Having worked with multiple composers in the past, director Karan Johar has opted for Pritam for the first time for the soundtrack of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil . It is surprising how little their paths have crossed, despite the roughly 30 films that Johar is credited with as producer on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com). The only time Pritam has been associated with Johar is for Dharma Productions’ Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013). This is Pritam’s first big project in what has been a pretty low-key year for him.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil , which was the first track from the film to come out, has a pretty ordinary tune. But it’s the song’s background score that really reels you in. The haunting piano refrain that opens the number, the orchestral violins that take over, and the horns that join the violins in the interludes (especially the second one) are all beautifully arranged and rendered. The melody is also helped by the fact that Arijit Singh is at his soulful best behind the mic. There was a rumour of Arijit being the ‘voice’ of Ranbir Kapoor throughout the movie, but that turned out to be just that: a rumour.
The soundtrack’s second song has Amit Mishra belting out the male voice, and quite energetically at that. The song — ‘ Bulleya ’ — however, is one of the soundtrack’s weaker ones, bogged down by the general heard-before feel (and no, I am not referring to the Papa Roach-related allegations; though there is a definite similarity in that opening riff, I do not think it is plagiarised) in the rock- qawwali -ish sound. It is only with Shilpa Rao’s entry in the latter half of the song that you are provided with a brief respite from the familiar refrain.
‘Cutiepie’, rendered by Pardeep Singh Sran and Nakash Aziz, is your typical Punjabi dance track. It’s an engaging listen, but nothing fresh. The track does, however, feature good singing and a particularly neat use of the backing vocals. Lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya has been credited for the “basic concept of the mukhda melody” for the number.
The achcha chalta hoon start of ‘ Channa Mereya ’ still feels odd to my ears, but Pritam develops the song really well, seemingly building on that Shilpa Rao segment from ‘ Bulleya ’. Arijit Singh is in fine form yet again, and the guitars (Roland and Amandeep) are the life of the orchestration, with Omkar Dhumal’s shehnai being another highlight. Pritam and Amitabh Bhattacharya sort of reprise their ‘ Badtameez Dil ’ act with ‘The Breakup Song’, albeit with an uncharacteristic subject for a party number. Pritam’s arrangement is catchy as they come, Bhattacharya’s playful Hinglish lyrics even more so. Jonita Gandhi and Arijit Singh deliver the song with matching exuberance, with a rap cameo by Badshah (had to be there of course).
The soundtrack’s best is ‘ Alizeh ’ , a winsome melody that the composer packages in a church music setting (and a brilliant use of a choir). Arijit sings well here too, and Shashwat Singh joins him with a rap segment towards the end, but it is Ash King who owns the vocal department, suited as his vocal style is for such songs.
Pritam debuts well with Johar, delivering a soundtrack that is infinitely better than that of Johar’s last directed movie, Student of the Year (2012).
Vipin Nairwrites about music on his website MusicAloud.com and curates music on Apple Music as MusicAloud
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Top Recos: Alizeh , Ae Dil Hai Mushkil , The Breakup Song