"Over a few more listens, I bought into its rousing spirit."
For several years, Bollywood sports songs have been at the heart of many motivational movies.
As a country, India loves its cricket, hockey, football and its development as a sporting nation has been quick.
So, it makes sense that India’s entertainment industry should reflect the passions of the nation.
There have been hordes of sports songs that have taken Indian film fans by storm. They drip with enthusiasm, culture and spirit.
Sports songs echo in Indian gyms and restaurants. When they play in cinemas, it is as if those auditoriums become a shrieking stadium.
Whether it is lifting weights at the gym or getting some motivation before a test, DESIblitz lists 12 of the best Bollywood sports songs to uplift everyone.
Pakdo – Naseeb (1981)
Kishore Kumar was known for singing any genre with the same amount of talent and ease. The track ‘Pakdo‘ in Naseeb proved it.
The track focuses on a simple running race. However, the unique beat presented by Laxmikant-Pyarelal makes it an infectious anthem.
‘Pakdo’ is a duet between Kishore Da and Usha Mangeshkar. Sunny (Rishi Kapoor) fittingly dances on a racing track as this fast-paced number makes one want to get up and run.
The song showcases a competition between Sunny and Kim (Kim). Their antics are delightful and display a good sense of sportsmanship.
Kishore Sahab and Usha Ji’s vocals during the chorus do full justice to the spirit of the number.
In 2018, Gagan Garewal played an inspiring song on the BBC Asian Network to the delight of Bollywood fans.
‘Pakdo’ stands out in the film, holding its own against the other songs including Mohammad Rafi’s ‘John Jani Janardhan.’
It is a sports anthem that will surely leave any listener with goosebumps.
Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar – Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar (1992)
‘Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar‘ from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar is an incredibly energetic song.
It is picturised on Sanjaylal ‘Sanju’ Sharma (Aamir Khan) and Anjali (Ayesha Jhulka).
The song also features Maksood, aka Ghode (Aditya Lakhia) and Ghanshyam, who is familiar as Ghanshu (Deven Bhojani).
The number includes several other students who are all training and working hard.
Amid all this, Sanju, Anjali, Maksood and Ghanshu sing and dance about how they are the best. They sing the famous line:
“Humse bach ke rehna mere yaar!” (“Beware of us, my friend!”)
The track is uplifting and is one of the best Bollywood sports songs. Composers Jatin-Lalit showed how versatile they could be with this song.
According to BoxOfficeIndia, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar had the third best-selling Indian film soundtrack of 1992.
The film also had other compelling numbers, but ‘Yahan Ke Hum Sikandar’ stands out from a sporting perspective.
It plays once again over the movie’s ending credits, as Sanju proudly raises his winning trophy.
Chale Chalo – Lagaan (2001)
‘Chale Chalo‘ truly represents courage in Lagaan. Sung beautifully by AR Rahman, the song is picturised on Bhuvan Latha (Aamir Khan) and the other cricket players.
Bhuvan is a farmer that leads his villagers to victory in their cricket game against the British.
In the song, the villagers are preparing for their life-changing match. They are preparing by running, catching hens and making cricket bats.
‘Chale Chalo’ means “let’s walk ahead” and it is an idea that has been repeated many times in Bollywood.
However, in the context of Lagaan, it is unique, especially when reflecting on the big gamble the villagers take. If they lose, they must pay all the tax they owe.
In 2002, Satyajit Bhatkal wrote The Spirit of Lagaan that detailed the making of the film. In the seventh chapter, he cites the song before detailing the music arrangement.
Satyajit writes that director Ashutosh Gowariker felt that melody goes well with the mood:
“The tunes echo the Lagaan ambience superbly.”
In 2002, AR Rahman unsurprisingly won the ‘Best Music Director’ Filmfare Award for his work in Lagaan.
‘Chale Chalo’ makes for one of the most rousing Bollywood sports songs, especially for cricket fans.
Aashayein – Iqbal (2005)
‘Aashayein‘ is the moving anthem of Iqbal. It is rendered beautifully by KK and Salim Merchant.
It focuses on Iqbal (Shreyas Talpade) practising cricket with the help of Mohit’s (Naseeruddin Shah) help.
Mohit is the local drunkard who encourages Iqbal to pursue his dreams.
The practice is interesting as Mohit helps Iqbal by using buffaloes as fielders.
