Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Pritam’s having an awesome year so far delivering some of the best soundtracks of 2012 (Players, Agent Vinod, Jannat 2 and lately Cocktail)? Well without giving any hints away, things are about to get a whole lot better with the music release to Anurag Basu’s much awaited Barfi! So why are expectations so high for the music in which Pritam has to support a period based film set in the 1970s? Firstly, history tells us that the last time Basu and Pritam came together we got “Life in a Metro”…which still ranks as Pritam’s greatest ever soundtrack. Period. Secondly, Basu has already confirmed the critical importance of the music to the film since the main protagonists do not speak in the film, says Basu “…we have six songs in the film that are used to express the protagonists’ feelings without lip-syncing”. In other words the music is integral to the way we hear what they want to say, how they feel etc. Indeed one listen is all it takes and you are whisked away to the world of Barfi! And it’s magical folks…
“Ala Barfi” is the enthralling title song that is being aired on the trailers and with good reason. It’s a nostalgic background song that gives us an insight into Murphy and his mischievous world and since it’s a background song the music is soft, simple and extremely fun but this isn’t your ordinary Bollywood fair! What makes it special is the originality of the whole package with super charm and repeat value thanks to the addition of some unique touches like the whistling, upbeat chorus, and of course some fab vocals by Mohit Chauhan (who else?!) who is so natural he sounds every bit as happy and playful as the protagonist. The way he uses onomatopoeic vocals (refer to lines 5-8 below where the words imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to) is simply wonderful. And last but not least who can forget the mind boggling lyrics by Swanand Kirkire that tell us the story in a very amusing way:
(Swanand Kirkire, Barfi!)
There’s another version titled “Ala Barfi (Kaju Barfi)” later in the soundtrack. Apart from the obvious switch to a different singer (Swanand Kirkire himself) there’s also subtle changes in the music which makes it a good listen. Put simply this is Pritam like you have never seen him before and what he deliver is the most charming song of 2012!
“Main Kya Karoon” is a delightful love ballad that seems to be intertwined with Murphy’s heart and blood arteries, gushing with feelings of that wonderful state of helplessness whilst happy in love. Pritam’s music is supremely light and breezy thanks to some lazy guitar strings, but again there’s an enchanting feel to the song which makes it stand out from the usual tripe we get to hear for this genre. Notice the introduction of the “pot” effect here to give the song a comic almost classy retro feel of the 60s era. Vocals by Nikhil Paul George have a rough edge to them which makes them sound real and believable - guess Pritam’s added another fine singer to his empire. It’s sweet, it’s charming and it’s adorable thanks also to Ashish Pandit’s simple lines:
(Ashish Pandit, Barfi!)
Forget inspiration of a western type, the composer goes all traditional for the reprise version (not sure why this wasn’t the original!) of the mesmerising “Phir Le Aya Dil (Reprise)” . Our protagonist's feelings have changed, there is now fragility, passion and hurt. So the song also follows their mood in the form of a nazam/ghazal which has the strongest instrumentation of any on the album with the tabla and sitar type instrument playing a prominent role alongside a haunting piano. Arijit Singh goes from strength to strength with impressive semi-classical vocals. The poetry by Quadri saab is so romantic it hurts! If you prefer a softer, classier version there’s the original “Phir Le Aya Dil” with equally superb vocals by Rekha Bhardwaj who is completely at home here. Finally we have a sufi version titled “Phir Le Aya Dil (Redux)” with none other than Shafqat Amanat Ali at the helm. Suffice to say he gives a powerful rendition in what is ultimately, Pritam's finest, most soulful song for Barfi. Stunner.
Don't get too emotional because Murphy and his jaan are in a better mood and fancy a bit of fun! So we move to a very upbeat song called “Aashiyan” sung by a lazy sounding Nikhil alongside a sweet Shreya Ghoshal. This is one of the more livelier songs thanks to the use of some fab instruments like the accordion, violin and flute mixed with delicious foot-tapping beats that suit the 1960s period. Kirkire's lines are breezy to say the least but have the all important feel good factor to them. Alas it’s also the shortest song of the album so it leaves you wanting more but at least there's the “Aashiyan (Solo)” to add to your playlist. Nikhil gives you the entire song with his raw vocals especially the infectious line "Dhabe Dhabe Paon Se, Aiye Haule Haule Zindagi...". Go lift your mood with this gem of a song!
The soundtrack ends on a perfect note with another exquisite effort… “Saawali Si Raat” epitomises the ethereal quality of Barfi! It’s like the sweetest lullaby that you want to hug and consume so it rests permanently in your soul. The soft heavenly music conveys Murphy's dreamy mood (with the thoughts of Jhilmil) and touches your heart as Pritam utilises the purest of instruments with effortless skill and panache, leaving you in a beautiful trance. Arijit Singh will blow you away with his haunting rendition that is almost whisper soft yet the effect is deeply significant alongside Kirkire's bewitching lines:
(Swanand Kirkire, Barfi!)
Barfi! is without doubt Pritam’s finest soundtrack to date after Life in a Metro. The music has that magical purity and uniqueness that appeals to every mood and it's ingredients are the hallmarks of a Shantanu Moitra or, dare I say it, Rahman. We all know his strengths in the rock and punjabi remix genre but this album showcases talent and versatility of a different kind so kudos to Basu for pushing him out of his comfort zone and kudos to the lyricists (particularly Kirkire) for their marvellous lines that have inevitably inspired the composer as well. 2012 is Pritam’s year without question and Barfi’s dazzling retro music is the best of the lot, now we await the equally stunning background score with baited breath. Barfi! is Pritam’s coming of age album no less...