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    15 Bollywood Songs From The '90s And '00s That Were, Are, And Always Will Be Crowd-Pleasers

    Once a bop, always a bop.

    1. "Just Chill" by Amrita Kak, Sonu Nigam, and Jayesh Gandhi, from Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya?

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    T-Series / Via youtube.com

    We might have learned to say “chill” with age, but the heart still sings “cheyeo”, every time this song is played. In a world starved for wonder, we need more music featuring Katrina Kaif casually grooving! I’m willing to sacrifice my firstborn if Bollywood starts making songs extolling the "ada" (vibe) of "dilrubas" (sweetheart) again. Minus the autotune, of course.

    2. "Chale Jaise Hawayein" by Vasundhara Das and KK, from Main Hoon Na

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    I absolutely adore how self-acceptance and self-awareness coexist in this song. Take for example, "Main deewaani dil ki rani" (I'm the queen of hearts) and “Main pagli hoon, main ziddi hoon” (I’m crazy, I’m stubborn). If you ever want to be carefree like the wind or the birds and the butterflies, blame it on the feminine urge…or this song, starring Amrita Rao shimmying in her ultra-cute black outfit.  

    3. "It's Rocking" by Alisha Chinai, from Kya Love Story Hai

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    T-Series / Via youtube.com

    Oh, to be the paparazzi and get to be in the background, while Kareena Kapoor Khan tries to convince us to go crazy in love with her iconic dance moves! I have a feeling that Alisha Chinai was thinking of a cat while singing this song. Nothing else can ever justify her vehement encouragement, “Maro tum ishq pe maro, it’s rocking” (dying for love is awesome), otherwise.  

    4. "Dil Se Re" by Annupamaa, Febi Mani, A. R. Rahman, and Anuradha Sriram, from Dil Se..

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    Madras Talkies / Via youtube.com

    In our world, that is always burning because of some human folly or another, Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala romancing each other in this song, stands as a beacon of hope. They found, "in the midst of hell, what isn’t hell", so maybe we will too? After all, there will always be barbed wires, but then again — “Belein phir bhi ughti hai / Aur guchche bhi khilte hai” (but the creepers still grow and the flowers continue to bloom).

    5. "Ek Pal Ka Jeena" by Lucky Ali, from Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai

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    This song is actually the musification of the meme — On the outside, I whoop whoop but on the inside, I weep weep. Even though the cynicism is chronic, the beat of this song is iconic. Whenever I fail to JK my way out of any inconvenience, I remember this song and remind myself, “Ae mere dil tu gaaye jaa” (my heart, please keep singing).  

    6. "Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje" by Karsan Sagathia, Kavita Krishnamurthy, and Vinod Rathod, from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

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    When Ariana Grande declared “God is a woman”, she was actually talking about Aishwarya Rai Bachchan swaying and twirling to “Dham dham dham dhol baaje” (the drums are beating loudly). The only complaint I have against this otherwise impeccable song is how Aishwarya has been referred to as “Raat ki raani” (queen of night). Realistically speaking, she is the queen of dawn, morning, afternoon, twilight, and dusk, and I in no way condone this reductive image of her.

    7. "Chaiyya Chaiyya" by Sapna Awasthi and Sukhwinder Singh, from Dil Se..

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    Madras Talkies / Via youtube.com

    Speaking from experience, vibing to "Chaiyya Chaiyya" at 4am is better than drugs, Jeremy. When life becomes as wild as the roof of a moving train, may you always remember how to revive your inner Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora, and gracefully dance your way out of it.   

    8. "Soniye" by Sunidhi Chauhan and KK, from Aksar

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    T-Series / Via youtube.com

    Sending your crush flowers is not enough. You need to sing, “Tere bina meri subah nahi jalti / tere bina meri shaam nahi dhalti” (my day doesn’t start without you, my sun doesn't set without you). In the age of predictable Instagram story reactions, this song reminds us that courtship can actually be a very fulfilling creative pursuit, often triggering your poetic sensibilities.

    9. "Ek Nazar Mein Bhi" by KK and Sunidhi Chauhan, from Taxi No. 9211

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    UTV Motion Pictures / Via youtube.com

    I’d like to dedicate the first two lines of this song — “Ek nazar mein bhi pyaar hota hai, maine suna hai / do baaton mein bhi ikraar hota hai, maine suna hai”, to our internet crushes that didn’t last after we got to know them (RIP). Falling in love, be it for a boy, a girl, or a book, is the most effective route to an endless supply of serotonin. "Samaa rangeen sa hone lagta hai / jahaan haseen sa lagne lagta hai” (the ambiance becomes more colourful and the world becomes more beautiful), bears testimony to that.  

    10. "Yeh Taara Woh Taara" by Master Vignesh, Baby Pooja, and Udit Narayan, from Swades

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    T-Series / Via youtube.com

    If everyone is made to watch this video of Shah Rukh Khan dancing with kids, the world will be a less hateful place. This song tells us that when god gives us another day, we should try our best to not make it everyone’s problem. Considering how we're living in the middle of pandemics and wars, new days are rare. When given the privilege of living one, let us not hurt or isolate each other if we can? After all, “if they come for you they come for me too” and our best bet right now is to build bridges, not burn them down.

    11. "Crazy Kiya Re" by Sunidhi Chauhan and Ravi Khote, from Dhoom 2

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    YRF / Via youtube.com

    My goal in life is to make my loved ones as happy as listening to this song makes me. I never believed in love at first sight, till I saw Aishwarya Rai Bachchan dancing in this video. Is it just me or does her hair really have a life of its own? Your honour, my client pleads, "Crazy kiya re", whenever she sees Aishwarya in her stunning outfits. Can you really blame her? (If you just heard me talking about myself in third person…no you didn’t!)

    12. "Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaoon" by Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Alka Yagnik, from Yes Boss

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    Venus Movies / Via youtube.com

    As a child who was yet to grasp the concept of romantic love, I used to think that this song was being sung by Aladdin’s genie. As an adult, I can’t dismiss this notion completely, as, like a genie, healthy love is gratifying and does have transformative power. Turning "zameen" (ground) into "aasmaan" (sky) might not always be feasible, but it's the thought that counts and boy, oh boy, couldn't we all really use some thoughtfulness and care?

    13. "Pehla Nasha" by Sadhana Sargam and Udit Narayan, from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

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    Nasir Hussain Films / Via youtube.com

    This song is basically all the wholesome meme pages on Instagram combined together. First love, in all its novel and charming glory, is too vast to be captured linguistically, but this song somehow manages to articulate it exactly as it is. I also have a feeling that a million years from now, when aliens invade our planet, this is the same song they are going to sing after trying pani puri for the first time.  

    14. "Badal Pe Paon Hai" by Hema Sardesai, from Chak De! India

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    Did you know that listening to "Badal pe paon hai" on loop suspends the negative voices in your head? When endeavouring for something coveted starts feeling like a hamster wheel’s exercise in futility, I go back to this song. My perception of achievement might have gone through drastic changes since 2007, but the background music for every accomplishment has remained the same.   

    15. "Yaaron" by KK (❤️)

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    SonyMusicIndiaVEVO / Via youtube.com

    No list is complete without a tribute to the real MVPs who keep our lives together — our friends. KK’s (the other MVP) remarkable voice is a true signifier of all the magic our friends bring into our lives and without them, “Kya phir bolo yeh zindagi hai?” (what is life even?), indeed! This song is the OG homie checkpoint that was later popularised by Gen-Z memes and if you are reading this, you need to go scream “Italy” (but the "ta" is silent) at your friends.

    Which ones are your favourites? Which ones did I miss? Share in the comments!