Archive for the ‘Music review’ Category

There was a lot of buzz this year about Coke Studio 10, much before even the first teaser came out, and till then that was my only grouse. I will save my angry rants about the season as a whole here, and leave you with our favourite picks from 28 songs that were aired this season in 7 episodes. Click on the playlist embedded below to play the songs as you read the post.

You can read our Coke Studio Season 8 round up here and  Season 9 roundup here.

Ranjish hi sahi – Ali Sethi should sing all the old classics that we have come to love and live with. Even though this rendition was hurried at some places for ghazal purists, the velvet-ness of Ali’s vocals rubbed on the listener and reminded us of well paced out ghazals where lyrics and not hashtags were celebrated. That Ali Sethi is probably the best contemporary singer from across the border these days isn’t ‘overdoing’ it. It’s just a fact. Jaffer Zaidi is probably the only musician who is keeping Coke Studio Pakistan’s legacy of good music with subtle presentation and production alive post-season 6.

Cha rahi kali ghata – A beautiful song composed by Sahir Ali Bagga that gave us a flavour of old times when a raga based song would be melodiously rattled by a contemporary tune in between and touch our hearts. Hina Nasrullah and Amanat Ali were top class, and the moment that took my  breath away was at 4:04 mins when Amanat got into the skin of ghazal gayaki…what a beautiful beautiful song! Thanks to good people in Youtube comment section, I have come across some real good work by Hina Nasrullah. Do google her.

Faasle – A simple heartbreaking duet that played within its zone and didn’t let too many instruments get in the way of expressing hurt. Kaavish and Quratulain Balouch gave us too many reasons to play this on repeat. Jaffer Zaidi has a voice that is a balm on the senses and when he wished well to his beloved with devastatingly helpless yet beautiful words (penned by him incidentally), it was a delight. Quratulain Balouch, who finally got  a lot of real estate this season to display her brilliance, was equally melancholic and melodious. Easily, the most underrated and under appreciated song of this season. Watch how they ended this song…jaa haha hu main…jaa rahi hu main...c’est magnifique!

Tinak din na – I am penning this post on 22 September and I still cannot understand what did Waqar ehsin  bring to the song. Ali Hamza got the solid anchor role whereas Ali Sethi glided the way only he can. Waqar was more a spanner in the works than anything else. Perhaps Ali Noor would have been a better choice. Watch Waqar lose the sense of tune at  4:11 in the song. Still, the sheer energy of Ali Hamza and Ali Sethi is enough to hear this song on repeat. I have never disliked them but there was absolutely no need for the backup vocals in the song as well. A good song that is good in spite of the back up vocals, pointless detours in the composition in between and Waqar.

Laal Meri pat A song that took me back to Rohail Hyatt days barely a second in the song. Akbar Ali (with his alaaps to die for) and the voice of God Arieb Azhar introduced the song. Quratulain Balouch’s voice provided the perfect rooting to the song. This is what old Coke Studio Pakistan fanatics would call psychedelic-meets-traditional, a brilliant brilliant song. I love the way Strings structured the song with terrific humnavas. Leaving the predictable, famous hook of the song and creating a new high point is a job that is too difficult and risky when you are tackling a generation defining song. They got it right, alright!

Naina moray –  Years ago, I came across this timeless composition for the first time in the voice of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali khan sahab. Akbar ali is the discovery of the season for me and unsurprisingly here as well he shapes the entire song around his powerful gayaki. Yes, there is a terrific Zaki with axe in the song as well. I am somehow getting a bit tired of excessive murki filled gayaki of Javed Bashir though. It kills the mood and creates unnecessary intensity in song that don’t need it. Still, a powerful song.

Ghoom taanaSalman ahmed along with kick-ass Irteassh and talented Momina re-created the magic of this song and it sounded pretty good. Unlike the horrible Sayonee this season, Salman got the singer selection right this time round and apart from the ‘rattle and creaking’ production sound that is signature Strings, the song stood tall and made a smashing statement of hope. We could do with hope in these times.

Katay na katay – Ali Hamza gave us this cracker of the song with loads of help from Aima Baig, Rachel Viccaji and Humera arshad. I loved the energy and the melody this fusion oozed. Let’s try and think one Indian song we heard in unplugged, Coke Studio@MTV, blah-blu studios etc that comes close to the experiment of  3 super talented girls bringing the house down like this? Lastly, the tarana by Ali Hamza towards the end…stunning!

Tera naam – There is a saying in Pakistan music circle that loosely goes like – ‘Whatever you think is possible in music, Sajjad ali has already sung it’. With this song, Sajjad quietly re-affirms that position. In Coke Studio itself, barring few songs which I haven’t mentioned here, we have seen Sajjad ali give us a magnificent rang lagaa soulful Tum naraaz hoa tongue in cheek kir kir kiran insanely enjoyable suth  gana and all that was remaining was a beautiful love song…and here it is! The tune, the presentation, the sound and those lovely humnavas, everything just perfect.

That’s it for season 10 of Coke Studio Pakistan. If you want to read episode by episode review, you can click the link on the contributor’s name below. Do share with us your favourites.

– Rohit

So the film releases on 4th August and there is still no clarity on how many songs are there, and when will they release, just like what happened with Aye Dil Hai Mushkil music last year. My review went live on the day the film released if I am right. One of the things (call it old world ridiculousness) that I personally believe is that the music review shouldn’t go online on the day the film releases. That is the reason I pushed the editors of fightclub to make this review go live. I have also been off all social media platforms so I may have missed the tweets or systematic leaking of info about songs. After I posted the review, a kind soul pointed out that there are few more songs in the album for sure. But nobody knows when it will be out. As and when, and if at all they release, I will update the post accordingly.

One of the things you have to do when you review film music is to review almost every film album, and when you summarize the year, you get a real picture of the music scene – which is presently a device for caller tunes, among other things. Singers are called hot and auto-tune equipment is probably going to be credited as a valid artist sooner than all of us expect. It has become a routine to hear the ‘once-popular’ songs remixed and served usually to us in disgusting and shrill avatar. Not every routine is good. This particular routine reminds me of the uncle who used to punch me on my back really hard. It was as if he liked to hear me yelp – every time he used to come home. Every. Time.

Since last 3 years that I have been reviewing music for BBC, I have never witnessed such scarcity of fresh, not-a-remix-of-an-old-song, foot tapping madcap craziness in Hindi film albums. Radha arrives and breaks this unfortunate spell. Shahid Mallaya and Sunidhi Chauhan – a delicious combination on their good days make it impossible for us to not break into a dance (in metro, washrooms, during meetings, at dinner table, on dining table, during a corporate/personal dinner/lunch, to name few of real life situations where all this has already happened with the writer). Irshad Kamil, when not under pressure to invite bulla to come to his house and give him a hug kass ke, kicks ass with his pen (what a site to imagine, right?). Say what you will about the man, Pritam doesn’t try to turn the sound of a film album based on the compulsions of his ‘unused tunes’ folder. You hear radha and you couldn’t care less who has composed the music, because you are busy with the song and when that happens, music director has already won. There are way too many high points in one song here. Be it the moment you hear both singers together go ‘main bani teri/tu bani meri radha’, or that magnificent change of scale towards the end, this is way too much crazy tapped in one song. A monsoon shower of a song. Hello Pritam! Mwaaah! (This is a chumma).

There is a remix of Radha by DJ Shilpi Sharma and it even has variation in lyrics and structure (like almost all the remixes in the  album). Oh and by the way, do hear the Arabic, Telugu and Tamil versions of this as well to know exactly why Sunidhi Chauhan is a Goddess. No One can match her. Period.

Beech beech mein has a uniform disco mood that doesn’t bother me much and that’s my only problem with an otherwise decent song. I might not forward the song when it comes on screen but I won’t go looking for it. May be because it is a bit too decently arranged and composed. On the other hand, the remix of this by Lady Bee is the one that does it for me. Loved it!

Safar is a song that has a ‘Gulzar-Vishal-sque-evening-song-meets-raabta-night-in-motel vibe’. A disheveled character, walking, with no aim, no destination, and one who is not particularly remorseful for that. In my books, this would be one of the best songs by Arijit ever. Pay attention to a ghazal like repeat of ‘Jaana-maaine…’ in between, a first for me in a film song. It seems like Pritam saves his best songs for Arijit. Yet again, Irshad Kamil shines using simple words but what a context! Beautiful!

Butterfly is a regular Punjabi song and for some reason, Nooran sisters sound too hurried and excessive-soulful-per-square-feet. I missed Sonu Nigam in the song, I don’t know why. Aaman Trikha, Dev Negi and Sunidhi Chauhan are good. I LOVE the double flute in the song. Is it a good song? May be. Will I listen to this again? Nope!

There is a charm in Hawayein that we all like in a film song, be it Arijit Singh who suddenly becomes very present in the song or those blessed aching words by Irshad Kamil.  There is a drama loving, bollywood romantic in everyone. Karan Johar and his team brought that part out in the open with channa mereya, and with Hawayein, Team Imtiaz makes that part of us weep inconsolably. I doubt if visuals can match the beautiful sadness of this lovely composition. The tune is almost instructive in what to expect – Bring on the slow motions and quietly reach out for those tissues people, all while humming – hawaayein hawaayein…Yes, we are all mad. Also, Arijit singh, never stop please. There is a film version of hawayeiṅ and it sounds more spaced out and intimate – arrangement wise but it gets in Arijit’s way. He is more devastating in the first version and that’s why  my heart beats for the previous version more rhythmically. 

ParindaPradeep Sran is a star to put it mildly and Pritam-Irshad Kamil have given a perfect platform to Sran where he could soar, and soar he does. I am still confused who is a winner in the song. Jeene na ab degi, mahi di laparawahi. That fantastic drum set and guitar combo is breathtaking. A song for broken hearts with tonnes of Pizzaz. The search version of this song has Tochi Raina crooning in his familiar zone effortlessly and may be that’s why he ticks the ‘heard before’ box but I would pick Pradeep Sran’s earthy voice over Tochi’s voice for this song. That said, Nikhil D’Souza’s portion is plain superb! 

Gharkhali hai jo tere bina, main wo ghar hu tera ghoomey phire tu chaahe sab sheher, tu hai mera. Nikita gandhi gives this song so much pain, its infectious and will make you sad. It will mock the void in your soul and some of you would be amazed thinking how did the metaphor of your life get into a song? I love how Nikita is prominent yet always in background even when she is the only one singing. Imtiaz loves Mohit and we don’t dislike him either but here, the song belongs to Nikita. Hear her ‘intercept’ Mohit right before the song ends (at 3:12 mins), as if opening her hitherto unopened wounds, as if to make a point. It would take a long long time for to recover from this song. Art imitates life, did someone just say that?

Yaadoṅ meiṅJonita Gandhi is powerful and arrests your attention with her range barely seconds into the song. Mohammed  irfan attempts a pitch which is clearly new for him and even though I feel he is the most undervalued singer we have today, he seems more at ease on low notes which isn’t a crime. This is an intense song that gets ‘intensity’ right, perhaps that’s why I wont play it again. Mad props to Pritam for structuring the song the way he has. 

RaulaPagḍi ka rang bhi pink ho gaya. Diljit Dosanjh and Neeti mohan go through some interesting lyrics without much to take home to. The tune lacks sincerity and verve that you expect from an Imtiaz Ali brand punjabi song. It makes AṚ Rahman’s embarrassing Punjabi effort in highway sound like gold and that’s just awful. 

Jee ve SohaneyaNooran sisters scare me off late. You can almost imagine high notes and uncalled for aggression in simple songs. Thankfully, barring some mid antra alaaps, Nooran sisters don’t bother your senses much by clouding lyrics with excessive vocal circus. A song that aimed for Lambi Judai pathos, but doesn’t get close enough. Still, a good effort.

PhurrCringeworthy lyrics sung by a somewhat studio-sque Mohit Chauhan aside, the vibe of phurr is pretty dubstep-ey and breezy. The song is clearly a way to place the song in the minds of Amreekan/bidesi junta so that they can throng theatres. It ends too soon and to me, it sounds more like a strategic afterthought than anything else. There is a lot of forced pizaaaz with Bollywood tukbandi which doesn’t work whenever you hear Mohit’s part.  Being touted as the first song in hindi cinema to be put behind a paywall, I would buy the rest of the album twice than buying this once,  but then, we did buy the entire album all songs as ‘singles’ so that’s that! The film version sounds much better than the music video version because Tushar Joshi gets a larger play at things and honestly does a kickass job at it. 

In spite of having few ‘normal’ songs in Raula, jee ve sohneya, butterfly and beech beech mein, the album is a cracker because of the goodness of all the other songs including remixes! When 99% of film remixes these days are just ‘play-the-original-track-with-triple-jhankar-beats-and-add-few-scratches’, there is a clear effort in remixes of JHMS, and a big wolf whistle to Lady Bee and DJ Shilpi for that. Go ladies! I still cannot believe they took so MUCH time to release the songs and as I type this, album is still not available on iTunes. 

There is never a dull moment and the best part is it isn’t overwhelming either. You can stomp your feet and clap your hands in all the songs, with varied pace and trust me, it won’t feel awkward. Albums like JHMS are a ray of hope that all is not lost when a typical commercial film decides to include music for melody and not just for caller tunes and shitty tribute videos. Irshad Kamil, Pritam and the entire team is on fire, and this man Arijit Singh is raising the bar, one good song at a time. Dear Arijit, you are allowed a million ‘mohabbat barsa dena‘ for songs like Safar and Hawayeiṅ

In the world of mainstream Hindi films of 2017 so far, JHMS has a sound and rhythm that is like a distinctive click of a top class stiletto on a eerily quiet subway. Imtiaz Ali knows what he is doing with music, and there cannot be a more solid testimonial to this fact than this wonderful, wonderful album. If only this blogpost could scream how much I love this album! 

My picks – Hawayeiṅ, hawayeiṅ, safar, radha, ghar, parinda, all remixes and repeat!

– Rohwit

Best Of Coke Studio-9 : Round-Up + Playlist

Posted: September 28, 2016 by moifightclub in music, Music Recco, Music review
Tags: ,

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Coke Studio 9 has come to an end. The experiment of bringing six music directors (while Strings remained Producers) was presented a bit differently than the Indian version. Here, we bombard a music director’s entire set at one go. Pakistan version composed an episode with a single song from every composer. In the order in which the songs appeared, here goes the list of my favourite tracks from this season.

Scroll down to the end of the post for the youtube playlist. So this is the way we do it – start the playlist, listen to the songs and then start reading the post.

Jaanay na tu – To me, this remains one of the best songs I came across this year and not just in Coke Studio. There is not a single fault a nit picker like me could find. The sincerity of Ali Khan is matched by a tune that changes towards the end and with such subtlety that you would probably not notice it at all. It infects you nevertheless. I loved the texture of Ali’s voice and the range that he explored. Not every song needs to bring the house down, some can lull you to sleep with a smile on your lips. This one, does just that.

Aafreen aafreen – Re-imagining classics is something that CS-Pakistan does rather well. So when they picked up this song and turned the tune by its head, it didn’t please a lot of people.I have a theory that if you cannot play and manipulate ‘classics’, then they would never be explored by the current generation who is rightfully bent on better acoustics and ‘clear’ sound. So when Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Momina sat down with a soothing guitar by the side and an ethereal tune for company, it sounded good. The ganpati pandal right next to my apartment was playing this non-stop. Now, ask yourself, would they have played the original (which remains a classic and my absolute favorite) with such fervour? Oh, and too much respect for Javed Akhtar sahab. You listen to this alone and you blush, what a feat to achieve, sir. Thank you, for the song!

Maula-e-kullThe powerful voice of Abida Parveen is best left with minimal arrangement so that we can all connect with ourselves in her characteristic long taans and powerful rendition. That is exactly what Shani Arshad cleverly did here. With a running time of approx. 10 minutes, you are guaranteed to be transported in the space where only the supreme devotion exists, i swear I was in that space. I strongly urge you to explore this and wait till the song changes its pace, it will sit in you ‘run’ playlist, I bet. My pick of the season.

Khaki Banda –  This power packed song by Umair and Ahmed Jehanzeb pretty much did its job well. The lyrics were sharp, piercing and a commentary on the state of us humans that hasn’t changed since ages. Just listen to Ahmed towards the end (karda phirey part) and then quietly go and listen to this song which he sang long time back that pretty much besotted all of us. The man has got range and sur.

Dilruba na raziWhat’s a Coke Studio season without a good Pashtu fused song? While I did have issues with the arrangement, Zeb’s beautiful singing and Faakhir’s energy ensured I start swaying even though I was frowning. What can you do when Ustad Tanweer is hell bent on getting us all dance-y? Super effort!

Ala baali – Fantastic percussions are a given with CS-Pakistan. This season, however, it was a task to keep the sound from overpowering the vocals. Nirmal Roy and Jabar Abbas were clearly audible and were amazing to say the least. Doesn’t Jabbar sound like a soothing Sukhwinder? That ‘habibi’ vibe was tantalising and the Bulleh shah part grows on you as well, a pretty pretty song!

Aaya lariye – Granted that this song is quite distracting with lighting all over the place. Still, I picked this one up because it touches an oft ignored genre. Rufi was superlative and Meesha was naughty, and God those ‘jijja’ calls were infectious! The brass band (from M-Audio keyboard) played a key part in lending a celebratory character to the song.

Shamaan pai gaiyaan/kee dam da bharosa – Kashif, who is the runner up of Pakistani Idol  2013, has a voice that is soothing, and thankfully the song he was given exploits this trait very well. When he goes ‘haar ke baye gaiyyan’, he means it because it pinches your heart as well. That said, Rachel enters like a diva with a call that is measured, painful and malicious. Don’t miss the way Rachel swoops in at 5:24 in the song along with the electrical guitar and changes the mood of the song. Pain, Malice and Melody…perfectly mixed.

Main rastaThe only song of Noori in the list and the one that wasn’t trying too hard to be everything to everyone. I absolutely loved the funk of the song and the way entire house came around was a treat to see and hear. Junaid has a natural ‘chest’ voice and he uses it well and Momina, well she was quite good here as well.

Lagi bina/Chal mele nu chaliyeThere are artists that made us Indians sit up and take notice of Coke Studio Pakistan. Saein Zahoor and Sanam Marvi top that list. This soulful song saw both of them collaborate and boy did it work! We hear songs where they say Bulleh Shah danced, I think Bulleh Shah danced because he heard Zahoor sing. Do check this one out!

Nawazishein/Tera wo pyarWhen Shuja Haider fused his two songs (which you can hear here and here) asking Asim and Momina to do the honors, we got a soulful romantic song that might be accused of being too mushy, but hey! If we can hear a ‘typical one sided lover song from Bhatts’ filmed on Ranbir Kapoor and go all weak in the knees, this one deserves a listen and a repeat one at that. The string section of this song is where magic happens in addition to pretty much everything that contributed to the song.

Tu Kuja mann kujaIn this remarkable song, we saw Rafaqat Ali Khan sahab with Shiraz Uppal and lovely humnawas sway us the way only pure devotion can. I think this was Shiraz’s best composition of the season.

Nimma nimmaSabir Zafar’s words are matched by the vulnerable vocals of Shani Arshad, who has also composed this song. With Coke Studio-Pakistan, touching varied genres are a given and this one is a call to mother and a very melodious one at that.

Rang – Amjad Sabri’s last outing that was complimented exquisitely by Rahat Fateh ali khan and humnawas. The highlight would always remain the ‘allah’ call by Sabri that used to be a Sabri signature in their days.

Observations  – Somehow, I got a feeling that everyone was trying too hard to give it all. Hire an exotic instrument, get a good singer, and let us all do this together. The cohesive sound was totally missing from this season and after a stellar season 8, it hurt a lot. That and those distracting lights. If you hire a group of chimpanzees and give them laser pointers, they would do a better job than what studio did this time round. It *is* important because Coke Studio is as much a video property as audio. So spare me ‘focus-on-music’ argument. Look at how the studio evolved from season 1 (where one could see cameraman running all over) and you would understand how the visual theatrics were never a part of the studio’s presentation. Subtlety has been forcefully evicted. Noori was probably overwhelmed by the opportunity and wanted to reinforce their presence in almost every song that was given to them. It was quite distracting and put me off. I loved paar channa de but the way Noori made a mess of the song towards the end put me off and it remained a song that you would love humming, but would just like to see it getting over when you hear the Coke Studio Version. Ali Sethi was given just one song, that is wrong on so many levels!

Applause – The biggest plus was the new backup vocalists and we saw them being put to good use. In fact, one of the reasons of picking nimma nimma was the way Shahab Hussain participated in the song, enveloping the feel so well. Hussain was one of the backup vocalists of the season. Also, I absolutely loved the house-band and guest musicians. It was so nice to see Amir Azhar make a return after we saw him in this song, years ago in the studio. Javed Iqbal sahib was the ‘head’ of string section, and boy, did he make his presence felt! We also liked the varied genres the studio touched, ranging from a  call to the mother, a lover taunting her innocent better half,  to a marriage dance song done just right. All the singers were top class, to say the least. 

Looking ahead – We don’t know what Rohail Hyatt is doing these days but he really needs to be engaged again because the overall vibe of the season wasn’t promising at all. Granted that Strings were splendid in season 8 but they have managed 3 seasons so far and all we remember is  just one out of that.  The cohesive sound, subtlety and experiments Rohail did are sorely missing.

Let us know your favourites!

– Rohwit 

(ps- you can find individual episode reviews on my blog – Almostareview.wordpress.com)

I heard about the tale of Saheba and Mirza for the first time, in my favorite song from Jab Tak Hai Haan – Heer. Guess who wrote that. Now, If the first name they splash on the screen is Gulzar’s, you know the makers are serious about their sh*t. The music of Mirzya is out and while I try hard to keep myself equanimous, pardon me if my feelings jump out of the keyboard and infect you with some enthusiasm and drunken stupor. Read on!

Mirzya

The album contains 15 songs and some are in the form of less than a minute of powerful recitations – composed and voiced by Daler Mehndi. What is clearly a storytelling technique, in these tracks, not only you understand the character, you get a feel of particular situations as well. Take the Yeh wadiyan for example,  the track is screaming ‘flashback flashback!’ But even then you would want to play it again. We get these lines in the title song as well.  In Mirza se darre and Mera mirza sher, the way Daler Mehndi soars, you will have goosebumps, the fearlessness of youth in two lines. What attitude! In Lahoo luhaan – Daler slightly errs in the beginning but paints the gory detail about a bloody fight that went on till the fighter started losing his ‘havaas’.  Even if Punjabi is not your language, fear not – it will make you soar nevertheless because Mehndi does NOT falter in Puchh na pende or Phaa paye nain fact, in the latter, hear how resigned is Daler when he says – Tu phir na jammi, Mirjiya. You feel the pain, you lose hope along with the singer. He has already won. Now, on to the songs of the album..

  • Mirzya – Sain Zahoor does what Sain Zahoor does. He sweeps you off your feet and S.E.L. bombard you with perhaps the most vibrant track of the album. There is a goosebumps gooseFOREST inducing Akhtar Chanal Zahiri as well and if this wasn’t enough, we get the ever so dependable Nooran Sisters and Daler mehndi jazzing things up and all this under 4 minutes. I kid you not, I couldn’t go beyond this track for a while. A bombastic start to the album!
  • Teen Gawaah Hain – Notwithstanding the earthy beginning of the song where we hear Sain Zahoor calling out, the tune of this love ballad reminded me of ‘mere mann ye bata de tu’ from KANK. Having said that, it’s what young love sounds like. A playful guitar stealing a glance while the constant pace eases your mind, making everything dreamy and slow. In antra, hear how Siddhartha leaves the last word of the first line, making you feel his passion. Listen to his ‘khol’ in the line ‘aasman khol ke dekhne do’ and you will know what I mean. A pretty pretty song! (I kept thinking the back up vocalists will break into ‘love will find a way’)
  • Chakora – God only knows why I wanted to talk to my dealer the moment this song started. It is comforting to see Bollywood waking up to Akhtar Chanal Zahiri, and not only that, using him well! Add some trippy beats to his recital or perhaps overlap him while someone is singing and you would probably want to make love to a joint near you. Mame Khan and Suchismita Das lend the ‘bollywood folk’ feel to the tune in their own cute style. Stunning song!
  • Aave re hichki – The opening 37 odd seconds of Esraj (or sarangi), is a class act by S.E.L., not to say that the song isn’t good otherwise. The song has fuses a bit of dervish-like sound on a simple free flowing tune. A minor grouse – You don’t go ‘hitchhh’ when you get ‘hichki’, you go ‘hikkk’. Clearly, Gulzar sahab wasn’t present in the recording.
  • Hota hai – I am sure it is just me but a ‘tun tuna’ start from Nooran Sisters put me off…and then I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri (ACZ) together and it all made sense. The fantastic beat pattern of the song that stops to accommodate Sarangi and meets ACZ’s solid voice is to be heard to be believed. In addition to these powerhouses, I absolutely loved Shankar Mahadevan’s voice towards the end. For the uninitiated, please do check out Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri independently as well. They have brought studios down across the border. The brute force in the song makes you want to break the law, do the impossible and be weirdly proud of it all. A fantastic song by all means and well, I changed my mind. The ‘tun tuna’ is not all that bad afteral…..TRAAA!
  • Ek nadi thee – Thank God someone gave K. Mohan a tune that is not very ‘K Mohan’ if you know what I mean. All his songs have been sounding similar to me lately. This one is a glorious exception. Intimate claps and a bonfire like improv singing (of course with sexy strings) has made this quite a different song from the usual ‘unplugged and reprise’ like songs we come across.
  • Doli re doli – Who in their right mind would do a babul song with a slow jazz like treatment? S.E.L. did it here and boy, does it sound delicious. It has me conflicted whether I am supposed to be sad or happy, and I love the song for that. Clearly an example of what S.E.L. can achieve if the makers are willing to let them be.
  • Kaaga – It is a fine feeling when you see the artists you have been rooting for since long, go ‘mainstream’. I shrieked like a teenager when I heard Sain Zahoor and Akhtar Chanal Zahiri and here in kaaga, we hear the flawless Kaushiki Chakraborty with breathtaking strings and brass! The sound towards the end of the track can be so easily mistaken for a ‘superhero climax theme’. That said, I wish there is a longer version of this song hiding somewhere because it would be soul satisfying, just like this one is.
  • Mirziya theme – I might not reach out to the theme to play it again and again but I blame songs of the album for that. You are too consumed by the time you reach this track. It fills the album well, is no ‘Udaan theme’ by any measure, but is still good. Sarangi and flute. Enough said.

Most of the film music albums this year have been remarkably impervious to the flow of creativity and freshness. If this album makes you want to stop everyone, and make them listen to this, don’t worry, You are not acting strange. Mirzya’s music is *the* real thing and not an oddity in template infested bollywood that requires quotes around it as if it was a strange thing. I don’t know how the film would be, I don’t care how the film would be. I am just celebrating what would easily be the film music album of the year. This is what fundamentally good things sound like. Hear Hear!!

I wish there was an option to buy an album twice on iTunes!

Rohwit

(PS – To give credit where it’s due, I absolutely love T-series for including the artist credits in the jukebox link. You can access it here)

Illustrated Book Cover - Plain

‘Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher’ is a Sci-fi comic by Zohaib Kazi. He has been associated with Pakistan’s Coke Studio for a long time. I have never come across a  music album that is cut for a comic, so it was obvious that I was too keen to explore it. What I found next has taken the shape of the write up below.

Have you ever heard the sound of faith when it tells you that you can fly? That is exactly the feeling you get when you hear Sara Haider’s alaap in the intro song of the album. It is hardly 2 minutes but be rest assured these 2 minutes would make your spirits soar.

Samra Khan doesn’t get lost in the  geek talk that introduces Wake up/Jaago. Partly in English, the song really didn’t affect me much singing wise. Of course the tracks of the album are meant largely to further the narrative, but I feel this composition would have been better without the Hindi/Urdu lyrics. Just the background radio would have been enough. In Awaaz/the last radiowave, Jaffer Zaidi and Samra khan try to merge with the sound and the effort is good in pieces. I did feel there was no need to ‘compose’ this into a song because just the music would have left a larger effect on the senses.

Black coffee starts with addictive keyboard notes that will play in your head long after the song is over. Sung by the solid Jaffar Zaidi, it has all the qualities of a ‘never-leaves-the-playlist’ song. Jaffar’s voice has a heavy vibe to it and this composition uses the same for good effect. The Santoor towards the end is smartly used! In the reprise version of this song, we hear Abbas Ali Khan teaming up with Sara Haider, and a bit more complex music arrangement at play. Sara is top class though she doesn’t get much to do in the song but like me, most probably you would also be indecisive to pick the favorite from the two versions. What competes with Jaffar’s rock solid singing is an overall celan rendition  and that alaap from Khan towards the end of his version.

Orange sung by Samara Khan has all ingredients of a 90s pop song and with the help of good back up vocals, the song breezes through. I might not go back to the song again but it has a likable quality to it, the way we (90s kids) remember Ace of base today.  In Mehr Jaan, you would hear Zoe Viccaji giving us one of those late night, ‘by-the-guitar’ songs that talk of longing,  and make you miss your loved one who has left you with a song on your lips. Like always, Zoe is superb. Kinara makes you forget the sadness of Mehr Jaan. With Sara Haider teasing her way along with an equally tantalizing guitar by Omran Shafique, it’s very easy to fall in love with the song. A simple, melodic song that is a perfect fit for slow dances as well as a long drive.

Listen to Nida Khurram in Raat Bazaar when she goes ‘saadey libaas mein, sawan naraaz hai kyu?‘ and you would wish this track was longer than 2 minutes. A track that is arranged light, but decorated with words so rich, you would hit ‘repeat’ more number of times than you would be able to count.

In Death Of Mehr-Un-Nisa, you would be greeted with complex music for about a minute and then Sara Haider soars. You would be excused to think that this track would probably be floating in a lot of music with nothing memorable to hum, yet by the time it ends, you would be humming along with Sara…’Tu rooth ke na jaa, meri jaan‘. There is an element of finality in the song that of course resonates with the serious track name, still, a good song.

With tune largely similar to Mehrjaan, Mehr-Un-Nisa Falls in love is a bit more spaced out composition and thereby sounds more insightful. Of course, the solid vocals of Jaffar Zaidi make it impossible to not sink in the song. I absolutely loved the way the song is set. It’s like someone is sitting right next to you with a Piano, letting his fingers wander on the keys the way his life has moved over the years. The sense of calm in the song is reassuring and has an abstract feel to it.

Butterfly In Space is a bit too techno for my liking but it didn’t hurt hearing faint samples of Rahat Ali and Zara Madani. The flute is the winner in this track, more like a glue that keeps the central tune soothing. Not a bad track if you like fusion. Back up vocals are good too. On a related note, I would never understand why Zara Madani is not doing more international projects?

Overall a fantastic set of songs which you must surely check. Don’t let iTunes fool you into believing that the music was released in December 2015. The album was available to Indian iTunes from May 2016.

(Disclaimer – Zohaib shared these songs (not the comic) with me in December 2015. Why is this a disclaimer? I don’t know, we felt like we must tell you. 🙂

Written, Composed, Arranged & Produced by Zohaib Kazi
Recorded by Zohaib Kazi

You can hear the album here

Complete artist credits here

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I know Marathi just like I know Guitar and Keyboards. I can sense their presence but can never play with them (publicly) because I don’t understand them. My exposure to non-Hindi film music has been similar. My Marathi music ‘plays’ have been limited to the music of Shala, Balak Palak and Natarang. Cut to the first teaser of Sairat that I came across, and all of that changed. I have since then tried to explore Ajay-Atul’s work in depth, and most of it has been in Marathi, but more on that later. With absolutely no comment/interpretation on the lyrics of this film album, here is what I think of the album that hit me like a bolt of lightning!

Yad lagla is decorated so well as a composition that even before Ajay gets behind the microphone you would be swaying at those definitive violin riff repeats. Not only in the opening, violins are almost a second voice throughout the song. Even when we hear Ajay in antras, we can hear those violins and they are in no way bothersome to ears. A song that to my ears sounds like musings of a man madly in love. A song extremely high on melody.

Part college-festy (like Koi Mil Gaya from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai) and part Kannum kannum (from Thiruda Thiruda), Aatach baaya ka baavarla’s high points are those variations that Shreya takes in both the antras. The pause in between is only an excuse to hit the listeners with those layered percussion and strings almost immediately. Like I said, Shreya is top class in the song be her biting ‘attacha’ in every antra or her tempo variation. The backups reminded me a lot about ARRahman and his use of backups in 1990s, especially in the film, 1947 – Earth. An insanely enjoyable song!

