7 Iconic Bollywood Songs & Their Unforgettable Themes

In Bollywood songs, many themes are reflected through their elements, including romance, sadness, and struggle, to name a few.

Actors would dance and act but were not required to sing.

Bollywood songs reflect themes through the music, the lyrics, the context of the music videos and the acting.

Some themes include romance with star-crossed lovers, losses of loved ones, struggle with a conflicted society, abandonment of parents as well as empowerment.

The songs also vary in terms of their musicality, in the sense of the instruments used and the style of music; whether it is a rock-influenced song or an Indian festival-inspired song for example.

A feature of the songs is that the actors would dance and act but were not required to sing.

This is prevalent in all the songs below.

Here we delve into a few Bollywood songs, to uncover their themes within their different elements.

Silsila Ye Chahat Ka (Devdas)


This is the first song in the musical Devdas.

It portrays a girl from a lower-class family who is involved in the practice of selling women into marriage.

However, she is educated, and her mother is keen for her to find a husband through love.

The colour of her clothing is bright red and blue, in contrast to the maids, who are all wearing yellow.

Moreover, her hair is beautiful and long, whereas the maids have their hair tied up in buns.

This suggests a hierarchy.

The song is sung by Shreya Ghoshal and features Aishwarya Rai and her maids as backing dancers.

The symbolism of the lamp represents her passionate, undying love for Dev.

She finds out he is coming back from London and is overjoyed after not seeing him since her childhood.

The maids joke with her to extinguish the fire in her lamp but fail to do so.

She dances with the lamp, embodying a strong theme of romance, beauty, and an underlying yearning for her lover.

In the music video, there is suspense in showing the lamp as she dances, and then we see her beautiful face, with large, longing eyes.

The beauty is shown through her henna on her hands and feet, and her innocence in her dance.

In terms of the lyrics, ‘a gust of wind will come, and this lamp will extinguish’ suggests to the audience that perhaps there will be turmoil and struggle with this love.

It acts almost as a pre-emptive hint of what to expect as the story unfolds.

The lamp is described as the ‘lamp of my love,’ whereby Paro would continuously add oil to keep it alight, a way of being close to him and showing her commitment despite his physical absence.

It also signifies the madness in her love and her poetic ideas.

Teri Meri Prem Kahani Hai Mushkil (Bodyguard)


This is beautifully sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Shreya Ghoshal.

It tells the story of a bodyguard who finds himself falling in love with Divya, who initially hides her identity from him.

The music video starts with Lovely running toward Divya in a superhero-like manner.

The colours of the music video are dark and misty, suggesting sadness and struggle.

The characters stand together and share an embrace, with the effect of the wind on Divya’s hair adding a gravitas and romantic element to the song.

Throughout the song, the characters take turns singing.

When Lovely sings to Divya, his gestures are erotic; he touches her neck, and at one point, she runs away, overwhelmed by her feelings.

Their clothing follows a similar colour scheme, matching each other.

Halfway through the song, there is a scene and outfit change.

Contrasting with the muggy dark tones, there is a scene of white, with vivid green grass and light blue skies.

In one scene, a long white scarf separates them, and Lovely gently strokes Divya’s cheeks, while she responds by smiling and cherishing the moment through her facial expression.

This represents a theme where their love is forbidden and somewhat scandalous.

Then there is another scene that changes to a rustic yellow.

In Bollywood songs, numerous scenes with different outfit changes are common, and this song is characteristic of that.

Musically, there is a repetitive motif that transitions from the instrumental to the singing melody.

The lyrics, ‘yours and mine, mine and yours, love story is difficult,’ express a romantic gesture of shared pain.

Moreover, they both sing this line, suggesting mutual agreement.

There is a conflict of love, as despite their evident affection for one another, it remains but a ‘dream’ that ‘breaks in reality.’

Sun Raha Hai Na Tu (Aashiqui 2)


This song is introduced at the beginning, where the main character performs it in front of a live audience.

The story revolves around a man who drinks excessively and falls in love with a girl, helping her achieve stardom and realise her dreams.

Initially, while driving drunk, he accidentally knocks over the girl, causing her to drop her vegetables.

He then searches for a place to drink and stumbles upon the bar where she performs. She sings his song.

As he approaches her, she recognises him as a famous singer and feels an immediate attraction.

This is the song she was singing in the bar.

As mentioned earlier, this song is first played at the beginning of the story.

It explores themes of stardom, loss, and romance.

The depiction of beautiful arenas filled with cheering and adoring fans illustrates his ability to assist the young girl with her singing career.

The two renditions of the song differ in style; the first is a rock-influenced track with a guitar solo, while the second is more feminine, sung in a higher register.

Additionally, flutes are played, and the singing, characterized by its riffs, adopts a classical style.

The theme of beauty is highlighted through close-ups of her pink, plump lips and striking eyes.

The song can be interpreted in two ways: when sung by the man, it seems to reflect his attempt to escape his alcohol issues; when sung by the woman, it symbolizes her escape from poverty.

All Is Well (3 Idiots)


The song, taken from the movie 3 Idiots, follows the life of three college students studying engineering.

It embodies themes of brotherhood, empowerment, and the joys of youth.

Moreover, it addresses the struggles of college life, from the challenges of math to mishaps like a table tennis table breaking and a shower ceasing to work.

Despite these struggles, there’s a prevailing theme of overcoming adversity through positivity and song.

