Composer: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
It’s hard to miss the rumples in Gulzar’s white, starched kurtas; the ones that are like folds of nuances in his poetry. In Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya — based on the iconic and tragic Punjabi folklore Mirza Sahibaan — Gulzar writes, Sab milta hai duniya bhar ko/ Aashiq ko sab kab milta hai (The world gets everything/ When does someone in love get everything) and proves that there are still very few who are capable of surpassing his unbridled lyricism. It’s also hard to miss the fact that composers Shankar Ehsaan Loy have not put in anthemic earworms in Mirzya. What the trio delivers is a pulsating and vibrant record, one that comes with sincerity and intensity and an attempt at organic processes rather than following set formulae. But as brilliant as some of it is, the album could have been a little more — a howl from the soul probably, like Baavre in Luck By Chance was. This on, however, definitely is one from the heart.
The album opens with a parched-throat rendition of the title track by Pakistani musician Saieen Zahur. His earthy voice, almost cracking at the edges, merges the outer and the parallel worlds he lives in. Daler Mehendi and Nooran Sisters along with percussion by Taufiq Qureshi and tribal sound structures, join in, trying to remain with him. They are largely successful but Zahoor dominates this brilliant piece. Siddharth Mahadevan’s Teen gawah, an ordinary song, is largely unsuccessful in taking us anywhere with its bland melody. One wonders why would SEL waste Zahoor’s precious voice in this song.
Chakora is a faint reminder of the trio’s Baavre from Luck By Chance. Akhtar Chinnal gives a trance-like opening to Chakora, a folk piece with electronic sounds interspersed with it — something that makes the song not tied with any particular temporal structure. A moorchang creates a hook, the sounds thicken and the listener just sinks deep into this. Aave re hitchki, which opens with a layered sarangi prelude, is an old Rajasthani ditty that finds a Shankar Mahadevan treatment. Mame Khan’s brilliant vocals join in and make this song a peaceful hearing. A guitar interlude, towards the end,features as if a part of the piece. The question that it does not belong, fails to arise.
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Hota hai by Nooran Sisters and Saheen Zahoor has folk merging with bursts of electronic sounds, punctuated by sharp sounding algozas and shrill sarangi. The song is a kind of rite of passage for us. Then comes one of the finest songs — Ek nadi thi. There is a blues quality to this one. Anchored beautifully in Pahari, it opens with an alaap by Nooran sisters. K Mohan’s soothing, resonant voice follows with only claps as percussion and no other instrumentation. It has a narrative tied in a groove created through vocal repetitions. A steel guitar joins in and turns the piece into a kind of rhythmic talk. Doli re doli has Mame Khan’s vocals soar right in the beginning. Mahadevan joins in with a piano and a trumpet. Cymbals and an upright bass come in. Classical microtones meet glistening jazz keyboard structures in this collaboration. Kaushiki Chakrabarty brings Kaaga in Puryadhanashree. A collage of sounds is whipped into a frenzy just as Chakraborty is let loose. She merges it all with complicated sargams and western classical string section. The entire album is sprinkled with Punjabi couplets sung by Daler Mehendi in high pitch. All of them, intelligently written by Gulzar, are likely to feature in the film’s background.
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Mirzya, musically, is an interesting experiment that has had SEL deliver some of their finest pieces ever. Barring a couple of ditties that should be ignored, Mirzya is a fascinating album that should be heard.