Friday, 2 February 2018

Bollywood Song of the Week: Ek Dil Ek Jaan / Padmaavat

Ek Dil Ek Jaan - Shivam Pathak / AM Turaz / Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Padmaavat"s writers and director are clearly guilty of taking sides, but the soundtrack, without exaggeration, is a work of genuine beauty. Ek Dil Ek Jaan is a gem in the impressive six-song Padmaavat soundtrack, exhaling love in its purest form.

Shades of Bajirao Mastani 
Shivam Pathak varies his gruff-riotous vocals of Khalibali to an impressive drawn out, lingering degree here.

Despite shades of the Arijit Singh sung Aayat from Bajirao Mastani (2015), how Ek Dil Ek Jaan sways momentarily to a clipped qawwali piece is as organic, if not better. In fact, Bhansali repeats Mujtaba Aziz Naza and Farhan Sabri vocals as in the Aayat qawwali section, lyricist AM Turaz is another common factor.

Instruments, Magic  
Apart from the lead vocals, the rousing, mini, qawwali interlude, the magic stems from the drawn-out quality, silence between the notes and excellent pacing. The sound design is a work of perfection here, as is the aptly placed collage of instruments. Sample the initial wind chime tinkles, and how it builds up to the wisely understated clap rhythms. I love the sarangi touches the most, it adds the necessary melancholia.

Fleeting Cinema
The lyrics, despite the love song trappings, emits the sweet pain of parting and fits piognantly well into the film's audio-visual context.

Bhansali is guilty of overplaying the Ratan Singh-Padmavati 'adorable glances' part. But for a few moments, as the enemy annnounces its thunderous presence, the last goodbye between lovers feels like a golden thread stiched in embriodery. A fleeting moment, yet a glimpse of cinema.    

Friday, 26 January 2018

Bollywood Song of the Week: Khalibali / Padmaavat

Khalibali - Shivam Pathak / AM Turaz / Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Although Khalibali sticks out like a sore thumb in the Padmaavat storytelling structure, as a purely audio experience it is individually distinct for its mid-eastern flavor and deranged celebration from the rest of the soundtrack.

For those unaware of Hindi film formula, you may well ask, when did Alauddin Khilji learn to dance like that?! Khalibali comes out of the blue in the film. Nor does Alauddin's onscreen lustiness compliment the song's lyrics, there is a clear disconnect. Did the violent anti-film protests affect creative freedom on the songs too? Or is it merely an entertainment gimmick, to give the audience a more likable villain?

Ranveer Singh's mere presence sparks up the audio-visual. Otherwise, the song is more of a filler, and suddenly Padmaavat looks like a musical. They might have made a full-fledged musical out of Padmaavat, considering the superb Sanjay Leela Bhansali compositions, Shahid and  Deepika's dance skills, it would have been lovely to watch.

Khalibali stands for chaos, and explains the king's state in a repeated rousing chorus:

taar-vaar dil ke sab toot se gaye
neendon waale jugnu rooth raaton se gaye  

(all strings of the heart are severed, 
the fireflies of sleep had a tiff with the night)

At the time of writing, the 21-minute-odd run of the Padmaavat soundtrack is sounding rousingly impressive and epic on repeated listens. We may have our first great Hindi film soundtrack of 2018 in Padmaavat. More of that in subsequent posts. Until then, happy listening!

Friday, 19 January 2018

Bollywood Song of the Week: Paintra / Mukkabaaz

Paintra: Divine / Nucleya / Vineet Kumar Singh   

Yes, for the second consecutive week, we pick Paintra, the anti-establishment, rebellious dance/rap addiction as the Bollywood Song of the Week. Check out why we chose the song last week at this link.

Catching Mukkabaaz this week at the theaters also helped me place the song in a new light. Ironically, though a notable, offbeat and catchy soundtrack, the use of the songs at key moments where silence would have done better undermines the film's key moments.

Rachita Arora's beautiful music does convey mood, but the repetitive use of the songs as the movie background score rankles. Just silence would have worked so well at key scenes. So this is in context of the film's audio-visual impact.

Do give the Mukkabaaz soundtrack a listen, an interesting experience for music lovers looking for something variant from the usual Bollywood template. 

Paintra fits right into the texture, mood, and context of the movie, placed at the right place and very astutely picturized. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

Bollywood Song of the Week: Paintra / Mukkabaaz

Paintra: Divine / Nucleya / Vineet Kumar Singh   

Listening in to the soundtracks of Padmavati,1921Kaalakaandi, Mukkabaaz, among others was an enthralling soundscaping experience this week.

Padmavati, Kaalakaandi & Others  
At the time of writing, the two released songs of Padmavati are further proof of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's incredible musical sensibilities. Ghoomar is probably the best of the Shreya Ghoshal-Bhansali collaboration. What festive spirit, rousing chorus, percussion, combined with vintage Ghoshal vocals! Ek Dil Ek Jaan in the same space as Aayat from Bajirao Mastani (2015), the touch of soul lingers in this brief, mellow turn.   

