Posted on May 4, 2016 at 8:07 pm

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Music Review: Sarbjit

In anticipation of the film’s release this month, the makers of Sarbjit have released the full album for the movie. Music for Sarbjit has been composed by Jeet Gannguli, Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi, Shail-Pritesh, and Shashi Shivam, with lyrics penned by Rashmi Virag, Jaani, Sandeep Singh, Arafat Mehmood, A M Turaz, and Late Haider Najmi.

The first track, “Salamat”, is a haunting soulful melody, as expected from composer Amaal Mallik. Sung by Arijit Singh and Tulsi Kumar, this song’s minimalist orchestration fuses soft electric guitar with Indian musical elements like bamboo flute and tabla. While the flute bits in between are absolutely beautiful, the main melody feels somewhat repetitive towards the end of the song.

“Dard” begins with an ektara-sounding instrumental section that transitions into soft guitar chords. It is nice to hear Sonu Nigam’s voice in this song after a long time. Although sonically this track sounds very similar to “Salamat”, the powerful metaphors in Rashmi and Jaani’s lyrics truly capture the pain and hope of Sarbjit’s family as they attempt to find and rescue him.

“Tung Lak” is a vibrant contrast to the first two mellow tracks in the album. Sung by Sukhwinder Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shail Hada, and Kalpana Gandharv, this is a typical energetic Punjabi number that will make you want to get up and dance. Aishwarya, Richa, and Randeep too flaunt their moves in the video of this track. Needless to say, Sukhwinder and Sunidhi were perfect choices for this song, and I simply love the Punjabi “rap” section in the middle!

Sung by Shafqat Amanat Ali, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing “Rabba” is that it sounds like a Vishal Bhardwaj composition, with its unpredictable shifts in the mellow melody. The orchestration in this track has a slight Middle Eastern gypsy vibe that complements the nice melody and beautiful flute bits interspersed throughout.

“Meherbaan” begins with a sloka of sorts by Sukhwinder Singh, Shail Hada, and Munnawar Masoom that preludes the qawwali track. All three singers have amazing voice ranges that effortlessly reach high notes. Although it can vaguely be classified into the genre of a qawwali song, I wish the beat of the song was generally a bit faster. The song speeds up slightly towards the end but unfortunately it is not as impactful as expected.

“Barsan Laagi” features beautiful strings, guitars, and shehnai orchestration. It has been sung by Shail Hada, but perhaps there could have been a better choice of singer for this song, such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, who could have effortlessly and single-handedly handled the melodic and range shifts.

The first thing that stands out in “Allah Hu Allah” is its fascinating but initially indiscernible beat. Shashaa Tirupati, Altamash, and Rabbani Mustafa Khan render this very different melody quite well in a chorus fashion. Like “Rabba”, this too has a Middle Eastern nomadic gypsy vibe with classical music elements interspersed. The orchestration section towards the middle of the song is awesome and really embodies this Indian-Middle Eastern fusion.

“Mera Junoon” is another mellow number sung by Shail Hada. Unfortunately, this seems like a slightly depressing song and may be one of those tracks that is better suited within the context of the film rather than a standalone track heard on its own.

“Nindiya”, sung by Arijit Singh, sounds like an unplugged track on account of its little orchestration. The melody – particularly the main chorus melody – is interesting and different from what one would expect while hearing this track.

The “Sarbjit Theme” is an instrumental exposition of various elements, including clarinet, cello, and other strings. Initially, it sounds somewhat like it belongs in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. However, the crescendo towards the middle changes the mood slightly from sadness to more hopeful.

Final Verdict: Sarbjit is generally a mellow album with mostly soft, melodious numbers supporting the realism of the situation in the film. A clear exception is “Tung Lak”, which is one of the only peppy songs in the album. “Salamat” is certainly the most haunting melody in the album, but every other track has something to offer as well. Here’s hoping the film will only enhance these already beautiful melodies!

Sarbjit is an Omung Kumar directorial starring Randeep Hooda, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Richa Chadha, and Darshan Kumar. It will release in theaters on May 20, 2016.

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