Hit Songs From Flop Movies!

Emily in the comments just asked if there are hit songs that come out of flop movies, and of course I took that as a writing prompt! But I need you all to help me in the comments, because I can’t think of as many songs as I know there are.

First one that leaped to mind, the easy one, was “Chamma Chamma”. Massive hit, all time classic, from the movie China Gate which no one really remembers.

And then there’s “Kaal Dhamaal”, which was made on purpose to be a hit song in a flop movie. Karan could tell that the movie was going to flop, so he and Shahrukh and Farah through together this last minute song video.

Oh oh! Another Shahrukh one! “Marjaani”, big big hit song, from the not-so-much-a-hit movie Billu.

Here’s an old school one, I have no idea if this movie was a hit or a flop, but I know for sure this song is way bigger a hit than the movie. Because it is such a big hit! You see and hear it everywhere and no one watches the movie. “Piya tu” from Caravan.

I know Dil Se was a hit overseas and a cult favorite, but it wasn’t actually successful in India. This song was what most people knew, “Chaiyya Chaiyya”.

We all love this movie, but The World did not love this movie, they just loved this song “Dreamum Wakeupum”

Oh, this is a super fun one! From Yash Raj’s flop film era, “Kachchi Kaliyaan” from Laage Chunari Main Daag.

Oh! Another super important one! “Sheila Ki Jawaani”!!! Terrible flop movie, great song.

And the most important one, “The Medley”. This movie flopped (which makes no sense, because I love it) but this song sequences gets constant play.

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43 thoughts on “Hit Songs From Flop Movies!

  1. For Hindi, on top of my mind:
    Chand Sifarish from Fanaa (Aaamir-Kajol)
    Soldier-soldier meethi baatein from Solider (Bobby Deol – Preity Zinta)
    Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili – Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Kareeb (Bobby Deol) – I like this song a lot.



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  2. All songs from RHTDM – movie was a flop, but the songs had become such a big hit at that time, movie became a cult later – I am talking about the pre-YouTube, the times of music channels like MTV, V, etc.

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      • I have watched enough movies that I am now officially able to recognize a) Farah Kahn choreography as well as that of a few others b) what movies SRK was filming simultaneously and c) which injury SRK was/is nursing at any given time. (Like in Raaes when he needs help to put his shirt on.)

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        • I love Farah choreography, but it is really distinctive. All those elbow pumps and knee stomps and stuff.

          Vaibhavi Merchant is my other fave, she doesn’t do as much, but she always has little jokes and Easter eggs in her song numbers. Like in “Kajre Re”, all the fun stuff with the candle props and things.

          On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 10:10 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Kareeb -huge flop. Also going with your theme Barsaat (Bobby’s debut) and Baar Baar Dekho – both hit albums but movies did terribly. Other flop films which receive constant airplay – Raabta and Befikre.

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      • That kind of makes sense to me, because Main Tera Boyfriend has nothing to do with the rest of the film. Not just that it’s an end credit song, but the whole look and feel of it doesn’t match with the rest of the movie at all.

        On Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 3:35 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Loved Aiyaa, and both big songs. If it flopped, had to be because of the dumb secondary love story.

    Was Billu the one where Irrfan is a barber who used to know the real SRK? If so, I loved that too and can’t believe nobody else did.

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    • Yep, both movies flopped! Aiyaa was just too strange for people to embrace. Not sure why Billu did so poorly, maybe folks missed having the action scenes and romance of a typical Masala film?

      On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 11:39 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Irrfan’s versatility is no secret. But did any other actors, -tresses, cross over to non-Indian films? Any of them make it big? I’m guessing no since Irrfan is the only one I know aside from Priyanka in some TV thing, and Deepika totally wasted opposite Vin Diesel. And what Indian films aside from Satajit Ray’s, were hits elsewhere?

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    • Good question! Om Puri did a fair amount in the British scene. Shashi did independent films in America and Britain. So did/does Shabana Azmi. Amy Jackson was in Tamil and Hindi films and also in the Supergirl TV show. Rahul Khanna does all kinds of interesting things. There’s always been some lowkey back and forth, but you would have to know every minor Indian actor, and every little known western TV show and film and stuff to see it. So yes, no one really made it big.

      Indian films have always been international (I think I break it down in one of the chapters in my book). For big international hits, Mother India and Awara both made it big in Russia, Eastern Europe, Greece. Amitabh movies were really big in Africa (actually, you could be a source for that. Ask around on the Moroccan side of your family and see what they remember watching). Rajinikanth had a couple hit films in Japan. For the mainstream West though, it’s really just Satyajit Ray. And then Lagaan and Devdas.

      there were complicated legal/political reasons from the Indian side (they had import/export restrictions and trade agreements and stuff), and of course from the western side there was Racism.

