Contemporary Bollywood music has always shown a penchant towards Punjabi music. But this month has seen a particularly high density of Punjabi songs, thanks mostly to films set in Punjab. Khandaani Shafakhaana is one such film, featuring, unsurprisingly, a multi-composer line-up and a couple of remixes.
I did not expect anything here to wow me — in fact, the biggest musical highlight of the film for me is Badshah’s acting debut.
I am convinced that the current plague of Bollywood remixes — especially those of the 90s movie songs — are a concerted effort to lend more credibility to guilty pleasure songs of the time. To be fair, Anand Milind’s ‘ Sheher Ki Ladki ’ was one of the better realised songs in the genre from the time, and I would have imagined quite suited to a remix, given its arrangement. And yet, all that Tanishk Bagchi manages to come up with is an insipid, annoyingly auto-tuned hodgepodge. The token rap segment in the song is supplied by Badshah who leads the vocals along with Tulsi Kumar and a brief ‘cameo’ from Abhijeet as Bagchi, similar to what he’s done with multiple remixes in the past, features a snippet from the original song. While Kumar’s singing limitations are very effectively masked in the number (I couldn’t even recognise her voice at times), it does manage to considerably bring down the appeal of ‘ Dil Jaaniye ’, a romantic melody that doesn’t offer anything fresh but could still have qualified as a decent composing debut for Payal Dev. This is all the more disappointing, when you consider that Dev is a competent singer and would quite likely have pulled off a better job delivering this one alongside Jubin Nautiyal. Bagchi has one more recreation to his credit in the album, this time of Jasbir Jassi’s ‘Koka’ from his 2002 album Just Jassi .
Although it’s a slightly better result, there’s nothing new that the composer tries — the original generic retro Punjabi template is replaced with a generic remix template, of course with some rap thrown in (Badshah again). Jassi leads the singing this time, joined by Dhvani Bhanushali. Interesting new marketing tactic by T-Series, including a voiceover asking viewers to subscribe to the channel right at the start of the song — guess their YouTube subscriber count battle is still on.
For the fourth song of the album, Badshah gets back onto the composer seat — building around an instrumental hook that sounds like a sample from an older piece. The rapper creates quite a trippy piece out of ‘ Saans Toh Le Le ’ that he writes and delivers with Rico. The drawback though is the increasingly repetitive rapping. Guest composer number four is Rochak Kohli, who’s in charge of the remaining two songs. Since Kohli’s debut, his best songs have all been folk-based, and the filmmakers have taken advantage of that. For ‘ Udd Jaa ’, Kohli channels his own ‘ Meer-e-Karwaan ’ (Lucknow Central), except with a more folksier bent. This one is as effective too, and Tochi Raina belts out a fine rendition. It is in ‘ Bheege Mann ’ that Kohli delivers his and the soundtrack’s best track. It’s a beautiful serene melody that almost feels like a Pritam song, with fine lyrics by Gautam G Sharma and Gurpreet Saini and splendid singing by Altamash Faridi. Here special kudos to Kohli for giving a solo to Faridi who is perennially relegated to chorus and backing vocals despite possessing oodles of talent.