OM VISHAL-SHEKHARAAY NAMAH! (BANJO – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Vishal-Shekhar
♪ Lyrics by: Amitabh Bhattacharya
♪ Music Label: Eros Music
♪ Music Released On: 23rd August 2016
♪ Movie Releases On: 23rd September 2016

Banjo Album Cover

Banjo Album Cover

 

To hear the full songs of this album on Saavn CLICK HERE

To buy this album on iTunes CLICK HERE


Banjo is an upcoming Bollywood comedy/drama film starring Riteish Deshmukh, Nargis Fakhri and Dharmesh Yelande in prominent roles. The film has been directed by renowned Marathi director Ravi Jadhav, and produced by Krishika Lulla. The movie revolves around a street band living in the Mumbai slums, which plays the banjo (here, the banjo means the Indian banjo or the bulbultarang). The band is glowered upon and their talent is not appreciated due to their societial status. As they are on their quest for respect and success, a musician (Nargis) from abroad discovers them and offers them to be a part of two of her songs for an international music competition, and their fate changes. What follows is what ‘Banjo’ is all about. The story seems interesting, and more interesting is the fact that the movie is completely music-centred. Therefore, it goes without saying, that the songs are going to play a key role in the progression of the story. And that leads us to wonder who the music directors of the movie are. And the answer is, none other than the rocking duo who just gave us a superb theme-based album for the action thriller ‘Akira’, Vishal-Shekhar. Having huge expectations that their music for the film will be outstanding, I jump into this album, which, if it is to be judged by its cover, looks like a mélange of experimentation and roadside Mumbai-style music!


1. Bappa
Singer ~ Vishal Dadlani

The electrifying sound of the bulbultarang (henceforth referred to as banjo — don’t mistake it for the countryside wala banjo!) starts off the ‘Banjo’ album, in a very rock way. The drums kick in soon, just to show that they haven’t disappeared, though the rock guitars have been replaced by the banjo. 😀 And the dynamic start to the album gets you tapping your feet. The song is an apt one to start the album with, what with Ganpati Bappa being the one with whose name all auspicious occasions begin in the Hindu faith. Also, with the song having released just before the Ganpati festival, it has been a foot-tapping song to dance to in these ten days. Keeping all these things aside, and proceeding to review the song technically, I would start by saying how fitting a choice it was to have Vishal sing this one. His energy (world-renowned by now, I’m sure) is something that takes such songs to whole new levels. His voice is a perfect blend of softness and power. Vishal-Shekhar’s composition is nothing new; we’ve all heard similar things in various other Ganpati songs that have released over the years. The mukhda starts the song off on quite a faltery note, being dicey because of the not-so-gripping tune, but it soons recovers and pulls you in. The “Ayyyy re Bappa tu!” hook is enticing. The antara is the peak point of the composition, something that makes you feel happy and surging with energy to dance at the same time. The duo take the liberty of repeating the mukhda after the antara, and at this time, it suddenly sounds perfectly fine! 😀 The song has established itself by that time. The arrangements are fascinating, with the street band touch perfectly infused into the song. The banjo is indeed the main attraction in the song, while drums and the occasional rock guitars (they don’t wanna miss any chance they get, do they?) pop in, and the dhols are amazing. The first interlude is an awesome banjo melody played on an invigorating dhol-taasha rhythm. (No wonder Nargis Fakhri wants this band to perform with her! 😂😂😂) Amitabh’s lyrics are perfectly suitable for a Ganpati song, and are amazingly well-written, what with nothing left to write in Ganpati songs nowadays. And he takes full liberty to use pure Hindi words at places, making the song sound ever so rich. A good start to the album, and an energetic Ganpati song to dance to, but could’ve done with a better composition!