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      • Tabu crossed over a few times too! Usually in the same movies as Irrfan (Namsake, The Life of Pi). I think maybe in addition to racism the whole cold war may have been another hindrance since India was allies with the USSR. I still find it surprising that Mother India nearly won best foreign film in at the Academy Awards during the 50s with all of its socialist themes and stuff (or maybe people liked it because it reminded them of Gone With the Wind??)

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        • I know that Russia and allied countries were more willing to jump through the hoops necessary for importing Indian films, and America wasn’t interested in the hassle. I think films may have been like anything else? More trade between socialist countries and India in general than between India and the west?

          On Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 1:02 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Probably. Barring racism and an aversion to socialism, would you say that 50s mainstream Hindi film would have been pretty accessible to the general American public back then since the studio system was in full swing and the big musicals and epics were the popular films? (I feel like a lot of Indian “cinephiles” that put Hollywood film on a pedestal tend to conveniently ignore this era of film when they criticize Indian film and it’s annoying).

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          • I think so. Indian film has pretty consistently traveled well where ever it went. I argue that it is because Indian film (especially Hindi film) deals with universals. Love, shelter, justice, food, etc.

            Although, Americans have also had a hard time processing foreign films as anything but intellectual and high-falutin’. Maybe because we don’t have to? Since WWI most other places in the world got used to their local films, and also Hollywood. Throwing Indian into the mix isn’t such a shock. In America, our mainstream films that the average joe watches in theaters have always been set in America and filmed in English, putting an Indian film in there would be hard.

            Today Indian films are making rapid inroads hand in hand with the rapidly growing South Asian population in the country. So, another way of thinking of it, if America weren’t racist in the 1950s, we would have had this Indian population decades sooner and the movie theaters would already have learned how to accommodation them (similar to how it happened in Kenya, England, and other countries that had a massive overseas Indian population in that era).

            On Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 8:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. These are fun, thanks! The flop films are a good way of getting at films where the song might have helped the actor’s career more than the film did. I was also thinking of songs that were just surprises – didn’t have the usual formula of big star or big composer, maybe traditional in an era when modern was popular or vice versa, maybe a new musical or dance style that emerged and got a big audience reaction.

    I feel like in all cultural industries there are the tried and true formulas that get more or less predictable audience numbers, and then every once in a while there are surprises that come out of nowhere and blow up everyone’s expectations. Then the mainstream tries to replicate the surprise and eventually it becomes another formula, until a new surprise comes along.

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    • Oo oo! Groundbreaking songs! Another post idea for me! Thank you.

      On Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 3:50 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I spent all these years thinking that MDK (a childhood favorite of mine that I now hate with the passion of a thousand suns lmao) was a hit and was so shocked when I found out it wasn’t because how could it be!?! Especially with that amazing medley!!!

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  8. Does the FAN anthem count? Especially given that it wasn’t actually in the movie. I think it did much better than the movie, especially because YRF so smartly had regional singers singing it in different languages. If I recall, an Egyptian singer even did a version!

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    • Oh, that’s a good one! And now that I think about it, a lot of these are YRF. They seem to always hit the mark on hit songs, and yet somehow not manage the movies to go with them.

      On Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 10:59 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Some off the top of my head:
    Maula Mere Maula from Anwar

    It’s Rocking

    Mann ki Lagan from Paap

    Eli Re Eli from Yaadein

    Ghar se Nikalte Hi from Papa Kehte Hai

    Musu Musu from Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi

    Multiple songs from movie: Refugee, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Yuvraaj

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  10. I believe this song put Atif Aslam on the (Indian) map. Maybe my favorite song in a year that had many good songs.

    No one except me saw the movie though. Interesting cast including juhi urmila Jimmy and sanjay. Felt more euro-indie than Indian-indie, but with enough melodrama to still feel Indian. Per Wikipedia, it’s actually an Onir remake of a Pedro Almodovar film, guess that would explain the Euro and Indian sensibilities coexisting.

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    • Ooo, Sanjay Suri and Jimmy Shergill! Two of my “why do I find this fairly boring man so interesting and attractive?” crushes. If it had Mohnish Behl and Rahul Bose, it would have everything!

      On Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 9:08 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  11. I don’t know if Prince (with Vivek Oberoi) was a flop or not but I thought it was total crap – but I like the songs. I had been sent the soundtrack CD so I listened to that before I saw the movie and the movie was such a disappointment.

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