Padman, R Balki’s latest offering, has Akshay Kumar riding his public awareness horse, taking a crack at being a crusader yet again. The film is based on the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a Tamil Nadu-based social entrepreneur who revolutionised menstrual hygiene by enabling rural women to manufacture low-cost sanitary pads. For the soundtrack, Balki has ace composer Amit Trivedi and delightful lyricist Kausar Munir at the helm.
Out of the five compositions that has generated much buzz (actors posing with sanitary pads think it will help the cause and alleviate the pain), some are pleasant, while some are completely forgettable. But what really hits the mark, is the careful and sharp play of words by Munir, who shines more than Trivedi in some pieces.
The album opens with a shehnai played by Omkar Dhumal, paired with a dholki that seems to emanate from a rural ladies’ sangeet session. To contemporise the folk orchestration, Trivedi has melded it with mandolin riffs. Arijit sings this catchy Bhimpalasi-based composition, which becomes delightful around its stanzas. Munir writes Meri khushiyon ka samandar, mere pincode ka number, aaj se tera ho gaya to highlight a sense of home. Trivedi uses beatboxing and hand claps to the existing beats, in turn making the hook addictive along simple declarations — Aaj se meri saari sadiyan teri ho gayi, aaj se mera har pal tera ho gaya strikes quite a chord.
The melodious opening is followed by Mika Singh’s The pad man song, which has been riding the airwaves for a while. One of Trivedi’s favourite instruments, the harmonium, finds fine interludes in this rousing theme song. It opens with Mika crooning Building se high jump na maare, neeche se dialogue na maare, high speed mein naache gaaye na, highlighting what this particular ‘superhero’ does not do. Munir and Trivedi have worked well here, striking an interesting dissonance between fantasy and reality in a very un-jumpy and entertaining piece.
Trivedi gets behind the microphone for Hu ba hu and takes inspiration from RD Burman and combines it all with his voice and melody structures. But the electronic dance piece doesn’t stay with us beyond the hearing session. Saale sapne is another piece that leaves us with no impact. Mohit Chauhan sings this pop-rock piece that reminds one of the Udaan score. It’s an average piece, that is plain and beyond memorable.
Sayaani has a group of women in a village singing a girl’s coming-of-age song, comparing her to a titli. Folk structures meld with contemporary mandolin and synth sounds for an insipid composition. Padman, the album, works only partially. We wish it had revived some interesting conversations about the cause it deals with. It does very little in that regard.
Composer: Amit Trivedi
Lyrics: Kausar Munir