Music review: Haider – A master stroke

What works for most of the album is that Bhardwaj puts out great moments with subtlety.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Written by Suanshu Khurana | New Delhi | Updated: September 19, 2014 11:50:33 am

What works for most of the album is that Bhardwaj puts out great moments with subtlety. What works for most of the album is that Bhardwaj puts out great moments with subtlety.

Composers: Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyricists: Gulzar

Though this be madness, yet there is method in it” Shakespeare in Hamlet. When filmmaker-composer Vishal Bhardwaj puts out musical madness like Haider, taking the kind of risks that only a few composers are willing to take, the result is a formidable record that does not feel derivative. In fact, Haider might just be the composer’s finest. There is the Midas touch of lyricist Gulzar that gives Bhardwaj enough opportunity to nourish his vocation. These songs tell you stories on their own.

The album opens with Aao na in Vishal Dadlani’s voice. Dadlani is blazing in this one, opening up his voice with an edge of extra raspiness. The bass-heavy track, accompanied with an extremely intelligent hook, soon turns into a pulsating beast with an electric guitar, and upheavals of the best kind every few seconds. This is followed by Sukhwinder Singh’s Bismil. The rabab prelude beautifully bleeds into the song. Gulzar’s fine storytelling
is what comes to the fore here.

A sarangi and guitar prelude opens Khul kabhi in Arijit Singh’s voice. It’s a gorgeous composition with excellent arrangements created through heaving string interludes, synths, guitar and soft drums. But this needs Bhardwaj’s voice. He would have turned the song’s weariness into silken, spirited pleasure. But Singh redeems himself with Gulo mein rang bhare, the iconic Mehdi Hasan ghazal that gets a fresh flavour. There are drums and guitars instead of the harmonium and tabla we are used to hearing in the original. There is Faiz and Gulzar in one song and that’s something we never thought could happen.

Jhelum dhoonde kinaara is one of the most powerful melodies in the album. Sung by Bhardwaj and based on raag Puriyadhanashree, it brings out the grief, with each note being revealed slowly. The song acquires a darker character halfway through. And just then Gulzar gives out the phrase from the creases of his crisp white kurta, Jhelum huya khaara. So jao begins with the sound of shovels digging into the earth that are an impressive hook for the eerie track. Aaj ke naam begins without any music. Rekha Bhardwaj’s voice comes through followed by a light synth note. But the song is more about Faiz’s touching poetry (Raat mein jinke bacche bilakhte hain, aur neend ki maar khaaye huye baazuon se sambhalte nahi.. Un dukhi maon ke naam) than Rekha’s voice. We welled-up. It’s unlikely you won’t.

What works for most of the album is that Bhardwaj puts out great moments with subtlety.

A master stroke.

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