BHOOT BUNGLA (Immortal Gems by Pancham #3)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Bhoot Bungla (1965)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Hasrat Jaipuri
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

The next edition in the ‘Immortal Gems by Pancham’ series brings us to Bhoot Bungla, an album that is remembered as Pancham’s first ‘hit’ album. Before writing this article, Miraya and I both, only knew about ‘Aao Twist Karein’, so it was interesting to find out what other songs Pancham’s first hit album constituted of. Now, the film was a horror comedy, and as we know, even today, horror comedies have less scope for music. Mehmood, impressed with R.D.’s work in “Chhote Nawab” (we can definitely see why), decided to rope him in even for this film, and what’s more, the film was Pancham’s first (and only) collaboration with lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, who was known as a lyricist who wrote deep shaayari-esque lyrics! Certainly, an odd combination, but we are stoked to see what Pancham had to offer! Another interesting fact is that Pancham was offered a small acting cameo in the film too!


Aao Twist Karein is undoubtedly the most popular song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ even today. And rightfully so — it is a very peppy and upbeat number, perfect for onstage performances. The first time the legendary Manna Dey worked with Pancham, and Pancham made him sing a song that was entirely opposite to his usual songs in those days! The song was a party number, not a solemn semiclassical number as Manna Dey was known to sing. The hookline of the song itself has been lifted from Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again”, but Pancham has given it some proper Bollywoodisations, and has built a lot based on that base. The drums, guitars and brass instruments, as well as the backing chorus, all help make the song sound aptly Western; I’m guessing the composer was trying to bring a bit of a Western touch into the album with this song. The song also features some crazy audience interaction bits where Mehmood talks to the audience and even gets responses from them. (Achieving what ‘Karz’ did much before ‘Karz’ released!) Hasrat Jaipuri too, known to write very meaningful and poetic lyrics, had tried his chance at writing a party anthem — “Parwaano, dilwaalo, aa aao, masti ki saazon pe gaa gaao!” The party becomes more lively towards the end, when Pancham cranks up the beat on the drums, and a nice trumpet+woodwinds combination brings the song to its end. All in all, this is a situational number that is better watched than just heard.


The next song O Mere Pyaar Aaja begins with just Lata ji’s vocals and the majority of the song is dominated with just that along with the sound of Tablas and dholaks. R.D. uses very little instruments in this one, but one is mesmerised by the calming use of the occasional strings, and wind instruments. The melody is a gorgeous one, simple and elegant, and he allows it to remain such with just the tabla, the piano, the strings and the wonderfully sharp vocals by Lata di making up most of it. The way she sings “Paaun na chain haaye” with small nuances every time, perfectly coveys the longing in the song which Tanuja too, aptly enacts. The lyrics are simple and make it very easy to connect, thank Hasrat Jaipuri for moulding his lyrics according to the film’s requirements. The song has two antaras, but still short and crisp. And although this song is a quintessential longing song, still the melody is pleasant and not overly sad or drawn out. Overall, the song is a splendid listen, quintessential Bollywood golden era romance.


Following ‘Aao Twist Karein’, Pyaar Karta Ja happens to be Manna Dey’s second song for R.D. Burman. This song is one of the best songs of the album and one of our personal favourites. This song begins with his deep voice calling out “hey, hey… ho ho…” and then a brass instrument pretty much mimics that tune in a haunting way, followed by the flute and then one instrument after the other keeps getting added till the whole melody explodes in a flourish of orchestral grandeur – in a quintessential R.D. Burman way… This is hands-down the best prelude that we have witnessed thus far in this series! He uses the claps and the vocals to create melody and the classic echo effect is brought about not by machines like today, but by the vocalist singing a few steps away from the mike. The first few lines befit a horror movie more, before the tune becomes peppier and more romantic. The smorgasbord of instruments (there’s the classic dholaks, strings, bongo drums, flutes and guitars but also the more unimaginable instruments such as the glass tinkling, the resso-resso, the accordion and the mandolin-like one in the interludes) used in this song kind of blows your mind away. But, to top that, there’s also the characerstic “uh-huh-uh-huh” of Burman which creates a vocal instrument as if the available weren’t enough, but it all comes together quite fascinatingly and doesn’t sound like a mishmash of odd sounds, in the process creating a melody that is amazing. The use of chorus somewhat anticipates how R.D. Burman is going to use the chorus in ‘Main Inpe Marta Hoon’ a year later in ‘Teesri Manzil’. In the antaras, the song gets philosophical courtesy lyricist Hasrat saab — “Chhota bada, ab jo bhi ho, apne liye sabhi ek hai, yeh kya dharam hai!” The hook lyrics are wonderful — “Pyaar karta jaa, dil kehta hai, kaanton mein bhi gul khila!” Such positivity is highly lacking in today’s music. Manna Dey does an amazing job delivering the upbeat number, and it is a delight to listen to his little variations throughout the song, they are refreshing, but grounded and composed, at the same time.


The Bhoot Bungla theme (Main Bhookha) starts off sounding (intentionally) comical, with a very Bengali accented “Bhoooooot bongola” followed by Pancham creating his sinister tunes with the help of brass instruments, piano, and sound effects of laughing. A kind of mystery ‘Pink Panther’-esque rhythm starts around the middle of the song, where the actual lyrics start (and end right away). The song is the first song R.D. Burman lent his vocals to, and he is supported by Mehmood and Suresh, probably in the backing vocals. Well, one can’t expect much more creativity than this for the theme song of a horror comedy film. 


The first of the Kishore-Pancham era, Jaago Sonewaalo begins with a flamenco prelude followed by Kishore Kumar’s high-pitched voice and his characteristic yodelling. The music is characteristically scary with violins giving you an eerie feel and a simple rhythm on the bongos and resso-resso. Pancham ably supports it with flutes and Spanish guitars in the interludes. The music is very characteristic of many Kishore Kumar songs composed by Pancham, and now we know where it all started! It’s a warning to the people from the protagonist, to learn from what he has gone through and not make the same mistakes as him. The antaras are sung in a lower pitch and the music changes before the antara making it more sinister and ominous, and like most R.D. Burman songs, this is the real medium conveying the darker mood of the song. The entire song is a warning and a plea to the people to really understand what is going on. With words like, “Hansne lage, duniyaa ke log, koi huaa barbaad” and “Yeh unch neech duniyaa ke beech, aakhir yeh kyun bolo koi / jo hai bhala, woh kyun bura, hum toh na samjhe yeh raaz!” we know what Hasrat Jaipuri saab is warning us against. If the social commentary in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’ motivates you, the social commentary in this song sends chills down your spine, and is probably the only song in this horror movie that actually talks about the horrors in the world, though metaphorically. The thing that really gives the listener the chills though, is the “ta ra re ra ra re ru” which is in contrast to the dark theme, almost like the vocals are mocking him (which is quite a theatrical device to be used here) while he says to wake up and realise what’s most important. The third stanza is more painful with him questioning “insaaniyat kahaan hain?” and really, the music beautifully rises in a crescendo-like manner churning all sorts of emotions in you, like fear and pain and guilt and hope, which is what the aim is, before it drops and only the vocals of Kishore da are audible, softer here, more imploring as they say – “jaago sone walo…” until it reaches the end. The whole song, with the music and lyrics and the voice is pretty much impeccable in nailing the narrative. Yes, it has us convinced – and awakened to it – by the end of the song. 


Another song from ‘Bhoot Bungla’ that hinges on audience interaction, and catering to the young audience, Ek Sawaal Hai is a fun and peppy number that ends the album off as Kishore Kumar sings his second song for the composer. The tune is classic Pancham — you can hear the jazzy groove and rhythms from ‘O Haseena Zulfonwali’ and ‘Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera’ in this song — and the camaraderie between the guitars and drums most prominent. Kishore da obviously delivers the song with utmost performance skills. The way he modulates his voice to different styles, the way he creates tabla rhythms with his mouth after singing “Tabley ki thaap ho“, the way he laughs musically, the way he talks to the children throughout the song — this song has it all to be played to any child who would have been afraid and not just of ghosts, but the ingenious Jaipuri saab makes sure the song is universal — “Duniya ki raahon mein, darte ho kyun bhala?” The song is not just about driving the fear of ghosts away, but the fear of everything in the whole world! Close on the heels of the previous song with its social commentary, Hasrat saab writes “Roohein hawa ke jhonke, hamare dil ke sunehre dhokhe, insaan se badhkar koi na zaalim!” Pancham’s tune is aptly upbeat, making the song palatable to young ones too, the target audience. I wonder why this song isn’t as popular as ‘Aao Twist Karein’. Maybe that one was the ‘instant hit’. 


