(Top) (From L to R): Ankur Tewari, Pritam, and Shreya Ghoshal. (Bottom) (From L to R): Diljit Dosanjh and Shilpa Rao.
Top performers of 2023 who turned heads, made headlines.
Image: Courtesy Ankur TewariIn August 2023, singer-songwriter Ankur Tewari released a music album called Akela on Apple Music. Tewari wrote and recorded this indie album during the pandemic to help cope with the sense of isolation he was grappling with at the time. Best known for his work in the 2019 blockbuster Gully Boy, Tewari has been closely collaborating with filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti in shows and films like Made in Heaven and The Archies. He is also developing their music label, Tiger Baby Records.
Image: AFPArijit Singh took the top spot as the most streamed artiste on Spotify Wrapped 2023 in the country for the fourth consecutive year. Some of his most streamed songs of the year included Heeriye, Chaleya, and Phir Aur Kya Chahiye, among others. Singh also bagged an award for Best Playback Singer (Male) for Kesariya from Brahmastra at the Filmfare Awards. According to IMDb, the king of playback worked in 13 movies in 2023, including Pathaan, Tu Joothi Main Makkaar, Jaane Jaan, and Dunki.
Image: Getty ImagesThere was no turning back for Anirudh Ravichander after he shot to fame in 2011 with his debut song Why This Kolaveri Di, which became an internet sensation. With Jawan, the 33-year-old music composer officially made his debut in Bollywood. The music director, who has been a household name in Tamil cinema, recently also composed music for Leo, a film starring Vijay. Ravichander made it to the top three of the most streamed artistes of the year in the country on Spotify Wrapped.
Image: Getty ImagesSinger-composer Armaan Malik released his first-ever English single titled Control in 2023 and also the official video of his second album, Only Just Begun, which presents a blend of Indian and Western music. The 28-year-old is known for his songs like ‘Besabriyaan’ (MS Dhoni: The Untold Story), ‘Buddhu Sa Mann’ (Kapoor & Sons), ‘Naina’ (Khoobsurat), and more. In the past, Malik has also collaborated with English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
Image: Getty Images Actor-singer Diljit Dosanjh recently became the first Punjabi singer to perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2023 in California. Dosanjh, who is known for Punjabi hip-hop/rap, pop, and R&B genres, also unveiled his 17th full-length album, Ghost. The 39-year-old wears multiple hats and was seen in the romantic-comedy period film Jodi. Besides this, he will be seen in Chamkila next, directed by Imtiaz Ali. This film features Dosanjh and Parineeti Chopra in the lead roles.
Khesari Lal Yadav
Khesari Lal Yadav is one of the biggest superstars of the Bhojpuri entertainment industry. He acts, dances, models, and sings—popular songs that rule the charts every month. At the recently wrapped up Chhath Puja festival, his devotional songs echoed from the lanes of Bihar and Awadh to the cabins of taxi drivers in Mumbai. This year, his songs ‘Pagale Bana Di Ram Ji’ (11 million views), ‘Nagin’ (27 million views), and ‘Khele Super Giants Lucknowwa’ (13 million views, and anthem for the IPL team Lucknow Super Giants) have cemented his status as a bankable singer.
Jonita Gandhi’s playback singing journey began with the title track of Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express in 2013, and this year, it has reached a new peak with Jawan’s ‘Faraatta’ (more than 16 million views on YouTube). Another popular song the 34-year-old singer gave was ‘What Jhumka’ (214 million views on YouTube) from Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. From AR Rahman to Meet Bros, Gandhi’s discography for 2023 includes various composers and songs.
This year began with an excellent collaboration for King—he would sing with an artist he had grown up listening to and adoring. Nick Jonas had shown interest in recreating King’s biggest hit, ‘Maan Le Meri Jaan’. Since then, his graph for 2023 has only seen an upward trend. Shayad Woh Sune EP, several singles, and sold-out concerts have kept Arpan Kumar Chandel, aka King, busy. His latest album, New Life, featuring collaborations with Julia Michaels, Gucci Mane, and Nikhita Gandhi, is already climbing the charts.
Image: AFPIn the recently released Spotify Wrapped data, every fan of Modern Bollywood Music had Pritam as one of their Top Artistes of the Year. This year, his film albums ruled the charts with numbers such as the recreation of ‘Character Dheela’ for Kartik Aryan’s Shehzada and Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar’s entire album for Luv Ranjan. He not only delivered a Karan-Johar-Genre-of-Music for Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani but also did the background score for the film. He brought Arijit Singh and Salman Khan together for Tiger 3—a feat nobody thought possible. His songs for Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal and Shah Rukh Khan’s Dunki are also gaining momentum.
