It took me a hot minute to put this together (considering it should have been posted back in April), but I couldn’t let this go unpublished. Looking back, I can’t believe I haven’t truly made any Bollywood-related posts yet given how much I love my Hindi films and music, but the death of Mr. Shravan Kumar Rathod called for it. I know, that might not jump out as a familiar name to you like Shah Rukh Khan or Madhuri Dixit, but if you grew up with 90s Bollywood, surely Shravan has touched your heart at some point with his music. You may better recognize him as part of the duo Nadeem-Shravan, who composed some of the most iconic soundtracks for various Bollywood movies from the 90s to the late 2000s. Their rise to fame came with the record-breaking success of Aashiqui, known for its best-selling music and the ascension of singers Kumar Sanu and Anuradha Paudwal. What followed was a string of unparalleled successes, like my personal favourite Saajan. Phool Aur Kaante, Deewana, Raja, Raja Hindustani, Pardes, Dhadkan, Dil Hai Tumhaara, and Andaaz just name a few more films from the group’s arsenal of pure banger hits. Their songs lent vocals to many A-list celebrities such as Mr. Khan himself, many Madhuri films, and other celebrities like Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan, Mahima Chaudhry, Aamir Khan, and many more. Nadeem-Shravan utilized top-tier singers, ultimately driving voices like Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik to replace some of the more tenured industry singers, like Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. The duo split up in 2005, eventually trying to make a comeback in 2009 until Mr. Nadeem Akhtar Saifi decided to go solo while Shravan focused on developing his sons.
What is it that made Nadeem-Shravan’s music stand out so much compared to the other composer groups of the same time period? For starters, their music held onto real instrumentation (as opposed to synthesizers) and consistently made use of traditional Indian instruments like the sitar, shehnai, tabla, dholak, and bansuri. Additionally, the duo dabbled in many assorted styles of Indian music, ranging from classical to non-classical, echoing sentiments of qawwalis and ghazals. The team infused these traditional nodes into their unique version of pop and dance music, creating something upbeat for casual listening or dancing to at events. As with the turbulent storylines of the movies they were involved with, Nadeem-Shravan had much versatility with their love songs, composing romantic duets and heartbreak melodies seamlessly for the same films. In case you were wondering where they got their brilliance from, the team (like many other Bollywood composers) drew inspiration from existing songs. I like to call this plagiarism, since citation was never given during the movie credits nor on the CD sleeves. Many of their popular songs came from Arabic/Pakistani tracks, whilst others were from various worldwide English songs. You can hate them and the entire industry for it (as the movie plots were often borrowed too), but Nadeem-Shravan bred new culture into many of these songs, effectively making them their own unique interpretations.
Flash-forward to today where Shravan unfortunately passed away on April 22, 2021, from COVID-19. Even though he had stepped away from his own music career for quite some time, fans like myself still mourned his death because it truly marked an end of an era. The shift from real instruments to generated sounds and the disposal of Indian instrumentation has changed the face of Bollywood over the last 10-15 years. The industry’s insistence on being more Western has really destroyed a culture that was so attractive and special to begin with. Many things changed since the days of Nadeem-Shravan; we no longer hear songs from the same singers and no longer see the same actors on screen. It makes sense, as talent needs to evolve, but long-gone are the days where musicians were classically trained. Now it’s just a matter of winning Indian Idol and sounding just like a Arijit Singh or Shreya Ghoshal imitation. Yes, I’m bitter and upset about this. Even if Shravan passed on his craft to his sons, the industry does not want that ‘old school style’ anymore, meaning that the height of Bollywood music has died with him.
As depressing as that is, his memory lives on in the beautiful music he helped create, and I’ve tried my best to give you all a sample of the best Nadeem-Shravan works below. This is really all I can do to pay tribute to the immense talent that was and will never be again. How I miss this style of music so much and wish to have it back. Nowadays you get these hidden gems every so often, but nothing will ever compare to the consistency of the 90s Bollywood era. Rest in peace Shravan; Covid may have taken many things from us, but your music is eternal and will always be treasured.