All in all, the album that started off quite mildly, and initially had us wondering whether there would be anything to learn from it, actually ended up having quite some enjoyable numbers. With the amazing orchestration Pancham has done in ‘Pyaar Karta Ja’, we now learn how he was able to do the ‘Teesri Manzil’ songs so brilliantly, and with the promise of melody he shows in ‘O Mere Pyaar’ and ‘Jaago Sonewaalo’, we can understand that his melodies were quite strong even in a horror comedy film. The album was his first commercial success, and we can see why. Also, unlike ‘Chhote Nawab’, the album has no hangover from S.D. Burman’s or Shankar-Jaikishan’s works – it sounds like a true-blue Pancham musical – his niche has been carved and we cannot wait to see how he develops it further!

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Pyaar Karta Ja

Music Mastani’s favourite: Pyaar Karta Ja

Please let us know which song from Bhoot Bungla is your favourite? 😊

CHHOTE NAWAB (Immortal Gems by Pancham #2)

If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Chhote Nawab (1961)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Shailendra
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

For the second issue of “Immortal Gems by Pancham”, Miraya and I are rewinding in time a bit from the first album we visited, and going back to Pancham’s first solo movie album, which was “Chhote Nawab” in 1961, an album for a film produced by and starring Mehmood. The legend behind Pancham’s debut album was quite funny. It was initially offered to S.D. Burman, who, at the time was busy with other work. Remember, he was strongly against Pancham starting off as a solo composer when Guru Dutt offered him ‘Raaz’ which later got shelved. Little did he know that rejecting this Mehmood film would lead Mehmood to his friend Pancham, who constantly dented Mehmood’s car with his incessant hand drumming (haha)! And thus, Pancham landed his first Hindi film album!

Now, this film, was a social drama, quite typical of those times, when Hindi cinema was evolving and trying to be accessible to the common public as well. The film apparently tells the story of a pampered young man called “Chhote Nawab” (Mehmood), who finds his mature self on meeting with Roshan (Ameeta). However, he strays on the path of ill habits after the passing of his father and a chance meet with a cabaret dancer Sophie (Helen). The love of his life played by Ameeta tries to bring him back on the “good path”, so to say, and Pancham’s music supports the script throughout the film. Let us revisit the album where the magic all started!


The first thing that hits you when you listen to Matwaali Aankhon Wale, is the intro piece – which is a good 25 seconds long. The jugalbandi of castanets and the guitars instantly transports you to Spain and you feel like you are in a Zorro movie, but then you hear the high-pitched Arabic style vocals of Mohd Rafi and you know that this is going to be a musical treat from Pancham. With castanets and guitar taking the centre stage again and sound of violins thrown in for good measure, the long one and a half minutes of vocal and instrumental prelude sets up an amazing Flamenco backdrop. Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals just breeze through, gliding smoothly from one note to the other, especially her intro with “Ohhhhh”, like she is a flamenco dancer dancing through this tune. Rafi sounds a little off in comparison, probably because of the pitch or because he is more focused in giving the wonderful performance (obviously we didn’t have voice correction softwares those days), but his delivery of phrases like “dhokha ho gaya”, “Main woh nahin,” still steals the show. The entire melody has European sounds and the vocals match it with Arabic inflexions but the Spanish tune throws you for a loop and keeps you hooked. Probably with contemporary lyrics this song could sit quite well in today’s Bollywood too (hope Tanishk is not reading this). Like most songs of those days, this too has three antaras and both Mohd Rafi and Lata Mangeshkar demonstrate a fun repartee with gusto with Lata trying to seduce Rafi — “Dil tera ho rahega, gar tu ise apnaa le“, and Rafi resisting through Shailendra’s lyrics — “Mujhpe apna jaadoo na chala, kaha mera sunn, kahin aur jaa!” It just shows that even though we don’t give her enough credit for it, Lata too, had the amazing talent for singing such songs, and not only Asha Bhosle. The manually created reverb effects that Pancham has managed with the singers’ voices are amazing. The grand orchestra of clarinets, bongos and strings to go with the Spanish sounds are brilliant, and it is good to know that Pancham had a penchant for Spanish sounds right from his first album, when most people think that he developed it as he progressed as a composer. The song is something that hits you right at Go and stays with you for long, and before you know it, you end up humming it at odd hours. 


With lyrics like these you’d expect Aam Chhum Taam Chhum to be a situational number at best, and at most something that would probably be worth just a listen once, but in the hands of Pancham it becomes something worthy. It was said that Pancham was great at turning mediocre lyrics into amazing tunes, and this song demonstrates that amply. If you’ve heard the lyrics of the song “Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hai” from ‘Ijaazat’, you’d be like “Come on! Mediocre at best” – and yet this song went on to receive a National Award thanks to Asha Bhosle’s amazing vocals and Pancham’s tunes. He turned this into something poignant and philosophical, and he drives home a similar point with this song too. At the start of the song, when the chorus of children sing, it seems like a kids’ nursery rhyme, and that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be – kids having fun and doing what they do best. But then Mohd. Rafi starts his piece and suddenly there’s gravitas and philosophy added – as he says, “haar ho ya jeet ho, khel mein rahein magan” (we should continue to play!). The song alternates between a nursery rhyme and something more worthwhile as the vocals alternate between the kids chorus and the “totla” Mohd Rafi. It’s quite a song, if you wait a while and listen to it carefully, and rather than simply being a better version of a nursery rhyme to be sung in schools, it gives an important message. It’s a good listen and we enjoyed it quite a lot, not the least for the fact that it’s been quite a while that we’ve heard a nursery rhyme presented in such a way, in mainstream cinema. Though, it was a genre in itself in the golden era! 


By now, we know that Pancham had a penchant for long preludes to his songs. And Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala also supports our observation, with a prelude full of guitars, strings and Pancham’s staple, the bongos, supported by an amazing saxophone piece. This prelude makes way for a kind of second interlude, where the guitars and strings take centre stage. This is a song showcasing the realisation that strikes the characters who are in love and nothing says it better than Lata Mangeshkar’s high pitched singing. After the long prelude, the way she sings “Gaate  chale hum” and “Tu hi bata humdum mere” is enough to give you goosebumps. The lost-in-love lyrics by Shailendra saab are ably supported by her upbeat rendition, and Pancham supports it with cute and fluffy arrangements. Lines like “Bheegi fizaayein, thandi hawaayein, humko kahaan le chale…” and “Khwaabon mein jiske, khoye huye the, aakhir woh din aa gaya…” ensure that the song is a perfect Bollywood song where everything is unicorns and rainbows. The entry of the dholaks in the antaras further make this song a typical Bollywood love song of the 60s, but trust Pancham to throw the mouth organ in to remind us that this is NOT a Shankar-Jaikishan or S.D. Burman song as the melody would like us to believe. Rafi does not enter until the third antara, which winds up the song in just one minute (nowadays an antara takes way more than one minute to end the song). Rafi and Lata sing the last hook as a duet, and I am definitely not the first person saying that their voices complement each other so well! It’s a pretty and sweet song, a romantic song of the 1960s.


Ilahi Tu Sun Le Hamari Dua indeed starts off like a prayer (dua) with Pancham on his oft-used xylophonic sound coupled with strings. The composition is a dulcet, slow and sweet one, creating a beautiful lullaby. Rafi’s singing is halting and lisped, suggesting the character of Mehmood who was literally a pampered man-child at this point in the film. Sound effects are abundant in the song, such as that of the wind. R.D. Burman uses a peaceful arrangement of violins throughout the song, coupled with flutes. The waltzy rhythm and strings coupled with the Sufi touches in the lyrics remind us that fusion in Hindi film music isn’t something that has cropped up in our generation — experimentation with music has been going on since the earliest days of Hindi film music! The song suggests that Mehmood is pleading to the divine power as his father lies on his deathbed and that’s why the lyics of Shailendra become so poignant. “Naaz uthaye, jisne paala, pyaal hal dam kiya humse, woh na ho juda”, sung by Rafi with the innocence of a child and the vulnerability of an adult, becomes the hallmark of this song because you feel how a man-child who was dependent completely on his parents would suddenly feel if bereft of the canopy of his parents’ love. The music before the second antara changes with the introduction of added beats, violins and the sound of the storm as it continues to increase its tempo to frenzied levels before it completely drops for a few seconds. The silence at this point is beautifully used to create emotions through the music – the father has indeed passed away. And then the vocals take over in sort of an unplugged manner with very little instruments. The rhythm becomes slower and softer and all this obviously suggests that he has lost his father at this point. The lyrics too change and say that the only person left to take care of him is God, and the way he innocently pleads to God – “Humein sirf ek aasra hai tera”, to not leave him like his father has, leaves you feeling sad and vulnerable.  Rafi’s tone likewise becomes huskier and he uses vocal fry quite well to depict that the hero is crying. The way music, lyrics and the vocals all three complement each other is noteworthy, because the change in the song midway is felt at all three levels and that was something pretty remarkable of that time period – aptly known as the “golden era of music”. Overall, it is a song that provides respite among the other upbeat songs and dance numbers in this album.