In what soothes like a balm to the senses, Chinmayi Sripada starts Sairat zaala ji, and is almost immediately joined by Ajay. The song flows like a symphony and the overall mood doesn’t weigh you down because the antras are playful and easy on ears. I did feel the percussion could have been a bit lighter in the song. The flute in the second part of the song is all sorts of cute and the bagpipe parade like tune in between is actually smart. I felt the song gave more room to Ajay to improvise than it did to Chinmayi.

What is clearly, unabashedly and LOUDLY a celebration song, Zingaat is Ajay-Atul playing in their familiar territory. It is exactly *that* song which would haunt us Bombay-walas in the coming days whenever there is *any* celebration. The song has brass band as well, but you really don’t notice their presence because of the constant *dinchak dichak*. Length wise, this is the shortest song of the album, but impact wise, probably the song that will outlive the film, in Maharashtra.

Ajay-Atul’s symphonic inclination is well known, so much so that back in 2002, they came out with an album titled ‘Ganesh Symphonic Chants Experience’ which is quite something. Some kind friends have passed me the music of films like Natarang and Jogwa, and it suffices to say that the sound of Sairat is a step forward by Ajay-Atul in terms of marrying their favourite sound with the limitations that a typical ‘film album’ presents them with. Thumbs up for that!

I just have one grouse –  if not checked, Ajay-Atul can quickly sink to where our favourite ‘It’ boy went – using their own voice a bit too much in their albums.

Overall, this is the album that I have heard the most number of times vis a vis any out and out non-Hindi album that I have laid my hands on in the last couple of years. The madness that this album infected me with reminded me of film album by ARRahman titled ‘Boys’ that came out long time back.

When I heard Jogi, I wanted to learn Kannada

When I heard Jhiri jhiri chaitali, I wanted to speak Bengali.

When I heard Nenjukulle, I wanted to understand Tamil.

Sairat makes me want to write poetry in Marathi..

It is exactly the kind of music that makes you want to pay for it, twice! The album costs just 48 bucks on iTunes. Buy it, celebrate it. It’s well worth it!

Rohwit

Jukebox of Sairat here

It’s that time of the year again. And we are back with our year end “Rewind” series.

Here is a list of songs and albums that kept us hooked to film music, in the order we heard them, beginning from the oldest all the way down to the latest.

Dil-e-Nadaan (Hawaizaada) – Ayushmann Khurrana draws extreme opinions for his singing, and, I am the last one to like his work. Still, I was pleasantly surprised at his contemporary tribute to Ghalib’s classic. In Dil-e-nadaan, Shweta Subram and Ayushmann were fluid and the result was quite hummable . The song was released in January, and it continues to be in my playlist. The slight guitar riff in the background of ‘humko unse’ is what the rush of first love feels like. The entire album was actually quite good!

Jee Karda (Badlapur) – The trailer gave me an inkling to wait for the song that has the lionhearted guitar riff. Truth be told, I was underwhelmed by the album but this song is what I felt defined the tone of the film. Divya kumar is what Sukhwinder Singh used to be. More often than not, his presence in a song means the song would be good. For me, the guitar riff of the year…badass!

Dum Laga Ke Haisha (Album) – The music of DLKH is a case study in sticking to the feel of the subject without compromising on anything. While Rahul Ram, Kumar Sanu and Sadhna Sargam were reasons enough to hear the album on the repeat, Moh moh ke dhaage gets my vote. I like the Monali Thakur version better. Delicate, unbelievably sweet and durable! Kudos to a certain Mr. Anu Malik! I don’t know why I kept on thinking about the music of ‘Mrityudand’ while listening to this album, in a good way that is.

Kya karein (NH10) – I became a fan of Rachel Varghese on the first hearing of Kya karein from NH10. Savera Mehta & Ayush Shrestha kept the sinking feel of the song with a harmony like treatment, and I absolutely loved the way the song ends, abruptly.  Haunting, heartbreaking, and so beautiful!

Chori chori (Hunterrr) – While I am still a proud lover of the title song of Hunterr, this song grew quietly on repeated listening for the simplicity of composition and emotive singing by Sona and Arijit Singh. Isn’t it reassuring to hear Arijit in a song that isn’t filled with ‘made-to-order-for-Arijit’ long taans?

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy (Album) – Having the courage to have such varied contemporary genres in a film album itself is so crazy, and add to the fact that the film was based in 1940s, you get what I call the definitive album of the year! The album was filled with right amount of hysteria, melody, joie de vivre, and sensuous sparks. I don’t think we will have a better album than this for a long time, not only in terms of music but how the music came together in accentuating the feel of the film as a whole.

Journey Song (Piku) – I like the way Anupam Roy has made his debut in Bollywood with Piku. The entire album is musically light and lyrically rich. While it was tough for me to pick between ‘Bezubaan’ and this song, I picked the journey song because it is such a happy song and that bangla in between by Shreya Ghoshal is so charming, it nearly took me to ‘Learn Bengali in one week’ course coaching!

Dhadaam dhadaam (Bombay Velvet) – No other song this year can be called ‘Majestic’. In dhadaam dhadaam, Neeti Mohan has done what our people up north refer to as ‘Kaleja nikaal ke rakh dena’. Marvelous composition, excellent music arrangement got almost overlooked thanks to Neeti. The regular forceful rhythm of the composition is addictive to say the least. It would be wrong to call this a swan song for someone as promising as Neeti, but i feel this song would take some getting to be surpassed. Magnificence and pain in equal measure. Take a bow, Neeti and Amit Trivedi!

