Helicopter Eela – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Songs at the end.

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

Helicopter Eela. Composer Amit Trivedi’s eighth Hindi soundtrack out in 2018. In what already counts as his busiest year yet by album count, it is noteworthy that he has had only three soundtracks all to himself, two of them with his long-standing director partners (Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane). That even a composer of Amit Trivedi’s stature has had majority of his work this year come in multi-composer line-ups sort of sums up the current state of Bollywood. Even in Helicopter Eela, Trivedi shares space with a remix man (Raghav Sachar in this case) and another guest composer (Daniel B George, who recently did some fab work with the background score of Andhadhun). On the positive front though, the movie sees the composer work for the first time with director Pradeep Sarkar, a man known for some great music in the movies, especially with composer Shantnu Moitra. And as a result, it also brings Trivedi back with lyricist Swanand Kirkire (they last collaborated for the outstanding Fitoor) who has been Sarkar’s trusted lyricist in almost all of his movies.

So, to start at the bottom, the remix. Bakra chosen for this movie is the Anu Malik-Shyam Anuragi-Alisha Chinai song from producer Ajay Devgn’s 1994 movie Vijaypath, Ruk Ruk Ruk (interesting coincidence that the remix comes out around the same time that the song’s leading lady Tabu is also making a prominent film appearance after a gap). Not a masterpiece by any stretch of imagination, but this remix does make the original look infinitely better! I am not sure if the presence of instruments like sax in the 1994 song that prompted the choice of Raghav Sachar, but even his sax solos do little to save this song. In any case, the best possible adaptation of Ruk Ruk Ruk in my book already happened in the 1996 Kamal Hassan starrer Avvai Shanmugi (the movie that became Chachi 420 the subsequent year). While there is nothing particularly memorable about Palomi Ghosh’s (best known for her leading role in the award winning 2015 Konkani music film Nachom-ia Kumpasar) singing either in the song, the lady sounds much better in the compositions she gets to sing for the other two composers. Ghosh’s voice has something of a comforting quality to it, even when she is delivering the higher notes. And Daniel B George puts this quality to wonderful use in Khoya Ujaala, a track that manages to be motivational without being loud. The singer’s best effort comes in the beautifully nostalgic Yaadon Ki Almaari. Swanand Kirkire has this way with incorporating these throwback-inducing little nuggets among his words (remember the Murphy wala radio bit in Barfi), and given that this song is entirely set on those lines, he has a field day. Kirkire’s lines are indeed the highlight of this song, even as Trivedi does a splendid job on his part, with a gentle, immensely hummable melody and orchestration rich in evocative strings; even doing a neat segue into O P Nayyar’s Laakhon Hai Nigaahon Mein ever so briefly.

Another of Trivedi’s top songs goes to Sunidhi Chauhan and Arijit Singh; Dooba Dooba once again has a lovely melody that the singers deliver to a tee and the composer backs with a soothing seven beat rhythm and an expansive strings-laden backdrop (which also takes my mind back occasionally to another Swanand Kirkire work – Shantnu Moitra-Zeb-Haniya’s Kya Khayal Hai from the show Dewarists). The soulfulness in Shilpa Rao’s voice lifts Chand Lamhe beyond its familiar melancholic setting. Nevertheless, the mellow arrangement, with its well-timed quiet moments (love how they kick in with when Rao sings wohi khamoshi), helps accentuate the feel. In Mumma Ki Parchhai the composer leans too much on his tried-and-tested tune banks and the result is expectedly middling. The song features the director’s son Ronit Sarkar – I incidentally heard him last in Sarkar’s own Lafangey Parindey. Aside of proving that he still is a competent singer, the song does not achieve much else.

One needless remix from Raghav Sachar aside, Amit Trivedi and Daniel B George deliver well in Helicopter Eela.

Music Aloud Rating: 3/5

Top Recos: Dooba Dooba, Yaadon Ki Almaari, Khoya Ujaala

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