Love Aaj Kal – Music Review (Bollywood Soundtrack)

Songs and complete musician credits at the end.

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

Listening to the Love Aaj Kal soundtrack the first time without actually seeing the song titles, it was a pleasant surprise to hear the line Yeh Dooriyaan pop up in the middle of one of the songs, accompanied by that familiar mock-whistle hook. In a recreation-ravaged Bollywood scene, this is one I do not particularly mind, firstly because it at least has a justification in terms of an actual relation with the older film, and secondly due to the tasteful execution, leaving the recreational aspect just to the abovementioned refrain (and the odd lyrical reference, like aa raha paas main ya door main jaa raha becoming a more affirmative zyaada paas aana hai asal mein door jaana). Well, I say tasteful execution, the song is still not a match for the original, despite positives like Mohit Chauhan sounding as good as he did 10 years back. There isn’t a lot happening in the main melody, a large part being made up of repeating bits, with the effect that the most memorable part of the song remains the bit it borrows from the 2009 song. Yeh Dooriyaan isn’t the only throwback song of the album – there is also Haan Main Galat, the Twist redux built around that refrain it originally borrowed from the 1954 film Nagin. And I find this song a more engaging one than Yeh Dooriyaan – an aptly contemporised and equally groovy take on the piece. There is one other retention from Love Aaj Kal, in the singing department – KK who sang Main Kya Hoon back then, gets an absolute belter here in Aur Tanha. The atmospheric sound with the pensive tune and rock-flavoured arrangement, along with the man’s never-aging voice (how does this man not get to sing more often even now!) evokes lovely memories of Pritam’s Life In a Metro, but there is also that beautifully employed, almost gospel choir-esque backing vocals adding to the proceedings. Irshad Kamil too is in spectacular form with his writing here, capturing the pain in vivid hues. The chorus comes into play in Dhak Dhak as well – but in a more outlandish fashion, that along with the folk arrangement would make this song a great fit in Jagga Jasoos’s Mombaka! It definitely sits at odds with Love Aaj Kal’s dominant soundscape. And Parmeshwara (or parmesara as the singers pronounce it) is the final song in that category, led as it is by rapper Raftaar. The “anti-commitment” hip-hop piece sees some smart writing but its highlight is the title hook which is built on an aarti style tune (was amusing, while googling up the song’s lyrics, to see the first search result a site called allbhajan)!

The rest of the soundtrack is Pritam showing that he will never lose his touch with weaving immensely hummable melodic pieces (or his love for alternate song versions). First up is Shayad that sees Arijit Singh deliver in his usual dependable fashion, in both the original version and the more ambient Reprise. I like the first version the better though, for its acoustic guitar-laden arrangement and that flute refrain, neither of which makes it to the latter. Arijit is in even finer form delivering Rahogi Meri – but Pritam embellishes the tune with so much more in its second version titled Haan Tum Ho (Dilshad Khan‘s sarangi in the first interlude is such a fab touch), and the icing on the cake is Shilpa Rao joining Arijit in the song’s second half with a lovely improvisational bit and the duo ending with a harmonised rendition of the opening verse. Darshan Raval and Antara Mitra lead Mehrama in both its versions – the extended version basically consisting of one added verse that Raval sings. There is a repeating viola phrase (played by Shirish Malhotra) that deserves a mention, not particularly for the playing brilliance, but for the way it contributes to the wistfulness and is likely to stay in your mind long after the song is done.

There is no question that the 2009 Love Aaj Kal soundtrack has aged wonderfully, and will always be counted among Pritam’s and Irshad Kamil’s best works. However, for sheer number of quality songs (and lesser Punjabi influence 🙂 ) in this album, I’d rate the new Love Aaj Kal soundtrack higher. It remains to be seen how well this will stand the test of time, the song release pattern and the movie’s general performance are not likely to help its cause. Sad to see Imtiaz Ali gradually enter the league of the likes of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Shaad Ali whose movies get looked forward to purely for their music.

Music Aloud Rating: 4/5

Top Recos: All of them, but start with Aur Tanha!

Musician Credits

Music – PRITAM
Music Production & Sound Design – DJ PHUKAN & SUNNY M.R.
Chief Sound Engineer & Shoot-Mix – ASHWIN KULKARNI
Music Production Manager – ANURAG SHARMA


Mix & Master: –
Mixing Assistant to Eric Pillai – MICHAEL EDWIN PILLAI
(Shayad, Rahogi Meri & Parmeshwara)

