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Music Review: ‘Bharat’

Ali Abbas Zafar and Salman Khan’s big Eid release this year is ‘Bharat’ that follows the life-stages of a common man in independent India. Shot around the world in various cities there is a lot riding for Khan with this movie considering his Eid releases for the last two years haven’t done as expected with ‘Race 3’ (2018) and ‘Tubelight’ (2017). Also starring Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Disha Patani and Sunil Grover as the best-friend, the promos of ‘Bharat’ look promising and exciting with the various life stages and looks Khan has adorned throughout this movie. With the changing year in the life journey of Khan’s character – Bharat – the music should perhaps change as well with influences from that year. That could be an intensive project to handle and Vishal-Shekhar are at the helm of this project with Irshad Kamil by their side on the lyrics. Perhaps a good decision to keep all the music in the hands of a single experienced team for consistency of sound and who can deliver the grandeur of an expansive story.

The album opens to an energetic and youthful song called Slow Motion with a young Khan delivering an item number with Patani looking super fit. Sung by Nakash Aziz and Shreya Ghoshal the song has all the elements of flirting, tease, love, fun and sex appeal. Aziz delivers a strong vocal with a lot of oomph and style while Ghoshal has a strong playful sensual appeal in her vocal but Aziz truly steals the show. The lyrics are very well structured mixing Hindi and English words in a very playful but cute flow that makes it a very easy song to sing along to and enjoy listening to. The music is the most iconic part with Vishal-Shekhar going for very bold and loud sounds. The lead hook music is a perfect blend of desi & western symbolising that 60s-70s era. The desi part has that street and crude style to it while the strong bass and guitar riffs create a very powerful melody that just stays in the head for a while. There are some brilliant percussions throughout and especially in the bridge music that is worth a listen. The final climax progression gives a high end to the song but it doesn’t really blend well with the earlier piece. Overall a very strong song to open with, with some memorable bits true to the music style of the bhaijaan of Bollywood. This song will become in anthem for his fans quite easily although it’s not the best thing one would have heard this summer.

Abhijeet Srivastava delivers a very soulful and deeply romantic vocal in the song Chashni next. The vibes of this song are super sweet as if really drenched in Chashni. Kamil’s lyrics are best part of the song with him proving once again he is the best writer in Bollywood for romantic songs. The simplicity in expression but the depth in emotions is truly iconic. The flow of words is so effortless thanks to the amazing arrangement that it really strikes a positive note with the listener engaging them well with the song. The concept of mithi mithi chashni is very refreshing but so simple that makes ones wonder why a song has not already been done around this concept. A really good vocal further helps bring out the effect of the words. The vocal range is amazing in the song but with a very calming, natural & graceful delivery. The composition is smooth and has a good amount of ambience around it thanks to the light instrumentation with acoustic guitars and synth sounds. Talk about romantic songs and this is one of the better ones for sure that deserves a good amount of airplay.

One would never expect listening to Aithey Aa that it is a wedding sangeet song. The music and styling of this song is very different from what one would have heard in this category but the video gives away the setting with Kaif delivering some really cool desi thumkas. The blending of strong urban synths with traditional shennai’s is just brilliant piece of musical work by the duo. The arrangement is really innovative and makes retro setting of the movie relevant for the movie audiences of today. The song is programmed to perfection with a very careful balance of traditional and contemporary music with tons of style in the music delivery. Neeti Mohan delivers a very strong vocal that has confidence and personality written all over it that matches well with Kaif’s on-screen character. There is no barrier or shyness about it with boldness and attitude in her vocal. Akasa Singh delivers the supporting folk vocal giving the traditional rural touch while Kamaal Khan has a small part to play for a few lines of the male vocal. The lyrics are very interesting as one would not expect a bold female persona that is openly promiscuous or flirty in a wedding celebration that too in the era of the films setting. The hook is Aithey Aa is quite strong and while the music is quite genius, this song might be a little too out of the comfort zone for listeners to get used to it and make it a hit.

Dadlani leads what is the main theme song of the film. Zinda is a really powerful and almost an anthem. When leading a song that is about a nation there is the need of a very memorable melody and this song sure does have it. The lyrics talk about the nation living through its people and a strong chorus really makes it sound like the whole country is singing this together. The recording of the vocals is very well executed with a powerful lead vocal by Dadlani. The pace and energy of the song is extraordinary and induces a lot of vigour in the listener. A short song but packed with motivation, energy and top musical production that works very well for a theme song.

