Music

Dialling-up the Punjabi quotient

Upbeat tunes: A still from Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi  

Two years after they got Harpreet “Happy” Kaur to run off to Lahore, Pakistan, writer-director Mudassar Aziz and producer Aanand L Rai reunite in Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi (HPBJ), with a different Happy and take things eastward, to China. The sequel retains the key musical crew as well – mainly composer Sohail Sen and the lyricist, who is the film director’s – Aziz. Sen has not worked on much of note since Happy Bhag Jayegi (HBJ). The 2017 sequel of Ek Tha Tiger (for which he had composed the songs) did not feature him, and the 2018 Netflix release, Love Per Square Foot, Sen’s only other big ticket project in this period, had a middling soundtrack. Let’s see if the man has managed to turn things around with HPBJ.

Owing to first film’s setting, HBJ had a predominantly Punjabi-flavoured soundtrack, with the occasional melodic piece. With HPBJ, the makers seem to have dialled-up the Punjabi quotient, insomuch that even the old Bollywood song recreation (of course there’s one, it is 2018 Bollywood!) – O.P. Nayyar-Qamar Jalalabadi-Geeta Dutt’s 1958 classic ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’, is a Punjabicised one. While a musical representation of the Chinese-meets-Punjabi theme is a smart idea, the adaptation itself is forgettable. Handling the vocals here are the movie’s lead cast members Sonakshi Sinha and Jassie Gill. ‘Swag Saha Nahi Jaaye’ too traces its origin to a Punjabi folk song (‘Sarke Sarke Jandiye’) though the line is quite likely a nod to ‘Roop Saha Nahi Jaaye’ from O.P. Nayyar-Sahir Ludhianvi’s Naya Daur song Reshmi Salwar, based on the same tune. It’s an entertaining number, despite the familiarity, courtesy the vocals by Shadab Faridi and Neha Bhasin.

The title song is where the composer makes a link to the first movie, reusing an instrumental motif from ‘Happy Oye’. The song isn’t half as engaging as the latter though, despite Daler Mehndi and Harshdeep Kaur doing vocal honours. Am I the only one who felt fleeting references to Dada Burman’s ‘Hothon Pe Aisi Baat’ in the percussion during the interludes? It is in the two completely new tracks that Sohail Sen produces his best work for the soundtrack. While ‘Kudiye Ni Tere’ once again has Punjabi-infused lines, the tune and arrangement take a different route to produce refreshing results. The only drawback is Udit Narayan leading the vocals who sounds almost weary here. Shivangi Bhayana does well though, chipping in occasionally. ‘Koi Gal Nai’ is where everything comes together just fine – the composer’s groovy electronic packaging of a folksy tune works splendidly. While Shahid Mallya and Piyush Mishra deliver the melody, with a fine chorus to boot, lyricist Mudassar Aziz has an interesting cameo as rapper in the second half.

As evidenced by the last two songs, composer Sen clearly does still have good music to offer, but his work in HPBJ comes second to the music in HBJ.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 8:12:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/dialling-up-the-punjabi-quotient/article24753746.ece

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