A philosophical song, Jeenewale Muskuraake Jee begins with minimal instruments and Lata’s adorable vocals (this time, again for Helen) as she tells Rafi (singing for Johny Walker this time) not to bother much with life and live each moment to the fullest as no one knows what life would bring next. This carefree attitude isn’t too well worn by our hero and this repartee is all in good fun as she coaxes him to let go. It’s a fun song, and the music complements the vocals perfectly, with guitars and strings and trumpets all strewn together to give a very peppy feel to the song. We loved the “A… Aa aah!?” employed by Rafi; these expressions give the added oomph to the song and would suit on someone like Ranveer Singh in today’s time. The way Rafi sings some words like “Aapka“, “Arey waah waah!” brings out the mocking nature of his character; he is just not ready to aceept the advice being given to him in a golden platter! The last antara has Rafi leading with “Zindagi kya cheez hain kya jaano tum!” If Rafi’s “aa aa…” gives the added oomph, Lata’s expressions at “Khabarrrr kisko”, and “Do din ki hai zindagi” are positively divine — at the end the way she calls him “Patthar dil” is absolutely endearing. It adds a new dimension to the song and this is the reason why vocalists in those days, weren’t merely voices or instruments as some composers today feel, but rather an essential part of the song. The delivery is so precise, it’s like they tell the story of the song with the way they sing. The song is a cute, short and hummable melody that stays with you for long, but propelled to new stages by the vocalists!


Coming to arguably one of the most popular songs to come out of this album, Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra was the song that brought Lata Mangeshkar back into the Burman household, after the brief tiff she had with S.D. Burman sahab. Based on the Raag Malgunji, a lesser-used Raag in Hindi film music, this semi-classical song talks of the longing of the heroine for the hero. This song was supposedly initially composed by Pancham da to include in Guru Dutt’s ‘Raaz’ which was supposed to be his first album, but the film got scrapped. The Roopak taal is used wonderfully, and coupled with amazing sounds of the ghunghroos, sets up a traditional Bollywood Mujra. The break in the rhythm employed with the “Dhak Dhak” and the “Tap Tip”, really makes the listener sit up and take notice. Beautifully worded by Shailendra as “Ghar aaja ghir aaye badra saawariya,” the heroine talks of how the rain clouds have arrived (an oft-used metaphor for the arrival of the beloved in Hindustani classical music) and it’s time now for her darling to come home. The picturisation is also beautiful; in one place Mehmood is watching a Mujra dance, while the lyrics talk of Ameeta back home, longing for him to return home. The moment you hear these words, and that tune, you feel the longing and the hope that she so desperately wants to convey. And no wonder, because the raag on which this song is based is a combination of two raags – Rageshri and Bageshri – one describing separation and the other a reunion of sorts. The perfect harkatein that Lata Mangeshkar employs (in words such as “bairang“, “jiya“, “bijuriya“) shows her impeccable command over the classical. The way Lata di sings this with a fluid grace, is simply a cherry on the top. “Soona Soona Ghar more dasne ko aye re…” and many more words like this by the wonderful Shailendra, really brings out the pathos in the melody, which makes it one of our favourite numbers and this beautiful melody makes us miss the semiclassical numbers in the current mainstream Bollywood now, because apart from the occasional number by Shreya Ghoshal, you literally have very few semi-classical songs and none as pure as this. This happens to be the root of Bollywood music, that seems to have gotten lost somewhere. In a sea of raps and rocks that we always get to hear, genres like ghazals and semiclassical songs seem to have gotten lost and this song makes us miss the purity of the raagas and the pure emotions they can evoke. 


Chura Ke Dil Ban Rahe Hain Bhole is the other mujra in the album, again one with a sad undertone to it just like ‘Ghar Aaja’. The song cuts directly to the chase, with Lata Mangeshkar’s sweet vocals supported by Dholaks and Tablas. Pancham wonderfully decorates the song with the sound of ghunghroos and an amazingly catchy beat on the Tabla. An amazing sitar-sarangi-tabla combination follows in one of the interludes. The situation is classic Bollywood — the heroine played by Ameeta, as a last resort to try and bring the hero played by Mehmood back to the path of virtue, visits the kotha disguised as a mujra dancer. As we can see a look of recognition on Mehmood’s face throughout the song, Ameeta portrays the helplessness beautifully, and the same is brought out in Lata’s heartfelt vocals. Shailendra Ji’s lyrics too bring out the pathos — “Abhi chand roz pehle, pehli mulakat mein, kuchh keh rahe the humse, haath leke haath mein” and “Koi batao ki hum kare kya, woh humko pehchaante nahin!” The feelings don’t hit you in full force till the third antara, where lyrics, music and vocals come together — “Woh bhi ek raat pyaari… Aur hi thi baat tab ki, aaj aur baat hai” and especially “jaane woh kahan hai jo yahaan hai aur saath hai” as if she cannot believe the drastic change that he has undergone. The song is a sad song disguised as a casual mujra number, just as the leading lady is disguised — Smart! 


The next song Koi Aane Ko Hai happens to be a Qawwali, rendered splendidly by Rafi saab and Shamshad Begum, and who other than these two stalwarts would have been better for this song? The adlib in the beginning sets up the scene of a Mehfil quite perfectly, and god, if there’s anything that proves Rafi’s singing prowess, it should be this adlib – this speak-singing that he is doing includes soft nuances while he speaks and that extra stress on the “daag”. Until the Dadra taal picks up and the harmonium, bulbultarang, rabaab and backing chorus ably pitches in to support Rafi, he completely dominates this song with the way he sings. The rapid scale change while singing “Iss intezaar ka aalam na puchhiye humse” before he brings it back to the original scale brings out the emotions wonderfully well. The song pauses many times to showcase the lead vocalist’s singing prowess, as is normal in traditional Qawwalis. As the Begum enters in the antara, you realise that you’ve never heard her voice in many Pancham songs, probably because this was the only one! And soon it’s a jugalbandi between the lead vocalists, and we lean more towards Shamshad Begum simply because of the ease with which she seems to sing it, but really, it’s a tough fight. So enjoyable, as a jugalbandi should be! Shailendra’s lyrics aptly describe the situation of the arrival of someone special — “Koi aane ko hai, dil machalne laga“. The chaste Urdu with which the song starts soon dissolves into colloquial Urdu+Hindi, and the upbeat rhythm on the Dholaks helps the song to appear more accessible to the common listener. Since we seem to enjoy qawwalis as a genre on the whole, this song is really amongst our favourites from this album. But let’s not forget, we’ve heard a Hindustani classical number, a Spanish/Arabian dance number, an out and out qawwali and a sweet love song, all in this one album. It speaks of the variety that Pancham offers right in his first album, and the brilliance that is about to come in the albums we will visit in the future. 


The Chhote Nawab Title Music is a nice amalgamation of Hindustani classical sounds produced on the sitar and the tabla, giving a very royal sound to the track, and the Western influences that we heard in ‘Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala’ — guitars, strings, percussions, and wind instruments. The track very beautifully sums up the variety that the album showcases and thus, is a perfect instrumental piece for the album, that ends very intriguingly with the sounds of glass tinkling and strings! 


All in all, Chhote Nawab turns out to be a very versatile debut solo album of Pancham da. And although he kind of ‘arrived’ with ‘Teesri Manzil’, we find this album, with its repertoire of Hindustani classical, mujras, jazz, Sufi, Spanish/Arabian and Hindustani blended tracks, dance numbers, romantic songs, Lullabies, Nursery rhymes, named “Chhote Nawab” more of a “Bade Badshah” in the land of music. 

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra

Music Mastani’s favourite: Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badra & Aaj Hua Mera Dil Matwala

Please let us know which song from Chhote Nawab is your favourite? 😊

TEESRI MANZIL (Immortal Gems by Pancham #1)

Welcome to the first actual music analysis post in our Pancham series at Music Mastani. If you’re here for the first time, please read this post.

