West Bengal is a state with a rich past. Bengalis have preserved their folk music and traditional dances to celebrate their unique culture, and you can find influences of these traditional art forms in modern Bengali music.
The below famous Bengali songs will give you a better idea of what both traditional and modern Bengali music sounds like.
‘Jhanok Jhanok Kanok’ by Geeta Dutt
Song year: 1958
This classic Bengali song comes from the movie Indrani. This movie tells the story of two young lovers who must overcome obstacles, notably the girl’s family that doesn’t approve of the boy’s background.
This beautiful song features the unique singing voice of Geeta Dutt. She remains one of the most prominent Bengali artists of the 50s and 60s with a number of film and non-film songs. She also contributed to the Bollywood industry with over 1,400 songs recorded for Hindi movies.
‘Bharat Amar Bharat Barsha’ by Manna Dey
Song year: 1986
Manna Dey was an influential Hindi and Bengali singer from the 50s through the 70s. He played an important role in developing a pop-inspired sound that modernized traditional Indian music, and this award-winning singer often gets credit for the commercial success the Bollywood film industry experienced throughout the 70s.
‘Bharat Amar Bharat Barsha’ is a slow-paced song that showcases his singing talent. The Bengali lyrics share a patriotic message.
‘Keu Jaane Naa’ by Arijit Singh
Song year: 2022
Arijit Singh is a successful playback singer who has been dominating the music and film industry for the past 15 years. Singh has a unique talent for conveying emotion in his songs.
‘Key Jaane Naa’ is a successful single with over 19 million views on YouTube. Even though Arijit Singh can sing in many languages, he recorded this romantic song in his native Bengali language and created a music video that shows some beautiful landmarks and sights from West Bengal.
‘Fagun Haway Haway’ by Aritra Banerjee
Song year: 2021
‘Fagun Haway Haway’ is a beautiful tune with a mix of piano and guitar that feels like a modern pop ballad. The melody is the perfect vehicle for Aritra Banerjee’s soft singing voice.
This Bengali song illustrates how Western music is influencing the Indian entertainment industry. Even though Aritra Banerjee sings in Bengali, the tune could appear on a pop album recorded by a US artist.
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ by Shreya Ghoshal
Song year: 2009
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ is a traditional Bengali song. This recording from Shreya Ghoshal fully captures the song’s elegance.
The melody features a mix of traditional instruments, including drums and flutes. The lyrics talk about life’s difficulties and encourage the listeners to undertake difficult things, even though they might not receive support or help.
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ is one of the most famous Bengali songs with a positive message that speaks of courage and hope.
‘Pagol Hawa’ by Subir Sen
Song year: 1981
‘Pagol Hawa’ is a beautiful Bengali love song with poetic lyrics. The song uses imagery that refers to nature, with metaphors comparing the singer’s love to flowers or the cool breeze. The soft melody evokes the soothing feelings the singer experiences when thinking about his love.
This 80s tune blends traditional Bengali music with elements like rhythm played on drums with a twangy guitar that evokes Western rock n roll from the 1950s.
‘Mary Ann’ by Anjan Dutt
Song year: 1995
‘Mary Ann’ is one of the best Bengali songs of the 1990s. The mix of piano and guitar makes the song feel modern and evokes Western influences.
With 17 albums and over 30 film credits, Anjan Dutt remains a highly recognizable entertainer from West Bengal. “Mary Ann’ showcases his remarkable talent for playing the guitar and incorporating a mix of Western and Indian influences in his compositions.
‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ by Kumar Sanu
Song year: 2000
In 2000, Kumar Sanu released an EP dedicated to traditional Bengali folk songs. As the first track on the album, ‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ immediately sets the tone with its use of drums, strings, and flutes.
‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ is a traditional fisherman’s song. The lyrics ask the river why its waves carry the fisherman at times and put him in danger the next day. It’s a deceptively simple song with a deeper meaning about the ups and downs of life.
‘Darun’ by Anupam Roy
Song year: 2022
Anupam Roy has been active since 2015. He rose to fame after composing music for Bollywood movies.
‘Darun’ is a soft rock Bengali song that showcases his sensibility as a composer. The track blends a Western-inspired bass line with traditional elements of Indian music, such as the use of a sitar in the introduction.
The result is a gorgeous love song that creates vivid images to describe the singer’s love for someone who is unattainable.
‘Ae Baar Pujoye Chayee’ by Alka Yagnik
Song year: 1988
Alka Yagnik is one of the most successful Bollywood playback singers of all time. Her work has appeared in over 1,000 movies and she has dominated the industry for 40 years. She is also one of the top streaming artists in the world thanks to her prolific contribution to Bollywood soundtracks.
She is also behind several famous Bengali songs, such as ‘Ae Baar Pujoye Chayee,’ an 80s track that showcases her ability to sing in languages other than Hindi.
‘Neel Rang Bhison Priyo’ by Rupam Islam
Song year: 1998
‘Neel Rang Bhison Priyo’ is a nostalgic Bengali song from the 1990s. It’s also one of the most famous Bengali songs of the decade.
This romantic song features Rupam Islam’s powerful singing voice. The singing style and melody have strong Western influences, and the song has elements that one would expect to find in a classic 80s power ballad, such as a guitar solo.
‘Briddhashram’ by Nachiketa Chakraborty
Song year: 2001
Nachiketa Chakraborty rose to fame in the 90s thanks to his modern approach to Bengali music. This talented singer writes songs with insightful lyrics that also feel relatable.
