Wandering spirits have had a fruitful association with music, singing some of the most haunting melodies ever heard in Hindi films. In the March 24 release Phillauri, the film’s lead actor and co-producer Anushka Sharma plays a friendly ghost living in a tree. Kanan (Suraj Sharma) is married to the tree to ward off a curse, and he inherits the ghost too.
Do the characters sing lyrical melodies while circling around the tree? It doesn’t appear so, but they do seem to be stomping around in the peppy tunes featured in the soundtrack.
Anshai Lal’s debut feature has a soundtrack by Shashwat Sachdev, with lyrics written by Anvita Dutt, Aditya Sharma, Neeraj Rajawat and Shellee.
Dum Dum, sung by Romy and Vivek Hariharan, has a folksy lilt that breaks midway into a pulsating sound and reaches for a high-tempo crescendo. Sachdev and Dutt borrow from the Sufi music tradition of comparing the beloved to the divine. Dum Dum combines the vocal elements of a qawwali towards the end.
The track has two other versions, one reprised by Romy and Hariharan with lyrics in Punjabi and another in the voice of Diljit Dosanjh, fusing Indian classical sounds with Western instruments.
Singers Jasleen Royal and Mika are perfunctory on the brassy sounds of the dance track Whats Up. Pawni Pandey and Romy invoke the spirits of the folktale lovers Mirza-Sahiban in Sahiba.
Naughty Billo mixes the rustic flavour of Jhooth Boliya (Jagte Raho, 1956) with hip-hop. Dosanjh, Nakash Aziz and Shilpi Paul are accompanied by Anushka Sharma attempting to rap. Naughty Billo is the album’s most upbeat track, designed for numerous dance floor encores.
In Bajaake Tumba, Romy and Shehnaz Akhtar raise their pitch to match the drum beats, demonstrating a lively jugalbandi between the singers and the instruments. Jasleen Royal composes and sings Din Shagna Da with a child-like affectation. The track meanders between the folk and rock music genres, and impresses in neither.
Phillauri is Sachdev’s big break after the tunes of his debut score in Saavi – A Bonded Bride (2015) went unnoticed. With one bona fide chartbuster, Naughty Billo, it’s a slow but promising start.