Teesri Manzil (1966)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: R.D. Burman
♪ Lyrics by: Majrooh Sultanpuri
♪ Music Label: Saregama

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the album: iTunes

So, we all know that Pancham started his career as a solo composer in 1961, with the film “Chote Nawab”, produced by Mehmood, and followed it with two more films of Mehmood. However, it was not until 1966, when ‘Teesri Manzil’, his first big break, came to him. We choose to start our series with this album, naturally. It was the album that put him in the list of big composers that superstars could now work with – because if one superstar did, the rest obviously had to follow suit. The film starred Shammi Kapoor and Asha Parekh, who were both huge stars, and Pancham brought a nice mélange of foreign sounds, and made it an authentic Bollywood Broadway musical and created a sound that was here-to-fore unheard of! Hence, it was an obvious start to start our Pancham series with this album. In this album, Pancham collaborated with the legendary Majrooh Sultanpuri saab for the very first time, and the most fascinating part is, only two singers have sung for this film — Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhosle!

A little tidbit — legend has it that Pancham da almost didn’t get this film. He was working with his father as an assistant when the film was supposed to star Dev Anand and have music by S.D Burman sahab. But because Dev Anand was busy with ‘Guide’, which had gone into overtime because of S.D.’s health issues (it is a known fact that Pancham helped to complete the recording of the songs of “Guide’, too!), it was decided that Shammi Kapoor would be doing the film. Shammi wanted his favourite music directors, O.P. Nayyar or Shankar-Jaikishan to score for the film, but after director Vijay Anand and producer Nasir Hussain convinced him, he decided to give R.D Burman the chance, by conducting an audition of sorts. The moment he heard the duet, “Aaja Aaja” and the variety of innovative sounds Pancham would bring to the table, he signed him on the spot and the rest they say is history.

A new era as well as a new combination was born – that of Nasir Hussain and R.D. Burman, who went on to work in eight more films together. From the dominant sounds of drums and violins to the side sounds of acoustic guitars and trumpets to the lesser heard saxophone in bossa nova style, the sounds created in this album had rarely been heard before but often repeated thereafter. Let us start in our look back at this wonderful and evergreen album!


No Bollywood retro party is complete without the effervescent sound of O Haseena Zulfon Wali. R.D. experimented with the rock guitars and drums all the way back in the 1960s, and how well suited it was to Shammi’s onscreen jolly avatar. The intro pieces are very similar in most songs where they introduce Shammi Kapoor with drums and trumpets. It’s intentional and until the main melody starts, it gives you a sense of grandiosity that was such a part of his character, him being this famous rockstar. This song follows the same, with its 20-second-long prelude on the drums, followed by a mirthful rendition by Mohd. Rafi. Especially in this song, the mischief in Rafi saab’s voice when he says “Aye” or the second “Kahaan” in “Phirti Ho Kahaan” or the inflexions he gives to the words like “Ada”, “Jaan-e-Jahan“, “Wafaa” or “Khoob” and this complements Shammi Kapoor so well, that even without watching the song’s video, you know that the song is picturised on him. The song has all the boisterous spirit that is representative of Bollywood. Asha’s amazing variations of the sinisterly composed “Woh anjaana dhoondhti hoon…”, every single time, have me floored; there is not one time she sings this line in a way she has before! The interludes that R.D. follows this with (not before the amazing beats on the triangle) are so diametrically opposite to the sinister sound of that one line. Kind of a meta-reference to thrillers, where one clue is always yelling out at you in different ways, but gets brushed under the carpet until the protagonists solve it! Asha also gets the best lines of the antaras, which would be the bridge lines from the antara to the mukhda — “Shaam hi se kuch ho jaata hai, mera bhi jaadoo jawaan!” The resonance in her voice perfectly matched the chirpy energy of Helen onscreen, and was probably the first we heard of this sultry side of Asha. As the tune progresses and increases in tempo, the repartee between the two lead singers increases lyrically and to complement that, so do the nuances and the inflexions in their singing. This kind of attention to detail, lyrics, finesse while singing with just the right amount of exaggeration without it going over the top is simply inimitable. Asha and Rafi both have become the characters, Helen and Shammi. R.D. has spectacularly employed the trumpets, saxophones, violins, Spanish guitars, and other innovative sounds such as the clinking of glass (something we are bound to hear many more times during this series). In the era of live recording, managing such a huge orchestration must have been no easily achievable feat! 


O Mere Sona Re became THEepitome of how a girlfriend would cajole her boyfriend in the 60s-70s. And even today, when we hear this song, or hum it, we are brought back to the time when fights were so simple. I’m convinced the magic of these songs were in their magical lyrics as much as the tune or the voice. Contrary to what we hear today, every song of that era mostly had two antaras that allowed the progression of the story. This song has as many as three! The first two with Asha Bhosle as Asha Parekh, cajoling Shammi voiced by Rafi, and the last antara with Mohd Rafi on behalf of Shammi, accepting and forgiving her. Asha’s “Tum chhudaao lakh daamaan…” to Rafi’s “Yeh saza tum bhool na jaana…” they seem to sort out their differences amicably enough by the end of the song. The tune is lilting and melodious but not a sad one. There’s hope and promise, but nothing too dire. She even tells him to stop being pretend-angry at her with “Yeh banaavat ki adaayein”. And when they seem to make up, the tune has a pretty flute piece with an increase in tempo, towards the end, that gives you a sense of happiness and joy. Talking about the flute piece, Pancham da throughout the song makes the rhythms and arrangements fluctuate according to Majrooh saab’s lyrics. The harmonica or mouth organ is probably the instrument that jumps out instantly, right from the beginning, and throughout the song provides some wholesome entertainment. An entire interlude is devoted to the playful camaraderie of the mouth organ and the flutes. The harmonica reminds one of Pancham’s use of the same in ‘Mere Sapnon Ki Rani’ (Aradhana; 1969) wherein he had assisted his father S.D. Burman, and a similar train-like sound is created in the third interlude with the drums, guitars and flutes. The way Asha sings here is quite different from when she sings for Helen in the movie. Her voice is softer and more loving, gently coaxing the listener in places like “Hua qusoor, khafa mat ho na re”, “tum chhudaao lakh daamaan…” or “Main bhi saath rahoongi, rahoge jahaan”. The last stanza of Rafi with “Pachhtaaogi kucch aise”, “Yeh saza tum bhool na jaana” and “Chala jaaunga phir main na jaane kahaan” conveys the warning with so much love that it melts your heart. Rather than sounding righteous and stuck-up, it sounds more like just a loving warning to the heroine that she too wouldn’t be able to stay without him if he were to walk away.


Next up, we have the romantic number Tumne Mujhe Dekha. The intro piece with just the drums followed by trumpet is telling you that something spectacular is about to happen and you are waiting with bated breath for it. No wonder, because Shammi Kapoor, the Rockstar, is being introduced here. And it feels like it should follow with some energetic dance number a la ‘O Haseena Zulfon Waali’, with the kind of big introduction given here, but the relatively somber tune played on the trumpet seems to be the indicator that an out-and-out dance number is not to follow. Instead it is a layered romantic song. And we say layered because, it’s not simply a hero saying that he is lucky that the heroine chose him, but because there are sad undertones that speak of heartbreak too. All of this conveyed through just the music is the sheer brilliance of Pancham da. The way he could layer and convey the varied emotions of the character through his songs. His songs are situational – always – but they last the test of time because these are situations that all of us identify with and go through. Throughout the song, the strings play an important role, especially in the interludes, where it becomes the job of Pancham da to bridge the “Meherbaan” feeling from the mukhda to the “dard ka sehra” of the antara – the music conveniently switches to a more somber tone accordingly. Majrooh Sultanpuri ji’s lyrics here complement the music – and vice versa – so well, that you simply cannot imagine any other words than – “Tumne mujhe dekha, hokar meherbaan / Chhup gayi yeh zameen, thham gaya aasmaan…” – You start feeling euphoric and in love and like there has to be someone somewhere that says these words for you. The way Mohd. Rafi sings here, notice the “dekha” and “meherbaan” like he has surrendered to the divinity of his love, and that pause after “Jaan-E-Mann” is nothing short of sheer brilliance. But the best parts of the song are the two antaras, which really convey the story here. “Ho, kahin dard ke sehra mein…” is sung with sad undertones and the use of violin here conveys that sadness before he pulls you back with “Jaan-e-mann, jaan-e-jaan!” The same goes for the second antara where he reminds her that she too, would be lost without him – “Lekar yeh haseen jalwe / Tum bhi na kahan pahunche…” As Pancham brought the somberness into the antara, he makes it disappear just as easily by bringing back the up-tempo bongo-drum percussions with “Meherbaan hogayi, zulf ki badliyaan / jaan-e-mann, jaan-e-jaan!” Again, cannot stress enough about the spectacular rendition of Rafi saab which really doesn’t need any hero to enact. You already know what’s happening here without seeing the screen. And that is the sign of GENIUS playback singing.


