Udta Punjab – Music review

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Director Abhishek Chaubey teams up with musician Amit Trivedi, a Phantom Films regular, for Udta Punjab. I don’t think I have heard a better title for a film in last couple of years which can rival the coolness of Udta Punjab. Find out if the soundtrack of the film is as cool.

Now, what Amit Trivedi has done in Chitta Ve is use the title smartly but you do get a feeling that too much is happening at once, and I am not even remotely suggesting anything about the rap portion because that is not bad at all. Babu Haabi, Shahid Mallya and Bhanu Pratap try their heart out but are let down by a somewhat clumsy music structure towards the second half of the song. The man who gave us an elaborate orchestral setting in Bombay Velvet seems to like autotune a lot off late. Why autotune? Why? A hummable song that goes awfully wrong towards the end

Da Da Dasse is a song that resembles Nucleya’s Aaja sporadically. Kanika Kapoor shines here and how! A ‘pind pop’ song with Babu Haabi rapping it up, it’s a Babaji ki Booti with slightly more layered arrangement and solid lyrics. We would really like to hear more of Kanika Kapoor in varied genres!

Ikk Kudi comes in two versions. One has the ever-so-impeccable Shahid Mallya and the other one is sung by the talent powerhouse Diljit Dosanjh. Shahid’s version is light music-wise, allowing him more space to improvise. As a result Shahid’s version sounds slightly more intense than Diljit’s. Diljit’s version is fragile and quieter, may be that’s why, in this version the instruments are more intense than they are in Shahid’s. Even though the evergreen poetry of Batalvi might appeal only to those who understand Punjabi, both these versions are absolute gems.

I have always felt Amit Trivedi, the singer, wants to sound like a ‘sanskari’ boy and could never go totally crazy, that was till I heard this song. In what is probably the best song of the album, in Ud-daa Punjab we hear Trivedi going full ‘break your bones and steal your car thereafter’ crazy. Vishal Dadlani, who matches Trivedi’s raw energy at every step is a treat to listen to. After Dhan Te Nan from Kaminey, Vishal has finally sung a song with overflowing swag and zero artificial aggression. Every line of this song is worth a hundred wolf whistles, minimum.

Hass Nach Le sung by Shahid Mallya has its heart at the right place, lyrics-wise. However, the tune tires you out fairly quickly, which is quite a feat because the song has a superb harmonium all throughout. Vadiya has a ‘Scatman’ meets ‘Nucleya’ sound. I am not even protesting the fact that Amit Trivedi has sung one more song. Highly derivative, the song sounds like a keyboard preset tune that is played for 4 minutes with aforementioned reference points. It would probably go down as the weakest song by Amit this year.

Of course we expected much more because it is after all the ‘am’ ‘it’ man at work, but the overall album is a tad underwhelming. Pick this one up for Ikk Kudi, Da Da Dasse and of course Ud-daa Punjab and you won’t be disappointed.

This review first appeared on Quint here

Audio link to my review on B.B.C. here

Music review – Fitoor

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This review appeared first here – http://www.thequint.com/entertainment/2016/01/20/music-review-fitoor-sounds-above-average-at-best

You can listen to the music review here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/01/160129_music_review_vm.shtml

Once the ‘it’ kid on the Bollywood music scene, Amit Trivedi has matured rather well, thanks to some soulful melodies and a refreshing presentation through varied genres. Every project of his is welcomed by music lovers almost the same way they used to wait for a new album by AR Rahman in the 1990s. In Fitoor, he teams up with Swanand Kirkire for lyrics and some of the finest musicians around.

The title song of a film is generally expected to make a strong point for the album as a whole but I am not sure what transpired into assigning a ‘predictable as ever’ tonal treatment to ‘Yeh Fitoor mera’. Arijit sings songs like these by the dozen and there is nothing new here except the use of ‘parvardigara’, which appears to be an attempt to sound ‘serious’ and pucca, because the album is devoid of any ghazal-like composition and the boring back-up vocals towards the end don’t help either. In the end, it sounds like a formularized Arijit song with elaborate arrangement.

With a rich rabaab running around like an excited kid all throughout the song,‘Haminastu’ is perhaps the best composition of the album. Zeb’s enthralling range is on ample display here. Her subtle throaty variations in the song are reminiscent of someone narrating a story with multiple characters and altering the voice for effect.

The contemporary percussion is subtle in ‘Hone do batiyaan’ and what envelops the composition is playful singing by Zeb and Nandini Srikar along with an unmistakeable Kashmiri charm, thanks to the excellent rabaab play. The sheer congruity between the singers is endearing to say the least and effective to put it mildly. Without doubt, the lyrics for both Haminastu and Hone do batiyaan are the best in the album.

