Meghna Gulzar is ready with her next directorial work in the form of ‘Raazi’ (2018) starring Alia Bhatt in a very powerful and patriotic leading role. Adapted from novel ‘Calling Sehmat’, the film is based around the India – Pakistan war of 1971 post which Bangladesh came into existence. Playing the central role is the hugely talented Alia Bhatt trying a different role of this kind rather early in her career. But going by her record of tackling brave characters like ‘Udta Punjab’ (2016) or ‘Dear Zindagi’ (2016), ‘Raazi’ could add another feather to her cap as an Indian spy married to a Pakistani soldier. Music has never been a strong point of a Meghna Gulzar film and more so for a film of such a topic doesn’t seem to be playing an important role. Nonetheless, the team of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy has been roped in along with Gulzar saab penning the lyrics for his daughter.
Arijit Singh opens the album with a powerful and deeply emotional Ae Watan. The lyrics are hugely patriotic as one would expect and capture the most common emotions of a patriotic song that have been heard many times before.. but not in Singh’s voice. This is perhaps the first pure patriotic song the leading voice of romantic songs has done. The depth of his voice and range deliver very well for the arrangement of this song and is thus very moving. The progression of the song is very intense and musically drives the emotion deep down to goose bumps although there is nothing massively original about it in this genre. The lyrics are rather very limited and repetitive with just a couple of 2 line verses. The real highlight of the song is the progressive tempo and melody that Singh’s voice brings to it.
Dilbaro is a beautiful soft wedding song that’s become quite rare in the wedding party songs era. The song really grows on one with its soothing textures and simplistic but intricate instrumentation. The strong Kashmiri influence on the opening lyrics and chorus plus with the use of Rabab is really heartwarming to hear. The emotional lyrics and the very careful moments picked by Gulzar saab from the moment of bidaai in an Indian wedding ceremonies is just amazing to listen to. Harshdeep Kaur is the real star of the song with her emotional vocals and makes one believe she is actually going through that in the moment. Vibha Saraf does a fab job with the supporting vocals and the Kashmiri lyrics. Shankar Mahadevan delivers a surprise short vocal towards the end playing the father giving his daughter away and is a pleasant addition to the song to say the least. Great song overall!
Singh gets back on the mic for the title song Raazi where Gulzar finally gets into his element. His use of deep thoughts and complicated words gives away the song to be a classic Gulzar song right away. His writing with short 3 – 4 words each and rhyming all the way with a repetitive chorus is simply some brilliant piece of work. What is even better is the composition of the song. The continuation of the melody from one line to the next and the stretched emphasis on each word gives an entirely different treatment to this song. There are drops, highs and lows constantly keeping this song interesting to listen to. The use of strings including guitar, Bouzouki & Mandolin for background melodies is extremely smart as well. The combined work of the lyrics and music on this song is really effective and delivers an elevating musical experience. To top it all is the vocal range that Singh delivers on this song pretty much kills it. His sufi – qawalli vocal treatment is something worth hearing on a repeat. This song not for the masses but is nothing short of genius on all fronts!
Sunidhi Chauhan delivers her version of Ae Watan (Female) which seems rather true to the character and so is a lot more relatable. It has the innocence of the character but also the determination of Chauhan’s powerful voice. Her delivery is strong with an added emotional layer thanks to the school chorus. The lyrics are different from the original but nothing spectacular. The composition is exactly the same but with different instrumentation that is quite basic and average. Overall this song is nothing exciting and seems like the song Gulzar would have written as one has just been split to create two songs.
The music of ‘Raazi’ is situational and true to its theme and story. The album lands up sounding like a patriotic album rather than a film score which could be a testament of its focus on keeping the music rooted in the script or a testament to lack to creativity. It would just be how one looks at it and it is more of the former to be completely honest. Gulzar delivers good lyrics overall guided by his daughter. His work on the title song Raazi and Dilbaro is worth a listen. The music of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is quite melodic for a serious themed soundtrack as this one. The use of Kashmiri instruments is very refreshing to hear and carefully composed around the lyrics and vocals of each song. Vocally this is quite a strong album with Arijit Singh trying something new going away from his romantic side of music with two patriotic songs including Raazi and Ae Watan. Harshdeep Kaur delivers a heartwarming vocal too with Dilbaro. Overall there is lack of variety in genres in this album but for obvious reasons. It personifies the patriotic genre which has not been heard in the longest time in Bollywood. With just 4 songs there is not enough music to call this an album and stand out.
BizAsiaLive.com Rating – 6.5/10
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.