Those who are wise to the trends of the Indian Film Industry know that the Pritish Nandy Communications banner is one that is backed by quality cinema and enticing music. Be it Jhankaar Beats, Chameli, Shabd, Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi, Ankahee, or Pyaar Ke Side Effects, they have always boasted a lineup of intelligent cinema, while working with various young artists in the music department to come up with some very classy sounds. And although they have hooked up with the likes of Sandesh Shandilya, Vishal-Shekhar and Shantanu Moitra, their latest musical side-kick seems to be the bad boy on the block, Pritam, who has composed for their last three outings (Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena, Ankahee, and Pyaar Ke Side Effects), including the current project on hand, Just Married.
Both, PNC and Pritam, are doing quite well in their respective fields, but going for the unprecedented tri-fecta we have Gulzar joining forces with Pritam for the very first time. This in itself makes the soundtrack of Just Married highly anticipated, as in the past one year, Gulzar saab has proven that he can work with any composer for any filmi situation. Let’s just see if his illustrious history of elegant lyrics can seamlessly melt into the youthfully peppy compositions of one of today’s hottest composers.
And so it’s set. The parents have consented, the date was fixed, and now the rounds have been made…Baat Pakki! Pritam scores very nicely with this light-hearted, yet fun piece. The liquification of each instrument emulates every feeling that surrounds this joyous occasion. Apart from some smooth arrangements, Pritam presents us with a veteran lineup of singers, including Sukhwinder Singh, Shaan, Sunidhi Chauhan, and Mahalaxmi Iyer, each of who sings their part to perfection. Be it the simple layering of Shaan and Sunidhi’s vocals in the interludes, Mahalaxmi’s timidly innocent frolics, or Sukhwinder’s carefree renditions, the vocal departments soars high alongside Pritam’s percussions. And eager to join in the festivities, Gulzar is forty years younger, as he writes some very fresh, yet situational lyrics on what it’s like to be Just Married.
Pritam steps it up in a second version by Shaan, with support from Bombay Viking Niraj Shridhar. Although not quite a remix, it contains a racier tempo, more exciting arrangements, and some heard-it-before English. Although a grand effort, one prefers the original, due to its easy-going nature and varied vocalists, lending the piece ample flavor to accompany the mood. And of course, we also have the official Remix of the track, which is a remix of the first version. Unfortunately, as almost always, the remix completely robs the piece of its nuances and enjoyment. I think Pritam had the right idea with adding a second version, but the man just went a bit too far!
Daler Mehndi makes another sporadic feature in Doha, an off-beat piece on the dark-side of romance. The piece should be loved for its beautiful somber lyrics, pensive arrangements, and heart-wrenching rendition; but the piece will be ignored for a lack of catchy melody and engaging beats. Pritam comes up with a solid composition in the backgrounds while tactfully adding an acoustic feel with the guitar riffs to add to the gloomy depths of this romantically dark piece. Everyone scores high marks for a fine performance in Doha, but it will remain knocking on the doors of the hearts of millions…sadly with no response.
Continuing where Baat Pakki had left off is the energetic Ram Milaye Jodi. Although rendered by Sukhwinder Singh, Shaan, and Sunidhi Chauhan the piece belongs whole-heartedly to Sukhi for injecting so much life into his rendition. Pritam’s arrangements have some northern influences, which appear sporadically throughout the background, while Gulzar’s lyrics fit the bill in the foreground. All in all, the piece succeeds in giving you something to dance to, but doesn’t necessarily excel in any manner. We also have a sad version that does excel in its genre. Rarely does Pritam compose sad versions (and it’s obvious why), but he does so very nicely here. You can almost feel Pritam’s need to add more instruments on the canvas but he rightfully limits himself to some rich strings, a dark oboe, and some limited percussions. But this version showcases something more important – the fact that Sukhwinder Singh has one of the most powerful voices in the industry today (a very important feature of any talented vocalist). And just like Baat Pakki, we have a Remix version to topple things over once again.
And for your pleasure, I’ve saved the two best tracks for last. Gosh, if I had a dollar for every time Sonu Nigam exceeded my expectations, I could retire (I’m only twenty-one mind you)! And that’s exactly what this man with the silky smooth vocals does in agta Raho, an absolutely phenomenal number when analyzed by a well-trained ear. First off, an ovation must be given to Pritam for defying all odds and returning to the elements while composing this flourishing track. The piece is lit beautifully by a folksy duet between the folk guitar and a sharp, yet soothing, play of the piano. This spectacle of sound leads us into a bouquet of auditory fragrances that smell the scent of an east-west blend. Apart from a colorful background, Pritam comes up with an extremely pleasing tune (reminiscent of Main Meri Patni Aur Woh’s ‘Doob Jaana Hai’). I could go on and on about the music, but I’ll allow you to discover the subtle nuances of the piece for yourself. Gulzar is at his usual best in terms of mixing situations with vivid imagery and nature-based metaphors…can anyone do it any better? Verdict: An absolute dazzler!
Closing out this varied album is another of my favorites, titled Gudgudee, rendered exquisitely by the romance queen herself, Sunidhi Chauhan. Honestly, there are so many reasons why this song can be placed above all the others. One example would be the choice of instrumentation throughout the piece. Pritam lights this beautiful candle with the 12-string guitar forming a solid base upon which the orchestral strings lift the curtain to Sunidhi’s award-worthy rendition. Furthermore, Pritam keeps a very quick pace in the backgrounds while giving the very real illusion of a slow romantic ballad in the foregrounds – there are only a handful of composers who can layer their music in such a fashion, while keeping the result silky smooth. The elegance of the piano splashes all over Sunidhi’s vocals, making way for an auditory excursion filled with all sorts of treasures. Not to mention, Pritam has landed himself into a mesmerizing melody. Gulzar’s romantic lyrics are unmatched yet again, as this song itself gives me a little gudgudee [tickle] every time I experience it.
Just Married is yet another fine feather in the caps of PNC and Pritam. But more importantly, it gets the year 2007 off to a fantastic start. The variety in this soundtrack proves that Pritam is truly maturing as a composer in this industry. We all know he’s capable of creating chartbusting club numbers (some plagiarized, some not) but now we know that he can give us heart-touching pieces like Doha and romantic splendors like Gudgudee. Also, something’s telling me we’ll be hearing a lot more of Gulzar saab also! Enjoy this soundtrack, as it serves as a toast to the musical year of 2007…here’s to many more!