Film: Udta Punjab
Composer: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Shellee, Shiv Kumar Batalvi,
Amidst layers of electronic music and Punjabi catchiness, the soundtrack of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab, a film about drugs in Punjab, has tracks that lead one into an imaginary world and let you stay there a while.
With Udta Punjab, composer Amit Trivedi and lyricist Shellee have delivered an unsettling score that keeps pace with the film’s drug-fuelled theme. It falters sometimes, but mostly it’s spot on. When the dust settles with the woozy numbers, and the romantic pieces replace digital distortions and bursts of rap, the zone changes and we have to shift gears.
Udta Punjab takes us on various trips — sometimes into the dark, twisted fantasy world of drugs, and sometimes keeping it simple with soft romantic numbers. On other occasions, Trivedi just lets it rip. Much of the success of the album can be credited to one of its lyricists, Shellee, whose alliterations and interesting rhymes are one of the more interesting ways to keep things real.
With Udta Punjab, Trivedi has delivered a very fine album. In parts, it’s one of his finest hours. He’s got drugs bouncing with the bass and that’s no mean feat.
The album opens with Chitta ve — a play on white powder — which opens with a synth piece that merges with other electronic distortions and an urgent rap that celebrates all things intoxicating. There’s debauchery, confidence and everything so manic that there’s no time to recover. It is one of the better title tracks to have come along in a long time. Sung by Babu Haabi, Shahid Mallya and Bhanu Pratap, the piece is as smooth as the weed it celebrates. Trivedi attempts another version of the title song along with Vishal Dadlani. However, he turns the sound of the traditional tumbi on its head by merging, bass, drumbeats and synths and delivers one of the finest moments of the album. Andar da kutta ajj kadiye, growls Trivedi. He is more than just fantastic in this one. Varun Grover’s brave lyrics work like a charm.
Dar da dasse has Kanika Kapoor’s “ladies sangeet” voice meet synthetic shine. This is followed by more rap, as if a drug user had woken up at the crack of dawn and realised his condition. Meri nas maange bas o khushboo, Sunghan do bas sunghn do/ Tan, rooh kaanp rahi, maut kahin alaap rahi goes the song. Musically, it isn’t the best moment of the album, but it’s good enough. It may even remind you of Dev D. Not in all its finery, though.
Ik kudi brings legendary poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poetry into the spotlight. Shahid Mallya, one of the finest yet underrated singers in the industry, attempts it alongside an acoustic guitar and a basic backbeat with soul we used to associate Sonu Nigam with. This also comes with a reprised version by singer-actor Diljit Dosanjh. Trivedi pairs elaborate orchestration with this one and Dosanjh doesn’t disappoint. Hass nache le’s harmonium prelude paired with cascading guitars and a dholak lead us into an unadulterated folk world of Punjab. It’s melodious, comfortable, old-world and sung to perfection by Mallya. Vadiya comes from the same marquee as Chitta ve but lacks freshness. Trivedi, who sings this, can’t carry the pronunciation properly and pops a flat piece in the trance zone.
The end of the album got me thinking what its makers were on — they’ve got the drug-soaked sound and the intoxication to a tee. Buy it to enter one of the more versatile worlds Trivedi has created in a while.