One of the most recognisable names to emerge out of India’s independent musical niche, Prateek Kuhad’s songs are identifiable by their brooding sincerity, surprising but relatable translations of love, and string-dominated musical starbursts. Having also dipped his toes into Bollywood, he is a rare example of indie-brewed success—the kind that gives hope to anyone not beholden to Bollywood fare.
Out of his classic singer-songwriter discography, a few songs stay with you just a little longer after you listen to them. These are the top 10 songs by Prateek Kuhad.
10. Cold Shoulders
Prateek Kuhad is best known for taking a moment within a love-stricken heart, and translating it into song. On this one, he quickly and perfectly swings from sweeping joy (Swayed and fettered, swooned and crowned / Even the bliss is pain somehow) to barren loss (Tired of being only / The rain, the sun, the lonely). A few fluttering of his guitar, and you are suddenly suffering your sweetest memories again.
Remember when you finally realised that a love you treasured has to be released? That painful yet freeing acceptance is seeded into this song, as is the reminder to never believe in the worthiness of love—I did try to be your lover/It was beautiful under covers.
‘Fire’ is pared down, a handful of words as elusive as the sentiment they capture. You are never entirely sure what Kuhad means by, “We were just not aware / We were folding our jeans / To step into the salty sea,” but it brings back memories of irrational, unbridled, inevitably doomed happiness.
7. Just a Word
This is the most upfront Kuhad ever gets with his expectations of love (Tryna find a world / Where this love really deserves us). ‘Just a Word’ is an artist’s murmured dissection of his heart. The music is steeped in unforgettable rhythm, and accompanied by a charming music video that is the stuff of childhood dreams.
Prateek Kuhad sings in two languages and in both, he carries the same obsession with patching out beauty. Lightly garnished by wintry drums and fluttery guitars, this song celebrates the joy of living the life you’re given, and nothing more is required. With ‘Saansein’, you finally have permission to breathe out everything that keeps you from yourself.
5. with you/for you
“Not mindless I’m just spineless / Put cellophane on my mouth and kiss / My love is lying in the corner”—Prateek Kuhad’s poetic caprice is at the centre of his magnetism, and no song proves it better than this one. It depicts perfectly the never-ending emotional limbo that love will throw too many of us into, and the music video perfectly frames this state of “what next?”
4. Shehron Ke Raaz
It’s hard to talk about the song without mentioning the stunning music video. Two dancers cocooned in their own private snapshot of unsullied togetherness. The song itself is little more than a whisper; impossibly gentle proclamations skitter around on almost invisible music and suddenly, you are back in love with old cafés and young dates.
3. Raat Raazi
A favourite of die-hard Prateek Kuhad fans, this song is one of the early signs of his talent. When the song came out, it was hailed for its intimate, lean-into-your-ear sensuousness; it was like he was letting you in on secrets about himself with a couple of strings and unabashed truthfulness.
What’s worse? The searing agony of a discussed separation or the slow burn of wordless, drifting distancing between two people who might have been each other’s world? In this song, the singer-songwriter mulls over the latter. Last hopes of reconciliation are finally given a goodbye, and the artist is left to acknowledge the infinitude of his loss.
The obvious number one song, you say? We agree. A feat of songwriting, this track is masterful in displaying every whittled corner of a confused, faltering and love-drunk heart. Synonymous with that tender music video in which Zoya Hussain and Jim Sarbh spin a love we wish we wouldn’t miss so much, ‘cold/mess’ is disarming because it is so damn human. It acknowledges the most inconvenient sides of loving someone, but never questions if it is worth it.
Check out ‘Raat Raazi’ and more independent music to accompany you with your cup of Chai on our Spotify: