Music Review: ‘Gulaab Gang’

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When two queens of Bollywood from the 90s come together they form a gang.. not a couple. ��Gulaab Gang�۪ is perhaps a film everyone is talking about and is a small budget social drama starring the gorgeous and immensely talented Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Juhi Chawla on screen together for the first time in a powerful women-centric storyline by the multi-talented Soumik Sen who is making a directorial debut. He is also making his debut as the music director and singer as well. Apart from Dixit and Chawla�۪s on screen chemistry and charisma, the focus will stay on Sen as he works through numerous roles including storywriter, screenplay and dialogues writer with direction, music direction and lyrics writing as additional tasks. With a central India village setting of the film the music of the movie should match influences from the area and have a very Hindustani music style with almost no western influence to it. It would be interesting to see if the two really good dancers would have desi item numbers pushed in at all even though it might not fit with the theme of the film.

Gulaabi in the voices of Malabika Brahma and Shilpa Rao is just a very strong song; both musically and in its personality. From vocal delivery to the music composition to the lyrics by Neha Saraf are all very popular. Sen has done a really good job for his first musical expedition. The landscape and expanse of the music is just very vast considering the film itself is coming out of the same head as the music in this case and thus so no one better to give it the right personality. Even if you listen to it independently, Sen impresses you with his classical knowledge and prowess with some interesting instrumentation for the bridges. The singers both do a fairly good job and the lyrics are inspirational and all about girl power. The appeal of the song is restrictive and not very commercial for international audiences but it should have considerably good success in the smaller towns of India.

Music Review: 'Gulaab Gang'

Dheemi Dheemi Si is a very beautiful song written by Neha Saraf and vocalised by Kaushiki Chakraborty and Malabika Brahma. What starts of a soft melody goes on to become a very powerful political song which is a really interesting approach to the arrangement of the song. The ups and downs are very quick changing and keeps one guessing with trumpets and traditional street musical composition. The lyrics spark it up further with political and social issues setting depicted very well throughout the song. The vocals are a good contrast between both the singers too. Some things of this song work but yet again the limitation of the situational nature of the song for the film drags it down in its TV and radio airplay appeal.

Sharam Laaj is written by Shreya Narayan and is a funky street song that borders nicely with being an item number as well. The song sung by Malabika Brahma and Pavni Pandey is impressive in their deliveries, especially that of Pandey whose rural touch voice has the right elements of fun and charisma to it. Sen creates a really good beat that is groovy and addictive. He even throws in some Spanish guitar that creates a good fusion for the initial parts of the song. This is one song so far that even though limited with the rural setting, it would appeal to the urban audience due to its fun factor and really good music beat composed by Sen. The visualisation of the two most beautiful and talented dancers in Bollywood should add further excitement to the song once we know who is actually the song pictured on.

Kaushiki Chakraborty does a fantabulous job next with a soft soulful, deep and heart-warming song called Aankhiyaan. Her vocals are just really pure and engaging. Even her high bits are consistent with the lower parts and thus make this difficult song almost effortless for her to deliver. Keeping it purely acoustic, with background acoustic guitars and foreground flute contrast Kaushiki�۪s voices very well. The lyrics by Neha are just brilliant. The song would appeal to a very niche audience only and is not for everyone to enjoy. However, if one gets this song on a good pair of headphone and listen for long then the song has the capability to take one to a different place.

Kaushiki goes solo for yet another song after her brilliant last performance with Rang Se Hui. Her vocals sound a little dry and emotionless on this one. Totally opposite to the earlier song this is a more upbeat item number song with decent instrumental hooks that would easily put it in the rural item song category. Musically kept very authentic to the village setting coming out of central India, it fails to excite as it sounds like many others in this category. The lyrics bit the above description as well and talk metaphorically about revolt, war and tyranny. This is one song that is easy to skip past and fails to impress overall.

Juhi Chawla 'Gulaab Gang'

Rangi Saari Gulaabi is a really interesting one on the album that starts off with a beautiful shehnai piece and shaky old female vocals which are really cute and endearing. Keeping it pure with harmonium and simple clean dholki, the real interesting part comes in with Madhuri�۪s vocals itself along with Snehalatha Dikshit and Anupama Raag. The ghazal format of the song is very unique with very strong classical roots to it. Madhuri does a really good job and is impressive vocally and gets all her notes right. The amateurish feel of the song gives it a good vibe with the simple cute lyrics acting as an icing to the cake. This is a really good and interesting song to listen to that will have a lot of media attention to the song thanks to Madhuri�۪s vocals on it. Surely worth a listen!

Soumik Sen now turns singer with Jai Ho which is a soft acoustic song and the only song with a male voice on the album. The song does sound out of place on this album and is a difficult one to categorise and place in the film�۪s setting. Nonetheless it is a decent song and Sen does a good job vocally on it. The lyrics written by him as well are quite simple with an easy poetic flow to it and focused on women and their different roles overall and is a salute to women at the end of the album.

FINAL WORD

Sen owns the album completely with throwing his talent all around the different domains of the album. He may not impress as a singer or lyricist but surely does so with his Indian classical compositions and interesting choice of instruments and arrangements. He maintains a steady flow to the album and sticks to the genre that fits in well with the film�۪s storyline and visual setting. Apart from him, girl power is strongly reflected in the lyrics by Neha Saraf mainly and Shreya Narayan who both do a fairly decent job bringing strong emotion to some of the songs��_ especially for their first Bollywood project. More impressive are the vocal newcomers on the scene including Malabika Brahma and Kaushiki Chakraborty. With strong classical influences they are able to showcase their vocal range and abilities quite well and one can imagine them well for the voices of Madhuri and Juhi. Madhuri herself makes a vocal appearance on the album which is quite exciting since her vocal renditions in ��Devdas�۪ (2002) and ��Aaja Nachle�۪ (2007). Overall Sen does a good job for his first project by keeping it focused and works the album around the movie rather than as an independent standalone music album. That of course restricts the appeal and commercial value of the OST but it does have metal for the masses across rural India. Aankhiyaan, Rangi Saari Gulaabi and Gulaabi are the songs worth checking out.

BizAsia Showbiz Rating ��� 6/10

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