4.5 Excellent


After Black, Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) is back to his comfort zone in ‘Saawariya’, a romantic musical and that is what it sounds to be, when we listen to its beautiful soundtrack. We don’t often get to listen to such soundtracks in Indian cinema though we have heard this kind of music a plenty in SLB’s own previous films (of course Black is an exception).The reason for it sounding so beautiful and refreshing each time is that he makes movies only once in two years and it is in Devdas that we last heard this kind of music. ‘Saawariya’ has music composed by Monty and words written by Sameer.

The exquisite singing by all lead singers no matter how little space they get, the importance given to vocal harmonies (sometimes they get more space than even the lead singers), usage of dhols, exhaustive yet appropriate usage of the sound of wind chimes, usage of Chal-Chal sound, unconventional structure of the songs, innovative melodies and rhythm patterns, usage of every possible classical Indian instruments like Harmonium, Santoor, sitar, Veena, Shehnai, unique and appropriate mix of all these carefully chosen instruments which makes up for fresh orchestration and arrangements, the synth patterns and e-sounds hidden deep inside the multiple layers of otherwise pure classical songs, unexpected orchestral outbursts, sudden twists and turns to various genres of music, after a sudden pause a male vocal breaking out with an alaap accompanied by banging percussions, romanticism in every single note of the melody, the blend of western classical and Indian classical music, ‘Allah’, ‘Chand jaisi ladki’, Shreya Ghosal, Richa Sharma, and finally the seamless fusion of all the above elements making each song a gem is what you can expect out of SLB’s movie soundtrack. ‘Saawariya’ is no different.

All guitars galore ‘Saawariya’ title track and its reprise version are instantly catchy. It is also the only song of the soundtrack without much of Indian classical music influences. The new singer Shail Hada is a great find who has finely rendered this song with quite a bit of yoodling. He is able to traverse between any of the western octaves effortlessly.

‘Jab Se Tere Naina’ is a beautiful melody with Shaan giving his best. I don’t know how to express it but there is this great feeling that pulls you straight into the song, in every precise moment, when the song shuttles smoothly between lines without any percussion and that with catchy rhythm on heavy percussion.

‘Masha-Allah’ is a clam and soulful track with more emphasis on emotions than an immediately identifiable melody. It takes time to sink in but it does for sure after two or three listening. Kunal Ganjwala has done a brilliant job in this song with his emotive husky vocals and western touches. In beautifully placed ‘Masha-allah’ motif, the tabla mukhda, a distant sounding Shreya’s Allah, an emotive vocal harmony, guitar strains, a mild piano melody and Kunal’s husky rendering of Masha-Allah run together to give us a scintillating musical experience and to make what I called the quintessential SLB mix of everything.

By this time you must have noticed that so far I have not mentioned anything about Monty, the composer of the soundtrack. Of course, due credit should go to Monty for the beautiful music. But I think SLB interferes too much into a composer’s business to an extent of stopping a composer from doing what he feels right and this could be one of the reasons why all SLB soundtracks sound the same. I am rambling about this because the next song ‘Thode Badmaash’ is composed by SLB himself. Great job SLB. It is a short and sweet melody elevated to Himalayan heights by Shreya’s rendition. Monty has given a beautiful ornamentation to SLB’s tune.

I always like songs that break the conventional structure with surprise twists and turns. ‘Yoon Shabnami’ is one such song. It starts like a conventional romantic melody, turns into a qawwali, symphonic strings follows, comes back to the melody again and ends with soulful strings playing the main melody of the song. The damn catchy main percussive rhythm we heard in the trailer is from this song which kind of binds all these variations well.

‘Daras Bina nahin chain’ is a delight because of Monty’s impeccable orchestration. The whole song just wanders through various alaaps, jathis, percussions, vocal harmonies and brief instrumental motifs without any main melody except that of Richa Sharma’s ‘Saawariya’ alaap which is quite soul stirring.

‘Sawar Gayi’ is an out and out Shreya show but could be best enjoyed with the visuals because the song takes quite sometime to just come to its main melody. The main melody is good though. ‘Jaan-E-Jaan’ is one of those pathos songs which have a melody that blows you when played on an instrument but sounds clichéd when vocals sing with words in it. It may be because of the conventional orchestration, full of strings in the background. The piano version, violin version and the operatic version of the main melody of the song that appears in this song itself sounds damn good. Even Kunal and Shreya’s expressive singing couldn’t create much impact like they did in other songs. I am not saying it is a bad song but when compared to the other songs of this soundtrack; it sure stands out for wrong reasons. We have to wait and watch it on screen to better feel the music of this song.

Kunal excels again in ‘Pari’ which has got a very unconventional melody that takes strange turns in the beginning itself. There is an unsettling feel in the music which is brought out well by an intricate orchestration. The ending is dramatic, grand and great with a full blown orchestra playing the main melody. ‘Chaabeela’ is a typical bollywood festive song and mood is brought out quite well but not as catchy as the other festive songs in SLB’s previous films.

‘Saawariya’ music is great for the most part. If you have passion and patience for good music, ‘Saawariya’ is a delight. If you are die-hard fan of Himesh’s kiddish rhymes, stay miles from this soundtrack.