BizAsia Music Review: ‘Banjo’

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In what is a big year to return to the music scene after a year out, Vishal-Shekhar deliver the music and soundtrack of ��Banjo�۪ starring Mumbai boy Riteish Deshmukh and the gorgeous Nargis Fakhri. Directed by Marathi films director Ravi Jadhav, who is making his Bollywood debut, ��Banjo�۪ is a musical in itself named after the popular musical instrument. Based around the life of street musicians in Mumbai, the trailer reminds one of ��Rock On!�۪ (2008) in its treatment albeit with a completely different story line. This film should be interesting to see for Deshmukh who will be seen in a sensible non-comic role after a long time. With music being the central theme of this film and with the spirit of Mumbai at its core, there is a lot riding on the music of Vishal-Shekhar here. One thing for sure, there will be a lot of banjo played on the album. Lyrics by the amazing Amitabh Bhattacharya should add a lot more listening pleasure to the compositions of the music duo.

Riteish Deshmukh - Banjo

Rada introduces the authentic sound of a Banjo in a rock composition in the powerful vocals of Vishal along with Shalmali Kholgade and Nakash Aziz. Bass & electric lead guitar and rock drums are the accompanying instruments to the Banjo in what is the sound of Mumbai�۪s true rock scene that connects with everyone on the streets of this party city. Marathi music influence is very strong in the arrangement of the song along with the lyrics. Use of words like Rada itself and ganji bring the strong connect to the city that this film is based in and where Banjo is most used. The lyrics are packed with vigour and revolt that rock music stays true to. The rhymes are strong with a good flow to the song. Vishal�۪s delivery is energetic in his true style as the lead singer of one of the best Indian rock bands – Pentagram. This is his comfort area but Kholgade sounds a bit out of place here and doesn�۪t blend in. Overall this is a performer�۪s song that will come alive in the film with a concert setup.

Vishal goes solo next on Pee Paa Ke. A proper street song with the theme of being drunk and reclose on the streets of Mumbai, this song is very different from what one would normally hear in this genre in typical Salman Khan movies. This has a different class thanks of Bhattacharya�۪s lyrics. The high tempo and variation in lyrical arrangement from the bridge to the chorus is quite unique for this category of music and has a very interesting take. Vishal-Shekhar give these lyrics a fun musical twist to make this commercial for repeated listens. The up-tempo music with a hip-hop rap is a good blend with the Mumbai funk. This song should enjoy some bit of success of its own party melody especially on Mumbai radio stations.

Reham O Karam in the voice of Ajay Gogavale is a beautiful sad prayer song. The lyrics and composition is exceptionally soothing and calming. The song goes from Hindi to Marathi lyrics half way in after 2 stanza�۪s onto what is a really high octane Marathi part which is different for a mainstream Bollywood soundtrack. It perhaps speaks of director Jadhav�۪s commitment to keep this film rooted to its theme of Mumbai�۪s music. Gogavale does a stunning job with the vocal that is deeply melodic set to the calming music of flutes and other water instruments. The drum piece at the end with banjo is simply gorgeous as it builds up to a top end finish to this song. This is not a commercial song designed for success and is very situational to the film but nonetheless a good listen.

Continuing with the religious and talking to God theme from the previous song, Om Ganapataye Namaha is a rockish execution of a bhajan. Vishal���Shekhar use banjo with drums and deep chorus vocals to set the stage for this song. Aziz takes lead here with Vishal�۪s supporting vocals that are quite deeply emotive and well controlled. The lyrics are powerful and empowering. Bhajan�۪s have not been heard like this before! The lyrics are very situational as well with the character�۪s drive and motivation to be heard and win the battles of life. The work on the banjo, nagada and tasha drums is a piece of genius, not just in its recitation but also the recording techniques as these are loud outdoor instruments and for them to be recorded to perfection in a studio takes some talent. This song will become the theme song for the forthcoming Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations across Maharashtra and rightly so.

Banjo 340x

Bappa in the voice of Vishal is yet another devotional Ganesh Chaturthi song. The high pitched vocal and music on this song is perfectly fitting for the forthcoming celebrations. The song is very nicely arranged starting with a banjo solo and heading straight into tasha & nagada drums with shells played to get the theme straight for this prayer song. Vishal goes all out in his very strong vocals that are too the point even at that high pitch. The song is super energetic and deeply religious on the lyrics. The music & vocals are the main things to listen to here as they are done to perfection. The composition and attention to detail on the instruments and their individual notes is something to listen to.

Udan Choo is the only romantic song on the album in the voice of Hriday Gattani. This song is already creating some waves on TV and radio airplay. Gattani�۪s voice is refreshingly new in the cluttered romantic male singers category and he does a great job with it. He is different and very melodious. The arrangement is quite straight forward but the composition is quite engaging and beautiful to listen to. Musically the variance is quite stark from the earlier songs with the use of acoustic guitar, accordion and some beautiful violins set to a duff beat for most of the song before it gets into Marathi drums towards the end of the song to accent the celebration of love. But the main reason this song is getting its success is because of Bhattacharya�۪s sensational lyrics. He always does a brilliant job on romantic songs and this is no different. The words have feeling and deep emotion that is heartfelt and thus worth a listen.

FINAL WORD

The music of ��Banjo�۪ has lots of banjo in almost every song on the album as expected as the album is true to its setting in Mumbai�۪s street music and it does a great job of reviving the instrument to mainstream Bollywood use. Director Jadhav has done a good job in selection of the music opportunities in the film and handpicking the songs without letting the music drift away from the theme. The soundtrack has a lot of material for the forthcoming Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations with a good range of devotional songs in traditional and rock styles. Vishal Dadlani is the clear hero of the album with his music with Shekhar keeping each song different from the other along with his vocals on half of the songs. Gogavale, Aziz and Gattani shine as well making this a completely male dominated album. Bhattacharya�۪s lyrics are consistently good on every song. There is not a big range of songs for his to showcase his talent across but he does a good job with what it has. Udan Choo, Rada, Bappa are all good songs to listen to that will have their commercial successes as well. The theme of the album is the only limiting aspect of the album as it is strongly based in Marathi music, more so than ��Bajirao Mastani�۪ (2015) with a strong focus on devotional music which will work in Maharashtra but maybe not so much so outside the state. There are not enough commercially attractive songs with limited variety in genres. Nonetheless, the album is well done and musically precise.

BizAsia Showbiz Rating ��� 7/10

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