Composer: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Shellee, Sikandar Khalon
Rating: Two and a half stars
Sikkon jaisi, hain uchhali Manmarziyaan… Sung by Shilpa Rao, this composition in Vikramaditya Motwane’s Lootera (2012) was the writing on the wall. If Dev D and Aamir were impressive and composer Amit Trivedi’s finest hours for varied, intelligent and experimental soundtracks, Lootera and this particular track in the album proved Trivedi’s prowess in the polished soul category. It was clean and expansive. Fittingly, director Anurag Kashyap has got Trivedi to compose for his upcoming film of the same name as that song. Manmarziyaan, a love triangle set in Punjab and starring Vicky Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu and Abhishek Bachchan, is a thematic compilation of varied Punjabi and Punjabi-inspired songs and every piece has Trivedi’s trademark element of folk fusion. We like that the composer has stuck to the sounds, in every piece, that are quaint but not populist reminders of Punjabi music. While some songs stick immediately in the eight-track album, others fall short of any brilliance and are a bit clunky.
The opening piece F for fyaar, sung by Sikandar Khalon with Mast Ali rapping later, opens with a tumbi and dubdubi announcing the arrival of a typical Punjabi folk. The sound merges with an array of electronic sounds paired with drums and dhol and Khalon sings this in his sharp voice with the trademark Punjabi folk vibrato in place. The tumbi comes back towards the end in the song that’s catchy, bursts with freshness and yet falls in the familiar category. This is followed by Daryaa, the kind of track Trivedi has much expertise in now. Sung by Ammy Virk and Shahid Mallya, it begins slowly and softly with a xylophone and piano finding common ground. And from here on, it builds until it reaches a crescendo in the first minute itself. Virk goes off key in the later part of the song but when paired with Mallya’s voice, his voice sounds enormous and smooth. The drums and electric guitar are paired intelligently with synth and a flute conclusion adds much colour to the piece.
Jazim Sharma, mostly known to sing ghazals after his successful reality show stint, attempts Grey wala shade. Kala na safed hai, ishq da rang, grey wala shade hai. The lyricist makes a statement, the composer convinces you with a confident tune while Sharma tries to balance it all with his voice. It works. Harshdeep Kaur acquires a more modern avatar while Sharma is the traditional voice here. There is dhol, synth, beatboxing, a western chorus, an electronic guitar paired with all of this, and Trivedi makes it sound fantastic. Sharma and Kaur come together for another piece — Chonch ladiyaan. A riff on the acoustic guitar paired with a xylophone opens this love ballad that has Sharma’s voice and variations find an interesting outlet. Satluj mein samandar naache, the line stayed with us. Trivedi plays with sarangi here. The warmth in Sharma’s voice comes through and the song belongs to him. Kaur doesn’t impress here. She sounds too mechanical.
Dhayaanchand has Trivedi deliver a piece that’s a reminder of his Dev D style of music-making. It pairs a lilting tumbi with brass sounds and a strong dhol presence. The song has folk singer Vijay Yamla, grandson of Ustad Lal Chand Yamla Jatt, take a run at it with his folk voice. The composer uses a synth to put it all together to create a rambunctious piece. The flute interludes make one smile and even put you into the narrow bylanes of the place Kashyap has set his film in. Nikhita Gandhi raps in Punjabi and does grab attention. Trivedi gets Jyoti Nooran into the studio for Halla, which again falls in the folk fusion category. Nooran sounds usual, trying to make herself sound like a Sufi, which takes her in the pretentious zone but it’s hard to not notice the web of orchestration Trivedi creates around her — with sampled sounds, synth, tabla, drums and dhol.
Sachhi mohabbat is the kind of song we have heard from many composers. Nothing new there except a beautiful shehnai interlude. The title song Jaisi teri marzi is a boring tune to say the least. But even here, Trivedi pulls off orchestration like a boss.
The album isn’t a thunderstorm in terms of the tunes sticking in the head. It rises and falls. But every piece of orchestration that comes in contact with the audience is enough for a listening session.