Soorma – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Songs at the end.

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

Ishq Di Baajiyaan opens with a choral quatrain that goes Kabhi Usey Noor Noor Kehta Hoon, immediately followed by a younger chorus singing a Na Jaa Aankhon Mein Hi Rehna phrase that fades into the backdrop, as the main song kicks in. It is this refrain that is one of the most endearing aspects of the song that has plenty going for it. The folk-infused arrangement slightly takes after another beauty that Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Gulzar produced not long back, Dilbaro (this one too features beautiful plucked strings – rabab and mandolin, I think). Accentuating the song’s charm is the touch of pathos that the composers give the cheery melody in the second verse (shades of Carnatic raga vasanthi I think – the song could have smoothly segued into A R Rahman’s Kurukku Sirutthavale/Chalo Chale Mitwa at this point!). Diljit Dosanjh, the movie’s main man, leads the singing here, and while he errs on the nuances on more than one occasion, he more than makes up for that in soul. The other gentle melody of the soundtrack, Pardesiya, is written almost entirely in Punjabi – the only time it digresses is the prayer verse. The soulful piece is delivered exceptionally by the singers (Shenaz Akhtar, Hemant Brijwasi, Shankar Mahadevan, and Ehsaan Noorani doing a surprise vocal debut with the opening humming!) – though the melody and arrangement are a more prominent throwback to the repetitive rut that SEL had got into about a decade ago (My Name is Khan is one name that instantly comes to mind).

After playing backing vocalist for the previous two songs, Shankar Mahadevan takes centre stage to deliver the Soorma Anthem. And what an anthem it is! The pulsating combination of percussion and strings, that lend the song a very world music-y feel, perfectly complement Gulzar’s fiery words that Mahadevan, and the chorus (love the aho-s!), sing with a matching zeal. A second ode to the protagonist happens in Flicker Singh, one that is more a sporting ode in that it is replete with idioms from the sport. SEL’s arrangement is a trippy mix of Punjabi and electronic elements (loved the “flickering” effect that accompanies the title phrase every time in the song!), and the singing by Hemant Brijwasi (good to hear the singer in movies after so long), Sahil Akhtar and Shehnaz Akhtar exuberant. Finally, there is the dance number Good Man Di Laltain (the phrase apparently refers to a great guy – interestingly Gulzar employed the phrase not so long back in the 2017 Rangoon song Bloody Hell). Given that there was a mental comparison happening with the sports film SEL scored for before this, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, I expected this song to be something along the lines of Slow Motion Angreza. It turned out to be a much more commonplace Punjabi-flavoured party track, however. Great singing by Sukhwinder Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan, unsurprisingly, but nothing memorable otherwise.

I have always maintained that Shaad Ali – and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, for that matter – should never stop making films for the sake of the music in their films, particularly the ones involving Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Gulzar. Soorma isn’t the best soundtrack to have come out of the Shaad Ali-SEL-Gulzar team, but it still is very much a classy soundtrack.

Music Aloud Rating: 3.5/5

Top Recos: Ishq Di Baajiaayan, Soorma Anthem, Flicker Singh

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