CATCHY TUNES IN A COVER OF EARTH!! (ANAARKALI OF AARAH – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Rohit Sharma
♪ Lyrics by: Ramkumar Singh, Ravinder Randhawa, Prashant Ingole, Dr. Sagar & Avinash Das
♪ Music Label: Zee Music Company
♪ Music Released On: 6th March 2017
♪ Movie Releases On: 24th March 2017

Anaarkali of Aarah Album Cover

 

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

To buy this album on iTunes CLICK HERE


Anaarkali Of Aarah is a Bollywood film starring Swara Bhaskar, Pankaj Tripathi and Sanjay Mishra in lead roles. The film has been directed by Avinash Das, and produced by Sandiip Kapur. The film is about a singer in Bihar who earns a living by singing songs at village functions. As she gets entangled into a spat with the Vice Chancellor of a prestigious university, she seeks justice, and the movie is about her struggle for justice. The movie has opened to great reviews, but as usual, my writing speed has fallen behind, and so here I am. The music for the movie has been composed by Rohit Sharma, who is NOT a cricketer; you can find him over at @rohitdecomposer on Twitter. He has composed for a music album for a movie I was aware of, but didnt pay much attention to, Jimmy Sheirgill’s ‘Shortcut Safaari’, but now he comes with a definitely bigger album, and with ten tracks it is definite that the music will be completely situational and plot-oriented, which is to say, it will be quite rustic and earthy. Is it a problem for me? No! As long it is catchy, I will like anything! 😀 So let’s dive into this ten-track album!


1. Dunaliya Mein Jung (Anaarkali’s Umph)

Singer ~ Swati Sharrma, Lyrics by ~ Ramkumar Singh

The album starts with a song alternatively called “Anaarkali’s Umph”, which is probably a misspelled version of ‘oomph’, but I get the point. Anyway, the song is clearly for one of Anaarkali’s performances, and as soon as it starts, you get the situational feel of it radiating out of it. The composition is quite toned-down, with not much by way of catchiness, but goes on quite a clichéd route. I’m sure if you go to Aarah itself, this is the kind of folk songs you will hear. So it was a smart move to keep it simple. The tune does make you dance like crazy later on, but one problem is its duration. Over five minutes, the song is quite daunting to sit through because of its monotony. The arrangements are aptly folksy. The bulbultarang (let’s call it the ‘Indian banjo’ henceforth in the review because it is a common instrument in the songs and I’m too lazy to add the italics effect.) has been used gratuitously, as is the harmonium, and very aptly too, because it replicates the folk performances of the region. Swati Sharrma sounds very different from what she usually sounds like in songs, and it is nice to hear her powerful vocals yet again after ‘Banno’ (Tanu Weds Manu Returns), after which she hardly got any substantial songs. Again, she seems mellowed down in some places, and you wonder how the song is supposed to be so ‘oomphy’ because Bollywood has seen much more oomph that this. Maybe it is because of Ramkumar’s lyrics, which aren’t really creative. A decent start to the album; not-so-oomphy, but catchy to an extent.

Rating: 3/5

 

2. Lahanga Jhaanke (Accidental Firing)

Singer ~ Indu Sonali, Lyrics by ~ Ravinder Randhawa

Now this song is alternatively titled ‘Accidental Firing’ and I wonder what that means, unless there’s some situation in the movie. The song starts abruptly with the nice pungi/shehnai sound followed by the Indian banjo played in a very catchy tune. The composition for this one is quite more ‘oomphy’ than the last song, and you instantly get caught on to the rhythm, especially the percussion which has been done wonderfully! The composition is quite sultry and catchy, and the various twists in it really help propel it forward. The “sarak sarak sarakaile” hook is catchy. The antara takes a different route than the rest of the song, and the percussion changes very nicely; the seamless transition from one rhythm to another is a marvel to behold in this song. From rapid, it goes to slow and sultry, just to go back to rapid in a while. I think I’ve given enough away about the arrangements, so now about the vocals. Indu Sonali, a Bhojpuri singer, is an apt singer for the song and her nuances give the song an interesting touch, fun to listen. The lyrics here too are quite the same as the previous track, and I think it’s going to go on like this till the end of the album. A catchier song, that excels especially in arrangements.

Rating: 3.5/5

 

3. Aye Sakhi Ooh (Keh Mukri)

Singer ~ Pawni Pandey, Lyrics by ~ Ramkumar Singh

Next up comes the ‘keh mukri‘, which is basically a song where a lady describes qualities that sound like she’s praising her lover, and then denies it and says that she is talking about something else. We heard it in ‘Raanjhanaa’ too, if you remember! 🙂 This one is more sensual however, than that one, which seemed as sanctimonious as sanctimonious can get. The composition is, relevantly to the theme of the movie, quite sultry and sensual. The mukhda gives a perfect start to the song, while the antaras just continue it, and the hookline does its job. The arrangements are similar to the previous song, with a lot of amazing percussion consisting of dholaks and tablas. The Indian Banjo works its way amazingly throughout the upbeat song. Pawni Pandey’s vocals here sound very impressive, and not fake like they did in ‘Laila Main Laila’ (Raees). Rohit Sharma has also very interestingly tweaked her voice pitch in some places, providing a comic touch in those places. The backing vocalists efficiently do their job as men who are smitten by Anaarkali. Lyrics are the same. 😀 I should tell you though, that it isn’t like I was expecting better lyrics; it is perfectly fine here given the movie’s theme! Another catchy one!