In Pashmina, I don’t think Trivedi’s voice needed the polishing it was subjected to because the sensuous fragility of the song hits a speed bump every time one uses synthetic autotune, that too in a song that’s called Pashmina! Add to this the sameness of Triviedi’s singing and the song doesn’t leave the impact it could have because of its unique arrangement.

 What is possibly the weakest song in lyrical department, Tere liye never really touches your heart in spite of the grand presentation. Sunidhi and Jubin are let down by an excessive sanitised arrangement and weak lyrics which left me unaffected.

Just when you thought the song couldn’t get more laboured, Amit Trivedi joins Sunidhi Chauhan and makes Rangaa re (Hindi version) unbearable although it has few sparks of excellent arrangement. The English version of the same song sounds better largely because Caralisa Monteiro is more in sync with the mood in comparison to a near robotic Amit Trivedi.

The album has 3 songs that put the ‘it’ in Amit but the rest are plain, at times boring like grown-ups with no spark, now where is the fun in that? I give the soundtrack 3 Quints out of 5.

Guddu Rangeela – Music review

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After Bombay Velvet, Amit trivedi is back with a rather enjoyable album. The sound of the cheeky ‘mata ka email’ is  crude yet adorable largely due to the lyrics. In sooiyan, we will hear Amit Trivedi going the ‘typical bollywood song’ way which is a relief as it shows he is also human! The title song scores over all the songs of the film largely due to lovely singing by Divya kumar and Amit T. Lyrics of the album are a clear winner and that is such a nice thing to happen to an OST.

You can hear my full review of the album on the B.B.C. website here

Queen – Music Review


An abridged version of the review first appeared here http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/music/cd-review/album-review-queen

Amit Trivedi teams up with the lyricst Anvita Dutt to give us the music of Phantom films’ Kangna Ranaut – Raj Kumar Rao starrer Queen.

True to the film’s theme, London Thumakda starts in Punajbi celebration mood and Labh janjua doesn’t miss a single beat in giving us a foot tapping song. Neha and Sonu Kakkar sing along as well. Even in this done to death genre of punjabi wedding/celebration songs, Amit Trivedi experiments. The excellent use of back up vocals and punjabi words in between are refreshing. Badra bahar features Amit Trivedi behind the microphone amidst a cluttered music setting. Somehow the song and the music comes across as ‘heard before’ and even though it might sound ‘trippy’ thanks to a clever use of Sitar in between, the song is at best average. O Gujaria starts with a club setting and techno sound. Shefali Alvares and Nikhil D’Souza try their best with whatever they are given, tune and lyrics wise. Frankly, the ‘Show me how to party’ bit sounds irritating in a song marred by it’s predictable overalls.

Taake Jhaanke gets the romantic Arijit Singh to croon on a (we repeat) Amit trivedi template. The song has an easy feel but ends up sounding like a very recent outing of Amit Trivedi (Remember English Vinglish?). Jugni starts very nicely and Amit Trivedi sings a peppy number which (again!) sounds like a song straight out of the folder titled ‘Udaan’. We have heard so much of Amit trivedi that you can almost second guess the turns in the tune and treatment. Harajaiyaan has a mysterious sound right from the beginning and even though you feel you have heard this song before, it’s the voice quality of Nandini Srikar that elevates the song. Creativity within the walls of Amit trivedi’s now standardized garden  has worked in this case.

Kinare has the brilliant Mohan Kannan on the mic and while we cannot get enough of Mohan Kannan, we would have liked to hear a song that doesn’t sound like one out of the album Udaan again! The song is good no doubt, just not something new. Ranjha that features a near silent music arrangement with solid vocals of Rupesh Kumar Ram is a song that will make you long for more, just like Heer longed for Ranjha. How we wished this was more than a 2 minute piece! There is a distinct smell of melody in this song that we cannot get enough of!

The makers are clearly depending on the new found oomph of Kangna Ranaut for this film. We would have liked them to stretch the limits of the Amit Trivedi who still remains Bollywood’s most promising music director.

So which song reminds us of what? Read On…

Badra bahar – Dev D as a whole. More So the O Pardesi treatment
Harjayeyaa – Dil dhuduk dhuduk beats From English Vinglish + Main Pareshaan Pareshaan Feel overall
O Gujaria – Ek main aur ek tu title song, O templates!
Taake jhaanke – English vinglish title song and the album
Jugni  – Udaan
Kinare – Udaan Udaan Udaan!

