Music Review: ‘Kedarnath’

The soundtrack of ‘Kedarnath’ is true to the film with spiritual, love and heartbreak..

The newest addition to the line of legacy family actors – Sara Ali Khan is making her Bollywood debut this year with ‘Kedarnath’ opposite Sushant Singh Rajput. Her career rests in the hands of director Abhishek Kapoor who has written and co-produced this film as well. He is known for his strong storylines like ‘Rock On!’ (2008) but this is a love story with a Muslim boy and Hindu girl. He has touched on the religion aspect a few years back with ‘Kai Po Che’ (2013) so it will be interesting to see how he now delivers what is predominantly a love story set in the epic mountains of the holy Kedarnath shrine. Collaborating again with Kapoor is composer Amit Trivedi after their work together on the limited soundtrack of ‘Kai Po Che’. For a romantic story Trivedi would have a lot more room to deliver a deeper soundtrack with the amazing Amitabh Bhattacharya by his side delivering the lyrics.

Trivedi opens the album himself with Namo Namo in what is a powerful & classical religious song. It’s not a song one would expect to be the opening song of a commercial love story and thus hard to absorb but it is a well composed song. The melody is strong but the lyrics are too complex and with really strong Hindi and religious terminologies. Writing this song must have been some kind of work and demonstrates the true capabilities of Bhattacharya. But he doesn’t make it easy to sing along to or perhaps even understand the song for majority masses. The chorus is catchy and the central piece of the song with a good range to it. The music is very classical in its instrumentation with Sitars, Tabla, Manzeera and so on synonymous with what people hear on a pilgrimage to the Kedarnath temple. Trivedi does well in arranging the music and his vocals but there is nothing strongly engaging about this song to make it click with the masses. With that said this is a unique spiritual song not seen in recent years in Bollywood music.

Next Dev Negi delivers in a cute love number called Sweetheart that is set in a village wedding scene. The song works well as wedding dance number but as a first impression it lacks musical depth and class. There melody sounds quite typical heard on a number of songs before and the recording sounds quite empty as the musical instruments used are quite basic with dholki and shenai leading the ensemble. The lyrics are very situational to the film scene with the poor boy – rich girl secret affair. The song is quite cheesy in many respects and lacks personality in any respect. The vocals are rather bare and flat too which is not very common in a Negi song.. that too on an Amit Trivedi composition. Overall this song is quite underwhelming and mediocre.

Finally, a good song! A pure romantic number, Qaafirana makes an impact with its deep musical vibes, easy flowing lyrics and soulful vocals. The use of soothing acoustic guitars, subtle violins and ambient strings + drums combo gives this song the true texture of love in the air. It has the purity of the mountains and aural expanse of the ambience this song is filmed in the movie. The arrangement is very engaging and delivers the feelings that this song is about in an effortless way. The lyrics are simply gorgeous and so easy on the ears and the tongue that with just a few listens one can sing along to it. The innocence and warmth in the choice of words is truly worth a listen. The iconic voice of Arijit Singh gives this song a totally unique dimension that only he is well known to deliver. His range is really smooth and keeps his adlibs simple which is beautiful to hear. There is little or no effort in his vocals that ironically is super refreshing to hear. The subtle naughtiness with equal amount of innocence is delivered by Nikhita Gandhi in her one stanza lead vocal. She has a slight huskiness that matches closely with that Khan has in her voice and so the voice works well for her character. This is a must listen song that should easily well across all audiences.

Jaan Nisaar (Version 1) in the voice of Arijit Singh is a sad romantic song that is beautifully written. The lyrics are very relatable for anyone. The feelings that go with a cut off or upset situation for a couple is very well captured by Bhattacharya. The song is of course not a lead or commercial song and is very situational to the film but it is well delivered. Musically the acoustic and deep ambient sounds keep this song in a cold space that brings alive the sadness at the songs core. Singhs vocals amplify this sadness with his deep tonality and moving delivery. As a background situational song this is quite an impactful one.

Asees Kaur delivers the female version of the same song as Jaan Nisaar (Version 2). Her deep but crude Punjabi husky voice works well for this song. She keeps her vocals slightly compressed to a low pitch that helps deliver more emotion & warmth to the lyrics. The music and lyrics seem the same with marginal difference in the overall song.

Abhishek Kapoor is known to stay true to the film when delivering his music. For a musical film like ‘Rock On!’ he delivers brilliant music but where music is not required it does not force fit it either. The soundtrack of ‘Kedarnath’ is true to the film with spiritual, love and heartbreak all emotions being captured in the music. He gives the spiritual song Namo Namo the respect by opening the album with it which perhaps might not be the best route but it surely sets the tone for the film and creates an impact being a key musical differentiator. With top musical talent of Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya on the album surely the expectations were a lot higher from this soundtrack and it leaves one feeling a little disappointed overall. Qaafirana is the only standout great song on the album that is worth a repeat listen. Arijit Singh and Nikhita Gandhi both deliver very well on this romantic number. Sweetheart and Jaan Nisaar are both mediocre songs that fail to make a lasting impact to the detriment of the album. Keeping Qaafirana aside, this is not really an album for the collectors and one can give it a miss. Rating – 2.5/5