In the Melodic Lane

At a time when English pop has become far more interesting, "I’m a sunshine girl” song doesn’t come across as a positive reminder of the ’90s — both in terms of lyrics and voice.

Written by Suanshu Khurana | Published: May 30, 2017 12:55 am
Dear maya, Music review, Manisha Koirala, Rekha Bharadwaj, Jonita Gandhi, Irshad Kamil, Rashi Mal, Music, 90s songs, A scene from Dear Maya that marks the return of Manisha Koirala

Dear Maya is an interesting project in many ways. It marks the return of yesteryear actor Manisha Koirala, last seen in Rohit Kaushik’s 2015 release Chehre – A Modern Day Classic, which wasn’t a blip on the box office. Also, this is the first time Anupam Roy has composed music for a non-Shoojit Sarkar film. The film has been directed by Sunaina Bhatnagar, who assisted Imtiaz Ali on Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. These were films that came with tunes that are still remembered. But Bhatnagar gives AR Rahman and Pritam a miss and chooses Roy instead, who established himself through the music of Piku.

The album opens with a soft piano prelude that merges with Rekha Bharadwaj’s voice in Saat rangon se. Bharadwaj’s voice dominates this slow, meditative piece; her dexterous vocals are backed by simple instrumentals. A tabla keeps company with the same rhythm throughout. Roy has always enjoyed using sitar in his pieces. In this, he has combined an interlude on the instrument with an electric guitar. It’s an experiment alright, but is a relatively muddled addition for a melody that boasts of clarity and clean notes otherwise. Soon, Bhardwaj croons Maine bola zindagi, Aaja khelenge hum khwabo ka nigaaho se jua. This bit in the piece can easily be equated with the return of lyricist Irshad Kamil we once knew. And not the Baby ko bass pasand hai Kamil we have heard in the recent times. The acoustic version of the song has Roy take the microphone, raise the musical scale, and in turn the bar. His version sounds better.

This is followed by Harshdeep Kaur singing Sune saaye. A sitar is strummed alongside an acoustic guitar (this works wonderfully) just before Kaur enters the song. This is one of those few times when Kaur’s voice sounds effortless on a high pitch. The sitar exists in the background of this entire piece and in an interlude later, adds another dimension; from a calm, restive drone, the song lifts itself to a piece one can play on the loop. Then comes Kehne ko, in which piano chords are put together with Jonita Gandhi’s husky whispers. It’s one of the more intelligently orchestrated melancholic songs; it borders on haunting. Towards the antaras, Gandhi lifts her voice and reaches a crescendo. Drums appear only after the first half. It’s, however, a forgettable composition.

Patil’s Buri buri follows in newcomer Rashi Mal’s voice, who has also penned the lyrics of the song. The song, with the words “I’m a sunshine girl” could sit well with “I’m a Barbie girl” — a bubblegum pop piece by Aqua, the Danish eurodance group. At a time when English pop has become far more interesting, this doesn’t come across as a positive reminder of the ’90s — both in terms of lyrics and voice. Roy’s pieces for Dear Maya are worth listening to. However, the soundtrack isn’t as remarkable as what we heard in Piku. It floats somewhere in the middle and has occasional touches of brilliance.

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