Music Review: ‘Dangal’

DJ Munks

Music Reviewer


A head-to-head comparison can finally happen between the cast and crew of two films as they work around the same theme and concept. They have slightly different stories but similar settings, with concepts revolving around wrestling success in north India, this year first saw ‘Sultan’ (2016) and now we have ‘Dangal’ as the big Christmas release. Starring Aamir Khan with TV superstar Sakshi Tanwar, ‘Dangal’ looks one of the most promising films of 2016 that is beautifully created inspired by true events and the life of the Phogat family of Haryana. This will be a big feat for director Nitesh Tiwari who has not delivered a big hit in his career so far and his last film ‘Kill Dil’ (2014) was a big flop. The trailers look stunning and showcase the commitment of the cast to get the characters and roles spot on. Every set, every shot looks stunning and well executed totally synonymous with a Aamir Khan film. For all you know this film might have an edge over ‘Sultan’. But will the music be better is something we will find out here. Considering ‘Sultan’ delivered some of the biggest hit songs of the year, there is tough competition for this soundtrack composed by Pritam with the help of Amitabh Bhattacharya. Their last recent project ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushki’ (2016) is one of the best musical works in recent times and hopefully ‘Dangal’ will deliver the same magic.

Haanikaarak Bapu - 'Dangal'
Haanikaarak Bapu – ‘Dangal’

Haanikaarak Bapu is a strong Haryanvi song that has the right melody and composition to make it a strong commercial song to play on radio and TV around the world. The song is completely situational to the early stages of training of both the daughters in their childhood but Pritam throws in a catchy chorus along with vocal adlibs and even some rap. Using Sarangi, Harmonium and Dholki he creates a traditional rural sound but then layers it up with drums and guitars which brings the arrangement alive. It has the fun elements, the pace and great vocals by kids Sarwar Khan & Sartaz Khan Barna and additional vocals by Kheta Khan & Dayam Khan. Their words have the right amount of crude execution to make it believable for the scene setting of this song plus they have the right pitch and vocal abilities to make it a great song. Bhattacharya’s lyrics are very relatable for every kid who has a strict dad or even a harsh PT teacher at school. The comparisons to Hindi filmo ke villain and other such lines make this song very iconic and sing able for everyone. Still limited in its situational appeal, this song is a great piece of musical work one like not heard in Bollywood in a long time.

Rapper Raftaar takes on a full rural Haryanvi rap with Dhaakad next. Completely in with the kind of songs that work well and are in trend in Bollywood, this song has that winning Haryanvi rap style that the likes of Badshaah and Honey Singh have explored and made big hits out of. Raftaar does a great job with this genre too with some very smart rap and exciting bridges to the songs and a vocal that has tons of personality and attitude to it. Pritam gives it a very cool execution with a balance of traditional and modern instruments. Starting with folk instruments like Ravanatha and Been the song gets into a great urban beat which gives this song the real iconic cool vibe. The musical twists in the bridge in the second part are stunning to hear with some very careful programming with tiny musical notes broken down in to sub-notes with very clever use of Tabla in it. The lyrics are fearless and have a superlative charisma to them that amplify the character of both the girls in the film. A brilliant song this is with a strong mass commercial aspect to it for the modern day audience.

Jonita Gandhi takes Gilehriyaan on next which takes you away from the Haryanvi setting of the film and also breaks the aggression down into a soulful ballad. A very light song the composition uses calming guitar & bass strings as the lead instruments with an arrangement that makes this song an addictive and memorable one. The melody is feather light with Gandhi’s voice lighter than a whisper with a very soft texture to it. Her vocal is very well controlled and balanced with some good vocal range to it. The lyrics are really good on this song which is why Pritam lets the combination of lyrics and vocals take the lead. It has the elements of freedom and innocence of youth that make it a special song to listen to. But one would compare this song to romantic numbers this year and that’s where this song doesn’t have a chance to stand out at all making it a mediocre song overall.

The powerful voice of Daler Mehndi is perhaps the best fit for this song that is all about the power of wrestling. Title song Dangal pretty much sums up the movie in a single song with lyrics that talk about the wrestle that life is from the time one is born till one achieves greatness. The use of words is very empowering and have motivational energy that will make this song the headline song for all sports day programmes in India. The arrangement is the best part of this song where Pritam makes a title song worth all the airplay by making it very catchy so much so that it sticks in the head with a few repeat listens. The use of Daler is the best instrument he could have used to deliver the real emotion of this song.. and it is delivered to perfection by him. A strong use of backing vocals in the chorus, percussions and guitars compliments the arrangement to amplify the energy of this song. A great song but is it better than the title song Sultan? That’s a difficult one to decide on but it surely gives it a good fight.

Naina in the voice of Arijit Singh is a sad song that has truly gorgeous lyrics to go with it. Stunning work on the poetry involves one into the emotion of the song as the character goes through the low phase in the film. Bhattacharya takes all the sad emotions in the heart and the feelings in the head and describes them through the mirror of expressive eyes which is a gorgeous thought. The composition is very simple but symphonic. There is nothing brilliant about it but its simplicity is what works best as Singh’s vocals bring out the emotions of the lyrics. He truly can sing anything and this is yet another example of his vocal depth. This is fairly decent song but not one that really stands out.

'Dangal' poster
‘Dangal’ poster

Aamir Khan takes a go at singing again with a shot at Dhaakad (Aamir Khan version). One would expect this to be quite average when you compare it to Raftaar’s original but to be honest it is not bad at all. Aamir does a fairly good job with it. With his limited vocal ability he fits the rap module quite well. Moreover the arrangement of this song is quite similar to how he talks in real life too in some ways and so it does even match his personality and one can clearly imagine him singing this. He is not too great to have done it without lot of vocal processing which is heard clearly in the song but it’s still a fair attempt.

Pritam does wedding party songs really well and for this soundtrack he takes us to a Haryanvi wedding with Idiot Banna. Folk sufi singers Nooran Sisters take on this song giving it a strong village vibe. The composition, instrumentation and vocals are so carefully executed that one can imagine being there in the midst of this wedding in a beautiful Indian village. The lyrics have been paid careful attention to use words and ascent that is representative of the setting of the film. There is a lot of fun and the tease in the song that is both cute and endearing with a complete female lead. It is not a song that is going to be a big hit in the big Delhi wedding settings but it sure will find a place in the Mehndi ceremonies and ladies nite. Nonetheless this will be a big one for rural weddings and it will slowly find its place in the wedding circuit although not a central place.

Just like the cast of the film, Pritam does a great job of engrossing the music into the theme and setting of ‘Dangal’ as well. The Haryanvi and rural setting is very strongly representative in the music and lyrical words by Amitabh Bhattacharya. The focus on characters and the situation is very well executed in the lyrics making each song relevant and thus each song has a place in the story of the film. There is no filler song except the Aamir Khan’s execution of Dhaakad but everything else is nicely placed and deliver a story in themselves. The use of folk music is stronger compared to mainstream commercial but Pritam tries hard to make each song listenable by masses across the country. Folk is strong in the singers as well with the use of Daler Mehndi, Nooran Sisters, Jonita Gandhi and more.  There is a good amount of variety in the album though with various genres and singers as well. Dhaakad, Dangal and Haanikaarak Bapu are the best songs on the soundtrack. Overall the work is good on this album but it is not one that is commercially very strong or has a vast appeal due to the situational nature of the songs and the regionalism of the music. North Indian masses will love the music of ‘Dangal’ but maybe going south it might not work. Plus international audiences will find the music a little rural to their taste and thus that will hold this album back globally. But a fairly good effort though. Rating – 8/10