Huge, because of A.R. Rahman's branding and the fact that the film comes from a director who last made Tanu Weds Manu, which had good music that worked big-time and was in sync with the locations and characters.
The proof of the pudding, it is said, is in the eating. Rahman has worked hard on the music, but the result does not show that application, partly also because some of the singers used are not up to the mark.
The most important aspect, however, is that common affliction of the majority of our tunesmiths today – being themselves and sticking to their groove (pun intended) and not going in sync with the locales, timeframe and background of the characters. A film composer must change his music, chameleon-like, in every film as per its specific needs.
Here, for example, a lot more than the shehnai (Benaras is home to Hindustani classical music's heritage and the hometown of shehnai legend Ustad Bismillah Khan) and the use of the timeless Meerabai line Ghunghat ke pat khol tohe piya milenge was needed to convey the apt musical ethos of the subject. True, we hear a lot by way of elements of Hindustani classical heard, but when Sufi, Carnatic folk, rock, blues, and other Western influences also appear – not just in the orchestration but also in the melodies as well as the vocals – you get music that might be temporarily catchy for Rahman's fans but nothing by way of either solid substance or a shelf-life.
The lyrics (Irshad Kamil) too are mostly incongruous for a small-town romance – Kamil writes Sufi words for a Banarasi boy (the town is a citadel of Hindi poetry as well!) in the line 'Tera saara main' in the song 'Nazar Laaye', or in the mukhda of 'Piya Milenge' that speaks of Tere andar ek samandar / Kyoon dhoonde tupke tupke. Kamil's poetry here, by and large, is the exact antithesis of his splendidly direct and pithy lines in Aashiqui 2 – they are prone to either smart phonetic rhymes and even go a shade obscure ('Tu Mun Shudi').
The beginning of the album is quite mellifluous nevertheless, with Shiraz Uppal and Jaswinder Singh belting out the title-track 'Raanjhanaa'. A superficially catchy number, it has crowded orchestration and stops abruptly as if the song has been cut. The vocal pattern is typical Rahman – a bit of classical and a touch of the choral kind of song, with the balancing level of the orchestration higher than should be vis-à-vis the voice tracks.
The guitar begins 'Piya Milenge' (Sukhwinder Singh and KMMC Sufi Ensemble) before it settles down into a Sufi-rock exercise despite Meerabai's words as mentioned earlier. The beats and raagdaari are heady, making this the most impressive track on the score. The first three songs have a strong blend of retro Hindi film influences that strangely lift the melodies despite the avalanche of varied styles in them.
'Ay Sakhi' (Madhushree, Chinmayi, Vaishali, Aanchal Sethi) is Rahman-meets-the-'80s-and-'90s-Laxmikant-Pyarelal in its structure, rhythm and melody. The mridangam dominates the interludes in this completely charming track that is sung evocatively by all the singers. It even gives out a nostalgic whiff of Rahman's beautiful 'Chhalka Chhalka Re' from Saathiya (2002) as a genre.
After this track, however, the downslide begins. The tepid 'Nazar Laaye' (Rashid Ali-Neeti Mohan) gets into jazz-like mode and is sung in a dull fashion. 'Tu Mun Shudi' (A.R.Rahman-Rabbi) goes haywire while trying to fuse assorted genres and is forgotten easily despite repeated hearings, except for this three-word hook! 'Aise Na Dekho' (A.R.Rahman) sounds like a Blues song and the whistling at the beginning of the second interlude is at ludicrous odds with the (very) melancholy words that follow. This is stretching experimentation too far!
'Tum Tak' (Javed Ali-Keerti Sargathia-Pooja) carts us back to the era when Rahman would catch a gimmicky hook, package it smartly and forget the axiom that it is content that registers and endures. But it is here, oddly enough, that his orchestration is refined and well-thought of. Kamil too writes some significant love lyrics here in portions of this obsessive love song.
The brief instrumental piece 'The Land Of Shiva' is compiled of local temple chants.
This one is for Rahman's fans who will find it a classic. For music buffs in general, this is average fare at best, where the packaging tries to hard-sell lackluster content.
Raanjhanaa, Banarasiya, Piya Milenge, Ay Sakhi
Music: A.R. RAHMAN
Lyrics: IRSHAD KAMIL
Music label: EROS / SONY MUSIC
Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more