Suno – Shilpa rao (Review + Artist credits)

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SunoAnkhiyan Udeek – Accompanied by understated beats and an excellent israj by Arshad khan, this track is nothing like its countless re-imaginations by other Indian artists. Rao sounds comfortable (when has a difficult song troubled her anyway?). There is something in her voice that sticks in your head and if you couple that with excellent arrangement, you will get a song like this. By all means, superb!

Aaj Latha naiyo has an unplugged relaxing feel to it because the arrangement is minimal. This traditional song has been re-imagined by various artists with the most recent effort that comes to mind being Javed bashir’s at coke studio Pakistan by Rohail hyatt. While that version was marked with characteristic alaaps and harkats of Bashir, this effort by Shilpa disarms you with its luallaby-sque charm and beethoven-sque sound.

Ankhiyan Nu – has traditionally been a soft composition that played up the seriousness with words and not aggressive music arrangement. In this album though, the start is a bit hurried although the antras are done very well, and yes one stanza which is chosen isn’t the one you hear normally. I would have of course liked a bit of pause in the composition.

Duma Dum – The thing with classics like Duma dum is that they have been presented to us so many times already and if your effort isn’t superlative (arrangement or singing wise), even the ‘good’ versions don’t cut much ice. With constant beat and free flowing violin by Sharat chandra Srivastava, the track tries but doesn’t wow you, because there is nothing, well ‘wow’ about it. Towards the end, the track takes a bit of soulful turn which doesn’t sit in well with the overall vibe of the song as it is.

Aaye Na Balam –  After listening to Shilpa’s version of ‘Wo jo hum mein tum mein qaraar tha’ in maestro studio sessions (review here) I was looking forward to what she has done with this age old gem. It would suffice to say that as much as we should praise Shilpa’s singing, we must absolutely be grateful  to the arrangement of the song. This is exactly how a classic of this stature should be re imagined.  The israj is breathtakingly beautiful and the bass with guitars is just apt. I cannot write enough good things about the way this song ends, it just took my breath away.  For me, the song of the album!

Challa –  Shellee has penned this song and the kickass start of the song really sets the mood just right. I must admit the singing of Rao came across a bit bland and didn’t have the much needed ‘attitude’ (I know! I am not a fan of the word either but you get my point), that the song so richly deserves. Towards the end of the song, I actually thought Rao is going to fuse ‘tere ishq nachaya kar thaiyya thaiyya’! Having said that, what works is the delightful arrangement (yet again!) especially those guitars and violin!

A good album by all means. Of course, most of the songs in the album are in Punjabi, so the uptake from non speakers of the language might be an issue, but these are such timeless compositions that anyone who is a little curious would be lucky to try this album.

The tagline of the album reads ‘My love for the legends..’

In my view,  with a presentation like this, which is devoid of any drama and forced loudness, these legends would be so proud of the album. A glorious album that is worth a buy.

You can (And should!) buy the album here

Artist credits

Guitars by – Bhanu Mendiratta & Pranai Gurung (Latha)

Bass – Sajal Sharma

Keys – Anil Chawla

Drums – Abhijit Sood

Israj – Arshad Khan

Violin – Sharat Chandra Srivastava

Mixed by – Gaurav Chintamani and Sidhant Mathur at Quarter Note Studio, New Delhi

Mastering done by – Ted Jenson ad Sterling Sound, New York

Lyrics by – Shellee (Challa)

Other Lyrics – Traditional

Music review – Waiting

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It is such a relief to come across music albums which are comfortable in their skin and are just not bothered about sounding ‘too contemporary’ as compared to other ‘film albums’ we come across. There are some really good people out there who know it too well that appealing to everyone isn’t going to work so why even try? 3 out of 4 songs from this album tell us exactly this.

Take Tu hai to main hu for example. Sung by Anushka Manchanda and Nikhil D’souza with a niceness that you associate with accommodating friends and good people who make their point without an iota of ‘drama’. It is composed so beautifully by Mike Mccleary that it almost  made me reach out to my phone to call and thank him for giving us this song. Talking of Mccleary, you must surely check him out in Got my eyes on you. The flirtatious vibe of 1970s along with Mccleary‘s who is all Pizzazz, you would probably start twisting wherever you listen to this. I would be so disappointed if we don’t see an Elvis impersonator with shining suit and contrasting (yet shiny!) shoes in this song.

