My ten favorite 70s B-Funk songs

A lot of westerners (although not me) are introduced to Hindi movies through the fantastic music of the 1960s and 1970s. There are a number of CD compilations out there: Bollywood Funk, Bollywood Funk Experience, Bombay Connection: Funk from Bollywood. You get the picture! If I knew anything about music I would ramble on here about how funk is what happens when you mix rock with Motown and James Brown and then drop too much acid before getting on stage. All I really know for sure is that during the 1970s while I listened to George Clinton and Parliament sing “We Want the Funk” I had no idea that a bunch of music composers in India were listening to them too and incorporating their sound into Indian film songs that I would one day also truly love.

I  had no idea either that Indian costume designers were at least as sartorially adventurous as George Clinton, but there you have it!

In any case, it’s not difficult to hear those influences in quite a lot of Bollywood music in the 1970s. Here are ten of my favorites, in alphabetical order by movie because I’m too hot and too tired to otherwise organize them, although I did flog myself by not allowing any repeats from the CD compilations I’ve mentioned above or from other lists I’ve made here previously (Helen’s in particular: I didn’t realize when I put the list together how many of these are Helen songs! Plus it nearly killed me not to include “Ae Naujawan” from Apradh).

1. “Dance Music” from Bairaag (1976) (instrumental; music by Kalyanji Anandji). Helen burns up the dance floor as Leena Chandavarkar burns with envy. It’s been a while since I saw this film; all I remember is that it was sort of insane and Dilip Kumar had a triple role.

2. “Main Kachhe Angoor Ki Bail” from Chori Mera Kaam (1975) (sung by Kishore Kumar, his son Amit Kumar, and Kanchan; music by Kalyanji Anandji). This goofball film is wonderful, and this song is one of my favorite things about it. The Shash’s dreadful wig and Dadamoni are reason enough to watch it (and Zeenat if those two don’t float your boat).

3. “Cabaret Dance” from Dharmatma (1975) (instrumental with gutteral screams, weird laughter, and sundry other strange sounds; music by Kalyanji Anandji). Helen’s lunatic snake dance—possibly her most bizarre ever, and that is saying something—and I just want whatever it is they all are taking. And by the way, I love Feroz Khan.

4. “Ek Se Badhkar Ek” from Ek Se Badhkar Ek (1976) (sung by Runa Laila; music by Kalyanji Anandji). Helen again (this is why she is The Queen of Everything) in this crazy and entertaining film from Brij, irritating Raaj Kumar (he of the Colorful Blouses).

5. “Mohabbat Hi Mohabbat Hai” from Geeta Mera Naam (1975) (sung by Rafi; music by Laxmikant Pyarelal). I don’t much care for the picturization of this song in the film but I’m not sure why. Three stylish people (Feroz, Sadhana and Helen), one drunk person (Keshto Mukherjee) and banyan trees surely ought to be enough but the song somehow still manages to out-pizzazz all that. It needs some flying monkeys or a man in a moth-eaten bear suit.

6. “Tu Kya Jane O Bewafaa” from Haath Ki Safai (1974) (sung by Lata (!); music by Kalyanji Anandji). A classic filmi nightclub song, with Hema Malini shimmying in front of gora extras, men in sheikh outfits, beaded curtains, Vinod Khanna and poor sad sack Randhir Kapoor. I watched this film not that long ago, but don’t remember anything much about it (possibly why I did not review it either).

7. “Samne Ye Kaun Aaya” from Jawani Diwani (1972) (sung by Kishore and RD Burman; music by RD Burman). This film mostly passed by in a haze for me since I could only focus in horror on Jaya Bhaduri’s inexplicably infantilized character: she carried a doll around with her everywhere, even to her college classes. Also, the available dvd/vcd of the film doesn’t include the funkadelic beginning of the song, which is a real pity. But lucky you can get the full song over at Third Floor Music! This particular Youtube video has it too.

