Two soundtracks that fail to exceed expectations

Anaarkali of Aarah and Naam Shabana, two films in a string of 2017’s female-led Bollywood releases, deliver just the usual fare with their soundtracks

This year promises a lot of powerful female-led films in Bollywood. Just earlier this week, the trailer for Vidya Balan’s Begum Jaan and the first look of Sridevi’s Mom were released. And shortly, we can look forward to the release of Anaarkali of Aarah starring Swara Bhaskar as a street singer/dancer from Bihar, and Naam Shabana, a spin-off of the successful 2015 film Baby. While Rohit Sharma composes the music for the former, Rochak Kohli and the Meet Bros have done the latter. Understandably, musical expectations are much higher from the former, compared to the action thriller.

Anaarkali of Aarah

Given the setting of the film, it isn’t surprising that songs from the soundtrack largely carry a rustic and raunchy tone. The music is mostly in Bhojpuri, keeping in mind the film’s locale. First of the songs is ‘Lahanga Jhaanke’ sung by Bhojpuri playback singer Indu Sonali. The abrupt start of the track can be a bit of a turn-off, but soon enough, the track picks up. Sonali’s vocal prowess is evident, especially when accompanied by Ravindra Jadhav’s bulbul tarang. In fact, the bulbul tarang is one of the prominent instruments throughout the album. ‘Lahanga Jhaanke’ comes back in the first half of ‘Sa Ra Ra’. A prelude introducing the film’s leading lady prevents the abrupt start of the song. The second half of the song takes on a darker sound, falling in tune with the alternate name of the track: ‘Anaarkali’s Revenge’. Singer Pawni Pandey is in fine form, confidently negotiating through the shifts. Pandey gets two more songs, both of which she delivers with equal finesse: the short but sprightly ‘Mera Balam Bambaiya’ and the incredibly engaging keh mukri (riddle) ‘Aye Sakhi Ooh’. The latter has a wonderful melody (possibly raga Patdeep) with Jadhav’s bulbul tarang and Deepak Marathe’s harmonium standing out in the background.

Swati Sharma, who made her debut two years ago with ‘Banno’ from Tanu Weds Manu Returns, handles the vocals in ‘Dunaliya Mein Jung’. The video for the song is already making ripples online. It’s yet another track that conforms very much to the rustic appeal and bawdiness of the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the vocals fall short, pulling the track down. Sharma fares better in her second song, ‘Mora Piya Matlab Ka Yaar’. Composer Rohit Sharma gets two Bollywood veterans to sing two songs that deftly deviate from the general theme of the music. Rekha Bhardwaj rules on the wonderfully constructed thumri (carrying shades of ragas Patdeep, Pilu and Khamaj) ‘Badnaam Jiya De Gaari’. Instead of the harmonium and bulbul tarang, Rohit instead opts for the sarangi (played by Sangeet Mishra) and sitar (played by Juber Sheikh). Fortunately, the results are fabulous.

The album’s most mainstream, commercial song comes from Sonu Nigam in the form of ‘Mann Beqaid Huva’. Despite sounding familiar, it’s still pleasantly engaging. The two bonus tracks at the end, ‘Hamre Jobna Pe’ by Sonali and ‘Laal Laal Cheekwa’ by Rohit, are short and could easily be mistaken for improvised efforts.

Anaarkali of Aarah

Top Recos: ‘Badnaam Jiya De Gaari’, ‘Sa Ra Ra’, ‘Aye Sakhi Ooh

Composer: Rohit Sharma

 

Lyricists: Ravinder Randhawa, Prashant Ingole, Avinash Das, Dr. Sagar JNU, Ram Kumar Singh

Naam Shabana

The four-song soundtrack starts off with Rochak Kohli’s remixing skills on Bappi Lahiri’s ‘Zubi Zubi’ which has been ‘inspired’ by Modern Talking’s ‘Brother Louie’. Assisted by a commendable vocal effort from Sukriti Kakar, the song seems like one of more tolerable remixes in recent times. Kohli’s other songs are more subdued, but predictable. The singers help mitigate that familiarity to an extent. For instance, Sunidhi Chauhan on the inspirational ‘Zinda’ and Shreya Ghoshal on the melancholic ‘Rozana’ deliver great vocals, but the songs can get daunting. And lastly, the Meet Bros deliver their usual dance floor-friendly sound in ‘Baby Besharam’, sung by an energetic Jasmine Sandlas.

Naam Shabana

Top Recos: ‘Rozana’, ‘Zubi Zubi

Composers: Rocha Kohli, Meet Bros

Lyricists: Manoj Muntashir, Kumaar

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