This leads to a scene where the boys, covered in soap and wearing towels around their torsos, find a hose to spray water on everyone after the showers stop working.

The dance is simple, designed for everyone to join in, creating a sense of tight-knit bond and friendship among the students.

The song is fun and playful, especially when the lyrics “What will happen to the eggs” accompany the boys dancing in a chicken gesture dance, highlighting their connection.

The refrain “all is well” serves to boost morale and spirit.

Throughout the song, a narrative unfolds. One of the boys attempts to assemble an invention—a drone that a previous student had abandoned and deemed a failure.

However, it’s retrieved from the bin by another student who decides to try making it functional.

Another theme is the importance of mutual support and helping each other through college challenges.

A common feature in Bollywood movies is the inclusion of many songs where actors act and dance but are not required to sing.

The song suggests that despite the uncertainties and adventures of college life, something awaits them afterwards, making it uplifting and feel-good.

Ang Rang Laga De Re (Ram Leela)


This Bollywood blockbuster is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

It narrates the story of two lovers from conflicting groups who, despite the odds, find each other and kindle a romance.

A prevailing theme is the quest for love amidst adversity and hostile times.

The lovers elope, and although they have endured loss and suffering, their passionate love remains undiminished.

One theme highlighted in this song is the intertwining of pain and an undeniable connection of love between the two.

Leela firmly states her refusal to share a bed before marriage.

The song that follows marks the ceremony of their marriage.

The ambience of the setting is captivating, showcasing the nightlife’s lights against the dark city backdrop, contrasting with their well-lit room and a balcony that overlooks the city.

This juxtaposition of colours symbolises finding light in darker times.

Leela attempts to make the occasion joyous, but Raam is preoccupied with his troubles.

Nevertheless, he makes an effort to partake in the ceremony.

At the song’s conclusion, they share a passionate kiss.

The lyrics, “I have left the world for you,” signify their elopement.

They have left their families and friends behind to love freely, unbound by the conflicts of their societies.

Their love is described as “clean, white,” mirroring their attire.

However, the phrase “Colour it in the seven colours” implies a desire to enrich their love with new experiences, adventures, memories, and ways of loving.

The lyrics “colour me in your colour” suggest a mutual sharing of love and pain, bearing each other’s burdens romantically and spiritually.

Bole Chudiyan (Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham)


This movie explores themes of family and romance, and how they intersect and conflict.

In this song, a family that has moved to London encounters a young man who stays with them while studying in London.

Only Puja is aware of his real identity; the family does not yet realize that the young man is the younger brother of the head of the household.

The song begins with the young couple dancing, seemingly showing off to each other.

The sound of the bangles and bracelets symbolises “that I have become yours, my beloved,” indicating that wearing them makes a woman “complete.” Thus, the lyric suggests that the man she adores completes and fulfils her.

Additionally, the lyric “take my heart away” conveys a desire for ownership and a longing to be eternally linked, as if they were destined to be soulmates.

Although there are backing dancers, the focus remains on Puja.

The opening scene, showcasing her bare back, suggests that exposure of skin is deemed tempting and seductive, contributing to the theme of seduction and playfulness.

Furthermore, a recurring motif is the wind in her hair, creating a dream-like and dramatic effect.

She is positioned centrally and in front of the other dancers, highlighting her significance and drawing the man’s attention to her.

The music, featuring drums and flute, adds to the festive atmosphere.

The song weaves in several narratives, including a strong theme of family, illustrated when the head of the household embraces his wife and niece, showcasing his love for them.

Later in the song, the grandparents join in a dream-like state, as they are not physically present with the family, living in India instead.

The theme culminates with a mother’s intuition sensing the embrace between the two brothers, one hiding his identity and the other unaware of the truth.

Maa (Taare Zameen Par)


This movie is about a boy who has ADHD and struggles with his education.

His father becomes increasingly frustrated with him, thinking the boy is lazy and doesn’t try.

The pressure is compounded by the fact that the other brother is a grade-A student.

However, the father loses his wits and sends the boy to a boarding school.

At this moment, the song depicts the parents dropping the boy off at the school gates.

It conveys themes of the boy’s sadness, loneliness, and feeling of not belonging at the school.

The lyrics “Am I so bad, mother?” reveal that he thinks something is wrong with him and feels a sense of abandonment due to this notion.

He trusts his mother, as the lyric “I care about you a lot, mother, you know all about this, right mother?” suggests a close bond with her.

Nevertheless, he feels slightly lost, and perhaps this trust that he has is blind.

A theme of the song is his questioning whether his mother knows what she is doing.

The mother doesn’t know how to help him; there is a communication breakdown whereby she doesn’t know how to improve his grades, and he doesn’t know how to articulate his feelings.

He often shuts down and disengages when things get tough.

He feels lost and confused; hence, the lyrics “Don’t send me so far away that you won’t even remember me, mother” highlight this sentiment.

The use of dark colours showcases the theme of sadness and abandonment throughout the song.

The song ends with the boy unable to tie his tie, representing the theme of his struggles and incapabilities to carry out simple tasks.

Recurring themes include romance and the obstacles that lovers face.

These obstacles entail a sense of difficulty within society, a clash of family intentions, and secrecy.

Other themes include empowerment, abandonment, and the symbolism of jewellery and clothing.

Kamilah is an experienced actress, radio presenter and qualified in Drama & Musical Theatre. She loves debating and her passions include arts, music, food poetry and singing.

Images courtesy of Keepingtimes, Amazon and Cinematerial.

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