Time and again, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has proved that it’s not only the grandeur of his films that hooks the audience but the captivating music that never fails to strike a chord with music lovers. The director, who is known to have a great ear for music, had earlier composed the music for two of his films – Guzaarish and Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela – and both offered some unforgettable songs. Now, Bhansali has composed for one of his most anticipated films, Bajirao Mastani.
When it comes to period dramas, it is even more challenging to do justice to the sounds of the era depicted in the film. Since the Peshwai era was influenced by the Mughals, in Bajirao Mastani, the director has played with Marathi folk but with a hint of qawwali.
Opening with a Marathi folk rendition in Deewani mastani, Bhansali introduces a powada admiring the virtues of Mastani. The powada, written and sung by Ganesh Chandanshive, seamlessly merges with the melodious vocals of Shreya Ghoshal, which comprises the main segment of the song. The soft, romantic texture of Ghoshal’s vocals accentuates the harmonies of the track, which are based on tabla- and mandolin-laden musical arrangements. The song summarises with a qawwali section highlighting the fusion of two cultures.
Aayat opens with a classical touch of aalap rendered in the rustic voice of Arijit Singh that leisurely forays into qawwali-style music. The composition and treatment of the song are a throwback to the director’s earlier composition Laal ishq from Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela. The highlight of the song is the qawwali interlude well complemented by the stellar singing of Singh.
The celebratory song, Malhari, which probably marks the victory of Bajirao in the film, brings in some traditional Marathi folk sounds such as tutari, nagada and tasha. The energy is consistent throughout the song, which is designed on percussion-heavy orchestration but soon merges with contemporary sounds, which doesn’t suits the period era. Also, the lyrics penned by Prashant Ingole are not consistent with the period. One wonders whether the Peshwas would have used Marathi slang such as ‘vaat lavli’. Vishal Dadlani, who rules the mic, makes the track engaging and conveys the zest and power of the Peshwas through his singing.
Shreya Ghoshal is back with Mohe rang do laal and is accompanied by Pandit Birju Maharaj on the Kathak padhant. Backed by the melodious vocals of Ghoshal, the classical ode depicts the story of Radha-Krishna, which is skillfully penned by Siddharth-Garima. The intricate classical musical arrangement by the composer is worth mentioning and is definitely one of the best tracks for classical performances.
In 1999, with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (HDDCS), Bhansali had reprised Ustad Khan’s classic number Albela sajan aayo re in semi-classical form. Once again, the composer has revised the 1970’s number for this album, fusing it with Marathi music. Building on the Marathi musical sound palette, the director has kept the composition strictly classical.
While the HDDCS version was crooned by Shankar Mahadevan and Kavita Krishnamurthy, the current version is sung by multiple singers, namely Shashi Suman, Kunal Pandit, Prithvi Gandharva, Kanika Joshi, Rashi Raagga and Geetikka Manjrekar, and they have done a great job.
Ab tohe jane na doongi is yet another typical Sanjay Leela Bhansali track. This slow-building romantic track is clubbed with the melodious vocals of Payal Dev and Shreyas Puranik. The singing is spot-on but the lingering effects of the music may not cater to everyone’s taste.
The third offering from Ghoshal is the currently trending track Pinga, for which the singer has collaborated with noted Marathi singer Vaishali Mhade. While the Dola re-stylised dance-off track stirred several controversies on Peshwai history, it still makes for a great listening experience. Setting fact and history aside, the song is quite interesting as it features a mishmash of Marathi traditions. The song opens with the traditional Mangla Gaur hymn, whereas the mukhda of the song is loosely based on the famous Lavani Latpat latpat tuzha chalna. The composition is easygoing and arranged on Marathi folk base filled with ghungroos, tabla and dholak.
Ganesh Chandanshive opens the track Fitoori with a folk rendition and singing, which is taken forward by Vaishali Mhade. Further, the song enters the lavani format, with Aishwarya Bhandari joining in as the backing vocalist. The lyrics are a mix of Marathi and Hindi, which might be a tad difficult to comprehend but the energetic musical arrangement is what attracts attention. If paired with a good video, it will make for a great song.
The album ends on a high note, with Sukhwinder Singh going behind the mic for Gajanana. Prashant Ingole has skillfully penned this track as he spins together the aarti Sukh karta dukh harta with the 108 names of Lord Ganesha and the chorus of Gajanana. The musical arrangement is sketched on the Puneri dhol, delivering the essence of the Peshwai Raj. Singh has succeeded in emoting the exuberance of the song.
Verdict: Classical, folksy but also niche!