Best Torch Songs in Indian Film: Ashaji, Lataji, Someone Else?

I am feeling depressed and rainy and I am gonna lean into it! Let’s listen to some sad SAD music. But that really deep powerful sadness, you know?

Am I crazy, or are there not that many torch songs in Indian film? I can think of loads of “I am falling in love!” songs, but not that many “my heart is breaking and I want to die” songs. At least, not in female voices. Maybe that is the point? Heroines don’t often get to “speak” that level of deep emotion?

Anyhoo, here are the few I could think of! Please add on as you know more.

“Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh”

Ashaji! And Umrao Jaan, is there anything SADDER?

Lataji again, and Madhubala covered in SO MANY chains, “Mohabbat Ki Jhooti Kahani”

Are these the perfect evocation of torch song misery? Or is there another one out there that is better? Or is the one I posted earlier today the best?


22 thoughts on “Best Torch Songs in Indian Film: Ashaji, Lataji, Someone Else?

  1. The first thing that comes to mind when thinking “torch song” is “Pardesi, Pardesi” from “Raja Hindustani,” especially the “Har pal meri yaad” verse. It’s not Karisma’s song, though that actually makes me think more of the way that torch songs are used in Hollywood movies. . . I guess this is the equivalent of having your heart break while sitting in a hotel lounge where the chanteuse happens to be randomly singing “The Man That Got Away.”


    • Oooooooooo! That’s a really good one. And it’s two women singing out their love for each other, so double female!

      On Wed, Sep 22, 2021 at 8:21 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  2. Oh, oh, oh! Not a proper “torch song,” but if you are looking for a magnificently sad lost love song you can scarcely do better than “Aur Nahin, Bas, Aur Nahin”! The picturization is also amazing, but I can’t find it on YouTube. Here is the audio, sadly slightly distorted: “Kaun gunon ko gintaa hai, kaun dukhon ko chuntaa hai?” Augh.


  3. Dhadaam dhadaam is really beautiful.

    Same genre: Poyisonna Posikiduven from 99 Songs

    Might be cheating, but for the emotion you’re describing I always think of this moment in Cadillac Records (SPOILER alert, though, if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know the end!). I liked that movie very much, and BeyoncĂ© blew me away. Not fair that she can sing like that, and dance, *and* act.


    • I mean, if we are bringing in Hollywood options, no one can beat Judy and “The Man That Got Away” so far as I am concerned.

      On Wed, Sep 22, 2021 at 9:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  4. I actually think the greatest torch song in Hindi Films is by a woman – “chain se humko kabhi aap ne jeene na diya” by Asha Bhosle. Not only are the lyrics (You never let me live in peace) and Asha’s rendition exquisitely sad, but the real life context lends a whole another, epic layer of pain to the song. It was the last song Asha sang for her mentor and lover, music director O.P. Nayyar. Asha won a Filmfare award for it, OPN had the song removed from the film for which it was composed, Asha NEVER sings it (except for the video below). As I said – epic trauma.


    • Oh that is LOVELY. And when I get too sad, I can remember that Burman is waiting for her 🙂

      On Thu, Sep 23, 2021 at 7:51 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. You’re right, when I try to think of such songs, most of them are sung by men. Nevertheless, the KANK title song qualifies I think as both are lamenting lost love.

    Aye Dil-e-Nadaan – haunting, all about consoling the heart and existential crisis

    Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujh Par – qualifies I think? Both male and female versions are about imploring the other to love them


  6. Kahan Se Aaye Badra from Chashme Buddoor is a very wallowing in sadness/heartbreak type of a song:
    I’m not sure if Dil Hoom Hoom Kare from Rudaali fits entirely but it’s very beautiful and makes me cry (especially the male voice version which is, however, also picturized on Dimple Kapadia’s character):


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