Kunal Deshmukh has had a good record in saleable as well as good music (Jannat, Tum Mile, Jannat 2) and though his regular composer Pritam isn't around, this music too is expected to be in sync with both the film's subject and the market.
The first thing that strikes us as we listen to Raja Natwarlal is that Yuvan Shankar Raja has absorbed the ethos of the contemporary Hindi film song with far more accuracy, acumen and sharpness than any colleague down South with the exception of that redoubtable genius, M.M. Kreem. Even Yuvan's father, the legendary Ilaiyaraja, though an unrivalled master of his art, cannot really merge into the classic Hindi film ethos every time.
This score sounds very modern in its melodic structures, phrasing, orchestral back-up and pan-Indian appeal. And one fairly surprising reason for this is that the most romantic track, 'Tere Hoke Rehengay' (in two versions – by Arijit Singh and Shweta Pandit), there is a definite feel of Pritam, which of course might be the film's director Deshmukh's doing!
Shweta Pandit scores over the male version by keeping her voice in greater control in the high octaves. The break-up of the words is imaginatively done by the composer, enhancing both the composition as well as the singers' expertise.
The Pritam influence continues in the phrasing of 'Namak Paare' sung by Mamta Sharma with Pritam's assistant Anupam Amod! Undoubtedly the most 'Northern' song on the score, it has a low-key Mamta (unlike her normal aggressive tenor) in total command. Anupam is efficient and the lyrics are interesting.
'Kabhi Ruhani Kabhi Rumani' (Benny Dayal) is a classic Pritam-meets-Sufi number with all the correct ingredients. In fact, so Pritam-like is this number that we wonder if the composer has been involved in the track! Benny sings with gusto and the lyrics are classic Irshad Kamil too ('Sharaft bhi tu / Siyasat bhi tu').
The only track in which the beats get slightly Southern is in the beginning of the tangy and percussion-heavy 'Dukki Tikki' (Mika Singh-Yuvan Shankar Raja), which has smart lyrics ('Pairon ke bin paisa daude bhaage re / Chaahe ho jitna bhi yeh thoda laage re / Jitna tu aage bhaage utna yeh peechhe re / Jitna tu peeche bhaage utna yeh aage re').
The last song is the promotional number 'Flip Your Collar' (Benny Dayal), which has fresh turns in the words and tune and may well be a passing chartbuster.
Yuvan's sound must be heavily commended, for the pleasant feel of the score is designed to be so, and at no stage does the orchestration sound cacophonous or drowns the vocals.
Yuvan Shankar Raja's tunes are quite trendy, and their appeal makes the score sound fresh despite generic similarities to today's 'hit' music. His production is immaculate and Irshad Kamil's lyrics as usual vary from the pithy to the occasionally needlessly Sufi. Overall, an appetizing score, but its value in helping the film will be determined by mundane matters like marketing.
'Tere Hoke Rehengay', 'Namak Paare', 'Kabhi Ruhani Kabhi Rumani', 'Flip Your Collar'
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil
Music Label: Junglee Music