Ankhon Dekhi – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

You can listen to the soundtrack here.

Composer Sagar Desai keeps things fairly basic in Aaj Laagi Laagi Nayi Dhoop – a simple, classically loaded tune (yaman kalyan raag) and a minimal set of instruments that allows Sangeeth Mishra to dominate the background with some fabulous playing of the sarangi, almost becoming a second voice supporting Kailash Kher who is spot on with his nuanced rendition. Kailash and Sagar do even better in their second song, Aayi Bahaar, which also happens to be the best song of the soundtrack. The arrangement is immensely catchy, with extensive use of harmonium and tabla all through, except for that second interlude where Sangeeth comes in with a blazing solo, playing shorter notes on the sarangi almost making it sound like a violin. The song also owes a lot of its charm to Varun Grover’s lines and the way Kailash Kher sings it, while splendidly conveying the elements of raag basant bahar. The composer employs the lovely malkauns (hindolam in Carnatic) raag to set most of his third song with Kailash, Yaad Saari. The tune is a fairly regular exploration of the raaga for most part; it is the fusion-based arrangement that makes the difference here, Sagar smartly employing the guitars and percussion to create an intriguing background that smoothly segues into and out of the occasional qawwali-esque segments. There is only so much of Kailash Kher you can take without him sounding repetitive; it is the backing vocalists (Tochi Raina, Raja Hasan, Parthiv Goel) who outdo him here with some superb improvisations.

Kaise Sukh Soyein sounds almost like a recording from some live concert by Ronkini Gupta. And how the lady sings! With just a sarangi and tabla to back her, the lady rules the behag-based bandish. Dheeme Re Re, in keeping with its title, is treated as a soft, sedate melody (raag Mishra kaushikdhwani/bhinna shadja, the composer tells me), endearing for that very reason.  The vocalist Mansheel Gujral does a soulful job at her end with Ronkini backing her, enough to make up for the occasional flaws in her singing, but those do stand out given the overall quality of singing throughout the soundtrack. In sharp contrast to the rest of the soundtrack is the short wacky piece Hakka Bakka. With an arrangement high on brass (Joe Veshavkar’s Band), the song carries a retro flavour about it. And Shaan takes care of the rest, channelling his inner Kishore Kumar to very good effect. The only irksome factor is the electronic twang around Shaan’s voice throughout the song.

Ankhon Dekhi. Close to two years after his last movie soundtrack, composer Sagar Desai returns with one of his career-best works (on my list, bested only by Quick Gun Murugun); one that might not appeal to a larger crowd owing to its strong classical orientation, but one that leaves no question about Sagar’s musical prowess. A pity only Rajat Kapoor sees that.

Music Aloud Rating: 8.5/10

Top Recos: Aayi Bahaar, Kaise Sukh Soyein, Dheeme Dheeme Re

Full Credits:

“Aaj Laagi Laagi Nayi Dhoop” – based on Raga Yaman Kalyan

                vocals – Kailash Kher

                sarangi – Sangeeth Mishra

                tabla/dholak – Sanjiv Sen, Raju Sardar

                guitars, swarmandal, programming – Sagar Desai

“Aayi Bahar” – based on Raga Basant Bahar

                vocals – Kailash Kher

                sarangi – Sangeeth Mishra

                tabla/dholak – Sanjiv Sen, Raju Sardar

                guitars, programming – Sagar Desai

“Kaise Sukh Soyein” – Raga Bihag (traditional bandish)

                vocals – Ronkini Gupta

                sarangi – Sangeeth Mishra

                tabla – Yusuf Ghulam Mohammed

“Yaad Saari Baari Baari” – based on Raga Malkauns

                vocals – Kailash Kher

                backing vocals – Tochi Raina, Raja Hassan, Parthiv Goel

                tabla/dholak – Sanjiv Sen, Raju Sardar

                guitars, programming, percussion – Sagar Desai

“Hakka Bakka”

                vocals – Shaan

                featuring Joe Veshavkar’s Brass Band

                programming – Sagar Desai, Shubhajit Mukherjee

 “Dheeme Re Re” – based on Raga Mishra Kaushikdhwani

                vocals – Mansheel Gujral

                backing vocals – Ronkini Gupta

                guitars, melodica, programming, tanpura, swarmandal – Sagar Desai

Music by Sagar Desai, lyrics by Varun Grover (except #3)

Music recordists – Neeraj Singh, Sanjay Thapa (Re n Raga), Bavesh Kumar (Swarlata)

Recorded and mixed at Kailasa by Neeraj Singh

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