1. Shayad
Singer – Arijit Singh
Music Production and Arrangement – Arijit Singh & Sunny M.R.
Music Programmer – Somanshu Agarwal, Zafar Iqbal Ansari and Arijit Singh
Sound Design – Ashwin Kulkarni
Acoustic Guitars – Arijit Singh
Electric Guitars – Aditya Shankar Benia & Prachotosh Bhowmik
Bass – RajKumar Dewan
Woodwinds – Nirmalya Humtoo Dey
Tabla – Sukanto Singha
Vocal Recording Engineer at Arijit’s Studio – Ritvik Shah
Music Recording Assistant – Anirban Sinha Chowdhury
Guitars Live Dubs – Zafar Iqbal Ansari

2. Haan Main Galat
Singers – Arijit Singh & Shashwat Singh
Music Arrangement and Production – Sunny M.R.
Saxophone – I D Rao
Backing Vocals – Akashdeep Sengupta, Shashwat Singh, Nihal Shetty, Harjot Kaur and Ashwin Kulkarni
Recording Engineer at Arijit’s Studio – Ritvik Shah

3. Mehrama
Singers – Darshan Raval & Antara Mitra
Music Arrangement and Production – Sourav Roy
Tabla – Ishteyak Khan
Acoustic Guitar – Tushar Joshi
Guitars – Pawan Rasaily
Bass – RajKumar Dewan & Among Jamir
Viola and Violin – Shirish Malhotra

4. Mehrama (Extended)
Singers – Darshan Raval & Antara Mitra

5. Rahogi Meri (Film Version)
Singer – Arijit Singh
Music Arrangement and Production – Aditya N.
Additional Music Programmer – Johan Folke
Sound Design – Tushar Joshi
Vocal Conductor – Aniruddh Anantha
Harmony Design – Aditya N.
Guitars – Aditya N., Sudhir Choudhary & Roland Fernandes
Bass – Roland Fernandes
Live Dubs Conducted by Tushar Joshi & Kaushik Das

6. Rahogi Meri
Singers – Arijit Singh & Shilpa Rao
Music Arrangement and Production – Sunny M.R.
Additional Vocals – Akashdeep Sengupta
Backing Vocals – Akashdeep Sengupta, Aniruddh Anantha and Aman Agarwal
Guitar – Raghav Chaitanya & Roland Fernandes
Electric Guitar – Roland Fernandes
Bass – Sunny M.R. & Roland Fernandes
Sarangi – Dilshad Khan

7. Aur Tanha
Singer – KK
Music Arrangement and Production – Sunny M.R.
Additional Music Programmer – Tanuj Tiku
Guitars – Roland Fernandes
Folk Vocals Design – DJ Phukan
Harmony Design – Akashdeep Sengupta & Aniruddh Anantha
Chorus – Akashdeep Sengupta, Aniruddh Anantha, Anurag Sharma, Ana Rehman, Harjot Kaur and Shreya Phukan

8. Parmeshwara
Rapper – Raftaar
Music Arrangement and Production – Rohan Chauhan
Vocal Design – DJ Phukan
Backing Vocals – DJ Phukan & Aniruddh Anantha
Chorus – Akashdeep Sengupta, Aniruddh Anantha, Mandy Gill and Mukund Shrikant Suryawanshi
Ukulele – Ashwin Kulkarni

9. Dhak Dhak
Singers – Nikhita Gandhi & Akasa Singh
Music Arrangement and Production – Saurabh Lokhande, Utkarsh Dhotekar and Sunny M.R.
Live Rhythms & Percussions performed by Vibhas ‘Titu’ Rahul & Anand Bhagat
Live Xylophone & Thumb Piano performed by Anand Bhagat
Kora – N’Faly Kouyate
Sound Engineer at JAM8 Studio – Aaroh Velankar
Musicians in LA: –
Drums – Alan Hertz
Percussion – Gary Novak & Alan Hertz
Bass – Ernest Tibbs
Guitars – Josh Smit
Sessions Engineered by Alan Hertz
Musicians in London: –
Thumb Piano (Mbira) – Rapasa nyatrapasa Otieno
African Harp – Nyatiti
Backing Vocals – Vivienne Pocha, Shazneen Arethna, Marianne D’Cruz Aiman, Chandana Bala Kalyan, N’Faly Kouyate, Ibrahim Sidede, Lydia Ogoti & Hannah Wangari

10. Shayad (Reprise)
Singer – Arijit Singh
Additional Female Vocals – Madhubanti Bagchi
Music Arrangement and Production – Sourav Roy
Additional Music Programmer – Sunny M.R. & Johan Folke
Theme Designed – Sourav Roy
Various Instruments – Tapas Roy
Guitars – Roland Fernandes
Violin & Viola – Shirish Malhotra
Flute – Shirish Malhotra

11. Yeh Dooriyaan (Film version)
Singer – Mohit Chauhan
Music Arrangement and Production – Sunny M.R.

Live Dubs Conducted by
DJ Phukan
Sunny M.R.
Tushar Joshi
Shubham Shirule

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