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