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A curious mélange that works

Mirzya’s soundtrack has a varied mix of great songs that uphold Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s musical standards

Since his debut film Aks in 2001 to Mirzya in 2016, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has exactly five movies in his repertoire. Not all his previous ventures have met with the same level of success, but the consistent aspect has been that they all featured amazing music. After extracting two of A.R. Rahman’s best soundtracks — Rang De Basanti (2006) and Delhi 6 (2009) — the director shifted to Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for his last venture Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The trio has composed the music for Mirzya too. However, there’s a change in the lyricist; Mehra ends his three-movie long association with Prasoon Joshi that began with Rang De Basanti. For his forthcoming venture, the director goes back to veteran Gulzar, who penned the songs for Aks.

The first thing noteworthy about Mirzya’s playlist is its amazing line-up of vocalists, most of them exponents of folk or classical music: a good hint to what lies in store. The title track came out last week, featuring Daler Mehndi, Pakistani Sufi singer Saieen Zahoor, Balochi folk singer Akhtar Chanal and the Nooran sisters on lead vocals. There’s an equally proficient set of backing vocals, all of whom deliver to their standards.

The percussion-laden track features Taufiq Qureshi, while Naveen Kumar plays the flute and pungi. Despite all of this, the song somehow didn’t work in its entirety, possibly because of the uneven melody. No such issues with ‘ Chakora’ though. The energetic and nuanced efforts from Manganiyar singer Mame Khan and Suchismita Das (the latter was last seen on Coke Studio’s third season performing ‘ Jagaao Mere Des Ko’) punctuated by Chanal’s throaty chants, all come together most splendidly in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s groovy folk-electronic melange. ‘ Aave Re Hichki’ does even better, riding on the soothing seven-beat cycle and a beautiful folk melody (shades of Raag Durga in places, perhaps) that Mahadevan nails with a fine chorus to boot. Love the way he stops at ‘ hich’ at one point for the hichki effect! The folk elements in the backdrop are supplied by Mame Khan and Troupe. The sarangi is especially put to good use, and that interlude is gold!

The vocal team from the title track returns to deliver Gulzar’s imagination of things one experiences when in love, in ‘ Hota Hai’. The arrangement once again combines folk and electronic elements, this time with a Punjabi skew, with equally engaging results. And the bonus: the Balochi bits by Chanal are reminiscent of his Coke Studio performances. The ending is oddly abrupt, though. ‘ Ek Nadi Thi’ starts off like a minimally arranged folk track, consisting mainly of the Nooran Sisters’ and Indian rock act Agnee’s frontman Mohan Kannan’s voices, with Qureshi’s finger snaps and claps. But the song attains a delightful colour when the blues guitar kicks in. The guitar solo makes for a particularly good interlude with the Salvation Chorus.

Doli Re Doli’ is one of the soundtrack’s most brilliantly imagined songs. A characteristic prelude from Saieen Zahoor that leads into Mahadevan’s main song where he keeps flitting between ragas with finesse, while behind him, the jazz elements keep coming and going — trumpet (Victor Gracia), double bass (Abhinav Khokhar), piano, drums (Kalyan Pathak) — never really in tandem with what is being sung, and yet they work so well together!

Teen Gawah Hai Ishq Ke’ is the most mainstream-friendly song of the album, at least considering the main melody. Siddharth Mahadevan sings that very well with the Salvation Singers chorus in tow and Zahoor’s soaring voice making the occasional appearance. Kaaga has Kaushiki Chakraborty executing her amazing classical portions (highlighted by one brief but splendid sargam) amidst the composers’ opulent and dramatic orchestration. The combination is a total winner! The instrumental theme song titled ‘Broken Arrows’ alternates between hopeful and forlorn, and is delivered on the sarangi and flute. The soundtrack has six more short pieces, presumably from the background score. And most of them have Mehndi singing free-form to a minimal backdrop (nice but minuscule classical violin solos in a couple of them). Pretty functional, and should presumably work well in the movie, sort of like how his Gurbani from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag worked so much better onscreen.

A rich, remarkably diverse set of songs from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy for Mirzya. And Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra continues to maintain high musical standards for his movies.

Vipin Nair writes about music on his website and curates music on Apple Music as MusicAloud

Watch the trailer here:

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 8:02:57 AM |

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