8. “One Two Cha Cha Cha” from Shalimar (1978) (sung by Usha Uthup; music by RD Burman). A bad film with great stars and great music…okay so it isn’t that bad a film! (Wait, yes it is. But still, I love it.) Opening credits roll over this song pictured on Aruna Irani conducting dance classes.

9. “O Meri Jaan Main Ne Kaha” from The Train (1970) (sung by Asha and RD Burman; music by RD Burman). Yup—Helen again! I love this film, and especially I love the songs in it. And this is pretty much the best of them, no mean feat!

Oh fuck it!!!!!

10. “Ae Naujawan Hai Sab” from Apradh (1972) (sung by Asha; music by Kalyanji Anandji). I can’t leave this off, I can’t! It should be on every list ever made by anybody!

43 Comments to “My ten favorite 70s B-Funk songs”

  1. Well I know what I’m listening to at work tomorrow! Super groovy and indispensable list!

  2. Hmm, when I saw the starry sunglasses at the beginning, for a moment I thought Bootsy Collins had actually guest starred in a Hindi movie! Wow, wouldn’t that have been something? :-)

    But then I read the opening paragraph and realised you were just illustrating a point. :-(

    Good list, hey!

    Some of the songs reminded me of the weekend sometime in the 90s that me and my sister sat down for a Brij Sadanah watchathon, that included Victoria 203, Ek Se Badkar Ek, Chori Mera Kaam, and others. It was a blast!

  3. Helen’s moves in “Dance Music” can’t have been choreographed–they have to be pure Helenspiration.

    Great list, Memsaab–thanks for sharing!

    • I have heard it said that Helen choreographed most of her own dances, but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I am sure she contributed at the very least though :)

  4. Interesting list Memsaab. A minor correction though: Dharmatma was KA not RD.
    I’ve been a silent reader of your superb blog for a long time now :)

  5. Thank you, this is going to make up for some of the shit going on in my life right now. :)

  6. Waah, great songs indeed ! I really grew up listening and enjoying these kinds of songs in 1970s. It is to be noticed that the music in most of these songs are by R D Burman. And even where it is not, the other music directors have composed RDB kind of music.

    Now I will spend the next hour or so listening to these songs.

    • I do tend to think of Kalyanji Anandji as the masters of the funkified title music and background score (and songs) but RD definitely influenced them too. He just kept moving on to other things, I think. Plus his best songs in this area have already been used on other compilations.

  7. Thanks for this list, Memsaab! Much to listen to. I love “Mohabbat Hi Mohabbat Hai’, too, which I get the impression is a pretty rare instance of Laxmikant Pyarelal getting on board the funky train — and doing an excellent job of it, at that. I tend to think of them as being the staunch tradtionalists, while it was RD Burman and (especially) the funktastic Kalyanji Anandji who were more likely to experiment with these kinds of contemporary influences — as is reflected by their dominance in your list.

    And, yes, Shalimar, is a bad film.

    • Now I have a dream to time-travel back into the 70s and make a Hindi film with George Clinton as the nattily-dressed villain (with Shyam Kumar, Sudhir and Ranjeet as henchmen) of the piece.

  8. Ooh, this has to be the happiest list, ever! Just the right playlist to enliven a steamy afternoon in a stodgy, dysfuntional Federal Government office. :-D

  9. Best post ever… :)

    Funk – Helen – Funky Helen

    Don’t think I could really ask for anything more.

  10. This is cheering me up on this sticky hot day :D A guy with a rubber penis nose and another one in diapers and space boots. I feel cooler just looking at all the aluminum foil and hair.

  11. Memsaab, you probably thought that it was too obvious (or too lacking in Helen) to include, but I think Kalyanji Anandji’s music for Don rivals Curtis Mayfield’s score for Superfly:

    • Yeah, I think Don has pretty much been covered elsewhere :) But it is a wonderful score and the songs are great too. I should watch it again, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. Still never seen the SRK version either!