Rating: 4/5

 

4. Badnaam Jiya De Gaari (Thumri)

Singer ~ Rekha Bhardwaj, Lyrics by ~ Ravinder Randhawa

Next up we have a thumri, and who better than Rekha Bhardwaj to pull it off!? So Rohit treats us with an aptly folksy, earthy and rustic Thumri, that, at the same time, pulls at our heartstrings. The composition is so beautiful, and has a very heavy old-world-charm to it. The melancholic notes hit the right part of your heart, and instantly. The mukhda has been composed on the common kaherwa taal, while, quite interestingly, the antara has been composed on the three-beat dadra. And the transition between the two different taals, which are individually so commonly (or were so commonly) used in Bollywood songs, is so seamless! It brings you shivering with goosebumps everytime that transition occurs. That brings us to arrangements. Of course, these taals have been played marvellously on the tablas. However, he interludes are something to watch out for, where the sitar will transport you back to Naushad’s music in ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. A wonderful sarangi interlude is something you shouldn’t miss. The harmonium gives a very light background music, and if you are listening carefully, you might catch it. Rekha Bhardwaj pulls off the thumri, with as much finesse as she always does. Nobody on today’s list of singers (and active singers) could’ve replicated what she did in this song. Her nuances are to die for, while the rest of the song, she carries with an aura of power and yet, sounds very simple. Here, the lyrics by Ravinder Randhawa are wonderful. A strong and powerful thumri that needs to be promoted!!

Rating: 5/5

 

5. Mann Beqaid Huva (Anaarkali’s Adieu)

Singer ~ Sonu Nigam, Lyrics by ~ Prashant Ingole

A guitar strum which starts off the next song, immediately tells you that it is quite different from he other songs of the album! And sure enough, this one is quite different in theme and therefore stands out. It has very little by way of earthiness, but there definitely is a gentle caressing breeze in the song. The breeziness can be credited to Sharma’s sweet composition. I was reminded of Anu Malik’s and Sonu Nigam’s collaborations in the 90s and early 2000s by this song. The line before the hookline, and the hookline itself, are so calming, and accentuated by the ravishing instrumentation. Usually such songs have very little in terms of orchestration, but this one is backed by a heavy strings orchestra, wonderful sarangi and if course, the acoustic guitar. Still, wonderful percussion of tablas can be heard in a line hat goes marvellously high-pitched in the antaras. Shakers too, are scintillating additions to the arrangements. Sonu Nigam carries the song with a charming aura, and his old songs are brought to mind instantly; not the middling compositions he had started singing in the middle. This song could have easily fit into a rom-com set in a rural region, and had it had some more urban arrangements, it could have also passed in an urban love story, and that’s why it becomes the odd one out in the album! Prashant Ingole (after a long time) writes marvellous, poetic lyrics, and it is a pleasure to hear him after a long time! Charming!

Rating: 4.5/5

 

6. Mora Piya Matlab Ka Yaar (Anaarkali in Studio)

Singer ~ Swati Sharrma, Lyrics by ~ Dr. Sagar

This song starts with a kind of sher, in Bhojpuri, and proceeds to form a rather staid melody, which only sounds impressive occasionally. The composition is not so innovative, and could’ve been better, if not excellent. The whole thing sounds very heard-before and hence, fails to raise eyebrows. The antara doesn’t make things quite better, and is quite dull. The only thing that can pass as catchy, might be the hookline. The arrangements take the form of heard-before Qawwali arrangements, the harmonium leading the way with dholaks following. The Indian banjo too, has been utilised in a very clichéd way. Swati Sharrma doesn’t sound as good as she sounded in her previous song, but still sounds better than all her other songs in other albums. The lyrics are cute, but you hardly have the scope to notice them, as the song won’t compel you to hear it again! A staid melody ruins everything.

Rating: 2/5

 

