Composer: Vishal Bhardwaj, Ketan Sodha
Lyrics: Varun Grover, Abhishek Nailwal, Ashok Mizaj Badr
Any project created by composer and filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj is usually imbued with a touch of anticipation. He remains one of the few composers, with the exception of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who manages to create tunes with not just indomitable groove but with meaning and heart. These are usually so fresh, contemporary and yet have a sense of nostalgia in them. But if the past is what one needs to believe, where Bhardwaj has reinterpreted the characters’ thoughts and lives with much finesse, the present — Abhishek Chaubey’s Sonchiriya — seems a bit of an improbable situation, where we go expecting smooth soul and anthemic choruses and what we get, with the exception of two pieces, is off key vocals and pieces that lack heart. A lot of the compositions begin like interesting concepts but sound like half-baked rehearsal sessions. The only goodness comes through some orchestration, some intelligent lyrics from Grover and partial touches of sparkle and artistry from Bhardwaj. He’s used his usual fixtures — Sukhwinder Singh, Arijit Singh and wife Rekha Bhardwaj, but there are only a couple of songs in a list of eight of them, that work like cohesive projects. In fact one of the most interesting tunes from the film, Daaku anthem — a rap — that’s making the rounds has been created by Ketan Sodha and Abhishek Nailwal.
Chaubey’s Sonchiriya is set in the ’70s and revolves around a bunch of decoits in Chambal. Starring Sushant Singh Rajput, Bhumi Pednekar, and Manoj Bajpayee, the film is generating much excitement. The film opens with Baaghi re sung by Mame Khan. A bass guitar prelude has us sit up and is an instant reminder of old-style psychedelic rock. Khan opens the piece and instantly feels like the wrong choice. It could have belonged to Sukhwinder Singh. Khan loses balance of voice, more often than not, tries a series of murkis and khatkas, goes off key in a very ordinary piece of music. We loved Grover’s play of words here. Baaghi re like a battle cry is followed by Abhaagi re in the next breath. In the context of the film, it is a masterstroke. But rest of the song falls flat. There is a remix version too, that’s powered by synth, drum machines and electric guitar. The orchestration is interesting, more than the song itself.
Sonchiraiya by Rekha Bhardwaj opens delicately, with sounds of water ripples. It’s sung like a lullaby and is one of the better pieces in the album. The Hawaiian guitar interlude is one of the finest pieces in the album. But she falters in her next outing, Naina na maar, which is a duet with Singh. A banjo, harmonium and dholak create the larger system of orchestration. She is so off key in Hoshiyari na maar, that it’s difficult to fathom that Vishal let it go. It’s a very monotonous, boring melody. Singh, too, loses balance of voice and it isn’t merriment — the idea that this song is aimed at. Saanp khavega chuhe ko, saanp ko khavenge giddh…. keh gaye sadhu siddh, it’s an interesting idea to play with, describing the concept of survival of the fittest. The scope of composition in this piece is massive. But even with powerful orchestration, the song seems like a caricature of what could have been. It doesn’t work. Then there is Arijit’s Ruan Ruan, a wispy melody. He croons it alongside a synth, some whistling and an acoustic guitar, and stays in tune. The melody stays in the safe zone.
One of the few tunes by Vishal Bhardwaj that just don’t stand out like so many in the past. They don’t go anywhere near the obscure corners of one’s heart — places where the melodies of Haider, Omkara and Maachis have stayed like they were always there.