Kedar Shinde’s film Baipan Bhari Deva is the biggest hit of the year for the Marathi film industry. Apart from the story and the star cast, there is one more reason behind the universal acceptance of the second-highest-grossing film of all time in Marathi—music by Saiprasad Nimbalkar and Piyush Kulkarni, better known as Sai-Piyush. The fusion of EDM with Marathi folk music for the title track is a breath of fresh air on the current Marathi music scene. The duo also gave music to Mohan Agashe and Suhas Joshi’s drama Athvani and political thriller Chowk and played a small part in making the trailer of Maharashtra Shaheer a success.
Indie artistes OAFF and Savera came into the spotlight for their tracks from the film Gehraiyaan. The composer duo had their first performance on stage at the Vh1 Supersonic in early 2023. Both of them recently also collaborated with singer Arijit Singh on the song titled ‘Fanaa Kar Lo’ from the movie Starfish.
Image: Getty ImagesEvery fan of Indian film music has danced to at least one of Shilpa Rao’s songs this year. The prolific singer’s year began with the song ‘Besharam Rang’ from Pathaan for Vishal-Shekhar. Then she shifted melodious gears for AR Rahman’s ‘Ruaa Ruaa’ for Ponniyin Selvan: II and Sachin-Jigar’s ‘Sanjha’ for Zara Hatke Zara Bachke. But she was back on top of the charts with ‘Chaleya’ and ‘Not Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ for Anirudh Ravichander’s Jawan album. The ‘Kaavaalaa’ song from Rajinikanth’s massy offering Jailer (again an Anirudh album) made Rao the viral voice of reels, shorts, posts, and tweets.
This Mumbaikar writer and poet only dipped her toe in the hip-hop genre in 2021, and by 2023, she has become one of the rising stars on the Indian rapping horizon. Srushti Tawade’s performance in the music reality show MTV Hustle 2.0 garnered her a massive fan following from young hip-hop fans in the country. She delivered two of the biggest songs to come out of the show—‘Main Nahi Toh Kaun’ and ‘Chhota Don’ with more than 4.5 million streams on Spotify and more than 120 million views on YouTube. This year, she has delivered singles such as ‘Makeover’, ‘Dahi Shakkar’, ‘Breakfast Over Bae’, and ‘Rasiya’ as well as her first studio album, Breadcrumbs.
Image: Getty ImagesShreya Ghoshal can cover and nail any genre and still won’t break a sweat. 2023 is another year enchanted for the singer—be it Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar, PS: 2, Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, 12th Fail, or Animal and Sam Bahadur, she is everywhere singing her heart out, ruling the charts. Even her independent work offers genuine earworms and goes viral instantly. For example, her collaboration with Vishal Mishra for recreations of ‘Zihaal-e-Miskin’, Coke Studio appearance for Kaushik Guddu to create ‘Sunn Beliya’ or even singing ‘Tujh Pe Dil Haar Ke’ for Amaal Malik for the web series Sultan of Delhi.
The versatility of Sunidhi Chauhan cannot be matched. Take 2023, for example. Amit Trivedi’s work for the OTT show Jubilee became a class apart because of Chauhan’s vocals behind ‘Voh Tere Mere Ishq Ka’, ‘Babuji Bhole’, and ‘Nahin Ji Nahin’. She matched the magic of singers of the bygone era without losing herself in it. Then there is the foot-tapping number ‘Show Me the Thumka’ from Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar or the lounge number ‘Pari Hoon Main’ from Thank You for Coming, in which she rolls with the GenZ taste. Her single ‘Tum Kehte Ho’ is slowly climbing the charts for two reasons: The music and the message of preserving mental health.
Category coordinators: Naini Thaker, Rucha SharmaMethodology Forbes India Showstoppers, in its second year, is a list of 70 achievers who have outperformed in their respective fields—cinema (theatrical release), OTT, music and sports. The timeline considered is January 1 to November 30, 2023. Three months ago, a team of journalists and senior editors at Forbes India started putting together a long list of close to 150 names of actors, filmmakers, musicians, singers and sportspersons, through primary and secondary research. They arrived at the final list of 70 in the first week of December after internal deliberations. For cinema and OTT, the factors under consideration were quality of work, appreciation (critical acclaim and popularity), level of challenge and diversity in roles, pipeline of projects, and box office success. For sports, it was achievements this year, while for music, it was popularity across mainstream genres in 2023.