‘Briddhashram’ is a beautiful composition that uses traditional Bengali rhythms. The lyrics talk about raising children and growing older. The result is a beautiful melody that accompanies philosophical lyrics with a bittersweet message.
‘Ami Tor’ by Javed Ali and Antara Mitra
Song year: 2022
‘Ami Tor’ is a recent Bengali song that stands out thanks to its unique mix of Indian and Latin influences. The song has an upbeat tempo that makes it fun and easy to listen to.
With over 5 million views on YouTube, this catchy love song is a successful single and an excellent example of what modern Bengali music sounds like.
‘Nijeke Chai’ by Sanju Kumar Mondal
Song year: 2022
‘Nijeke Chai’ is a beautiful slow-paced love song that speaks about longing and regret. The emotional tune features guitar and piano playing that reflects Western influences on Bengali music, but the vocal style creates a strong connection with traditional Bengali music.
This gorgeous tune feels like a unique blend of the old and the new, and it feels like a timeless love song.
‘Ei Path Jodi Na Shes Hoy’ by Hemanta Mukherjee and Sandhya Mukherjee
Song year: 1961
This song is one of the most memorable romantic duets of Bengali cinema. It appeared in the 1961 movie Saptapadi, a classic romantic movie about two students who fall in love while studying medicine. However, their different religious backgrounds stand in the way of their love.
The title loosely translates to ‘What If the Road We Take Doesn’t End?’ and evokes the possibility of a shared future the couple is considering. The lyrics describe their love, but the song also describes their uncertainties and doubts about building a life together.
‘Na Mono Lage Na’ by Lata Mangeshkar
Song year: 1971
‘Na Mono Lage Na’ is a track featured in the 1971 Bengali movie Anand. The movie tells the story of a doctor who finds inspiration in a patient who remains cheerful in spite of being terminally ill.
The song ‘Na Mono Lage Na’ is a lament where the singer expresses that she doesn’t mind saying goodbye to a lover, possibly a metaphor for leaving this world.
Lata Mangeshkar remains one of the most successful female playback singers of all time. She began singing in Hindi, Bengali, and Marathi movies in the 1940s.
‘Barne, Gandhe, Chhande, Gitite’ by Sachin Dev Burman
Song year: 1969
This classic Bengali love song uses elements of folk music and mixes them with modern lyrics. It’s a beautiful song filled with images that compare the singer’s significant other to colors, fire, or pearls.
Sachin Dev Burman was a successful Bengali movie playback singer of the 1930s and 1940s. He would go on to work as a music composer for many popular Hindi movies.
‘Aaj Ei Dine Take’ by Kishore Kumar
Song year: 1965
‘Aaj Ei Dine Take’ is a beautiful love song from the 1965 movie Antareley. The song uses a traditional Bengali rhythm while the lyrics evoke the many emotions associated with spending a special day with a loved one.
Kishore Kumar sings about wanting to remember this day and describes his love through beautiful images that create a dreamlike atmosphere for the song.
‘Rim Jhim Rim Jhim’ by Kumar Sanu and Kavita Krishnamurthy
Song year: 1994
This emotional duet remains one of the most memorable tracks from the award-winning movie 1942; A Love Story. This movie tells the story of two lovers against the background of the Indian Revolution.
This song captures a moment where the two lovers express their uncertainties about the future. Kumar Sanu won a Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for his work on this movie.
‘Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar’ by Kishore Kumar
Song year: 1987
‘Chirodini Tumi Je Aamar’ is a Bengali song that appears in the 1987 movie Amar Sangi. The movie is about two childhood friends who fall in love, but their families don’t approve because of their different socioeconomic backgrounds.
In this song, Kishore Kumar expresses his unconditional love by promising his significant other that they’ll be together forever. The composition stands out thanks to its use of a bluesy introduction.
‘Dugga Elo’ by Monali Thakur
Song year: 2019
Monali Thakur is a promising young Bengali singer who rose to fame after appearing on Indian Idol.
She interprets this Bengali track beautifully with her expressive singing voice. The track is an upbeat worship song with a strong folk music influence felt through the presence of the drums throughout the song.
The song is about Dugga or Durga, a Hindu goddess that believers typically associate with protection or destruction. The lyrics might also refer to the Bengali expression ‘dugga dugga,’ which is something people say to wish someone a safe trip.
‘Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao’ by Anupam Roy
Song year: 2010
‘Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao’ is an introspective song from Anupam Roy featured in the 2010 Bengali movie Autograph. The movie pays homage to the classic 1966 movie Nayak by telling the story of a group of actors working on a remake of the movie. Autograph mirrors the story of the original movie where an actor accidentally reveals his secrets to the public.
The song talks about success and stardom. It reflects on what it means to be famous and on how fame doesn’t bring happiness.
‘Darun Agnibane’ by Sreeradha Bandyopadhyay
Song year: 2008
This track is a modern recording of a traditional folk song written by Rabindranath Tagore, an influential Bengali poet, writer, and composer born in the 19th century.
There are different ways of interpreting the lyrics for ‘Darun Agnibane.’ The lyrics seem to describe a religious experience as the singer describes the hardships they face and their faith in an entity that will appear after these challenges.
Best Bengali Songs, Final Thoughts
We hope you enjoyed discovering some beautiful songs from Bengali artists or rediscovered some old classics with this list. The songs are a credit to the talent of these artists who have preserved the musical tradition of their state by incorporating elements of folk music into modern compositions.