Gulaal is an experimental score, which delves into the 60’s music; an era characterized with the frequent use of mujras. Piyush Mishra’s debut as a music composer is sparkling. Along with the arrangements of Hitesh Sonik, they both put heart and passion in churning a soundtrack, which is not out-dated. Full of situational numbers, the music director produces strong compositions which have not been heard lately, or maybe since a long time. Put it this way: those compositions are not listened by today’s audience. They are compositions which have carved a niche among sophisticated listeners, who are not interested in beats or loops.
The storyline of Gulaal sets the tone for the soundtrack, albeit the music is dark and complicated. Abstract? Not really but the music follows a pattern of emerging emotions which result in anger and revolution in the characters. Such music is assumed to be dead in today’s times. Piyush Mishra uses the singers to express the state of mind of the characters. As some of tracks are situational, the grief and pain resented by the characters are expressed musically and vocally. The composer has not made any compromise on the music and the low-pitched vocals or sometimes high-pitched vocals, depict loneliness and rebellion respectively.
Rekha Bharadwaj’s Ranaji is a standard fare. Situational in nature, the number emphasizes on the “English” wordings in a village style. Backed by the tabla and the accompanying instruments like the harmonium and the sarangi, the singer quickly enters into the character of the main protagonist. The music is very folksy and village-oriented, with common references to the context built. The chorus adds to the mass-appeal dimension of the lively song.
In the quest to find what they want, they seek through Yaara Maula, which is a complex song, with varying degrees of bravery. Defying the usual structure, a rock theme-based supports the vocals of Rahul Ram and Aushim Chakravarty. Illustrated by the disturbances in their minds, a highly distant voice starts off the prelude, which comprises of gentle touches on the piano and crisp arrangements. Beyond the singing, lies the strong commitment in each of the characters expressing their beliefs. Piyush Mishra’s music captures these aghast thoughts and thereby translates them into a dramatic sequence of notes. Appreciated are the vocalists reaching the highest of their vocal chords; a stunning show!
Rekha Bharadwaj’s Beedo goes with the theme of the movie, just like ‘Ranaji’. Set in the 60’s style, her voice emerges as the winner in this track. With the tabla, the harmonium and the accompanying instruments, ‘Beedo’ is a situational number with the chorus chipping in the masala ingredients. Piyush Mishra also incorporates folk instruments and vocals to polish it in a rustic fashion. The singer shows extreme comfort in expressing in this type of voice.
There is darkness, melancholy and tears in Duniya. Piyush Mishra’s voice further reiterates the point. Moving at a slow pace, the low octave opening including pitched-down vocals, throws deep thoughts on the mindset of the character. A disturbing perspective is drawn with the voice paving the way to another experimental number. Yes, another experience with mysterious themes. The tabla has been intelligently played in the background – making it a perfect ground for the vocals to show off the maximum intensity in the singing prowess. Subtly backed by sad strings, ‘Duniya’ is truly outstanding.
Sheher is an incomprehensibly beautiful piece in the voices of Piyush Mishra and Swanand Kirkire. The quirky music in the background, which is frequently played, is pleasant and captures the seriousness of the situation. Once again, ‘Sheher’ is a highly disturbing situational number plagued by the shades darkness and negativity. Explosive in meanings, with reference to blood, the music follows a bizarre route of ups and downs with a long break in the middle. It picks up after that with intense vivacity.
Expressive minus the music would qualify Raat Ke Musafir. Rahul Ram’s rendition is superb. The slow guitar music allows the audience to fully concentrate on the voice. This is brilliantly individual stuff. Hypnotic at places, ‘Raat Ke Musafir’ is a piece out of the ordinary.
Possibly the highlight of this experimental score is Aisi Sazaa by Shilpa Rao. Musically magic, this is a poignant track with a dark theme in the background. The sounds of lightning, thunders and rain are also heard. Shilpa Rao casts her evocative vocal spell adding depth and passion to the lyrics, written by Piyush Mishra. The song has a lush and semi-classical texture. ‘Aisi Sazaa’ does not come with the hype tag, and is a gem. Highly recommended!
The historical attachment in Gulaal is present. The real attraction is the complex numbers, with the severely obscure references to blood, warriors and political revolutions. A lot of experimentation with voices is also on the menu; Rekha Bharadwaj has essayed two numbers of the same genres and reminds us of her ‘Omkara’ days. Her voice carries an old charm. Shilpa Rao’s ‘Aisi Sazaaa’ is formidable too. Piyush Mishra, as music director, lyricist and singer, showcases an immense talent.
In addition to the experimentation, Gulaal is also one of these scores which lacks publicity and may not find an audience. It trespasses genres – incorporating rock in a depressing tune. Above all, the music of Gulaal depends on the state of mind – like warriors and people behind a revolution. Strongly recommended!