Music Review: ‘Padmaavat’

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After all the hullabaloo for the most expensive Bollywood film made to date the Indian courts have finally stepped in and given the green light for the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s renamed magnum opus ‘Padmaavat’. After months of protests and death threats over this film, it would come as a big respite for Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone fans who will now finally get the opportunity to see this movie in its 3D avatar. Bhansali seems to have outdone himself with the expanse of his production as he goes back to 13th century Rajasthan for this story. The trailers are extremely captivating and awe inspiring from sets to costumes to the cinematography to the performances by the leading stars. With all the negative and positive PR around, this is one film that everyone is talking about and looking forward to. The music is equally exciting for a Bhansali production as he composes them himself and leaves no stone unturned to get under the skin of the film. A M Turaz is giving him company once again with the lyrics of this movie after delivering hits like ‘Bajirao Mastani’ (2015) and ‘Guzaarish’ (2010) with Bhansali.

The album opens with Ghoomar which is a classical Rajasthani tune that is nothing short of Bhansali at his best. His ability to go into intricate traditional sounds for the Indian state his film his based around is just unparalleled. He usually leads with a strong Dholki beat and this is a beautifully recorded clean dholki beat that is groovy at the same time. The grandeur of his film sets, costumes and storyline overall comes through in his music ensemble as well. Bells, cymbals, nagada, shells, shenai, trumpets, tabla and many more instruments all layer up together perfectly and are just composed and conducted in to what sounds like a gorgeous arrangement. It has depth and resonates in the ears even after the song finishes. The speed and progression at the end of the song is classic Bhansali trademark and is a complete burst of energy. The lead vocals of Shreya Ghoshal and Rajasthani lyrics & vocals of Swaroop Khan are a complete contract to each other with a sweet royal voice matched against a powerful rural voice that gives a brilliant vocal range to the album. Lyrics by Turaz are very classy and take one back in time and give the song a further traditional touch along with a touch of royalty and emotion. Overall this is a brilliant piece of music with the ability to drive commercial chart success too.. but maybe not that much in International markets.

Shivam Pathak leads the vocals of Ek Dil Ek Jaan next. A soulful but powerful love qawalli ballad that is totally a Bhansali specialty as well. Pathak’s vocals are the focal point of the song and his delivery is exquisite! The classical range he showcases and the control is just an amazing experience to listen to. The lyrics by Turaz are super evocative and deep as well that give Pathak a lot of room for expression. They are very well written and the flow into ballad and qawalli and back is very nicely done. Kunal Pandit, Farhan Sabri & Mujtaba Aziz Naza are really good on the qawalli section as well. Musically the song is left clean on purpose to let the vocals and lyrics stay in focus but Bhansali’s arrangement is great as always for songs in this genre. Overall this is a sure shot hit in the love genre and is equally a musical treat to listen.

Pathak goes from a love ballad with Rajasthani Hindustani music feel to an upbeat Middle Eastern music vibe with Khalibali. The song is energetic and features strong Arabic percussions like Daf and Hajir leading the instrumentation. The use of Oud and Kanun is really refreshing to hear and puts one right into the middle eastern music setting but the arrangement sounds like many others heard before for an intense character building song.. in this case defining Ranveer Singh’s love crazed king. Pathak gives the vocals a lot of personality to go with the character but he clearly sounds better on the earlier love ballad. Lyrics by Turaz are quite mediocre and don’t have anything special about them. An average song overall.

Siddharth-Garima pen Nainowale Ne next while Neeti Mohan leads the vocals of this sexy love song. The music is a clever mashup of urban beat with Hindustani classical that makes this song very current with an old skool setting. The composition is simple but effective and is feather light on the ears. The use of rain and bird sounds with sitar is very smart work by Bhansali demonstrating his musical brilliance. Mohan sounds sexy and innocent at the same time with good classical control over the song. There is not much range to her vocals but they sound good. Lyrics are in the language representative of the time and thus a little complex for average listeners. They flow nicely and have strong expression quality to them. Overall a very good short song worth a listen.

Holi (Manganiyars & Langa’s Folk Song) is a classical folk song that Richa Sharma totally rocks with her vocal brilliance. Her vocal purity and control is worth a listen for any classical singer to learn from. Every note sounds perfect and the depth in her voice is something else altogether! Shail Hada is fantastic on the background vocals as well. Bhansali’s classical instrumentation layered with exotic tabla, harmonium, sitar and ghungru is just really nice to listen to and set the perfect scene for a traditional Holi celebration. As a background song this is far from being a commercial song but it’s brilliant to listen to thanks to the vocals.

Binte Dil features the voice of Arijit Singh as he takes on an Arabic-Turkish composition. The musicality and overall sound is very well balanced between the music and vocals on this song giving Singh a chance to shine on a style he has never attempted before. His execution is quite measured and actually sounds like a Turkish orator. Turaz has penned very strong Arabic lyrics here that are hard to interpret but Singh goes deep into it and gets his pronunciations right. The music is quite simple and loopy but the styling is very good and believable for a song that would be perhaps pictured on Ranveer Singh’s character when he is desperate to get a glimpse of the queen Padmavati. As a background song this works but not standalone even with its unique style and genre.

FINAL WORD

Bhansali creates yet another musical masterpiece with the music of ‘Padmaavat’ that is drenched deep into the feel and times of the setting of his film. He is precise with the sound that has depth, grandeur and class to it. He executes his instrumentation perfectly on all songs be it the Rajasthani Hindustani classical songs or the Arabic-Turkish flavored songs although the two middle eastern songs are not that great. Every singer is brilliant with Sharma, Ghoshal and Pathak stealing the show. As expected the album is best with love songs as Bhansali is all about deep and moving love stories. Ek Dil Ek Jaan and Nainowale Ne are best romantic songs while Ghoomar is a great lead song and Holi is a well delivered festive song. This album is not for everyone’s taste especially if classical music styling is not one prefers to listen to. The soundtrack is also not extensive as his previous albums and his formula is quite typical as heard before. But the musical knowledge and effort behind putting it together cannot be faulted making some of its songs worth adding to the music collection.

BizAsiaLive.com Rating – 8.5/10

 

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

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