Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 is a take on the serial killer Raman Raghav, who is said to have murdered 40 people between 1966 and 1968 in Mumbai. Filmmaker Sriram Raghavan made a film Raman Raghav, A City, A Killer on the gruesome murders in 1991. Kashyap is revisiting the story with Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the psychopath and Vicky Kaushal as the cop chasing him. The June 26 release has music by Ram Sampath and lyrics by Varun Grover.
In the first track “Qatl-E-Aam”, Sona Mohapatra’s dulcet voice floats over the techno base, which pounds with irrepressible rage as if a hammer is beating a skull to smithereens. The idea of “Qatl-E-Aam”, which loosely translates from Urdu into bloodbath, reverberates through the music. The song is beautifully worded like a ghazal, but it is fused with trance music that comes across as an experiment gone wrong to untrained ears or unalloyed genius to connoisseurs. The track is the pièce de résistance, and its melodious unplugged version lays emphasis on the vocals, rhythm and guitar.
“Behooda” dives deep into the murky depths of existentialism. Singer Nayantara Bhatkal reads out an execrable list of traits masking the “behooda” (indecorous) to the tune of a James Bond style theme music, which seduces even as it seeks to denounce.
Siddharth Basrur sings the ethereal “Paani Ka Raasta” with some superb guitar riffs by Shon Pinto and additional vocals by Ram Sampath, but it still ends on an underwhelming note.
“Raghav’s Theme” has a hybrid sound in which techno music meets the sarangi to create a hypnotic instrumental track that explores the psyche of its protagonist.
Evocative lyrics by Grover startle with lines in which he calls the night a “hamam” (a steambath) to sink into. His words pop up in the score like red herrings but eventually get lost in the din of experimental sounds.
An early film review by Screen International magazine praised Raman Raghav 2.0 for its “brash use of music”. The frenzied soundtrack seems to score when tied to the film’s narrative. It is unlikely to have the same luck independently.