 

2. Udan Choo
Singer ~ Hriday Gattani

The next song is a very innovative romantic song, with a pulsating rhythm backing it up. The duo composes a sweet melody, with a strong Spanish feel to it. The hookline is something that I doubt anyone other than Vishal-Shekhar could’ve thought of. It is just so catchy, even in all its serenity. The mukhda sucks the listener in, and perfectly starts off the song with a seductive tone. The way the composition elevates from the mukhda to the hookline, is worth hearing on loop. The antara on the other hand, is graceful and serene, and highly impressive work from Vishal-Shekhar. The way it glides over the high notes is highly impressive, and the line “De, Milan ka mauka Dena, yun, sajna ko dhokha Dena” is just too beautifully composed. The arrangements are, as I said earlier, pulsating. Who ever thinks of composing a romantic song on a kuthu rhythm, slowed down?? Well, Vishal-Shekhar just did, and it sounds amazing! The strings in this song are stupefying, playing wonderful European-sounding pieces, and oh-so-gracefully. But then, there’s the accordion too, stealing the entire show and sitting there hogging the spotlight. The accordion is something that infuses a sense of sophistication to any song it features in, and with a European composition as this, and a tapori beat, the accordion was an unexpectedly awesome addition. Towards the end of the song, the banjo kicks in, and takes the song to a fast-paced tempo, with the dhol-taashe also kicking in with whistles, giving it that strong Marathi flavour. So much fusion of musical styles in one song, left me stupefied. It is really a very commendable job that the duo has done on arranging this song. The innovative idea behind it has to be applauded. The vocals are beautiful; they have Hriday Gattani featuring in some song two years after his debut, with two songs in A.R. Rahman’s ‘Lekar Hum Deewana Dil’, and he proves yet again what a wonderful singer he is. His voice has the right amount of sweetness that is required to pull off this song, and the antara sounds breathtaking in his mellifluous voice, which is so smooth! Amitabh writes good tapori lyrics here, and makes us imagine how a roadside Romeo professes his love. 😂 Mt. Innovation gets taller with the fusion of so many different musical flavors, as Vishal-Shekhar deliver a beautiful, enjoyable and memorable romantic song! #5StarHotelSong!!

 

3. Rada
Singers ~ Vishal Dadlani, Nakash Aziz & Shalmali Kholgade

And next up we have an electrifying, thrilling rock song, and after Vishal-Shekhar’s great Indie rock in ‘Sultan’s title track, it is time for yet another stupendous rock show from Vishal-Shekhar, now with more roadside attractions. The composition instantly hooks onto you, but will not really be liked by everyone. For me though, it is enjoyable to the core. It is one of those songs that forms the grand finale at a rock concert, and which leaves the crowd chanting “Once more! Once more!”, even though the performers are dead tired and want to go home and watch the latest episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ before going to sleep. The duo’s hook composition is something that will definitely get everyone from newborns to corpses grooving to its tune. It is full of energy and is so infectious, that you can’t escape it. The duo composes everything else fantastically too, and I personally loved the mukhda a lot! It is a perfect start to a rock song, and in a female voice, sounds even more amazing! More about that later! The line “bajaake ye dhamaal kamaal dhamaal kamaal dhamaal gaana!” is enough to get you on your feet and tapping them so that you look more professional than Aamir Khan does at tap-dancing. (Haven’t seen him tap-dance? Watch ‘Dhoom Tap’ from ‘Dhoom 3’!) Of course, the antara just keeps up the energy, and the continuity is maintained so wonderfully, that it is surprising for a rock song. The mukhda repeats at the end, on a different scale of notes, and it sounds good in that scale as well. The arrangements go to show you how much fun Vishal-Shekhar had while composing this one. The rock guitars, drums and the necessary banjo wonderfully mix together and get you foot-tapping music to dance to. The banjo interludes and the wonderful dhol-taashe put the tapori-ness into the song while the guitars and drums make it sound more like an international rock song. It is the vocals that work the best. Shalmali, in an amazingly high pitch, carries out her parts very well, with all that energy inside her waiting to burst out. On the other hand, Nakash sounds less tapori as usual as he sings the male portion of the mukhda at both the beginning and start of the song, but he still sounds amazing. Vishal very energetically carries out the hookline and the antara, and at the end of the song, you are satisfied that the singers have done justice to the song, and their parts have been well-assigned and distributed amongst them. Amitabh’s lyrics are enjoyable as well, with the carefree touch to them, and that awesome Marathi hookline “Khulla karaycha rada, rada!” A song that will really make you cause a rada (commotion) wherever it plays! A perfect rock song from Vishal-Shekhar! #5StarHotelSong!!

