Music Review: ‘Thugs of Hindostan’

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‘Dhoom’ man Vijay Krishna Acharya has been missing in action for 5 years since ‘Dhoom 3’ (2013) working on what is said to be the most expensive Bollywood film ever! His big Diwali release ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ (2018) is here starring Bollywood super giants Amitabh Bachchan & Aamir Khan with Katrina Kaif & Fatima Sana Shaikh under the Yash Raj Films banner. With the major scale of graphics and top league actors is this period epic action drama there is additional scope for some great music to make this Bollywood film a major magnum-opus. Ajay-Atul are in-charge of the music of this film with the amazing Amitabh Bhattacharya delivering the lyrics of this what looks to be a sensational movie set in the 1700s India. One would expect the music of the movie to be extraordinaire going by the scale of the trailers.

The album opens with Vashmalle that is a fun & celebratory joyful number that sees two of the greatest voices of Bollywood playback come together just the way the video sees two of the greatest actors come together on screen. Sukhwinder Singh & Vishal Dadlani voice Aamir Khan & Big B with some stunning vocal personality. They have some amazing depth with tons of personality to their performance. It’s not easy to sing a song penned by Bhattacharya that too in a period setting and both these gents deliver some top class vocal capability with good control & range. The lyrics are complex as one would expect from a Bhattacharya song who goes deep into the setting of the song. His research comes through strongly in all his word references of the period. The title Vashmalle itself is a word that needs one heading for the Hindi dictionary app but the flow of the song is quite catchy which works well thanks to the composition of Ajay-Atul. The orchestration of this song is true to the scale of this film. Grandeur comes through the instrumentation quite clearly with nagada drums, bugles leading a pact of pretty much every instrument that one can think off must have existed in the 18th century. This must have taken considerable amount of research and some really good arrangement work coupled with super recording techniques as the instruments are really well balanced. This is not a commercially viable song as such but it sure deserves a standing ovation as it s a master class in musical arrangement & traditional orchestration.

Suraiyya is a dated item number that lets leading lady Kaif showcase her dance moves to a blend of Indian classical and English Jazz. The song’s setting is a party for the English troops with the entertainment provided by the gorgeous Kaif in a tease with leading man Khan. The musical balance between the Indian & English instrumentation makes this song quite unique as the song flows from drums & bongos to dholki quite effortlessly while going from trumpets & deep bass to sarangi & harmonium with some ease. The progression of the song is quite interesting as it goes from pace to pace keeping a good danceable momentum. Shreya Ghoshal & Dadlani lead the vocals with some good amount of attitude as one would expect in a performance-based song. Ghoshal has that sweet innocence in her voice which is classically balanced but is delivering an item number which makes her vocal worth a listen here. Bhattacharya keeps the lyrics light and ease to sing along with especially the chorus. There is a good amount of variation for the parts of the male lead, female lead and the chorus for all to bob along to giving the song some exciting moments to listen to. This is easily the best lead song the album that even works well commercially.

Vocal performances are stern with determination but emotional with good range. This is a decent number no doubt but clearly not a song to listen to outside the films thematic setting.

Sunidhi Chauhan joins in with Ghoshal & Singh to expand the voice portfolio of this album on Manzoor-e-Khuda which is an intensely dramatic situational song. This is a serious song about the very essence of the story of the Thugs going against the East India company and is partly a song inviting blessings before a major standoff in the film. The music is representative of the drama and has a high pitched crescendo to the song. It has strong instrumentation similar to Vashmalle with heavy varied number of drums, violins leading a huge orchestra. The orchestration is intricate and there is a huge amount of excellent music being played on this song. The arrangement is the real star of the song as there is a good mix of slow to fast ends of the song with a stunning musical bridge played with a mix of traditional drums in jugalbandi. Bhattacharya’s lyrics are decent and summarise the situation well for one to know what is coming through in the film but it’s nothing extraordinary and land up sounding like many songs in this category. Vocal performances are stern with determination but emotional with good range. This is a decent number no doubt but clearly not a song to listen to outside the films thematic setting.

Finally Lori sees the legend senior Bachchan get on the mic for a short but really nice lori. His deep voice gives this song a brilliant effect that a lori needs and even with no music and the entire focus on his voice he is able to deliver it like a pro. The age can be heard in his voice and that adds more warmth to the song making it even more perfect as a lori. Ajay-Atul keep the background simple with just a violin ensemble for strong dramatic effect which works well. There is not much meat to the lyrics with just a few lines in this song but overall this is a good listen simply for the Bachchan star value.

FINAL WORD

The soundtrack of ‘Thugs of Hindostan’ is not a music album as one would expect from a massive commercial Bollywood film. Rather the music unexpectedly stays away from all the cliché using songs that are purely situational and have a role to play in the film. This approach is surely credible and mature but perhaps won’t do any favours to drawing music hungry audiences to the cinemas. This is also starkly different to director Acharya’s previous works where music has always been a leading aspect of the movies. Nonetheless the four songs on the album are quality songs that are well researched, well executed and well performed on all fronts. Kudos to Ajay-Atul for ensuring the setting of each song is representative of the film’s era and hugely massive in sound at the same time. Their arrangement and orchestration on each song is worth a listen. Amithabh Bhattacharya does a cracking job once again with some terrific work particularly on Suraiyya & Vashmalle. The vocal talent on the album is of the top order with Shreya Ghoshal, Vishal Dadlani and Sukhwinder Singh leading the main three voices with some terrific flair. Hearing Big B solo on Lori is quite a thing as well. Suraiyya & Vashmalle are totally worth a listen but the album lacks commercial value and is too grounded in the period sound. Except Suraiyya the other songs don’t have the lifespan to sustain beyond the life of the film on screen which is a tad disappointing as it feels like a big opportunity lost for a magnum-opus movie.

 

BizAsiaLive.com Rating – 3/5

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