‘Aashayein’ has the theme of perseverance echoing in its lyrics, with these words especially captivating:
“Ab mushkil nahi kuch bhi” (“Now nothing is difficult.”).
The number holds massive resonance when Iqbal achieves his dream of joining the Indian national cricket team.
IndiaGLITZ reviewed the music of Iqbal and when talking about ‘Aashayein,’ they said that it conveys “a lot of energy.”
Lovers of Iqbal found themselves humming this song for weeks after they watched the film.
‘Aashayein is one of the most emotional Bollywood sports songs and it certainly celebrates the power of hope.
Chak De India (Title Track) – Chak De! India (2007)
‘Chak De India’ focuses on Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) and his hockey players. He coaches the Indian national women’s team to compete in the World Championships.
This nationalistic track starts in the second half of the film and it comes right after Kabir utters the line:
“Tomorrow morning at 5 am, I want everyone on the field.”
It is in response to the players proving that they can work as a team after several misunderstandings with Kabir.
The song follows the iconography of the team training hard under Kabir’s leadership. It showcases them running, playing and working out.
The themes of ‘Chak De India’ include determination, resolve and courage. This is all built together by a patriotic chorus.
‘Chak De’ (‘Let’s Go’) invokes passion from the audience because they find themselves rooting for the underdog team all the way.
Rahul Gupta, originally from India, but who lives in Australia, commented on YouTube:
“Whenever I miss my country, I listen to this song and feel better. I love my India. Proud to be Indian.”
‘Chak De India’ is one of the finest works by Salim-Suleiman. Still a popular number at sports events in India, ‘Chak De India’ continues to touch hearts to this day
Halla Bol – Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal (2007)
‘Halla Bol‘ from Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal is sung by Daler Mehndi. It presents Sunny Bhasin (John Abraham) getting ready for a game and joining his team.
Composer, Pritam, made sure that there was an interesting rhythm to the song, along with gripping lyrics.
During the song, Sunny highlights nationalism:
“Sirf Hindustan chhoda hai, Hindustaniat nahin (“I have only left India, not Indianism”).”
This shows the patriotism and glory attached to the song.
In 2007, the Indian newspaper Sify.com discussed ‘Halla Bol’ with similar thoughts:
“The song keeps its Indian feel intact. Aided by an elaborate orchestra, it blazes on and promises to keep the flag flying high.”
Sunny faces racism but he leads his Southall team to many winning games. Sunny brings victory with every kick.
‘Halla Bol’ is a unique selling point of the film. It is an exhilarating Bollywood sports song.
Zinda – Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
It showcases the journey of Milkha from a poor child to an energetic youngster. It packs a punch with the powerful vocals of Siddharth Mahadevan.
When reviewing the song in 2013, Rohini Chatterji from Firstpost touches on the words of the track and instruments:
“Another rock-influenced song in which [Prasoon] Joshi’s fiery lyrics teamed with heavy electric guitar and drums create an impression with the very first listen.”
This describes the effect ‘Zinda’ has on a listener. Arguably, the track contributed significantly to the success of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
The meaning of ‘Zinda’ is ‘alive.’ It is safe to say that not only Milkha was feeling alive at the end of the film, but the audience was too.
Milkha steals to survive in refugee camps. He is left heartbroken when Biro (Sonam K. Ahuja), the girl he loves, marries someone else.
However, during the climax, Milkha wins his race by a large margin. Hence, the name of ‘The Flying Sikh’ is bestowed upon him.
These uplifting scenes kept the relevance of ‘Zinda’ burning in the minds of viewers. This made the track one of the most influential Bollywood sports songs.
Ziddi Dil – Mary Kom (2014)
‘Ziddi’ means ‘stubborn’ in Hindi and Urdu. However, ‘Ziddi Dil‘ from Mary Kom shows the difference between being stubborn and determined.
Mary Kom documents the life of the international Olympic boxing champion of the same name. In the film, Priyanka Chopra-Jonas portrays her.
The song focuses on Mary in training mode. Mary’s boxing gloves symbolises fearlessness shining through her eyes.
‘Ziddi Dil’ shows determination at its peak, adding to the film’s great success.
Commenting on ‘Ziddi Dil’ in 2014, Kasmin Fernandes from The Times of India wrote about the inspiring musical combination:
“The soundtrack of Mary Kom is both, inspirational and soul-stirring.