  12. Won’t rain on your parade :D The second last cap (to the left of Helen’s cap) is mind blowing. From which song?

    • I wondered if anyone would catch that it’s not from any of the songs featured! It was originally going to be on the list (Rekha in “Dekho Arre Dilbar” from Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye) before I couldn’t NOT put “Ae Naujawan” there :)

  13. I quite understand why you couldn’t do without ‘Ae naujawan’ – it’s pretty fantastic as is the post. Thank you. I had a wonderful time last evening going through the songs. I’d recommend ‘Yaar dildar tujhe kaisa chahiye’ from ‘Chhailla Babu’ (1977). Folks in the know swear that it was ‘mega popular’ in those times :-)

    • Three things from Chhailla Babu were on the short list, my favorite was taken by one of the compilations (“Pyaar Chaiye Keh Paisa”) and I have posted another before (the title track) and this just didn’t *quite* make it. But there are lots of great ones that didn’t make it. Hope to find more!

      • Same song :-) ‘Pyaar chahiye ke paisa chayihe’ is the second line in it :-) Sorry, didn’t realize it was in the compilation. I remember your rip of the title track in the post on the movie now. And one of my favorite screenshots with the sub on electricity!

  14. awesome list, i shall be referring to it again , I can’t think of any bolly funk songs off my head right now, this post as well as several thoughts running through my mind brings 70’s bollywood very close if not even taking the title of my personal favourite bollywood decade.

  15. Hey , I am a 70s girl. I wore wide bottomed pants, tight floral shirts, large go-go sunglasses, hoop earrings and pale lipstick. I am a 70s teen.

    I saw Jawani Diwani umpteen number of times. I was living in Bangalore at the time, and the movie was majorly picturised in Bangalore. How I loved that movie, despite Jaya in sarees and the crazy looking Randhir Kapoor.

    Love all the songs on your list. Love em.

    • Me too Ava!!! Although you were doubtless much more stylish than I—I was stuck in central Indiana (see “That 70’s Show” to get the idea). We wore a lot of synthetic fabrics in ugly browns and oranges and greens. And I had to wear horn-rimmed glasses in order to see, so no fabulous shades for me :(

      Jawani Diwani was just so BIZARRE, with Jaya carrying around that doll. It was never explained and nobody seemed to think it was weird. But it was fun too. I kind of love Randhir Kapoor.


  16. I was a teenager in the ’70s too, but I’m afraid I missed out on the ’70s as most people know it… I guess it was from living in New York City and accidentally becoming too hip for my own good (because I was a late-night-radio nerd). So, I never got into ’70s music and style in a big way until 1975 and ’76, when I started getting into early punk rock. The first music poster that I ever put on my wall was a big poster of Debbie Harry, which I found in a special record store in the East Village. The first time I started to get into any ’70s rock “fashion” was when I got someone to cut my hair so that it would all stand up straight. Ah, those were the days…

    I heard plenty of funk and early disco because the neighborhood I lived in until about ’75 was about 50 percent African American, but I wasn’t enlightened enough to pick up on the benefits of that music until years later. (This was in The Bronx – less than a mile from the place where many say hip-hop was born…)

    I did have a few other earlier ’70s influences, mostly from Britain… Such as developing a taste for the worst-dressed band of all time, Slade. And – though very uncool (in some people’s eyes), – from about the age of 11, I had a weakness for Jethro Tull. Recently, by the way, Jethro Tull, have been jamming with Anoushka Shankar. No kidding – look it up on YouTube!

    But I guess I’m getting a bit off-topic here. I actually like a lot of the music in this post, even though the 1940s is more my style these days. :) I knew that song from Bairaag because it’s on a compilation CD that I’ve had for about five years, called Sitar Beat! Indian Style Heavy Funk, Volume 1. It is very groovy!

    • Slade!!! I had forgotten all about Slade. Now I am going to need to spend some time on Youtube :D Since I spent the first four years of the 70s in colonial Africa, I got a good dose of British too—loved T Rex and Gary Glitter (now in jail in Indonesia for being a pedophile, yikes). I’ve always had a shameless love for bubblegum pop too, not that anyone who understands my tastes in films will find that surprising :)

      What other music is on the Sitar Beat cd? I’ve not seen that one!

