A Great Musical Conclusion by Hindi Cinema in 2023
2023 is reaching its end. Though globally and even nationally, it hasn’t been a fair year. However, when it comes to Indian cinema and specifically Hindi cinema, it has given us some memorable moments this year ranging from Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback in ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawaan’ and small budget gems like ‘Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai’ and now ’12th Fail’ so far, making it actually ‘rising from the dead’ post-pandemic. This comes at a time when most of the films and programmes are enjoying success in the OTT scenario.
Above all, what is surprising is that after a long time, during the year-end, Hindi Cinema consistently gifted us with some songs which aren’t only mere good songs, but also those that deliver the desired adrenaline rush, and inspiration with beats which not only hit but also arouse multiple emotions collectively. As an added Midas touch, some of them have also beautifully applied folk tunes too. They are Rampage and Korar Oi Louho Kapat (A. R. Rahman/ Pippa), Badhte Chalo (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy/ Sam Bahadur) and Arjan Vailly (Manan Bharadwaj/ Animal).
As we all know, ‘Pippa’ and ‘Sam Bahadur’ are biopics. The former is centred on the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war, as a result of what the nation of Bangladesh came into being. The latter includes it as a chapter in the story of the Indian Army legend Late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. As far as what we have seen in both (in the latter’s trailer so far), the makers have tried their level best to showcase the cause of Bangla nationalism and the creation of Mukti Bahini (the guerrilla resistance movement consisting of the Bangladeshi military, paramilitary and civilians). Musically, in the case of ‘Pippa’, while the song ‘Rampage’ (MC Heam and Krystal) is a rap song which speaks for the consequences created by war and bloodshed, the song ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ is a jazzed version of the original song which was written by revolutionary Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam during the British Raj in 1921.
‘Rampage’ begins with orchestra and you have a sudden hit of rap by MC Heam. This song actually follows the typical A. R. Rahman style in most of his songs, where he gently sets up the mood and then strikes it hard with a bang. The lyrics efficiently touch global issues of war, bloodshed, class divide, violence and the consequences that they create. It’s indeed quite revolutionary of A. R. Rahman to shake hands with rap music for this song which actually sets up the film’s premise. Interestingly, the pace of the song also goes in tandem with the intensification of the events that take place in the film. The percussion of the song by the veteran Sivamani may make Rahmaniacs (a name given to die-hard A. R. Rahman fans) reminiscent of the background song ‘ Kalingathu Bharani’ / ‘Yuddh Karo’ from ‘Raavanan’ / ‘Raavan’ (2010) which was also centred on war!
Despite the controversy over it, the song ‘Karar Oi Louho Kopat’ is actually a gem having Bengali folk music and lyrics which has been utilized as the patriotic song of Mukti Bahini in the film. While A. R. Rahman continues to face the backlash for ‘changing’ the song’s original tune for the film version, it is highly commendable for him to follow his usual pattern in the song creation which he did for his memorable renditions of ‘Vande Mataram’, “Rang De Basanti’, ‘Pagdi Sambhal ‘Jatta’ and ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’, that were also pre-independence classics. Eventually, he also made people re-discover the genius of Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the legendary Bengali poets.
Collectively, ‘Pippa’ is an underrated album by A. R. Rahman, where you have Arijit Singh nailing with style in ‘Main Parwaana’. What is worth noting is that the song ‘Mohabattein Shukriya’ sung by Suzzane D’Mello and Vishal Mishra is a lovely experimental fusion track which gently blends Baul (Bengali folk) music with rock beats.
Backed by amazing lyrics from Gulzar, ‘Badhte Chalo’ sung by Shankar Mahadevan, Vishal Dadlani and Divya Kumar joins the bandwagon of patriotic classics from the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio which earlier gave us ‘Hindustani’ and ‘Kandhon Se Milte Hain’. The song gives out a feeling of ‘Chale Chalo’ from ‘Lagaan’ (2001) which also showcased men prepping for a clash. While the backdrops were different, both songs bring out a similar sentiment of patriotism and unity. What’s the USP of ‘Badhte Chalo’ is that it is the only Indian film song which has incorporated the battle cries of all the Indian Army infantry regiments, that have been skillfully brought out by Dadlani and Kumar with chorus. What is worth noting about the instrumental part is that it beautifully applies regional tunes and beats in order to beautify the song in style. As far as the picturization is concerned, the song goes beautifully in tandem with the depiction of the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini prepping for the 1971 war against Pakistan. It also shows the real-life character of Late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw (played by Vicky Kaushal in the film) visiting his troops, which the legend did in real.
Recently, the makers of the film ‘Animal’ (which would be clashing with ‘Sam Bahadur’ on 1 December 2023) came up with the much-anticipated single ‘Arjan Vailly’. The song is written and performed by celebrated Punjabi folk singer Bhupinder Babbal and has been set to tunes by Manan Bharadwaj. The song is yet another amazing example of fusion music that amalgamates modern beats and Punjabi folk lyrics. What is interesting is that when the song was released as the film’s “Pre-teaser Audio”, people were less interested in the entire album but more eager to listen to this song’s full version. Finally, the anticipation paid off on 18 November 2023, when the full song was finally released and many loved the composition. The lyrics highlight the beauty of warriors and their battles which have been aptly set with modern beats by Bharadwaj.
So finally we can say, that our required musical motivation has arrived from Hindi Cinema after a very long time. Hope the beauty remains so and keeps on growing!
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.