampath and Sachin-Jigar continue to produce genuinely interesting new-age music with films such as Bangistan and Badlapur, respectively.
Top 5 Hindi songs
Sooraj dooba hai
Roy (Amaal Mallik)
Piddly Si Baatein
O Sathi Mere
Tanu Weds Manu Returns (Krsna)
Mohabbat Buri Bimari
Bombay Velvet (Amit Trivedi)
For the audaciously inventive and bold musical style in Uttama Villain, Ghibran deserves the composer of the year tag. It is an attempt as ambitious as Amit Trivedi's Bombay Velvet in Hindi, though the style and genres are vastly different. But there's another composer who deserves that tag along with Ghibran and that is Anirudh. He produced decent stuff in Maari and Vedalam, but where he hits it out of the park is in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan - it is a mesmerizing series of superb tunes one after the other! The other young composer who gets to rank alongside these 2 to round off the top 3 soundtrack is Justin Prabhakaran. He comes on his own with a nuanced and beautiful 5-song set in Oru Naal Koothu.
The young debutant of the year, Leon James packs a good punch too, across two sequels - Kanchana 2 and Ko 2, while the Hip Hop Tamizha duo of Adhi and Jeeva produced great ear-candy in Aambala. Imman, who had a prolific output in 2013, seemed a bit muted this year too, like 2014, though he had a great album in Romeo Juliet. Rahman and Harris Jayaraj had their respective highlights in O Kadhal Kanmani and Yennai Arindhaal, while last year's star, Santhosh Narayanan was content with just a middling 36 Vayadhinile.
Top 5 Tamil songs of 2015
Naanum Rowdy Dhaan (Anirudh)
Romeo Juliet (D.Imman)
Oru Naal Koothu (Justin Prabhakaran)
Ko 2 (Leon James)
It's not often a non-Telugu composer gets 2 fantastic soundtracks in the same year. A R Rahman perhaps did it in the beginning of his career, but Malayalam composer Gopi Sundar pulls off this trick in 2015. His music in Bhale Bhale Magadivoy and Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju take him right to the top of the pile, as composer of the year... in a year when old stars like Devi Sri Prasad and Thaman lost some of the shine, and others like Sunny M.R. gathered more steam. But the composer to swoop in the 3rd spot in the top 3 soundtracks list late in the year is none other than Ilayaraja, with a lively, youthful album for Abbayitho Ammayi!
Last year's star, Ghibran had just one soundtrack in Telugu this year- Jil, while Keeravani's music in Baahubali worked in tandem with the film's historic box-office potential. Veteran Mani Sharma's son, Saagar Mahati made a decent enough debut in Jaadugadu, while Keeravani's severely under-rated brother Kalyan Koduri continues to show promise in films like Bandipotu and Hora Hori.
Top 5 Telugu songs of 2015
Bhale bhale magadivoy
Bhale Bhale Magadivoy (Gopi Sundar)
Kanulu kalanu pilicha
Abbayitho Ammayi (Ilaiyaraaja)
Malli Malli Idi Rani Roju (Gopi Sundar)
Jil jil jil
Malayalam films produced some of the finest music for any film industry, in 2015. The sheer variety of music from Kerala this year was a delight! Composer Bijibal was perhaps at his prolific best, producing a bewildering array of tunes across films like 32aam Adhyayam 23aam Vaakyam, Nellikka, Pathemari, Rani Padmini, Rajamma@Yahoo, Su Su Sudhi Vathmeekam, She Taxi, KL10 Pathu and Jilebi, though a complete standout soundtrack eluded him. Gopi Sundar, who shares the composer of the year tag with Bijibal, also had a scattered assortment of great tunes from films like Ennu Ninte Moideen, Charlie, Oru Second Class Yathra, Mili, Ivan Maryadaraman, Two Countries, Saaradhi, Jamna Pyari, Ivide and Lailaa O Lailaa. Unique to Malayalam soundtracks is the relatively lesser number of songs per film - usually 3 - that leads to a less rounded soundtrack. But, even with lesser number of songs, Roby Abraham's lone soundtrack, You Too Brutus deserves the top spot in the 3 soundtracks of the year, for the kind of vibrant music it delivered.
The year's biggest blockbuster, Premam, has a middling soundtrack at best, though much of its popularity was on the back of the film's success. It did have the delightful, released-later song, Malare, though! The top honor in the songs easily goes to Prashant Pillai's ear-worm from Chandrettan Evideya, Vasanthamallike! Shaan Rahman (with Oru Vadakkan Selfie and Adi Kapyare Kootamani), Govind Menon (with 100 Days of Love) and Viswajith (with Rudra simhasanam) round off the top 10.
Top 5 Malayalam songs of 2015
Chandrettan Evideya (Prashant Pillai)
You Too Brutus (Roby Abraham)
Ivan Maryadaraman (Gopi Sundar)
Premam (Rajesh Murugesan)
100 Days of Love (Govind Menon)
V.Harikrishna dominated last year's rankings along with Arjun Janya, but in 2015 he seems to have evolved better on his own! His soundtracks for Boxer and Kendasampige easily earn him the composer of the year tag, while Manikanth Kadri rounds off the top 3 with Jaathre. Arjun seems to have lost some of his sheen this year, thanks to his style getting repetitive and predictable.
Harikrishna's domination in the top 10 list is incredible, with 6 of the 10 songs! Mickey J Meyer, Manikanth Kadri, Arjun Janya and Anup Bhandari pick the other 4 spots. But yes, Kannada cinema lacked a big, inventive soundtrack like last year's Ulidhavaru Kandante.
Top 5 Kannada songs of 2015
Buguri (Mickey J Meyer)
Nenape nithya mallige
Jaathre (Manikanth Kadri)