Uttam Singh scored the exquisite laments and poetry of Pinjar (2003) which left us with goose bumps and heavy hearts. But long before Pinjar, Singh had us foot-tapping and finger-drumming with Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), that fizzy pop-coloured tribute to youth, dance, and chiffon-swathed daydreams that come true.
Yash Chopra’s movie fits neatly into the musical genre, nearly every song reflecting a situation in the narrative. Anand Bakshi’s lyrics have their high points in Bholi Si Surat and Dholna, and Lata Mangeshkar lends her best high-pitched notes to the girlish angst of the lead actresses.
Udit Narayan is a regular in Yash Raj Films productions, having sung for Darr, Yeh Dillagi and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge all the way to Veer-Zaara. You can almost imagine his smirk that says, “Piece of cake, this.”
But that is not to say the bar is low. Uttam Singh, who apart from Pinjar, composed such wistful melodies for Waris (Mere Pyaar Ki Umar Ho) and the heart-rending Chitthi Na Koi Sandes (Dushman), brings to Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) diverse melodies and rhythms with a freshness not heard since, perhaps, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge in 1995.
The title track sets the mood with pretty Bavarian scenes for the central characters to cavort in. Flutes and whistles play throughout the song, reminding you that life can be light and frothy, and love can be friendship too.
Pyar Kar has this gem that sums up the desperation of unrequited love, of the friend who thought all that backslapping and bickering was a sign of something deeper. “Humne jo sun liya, usne kaha bhi nahin,” croons the woman, marvelling at her own delusions. But the violins persist, and the refrain is adamant: love on regardless.
Le Gayi is a chance for spandex-clad dancers to demonstrate Shiamak Davar’s signature moves and for the music to go techno. There’s a 1970s disco feel to this song, but the lyrics are about “nainon ki doli”, “bikhri zulfein” and “behki chaal” – not quite the vocabulary of a 20-something contemporary dancer who wears leotards, and out of place in this album which otherwise maps the emotional terrain of its characters so well in the other songs. And just because it’s a zingy, fast-paced song, it’s sung by Asha Bhosle, which jars a little after you get used to seeing the leading ladies matched with Mangeshkar’s vocals.
The score comes into its own with Koi Ladki Hai, about a woman, and about rain, held together with some delightful imagery by Anand Bakshi. It gallops like a horse, this rain, but has the little tail of an elephant. There is no fussy orchestration here. The rhythm keeps time with small dancing feet, and the strings appear after each stanza to perform and then step back. Koi Ladki Hai is refreshing, and like a gentle rain shower leaves you with a feeling of anticipation. Perhaps there’s a storm coming.
Are Re Are is brisk and breezy, and reminds you of Naushad’s lighter compositions, only with more spandex – snappy bursts of melody and lots of choruses.
Bholi Si Surat and Dholna might be more traditional, but are as catchy as the rest. Dholna is classic Yash Chopra – he must have demanded the frenzied violin and guitar prelude as the actors race through a European countryside towards the inevitable embrace. These two songs also have the most charming lyrics, about loving from a distance, the pining, and the trepidation.
The star in this album is Udit Narayan, with his Kishore Kumar twang, keep-grinning-as-you-go approach, and lazy warbling. All make you want to go arms akimbo, like Shah Rukh Khan, and say, keep singing Udit, and we will go on loving.