Anurag Kashyap’s second directorial venture this year (third, if you count the short film in Lust Stories) teams him with composer Amit Trivedi for a fourth time. The duo has delivered some exceptional music in the past, starting with Dev.D (which also won Trivedi a National Award). The composer hasn’t had a great year so far, and it remains to be seen if Manmarziyaan will end his rough patch.
Same yet different
That the music of Manmarziyaan recalled Udta Punjab on some level, was always a distinct possibility. While the soundtrack is reminiscent of a few Udta tracks – thankfully hardly any of it is ennui-inducing – something that’s inflicted Trivedi’s tunes of late. Much of it is owes to Trivedi’s choice of artists. In ‘Daryaa’ – flautist Paras Nath bolsters the song to glorious effect, and is fittingly assigned the duty of closing the song with a heart-warming 30 second solo, even as Shahid Mallya and Ammy Virk’s (both in fine form) voices fade away. An unplugged version of the song (the only song with two versions in the 14-song album) accentuates the longing in the tune and lyricist Shellee’s lines. The unplugged version almost feels like a throwback to the impromptu acoustic sessions during college days.
Of course those amateur sessions didn’t feature the brilliant guitar improvisations of the kind Sanjoy Das produces in the interlude here. Deveshi Sahgal’s vocals aren’t a match for what Mallya and Virk accomplish, but she manages to convey emotion well.
Reuniting with Trivedi after Udta, Mallya gets one more song in the album, a piece for the lovelorn titled ‘Sacchi Mohabbat’ that he delivers with an equally competent Jonita Gandhi. Two more exceptional musicians steal the show in the backdrop, Arshad Khan on the esraj and Omkar Dhumal on shehnai. One of the album’s lightest compositions is ‘Chonch Ladiyaan’, where the composer is in top form with his arrangement. Khan’s esraj once again finds spectacular usage (evocative of ‘Manjha’ from Kai Po Che), but equally winsome is Satyajit Jamsandekar’s contribution with percussion. Giving life to Shellee’s words loaded with incredibly imaginative analogies, are Jazim Sharma and Harshdeep Kaur’s vocals.
Hits the sweet spot
The movie’s title song, ‘Jaisi Teri Marzi’, sees Kaur share vocal duties with Bhanu Pratap Singh. The feel-good yet commonplace song is lifted by its strong vocals and percussion. Shellee invents the word fyaar (implying lust) for Manmarziyaan, and it appears in two of the songs. ‘F for Fyaar’ carries an indisputable similarity to the dark, pulsating folktronica that dominated Udta’s tracks. Mast Ali’s earnest voice keeps the song grounded, and Sikander Kahlon’s rap entry, though not great writing, is a nice touch. Props to Tapas Roy for his work on the tumbi. While I am not a fan of ‘Fyaar Pe Duniya’, it’s good to hear Alamgir Khan after a gap. Devenderpal Singh and Babu Haabi deliver the standard folksy tune ‘Bijlee Giregi’ which works for the thrumming electronic backdrop and Shellee’s words – sample ‘cutie pie ni kutti pie hai’! Prabh Deep’s ‘Sherni’ is a much more engaging number. The dubstep-ish arrangement is absolutely heady, and I loved the way Deep raps – it’s a pity the song is so short.
Trivedi channels his oft (and successfully) employed sprightly dance track format to create ‘Dhayanchand’, and here too it is highly likely you will end up humming ‘Dhyaan Kithe Dhyanchand’ long after the song is over. Once again, the folk instruments featured – and there is quite an assortment, played by Vijay Yamla (also credited as a singer) and Kuku Duggi – contribute to the song’s allure. It’s a similar story with the wedding song, ‘Kundali’ – with trademark Trivedi arrangements. The song’s ‘Laao ji laao’ refrain is deeply addictive. The women rendering the number are in their element, as is Omkar Dhumal’s shehnai (watch out for the cameo from harmonium master Akhlak Hussain Varsi). Shellee’s snappy lines are on point, even incorporating a DDLJ reference. The most heartening aspect of the song ‘Jala Di’ are Romy’s vocals. His duet with Jatinder Singh is the highlight of the otherwise regular Punjabi track peppered with occasional electronic segues.
Romy also renders ‘Hallaa’, one of my two favourites on the album. It is Jyoti Nooran who shines in the vocal department here though with a supreme effort, even as Trivedi builds a hypnotic electronic piece around the simple yet highly addictive melody. My other favourite is ‘Grey Walaa Shade’, which starts on a sedate note, with Jazim Sharma’s soulful rendition of the opening lines, before Kaur makes her entry with the flirtatious tone in ‘Ishq Nazariya’. Sharma sounds almost like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan used to sound in his ‘Bol Na Halke Halke’ phase – hope we get to hear more of him.
Chorus of talent
Kashyap’s reunion with Trivedi brings back his love for mammoth soundtracks. While the repetitiveness gets in the way on many occasions, this time round the composer manages to deliver a supremely engaging soundtrack, with ample help from Shellee and a group of incredible musicians.