Music Review: ‘Bala’

Ayushmann Khurrana in 'Bala'
Don’t Be Shy Again and Naah Goriye are good party numbers that help open the album in style and keep the fun going and thus easy club hits while Pyaar Toh Tha is the best song on the album with its gorgeous romantic vibes.

Amar Kaushik delivered a big hit with their directorial debut ‘Stree’ (2018) and that has definitely set the demand to fast-track their next project. Releasing soon is ‘Bala’ with Ayushmann Khurrana in the leading role coming back together with is two hit making combo pairings with Yami Gautam and Bhumi Pednekar as he deals with a hair loss problem and the social pressures that go with it. A cool topic for a comic story with Khurrana’s edgy performance. The look in the trailers is something that doesn’t suit him but he carries it so damn well being a top actor that he is. Adding more to the comic quotient of the film are Javed Jaffrey and Saurabh Shukla. Sachin – Jigar are leading the music of the album and this is their second collaboration with Amar Kaushik. They delivered big dance hits with ‘Stree’ (2018) and so the pressure is on to deliver a solid album here with the soundtrack of ‘Bala’.

The first single release of the album is a remake of Don’t Be Shy – the UK superstar Dr. Zeus with girl band Rouge collaboration from 2004 that was a super massive hit and still exists in so many playlists as one of the most iconic productions of Dr. Zeus that made the UK desi scene transcend into the Bollywood music landscape. A very cleaver remake choice by Sachin-Jigar reviving this song by desifying its urban beats with a more desi-street styling. The use of the original flute melody is strong and the beat is a little more basic without the bass depth that the original had. The overall programming is basic but effective with completely synthetic instrumentation using loads of music samples. Rap star Badshah leads the vocals and the new lyrics written together with Mellow D. There is not much class to the lyrics or vocals frankly but there is a good balance of the familiarity of the original and the new simple straightforward lyrics that easy to sing along to. Shalmali Kholgade delivers the real vocal and with a good amount of oomph while Badshah sounds rather flat throughout. Supporting vocals by Gurdeep Mehendi are decent and a good addition to the song but there is not much too it. The video is cheeky and fun but the choreography is quite bad thus not adding much to help push the song. A good party song for sure but will it replace the original that still drops well in DJ sets? Perhaps yes it will.. especially those core Bollywood sets as this remake has a lot more desi character to it. 3/5

Khurrana tried with a Marathi song Dhagala Lagli last but that didn’t seem to fit so well although he pulled it off well. His comfort is clearly with Punjabi and second release of the album is a Punjabi pop revival of the 2017 hit called Naah Goriye. The song did very well when B Praak and Harrdy Sandhu got together for this song producing it to a Spanish music influence and featured the gorgeous moves of Nora Fatehi in the video. The composition in this movie is not too far from the original with a sharper beat and a massive sprinkle of Spanish guitars. The music is cleaner here and works well for Khurrana’s dream sequence in the video dancing with the beautiful Sonam Bajwa. The lyrics by Jaani are near bouts the same with a brand new female lead delivered by Swasti Jain. She delivers that powerful but crude Punjabi vocal with a touch of folk and a touch of sensuality about it. It’s a really good vocal and she blends well with the chorus by Sandhu. An easy way to capitalise on a hit number and as a dream sequence item number one finds it easy to accept a Punjabi song in a film based in UP too. A good one that should be an easy radio hit. 3.5/5

Sachin-Jigar compose a soothing ambient love ballad called Pyaar Toh Tha. The melody is very smooth with minimalistic use of instruments. Strings play a major role in the bridge parts with a gorgeous Violin solo and acoustic guitars throughout. The arrangement is very nice and although it sounds familiar it isn’t and has a unique flow & style to it. The music has meaning here like the progression from a soft romantic to a rock song in the second part symbolises the rush of emotions. The lyrics pack in a lot of depth and emotions within the 4 odd minutes of the song and kudos to Priya Saraiya for that. She packs in a good amount of material in the song even in the Punjabi intro & outro that is very well structured with Asees Kaur’s vocals. Jubin Nautiyal is the real star of the song with his husky vocal quality that really works well in the setting of the song. Come the rock part it doesn’t fit in that well but he still pulls it off well. The song is gorgeous overall and stands out from the rest in this romantic category and the more one listens to it the more it grows on them. Easy 4/5.

Jigar himself writes and provides the supporting vocals for Tequila next which is a drinking party song for those student dorms, wedding cocktail nights & community building celebrations. The song starts with a cheeky eunuch announcing the wedding as they join in every celebration in India. The song has that big brass setup with a high pace that makes this a high decibel party song but the music pretty much works on a loop throughout with little variations. The lyrics are situational to the movie and with a touch a rhyming tease but nothing great about them. Divya Kumar’s vocals are good overall pumping energy and fun into the song but limited by the appeal of the song. A decent number for a bit of fun but not one that stands out amongst the big wedding commercial songs. 2.5/5

Papon delivers Zindagi the final song on the album. Bhargav Purohit writes a soothing song for him to deliver that captures a number of relationships that come along in life but the flow is not one that works on this song. The words don’t flow seamlessly and it has a start-stop feel to it that Papon does well to try and cover but being an acoustic number the bareness of the song makes it difficult to hide that. The acoustic guitars are simple and well played along with the duff Cajon beats. The vocals are too simple but deep and refreshing in the typical Papon style that is nice on the ears. This is only a filler background song from the movie while it still adds value to the album giving it more variety and depth. 3/5

Dj Kiran Kamath’s mashup of all ‘Bala’ songs is a good way to end the album. The mashup hedges mostly on the Don’t Be Shy melody and beat but seamlessly brings in Naah Goriye, Tequila and even Pyaar Toh Tha onto that beat. The mix is simple and mainly uses the beats and hooks of the original songs to recreate this number. The simplicity works considering this is not really a remix but a sampling job combing the best bits of all the songs. Overall a decent number to add on to the album as an after release number and finish the soundtrack with. 3.5/5

For a yet another thematic film of Ayushmann Khurrana the soundtrack of ‘Bala’ is more commercial than niche. Sachin-Jigar do a decent job of lapping up a couple big numbers to make this niche concept film a little mainstream with its commercial music that should help drive audiences to the cinemas. The music is not brilliant on any song but they do a good job by delivering defined compositions that stick in the head and are fun & easy to listen to on repeat. Lyrics are average on this album with the exception of Pyaar Toh Tha that is very nicely written by Priya Saraiya. Vocally this album is a good one with Badshash, Harrdy Sandhu, Jubin Nautiyal, Asees Kaur delivering memorable performances. Don’t Be Shy Again and Naah Goriye are good party numbers that help open the album in style and keep the fun going and thus easy club hits while Pyaar Toh Tha is the best song on the album with its gorgeous romantic vibes. The album doesn’t have consistency though nor has elements adding within the theme of the movie making this a compilation of singles rather than a proper soundtrack and thus won’t have a long listening shelf life. Rating – 3.5/5

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.