 

4. Pee Paa Ke
Singers ~ Vishal Dadlani & Nakash Aziz

A very quirky brass band sound starts off the next song, and let’s you know tat you’re up for something zany and insane. As if to confirm your doubts, Vishal-Shekhar add some catchy, but definitely unconventional noises like that bird noise in the prelude. 😀 The song happens to be a celebratory song of some sort, with the Banjo gang drinking away to glory. The duo’s composition is very upbeat and catchy, and really gets you hooked. The mukhda is something that instantly makes you wonder what is going to follow, and having it repeated completely right at the beginning of the song, is a good move by the duo. However, it is the hookline that really spoils the fun. The hookline doesn’t actually hook you, though it is meant to — Vishal-Shekhar seem to have been confident it would hook the listeners, but all it does is irritate after a couple of times it plays. It is the antara that saves the duo, with a very happy-go-lucky, signature Vishal-Shekhar tune all over it. But then, the hookline comes back, and the latter part of the mukhda plays all over AGAIN! (It is part of some extra-long hookline, and not a mukhda at all, I guess!) Vishal-Shekhar seem to have relied solely upon this tune to make their song work, but it gets tedious to hear it after some times, and that extra-jumpy hookline gets on your nerves after some time, what with the ‘pee pee pee pee pee’ repeating way too many times. The most annoying thing being that after you hear the song, it gets stuck in your head, and you don’t want it there!!! The arrangements, thankfully, are enjoyable, and the dhols help you to forget the hookline, for some time. There is a cool rap in the interlude, where Vishal Dadlani raps in both English and Marathi+Mumbaiya tapori; the Marathi+Mumbaiya one sounding way more interesting. The whole song’s arrangements are not thing but dhols, the brass band and those weird bird whistles. At the end, the brass band sheds all inhibitions and plays more openly. It is Vishal’s zealous singing that helps you to concentrate on the positive parts of the song. Nakash does well with the backing vocals, and I could hear him clearly in only one word, that is “Humkoooo…” in the mukhda. Amitabh’s lyrics are good here too, and he brings out the taporipana well, here too. Enjoyable, but would’ve been better if Vishal-Shekhar hadn’t relied so much on that irritating hookline, and added some more attractions!

 

5. Rehmo Karam
Singer ~ Ajay Gogavale

The mandatory emotional pathos song that every Bollywood album must have, comes up next, and as it starts, with a lovely flute and piano melody, you are sure that the brief that the makers gave to Vishal-Shekhar must’ve been something like “Make something like ‘Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin’ (Agneepath)”. And the duo try to do just that, and succeeding brilliantly. The composition is something that instantly works its magic on you, and is extremely touching. The mukhda does its important job of making the listener attracted to the song, and the purpose is served by a beautiful tune. The hookline is quite heard-before, but it is still wonderful and peaceful to the ears. The antara is soulful and towards its end, there’s a good high-pitched portion, that is wonderfully sung by Ajay. The way the duo has connected the antara to the hookline again, is so sweet, and touching as well. After the antara, there is an invigorating street band portion, which cranks up the tempo wonderfully. It serves as a perfect emotional ending to the song, grand in all respects. Vishal-Shekhar’s arrangements are fantastic. The aforementioned flute impresses throughout the song, while the very clichéd dafli rhythm plays out the roopak-taal, a very common rhythm for such songs. (‘Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin’ from ‘Agneepath’ and ‘Bhagwan Hai Kahan Re Tu’ from ‘PK’, both were arranged on the same rhythm!) However clichéd it is though, it manages to touch your heart. The first interlude has a wonderful strings orchestra followed by a flute solo, while the musical piece after the antara is made of an energetic band, with the banjo and dhols returning, but not exactly to make you dance here. Here, they manage to touch your heart even better than they made you dance in the previous songs. Also, a shehnaai plays a very intense tune towards the end, which is quite easy to miss unless you strain your ears. Vishal-Shekhar aptly use the voice of Ajay Gogavale (though I somewhere feel that it was an order from Ravi Jadhav — not that he’s sung bad!), whose voice is rarely used by other composers in Bollywood, in spite of it being so, so magnificent. He wonderfully brings the rustic feeling into a song that could otherwise have been very well sung by Sonu Nigam. He touches the high notes with such ease, and in the fast-paced conclusion of the song, he sings some very intense lines that end the song on a very grand note! He sings the hookline with a perfect blend of softness and harshness. Amitabh writes lyrics that are perfect to the type of song that it is, and perfectly describes the condition of someone who has nothing left but to felt on God to guide him through the tough phases of his life. A gem from the studio of Vishal-Shekhar, and though the composition treads on familiar territory, it still manages to gain your attention and love! #5StarHotelSong!!

