Bollywood Musical Instruments From Around The World

Have you ever turned all ecstatic while listening to Bollywood Music? Our brain cells respond quite spontaneously to the variety of instruments played along with the songs. All feel-good chemicals are released into the body while listening to pleasant music with the perfect instruments.

To truly understand the brilliance of the singers who shaped Hindi Film Music, we must learn about their instruments, their primary tools from the traditional Indian instruments that date to the Vedic era, to the orchestral forerunners of Europe, the unsung instruments of Brazil and Africa, all helped shape the classic evergreen Bollywood numbers which have enchanted music lovers since times unknown.

Let’s know more about the rare instruments used in Bollywood Music and the songs they were used in.

Banjo- Kitna Haseen Hai Mausam (1955)

Music: C. Ramchandra

Lyrics: Rajendra Krishna

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Movie: Azaad

The banjo occupied a central place in African-American traditional music, before becoming popular in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. It was made popular in Western Music by the classic folk singer Pete Seeger, but the sharp tunes of banjo in this Dilip Kumar, Meena Kumari song from the highest grossing film of the 50’s “Azaad” will win over your heart and give you a taste of the 50’s music in Bollywood.

Mandolin- Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana (1956)

Music: O.P Nayyar

Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Singers: Shamshad Begum

Movie: C.I.D

“Kahin Pe Nigahen, Kahin Pe Nishana, Jine Do Zaalim, Banao Na Deewana”, remember this song from the Guru Dutt movie, “CID”, which marked Waheeda Rehman’s career. This was the first song from the movie that Waheeda Rehman shot for and it started her film career. Mandolin is a stringed musical instrument in the lute family and is usually plucked with a plectrum or “pick”. A small version of Mandolin is called a Mandola.

Harmonica- Hai Apna Dil To Awara (1958)

Music: S.D Burman

Lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri

Singer: Hemant Kumar

Movie: Solva Saal

This one’s an all-time favourite Bollywood song from the 1958 film “Solva Saal”, starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. This song has been remade and sung again and again by thousands of singers, but the original one remains the best. Dev Anand’s evergreen charm and Waheeda’s angry side glances make for a great chemistry. Dev’s friend is seen playing the harmonica, generally called the mouth organ. It is a free reed wind instrument used worldwide in many musical genres, notably in blues, American folk music, classical music, jazz, country, and rock and roll.

Castanets- Ye Chand Sa Roshan Chehra (1964)

Music: O.P Nayyar

Lyrics: S.H Bihari

Singers: Mohammad Rafi

Movie: Kashmir Ki Kali

Castanets are a percussion instrument used in Kalo, Moorish, Ottoman, ancient Roman, Italian, Spanish, Sephardic, Swiss, and Portuguese music. The instrument consists of a pair of concave shells joined on one edge by a string. If you listen carefully to the “Chand Sa Roshan Chehra, Zulfon Ka Rang Sunehra song from “Kashmir Ki Kali” starring Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore, you’ll be able to make out the rhythmic rattling sound of the castanets.

Cello- Ye Jo Mohabbat Hai (1970)

Music: Rahul Dev Burman

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Singer: Kishore Kumar

Movie: Kati Patang

Cello is a string instrument. It is played by bowing or plucking its four strings, which are usually tuned in perfect fifths, an octave lower than the viola. This famous song from “Kati Patang”, sung by Kishore Kumar, stars Rajesh Khanna. A drunk Rajesh Khanna is seen singing about love and life.

Sarangi- Chalte Chalte Yunhi Koi Mil Gaya Tha (1972)

Music: Ghulam Mohammed

Lyrics: Kaifi Azmi

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Movie: Pakeezah

Lata Mangeshkar’s legendary ghazal ‘Chalte Chalte’ has captivated millions of music lovers since 1972. The entire song is replete with the tunes of Sarangi, Ghungroo and Dhols. It is from the 1972 cult classic film ‘Pakeezah’, starring Meena Kumari, Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar. The story for this film is set in Lucknow and depicts the Lucknow Gharana of music and Kathak dance. Sarangi is a bowed, short-necked string instrument from India, Nepal and Pakistan which is used in Hindustani classical music. It is considered to be the traditional instrument for Kathak.

Violin- Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai (1972)

Music: Laxmikant Pyarelal

Lyrics: Santosh Anand

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh

Movie: Shor

“Ek Pyar Ka Nagma Hai, Maujon Ki Ravaani Hai, Zindagi Aur Kuch Bhi Nahi, Teri Meri Kahaani Hai”, an eternal classic Bollywood melody that remains etched in the hearts of Bollywood Music lovers. It doesn’t matter which generation you belong to, this song can bewitch everyone. It’s from the 1972 film “Shor”, written, produced and directed by Manoj Kumar. He played the lead role as well. You’ll love swaying to the tunes of the violin. The violin is informally called a fiddle, it is a wooden string instrument. Most violins have a hollow wooden body.

Madal- Hum Dono Do Premi (1974)

Music: R.D Burman

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar

Movie: Ajnabee

The Madal, is used mainly for rhythm-keeping in Nepalese folk music. It is very popular and widely used as a hand drum in Nepal. Remember Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman dancing on the hay truck to the beats of Madal in the “Hum Dono Do Premi Duniya Chhod Chale” song from the popular 1974 film “Ajnabee”, directed by Shakti Samanta?

Santoor- Aye Dil E Naadan (1983)

Music: Khayyam

Lyrics: Jaan Nissar Akhtar

Singer: Lata Mangeshkar

Movie: Razia Sultan

“Aye Dil E Nadan, Arazu Kya Hai, Justaju Kya Hai” is an enthralling song with exquisite music and beautifully written lyrics from the 1983 film, Razia Sultan. Hema Malini is seen as princess Razia and the entire song is shot against the backdrop of picturesque deserts filled with shining golden sands. The santoor is heard being played in the background. Santoor is an Indo-Persian trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer or string musical instrument generally made of walnut, usually with seventy-two strings. It is the national musical instrument of Iran.

So, now you know a lot about some of the interesting and less known instruments used in Bollywood Music. Our musicians keep experimenting with all sorts of instruments to bring alive the songs and make them sound appropriate. To enjoy the above-mentioned songs, visit, to read the blogs and reviews click on Blog/Review. To play your favourite Bollywood Musical games visit

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