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Imtiaz Ali’s films have always been known for good music. Right from ‘Socha Na Tha’ to ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, all his films have carried memorable songs. So, one can expect at least a few decent songs in a film which has been presented and co-written by him. Though Sajid Ali, his youngest brother, had directed a film called ‘Banana’ half a decade back for John Abraham’s company, it is ‘Laila Majnu’ which will be his first official release. The film has music scored by classical musician Niladri Kumar and Joi Barua, who had also done the music of Sajid’s first, unreleased film. The lyrics are by Imtiaz’s regular collaborator Irshad Kamil.

The album opens with “Aahista”, which is not just the best track on the album but also one of the best songs one has heard in a long time. Composer Niladri Kumar and lyricist Irshad Kamil weave a nice concoction of ecstasy and melancholy in equal measures in this wonderfully pleasant and addictive melody which has been fantastically sung by Arijit Singh and Jonita Gandhi. The lines “mere hona aahista aahista…hota kya hai aahista aahista” linger in your mind long after you are finished listening to the song. You also get  to hear a bit of zitaar, the instrument which Kumar has invented, towards the final moments of the song.

After Niladri Kumar, it is Joi Barua’s turn to pitch in with a track. “O’ Meri Laila” starts off with a small piece played on rabab but then, it makes way for western orchestral arrangements to come in. Unlike “Aahista” which had a slower pace and a hint of sombreness to it, this one is an extremely jubilant track beeming with the vivacious rendition of Atif Aslam and Jyotica Tangri. Though it is Atif who is leading the show where, Jyotica leaves a lasting impression with her sweet rendition of the few lines she gets to sing.

Niladri Kumar creates a haunting piece in the form of “Tum”. The songs opens with an elaborate piece of rabab before Atif Aslam enters the scene and mesmerises with his voice that adds a lot of character of the song. There is another version by Javed Ali, who, arguably, sings better than Atif does but sometimes, imperfection works better than perfection. Hence, Atif’s version sounds a little more appealing to one’s ears.  The song is steeped in melancholy, something which both the singers bring out very effectively.

“Hafiz Hafiz”, the song a bit of which one gets to hear in the teaser and then, in the trailer, has a strong flavour of Kashmiri music in it. Niladri Kumar brings in a lot of other elements into the song, including the sound of zitaar which plays a prominent part in the background of the song, and creates an absolutely stunning melody. Mohit Chauhan makes an appearance at 1:54 minutes into the song and brings out the pathos in the song pretty well.

Niladri Kumar continues to impress with “Sarphiri”, which is also the last song which is credited to him in the album. Babul Supriyo makes a late entry in the song but it such a delight to hear the talented singer who barely sings for Hindi films these days. The song has a languid charm to it which is further accentuated by the pace at which it moves. It is also one of the more conventional songs one comes across in the album.

Joi Barua composes a largely traditional song intersperse with a hint of rock music. “Gayee Kaam Se” is supposed to be the introduction song of Laila (Tripti Dimri). The track gives one a good idea about the kind of personality traits this young woman has. The song makes for a very engaging hear and should be a delight to watch on the screen as well. What also works is the spirited singing by the lead vocalists Dev Negi, Amit Sharma and Meenal Jain.

Joi Barua springs up a surprise by merging traditional Kashmiri folk rendition with 80s pop sound in “Lala Zula Zalio”. Frankie renders the Kashmiri lines, Joi pitches in with a few stylised lines in English and Hindi and Sunidhi does the parts lip-synced by Tripti in the film. The song is a very interesting mix of contrasting sounds which blend into each other seamlessly resulting in a short but entertaining track.

Guest composer Alif composes a very captivating piece in the form of “Katya Chuko”. The three minute long track is replete with traditional music of Kashmir and Kashmiri lyrics (Mehmood Gaami and Mohammad Muneem). Mohammeed Muneem, one of the two lyricists, also serves as the vocalist and does a splendid job at it.

Simply put, ‘Laila Majnu’ is the best Hindi film soundtrack of the year so far. In today’s times, where every music label and filmmaker wants to recreate old songs, it is refreshing to come across an album which has original music and where each and every song leaves a lasting impression on you.

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