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Filmi Music

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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.


Recommended Soundtracks (original language titles only, in chronological order):

  • Mayabazar (1957, Telugu)
  • Sholay (1975, Hindi)
  • Sankarabharanam (1979, Telugu)
  • Ananda Bhairavi (1983, Kannada/Telugu)
  • Sagara Sangamam (1983, Telugu)
  • Swarnakamalam (1988, Telugu)
  • Geethanjali (1989, Telugu)
  • Thalapathi (1991, Tamil)
  • Roja (1992, Tamil)
  • Kathalan (1994, Tamil)
  • Bombay (1995, Tamil)
  • Indian (1996, Tamil)
  • Iruvar (1997, Tamil)
  • Minsara Kananvu (1997, Tamil)
  • Jeans (1998, Tamil)
  • Dil Se.. (1998, Hindi)
  • Taal (1999, Hindi)
  • Alaipayuthey (2000, Tamil)
  • Kochu Kochu Santhoshangal (2000, Malayalam)
  • Rhythm (2000, Tamil)
  • Minnale (2001, Tamil)
  • Lagaan (2001, Hindi)
  • Roja Kootam (2002, Tamil)
  • Okkadu (2003, Telugu)
  • Varsham (2004, Telugu)
  • Dor (2006, Hindi)
  • Guru (2007, Hindi)
  • Jodhaa Akbar (2008, Hindi)
  • Delhi 6 (2009, Hindi)
  • Baahubali (2015 & 2017, Telugu/Tamil)