Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal (JHMS) may not have received the best reviews after its release but let’s have a look at whether Pritam’s soundtrack has fared the same.
To begin with, ‘ Hawayein’ is one of the rare instances in the film’s music where the composer takes the tried-and-tested route. Not that the song doesn’t work, it’s just that the other 11 tracks have a lot more to offer. ‘ Hawayein’ is presented better in its film version with Arijit Singh’s vocals on both. However, the singer’s skill really shines through on the finely crafted retro funk, ‘Beech Beech Mein’ where he shares the mic with the talented Shalmali Kholgade and Shefali Alvares. In addition to the vocals, Warren Mendonsa (Blackstratblues) and Ernest Tibbs’ guitar chops dominate the track’s groovy soundscape.
Ali’s oft-collaborator, Mohit Chauhan gets two songs in the album. In ‘ Phurrr ’ (lot of flying references in the song titles, even by Imtiaz Ali standards), Chauhan is joined by Tushar Joshi. They deliver Pritam’s melody that builds over a heady electronic base set by Diplo and Rocky Wellstack, the latter known known for the remixed ‘Agony’ by Pinchers. In the gorgeously ambient ‘Ghar’ , Chauhan plays second fiddle to an ethereal Nikhita Gandhi who sang two other songs for Pritam earlier this year (including the delightful ‘ Ullu Ka Pattha’ from Jagga Jasoos ).
The two tracks that ride high with acoustic guitars are the highlights of the album. The melancholic ‘ Yaadon Mein’ has Mohammad Irfan, Jonita Gandhi and Portuguese singer Cuca Roseta singing their heart out, while Mario Pacheco strums his Portuguese guitar in the backdrop (sounding akin to a mandolin). Then there’s ‘Safar’ where everything comes together just perfectly with a haunting melody that Singh owns, atop a sprawling guitar-led soundscape that goes perfectly with Irshad Kamil’s poetry about a metaphorical journey.
The remainder of the album features songs with a Punjabi skew, quite obviously attributable to Shah Rukh Khan’s Punjabi character Harry. It’s surprising there’s no Gujarati flavoured track to go with Anushka Sharma’s character, Sejal. The Punjabi tracks begin with ‘ Radha ’ where Sunidhi Chauhan and a needlessly loud (Punjabi farmers apparently sing over the sound of tractors, as said by SRK) but effective Shahid Mallya are the life of this sprightly piece. ‘Raula’ is a finer composition belonging to the same genre, with a mellow arrangement and vocal stylings of Diljit Dosanjh and Neeti Mohan.
Despite a bunch of talented singers, the Nooran Sisters, Chauhan, Dev Negi, and Aaman Trikha, ‘Butterfly’ becomes a noisy mishmash. ‘ Jee Ve Sohaneya ’, is rendered beautifully by the Nooran Sisters. Incidentally a Punjabi folksong with the same name, written by Khwaja Ghulam Farid has been performed by Bibi Swarn Noora, the sisters’ grandmother. Finally, in ‘Parinda ’ the composer infuses rock into a Punjabi folk melody, once again with highly engaging results. While Josh Smith, Nyzel D’Lima (guitars), Tibbs (bass) and Alan Hertz (drums) handle the Western elements, Pardeep Sran oversees the folk aspect in style. The longer, alternative version titled ‘Search’ has Tochi Raina replacing Pardeep, but he isn’t able to create the same magic. Nikhil D’Souza’s English phrases are a nice addition though.
Pritam composes for Ali after a gap of eight years, returning with a vengeance and successfully delivering an ambitious soundtrack. If only the film would have lived up to the quality of its music.
Vipin Nair writes about music on and curates music on Apple Music as MusicAloud