Mukkabaaz – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Nucleya’s guest composition Paintra works perfectly as a theme song for the sport drama that Mukkabaaz is. While the arrangement goes through familiar motions instantly identifiable as belonging to the musician – the motley percussion-heavy mix – but still makes for a heady listen thanks to Divine’s impassioned rapping. The song gets even better in its Extended Version (which strangely is the exact same length as the original version) which features timely incorporation of Vineet Kumar Singh’s quotes. Singh, who has co-written the movie, also turns composer cum lyricist with the soulful folksy piece Adhura Main. With a minimal arrangement comprised of just a harmonium, the song depends almost entirely on Deepak Thakur’s vocal skills, and he delivers splendidly (it appears that Thakur is the same singer credited as Deepak Kumar in Gangs of Wasseypur’s Humni Ke Chhodi, a song that incidentally had a similar setting). Enter lead composer Rachita Arora, who handles the remaining five songs. First of the five has her producing an incredibly trippy folk-based song out of Dr. Sunil Jogi’s poem Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye where he presents the familiar poor guy-rich girl divide theme in hilariously analogy-ridden detail. Jogi’s poem seems to be old (I found this blogpost from 2009 that transcribes the whole poem, and dates it to early 2000s) but it has undergone some contemporary modifications – “Tum Tendulkar ka shatak priye, main follow-on ki paari hoon” for instance has become “Tum Kohli ka Virat shatak”. Brijesh Shandilya is in top form behind the mic as well, striking a fine balance between exuberance and wackiness.

Bahut Hua Sammaan’s mellow prelude belies the rage that characterises the rest of the song. Hussain Haidry, who pens the second half of the eight-song soundtrack, conveys the rebellious emotion in fabulous fashion, and Swaroop Khan does an equally splendid job leading the vocals. Rachita’s melody and arrangement here – along with the song’s general vibe – took me back occasionally to Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya’s Haanikaarak Bapu. Engaging song, nevertheless. Haidry rewrites a traditional piece for Saade Teen Baje which Arora sets to a regular folk arrangement – the song is more Khushbu Raj and her backing vocalists’ show. Chhipkali and Bohot Dukha Mann are where Rachita Arora delivers her best as composer. The former, which once again features superbly written lines, has the composer go retro with the melody while the quirky arrangement goes through some brilliant turns, ending on a jazzy note. And Bohot Dukha Mann has a dark, haunting classical-flavoured melody (puriya dhanasri/hamsanandi raga based, presumably) that Arora herself delivers beautifully alongside Dev Arijit.

Anurag Kashyap extracts yet another fab musical work out of yet another offbeat composer. After Chal Tu Apna Kar for Newton last year, Rachita Arora continues to show tremendous promise! Of course, here it is also owing to the generous support she receives from the lyricists.

Music Aloud Rating: 4/5

Top Recos: Chhipkali, Bohot Dukha Mann, Mushkil Hai Apna Meil Priye

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

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