ARTICLE ARTWORK“‘Nadeem-Shravan to reunite for concerts” Times of India, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/hindi/bollywood/news/nadeem-shravan-to-reunite-for-concerts/articleshow/67710366.cms.
VIDEO CLIPSNadeem-Shravan. “Jaan-E-Jigar Jaaneman [Full Song] | Aashiqui | Rahul Roy, Anu Agarwal” YouTube, uploaded by tseriesoldisgold, 17 May 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kUlQYMg_l4. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Dekha Hai Pehli Baar – HD VIDEO SONG | Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit | Saajan | 90’s Best Romantic Song” YouTube, uploaded by venus, 12 April 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEbSW6mMWvE. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Milne Ki Tum Koshish Kerna – Dil Ka Kya Kasoor | Kumar Sanu, Asha Bhosle | Prithvi & Divya Bharti” YouTube, uploaded by zeemusicrewind, 04 May 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=_f9kIjhuYMo. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Kal College Band Ho Jayega | 4K Video Songs | Jaan Tere Naam | Udit Narayan & Sadhana Sargam” YouTube, uploaded by UltraHindi, 20 April 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou3OTxK-UIQ. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Aisi Deewangi Dekhi Nahi Kahi | Deewana Song | Shah Rukh Khan | Divya Bharti | Most Viewed Song” YouTube, uploaded by filmigaane, 10 December 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwpqME_Cmpc. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Ghoonghat Ki Aad Se (HD) | Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993) | Aamir Khan | Juhi Chawla | Romantic Song” YouTube, uploaded by filmigaane, 03 May 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRkLyJsoqIU. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Akhiyaan Milaoon Kabhi | Raja Songs | Madhuri Dixit | Sanjay Kapoor | Udit Narayan | Alka Yagnik” YouTube, uploaded by filmigaane, 24 November 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux7WD9FrmWQ. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Pardesi Pardesi | Aamir Khan & Karisma Kapoor | Udit Narayan & Alka | Raja Hindustani | 90’s hit” YouTube, uploaded by tipsofficial, 02 September 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKfGl39ZJWI. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “O Baby Don’t Break My Heart (HD) | Mohabbat (1997) | Akshay Khanna | Madhuri Dixit | Bollywood Song” YouTube, uploaded by filmigaane, 15 May 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Naf1wkcaAjY. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Mera Dil Tera Deewana | Aa Ab Laut Chalen | Aishwarya Rai Bachchan & Akshaye Khanna | Alka Yagnik” YouTube, uploaded by zeemusicrewind, 21 July 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpZKHl909Co. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Aksar Is Duniya Mein – 4K Video Song | Dhadkan | Akshay Kumar | Suniel Shetty | Mahima Chaudhary” YouTube, uploaded by venus, 03 August 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYV4OzMLVJg. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Main Agar Saamne Full Video – Raaz | Dino Moreo & Bipasha Basu | Abhijeet & Alka Yagnik” YouTube, uploaded by tipsofficial, 22 February 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2aHXbnu9dI. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Dil Laga Liya – Full Video | Dil Hai Tumhaara | Preity & Arjun Rampal | Alka Yagnik & Udit Narayan” YouTube, uploaded by tipsofficial, 09 December 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qBdQzPnw4E. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Aayega Maza Ab Barsaat Ka | Andaaz Songs | Akshay Kumar | Priyanka Chopra | Alka Yagnik| Gold songs” YouTube, uploaded by filmigaane, 10 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcu2AAjdTjE. Accessed 8 May 2021.
Nadeem-Shravan. “Pyaar Ka Anjaam Song Video – Bewafaa | Akshay, Kareena & Sushmita | Kumar Alka & Sapna” YouTube, uploaded by tipsofficial, 29 April 2010, www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8bPnPJS4Ew. Accessed 8 May 2021.