Music Review: ‘Phillauri’

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Anushka Sharma and brother Karnesh made their debut as producers with ‘NH10’ (2015) with a low-key and measured investment, but on a really good film project. It was an intense drama with a good message to go with that film created a mark with critics and national film awards. Now back with their second film ‘Phillauri’, the productions seem to have got bigger and the genre gone a lot more mainstream Bollywood for this film with comedy and romance being the principal theme. Although going by the trailers there is a lot of anticipation about the uniqueness of this project. It’s all down to director Anshai Lal making his debut with this movie as a lead director to make a success of this movie starring Diljit Dosanjh in the lead with Sharma. Another name making a debut on this film is music director Shashwat Sachdev along with musical prodigy Jasleen Royal who would be an obvious choice considering the Punjabi setting of the film.

Starting off with a folkish romantic song Dum Dum the village setting of the film is setup with some really neatly recorded classical instruments. With a simple dholki taking the lead with a mix of plucked strings, bass guitar, keyboard and rhythm programming there is beauty of simplicity in this composition. Sachdev has arranged this song in a way that allows singers Romy and Vivek Hariharan to be at the clear focal point of this song. The vocals have a deep amount of purity to them with a range that is not heard being maintained throughout with such precision. The authenticity of the vocal texture is brilliant to set the scene for this song. Lyrics by Dutt show her real forte with writing excellent romantic songs. There is a strong classical touch to this song and an essence of freedom through love in the lyrics that is very refreshing to hear. It is not powerful enough to be a lead commercial song but it sure is a good listen.

Jasleen Royal takes centre stage with her music and vocals along with Mika by her side on Whats Up. A fun Punjabi number that is all about wedding celebrations, there is a decent amount of energy in this song with tons of musical excitement. To start with Mika has his usual energy in his vocals that combined with a cool dhol beat and brass band chorus creates a good entertaining atmosphere in this song. The programming of the instruments is well done by Royal and she re-establishes herself as the talent doing the best work in the Delhi-style wedding songs category. Shockingly she fails to impress on her own vocals. It’s clearly not the style of song that suits her vocal style as such but luckily there are not many lines for her. Lyrics by Aditya Sharma are average as such but they work well with the pacey instrumentation of this song. It’s not the best wedding song work in recent times.

Naughty Billo is by far the most popular song on the album with its complete dance & celebration packaging. The song comes packed with all the commercial elements that can be added to a song to make it a superhit. Part Punjabi lyrics, sung by Bhangra superstar Diljit Dosanjh, club beats, an interesting rap by Anushka Sharma herself, catchy punch phrases and strong melody makes this the biggest song to hit the Bollywood party season so far in 2017. Sachdev has programmed this song really well with some great bass guitar work, synths and duff dhol beats combined by rhythm pad beats. It is retro and modern at the same time and thus fits in perfectly in the era of revival remakes… but only difference is that this is completely original and a good one at it. Dutt has penned the chorus in a simple but catchy way that will really define the success of this song. Nakash Aziz & Shilpi Paul support well on the vocals but Dosanjh is the real hit maker here and this song is very well composed by Sachdev to make it work like a charm in clubs or wedding parties or simply anywhere at all.

Romy takes on his second song and perhaps the most beautiful song on the album next. Sahiba is sensational in its melody and how soothing its arrangement it. It has that deep romantic texture to it but also that purity of prayer to it. Sachdev merges romantic soul with kirtan style with classical folk and with even some soft acoustic jazz to make this a very unique song that is simply pleasurable to hear. Although it sounds simple there is clearly a large orchestra at work here as there is a huge amount of depth in the music in this song. Romy’s vocals are terrific and immensely well controlled to give the song that crude rural touch. Female lead by Pavni Pandey is very well delivered too along with a supporting vocal bridge by Sachdev himself. Lyrics are perhaps one of the best parts of the song as well and Dutt gives it that iconic quality that will make it stand the test of time with its defining feelings of love. This is a legendry piece of work that could be the background of a story like Heera-Ranjha and is a must listen.

Bajaake Tumba is a fun and peppy Punjabi number that has a casual and light treatment that is quite enjoyable to listen to. Romy leads the vocals here too with Shehnaz Akhtar and Sachdev supporting along. Seeing a different side of his vocals with this a little more upbeat with cheeky vocal delivery is quite well done. The man sure has calibre and a brilliant range to his vocals. Dutt does a great job on the cute lyrics here as the story telling format of the song is quite engaging and keeps one hooked on. The use of typical vocal hooks is very well done and makes the song quite memorable. Dhol & sarangi lead the instruments here and are very well programmed. The arrangement is very traditional but has some very interesting notes on various instruments that are refreshing and unlike any others heard before. The song is short and gets into a very high tempo towards the end which takes the fun to the next level.

Jasleen Royal delivers her second song on the album in the shape of Din Shagna Da which is more up her alley and matches her music style. A soft wedding song, it has the warmth and mixed emotions that a wedding situation has with the celebration of new bonds and also the sorrow of leaving past relations behind. The composition is rather strange though going from a modern piano to a traditional violin and dholkis and then back to jazz guitar solos followed by soft rock arrangement. Not sure if these stark mix of genres really works on the arrangement. Royal’s vocals are very soothing to listen to and have the comfort factor to them with a lot of emotions & innocence in them. Lyrics by Neeraj Rajawat are perhaps the best part of the song with a good flow and emotive aspects to them. The song is quite average overall but should work well in wedding mehndi parties.

Dum Dum (Punjabi Version) takes the original in a completely different direction from the original opening song of the album. With completely Punjabi lyrics by Shelle, this version has a lot more soul and folk factor going for it. The original melody has been retained but the new lyrics exude a different life into the song that even force Sachdev to change the arrangement of the song and instrumentation quite a bit. It has a more natural crescendo that gives a build up to the song with a faster climax at the end. Romy does a fantastic job on the purely authentic vocals with Vivek Hariharan. He sounds more comfortable here doing Punjabi considering his vocal texture. But of course this is not a commercial song and is more situational as a background track in the film.

Diljit Dosanjh takes on the song with Dum Dum (Reprise) with the original lyrics by Dutt. The composition is a lot more modern in the instrumentation but the arrangement is that of the original which gives it a rather different vibe altogether. The music now has a little more intensity and design for a film climax that makes one imagine this is heading to a high finish point in the music. The sitar solo at the end and the use of plucked strings throughout is quite amazing. Dosanjh does a fabulous job with the song. His commercial charisma but with that Punjabi dialect vocal texture fits in nicely with this romantic song.

FINAL WORD
The music of ‘Phillauri’ defines the strong influence of Punjabi music in Bollywood. The album follows the Punjabi setting and theme consistently throughout the album and is perfect for the Vaisakhi season around the corner. The album has a strong mix of commercial and folk music that is balanced very well for a first time music director Shashwat Sachdev. The man surely has talent and knows his traditional classical music very well so that he is able to uplift it and make it fitting for a commercial film soundtrack. There is romance, party, fun and sadness all wrapped in well in a fulfilling album with eight songs that has something for everyone. Jasleen Royal doesn’t deliver her best work here but leaves a mark with Whats Up and Din Shagna Da. Anvita Dutt is consistent with her lyrics throughout but Shelle impresses the most with one pure Punjabi song lyrics. Diljit Dosanjh is his usual best but Romy is the voice of the album and creates a very strong impression with his fantastic range and folk vocal texture. Sahiba, Naughty Billo, Dum Dum (Reprise) are the best songs on the album. But there is no bad song on the album but with some excellent ones as well making this an overall above average OST.

BizAsiaLive.com  Rating – 7.5/10

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