Sukhwinder Singh leads Turpeya that is another good production that is very relatable for every Indian who has travelled the world for work and bring back some money for a better life back home. Singh delivers a very expressive and emotive vocal where the pain of missing home but determination of delivering on responsibility comes out well. The lyrics are very well written capturing the closeness of home wherever one goes in life while staying true in direction of fulfilling aspirations. The overall composition and the music of the song is very groovy with a strong beat but also with a Punjabi touch to compliment Singh’s vocal style. The music is very well laid out with some interesting elements added to it but with an odd bridge music that seems a little out of place with the rest of the song and is the only downside of the song. Overall the theme is very functional and relatable making this song quite likeable.

Aaya Na Tu feature the vocal of Jyoti Nooran, one of the two Nooran sisters. This is the first of hearing her alone on a Bollywood song. Her deep vocal is one of the most unique aural experiences like no one else could deliver. Her control on the really low and high vocal parts is extraordinary. She even maintains a lot of depth throughout to capture the emotion of this song. The lyrics are all about waiting for the long lost love, staying strong and carrying on through all the ups and downs that life throws ones way. Although a sad song the composition and feel of the song is that of an uplifting motivating song giving it a nice contrast. That is the unique side of the arrangement of this song that is quite cleverly delivered by Vishal-Shekhar for this number that seems like a situational background song. Musically it is simple with not much going on but that helps amplify the effect of the vocals and lyrics who are the real hero of the song. Perhaps not the best piece of music though as the song overall turns out to be a big bore.

Thap Thap feature the vocals of Singh again in an energetic song that seems more like a background song in the movie rather than a performed to camera song. There are strong emotions in this song as the character demonstrates experience and talks about the journey of life. The music in itself is a journey as it goes from traditional and folk beats to a modern synthetic beat that gives the song a different edge to it. The synths are rather bold but supplement Singh’s bold vocals well. He has always has a big vocal range and powerful rendition that set the tone for an older Khan in the movie. The progression in the vocals and the music with dhol percussions are very well arranged in this song that brings the personality in the song. Lyrics are all about waiting in love and going on as long as the heart beats thap thap and collecting all the experiences that life brings with it. So there is an intricate sadness in this song but in a subtle way making this quite a unique composition.

Neha Bhasin takes on Chashni (Reprise) next giving the original a strong Punjabi folk and rural touch. Her vocal seems absolutely pure with almost no processing or cleaning-up effects on it giving it a very authentic sound. Bhasin keeps it very simple almost as if not performing it at all that adds even more flavour of classic rural India to the song. The music is purely acoustic with some beautiful sarod, mandolin and acoustic guitars to the beat of ghungroos giving it a gorgeous sound. The music is not full at all in the aural domain giving the vocals a lot more room and no overshadowing by music. Lyrics are all the same but Bhasin does a fabulous job in reinventing this beautiful romantic number. Must listen!

A male lead takes a different approach on the Aithey Aa (Dance Version) with Nakash Aziz joining Mohan on the mic. His vocal doesn’t really work for this song and sounds quite subdued or restrictive. The huskiness to make it sound naughty with a tease doesn’t really add up initially but as the song progresses his vocal gets better. The music is nearly the same so not sure why this is a dance version. The use of dholki and a fuller synth beat is the only major change while the lyrics are surely different but in the similar feel as the original song. It would be interesting to see where this song is used in the film considering the original is at a wedding scene.

Already on a high in 2019 so far with the music success of ‘Student of the Year 2’ (2019), Vishal-Shekhar have been quite clever with the music of ‘Bharat’. Rather than keeping each song rooted in the decade of characters life in the movie they have delivered a contemporary soundtrack with traces of traditional and modern in each song. This helps the soundtrack feel a lot more consistent and technically easier to deliver commercial success instead of dwelling in a different era for each song. Their team work with Kamil on the lyrics is something that rarely goes wrong and it truly is the making of good music. There are no extraordinary or great songs that would be major hits but overall there is good variety, talent and material on this album with consistency. Slow Motion and Aithey Aa cater to the dance genre while Chashni is a lovely romantic song. Turpeya and Zinda are the other two good songs to listen to. The downside is that the contemporary feel of each song is neither here nor there and the electronic additions to each song seem rather farfetched and as if trying hard to impress. Even with good vocal performances by Sukhwinder Singh, Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan, Neha Bhasin, Jyoti Nooran & Nakash Aziz the absence of good orchestrated music makes the music quite superficial. Nonetheless, this is a Salman Khan movie and if it does well at the box office that will surely help boost the music rising further up the charts.

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