Musical Notes

‘Jugni’ soundtrack piggybacks on the giant shoulders of AR Rahman and Vishal Bhardwaj

Clinton Cerejo manages a coup in his debut as a Bollywood composer.

Ambition is the middle name of director Shefali Bhushan’s debut film Jugni, which is being released on January 22 without any stars and a soundtrack comprising 12 tracks by debut composer Clinton Cerejo. Last year, Bombay Velvet had 15 tracks and the going was not smooth.

However, Jugni has a constellation of musical stars – AR Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Will it do the trick?

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The feisty title track has been sung by Pakistani singer Javed Bashir, who has performed with Mekaal Hassan Band. The track mixes the guitar with a folk sound. Another unplugged version dims the former’s glory with a tepid rendition. Vishal Bhardwaj singing “Dugg Duggi Dugg” is reminiscent of his own songs as well as the soundtrack’s most hummable number. Cerejo and Bianca Gomes rouse up “Hatt Mullah” with fusion sounds twice, and the reprise has a haunting effect. “Bolladiyaan”, sung by Rekha Bhardwaj, uses ambient music to give her voice a quality of floating in the air, which envelops the listener.

Nakash Aziz and Cerejo amp up the volume and the verve for “Dil Ke Sang”, in which lyricist Shellee writes about taking the heart (along with the spirit) from Vancouver to Sydney on a musical journey. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in “Zarre Zarre Mein Hai Noor” does the customary Sufi qawaali. These two formulaic songs put the album right in the middle of the Bollywood sound.

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And that is when Cerejo breaks the monotony with the excellent “Dilaan De Saudey.” Bashir gets a rock ballad with the best kind of guitar-and-drum interlude, a composite of all rock anthems. His voice reflects the Punjabi ethos of the album, giving the song a territorial flavour like the premise of the film, which revolves around Vibhavari (played by Sugandha Garg), a music director who travels to Punjab in search of a folk artist.

Neha Kakkar gets the album’s dance number, “Joban Hai Shawaa”, which could have been the next “London Thumakda” (Queen, 2013) but the song misses out on the brassy sounds of Amit Trivedi.

“Lakhon Salaam“, sung by Rahman, has been written and composed by Rahman’s spiritual teacher, Kaashif Sahib, who also wrote “Khwaja Mere Khwaja” (Jodhaa Akbar, 2008). Oddly, it sounds like a naat (song in praise of the Prophet) that Rahman has composed for Majid Majidi’s biopic Muhammad: The Messenger of God. The song’s Middle Eastern sounds, which emerge out of a blend of daf, oboe and duduk, do not quite sit with the Punjabi milieu.

“Heer“, based on the poem by Waris Shah and recited by Nakash Aziz, is brief as a prayer, effectively giving the soundtrack closure and the hope of a long shelf life.

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