Music Review: Gulaal
By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Films made by Anurag Kashyap have more often than not boasted of a defining soundtrack. We saw it recently in Dev D and a couple of years back in Black Friday. Even the music of Paanch was ahead of it's time and if re-released today could do wonders with rock genre finally finding acceptance in Bollywood flicks. No wonder, when Anurag goes rustic with Gulaal, one looks forward to what new he has in store this time around. Agreed that except for Dev D, music of his other films haven't been able to penetrate the mass market but still, one has to give it to the filmmaker for at least trying to be genuinely different.
And different he is for sure as the music of Gulaal kick-starts with 'Ranaji'. Composed and written by Piyush Mishra (who is in fact the composer and lyricist for the entire album), the number is a modern day mujra which is as whacky as it gets. After 'Emosanal Atyachaar', this is yet another quirky number making an appearance in an Anurag Kashyap film. There are references to quite a few real life issues in the song (all in light humor though) and one just hopes that there are no controversies around it in days to come and it is accepted with as much interest and enthusiasm as 'Emosanal Atyachaar'.
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The mood changes immediately with the arrival of 'Yaara Maula' which is a haunting soft rock piece that is dark & disturbing and comes with a thump. 'Yaara Maula' does turn a little theatrical, especially towards the end, but that doesn't take away from the impact it manages to create. Same is the case with 'Sheher' that has a revolutionary mood to it. The longest track in the album (lasting seven and a half minutes), while the theatrical mood remains intact for it, one looks forward to see how it is presented on the big screen.
An even better number comes in the form of 'Aisi Sazaa' which is yet another haunting and dark number about loneliness. One thing common to this song too is its disturbing nature (as is the case with the entire album) and in this context, Piyush Mishra and Anurag Kashyap get it right once again.
'Duniya' takes one back into the 50s and is a number based on Guru Dutt's 'Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To' [Pyaasa]. A sad number which is quite heavy in nature and reaches it's crescendo with the arrival of key words 'Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaye To' [which are presented verbatim in the song], it brings back the genre of music that has been long forgotten.
With numerous heavy tracks making an appearance back to back, it's time for the second mujra to arrive which goes as 'Beedo'. Though musically it doesn't break any new grounds, especially after 'Ranaji' giving Gulaal a cracker of a start, 'Beedo' still wins in being authentic as it stays rooted as per the mood and flavor of the film's subject and its setting.
It's time to return to the dark-and-haunting genre of Gulaal with the advent of 'Raat Ke Musafir' A background piece which would ensure that there is a pin drop silence in the auditorium once it is played. There is absolutely no music in the background and it's left to the singers to ensure that the composer's hard work is justified with their flawless rendition of the number.
Finally arrives 'Aarambh' which could well be termed as the flagship number of the album. Yet another number which is revolutionary in nature, 'Aarambh' is fast paced and is bound to get the adrenalin pumping once it is heard and seen on the big screen.
Sample the lyrics of 'Ranaji' that go as: 'Rana Ji Mhare Gusse Mein Aaye, Aiso Bal Khaye, Agiya Barsae, Ghabrae Mharo Chain; Jaise Door Desh Ke Tower Mein Ghus Jaaye Aeroplane'. Though it's this reference which kick-starts the soundtrack of Gulaal, there are quite a few other digs on topics such as Uncle Sam, Afghanistan, mineral water, democracy etc. that bring in a socio-economic humor to the proceedings.
What follows next is a motivational number 'Yaara Maula' which revolves around creation of an army for the purpose of liberation and independence. Hard hitting and just right for the situation, it is followed by 'Sheher' a little later in the album. Ditto is the case with 'Aisi Sazaa' which has some poetic lyrics by Piyush Mishra that have to be heard at least 3-4 times to be comprehended in entirety. However, 'Beedo' has a fun mood to it and doesn't turn out to be a typical mujra that we have been exposed to for years.
'Raat Ke Musafir' is yet another situational track about warning the protagonist for the steps that he is taking in a new journey of his. One hearing of the lyrics and you are sure that its dark feel won't make you sing along the number on a bonfire party even after being a couple of drinks down. 'Aarambh' though is a positive track and is bound to keep the audience hooked on to the screen due to its acidic lyrics.
Rekha Bhardwaj certainly seems to be thoroughly enjoying the proceedings in the mujra 'Ranaji' and one can be rest assured that there would be whistles and catcalls in the auditorium when the song plays on screen. She later returns with 'Beedo', another mujra in the album, and lends authenticity to it. Later Rahul Ram and Aushim come up with 'Yaara Maula' and the way they begin the song, it reminds one of 'Chorh Aaye Hum Wo Galiyaan' [Maachis]. They do the job right in creating a dark and haunting mood which goes well with the theme of the film.
Also, when Rahul Ram goes solo with 'Aarambh', he makes sure that his voice stays on with the audience long after the number is through. His voice carries a punch to it as he also gets the 50s style back into the narrative.
One has to give it to Shilpa Rao for being ever-so-consistent with each outing of hers. 'Aisi Sazaa' is an extremely difficult song to sing due to near to nil music instruments in the background (that could help camouflage a blemish or two). Still, she demonstrates once again that why she is a voice waiting to be explored further with her talent ranging from a number like 'Khuda Jaane' [Bachna Ae Haseeno] to 'Aisi Sazaa'.
Piyush Mishra does a triple take with 'Duniya' as he not just composes and writes but also sings 'Duniya'. He does rather well as a singer here and it appears that the man is trained in classical music (or at least has been practicing it for years now). He brings with him just the sound that one associates with the semi-classical music and rendition from the 50s. He later goes solo again with 'Sheher' and then also pairs up with Swanand Kirkire for 'Raat Ke Musafir', a number where they hold all ends to make it THE most haunting number in the album.
Gulaal is an experimental soundtrack for a Bollywood film and Piyush Mishra and Anurag Kashyap deserve appreciation for thinking out of the box and creating a sound that is different from the routine. There are some albums where one doesn't have to think commerce and instead stay true to the genre, subject and the treatment. Gulaal is one such album. Hear it on to experience something new.
'Ranaji', 'Aisi Sazaa', 'Aarambh'