This review first appeared here – http://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/07/08/review-music-mohenjo-daro-ar-rahman-hrithik-roshan-pooja-hegde-ashutosh-gowariker

You can listen to my music review on the B.B.C. website -http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/07/160728_bbc_mr_vm

Ashutosh Gowariker and AR Rahman with a historical drama backdrop between them has all the makings of a delicious music album. This is purely because of the precedence this duo has set when we look at the music of Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar. Let’s dig in song by song to find what’s on offer in their latest – Mohejo Daro.

Mohenjo Mohenjo

Mohenjo Mohenjo is a song that celebrates a lot of things including diversity and peace. Sung by Arijit Singh, Bela Shende and Sanah Moidutty, the song come across like a chronicler of sorts. I wasn’t too taken in by the weak lyrics, the ‘foreign’ sounds and the way the ladies of the song have sung their parts. As a result, to me the song sounds laboured and way too long.

Sindhu Ma

In Sindhu Ma, the lyrics are dumbed down so much that they’ve lost the magic that you associate with a well-penned song. With the elaborate arrangement it enjoys, the song could have been so good but at a couple of places in the beginning itself, software comes in the way of continuity. The good part is, you hear Rahman mature as a singer a bit because the tune is not easy. The bad part, the rest of the song, processing and bad lyrics.

Sarsariya

Sarsariya has a tune that is crisp and provides good real estate to both vocalists to play with and they do so very well. There is a great deal going on in terms of unfamiliar languages and strange sounds which didn’t completely unsettle me, to be honest. Having said that, the ordinary lyrics stuck out like a sore thumb here.

Tu Hai

In what is a better version of Sindhu Ma, we get vintage AR Rahman, the singer, and a promising Sanah Moidutty without any distractions. The flute injects a lot of emotion in the song which is a relief because in a bid to catch the ‘sound of the times’, the placement of strange sounds have otherwise made it difficult to ‘feel’ other songs in the album.

Whispers of the Mind

Whispers of the Mind has some hidden Arabic turns in the tune. A film piece no doubt, the track feels solid thanks to the deep bass effect and not for a minute does the unfamiliar language unsettle the pace of the song.

Whispers of the Heart

Whispers of the Heart  has added female back ups and some excellent albeit subtle variations vis a vis Whispers of the Mind. Don’t be harsh on yourself if you are unable to catch the percussions before they become quite prominent in the track. It ends with the sound of wood crackling in fire. Again, a beautiful atmospheric track.

The Shimmer of Sindhu

Shimmer of Sindhu is an instrumental version of Sindhu Ma and it doesn’t miss a beat in sounding more intimate and beautiful. Compared to the fractured Sindhu Ma, this track is pure gold. That flute and those strings you hear, remind you of all the good songs you have ever heard because this track will place itself right next to them.

Lakh Lakh Thora

What happens when you let a magician like Tapas Roy explore a track? You get a wonderful track like this. What is clearly an instrumental version of Sarsariya, Lakh Kakh Thora sounds like a balm to the soul. Hear how cheekily Naveen’s flute calls out ‘sarsariya’ and concludes the track leaving you craving for more.

All in all, Mohenjo Daro is an album where instrumentals outlast ‘vocal’ attempts purely because the former sound more cohesive and simple, the latter however are obvious attempts at over simplifying everything with a lot of distractions and ordinary lyrics.