 

6. Om Ganapataye Namaha Deva
Singers ~ Nakash Aziz & Vishal Dadlani

The grand finale to the album, too, very smartly, is a Ganapati song. This time however, things are far different from the first song. This song has been composed with more care and intensity and arranged on a lighter beat. For this song, the duo composes a thought-provoking melody, not the usual loud types. The result, is a very slow-paced and entrancing Ganapati song, that might not be perfect for dancing to, but is definitely a delight to listen to when you feel low! The hookline perfectly opens up the song, instantly telling the listener that what he’s gonna listen to isn’t his everyday Ganapati song. The hookline is chanted so effectively by an uncredited backing chorus (whose lead singer might be Vishal Dadlani, I guess by the sound) that it just makes a home for itself in your mind. The mukhda arrives, and your thoughts that this is a different Ganapati song, are just further consolidated. The tune, being so slow-paced, sets you into some kind of a trance, and then a very unexpected rap by Vishal Dadlani starts, which is so cool, and actually forms the real hookline of the song, along with the line which is the name of the song. The antara too, is composed on the same notes as the mukhda, and keeps on entertaining you. The whole entrancement sounds much like it is a song set for the Ganapati immersion situation in the movie. Towards the end, there is an increase in tempo here, too! And it is awesome!! It is so well-executed, and gels in with the rest of the song so well, that it seems as though we should’ve expected that twist right from the beginning of the song! The arrangements by the duo are captivating as well as scintillating, in a different sort of way. The usual banjo doesn’t really open up till the final conclusion of the song (the one with the fast tempo), until then it is a very beguiling rhythm of lezims and dhol-taashe, playing in a very slow pace, signifying the farewell of Ganapati, that is, his immersion. A very bewitching touch of a rock guitar, very subtle, has been used in places, and that is amazing. Towards the end, everything breaks free, and the banjo kicks in, and it turns into a traditional Ganapati song. Nakash sings the song with a different, smooth voice texture, while Vishal sings the English portions with an unmatchable style. Nakash is definitely at his best here; something we rarely get to hear him do is singing an emotional but devotional farewell song for Ganapati, so cherish it until he comes up with his next ‘Jaaneman Aah’ (Dishoom) 😀 Amitabh’s lyrics perfectly describe the feelings of the people during Ganapati immersion, while smartly infusing a motivational and inspirational message in the song, which helps the song appeal more to the listeners. A perfect end to the album; something that all music lovers would appreciate, just because of the wonderful idea that Vishal-Shekhar have put behind it! A Ganapati song that might not be noticed by masses, but will definitely be cherished by those who like experimentation in music!! #5StarHotelSong!!


Banjo sure does live up to expectations. Though there are a few minor faults in some songs due to which they lack appeal, but as a whole, the album is something that will be remembered for the hard work Vishal-Shekhar have actually put into it. The way they’ve tried to maintain the banjo-centred tapori flavour in the album, is highly commendable. And the result is mind-blowing, what with songs of so many variety, that all have one thing in common, and that is, an enjoyable banjo band section! 😀 At the end of this album, I can say nothing but Om Vishal-Shekharaay Namah for Vishal-Shekhar’s excellence in arrangements as well as composition!

 

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: Udan Choo > Rada > Rehmo Karam > On Ganapataye Namaha Deva > Bappa > Pee Paa Ke

 

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

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