7. Sa Ra Ra Ra (Anaarkali’s Revenge)

Singer ~ Pawni Pandey, Lyrics by ~ Ravinder Randhawa

This track seems to be a crucial scene from the film, included in the music album. And it is a Reprise of “Lahanga Jhaanke”. The differences between the two songs are plenty though. This one aptly starts with dialogues, probably as they are from the movie. And it gives a better setting to the song, than the abruptly starting ‘Lahanga Jhaanke’. The premise of the song, we can easily gauge, thanks to the dialogue parts by the emcee of the event and Swara Bhaskar as Anaarkali. The composition, atleast for the first half of the seven-and-a-half minute long song, is the same as ‘Lahanga Jhaanke’ song, but the actual ‘Sa Ra Ra Ra’ part starts four minutes into the song, after a cutting outburst by Anaarkali at a particular man in the audience. And that part is savage! The tune is apt as ut sticks to the whole ‘revenge’ theme, and has a quite sinister feel. Rohit Sharma has added better arrangements in this version, than he did in the original. It is basically the same, but a wonderful backing chorus makes up for whatever void was left unfilled in the first version. In the new portion, booming percussion helps the Anaarkali’s anger come out even better, with the chorus supporting her very well. Strings work well to intensify that portion of the song, while Swara’s dialogues really work in favour of the revenge theme; of course, the great actress that she is, she has rendered the dialogues veryyyyy convincingly! The vocals by Pawni Pandey are very impressive! This is one of Pawni’s best performances, and she just infuses a lot of power into the rendition. The lyrics are well-written, and so are the dialogues. A nice song to go with the revenge situation!

Rating: 4/5

 

8. Mera Balam Bambaiya (Rehearsal Song) [Bonus Track]

Singer ~ Pawni Pandey, Lyrics by ~ Avinash Das

The next three songs have been titled as “Bonus Songs”, probably because they aren’t in the film, and if you notice, they haven’t been mixed, mastered and developed further than a mere scratch version. The songs do sound like scratch versions, and the makers seemed to have included them in the album just for the music lovers. Anyway, this particular song has a nice and catchy tune, another folksy tune that grips you instantly. It is a short song, and again, sounds like a scratch version, as is evident from the minimal arrangements, which makes the song sound raw. However, it doesn’t take anything from the song. Rohit’s composition nevertheless, is very catchy. The hookline is something everybody would enjoy at first listen itself. The arrangements, though minimal, with mainly a harmonium and tablas/dholaks, are enjoyable, giving a feeling as if you are actually at an event in a village, and the song is being sung there by the villagers. Pawni yet again, aces the vocals, sounding as fun as ever. She seems to be enjoying herself, and Rohit Sharma himself (I believe) accompanies her in some parts. The lyrics are functional, situational again. A catchy one, which is not hampered by the raw sound — I wonder why they didn’t develop it further!

Rating: 4/5

 

9. Hamre Jobna Pe (Anaarkali’s Swag) [Bonus Track]

Singer ~ Indu Sonali, Lyrics by ~ Avinash Das

The second “Bonus Song” has more of a generic tune, heard-before, and not-too-catchy either. The composition sounds quite like “Mora Piya Matlab Ka Yaar” in many parts; maybe this was its precursor, and not finalised. Again, it is very short, and hasn’t been developed further than a stanza. There’s not much to say about the composition, so talking about the arrangements, I must say that the synthetic sounds added to it actually make it sound like a Bhojpuri film song. And the dholaks and harmonium lead the arrangements here too. Indu Sonali sings the song aptly, in her husky voice. The lyrics are something I didnt quite understand for the most. Middling.

Rating: 2/5

 

10. Laal Laal Cheekwa (Anwar’s Intro) [Bonus Track]

Singer ~ Rohit Sharma, Lyrics by ~ Ravinder Randhawa

The last song of this long album starts off quite simply with a simple dholak rhythm, which I’m sure you’ve heard somewhere before. The composition again, is not up to the mark, and the song lasts for a short one minute. The dholak arrangements break into a digital beat halfway through the track, and I wonder why the song hasn’t been polished before that; it sounds odd to hear a song that has been only half polished. Rohit Sharma’s vocals sound like Udit Narayan in places. The lyrics are situational yet again, and nothing to rave about. Dissatisfying.

Rating: 2/5


Anaarkali of Aarah was an album that bravely stuck to it’s script’s demands. It didn’t feel the requirement to rope in a famous pop singer to make it commercially viable. And as it is, it impressed me because of it’s honesty. The tunes are catchy, and aptly rustic, and clearly stick to the script. Rohit Sharma must have done lots of hard work researching about this style of music from Bihar and U.P. Kudos to that. Last but not the least, kudos to the makers for keeping the tunes as they were needed. Of course, the rating might go down due to the three bonus tracks, but this album was one with catchy tunes, covered with a coat of earth! 

 

Total Points Scored by This Album: 3 + 3.5 + 4 + 5 + 4.5 + 2 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 2 = 34

Album Percentage: 68%

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: Badnaam Jiya De Gaari > Mann Beqaid Huva > Sa Ra Ra Ra = Aye Sakhi Ooh = Mera Balam Bambaiya > Lahanga Jhaanke > Dunaliya Mein Jung > Mora Piya Matlab Ka Yaar = Laal Laal Cheekwa = Hamre Jobna Pe

 

Remake Counter
No. of remakes: 08 (from previous albums) + 00 (from Anarkali of Aarah) = 08

Which is your favourite song from Anaarkali of Aarah? Please vote for it below! 🙂 Thanks!

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2 thoughts on “CATCHY TUNES IN A COVER OF EARTH!! (ANAARKALI OF AARAH – Music Review)

  1. Another well written review of a lengthy album by you. It must be taking a lot of patience to write so much but u never seem to be writing just for the sake of it. Keep up the good work 😃👍

    Like

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