“Deeewaaanaaa” HAAYE!! That word. What madness in Rafi saab’s voice and what fun in R.D. Burman’s tune for the next song, another cute romantic song called Deewana Mujhsa Nahin. Legend has it that the Nepali folk song “Eh Kancha Malai” inspired Pancham for the tune. He played the Nepali folk song to Shammi Kapoor,      who approved of it! The use of DAFLI and trumpets and the cheerful tune all signal the madness of love. A love song that describes the reason of the madness so well with lyrics such as “Aage hai kaatil mera, aur main peeche peeche”. The addition of violins to the gamut of trumpets, daflis, drums and the general grandeur of the instruments in the antaras gives it a softness, reminding us that with all the craziness of love, the seriousness and the importance of his feelings shouldn’t be lost. Again, it feels like Pancham conveys everything consequential in the antaras as we saw in the previous songs of the album till now. The tune is slower here and more lilting in both the antaras before it comes back in full swing to the craziness of “…peeche peeche!” And the second peeche peeche, Rafi sings in a certain way, making his voice softer, like he is gauging her feelings for him, and sure enough it’s followed by him pretending to walk away, only to find her searching for him. Which pretty much points to the fact that she is equally guilty in the madness and craziness. The two antaras are pretty similar where the tune is concerned with only the lyrics changing from one antara to the other. In the first, with “Paaya hai dushman ko jab se pyaar ke kaabil”, the hero confesses his feelings and explains how crazily in love with the heroine he is, whereas in the second antara he seems to give her a free pass with “Humne bhi rakh di hai kal pe kal ki baatein…”. Overall, the song is lovely as it hits you with all the crazy-in-love feelings without going overboard. 


The song Main Inpe Marta Hoon (listed in some places as Dekhiye Saahibon) is another nok-jhok song that is added to this album that is turning out to be quite a musical. The situation is quintessential – as the hero tries to persuade his lady love that he made a genuine mistake. Of course, she wouldn’t be his lady love at all if she didn’t deny it vehemently through Majrooh ji’s lyrics and Pancham’s music now, would she? The entire song has an upbeat feel to it, provided by the guitars and drums that have been used throughout, but the way the music halts when either of the protagonists are trying to prove a point — “Main inpe marta hoon“, adds to the drama. Vibrant guitar riffs and seductive trumpet solos adorn the arrangements. The singers as usual do a great job emoting the lyrics with little inflections and perfect vocal dynamics that bring out the flavour of the song so beautifully. The antara has the reiteration of Rafi’s lines such as “Ekdum galat fasaana hai“, or “Soorat bhali buri kya hai” in two different variations that is quite enjoyable and Asha’s oomph is predominant throughout her portions; the way she starts her antaras coupled with her own solo “La La La” part in the interlude is inimitable! For me, Asha’s rendition trumps Rafi’s in this one, although I’m sure that Rafi saab will return the favour soon enough in this expressive album. In all, this song is full of over-the-top dramatic expression, as is expected from a true-blue Bollywood musical, which like its predecessors serves the storyline rather than being a standalone dramatic addition that is so omnipresent in today’s Bollywood music.


That iconic and electrifying guitar piece coupled with drums, that starts off Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera, is probably the best musical intro that an upbeat dance number such as this can warrant! Asha Bhosle apparently used to hire guitarists for her tours, based on how satisfactorily they could play this intro! And that makes wonderful sense. The way the intro pulls you into the song, is no little achievement. The song completely changes course after the intro, with the strings ending at a crescendo, and Rafi seems to be signalling the instruments to take it light, by singing the velvety “Aaja aaja…”, while Shammi Kapoor illustrates it so effortlessly onscreen. After this point the song’s rhythm too, completely detours from what the intro made it out to be. The strings play in short and strong staccatos, while the flutes accompany it to make the song sound playful. But it isn’t until what we would in today’s day call the ‘drop’, that the song reveals its highest point – Rafi’s frantic “Aa aa aaja, aa aa aa aaja, aa aa aah!” coupled with the amazing guitar riff provides the song its unmatchable energy. The antaras follow the upbeat rhythm of the rest of the song, until the mukhda repeats with its lilting mellifluousness. It is the interludes that steal the show, especially the second one, where Asha Parekh has a blast swaying to a wonderful concoction of guitars, trumpets, flutes and drums, immediately followed by Asha Bhosle’s ravishing delivery of her antara. The subsequent interlude (the third one) too, is brilliant, with the xylophonic sound starting it off, followed by another amazing display of Pancham’s percussionists, guitarists and flautists. Majrooh saab depicts the craziness of young love perfectly in lines like “Mera khayaal tumhe hai, maine abhi hai yeh jaana, sachha hai pyaar ki jhootha, yeh hai mujhe aazmaana”. While the first antara is sung by Rafi and the second by Asha, the third is a mix, with lines for both of them. Towards the end of the song, the entire party seems to have gone bonkers, if you watch the video, and the saxophone and trumpets follow that by increasing tempo, coupled with soprano opera-like “aah”s from a female choir. This might sound silly, but there used to be a rumour during my childhood, that singing this song invoked spirits – well, looking at the frenetic conclusion musical piece, I can imagine why.


The caboose of the album is brought along with two musical pieces, the first being a Title Music piece that signals the start of a thriller, just as it should. The brass instruments work along with the percussions to create a musical piece that draws the viewers in, later progressing into a quirky and jazzy number, probably to infuse the Shammi Kapoor effect, and to give a foreboding to the quirky dance numbers that are featured in the album — “Aaja Aaja” being the most popular one. It picks up pace towards the end and ends with a trumpet high.

The other instrumental titled Music – Teesri Manzil, sounds like an upbeat instrumental version of ‘Aaja Aaja’, with the strings playing the hookline of that song in 0.5x speed, while the sound of a train plays in the background. At less than a minute, this is one of the shortest instrumental pieces, but sticks to the upbeat nature of the rest of the album.


Teesri Manzil was an album that really got the gears turning for R.D. Burman. He proved his mettle as a composer, who could handle the over-the-top personas of superstars like Shammi Kapoor, and satisfy their images, as well as give variety to the music by adding numerous world music influences that were previously unimagined in Bollywood film music.

Miraya’s favourite from the album: Tumne Mujhe Dekha

Music Mastani’s favourite: O Mere Sona Re

Please let us know which song from Teesri Manzil is your favourite? 😊

IMMORTAL GEMS BY PANCHAM

Welcome to a new beginning on Music Mastani! First of all we have a new contributor to the blog, Miraya (who is on Twitter). She has been a constant supporter throughout the years and will be joining me on my journey to visit some legendary immortal tunes. Since this lockdown has led to the dearth of new Hindi film music, we both thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit some of Bollywood’s older soundtracks. But with such a vast library of music to choose from, it would get quite directionless. However, Miraya had the brilliant idea of going through one particular composer’s work! And we both knew who we would choose — The Prince of Music, R.D. Burman!

Before we start with the actual analysis of Panchamda’s music, here is a little introduction to the composer, his work, his music style and what you should be expecting from this series!

Music Mastani’s Immortal Gems… with Miraya

What can we say about R.D. Burman Sahab that hasn’t already been said before? He was, and still is, the most innovative music composer to have graced the Bollywood music industry! His music had the timeless quality that makes it not only relevant, but also an inspiration to most music composers today. With an illustrious career that spanned over three decades (from 1961 to 1994), Panchamda began his journey as an assistant to his father, the renowned, S.D. Burman sahib. Composing and playing with music from a very early age, he was a musical prodigy. But his grandmother wanted to give him a different sort of life, and hence kept him away from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai in Calcutta. When S.D. Burman visited him he was surprised to see the kind of tunes he had already composed. Knowing his true worth, he started grooming him to be a musician. Under the tutelage of Sir Brajen Biswas he learnt rhythm by playing the table, and then under the tutelage of Ali Akbar Khan and Ashish Khan he spent time learning sarod. His father wanted him to learn to play all the instruments before he could compose, and hence, he spent four years learning classical music and that formed his earliest base. On one of his visits to Calcutta, S.D. Burman sahib realized that his son had composed around 15 tunes and brought him to Mumbai and started showing him the ropes. The first album that he assisted his father in was “Pyaasa” where R.D. Burman composed the famous tune “Sar Jo Tera Chakraaye” and even played a mouth organ at the recording. From then on, he went on to assist his father in various projects until he bagged his first one “Chhote Nawab” and very soon gave his first hit album “Teesri Manzil”.

Steeped in classical music, he loved instruments like the sarod (the instrument he first learnt to play from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan), the santoor, the tabla and the sarangi, but what made his music so different and so relatable today, was the revolution he brought to the music industry by amalgamating the classical with the contemporary. Till then, sounds such as these were unheard of. He combined instruments that were intrinsic to Bollywood music then with worldwide influences of disco, funk, jazz, Afrobeat, South American, electronic rock and even Brazilian bossa-nova and created his own stamp that reverbates with the kind of music we hear even today. Like combining santoor with an electric guitar he amalgamated Hindustani classical with guitar strokes in songs like ‘Raina Beeti Jaaye’ (Amar Prem), and many more.

