The (completely pleasant) shocker of a song in recent times was the superb Monali Thakur-led dance number 'Chham Chham' in Baaghi. Music directors Meet Bros. got out of their oh-so-overdone Punjabi bhangra-pop / party-and-peg routine to make a situational song of youthful abandon filmed on Shraddha Kapoor at a pivotal point in the unfolding of the story.
The Meet Bros are brothers who initially forayed into Hindi cinema with the modest films Isi Life Mein and Do Dooni Chaar along with Anjjan Bhattacharya and Ankit Tiwari under the name of Hindi cinema's first composer quartet, 'Meet Bros. Anjjan Ankit'. Shortly, Ankit decided to go his own way, and last year, Anjjan also split.
As of now, and until further notice, the system of multiple music makers working on a single film has been well-entrenched in Hindi cinema. Since a normal film needs (and is now even made to need) assorted kinds of songs, we have been seeing the growth of another trend-of typecasting the new music makers in their perceived or accomplished zones of "expertise".
Thus, the Meet Bros. provide the party / Punjabi tracks (mostly synonymous nowadays!), their ex-partner Ankit Tiwari presents the high-pitched romantic songs, seemingly sounding the same whether they are ecstatic or melancholy, and Mithoon and Jeet Gannguli are given the soulful, romantic numbers, with Jeet getting the straight and more sober ones while Mithoon (who also writes many of his lyrics) is saddled with the more intense or philosophical songs, rivaling Ankit's high octaves on occasion.
Now, it is a million-dollar question about how Amaal Mallik, very much a part of the same multi-composer group, is permitted to exercise his talent and skills on just about every kind of song, not only doing well-conceived re-creations (like 'Tumhein Apna Banane Ka' (Hate Story 3) but also immensely variegated original compositions like 'Sab Tera' (Baaghi), 'Sooraj Dooba Hai' (Roy) and 'Kya Tujhe Ab Yeh Dil Bataaye' (Sanam Re). Even the T-Series non-film singles have Amaal Mallik spelling variety.
Amaal Mallik, as a composer, has shown evidence of a good range for someone as young as he is, besides the all-important speed of delivering work. Schooled in Western as well as Indian music, with a deep respect for the roots of Hindi film music and its legends, he is not flummoxed by any kind of situation or requirement. That he is capable of handling an entire soundtrack by himself has been conclusively proved by Airlift, which as of now is the most well-rounded score of the year. Yes, Ankit Tiwari did compose 'De Di Dil Cheez Tujhe De Di' (inspired by an old Arabic song) in this album, but that was only because Amaal did not want to do this track, that was essentially a re-creation.
And so, let us hope that the other music entities in this list also get such opportunities. Jeet Gannguli (who started out as a duo with Pritam as Jeet-Pritam in three films before he split the partnership) was good in his songs in Aashiqui 2, much better in Citylights that he scored alone, and has been composing alone for occasional Hindi films long before these two films gave him a new career-lease. As early as in Cheenti Cheenti Bang Bang, a children's animation film in 2008, he had given evidence of his talent in the lovely romantic Shaan-Shreya Ghoshal duet, 'Jhilmil'.
However, Mithoon too has shown, though rarely, that he can do something brighter. His 'Mehboob Ki' (Creature) gave us a whiff of this, but the truly standout song he made of late was the Sayeed Quadri-written philosophical-yet-bright 'Mohabbat Hai Yeh Ji Huzoori Nahin' with its sing-song, cheerful feel.
Ankit Tiwari, whose songs have an immense repetitiousness in sound and content, is currently scoring the music of M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story alone. This is his first major solo break and we hope he makes the best of it. Coming to glimpses of his range so far, the two best songs we can offer are his Airlift re-creation 'Dil Cheez Tujhe De Di', for which he has very intelligently crafted a fresh tune around the old hit and orchestrated it with the right, infectious interlude riffs, and the haunting 'Sawaalon Mein Yeh Kaisi Zindagi' with its 'ghostly' aura in the whodunit Samrat & Co.
Of course, his breakthrough number from Aashiqui 2, 'Sun Rahaa Hai Na Tu', was daisy fresh for its time in 2013, as was the equally big 'Galliyan' from Ek Villain the next year.
To sum up, it will be a much-needed social service to music lovers as well as to these men if we do not compel them to straitjacket their skills into a limited area and cage them creatively. Like Amaal, let them go into unchartered terrain and then we will know what they can be capable of achieving.
Remember how Subhash Ghai made Laxmikant-Pyarelal do a disco score in Karz, and Gulzar made R.D. Burman get semi-classical in Parichay? However talented they may be, composers do need the right openings to give wings to their creativity. In any case, this will only make music richer.