Mann Kasturi (Masaan) – is a song that will outlive us all. Future generations would keep coming back to the song to get the meaning of life. I don’t think anyone else could have done justice to the cogent lyrics than Indian ocean and talking of Indian Ocean, my senses swirl like a lattu every time I hear Rahul ram in the song. These are the kind of songs which, when we grow old would be a reference point to the ‘music of our times was so good’ argument.

O saathi mere (Tanu Weds Manu Returns) – The song that was too good for the film, and I say this because this is a song that would have worked wonders had it been included in the film and film’s promotion. Sonu Nigam has gone choosy in picking up his songs, but if he wants to give us songs like this, I have no problems with that. The layered composition and easy lyrics just needed the gayaki of Sonu nigam to capture our imagination, and boy, did the song did just that or what!

Bhor bhayo (Bezubaan Ishq) – Osman Mir wasn’t a new name to come across, thanks to my mum who played some of his songs over last few years and insisted that I like him because he was singing in Morari bapu’s baithaks. Anyway, in a film like Bezubaan Ishq, catching his name in the credit was intriguing and once you hear his powerful voice with the magical flute in the minimal music arrangement that adorns this song, you will know why he is one of the most exciting voices we have. Hope he gets noticed a lot and goes mainstream.

Sapna jahan (Brothers) – A film as inconsequential and boring as Brothers had one good thing, and that was this song. Neeti Mohan and Sonu Nigam gave us a very 90-ish Jatin-Llalit-sque dreamy song with Ajay-Atul’s signature splendour. The lullaby like treatment of the stanzas is a super touch. Sonu Nigam, please sing more!

Insaaf insaaf insaaf hoga (Talvar) – I didn’t know Arooj Aftab. I heard ‘Insaaf Insaaf’ from Talvar, and now I cannot wait for her next outing. Trust Gulzar-Vishal to come up with a song that gives us hope in a prejudiced backdrop of our logical society. Arooj’s voice gave newness to pain. I don’t think this song was talked about as much as it should have been, because here is a song that lifts the feel and leaves that sense of loss we can all empathize with if we just look around.

Tamasha (Album) – I couldn’t find anything ‘Level-ARR-outstanding’ about the album but it did give us four good songs, and for the same, it deserves a mention. Parade de la bastille is breezy, Wat wat wat is a riot, and so is Heer to badi sad hai. What surprised post-viewing the film was the ‘Agar tum saath ho’ song. I pretty much like it the way I used to like it before watching the film. I disliked the fact that the ‘composed-to-be-liked-after-watching-the-film soundtrack’ forgot to make good use of the moans in ‘wat wat wat’ 🙂

There is a lot to look forward to in 2016, and we hope there is more innovation than routine, more melody than soulless grandeur, more masti than item number driven chutiyapa.

What are your favorites? Comment section is all yours.

Rohwit

(Disclaimer – One of the editors of the blog was part of Talvar. Two of the contributors of this blog were part of Masaan. Also, fuck disclaimers)

You can hear the playlist here

 

Now that the ‘rewind’ is done, allow me to share the ‘other’ list that consists of songs which might not get you RT’s and endorsements from thinkers, but they are amazing when you play them and sing in your car, bathroom or any other place you think you are alone 🙂

In no particular order, here we go!

Chittiyan kalaiyan – (Roy) – If there were an award for wasting a song by badly filming it (and there were way too many this year), this song would win it hands down! Kanika kapoor can make you dance just by reading out daily newspaper and if you give her a tune that has 1990s ‘dance music’ touch, you are asking for a murderous dance song and this was it!

Hunterr 303 – Nothing and absolutely nothing can cause the same level of ‘let’s dance banjo’ mood like Bappi lahiri’s voice in a new film song treated with junk food level of sinfulness. This song had everything going for it especially the backup vocals and Bappi ‘cowboy’ lahiri giving it like only he can! Insanely enjoyable!

Tera happy budday (ABCD2) – Yet another party song by Sachin Jigar where they took a conventional song and twisted it. In this case, it worked and the ‘saarey bolo’ chants…heeeehaw!

Banno tera swagger (Tanu weds Manu returns) – Mix of Rajasthani folk, sprinkled with intelligent choice of english words and treated with punjabi  craziness..I say Winner!!!

Guddu Rangeela title song – While I love the ‘jagrata’ treatment and excellent word choice in ‘Mata ka email’, I keep going back to the title song of the film. I cannot get enough of Amit Trivedi’s yodel and his mischievous singing!

Hogi Kranti (Bangistan) – Never before sarcasm and repressed anger sounded better. Kudos on the lyrics!

Afghan jalebi (Phantom) – Asrar is amazing as we have already mentioned so earlier and this year he took the ‘dhaasu’ film dance song to another level with this belter of a track…Still addictive…Still infectious! 

Neeli bullet ( Main aur Charles) – With so many ‘nouveau riche’ making laddakh trips on it, we feel bullet the bike, deserved a song and it was long overdue (much before the ‘nouveau riche’ were born, to be precise). Lyrics might be a bit cringeworthy at times but my word the hook!

Neendein khul jaati hain (Hate story 3) – Yes! Hate story 3! Kanika Kapoor being herself in a naughty song with Mika singing so clearly that you can actually understand every single word…Junky tune and it works!

And here is the playlist…Let’s hear your favourites we have missed!

 

Disclaimer – All the editors of the blog have sometime or the other danced a bit (in public or alone) on one or more songs mentioned above 🙂

Happy new year everyone!