A lot of Pancham’s success is owing to his remarkable rhythms, which was a hallmark of his music, and the different themes he embraced. His rhythms were steeped in African drums, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, maadal, shakers, bongo and tabla, among other instruments, are irresistible. Those rhythms brought the school and college-going crowd in the 1960s and 70s into Hindi film music. And our generation is still grooving to them, if the remakes of those songs are any indication. In fact, his rhythms had such distinctive sounds that even today with the synthesizers available to us, to recreate them is a near impossibility. Like a very well-known composer said, recreating the sound might be possible, but recreating the soul is a certain impossibility.

He used every conceivable instrument available to him, and as if even those weren’t enough, he made some of the most amazing innovations using day-to-day sounds that are popular even today. His trademark scat-phrasing in ‘Mehbooba’ (Sholay) or his “aah aah” in ‘Duniya Mein Logon Ko’ (Apna Desh), he used his vocal chords to create music. The sinister sound of ‘Dhanno Ki Aankhon Mein’ (Kitaab) was owed mainly to his grungy voice apart from the haunting synth sounds, which were, again, created by an effect that was new to Hindi film music – flanging. He used the gurgling sound of a human voice to create suspense in the background score of ‘Satte Pe Satta’, used the laughter of Asha Bhosle to create rhythms in the song ‘Yeh Naina Yaad Hai’ (Manzil Manzil), rubbed sandpaper and bamboo stick to create the rhythms of a train, blew into beer bottles and even used the sound the clanking of beggars’ plates created in some of his background scores. There are many more such innovations of rhythm and sounds that were so intrinsic to him and gave him a defining quality, that someone who doesn’t even know it, would be able to recognise a Pancham tune.

The composer struck gold in the 70s, where his albums with Rajesh Khanna like ‘Kati Patang’ and ‘Amar Prem’ struck a chord with music listeners and the public in general. The melodies were accessible and a convenient mix of classical with contemporary sounds. Following it up with albums like ‘Apna Desh’, ‘Jawani Deewani’, ‘Yaadon Ki Baaraat’, ‘Khel Khel Mein’, ‘Aandhi’, ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’, ‘Caravan’, ‘Seeta Aur Geeta’ and the iconic movie of all time, ‘Sholay’, Pancham transformed into a pop icon over the years. He ended the decade with more hit albums like ‘Ghar’, ‘Gol Maal’ and ‘The Great Gambler’.

Pancham started his 80s on a high, gaining immense popularity as a composer for teenaged love stories, like ‘Love Story’, ‘Rocky’, ‘Betaab’, along with movies for established superstars like ‘Shaan’, ‘Khubsoorat’, ‘Satte Pe Satta’. ‘Masoom’ was an amazing album that released in this decade too. It was during the 80s, despite albums like this and others like ‘Saagar’, that Pancham began facing a rough patch in his career. The Bappi Lahiri disco era had begun, and Pancham found himself in a rut when it came to producers approaching him. The man who previously used to give hit albums, now started to give hit songs (single songs from his albums used to stand out). However, his swan song ‘1942: A Love Story’ was one of his best pieces of work in around 15 years. Unfortunately, the man passed away before it released. That album has stayed evergreen in the minds of people, and won him his last Filmfare Award.

Movies like ‘Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar’, whose soundtrack contained rearranged versions of Pancham’s hit songs (by his assistant Babloo Chakravarty) and ‘Jhankaar Beats’ by Vishal-Shekhar, in which the main characters play musicians inspired by the works of Burman, bear testament to the fact that Panchamda’s legacy lives on. Not to mention the fact that the likes of Tanishk Bagchi and Arko Pravo Mukherjee have tried their hand at recreating some of his hits.

In conclusion to this long introduction, Music Mastani and Miraya are collaborating to have a look at Pancham’s works throughout his long career, and analysing it. Why certain things struck a chord with the audience, where others didn’t. Why every soundtrack is special in its own place. On the way, we will learn of some songs we have never heard before, and that is always exciting. Suffice it to say, covering his work is a lifelong dream. The genius of R.D. Burman requires many more lifetimes though. This is simply a humble attempt to look at it and appreciate it as music aficionados, and we document it on Music Mastani in order to keep a record, as well as to let our readers join in on the trip down memory lane. We hope you enjoy the journey through Pancham’s music as much as we do!

PURAANI SADAK INDEED… (SADAK 2 – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Jeet Gannguli, Samidh-Urvi, Ankit Tiwari & Suniljeet
♪ Lyrics by: Rashmi-Virag, Vijay Vijawatt, Shabbir Ahmed, Suniljeet & Shalu Vaish
♪ Music Label: Sony Music
♪ Music Released On: 23rd August 2020
♪ Movie Releases On: 28th August 2020

Sadak 2

Sadak 2 Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana


Sadak 2 is an upcoming Bollywood film directed by Mahesh Bhatt, and produced by Mukesh Bhatt. The film stars Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sanjay Dutt, and is a sequel to the 1991 release ‘Sadak’. That film had a music album by Nadeem-Shravan, who were the Bhatts’ go-to composers back in the day. This time, we get out usual mix of composers, half of which have been composing for the Bhatts very frequently since ‘Aashiqui 2’ in 2013. Ankit Tiwari and Jeet Gannguli are the Bhatts’ reprise acts, and as is their norm nowadays, what with Ami Mishra in ‘Hamari Adhuri Kahani’, Samuel-Akanksha and Abhishek Mishra in ‘Jalebi’ and Ankit himself in ‘Aashiqui 2’, they try to promote three new talents, Suniljeet and a composing duo Samidh-Urvi. Expectations are lukewarm given the composer lineup, but let’s see what the album has to offer.


The very first song of the album takes you back to Ankit Tiwari’s songs ‘Bheegh Loon’ (Khamoshiyan) and ‘Tu Jo Hain’ (Mr. X). His song Tum Se Hi has the effect of a large number of his previous songs — sedative. The composer yawns through the song in his usual nonchalant way, and you half expect him to start singing a line that goes “Teri galliyan, galliyan, teri galliyan, ro raha hoon main, tu hai ki nahi?” The usual Tiwari rock guitars (Rhythm Shaw) are there, as well as the Bhatts’ favourite flute and woodwinds (Pmk Navin Kumar). It is surprising that Dhrubajyoti Phukan has arranged the song; his usual interesting elements are nowhere to be heard! It was his arrangement that made Tiwari’s ‘Rula Diya’ (Batla House) sound better than it otherwise would. Shabbir Ahmed’s lyrics are functional for a Bhatt romantic song, but again, it is the composition that just doesn’t let the lyrics stand out, because it will probably be dismissed as drab before it gets a chance to be heard for its lyrics. Ankit Tiwari ropes in a singer Leena Bose, who sounds like a version of Palak Muchhal, who in turn sounds like a version of Shreya Ghoshal in her songs. I guess this song is the perfect start to a Bhatt album.

Newcomer composer Suniljeet gets a breezy romantic melody Ishq Kamaal, sung aptly by Javed Ali. The song itself has a heard-before tune, but it is well supported by the able singing by Javed, as well as the beautiful dholak+tabla led arrangements. And this is what I meant when I said Dhrubajyoti Phukan’s arrangements seemed low in the previous song; they are back to normal here, carrying a very Pritam touch to them, harking back to songs like ‘Tera Deedaar Hua’ (Jannat 2). They are accompanied by the occasional sarangi, ethnic strings and guitars. The composer along with Shalu Vaish writes lyrics that beautifully bring back the 90s, although in Punjabi, which seems to be the go-to language for lyricists these days. No complaints about it in this song, though. All in all, this song is a pleasant listen, well-rounded and successful in whatever it intended to convey.

Jeet Gannguli’s offering Shukriya appears in three versions, and the standard Gannguli guitars open the song, followed by some standard Gannguli digital sounds. Jubin Nautiyal handles the male version, and I must say, the song sounds like the typical Jeet-Arijit affair, but Jubin handles it with a unique finesse. Jeet employs his favourite Spanish guitars quite a number of times in the song, while his composition keeps fluctuating from intense to soft and back in matters of seconds. The strings, brass and drums in the interlude bring out the intensity of the song well, but the antara unabashedly brings you to Pritam’s ‘Haan Tu Hai’ (Jannat). The lyrics by Rashmi-Virag are aptly melancholic, and also lean towards Sanjay Masoomm’s lyrics for Jeet’s song ‘Bhula Dena’ (Aashiqui 2). The Om namah Shivaay chants towards the end are refreshing, and somehow fit right into the Bhattishness of it all.

