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Music Review: Guzaarish

Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao

(This article is sponsored by Sounds Of India)

Sanjay Leela Bansali’s new film Guzaarish has the talented director composing the music as well.  SLB’s films are almost all musical and visual treats and are tales woven around the magic of music, dance, melodrama, romance and tragedy!  The 10 songs of Guzaarish are dreamy, intense, passionate and heavily romantic and like a box of assorted chocolate truffles - each has a different taste or filling or nugget as you bite into it its core - but almost each one is delectable nevertheless.

Chand Ki Katori is the pick of the album – Harshdeep Kaur weaves magic with her silky and amazingly clear vocals.  This incredibly talented young singer who charmed us with her Ik onkar from Rang De Basanti, won the Sufi Ki Sultana title on NDTV in 2008 when she competed from the Sufi Ke Sultan genre with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan as her mentor. The song has arguably the best lyrics of the album and except for a few odd words towards the middle of the song, the poetry has a very coherent thought on the surrealism of existence.

Guzaarish – the title track is a heavy, operatic type number –captures a stormy and wet day – a melancholic song that is sung with much grace and feel by KK with Shail Hada’s high pitched accompaniment in the background as also intermittent voices of a couple arguing!  There is a very European feel to the orchestration and is highlighted with some fine harmonium and violin and minimal percussion accompaniment.

Sau Gram Zindagi penned by Vibhu Puri is an aural treat – absolutely divine music and singing – the melody based strongly on Raag Yaman is heart tugging and so dulcet – a hint of semi-classical, a hint of soft rock and teases the listener with alternating sweetness and radiance in tune and lyrics. "Sau gram" uses language not typically found in Hindi film songs and actually has more of a western feel in the usage of words that is enhanced by the concluding English verse. Kunal Ganjawala's rendition has some Goan touch evocative of Remo Fernandez's songs in SLB's first film -Khamoshi. 

Tera Zikr Hai with words by Turaz sung by Rakesh Pandit and Shail Hada is yet another peachy song with a simple yet vibrant accompaniment of tinkling bells and Middle Eastern stringed instruments and harmonium with a light unassuming drum beat throughout. The main flavour of the song is drenched with Raag Bhoop (Mohanam) and has lyrics penned by Turaz.

Jaane kiske khwaab written by Turaz and sung by KK is a ballad a tad too slow and maybe lachrymose too!  There is minimal orchestration – a light brush of the drums, a piano and a string section that takes the song into its conclusion.

"Tera Zikr" and "Jaane Kiske Khwaab" are both poems with unconventional meter but more traditional expressions. The former expresses compliments for the beloved and the meter of the poetry actually lends very well to a qawwali and does finally end with Sufi notes. The latter has winding lyrics containing a epitomizing of the night that is used to convey a state of mind and uses personification and rhetoric to enhance the mood of helplessness combined with memories.

Saiba (Vibhu Puri) is a blend again of western, middle-eastern and Indian music in arrangements and tune. Vibhavari Joshi blows you away with velvety smooth vocals – totally fresh and appealing as she sings a song awash with romance and desire with local Goan flavour and Konkani verse with along with Francois Castellino! 

Keh Na Saku has Shail Hada once again crooning passionately – a song with no elaborate orchestration – just the piano and soft drum beat - simple and charming song and written and composed in ghazal form and an expression of immense and intense love.

"Saiba" and "Keh na saku", have lyrics, while conventional, arranged together to convey thoughts that have rarely been conveyed before in any other song.

"Udi" and "Daayein Baayein" are the two tracks in this album with lively lyrics by Turaz and composed into upbeat numbers conveying playfulness. These two are most likely to appeal to the mainstream audiences since the other songs are slower and more serious.  Udi is the token fast or ‘dance’ number in the album – Sunidhi Chauhan as always delivers with her lusty and full throated splendid vocals and the song has a strong Spanish – almost flamenco feel throughout!  Daayein Baayein, despite being sung by KK with smoothness and his usual panache and some good guitar work, cannot be considered extraordinary or exciting on the whole!

"Dhundhli" written by Turaz heralds the end of the album – Shankar Mahadevan, one of India’s finest voices today shows exhibits his brilliance as he renders this slow serenade with consummate ease at the same time creating magic with his vocals –sheer delight to the ears!  The song is fairly well written and has shades of kuch na kaho (1942 Love Story) here and there in the medley and cadence.

SLB uses two lyricists for his album and by and large, Vibhu Puri's lyrics use more Hindi words, while Turaz's songs have a marked Urdu flavour. Many of the songs have a quaint mix of Hindi or Urdu poetry with some modern or English concepts that sometime work and sometimes miss. As an example -

"Kal radio pe jo aaya tha wohi wala gaana
Gaate gaate baahon mein mar jaoon...
Bas itni si...
Chotti si, ek khwaish hai"
"Rishtey cheenay mal mal ke
Thand mein thithur ke sikhud ke bikhar jaate hai
Mohabbat ka sweater kis ke liye buntey hai"

While this may not be comparable to Gulzar's poetry, it still manages to evoke the
visuals well enough to match those of the music - the feeling of yearning in relationships.

The music of Guzaarish is indeed a marvelous debut for Sanjay Leela Bansali – the music is sweet, alternates between soft and understated, flamboyant and grand – all in just the right doses and the singing is simply outstanding in most of the songs.  He does not go overboard with elaborate arrangements and ear-splitting vocals.  He has used really well musical instruments like the Oud and Saz and the Flugel Horn and has managed to get the best out of some remarkable fresh and well-known voices and the poetry is also of very high caliber.  And judging from the stills and visuals that are available online, the film has a deep and dark subject and the music will definitely fit in neatly with the narrative and theme of Guzaarish. Hopefully, like Satyajit Ray and Vishal Bharadwaj, SLB will continue turning out good music with his film offerings!

A must buy!!!

(Special thanks to Bharat Bhushan, friend, music lover and movie aficionado- his in depth critique of the lyrics of Guzaarish helped me appreciate the songs even more.)

(Sudha (Lakshmi) Rao is a homemaker and singer specializing in the golden oldies of hindi and tamil film music. She sings with Saptaswar (based in New England) and Friends’ Orchestra (based in Chennai)and also does karaoke based private and stage concerts. )

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