The 1921 soundtrack is one-tone despite irregular intensity, flowing in one melancholy, drawn-out, lovelorn, redundant Aashiqui 2 (2013) space, minus the latter's magic though.

Kaalakaandi looks to repeat the iconic ribald creative fountain of Ram Sampath's Delhi Belly (2011) with little success. Incidentally, debutant director Akshat Verma wrote Delhi Belly, deja vu is the norm here. There are sparks like the zany jazz trumpet loudness in Jive With Me and a scruffy fun male chauvinist statement in the Swagpur Ka Chaudhary rap, the rest misses the mark.

Social Statements & Wall Lizards 
The Mukkabaaz songs are relishingly odd, relevant, raw, engagingly reminiscent of Sneha Khanwalkar's Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) soundtrack.

Apart from Paintra, a Nucleya contribution, Rachita Arora's music impresses with the love disparity talk in Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye, the counterpunch outburst Bahut Hua Samman, beautiful classical heartburn in Bohot Dukha Mann and the intense scuffle chronicle in Haathapai.

Also, check out the unconventional take on the wall lizard in Chhipkali! Yes, that's how offbeat this one goes. A strong folk background and Director Anurag Kashyap's rebellious stamp give the songs a grizzled, rusty texture.

Ravi Kishan's dialogues punctuate Paintra, a dance/EDM number that talks about how lobbying and leaning on influence goes a long way in India. In rapid chit-chatty rhythm, we get social truths rolled out one after another. It is a story seldom told in a Hindi film song. The barb on TV news channels is cleverly camouflaged:

ye TV waale bina jaane
badbad karna inka kaam hai
ladkar badhna tera kaam hai
udte jaa
udte jaa  

(these TV people blabber 
without reason,
their work is to destroy, 
to fight and get ahead is your duty, 
keep flying
keep flying)  

Sample the knockout lyrics at the fag end: 

aur gundagardi chal gayi jiski
wo neta ban jaata hai
phir desh mahaan chalayega
ye netaji kehlaata hai

(whose hooliganism pays off
becomes a political leader, 
then he will make the country great, 
he is called a supreme leader)

The pleasant surprise is the film's hero, Vineet Kumar Singh's lyric-writing talent here. Immediate, relevant and mashed to a pulsating dance pace, Paintra hits the right offtrack notes to individual revolt.  

Friday, 5 January 2018

Bollywood Song of the Week: Aaj Se Teri / Padman

Aaj Se Teri - Arijit Singh / Amit Trivedi / Kausar Munir

Last year was one of the dullest and diluted in Bollywood song history, with rehashed classic songs and dumb, lewd or passable party songs gaining YouTube traction. Soulful poetry was alarmingly missing but for some exceptions in 2017.

In that light, the Amit Trivedi - Kausar Munir Padman soundtrack is a dew-fresh welcome start to the Bollywood calendar year 2018. Though we feature only one song here, the entire Padman soundtrack is worth a listen at its five-song, 21-minute odd length.

Arijit Impresses Again!
Arijit Singh's male playback dominance continues with Aaj Se Teri. Contrary to apprehensions that Arijit is squeezing his career lemon dry with similar-themed songs, Aaj Se Teri shows why he is the best choice here. Singh modulates his voice, minus the romantic huskiness and delivers a lively lovey-dovey turn. 

Trivedi's Beautiful Empty Spaces
The Bollywood film song is made so often to dutifully match the audio-visual storytelling. That is why Trivedi can't escape the cliched shehnai start to signal a marriage and the ensuing bonding. Trivedi cleverly builds on that intro to add his unconventional, out-of-the-box tangent pattern and create beautiful open spaces and percussion for Arijit's vocals to stand out and linger. Notice the genuinely melodious intermittent music, minimal hand-clap effect and how the shehnai sprinkles at the right places throughout.  

Lovely, Rare Quality 
Munir's lyrics echo of Trivedi's frequent collaborator Amitabh Bhattacharya's space in a diverse, recognizable, common-place lingo here. 

Oh tere kande ka jo til hai, 
tere seene mein jo dil hai, 
oh teri bijli ka jo bill hai, 
aaj se mera ho gaya... 

(that mole on your shoulder, 
your heart in your chest, 
your electricity bill, 
from today are mine) 

We rarely get anything as sensual, practical and heartfelt within a few lines in Hindi film music today. Check out the Antara (para 1 & 2) lyrics for its seamless melding of tradition, culture with companionship, beautifully sewn together to North Indian ethos.  

In a time where "love songs" have become excuses for flashy showboating and overtly sexual overkill, Aaj Se Teri stands out as an unaffected, leisurely, be kind rewind song.