Begum Jaan – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Songs at the end.

While Asha Bhonsle’s presence behind the mic gives a nostalgia tinged charm to the melodic Prem Mein Tohre (seemingly based on raag yaman, same as Moh Moh Ke Dhaage), the age factor in her voice also takes away big time from the song’s listening experience. Given that Kavita Seth is generally great with ghazal-flavoured songs, I expected her to ace the reprise version of the song (which is pretty much the same as the original but for the change in singer), but the singer produces a strangely insipid rendition! The song does have a nice melody though, and a neat job on the arrangement front by composer Anu Malik and arranger Hitesh Modak – particularly with the use of the rabab/oud – makes sure the song doesn’t sound dated. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the rest of the soundtrack.

Aazaadiyaan’s high point is the shehnai in the backdrop that produces some excellent solos, but the song is a daunting listen otherwise and it does not help that it is nearly 7 minutes in length. Even Sonu Nigam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s singing, while on point, only adds to the ennui (Khan, especially). The colourful Holi visuals should make Holi Khelein a good theatre experience, but as a song this one too offers nothing special. Shreya Ghoshal is brilliant on her part, joined by composer’s daughter Anmol Malik, and the arrangement is layered with multiple folk instruments, but nothing really stays with you once the song is over. Kalpana Patowary and Altamash Faridi’s O Re Kaharo fares relatively better – the melancholic tune carries some appeal in spite of the datedness and the singers deliver well.

Even without making a comparison with the Bengali original (composed by one of the industry’s current finest, Indradeep Dasgupta; wonder why Srijit Mukherji did not choose this remake to be what could have been his long-pending entry into Bollywood), Begum Jaan’s soundtrack comes across as inadequate.

Music Aloud Rating: 2.5/5

Top Recos: Prem Mein Tohre, O Re Kaharo

This review first appeared in the Mumbai edition of The Hindu.

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