Music Review: ‘Panipat’

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The soundtrack of ‘Panipat’ is elaborate musically just like the visual vastness of the film. But with just three songs the album seems rather incomplete and bare bones. The album seems more like the background score of the film rather than a music album on its own.

BizAsia Rating

2.5

After a disaster of a ‘Mohenjo Daro’ (2016) there is a lot riding on the forthcoming movie ‘Panipat’ for director Ashutosh Gowariker. He is back in his comfort zone with magnum opus historic costume films with this one as they recreate the 18th century battle of Panipat as the Afghan King decides to evade India to shake up the Maratha rule. The film has an exciting star cast of Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Padmini Kolhapure, Mohnish Bahl and Kunal Kapoor to name a few with the royal look of Dutt and Kapoor really suiting them well. Leaving his last film aside, Gowariker has always delivered stunning music in his films. For this one the legend of Javed Akhtar is back on the lyrics collaborating with the music duo Ajay Atul. He has had a great year going to Oscars with ‘Gully Boy’ (2019) and his work on this historic war film will be worth a listen while Ajay Atul are expected to deliver a grand album here.

The first single Mard Maratha gives a good insight into the film with the video showcasing the grandeur of the production with its massive sets, costumes, colours and a massive number of artists.. some things that Gowariker always delivers well on. The video feature almost the entire Maratha cast in this song and it is almost a role setting song as one gets to see everyone as to where they fit in. A big line up of singers including Ajay Atul themselves with Sudesh Bhosle, Kunal Ganjawala, Swapnil Bandodkar, Padmanabh Gaikwad, Priyanka Barve deliver voices to the various actors in this song. No singer actually stands out being a community chorus song but they all do a decent job. The large orchestra uses a number of traditional Marathi instruments like lezim, manjeeras, dholki and big Maratha nagadas. The music is recorded to a modern touch which doesn’t give a lot of depth to the sound as it relies a lot on deep bass and trumpets for depth in the song. Nonetheless the music is well arranged with its highs and lows in a composition which sounds rather familiar. The lyrics are nicely put together as there is pride and a war cry in it while a stanza also breaks into romance then coming back to aggression and Maratha pride. Overall this first single has all the elements of what is expected from a big war cry song while staying true to its historic musical roots. The composition is just a little too common for liking and feels quite clichéd. 3.5/5

Ganjawala leads the vocals of yet another war song but with a devotional touch. Called Mann Mein Shiva is a powerful and loud song with lot of energy and some great classical folk Marathi instrumentation mixed in the modern studio styling. The strong percussions and bugles lead the music announcing the war victory as the full cast give thanks to the Gods for the win. The song has a wholesome sound that is very well recorded and Ajay-Atul do a phenomenal job in conducting the various instruments and then delicately balancing them in the sound mix. The lyrical melody is catchy and a few listens is good enough for it to be stuck in the head with the catch line quite difficult to forget. With a strong chorus the lyrics are good but not great. Vocally Ganjawala is better in this song compared to the earlier one but still not too impressive across all the singers including Deepanshi Nagar and Gaikwad. Visually the song is great once again thanks to terrific art direction and costumes while it also features some classical choreography with Sanon and the crew. A decent song overall setting the stage further for an epic Gowarikar film in the cinemas soon. 3.5/5

The final song of the album Sapna Hai Sach Hai is a sad romantic ballad with a touch of high musical drama. The orchestration is quite elaborate but delicate at the same time. There is a lot of depth in the violins ensemble and that really creates a stunning aural expanse that Ajay-Atul manage to fit a lot of instruments and compositional nuances into. The classical touches further add character to the song and brings it closer to the film’s setting. The vocals by Abhay Jodhpurkar and Shreya Ghoshal have a big range but seem inconsistent in parts and rather flat emotionally. Considering this is a big number perhaps it would be easier to connect with the vocals when the visual of the film goes with it. At the moment it seems lost within the expansive musical setup of the song. The lyrics are quite average and not the best work of Akhtar as a romantic song but put it in the 18th century setting and it works better with the choice of his language. The flow of the song in lyrics doesn’t click instantly which is a big drawback of the song. Nonetheless hats off to the music duo for arranging this song and recording it to perfection with what sounds like a huge orchestra. 3/5

FINAL WORD

The soundtrack of ‘Panipat’ is elaborate musically just like the visual vastness of the film. But with just three songs the album seems rather incomplete and bare bones. The album seems more like the background score of the film rather than a music album on its own. But there is due credit to the combined work of Ashutosh Gowarikar and Ajay-Atul for delivering a soundtrack relevant to the setting of the film with strong classical Marathi music values to it. The recording and production of the three songs is top notch with fine orchestration but the appeal of the songs and lyrics make them perfect for the situational setting of the song but not standalone listening. Mard Maratha, Sapna Hai Sach Hai and Mann Mein Shiva are all well conducted musically and visualized on screen. The lyrics are not the best work of Javed Akhtar while vocally except Kunal Ganjawala no one really stands out. One can enjoy the music of ‘Panipat’ while watching the film but beyond that this would have a niche limited audience listening to it.

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

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