If tunes from history were to be revisited, they will most likely sound like those in Bombay Velvet.
Jazz standards and swing with a pinch of Bollywood done with such coherence tell of composer Amit Trivedi’s masterful command over musical genres, especially Chicago jazz — one that is at the heart of the album. Bombay Velvet comes with tunes that echo of a Bombay that was inclusive, with unconventional ideas and that yearned for something different. Jazz is emblematic of the city in this music, with every polyrhythm, harmony, riff, even a blow into the trumpet carefully thought out (it sounds almost perfect) yet it never fails to be spontaneous. It isn’t Bollywood-redolent and yet exists in the system.
The album opens with the fantastic, jamboree-like Aam Hindustani in Shefali Alvares’s voice. The prelude, which opens with a clarinet, segues into the horns and trumpets, and eventually closes in with pounding drums, extends to three-and-a-half minutes. Alvares’s voice then begins and moves from great and fantastic modulations to some amazing scatting towards the end. One of the finest tracks on the album
Then comes Mohabbat buri bimaari, a superb piece in three versions. The Neeti Mohan and Trivedi version is our pick. Mohan is the voice of Anushka Sharma in the film. In the beginning, the track may remotely remind one of Tum jo mil gaye ho from Caravan. Mohan laughs, hiccups, drawls, scats and creates melodic inventiveness throughout. She is edgy, emotional and complex. The song somehow doesn’t work as well in Alvares’s voice. However, it needs to be heard for Trivedi’s fantastic arrangements. It also has a Shalmali Kholgale version, which finds direction with Mikey Mcleary’s Midas touch.
Then comes a flurry of Mohan songs. If Ka kha gha shows Mohan’s range, Dhadam dhadam gets melancholy a voice. The violin prelude and a refreshing sax interlude glisten here. Sylvia reminds us of the OP Nayyar’s tunes. It also makes a reference to Sylvia of the Nanavati Case. We loved the idiosyncrasies and originality.
Darban by Papon opens with a throbbing trumpet interlude. It’s bit of a plain Jane track, but the heart goes after the brilliant arrangements. Marching drums-meet-jazz drums in Shut up. Sung by Alvares, the composition, however, is just about okay. Behroopiya in Mohit Chauhan and Mohan’s voice is the only song that sounds as if it isn’t a part of the album.
Bombay Velvet is one of the more succinct album in the recent times. The album needs to be bought, loved and played. In an ideal world, on loop.