One expects nothing but a terrific score from the music of Barfi! After all, the film sees the reunion of Pritam and Anurag Basu after some memorable score in films like Life In A Metro and Gangster. There is a hitch though - the music has arrived when the film is just a fortnight away from release. This means that the music has to make an instant impression to find commercial acceptance. Nevertheless, one thing that you do expect is a 'no-compromise' stance adopted by Pritam and his lyricist team (Swanand Kirkire, Neelesh Misra, Ashish Pandit, Sayeed Quadri) that only soars expectations further for a quality score in the offering.
Barfi! kick-starts on a highly melodious note with Shreya Ghoshal bringing her vocals to the fore in 'Aashiyan'. It is clear that Pritam has reinvented himself here, what with his composition reminding one of the kind that were composed in the 50s and the 60s. Whether it is the style of singing or the lyrics or the overall arrangements, there is simplicity written all over the song which brings back sound of yore. What further accentuates the overall appeal of 'Aashiyan' is the presence of new find Nikhil Paul George whose voice carries a vintage feel to it.
The album only ends up seeing further rise in quality with Rekha Bhardwaj setting the tone. 'Phir Le Aaya Dil' is as soothing as it gets, what with just the vocals doing the trick with minimal instruments in the background leading to zero distraction. Set in a 'ghazal' mode, 'Phir Le Aaya Dil' deservingly finds a 'reprise version' for itself with Pritam's find Arijit Singh impressing all over again. His prowess with classic music is evident all over again as he goes totally uninhibited for 'Phir Le Aaya Dil' and gives a good account of himself all over. Clearly, this is one of the best songs ever composed by Pritam. Excellent.
Barfi! retains its overall mood and theme with 'Saawali Si Raat' which is sung as softly as it gets, what with Arijit Singh lending his vocals to suit the night setting and almost whispering it away. Yet again, one senses a vintage touch to the composition which indeed shows a different side of Pritam. Also, one has to credit Anurag Basu and Ranbir Kapoor for encouraging Pritam to do what he felt best for Barfi! without getting into the trappings of delivering a score which is chartbuster from the word 'Go'.
The film's title song arrives next in the form of 'Ala Barfi'. Sung by Swanand Kirkire himself and reminding one of Kishore Kumar's 'Mein hoon Jhum Jhum Jhum Jhum Jhumroo', 'Ala Barfi' is just the perfect title song that one expected from the film of this genre. Swanand's vocals fit the setting while the lyrics too fun while also hinting what the storyline of the film is all about. The song is also heard in the vocals of Mohit Chauhan (well, one expected that given the fact that he was Ranbir's singing voice in his last release Rockstar). While this version is more polished, it is Kirkire's version which is more fun.
By this time, one is sure about the quality soundtrack that Pritam has created for Barfi! and hence it is hardly surprising when Papon begins rendering 'Kyon'. Yet again it is the late 50s/early 60s sound in the offering here and even though the lyrics are a little too poetic to be comprehended in the very first listening, it's the composition that stays on with you once put on a repeat mode. The song seems to be taking off from where 'Ala Barfi' left and Sunidhi Chauhan's voice is an added ingredient that only adds on to the vintage touch.
Nikhil Paul George, who had done quite well in 'Aashiyan', is rewarded with a solo number in the form of 'Main Kya Karoon'. First and the only outing in the album which actually seems to belong to today's times, this one has a bonfire/campus setting feel to it with Nikhil bringing on his boyish charm behind the mike. There is a rawness in his voice (whether it is intended or natural is something that would be known once the singer is heard more often) that only gives the song a distinct edge. A good culmination to the album.
Barfi! soundtrack is quite good and is easily one of the best quality creations by Pritam. He has totally reinvented himself with this album which defies Bollywood norms and boasts of a sound of its own. However the biggest challenge lies in the fact that the album has hit the stands really late in the day. What further distinguishes the album from other 'ready to serve' chartbuster scores is the fact that it carries its own distinct (and very good) sound that requires time to grow and register itself with the audience. With barely 10 odd days to go for the film's release and many other albums expected to hit the stands in the meanwhile, Barfi! has a task in hand to find its target audience really fast. A score that cannot be missed!
Phir Le Aaya Dil, Main Kya Karoon, Aashiyan, Ala Barfi!