“Rock-oriented opening track Ziddi Dil is a clear winner, with Vishal Dadlani’s powerful vocals, Shashi Suman’s energetic composition and Prashant Ingole’s rousing lyrics that could lift anyone’s spirits in a time of distress.”
In the climax, a hallucination sequence involving the family of Mary allows her to win the championship. Thereafter, she is named ‘Magnificent Mary.’
The film made Indians proud as the national anthem reverberated in the background.
The character, the song and the film also earned Priyanka bags of appreciation.
Re Sultan – Sultan (2016)
‘Re Sultan‘ from Sultan is picturised on Sultan Ali Khan (Salman Khan), working hard to regain his strength.
He lifts weights, tilling barren lands and trying to overtake trains. This is to win the National State Championships.
However, after being defeated many times, he realises he needs to bulk up and raise his game.
This scene is followed by ‘Re Sultan. Thus it is perfectly positioned within the movie for a motivational lift.
The lyrics are impressive even when translated into English, including:
“Stop him if you dare. Shackle him if you have the guts. Today, he slays his fears right here!”
RM Vijayakar from IndiaWest was specifically talking about ‘Re Sultan’ when reviewing Sultan in 2016″
“The title track, ‘Sultan’ by Sukhwinder Singh and Shadab Faridi is in the retro style of rousing numbers with lyrics to match.”
Salman sang a version of this enchanting number and it is up there along with other great Bollywood sports songs.
Parwah Nahin – MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016)
A significant strength of MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is the lively song ‘Parwah Nahin.’
The song follows Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Sushant Singh Rajput) playing cricket. Music director Amaal Mallik shows off his talent with this track.
The idea of not caring for anything other than your game appealed to the audience worldwide.
Saurabhi Redkar from Koimoi called the song “catchy” however that is an understatement.
Najam Sheraz acknowledges the spurring element of this song on YouTube:
“When I need to motivate myself, then I listen [to] this song.”
When Sushant Singh Rajput died in 2020, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story remained in the memory of countless admirers.
Alongside, the other heartfelt tracks, ‘Parwah Nahin’ exudes a special aura that allows fans to feel vibrant.
Dangal (Title Track) – Dangal (2016)
‘Dangal‘ appears over the opening credits of the film. It showcases wrestlers in the ‘akhara’ (wrestling ground).
Dangal is a biographical film, which like Sultan, revolves around wrestling – be it focusing on Mahavir Singh Phogat (Aamir Khan).
Musician Pritam did wonders with this song, especially the uplifting beat and the thought-provoking lyrics including:
“Your sun will rise and fall, because the stars are wrestling in the sky. So, wrestle!”
In 2016, Sankhayan Ghosh from Mint reviewed the music of Dangal. Commenting on the title track, Ghosh wrote:
“Over a few more listens, I bought into its rousing spirit.”
Ghosh adds light on the writer and singer:
“[Lyricist Amitabh] Bhattacharya continues his impressive turn of phrases…and Daler Mehndi’s charged, high-pitched rendition is perfect.”
It is a ground-breaking number that suited the film aptly. The track is perfect for bodybuilders to have in the background while they work out.
Soorma (Title Track) – Soorma (2018)
The title track, ‘Soorma‘, presents a young Sandeep ‘Sunny’ Singh (Diljit Dosanjh) practising the sport of hockey.
The tenacity and concentration in his facial expressions resonate amazingly with viewers.
Soorma is based on the life of the renowned Indian hockey player, Sandeep Singh.
Initially, Sunny only wants to play hockey for the attention of Harpreet ‘Preet Kaur’ (Taapsee Pannu).
However, when Sunny scores the winning goal for his team, he shows that he is motivated and dedicated.
The movie also briefly depicts Sandeep Singh getting the 2010 Arjuna award.
Blue-chip composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have been behind some memorable numbers for years. ‘Soorma’one again proved that they have not lost their indefatigable shine.
In 2018, Suanshu Khurana from The Indian Express described the song as “a good composition.” Devarsi Ghosh from Scroll.in also praised the song, saying:
“This one should be remembered long after the film is over.”
Soorma’s title song truly worked wonders. The film only did moderately well, but the song remains embedded in the minds of Indian sports lovers.
It goes without saying that songs decorate Indian films but within sports movies, whether fictional or biographical, they are all the more important.
Bollywood sports songs are motivational, uplifting and inspiring.
Not only will these tracks provide much-welcomed encouragement in the sports arena, but they also provide an unmatched ambience of pride and joy.