Our Picks – Ranjha, London Thumakda and Harjaiyan

(If 2 out of 3 songs are traditional template song and the third one is a mash up of something we have already heard, you can imagine the album’s score on ‘innovative’ index. Come On Amit Trivedi, Jazz it up with Bombay Velvet soon!)

2.00/5.00 (If you are looking for rating) 🙂

2013 Hindi film music – Vanishing traditional touch?

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This year amidst the barrage of pre tuned item numbers, there was a lot of good music that made it’s way to our ears cutting out all the noise. The year started on a good note with films like Matru ki bijlee ka mandola and Kai po che that had a good mix of folk and contemporary songs and while we cannot term it as purely ‘folk’, films like Mere dad ki maruti oozed with regional flavor peppered with familiar folk undertones. Not all good music was folk though. Films like Chennai express, Aashiqui 2, Go Goa Gone, Ghanchakkar, Nautanki saala etc. had a strict urban sound as a whole and they were good enough albums alright! Staying on the urban sound of an album, even a film like Ye jawaani hai deewani, which was set in urban landscape had a holi song that was a mix and mash of a lot of folk/traditional songs. Indeed, we are talking about balam pickari.

Nobody gave the entire music album a regional/traditional flavor the way in which Vishal Bharadwaj did (for Matru ki bijli ka mandola). An album that was dipped completely in folk, Vishal didnt even shy away from putting a folksy ode to Haryana in the dreamy ‘Khamakha’. This album also introduced masses to Prem Dehati, a voice that we will love to hear in the times to come.

Amit trivedi was in top form too in demonstrating that he can offer us a folksy Shubharambh (from Kai po che) just as easily as he can play with bengali folk and come out with Monta Re (from Lootera). A.R. Rahman for his part did more experimentation with folk genre in Raanjhanaa with splendid offerings like Tum Tak, Aye sakhi and Banarasiya cocnentrating more on the sound and arrangement. Even bits and pieces in the very sticky ‘Tum tak’ from the same film smells folk and refreshingly so. Shankar ehsaan loy also flirted from a distance in ‘Mera Yaar’ (from Bhaag Milkha Bhaag). Music director Krsna stayed true to the template and made Malini Awasthi and Raghubir yadav sing bhagan ke rekhan (for issaq), a heart breaking song that could have done much more had the film been  success.

As the year drew to it’s close, we were served a colorful mix of folk meets contemporary by music duo of Sachin Jigar in Shudh desi romance which was refreshing. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, while famous for larger than life frames served us a delicious bit of Gujrati folk in the form of ‘Mor bani thandhat kare’.

Of course the year was full of 100 crore film soundtracks who did nothing except add to the noise pollution levels but we choose to focus on the good music and we cannot wait to see how 2014 unfolds and tries to retain and build upon this trend. A dying trend that keeps us rooted to the sounds of our country which are as diverse as all ragas.

Do you think we are being served right amounts of folk/traditional songs? Or do you think we are just keeping the sound alive by a one off composition in an otherwise cluttered environment?

Since film music is promoted better than the pop music in India (a trend that would be broken soon thanks to growing online access for the masses), it is only wise to expect film music to be the flag bearer of keeping this tradition alive. I won’t mind being bombarded with a good kajri/thumri a million times on Television/other platforms. It would certainly be better than seeing a flop hero advising her screen girlfriend to keep her doggie away from biting him!

We are sure to have missed few things here anyway, so please feel free to add your picks.

P.S. – We have got a flavor of some via the music of dedh ishqiya where traditional compositions are topped with additional words and treated differently to sound ‘new’. Not complaining. At all!

Ghanchakkar – Music review


Staying close to the premise of the film is not something most music composers know in our lovely industry. Recently though, Music albums of Go Goa Gone and few others have successfully wrapped themselves around the feel of the film and boy were they good!

Amit Trivedi’s latest offering – Ghanchakkar joins the league of such wonderful attempts and how!

1. Ghanchakkar babu – Sax, percussions, brass bands and a superb army of female backup singers accompany Amit trivedi who rocks, hip hops and basically makes a superb song that briefly appears to be on ‘motorwada’ template but the words penned here take the song miles ahead of any fun song we have heard this year so far. Amitabh bhattacharya is clearly enjoying his work and HOW! The double track sound in the second part of both the antraas is just an excellent touch by Trivedi! I don’t think I will get over this song for a long time to come.

