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A class act

Sporty affair: Soorma’s music has been composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) with lyrics by Gulzar.

Sporty affair: Soorma’s music has been composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) with lyrics by Gulzar.  

To be released later this week, is the sports film, Soorma directed by Shaad Ali and produced by Chitrangada Singh about Indian hockey player, Sandeep Singh. The film’s music is composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) with lyrics by Gulzar and promises to be a compelling tale.

The track, ‘Ishq Di Baajiyaan’ opens with a choral quatrain that goes ‘Kabhi Usey Noor Noor Kehta Hoon’, immediately followed by a younger chorus singing a ‘Na Jaa Aankhon Mein Hi Rehna’ phrase that fades into the backdrop, as the main song kicks in. It is this refrain that is one of the most endearing aspects of the song that has plenty going for it. The folk-infused arrangement slightly takes after another beauty that SEL and Gulzar produced recently, ‘Dilbaro’ (this one too features beautiful plucked strings — rabab and mandolin). Accentuating the song’s charm is the touch of pathos that the composers give the cheery melody in the second verse (shades of Carnatic raga ‘Vasanthi’ I think). The song could have smoothly segued into A.R. Rahman’s ‘Kurukku Sirutthavale/Chalo Chale Mitwa’ at this point!).

Diljit Dosanjh, the movie’s main man, leads the singing here, and while he errs on the nuances on more than one occasion, he more than makes up for that in soul. The other gentle melody of the soundtrack, ‘Pardesiya’, is written almost entirely in Punjabi — the only time it digresses is the prayer verse. The soulful piece is delivered exceptionally by the singers — though the melody and arrangement are a throwback to the repetitive rut that SEL had got themselves into about a decade ago (My Name is Khan is an example).

After playing backing vocalist for the previous two songs, Shankar Mahadevan takes centre stage to deliver the ‘Soorma Anthem’. And what an anthem it is! The pulsating combination of percussion and strings, that lend the song a very world music-y feel, perfectly complement Gulzar’s fiery words that Mahadevan, and the chorus (love the aho-s!), sing with a matching zeal. A second tribute to the protagonist happens in ‘Flicker Singh’, one that is more a sporting ode in that it is replete with idioms from the sport. SEL’s arrangement is a trippy mix of Punjabi and electronic elements. I loved the “flickering” effect that accompanies the title phrase every time in the song! The vocals by Hemant Brijwasi, Sahil Akhtar and Shehnaz Akhtar are exuberant. Finally, there is the dance number ‘Good Man Di Laltain’ (interestingly Gulzar employed the phrase recently in the 2017 Rangoon song ‘Bloody Hell’). Given that there was a mental comparison happening with the sports film SEL scored for before this, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I expected this song to be something along the lines of ‘Slow Motion Angreza’. It turned out to be a much more commonplace Punjabi-flavoured party track, however. There’s great singing by Sukhwinder Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan, unsurprisingly, but nothing memorable.

I have always maintained that Ali — and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra — should never stop making films simply because of the music in their films, particularly the ones that involve musical geniuses SEL and Gulzar. Soorma isn’t the best soundtrack to have come out of the Shaad Ali-SEL-Gulzar team, but it is still very much a classy listen.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2020 7:01:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/a-class-act/article24381801.ece

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