The alternate female version by Shreya Ghoshal, titled Chal Tera Shukriya, is just the same track with female vocals, delivered amazingly by Shreya. However, the song seemed better in Jubin’s scale; the high notes seem a bit awkward in this version. The Reprise version sees Jubin joined by K.K., who is returning after quite a while. K.K. sings everything but the mukhda, which is done by Jubin. Again, Jeet keeps the arrangements the same. One would think that three versions would warrant for different arrangements, but alas.

The last song, Dil Ki Puraani Sadak, composed by Samidh-Urvi also appears in three versions, two by K.K. and one by Samidh Mukherjee. The original version of the song starts off like a very waltzy 90s number complete with choir and strings, until it digresses back into a very staid Bhattish melody, the ennui just never ending. In the beginning, K.K. handles his low notes beautifully, while the composers just go on creating a cry-fest with violins, until the arrangements pick up with a drum-and-guitar led sound a la ‘Hasi’ (Hamari Adhuri Kahani) crossed with the retro sound of ‘Om Shanti Om’, thanks to arranger Sufiyan Bhatt. The lyrics by Vijay Vijawatt, however, are perfect for such a melancholic number, and deliver what they promise. The Reprise Version has more of a haunting, ritualistic sound, probably to go with the mystical parts of the film. The arrangements intrigued me from the beginning; the prelude is musically rich, with chants at the beginning, and progressing to a haunting piano piece that is then coupled with amazing strings, and this creates a crescendo that draws the listener in. I think it is safe to say that K.K. sounds much better in this version, too! As soon as he starts, there is a nice tabla beat that kicks in, which keeps up for the most of the rest of the song. The song goes completely unplugged in the middle, though, only to pick up again about a minute later. This unplugged minute belongs to K.K., whose amazing command over his low pitch is the highlight of that portion. Samidh-Urvi have done a great job arranging this reprise. The last version of this number, the Unplugged Version, is sung by Samidh Mukherjee, one of the composers. Let’s just say it is safe to skip it, thanks to the vocals — after listening to two versions by K.K., this version sounds really unnecessary. The strings and woodwinds are a nice addition in the arrangements though.


Right down there with ‘Mr. X’, this album turns out to be one of the weakest albums from Vishesh in the recent past. Despite having a composer like Jeet Gannguli (who worked wonders in films like ‘Marudhar Express’ last year), he is made to record the same track in three different voices. The best offering is probably by newcomer Suniljeet. The ‘puraani’ adjective fits perfectly for this ‘sadak’, what with the overall dated feel it has.

Total Points Scored by This Album: 6 + 7 + 6.5 + 5 + 6 + 5.5 + 6 + 4.5 = 46.5

Album Percentage: 58.13%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < < ध < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Ishq Kamaal > Shukriya > Shukriya (Reprise) = Puraani Sadak (Reprise) = Tum Se Hi > Dil Ki Puraani Sadak > Chal Tera Shukriya > Dil Ki Puraani Sadak (Unplugged)

Which is your favourite song from Sadak 2? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

THE MUSICALLY PRODIGAL MITHOON IS BACK! (KHUDA HAAFIZ – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Mithoon
♪ Lyrics by: Mithoon & Sayeed Quadri
♪ Music Label: Zee Music Company
♪ Music Released On: 11th August 2020
♪ Movie Releases On: 14th August 2020

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Khuda Haafiz Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the songs: iTunes


Khuda Haafiz is an upcoming Bollywood film directed by Faruk Kabir, Produced by Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak, and starring Vidyut Jammwal, Shivaleeka Oberoi and Annu Kapoor in lead roles. The film will release on 14th August on Disney+ Hotstar. Ever since it’s announcement, it has been known that the movie would be having an album completely composed by Mithoon. In the days of multicomposer albums, and given Mithoon’s large association with mainly multicomposer albums (‘Malang’, ‘Kabir Singh’ and ‘Satellite Shankar’ being the latest examples) this came as reason enough to anticipate the release of the music. Expecting an album that can finally feature on Mithoon’s discography as one of his best!


Mithoon employs dulcet guitar strums to start off the album with a soothing romantic number Jaan Ban Gaye. The song sees Vishal Mishra replacing the obvious choice of Arijit Singh as the singer, and I must say, it is a fresh replacement. The man has a wonderful, feathery voice and it complements the light composition well. Asees Kaur takes over what seems to be the antara, but what actually is a smooth continuation to the mukhda; there seems to be no interlude and the song is quite short. The lyrics, by Mithoon itself, follow the idea of worshipping your beloved, and though we have heard such lyrics many times before this, it does give the song a certain depth. The Qawwali chorus (Keshav, Dilshaad Shabbir Shaikh and Nakul Abhyankar) that ends the song is splendid, because Bobby Shrivastava and Godswell Mergulhao’s arrangements with a tabla-manjeera base seem to be hinting towards some kind of Sufi break out somewhere in the song. The song, though short, scores for its simplicity. Asees Kaur also takes charge of a Reprise Version which lacks the Sufi arrangements, and also sees a slow down in tempo. Mithoon’s quintessential piano notes are present throughout the song, which is overall, a pleasant listen, but at one and a half minutes, it is shorter than the already short original, so it must be a background piece that plays in the movie.

The album progresses with Mera Intezaar Karna, a hopeful piece that is reminiscent of Arjun Kanungo’s pop songs like ‘Fursat’, thanks to the falsettos, guitars (Kalyan Baruah), and strings. However, this is a Mithoon song. And Mithoon does not keep the song one-dimensional. With the interlude, he introduces drums, strings (magnificent ones, at that) and some great guitar work by Kalyan Baruah. The introduction of drums in the interlude reminds me of ‘Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage Hum’ (Kabir Singh), where Mithoon did quite the same and built up the momentum of the song midway. Armaan’s voice sounds amazing in this, and surprisingly, it is his first song for Mithoon! He handles the falsettos perfectly, and ends the songs with amazing aalaaps. However, the real part where Mithoon hits the ball out of the park is in the shehnaai portion towards the end. Along with his hopeful lyrics, Omkar Dhumal’s shehnaai sounds blissful! We had heard the man perform well in ‘Gunjan Saxena’, but this piece tops his work in that album anyday! Mithoon wraps the song up neatly, by stripping it of all the instrumentation, letting Armaan sing the hookline one last time, and topping it with another tiny shehnaai part!

The Title Song of the album brings us back to Mithoon’s work in albums like ‘The Train’. The percussions, digital beats, composition, etc., all point towards his previous works. The song itself did not appeal to me very much, however. Vishal Dadlani delivers the song aptly, but it still manages to fall flat for some reason. Ahmad A. El Hagger features for some Arabic warbling, which again reminds us of Mithoon’s past songs. Another strange thing about the song is the association of Sayeed Quadri, known for his amazing romantic lyrics. However, his lyrics here do not even seem up to the mark that he has set for himself. An Unplugged Version by Javed Ali is even more skippable; to top the unlikeable composition, Javed sounds strained, and Mithoon hasn’t seem to have processed his voice properly. There is some interesting guitar played by Kalyan Baruah, joined by the bass guitar by Lemuel D’Souza. In spite of this, the song seems really monotonous, because the composition and vocals are just that, monotonous.

The last song provides redemption for the minor blemish that the title track was. Aakhri Kadam Tak again sees Mithoon collaborating with a singer he has never collaborated with — Sonu Nigam. The song starts with the trademark Mithoon piano notes, and Sonu handling low notes with such ease draws you into the song very effortlessly. A song that would have again called for Arijit Singh in the usual Mithoon world, I’m glad this song went to Nigam. It has been such a long time since his high and low notes have been featured so beautifully in the same song — maybe not since the title track of “Kill Dil”! The arrangements are haunting, and the antara is something that gives you goosebumps. And if you can hear some similarities to the grandeur of Bhansali’s soundtracks a la Saawariya, that is because the song has been arranged by none other than Monty Sharma, who is in fact Mithoon’s cousin. The dafli, the orchestra, all start making sense after you learn that Monty is the arranger of the song. Eureka! Probably one of the most un-Mithoon-like songs to come out of Mithoon’s studio in recent times, this one ends the album on a very high note!