There is a remix of this song as well but it didn’t do anything except sound very ‘remixy’ 🙂

2. Allah meherbaan – A techno qawwali that stays far from any ‘filmi qawwali’ template except the usage of Bulbul tarang (and a sabri-sque ‘Allah’ from Amit Trivedi). Divya Kumar appears very comfortable and the beats in the song will actually send out confusing signals to those who like to view things in a set template. Experimentation that doesn’t go out of sync. Not the strongest song of the album, yet immensely enjoyable.

3. Lazy Lad – The brilliant Richa Sharma gets into the skin of the song right from the word ‘Aaain’ err! I mean right from the word ‘Go!’. A superb percussion arrangement and a brief use of bagpipes with a lot of whistles constantly, the song has fun written all over it. Richa sharma is capable of a lot of good things and emoting the way she does here is just one of it. I hope she is flooded with songs. Excellent song this! A special word for Amitabh bhattacharya for painting a lazy bum (who is always complaining!) like it has never been done in hindi films, ever!

4.Jholu ram – Brass bands o how lovely you are! Here, they are used in the naughtiest manner possible. Altaf raja returns with a very good song that paints a vivid picture of someone who is Mr. Fixit! (Oh IPL Joke!), for everything in a not necessarily legal manner! The wordplay is topclass! One might feel that Altaf Raja is not exploited well and fully here. Brass bands on the other hand are used wooofer phaad ke!

An album that gives out the feel of the film to which it belongs and NOT the feel of the ‘composer’ who has composed it…Amit Trivedi, thy name is adaptation!

5 thumbs up!

Buy it from flipkart and later on iTunes

Bombay Talkies – Music review…Almost!


Sukhwinder starts Give it up for bachchan! in a storytelling fashion reminding you of once in vogue the ‘natak-nautanki’ style of singing songs wherein singers used to talk/converse and then sing and repeat this midway into the song. Amit trivedi hits you then with neat arrangement almost immediately with liberal ‘BigB hain!’ and the neat neat neat beats take over and staying pretty much constant throughout. Better than the song, the inclusion of epic dialogues in the song is what makes the song different and bearable.(Lyrics – Amitabh Bhattacharya)

Akkad bakkad  – starts in a failry shubharamb-sque fashion and Mohit Chauhan teams up with Amit trivedi to bring this song. Creating an atmosphere of a play that is being presented musically, the lyrics try very hard to cover everything resulting in ‘too much effort’ sort of impression. The song mind you is not heavy but somehow doesn’t click. Nothing wrong with music arrangement. (Lyrics – Swanand kirkire)

MurabbaKavita seth soothes us with her return in this song wherein Amit Trivedi tries very hard to appear and impress us with his super velvet voice (and yodels mildly as well). The song is O.K. (after bachchan tribute song) when compared to the other songs of the album but that isn’t saying much. (Lyrics – Amitabh Bhattacharya)

Bombay TalkiesKailash kher starts the song that will make you presume that the music is by Kailasa. Shades of ‘tujhe goli maroonga’ line from LSD make it even more ‘familiar’ on the ears. Totally expected. Richa Sharma is a welcome part of the song and it’s good to have her back! The words again are very simple and again a very ‘stage play presentation’ make the song very unusual overall. (Lyrics – Swanand kirkire)

Murabba (Javed bashir) – The song stands out for the neat music arrangement and some real fast singing by Javed. Hint of brass bands as well (the slow sort) and a hurried male vocal back ups towards the end left me confused. Strictly O.K. (Lyrics – Amitabh Bhattacharya)

Bombay Talkies (2) – The good part – Udit narayan and Kavita come are a part of the song! The better part – excellent cross reference of some popular tunes. The sad part – The song ends too soon! Would have loved to hear more, much more of this one! (Reminded me of – Rab ne bana di jodi’s – fir milengey chaltey chaltey song especially when the ‘change words on familiar tune’ game was being played by the backup singers). (Lyrics – Swanand kirkire)

Overall a below average music album by all means. I would have survived well without listening to this album actually. The only song that stands out is – Give it up for bachchan!

I guess the problem is with the packaging of the overall product. An O.S.T. must compliment the feel of the overall film. While it’s nice (and a little too evident) that the film is ‘celebrating’ 100 years of cinema, the packaging and presentation was too ‘elite’ to have come out with such a below average music album. Amit trivedi has maintained the excellent choice of music instruments and the music has a very ‘neat’ feel. That’s it.

Wondering how many lost technicians are getting their dues by the self appointed representatives of ‘Indian cinema’

(If you feel there are some details missing, that’s because I am way too tired from the music of this album…that’s why, Almostareview!)

If you still want to brave the music, You can listen to it here. Special thanks to Bollywoodhungama.com for saving my money. A firm believer in buying music from legal sources, I would have had to chase the makers for a refund!

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