After the success of his songs in the 1988 film Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, Udit Narayan went on to become one of the biggest playback singers of the 1990s. Besides many duets, mainly with Alka Yagnik, he had many popular solo songs too.
To mark his 66th birthday on December 1, we choose 10 of his solo songs. While the first seven are commercial hits, the other three remain under-rated but showcase his talent as a singer. The order is chronological.
1 Papa Kehte Hain – Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
The first big hit for Aamir Khan also shot Udit Narayan to fame. Music directors Anand-Milind began with a catchy guitar and brass section, and Majrooh Sultanpuri’s words, “Papa kehte hai bada naam karega, beta hamara aisa kaam karega, magar yeh toh koi na jaane, ke meri manzil hai kahaan” became a rage. The song was shot at a college function. Udit also had the duets ‘Gazab Ka Hai Din’ and ‘Ae Mere Humsafar’ with Alka.
2 Khambe Jaisi Khadi Hai – Dil (1990)
Aamir co-starred with Madhuri Dixit in this film. Anand-Milind used a rock n’ roll style and a supple bassline on this song sung smoothly by Udit. Sameer Anjaan wrote the words, “Khambe jaisi khadi hai, ladki hai ya chhadi hai, shola hai phuljhadee hai, pataake ki ladi hai, aankhon mein gussa hai, labon pe gaali hai, dekho zara dekho yaaron khudko samajhti hai kya”.
3 Jadoo Teri Nazar – Darr (1993)
Shiv-Hari composed this hit. Though Udit’s voice represented Shah Rukh Khan, the actor’s face never appeared on screen – though one saw his hands with a guitar. The song was filmed on Juhi Chawla. Lyricist Anand Bakshi wrote, “Jadoo teri nazar, khushboo tera badan, tu haan kar ya na kar, tu hai meri Kiran”.
4 Ruk Ja O Dil Diwane – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995)
On this uptempo song in a restaurant party environment, music directors Jatin-Lalit used strong brass and guitars. Shah Rukh did a sprightly dance with Kajol in the house. Bakshi began the song, “Ruk ja o dil deewane, poochoon toh main zara, ladki hai ya hai jaadu, khushboo hai ya nasha”. The film was a musical blockbuster.
5 Ghar Se Nikalte – Papa Kehte Hai (1996)
Jugal Hansraj, known for his child role in Masoom, played the main lead in this song with Mayuri Kango. He was seen luģging an acoustic guitar in some shots. Music was by Rajesh Roshan, and Udit’s voice suited the actor. Lyricist Javed Akhtar began with the lines, “Ghar se nikalte hi, kuch door chalte hi, raste mein hain uska ghar”.
6 Aaye Ho Meri Zindagi Mein – Raja Hindustani (1996)
The song was in two versions with Alka Yagnik singing the female one. Udit’s version began in a car and was filmed on Aamir and Karisma Kapoor. Nadeem-Shravan provided the music and Sameer wrote, “Aaye ho meri zindagi mein tum bahaar banke, meri dil mein yun hi rehna haay, mere dil mein yun hi rehna tum pyaar pyaar banke”.
7 Main Nikla Gaddi Leke – Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001)
The song was filmed on Sunny Deol, with Amisha Patel in the crowd scene. Uttam Singh composed the music. Bakshi used a dose of Punjabi with the lines, “Main nikla o gaddi leke, o raste par o sadak mein, ek mod aaya main utthe dil chhod aaya”. The song used a vibrant Punjabi folk rhythm, and Udit adapted his accent well.
8 Woh Chand Jaisi Ladki – Devdas (2002)
One of the most beautiful ballads sung by Udit, it was picturised on Shah Rukh and Aishwarya Rai. Music director Ismail Darbar made wonderful use of santoor and bansuri. Lyricist Nusrat Badr wrote, “Woh chaand jaise ladki, is dil pe chaa rahi hai, aankhon ke raaste se, is dil mein aa rahi hai”.
9 Mere Khwabon Ka – Jism (2003)
Another masterpiece, this was written by Sayeed Quadri and composed by M.M. Kreem in a ghazal format. Udit sang it with raw emotion, and John Abraham enacted it on screen. The main lines were, “Mere khwabon ka har ek naqsh mita de koi, sukhe patton ka bacha dher hai jala de koi”. Udit also sang solo for John in the Saaya song ‘Aye Meri Zindagi’.
10 Kyon Kisi Ko – Tere Naam (2003)
On the film’s title song, Udit was backed by Alka. ‘Kyon Kisi Ko’ was entirely solo, filmed on Salman Khan in a group. Himesh Reshammiya composed the song and Sameer wrote, “Kyon kisi ko wafa ke badle wafa nahin milti, kyon kisi ko dua ke badle dua nahin milti, kyon kisi ko khushi ke badle khushi nahin milti, yeh pyaar mein kyon hota hai”.
Udit was consistent till 2008 or so but after that the frequency of his songs came down, with many new singers coming in. But for the two decades he was at the helm, he created scores of magical songs. And the best thing is that he has his own style.