Not scoring as high as Mithoon’s other solo albums like ‘Traffic’ or ‘3G’, but this album is a refreshing change from Mithoon’s usual monotonous romantic songs with digital beats. The album sees the composer experiment with tunes, arrangements (when will we ever get to see the shehnaai feature in such prominence in a Mithoon song again!) and even singers! After Mithoon’s amazing recreation of Viju Shah’s ‘Tip Tip Barsa Paani’ in MX Player’s ‘Times of Music’, this album adds to his list of successful experimentations, even without him leaving his comfort zone! I think it is safe to say that this album reintroduces us to the musically prodigal side of Mithoon, seeing as to how he did not get stingy with the arrangements as he usually does. 🙂

Total Points Scored by This Album: 7.5 + 6 + 8.5 + 6.5 + 5.5 + 7 = 41

Album Percentage: 68.33%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < प <  < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Mera Intezaar Karna > Jaan Ban Gaye > Aakhri Kadam Tak > Khuda Haafiz > Jaan Ban Gaye (Reprise) > Khuda Haafiz (Unplugged)

Which is your favourite song from Khuda Haafiz? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

MINOR TURBULENCE FOR AMIT… (GUNJAN SAXENA: THE KARGIL GIRL – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Amit Trivedi
♪ Lyrics by: Kausar Munir
♪ Music Label: Zee Music Company
♪ Music Released On: 3rd August 2020
♪ Movie Releases On: 12th August 2020

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Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl Album Cover

Listen to the songs: JioSaavn | Gaana

Buy the songs: iTunes


Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl is an upcoming Bollywood film directed by Sharan Sharma, and produced by Karan Johar, Hiroo Yaha Johar, Zee Studios and Apoorva Mehta. The film stars Janhvi Kapoor in the titular role, and Pankaj Tripathi, Ayesha Raza, Angad Bedi and Vineet Kumar Singh in other crucial roles. The film revolves around the life of India’s first female pilot, Gunjan Saxena. The film’s music album has been scored by Amit Trivedi, who has had a very busy 2018, and a relatively calmer 2019, but who is enjoying the lockdown by opening his own music label for independent music, which is great. The challenge is to sustain in film music simultaneously, and it seems he is going to be able to manage that well! He returns here with his frequent collaborator Kausar Munir who has written the lyrics for this album. Looking forward to some nice patriotic and motivational songs, and the lineup of singers is especially making me even more excited!


Starting the album off with the opulent orchestral sound of the church organ, probably produced on the keys, accompanied by Trivedi’s staple brass elements, Bharat Ki Beti is the soundtrack’s patriotism-and-women-empowerment-wrapped-into-one song. The composition is a familiar one, and it seems more so because of Trivedi’s arrangements, which send me back to songs like ‘Jhuk Na Paaunga’ (Raid) or ‘Nindaraan Diyaan’ (Blackmail). It takes the song time to land on a stable footing, which, for me, is when the guitars (Nyzel D’Lima) set in, along with Omkar Dhumal’s heavenly shehnaai that naturally evokes memories of another patriotic Bollywood song, ‘Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera’ (Swades). Kausar Munir’s lyrics bring together both the themes of the song well, and the phrase “Jeeti raho, jeet-ti raho” stays with you even after the song is over. Arijit Singh’s rendition is reminiscent of ‘Aye Watan’ (Raazi); the man hits those high notes promptly, but ironically, it is the children’s chorus (Arhaan Khan, Rohan Vaidya, Harshavardhan Gore, Rashi Harmalkar, Shahana Shome and Aahana Goyal) in whose voice the hook line sounds the best, and ends the song on a much higher note than it starts.

Asmaan Di Pari starts with Jyoti Nooran ebulliently singing Allama Iqbal’s lines “Khudi ko kar buland itna”, which also later find their way into the chorus of the song (Rajiv Sundaresan, Arun Kamath and Suhas Sawant). The singer’s cheerfulness aside, the song is a Punjabi rehash of Padman’s ‘Sayaani’, with a similar rhythm and tempo, and a very similar composition. That is the third rehash of that song after ‘Kundali’ (Manmarziyaan) and ‘Sweetheart’ (Kedarnath). Yes, the composition is sweet and enjoyable, but I’d rather listen to ‘Sayaani’ again. The most interesting part of the arrangements has to therefore be Tapas Roy’s ethnic strings and strokes including Tumbi, Oud, Turkish banjo, Charango and Bouzouki. Kausar Munir’s lyrics tell us the song is definitely about Gunjan’s aspiration of becoming a pilot. Other than that, this happens to be one of the weaker songs of the album.

Immediately having me hooked with its electrifying rock elements a la Vishal-Shekhar’s ‘Dil Haara’ (Tashan), Dhoom Dhadaka continues with the Punjabi-ness of the album. However, the song suffers from the most irritating syndrome of a song that matches to fail the brilliance of its prelude. Again, the hook line manages to be catchy enough, and so do the richly done rhythms and Tapas Roy’s strokes. In some places the overuse of synth elements reminds me of the synth-Punjabi melange Trivedi pulled off in ‘Raitaa Phail Gaya’ (Shaandaar), but this song doesn’t match up to that in terms of crazy energy. And at other points in the song, it sounds like an IPL theme song — hastily assembled for mass following. That being said, this seems like one of the songs that might grow on me after repeated listens. The lyrics are the staple feisty-young-girl lyrics we have heard before, and thus, the star of the song, by process of elimination, happens to be Sukhwinder Singh, who is somehow the only element that helps the song live up to whatever mettle it showed in the prelude!

The upbeat Punjabi flavour of the album spills over to the next song, Rekha O Rekha, which is much more attractive to my ears than the previous two songs of this genre. Tapas Roy once again features prominently in the arrangements, with his Bangla mandolin, this time, as well as the Tumbi, Banjo, Charango and Oud. The composition is catchy, but Nakash Aziz behind the mic and the amazing percussions make it more attractive. There is a pause after the antara, after which the song picks up with a renewed energy. Going by Kausar’s lyrics, I feel the song is addressing an airplane, but we can only tell after watching the movie. The song, unlike the previous two, keeps one constantly engaged, and hence it scores higher than those.

Mann Ki Dori is Armaan Malik’s first song for Amit Trivedi as an adult; he previously recorded for him as a child artiste in ‘Chillar Party’. The song starts off like Armaan’s Calypso version of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s ‘Mitwa’ (Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna), with the guitars (Nyzel D’Lima) being accompanied by some cool digital sounds that seem to create a certain tropical rainforest vibe. The song is a light-and-fluffy romantic song, with a vibe similar to that of Amit’s own ‘Angrezi Luv Shuv’ (The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir). Armaan, despite the strong nasal twang, handles the small nuances in the composition (“Leke jaayein yeh raahein mori”) with impeccable finesse, and the delivery of the “Tujh sang baandhi” cross line is beautiful! Of course, equal credit to Trivedi for designing it like that. The interlude consists of a saccharine harmonica-like sound and lands to the antara quite smoothly. Kausar’s lyrics are nothing new, but complement the light nature of the composition well. Amit employs some enjoyable rock elements (drums and guitars) in the Female Version (this track is only available on JioSaavn and Gaana), but the vocals are led by an incompetent and extremely high-pitched Palak Muchhal. A Shreya Ghoshal or Monali Thakur would have been better suited to the song. Fortunately, the song is kept short at just three minutes. Also, is this the first song Palak has sung for Amit?

The last song of the lot, is the Rekha Bhardwaj-led Dori Tutt Gaiyaan. Rekha Bhardwaj seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to songs, or shall I say, the Midas voice? The composition is a very, very typical Trivedi one (I have the feeling I’m repeating this line for all of the songs in this review, but that’s that), but the vocals by Rekha Bhardwaj make it sound more respectable. Paras Nath’s flute gives some depth to the otherwise straightforward track; there are digital beats all over the song. I would’ve preferred arrangements with some classical bent, maybe a tabla to accompany the melancholia that is brought forth so wonderfully by the flute. The antara is quite awkwardly high-pitched, but the songstress renders it beautifully. Kausar Munir aptly paints a poignant picture using the dori (thread) metaphor, which she introduced in the previous song ‘Mann Ki Dori’, and the overall lyrics do throw you into a pensive mood for as long as the song plays, so I guess she succeeds at that.


The album is definitely not one of Amit Trivedi’s best albums, but it doesn’t quite feature in the list of my least favourite albums by him. It is an aptly simple album for a movie that doesn’t seem too have a huge commercial aspect to it. The songs are situational, but as individual songs, there are only a few which I would revisit. One of Amit’s relatively weaker flights, this album acts as some kind of light turbulence for Amit!

Total Points Scored by This Album: 7 + 6 + 6.5 + 7.5 + 8 + 6 + 7.5 = 48.5

Album Percentage: 69.29%

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म < प <  < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Mann Ki Dori > Dori Tutt Gaiyaan = Rekha O Rekha > Bharat Ki Beti > Dhoom Dhadaka > Asmaan Di Pari = Mann Ki Dori (Female Version)

Which is your favourite song from Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