Shaad Ali’s new film, Kill Dil, sends expectations soaring because the director has shown a great ear for music in three of his films till now — Saathiya, Bunty aur Babli and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, all excellent albums in their own right. The film’s album starts on an electrifying note with the title song, a joyous musical imagination by the composers, which stitches together two separate genres. One part invokes a Spaghetti Western soundtrack inspired by Ennio Morricone, while the other route it takes is that of an old fashioned Hindi “buddy duet”, which we associate with the Kishore Kumar era.
Mahadevan sings with a Kishore-like “openness”, yodels and so does Sonu Nigam, who complements him with his natural flamboyance. All of that culminates into a killer alt-rock mode in the hook. This song sets the standards so high for the rest of the album that it’s a bit downhill from there on. Happy budday, the next in the sequence of tracks, is a sad follow-up. The composers do their bit in the arrangement, bringing dubstep and Hindustani together but can’t salvage a stale melody line. It’s too worn out — perhaps perpetrated by the all too familiar use of Sukhwinder Singh’s vocals.
Sajde is a song that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy would have made, had they been invited to Coke Studio Pakistan, with its fusion of Sufi and rock. The surprising rustic nature of Arijit Singh’s voice gets the folksy Punjabi right, and to its credit, the song takes unexpected turns — the mukhda has a village folk simplicity and it explodes into some hardcore rock in its hookline.
Bol beliyan could be a difficult song to like, for its repetitiveness. But it grows on you. It has a hypnotic effect lit up by Gulzar’s superb lyrics (which are uniformly excellent in the album), “Galliyan roshan rakhna…aane wala laut na jaa…”. The arrangement of Sweeta is a delight. The song is a bit like a Hemanta Kumar ballad, sung by a heartfelt Adnan Sami. Daiya maiya only shines in its hook, with a delectably autotuned Udit Narayan and Mahadevan. The shtick quality of those portions are an absolute joy. The rest, including a rap appearance by Jaaved Jaaferi — although not bad — doesn’t come together. Baawra works only when the catchline, along with the guitar riffs and drums, kicks in. Nakhriley is the only track designed exactly like a retro Hindi film song — even the arrangement here, unlike in others, is tabla-dholak.
Shaad Ali is an old school Hindi filmmaker at heart. And just like old times, there is a lot of drama — Gulzar’s sutradhar voice-over for four of the songs binds the album under an overarching theme — melodic depth and singer’s artistry in the album. But it isn’t consistent, and falls short of the previous work of the filmmaker and composers.