My sister and I spent many Thursday mornings (when our schools had the weekly off) recording movie trailers off All India Radio. "Oh Krishna, you are the greatest musician of this world / Bansuri se tune prem dhun sunaya, mohana" from Meera Ka Mohan or Harish Bhimani's dulcet voice saying, "Meet mere man ke, Tips cassette ban ke (pause) aap ke ghar aanewala hain" was something we looked forward to. For no other reason but lack of choice!
Apart from having to survive the T-Series holocaust, the other big problem was having to visualise the lead players as the songs anonymously played out and the musicians named. I remember my sister aggressively dissing the song, "Kash koi ladka mujhe pyar karta" and then realising that it starred her heartthrob Aamir Khan.
So, when cable TV came to India, we were one of the early adopters - welcoming it with a red carpet bigger than the IPL's and becoming ardent viewers of MTV from the word go. After years of audio, we just loved music videos!
Therefore, putting together a list of my favourite music videos is something I should have done long ago except that it never struck me.
A recent request on Twitter for the best videos of 2009 got me thinking and made me come up with the loveliest videos of all time.
Great music - check. Fantastic visuals - check. Lovely memories - check.
Here are 10 of my favourites. Where are yours?
I will start with an obscure one.
Sukhwinder Singh songs are nothing without a thumping beat and some lilting vocals. The song - Aa mujhe chhnoo le - was all of that and Malaika Arora looking like a million dollars. Shot as a crime caper, the video has a wooden-looking hero and Malaika escaping a mafia gang across some exotic locales. And if that was not enough (and it really wasn't!), you had Malaika in a sizzling dance as well. Don't take my word for it. Watch it!
Bombay Vikings came with their repertoire of English lyrics (simple ones, thankfully!) set to the tune of popular Hindi tunes and quickly became a rage. Their first - Kya soorat hain - was a superhit thanks to the catchy words, evergreen tune and Prabhudeva's brother!
My favorite, however, is Mona Re - set to the tune of O mere sona re sona re from Teesri Manzil, though at a slower tempo. It played to a hilarious video about a muscular Lothario, a fatso and a pedantic wimp stuck in the lift with a beauty. Their silent fanstasies and one-upmanship play out with crazy subtitles. And the song isn't too bad either!
Every time a classical musician sets foot in Bollywood or associated arenas, you can be reasonably sure of a magical period.
Sultan Khan debuted with Piya basanti and won our hearts. Chitra did the female vocals and was not left behind either. Set to a beautifully shot video in the hills and around a theme of terrorism, the song was just magical with his very unusual but magnetic voice. Encore, encore!
The first Pakistani to win our hearts was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. And Lisa Ray deserves a lot of credit for bringing this about.
Aafreen aafreen is shot in the beautiful deserts of India and Nusrat-saab just lets himself loose as Ms Ray shimmers on the sands like a mirage. For two years of our b-school, every party HAD to play this song and we had to get on our knees and pay obeisance. It was mandatory.
Sometimes, an ordinary song just sticks to your mind for no apparent reason.
Aankhon mein tera chehra by Aryans is one such video. Is it the fresh combination of Shahid Kapur and Hrishita Bhatt? Is it the story of the underdog? Is it the soft-focus video? Or is it the slowly-growing-on-you melody? Don't know. Don't care.
Can I include a remix song in this list? Well - technically, I should not because this is supposed to be a list of non-fil music videos. Right?
But when I tell you that the song is Saame yeh kaun ayaa, you will have to give in because the video is totally removed from the milieu of the original song and yet it is so wonderfully grounded in Bollywood that you can't help but like it. After all, who doesn't want to see a long-haired hero win a disco competition and ride into the sunset with his beloved on a scooter?
Pradeep Sarkar made ad films to start with. But when he started making music videos, people started asking about him. And there is a distinct point in his career when the Euphoria boiled over!
The debut song of Euphoria - Dhoom pichuk dhoom - was one of the earliest pieces to have popularised the ghats of Benares in Bollywood and retained all the freshness of the Holy City. An amazingly catchy tune - along with a brilliant Bhatiali riff (by Shobha Mudgal?) - was the perfect soundtrack. And the lady on whom the video was shot - who was she?
How often do you have songs shot underwater? If you say Blue, I will kill you.
Silk Route first song was about drowing in your beloved's eyes - Dooba dooba rehta hoon aankhon mein teri - and the video had the entire band submerged in a picturesque lake. From a musical point of view, the song did not break any new ground.
Except that it gave us Mohit Chauhan. And that cannot be a bad thing!
Nor am I in the Vedas, Nor am I in Intoxicants / Nor am I the carefree deviant / Nor am I fire nor air / I know not what I am"
Rabbi Shergill sang the words of Bulla Shah, set to mesmerising music in which he asked who he was - Bulla ka jaana - and the entire nation was hooked. The words were difficult to understand but the video had the translations scribbled over the frames of everyday Bombay - which was one more beautiful touch to this beautiful song.
And finally - the last entry on this list is everybody's favourite song.
It wasn't in a film. Never on an album either. It was never commercially released and yet all of us remember the tunes, words and visuals almost exactly.
We did not realise how good it was, till we were shown how bad it could have been. Mile sur mera tumhara...