Waiting for you has a helplessness and innocence that you associate with little kids when they ask you for the first time whether the ‘syringe’ will hurt? They know it will, yet they want us to tell them it won’t. Anushka has quietly dissolved her vocals in the background as Mccleary takes the lead, much in the same way Nikhil has done in Tu hai to main hu and that lends a beautiful sound to the song, unlike any other song you would have heard in a while. I think there was a faint sarod in the song as well towards the end.

The only song that woke me up from the spell the other 3 songs had cast on me is Zara zara and it is not because the arrangement or the singing is bad. in fact, Kavita seth and Vishal sound absolutely at ease. The lyrics of the song leave much to be desired and actually make you cringe at times.

3 out of 4 songs from this album make the cut and that is a damn good percentage! Mike Mccleary is much more than someone who makes ‘English type’ songs. He has a distinctive sound and it is time for the ‘gyaani’ mainstream people to fuse his sound with good lyrics. The effect of that would be something to look forward to

And I assure you, I am ‘waiting’ for it.

Superb album!

You can listen to the album here


Sarbjit – Music review

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This review first appeared on Quint – http://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/05/04/music-review-sarbjit-aishwarya-rai-randeep-hooda-richa-chadda-arijit-singh-amaal-malik

You can also listen to my music review of Sarbjit on B.B.C. here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/05/160513_bbc_music_review_vm.shtml

The makers of Sarbjit have a solid subject and a star at the helm to make it a substantial film, however they decided to take things up a notch by adding music that tries too hard to be grand and reflective. Here’s a review of the music of Sarbjit starring Aishwarya Rai, Randeep Hooda and Richa Chadda.

Salamat has a beautiful beginning and its tonal structure is that of a typical 90s love song. What stands out though is the pace and arrangement of the song. Arijit Singh and Tulsi Kumar sound comfortable and that’s always nice.

In Dard, Sonu nigam is at his signature best. The tune doesn’t challenge him enough, yet he is not complacent at all. It’s a treat to listen to Sonu singing a sad song and this song albeit not a classic, will certainly not harm your ears.

Tung Lak is a high voltage composition. In spite of the earthy treatment and unprocessed sound, the song doesn’t have durability stamped to it and that could be due to its lyrics. Sunidhi Chauhan, Sukhwinder Singh, Shail Hada & Kalpana Gandharva try hard though but it comes across as a patchy effort at best.

Rabba by Shafqat Amanat Ali sounds hurried and in spite of the vocal depth of Shafqat, you do get a feeling that things could have been a bit slow. The overall sound is cluttered and that’s it.

Meherbaan starts off giving the impression of being a typical filmi qawwali and tries a lot to sound a little different. Having said that, you can actually feel the excessive effort put in by Sukhwinder Singh, Shail Hada & Munnawar Masoom for the song. Meherbaan weighs you down and would perhaps be redeemed on screen because you cannot listen to this on repeat.

In Barsan Lagi although at places Shail Hada does fall short in antras, the overall vibe of the song is beautiful and you will certainly smile at the call of rain that feels like a call for freedom. It is a beautiful song especially the ‘aaj malang nu’ part which actually makes your heart soar.

Allah Hu Allah also sounds cluttered and derivative. It might be composed with good intentions but you get tired barely 1.45 mins into the song and want it to end. Altamash, Shashaa Tirupati & Rabbani Mustafa certainly deserved a better tune to deliver what they are capable of.

Mera Junoon is perhaps the most layered composition of the album. Shail Hada sounds solid yet vulnerable. At his disposal are excellent lyrics and a somewhat neat arrangement and all this comes together rather wonderfully well.

Nindiya not that we are against the million songs of Arijit that have made their way to our ears off late, we do feel the sameness of presentation over a period of time robs subsequent songs of their intended character.  Nindiya wants to be a memorable song but in spite of good lyrics, you will fall asleep at the dullness of the presentation.

Sarbjit is hauntingly composed, the theme gets its ‘hmm, hooo and aaaa’ from Shail Hada. The tune is helped with ample violins and cello which create a resonating echo of gloom and is actually a good effort.

The entire album tries too hard to be serious which is because of the subject of the film. However, not a single song stands out as the one you would end up humming by the time you get through the album. The effort is really good but I would have certainly liked some more investment in melody.

Rating: 2.5 Quints

Azhar – Music review

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Forgot to add to the blog, so pasting the link to my music review of Azhar, which was my 99th review for B.B.C.