  17. I first really learned about Slade from watching these television rock shows In Concert and (especially) Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. As I recall, they also showed the most flamboyant David Bowie performances, diamond earrings and all. (He’d toned down a little by the time I saw him live, in 1977, I think.)

    I learned about Slade earlier, but I learned about most of those glitter-glam bands like T Rex after becoming a David Bowie fan. I was a big Bowie fan at about the time I got into early punk. (The two seemed to go together, though I guess the Brits made divisions between the genres that most Americans wouldn’t understand. Actually, looking at my tastes in retrospect, I was always more of a Goth than anything else. Maybe that makes sense when you look at MY tastes in Hindi music and films. :) )

    But anyway, I could go on about this stuff forever… Most of my cultural obsessions came from music first.

    The Sitar Beat CD also has a great psychedelic-sounding instrumental from Hotel (though that was early ’80s, I guess), “Hum Tumhe Chahte Hain” and some extra filler music(?) from Qurbani (1980), music from Don and The Burning Train, a recording of “Dum Maro Dum” done live/in concert, a song by Sapan Jagmohan, “Meri Aankhon Mein” (no one seems really sure what the film was; I checked YouTube and someone said Videsh (1981)), and some nice stuff (non-film, I think) from Klaus Doldinger, Serge Gainsbourg, and Ananda Shankar.

    • Sapan Jagmohan wrote the music for Call Girl and for Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche, both soundtracks are wonderful :) I’ll check out “Meri Aankhon Mein”! (I loved early Bowie too, one of the first songs I remember obsessively wanting to hear was his version of “Sorrow” in the early 70s.)

  18. in ek se badhkar ek…….jaani is having whisky in steel glass?????

  19. Shukriya memsaab…..for including my “Saamne Ye Kaun Aaya” clip from YT. I am honored :)
    I love this list. You need to check out some of the other BollyFunk rarities that I posted on my channel.
    Great job :)


  20. All the three legendry music directors of 1970′ Kalyan ji Anandji, Laxmikant Pyarelal and RDB were great on their own way in every respect. Kalyanji Anandji were masters of adaptation of any kind of music, though they came in late 1950. But they have produced many fast and catchy scores till their last movies in 1990’s. Whether it is classicals,folk,westensed,quawally, sad songs,romantin song, light hearted songs, they had equal grasp on all and that too consistently with high quality.

    I salute the trimoorty of 1970’s that is KA,LP & RDB. In fact in one interview when RDB was asked whom he considers the best music director of bollywood. He named his contemporaries i.e KA & LP.

  21. Greta, it would have been great if you had included “Thodasa Thero” from Victoria # 203 and “Do Ghoont Mujhe Bhi Pila De” from Jheel Ke Us Paar. Cheers. Satyajit

  22. Some great songs thanks!

    Memsaab~ agreed! This track has a bangin baseline and nasty rolll to it

    Sapan Jagmohan – Meri Aakhon Mein

    Maybe spelled

    Sapan Jagmohan – Meri Aankhon Mein

  23. I am not even a halfway-good amateur musician but I think the 70s and early 80s were the last time when good music was ‘played’ by good musicians. Whenever I hear a song, I can visualize musicians of fantastic calibre ‘enjoying’ playing the songs. I know it took years and years to achieve that level where nobody made a mistake and got it just right. Pick any hit from those years and you realise that part of the fun is in the way it was sung as well as played (apart from the obvious beauty of the composition and the lyrics!). There have been good songs since and good songs in the future but I doubt whether we will ever hear that flourish of a drum-roll, that bass-line that never got its due in the recording of those days, the brass that could set the tone of the song or a sitar that could play so well on a disco song!

  24. its impossible….(yumpusible) to get such a detailed image from just simple screen cap images….yumpusible…
    btw…u use adobe or irfan view…?
    Ma Kasam….u make yumpusible to possible…i say…again…

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