The soundtrack of Anurag Kashyap’s films is always unique in more ways than one. His brief to the composer includes the delivery of a sound authentic to the millieu of the space and the times Kashyap sets his story in. In that space, there is a small window, an allowance to play around with what they are creating. In terms of the compositions, he is more focused on the texture of the sound and the voices used.
He is a director who won’t take to task if the sound is out of line or the concept of besura has been taken too far. His upcoming Mukkabaaz — the story of a boxer from a lower caste in Bareilly, who falls in love with the niece of his Brahmin boss, and controls all the local boxers — comes with an interesting and at times, impressive score. While composer Rachita Arora delivers at times, one wonders if the film needed the touch of a Sneha Khanwalkar to nail the textures for a film like this. Khanwalkar’s score in Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (GOW) is unforgettable.
The sports drama opens with the song Paintra, and actor Ravi Kishan’s dialogues. Seekh le zindagi ka paintra is composed by Nucleya and written by actor Vineet Kumar Singh. It is pulsating and loud and combines itself with the sounds of kuthu (high energy Tamil folk) as rapper Divine aka Vivian Fernandes attempts to rap along. Politically incorrect, smartly created, it is one of the better Hindi raps we’ve heard in a long time.
Then comes Mushkil hai apna mel sung by Brijesh Shandilya. Sunil Jog’s lyrics, with lines like Tum rabri malai ho, main toh sattu sepreta hoon/ Tum nayi marooti lagti ho, mai scooter Lambretta hoon, fall into a category where humour finds an intelligent outlet. It is riot of a song that opens with a moorchang, flute and banjo prelude and goes into a peti (old-style high pitched harmonium) and dholak interlude. In the middle, it also acquires a drum and bass colour. Bahut hua samman by Swaroop Khan works in terms of lyrics and has a tinge of Keh ke lunga from GOW. It’s a dholak and harmonium piece with lyrics and composition that work really well. What just doesn’t, however, is Khan’s voice. It falls completely flat beyond the second octave.
A melody based in dusk raag Puriya Dhanashree, Bohot dukha mann, is one of the finest pieces in the album. Sung by composer Rachita and Dev Arijit, it is a sensuous melody sung beautifully. She will be someone to look out for in the next few years. Chhipkali sung by Vijay, opened by a whistle and then a trumpet, describes a lizard’s crawling presence in a room amid a retro tune. Lyrics like sarsarati and laplapaati chhipkali are like the writer’s aghast thoughts on paper – these are lyrics we do not usually hear in our songs.
The song by Patna-based homemaker Khushbu Raj, whose only other one was Womaniya in GOW, opens with a shehnai and sounds like folk, sung at a quintessential ladies sangeet in a UP village. It’s playful and again not something we’ll find in the usual albums. The beginning of Adhura mann is the reminder of Chhala, an age-old Punjabi folk. It’s a piece with only a peti while the lyrics are about the protagonist’s angst. It’s again very frequently in the besura category but may work in the film.
The score of Mukkabaaz, by any standard, isn’t immaculate, even if they call it real, earthy and folk-based. It’s robust, yes. But going by Kashyap’s past record of soundtracks, Mukkabaaz is interesting but not as intense. It has its moments but is by no means an essential item on the playlist.