While the MNS was busy protesting the release of Karan Johar’s Diwali release, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, a set of radio-friendly tunes were making their way into people’s lives.
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Composer Pritam Chakrabarty and lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya have explored a populist soundscape in the seven tracks of Aye Dil Hai Mushkil — something that’s never a good idea. The two have taken one basic refrain and siphoned it into pop pieces where the voices are significant, and the beats uncomplicated, resulting in very palatable tunes. But while some songs are well-crafted, others are plain ordinary.
The album opens with a well-proportioned piano prelude just before the title song by Arijit Singh comes to the fore. Singh puts in enough passion and pathos to sing this one. A strong string section plays in the background along with basic beat. The violins, violas and cellos, which are later paired with a trumpet, create a dense melody. Except that the piano piece sounds like the theme song of World War Z.
This is followed by Bulleya, the current earworm. An electric guitar paired with dholak and drums opens an intense melody. It’s a welcome merger of sounds and singer Amit Mishra hits the high note with much earnestness. Shilpa Rao joins in later to sing one antara and is just about all right. Her pronunciation, however, is crystal clear, with all the nuktas in place. Again, the electric guitar prelude is “inspired” by Papa Roach’s The Last Resort. And that realisation spoils the experience.
Channa mereya is a melancholic piece sung with fervour —something Singh does well. Paired with guitars and a dholak, the conversational cadence of it, which leads to a refrain Channa mereya, is interesting. Bhattacharya shines again with lines such as Mere zikr ka zubaan pe swaad rakhna, Dil ke sandookon mein mere achhe kaam rakhna. The compelling piece showcases Singh’s tonal control.
Check Ae Dil Hai Mushkil songs shared by Karan Johar:
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) October 26, 2016
The Breakup song is a breezy electro-pop number with rap elements from Baadshah. It’s a fun one-time listen. This is followed by Cutiepie, which has already become a club favourite. Chakrabarty takes up parts of a famous sombre Punjabi folk, Saada chidiya da chamba, and turns it on its head to deliver a happy, exuberant Cutiepie. Alizeh, which aims at being a romantic number and has Singh singing in a muffled voice, isn’t able to have any impact whatsoever.
Aye Dil Hai Mushkil is an interesting album in which the pieces seem to be a natural extensions of the film. If only Chakrabarty had kept some inspirations at bay. As a standalone album, it’s mostly a delight. It doesn’t matter what one’s genre loyalties are. Three out of seven songs are anthemic and will stay that way for a while.