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Filmi Music

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There's dancing behind movie scenes
Behind the movie scenes,
sadi rani
She's the one that keeps the dream alive
From the morning past the evening 'til the end of the light
Cornershop, "Brimful of Asha"

Most of India's music industry is tied to its movie industry. Meaning that Indian music is based off of Indian films. As a whole, this genre is called "filmi music". All of India's language-based film industries (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, etc.) involve musicals. Movie soundtracks will typically contain 5-10 songs, and there are around 1,000 films released in India each year.

The soundtrack for a Hindi or Regional musical will be made up of music from the song/dance numbers: background scores are not usually included. Each soundtrack is released before the actual film, and the success of a soundtrack can make or break the movie. In Indian musicals, the songs are not usually sung by the actors. Instead, a playback singer will record the song, and then the actors lipsynch on screen. The playback singer is often matched with an actor in the movie so the voice of the character is consistent. Similarly, when an actor does a movie in a language they do not speak, their lines are dubbed by a voice actor. For example, Aishwarya Rai (who is a native Tulu speaker) did Tamil-language films this way.

Composers, lyricists, and playback singers are well respected in the industry. A soundtrack is guaranteed to sell if a famous composer is associated with it. The most renowned composers are A. R. Rahman and Ilaiyaraaja (also playback singers). Ilaiyaraaja is the senior composer and has done tracks for all the South Indian industries (mostly Tamil) and Hindi. He has an astounding 900 movies under his belt. Rahman is the newer composer; he's the guy that did Slumdog Millionaire. Well-known singers include S.P. Balasubramaniam, Hariharan, K.S. Chitra, Asha Bhosle, Shreya Ghoshal, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, and S. Janaki.

Contrast Indi-Pop, a short-lived wave of Indian pop not produced to be included in Bollywood works. This trope is one of the reasons why Intermissions are still standard in Indian productions.



  • KikoRiki: The episode "Indian Tea", being a parody of Bollywood cinema, has the characters hold a tea party in which they sing and dance Filmi music pieces.

Films — Live-Action

  • 3 Idiots: All of the characters' musical numbers occur during the various Flashback B-Plots.
  • Alaipayuthey (2000, Tamil)
  • Ananda Bhairavi (1983, Kannada/Telugu)
  • Baahubali (2015 & 2017, Telugu/Tamil)
  • Bombay (1995, Tamil)
  • Delhi 6 (2009, Hindi)
  • Dil Se.. (1998, Hindi)
  • Dor (2006, Hindi)
  • Geethanjali (1989, Telugu)
  • Guru (2007, Hindi)
  • Indian (1996, Tamil)
  • Iruvar (1997, Tamil)
  • Jeans (1998, Tamil)
  • Jodhaa Akbar (2008, Hindi)
  • Kathalan (1994, Tamil)
  • Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal (2000, Malayalam)
  • Lagaan (2001, Hindi)
  • Mayabazar (1957, Telugu)
  • Minnale (2001, Tamil)
  • Minsara Kananvu (1997, Tamil)
  • Okkadu (2003, Telugu)
  • Rhythm (2000, Tamil)
  • Roja (1992, Tamil)
  • Roja Kootam (2002, Tamil)
  • Sagara Sangamam (1983, Telugu)
  • Sankarabharanam (1979, Telugu)
  • Sholay (1975, Hindi)
  • Swarnakamalam (1988, Telugu)
  • Taal (1999, Hindi)
  • Thalapathi (1991, Tamil)
  • Varsham (2004, Telugu)
  • Vishwa Thulasi


  • Bloodywood: Katiyar, one of the members, used to do parodic metal covers of Filmi music songs.
  • Cornershop: The band references Filmi music in their song "Brimful of Asha".
  • Marshmello: He composed the song "BIBA", along with Shirley Setia and Shah Rukh Khan, as an affectionate homage to this music genre. The music video even features the most common Bollywood tropes.

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