Laal Singh Chaddha music review: Holds its own beautifully against Forrest Gump’s tall order – News9 LIVE

08 Aug 2022 09:21:AM
Of all the movies that Bollywood released this year, the box-office successes (or the lackof) had little impact on some of the robust soundtracks that accompanied them. There have been songs that perfectly encapsulated the gist of the film and created a perfect sonic setting that complemented the visual. Few, though, left a lasting impression that went beyond the duration of the film itself.
Apart from the barrage of musical mediocrity that most of the films offered, there were a few like elements of Gangubai Kathiawadi and Jersey that really took your ears in different directions, making you feel truly invigorated by the overall experience. Even they fell short of a more lasting experience. Months later, are their songs still on your playlist? My point exactly.
Laal Singh Chaddha has managed to evoke a sense of timelessness even without supporting visuals. When you take a legacy like Forrest Gump (1994) and attempt to recreate it in a different milieu and time and for a different audience, you’re wholly aware of the gargantuan task on hand. For it wasn’t just a film for so many of us. It was an innocent and refreshing perspective of life and how events both personal and public can impact us.
The soundtrack of Forrest Gump captured the best of American music across generations. Barring Alan Silvestri’s score, all other songs had already been engrained in the American consciousness. The soundtrack was a red-carpet experience featuring Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Doors, and Simon & Garfunkel among others.
So the pressure to create music that reaches out to the audience and strikes a chord could only have been monumental. The makers of Laal Singh Chaddha seem to have understood the brief, valued the legacy and put together a musical experience that is so superlative that it holds its own beautifully even without the film. What we only need to see is how well it ties in with the visual narrative.
Most of the credit needs to go to lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya whose poetry is exquisite, intimate and surprisingly simple. Pritam has shown such remarkable restraint and delicate handling of the essence of the content by being an equalizer between the words, the tunes and the feelings. Knowing when to amplify the emotion and when to allow the silence to speak, Pritam has created a masterpiece.
One of my pet peeves about Bollywood music these days has been the completely unnecessary Punjabifying of the content. If not in the vocabulary, then in the rhythm and mood. Granted the Mumbai film industry prefers to showcase Punjabi and Sindhi cultures over most others, but so much of the music picks only the chart-topping, commercially-viable beats of Punjab, inadequately misrepresenting the richness of Punjabi lyricism and instrumentation.
Forget the obsession over why South films are raking in crores while Bollywood is bleeding money. Make something that resonates across the country, remains true to the soil and stop with the shameless navel gazing.
Here, in a movie about a Sikh boy and songs with a smattering of Punjabi words and tone, Pritam has created a soundtrack that will resonate with all of India.
The title track ‘Kahani’ is a little story in itself; opening gently with piano chords and frequently resembling a cheery lullaby and then the accordion and the guitar kick in, followed by high-pitched but major scale violin-playing. There’s a casual and relaxed groove to the song that is both evocative of nostalgia and a delightful sense of satiation. Mohan Kannan (singer of rock band Agnee) truly owns the song.

There is a Sonu Nigam version to this number as well. Though in essence and structure, the song remains the same, there’s a pleasing earnestness and raw innocence to Mohan’s voice that drives home a feeling of wonder while making it so much more energising. Sonu’s voice, in this case, sounds more like someone who has seen more of life than he’s letting on.

In ‘Main Ki Karaan?,’ Sonu Nigam and Romy create a charming song about childhood love and in the process create an earworm with the title words. Like 3 Idiots added ‘All Izz Well’ to your lexicon, you’re going to struggle to rid yourself of “main ki karaan“. In a beautiful song that features whistling and finger snapping, the number and its irresistible rhythm give you a sense of a musical travelogue.

Possibly the best song of the album (though there are so many contenders) is ‘Phir Na Aisi Raat Aayegi’. Only Arijit Singh could’ve weaved the agony of longing, the struggle of unreciprocated love and the overwhelming urge to make it a night to remember, into such a rich, poignant number, which is both deep but also easy on the heart. From the gorgeous Arijit aalaap to the poetic songwriting that is also so effortless, this song reminds you why music is such a universal experience.

Tur Kalleyan’ is a stirring song about moving on and finding the courage to walk alone despite not having the optimism to do so. Sung by Arijit again with Shadaab Faridi and Altamash Faridi, the song has a slight rock vibe in terms of instrumentation even though it feels very ‘Channa Mereya’ (Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, 2015). The tabla, the percussion and the pumping bass after the chorus kicks in make it a great song for a long drive.

Tere Hawaale’ has the most beautiful lyrics in the album where resignation and endearing intimacy meet. Sung by Arijit and Shilpa Rao, whose husky vocals only add more warmth to the song, this is the album’s only real duet and it is supremely soulful. The filmmakers knew exactly how the music should be and it appears their vision for it was intertwined with the plotline from the earliest of stages.

No wonder then that director Advait Chandan, Aamir Khan (who is both producing and starring in the film) and Pritam decided to release half the songs without any major visual giveaway. Instead, they let the lyricist, the composers, the musicians and the arrangers lead from the front. Whether or not the film works at the box office, the music is a deafening hit in this age of Rs 5-crore item songs.
Laal Singh Chaddha releases in cinemas this Thursday on August 11.
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