Dear Dad – Music review and artist credits

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You can listen to the review of the album here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/04/160429_bbc_music_review_vm.shtml

Music credits for the album

Song-1 ” Chota hoon main”

Music Composed by – Ujjwal kashyap

Singer – Jasleen kaur royal

Lyrics  – Neeraj rajawat

Arranged & Produced by – Ujjwal kashyap.

Harmonica – Jasleen kaur royal

Guitars – Ujjwal kashyap

Recorded by Ikramuddin lochoor at Studio Skull

Mixed by Ujjwal kashyap

Mastered by Ikramuddin lochoor

Song-2  “Girha”

Singer: Ali Noor

Lyrics: Deepak Ramola

Cello: Jacob R Charkey

Additional Vocals: Meghana Bhogle, Rini Chandra, SamIir S, Vea Kumar, Rashi Hemkar, Abhirup Das, Vikram Patkar

Mixed by Anish Gohil at Songbird Studios, Mumbai

Asst Engineer: Hemant Khedekar

Mastered  by: Nick Watson at Fluid Mastering, London, UK

Music and composition by Raghav & Arjun

 Song-3 “Jo Bhi Ho”

Singers: Arjun Prem Sangeet, Raghav M Kumar

Lyrics: Deepak Ramola

Guitars: Krishna Pradhan

Cello: Jacob R Charkey

Additional Drums: Akshat Shinde

Mixed by Anish Gohil at Songbird Studios, Mumbai

Asst Engineer: Hemant Khedekar

Mastered  by: Robin Schmidt at 24-96 Mastering, Karlsruhe, Germany

Music composed & produced by: Raghav & Arjun

Baaghi – Music review

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You can hear my music review of Baaghi here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/04/160422_bbc_musicreview_vm

The good news is – the album doesn’t sound over processed and you can actually hear singers singing without autotune most of the time

The not so good – melody missing, needed a bit more effort from all the artists involved

Nil Battey Sannata – Music review

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Murabba – Is a pleasant song sung by Neuman pinto. Penned superbly by Manoj yadav, the song has a delicate sound yet the point where the song takes a flight doesn’t bother the ears. Easily one of the best songs of this year. Mad props to Rohan and Vinayak for keeping the sound so adorable.

Rohan and Aarti have sung a song that is really close to my heart. Maths Mein Dabba Gul is my life story in 4 words. The composition is playful and linear but doesn’t bore you. Yet again, the lyrics are super. Nitesh Tiwari, take a bow for ‘door tujhko jaana hai, kar le tunki full’. Much to the chagrin of office bearers in all institutions, I hope (and secretly pray) this song becomes an anthem for those who are like me. Zero in maths. Zero or negative? Ah! I don’t care!

Maula is sung by the ever so dependable Nandini Srikar and in spite of having excellent string section and solid singing, I couldn’t feel the pain of the song. May be it is because of the way the song is composed. I wish the composers would have given a bit more real estate for the tune to go out and play.

Maa – has got Mohan kannan behind the mic and aided with a splendid arrangement, he does an average job at best. There is an excellent sound to the composition and that is because a superb instrument that has been very wisely used in a song of this genre for the first time. Hear it to find it out yourself. There is another version of the same song sung by Hariharan. Since the arrangement and mood is identical in both the versions, hariharan’s version scores over Mohan’s, sounding more pucca and heartfelt. I know It is borderline blasphemy to say this but probably the most ordinary lyrics were allotted to this song in the album.

Maa Theme (Instrumental) sounds very nice because the tune isn’t as bad as the ordinary lyrics would have lead you to believe. Clearly, this tune would be used to get your handkerchief out in the film, A filmy piece but sounds nice thanks to excellent strings.  

May be because there weren’t any lyrics to cross reference to, the Chanda Theme sounds more layered in comparison to the Maa instrumental version. It’s delicate and has a lullaby like charm.

Aided by good lyrics (most of the times), Rohan and Vinayak have really done a good job because there are no hysterics in the album and sound conveys the mood of the film with ease and calm. Sometimes, this is the most difficult thing to do. So take a bow both of you with your team. An excellent album that is worth a buy and a big thumbs up!

The only grouse is (and that is really a reviewer’s rant) – The makers should at least make their albums available to everyone a month before the film releases. Helps in scheduling reviews on multiple platforms. I hope the message reaches to all the makers. (Or at least those who are confident about the music of their project!)

You can hear the music of the album here

Featured image credit – Internet


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