hindi film music

No half measures in the bustling ‘Half Girlfriend’ soundtrack

Mohit Suri’s movie has six music composers, 12 playback singers, and 12 lyricists in an album of 10 songs.

The May 12 release Half Girlfriend joins the list of films adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s bestsellers. Based on the novel of the same name, Mohit Suri’s movie is the fifth adaptation after Five Point Someone (as 3 Idiots, 2009), One Night @ the Call Center (as Hello, 2008), The 3 Mistakes of My Life (as Kai Po Che!, 2013) and 2 States (as 2 States, 2014).

Half Girlfriend is the story of Madhav (Arjun Kapoor), who travels from Bihar to attend college in Delhi. A romance looms with Riya (Shraddha Kapoor) that travels from Delhi and New York City to a happy ending in Bihar.

The film’s music also gets a wide canvas, showcasing the collaborative talents of six music composers, 12 playback singers and 12 lyricists. The missing half in the film’s title is somewhat filled by the presence of 10 melodious numbers on the soundtrack. There’s one for everyone.

Baarish is composed by Tanishk Bagchi, who has co-written the lyrics with Arafat Mehmood. It is sung by Ash King with background vocals by Shashaa Tirupati, who waltzes in and out of the track with a humming sound. The music video features Riya soaking in the first shower of the monsoon as Madhav watches her with misty eyes. The schmaltzy track steeped in ambient sounds is well-timed for the rainy season.

Baarish from Half Girlfriend (2017).

Thodi Der, Shreya Ghoshal’s duet with Pakistani singer-composer Farhan Saeed, is a revamped version of his original Punjabi ballad of the same name. Lyricist Kumaar has tweaked the words from Punjabi to Hindi. The word “theher” (wait) is pronounced with one syllable in Punjabi and two in Hindi. This dialect adjustment is overlooked in the line “Tu thodi der aur theher ja soniya”, in which the singers enunciate the word using one syllable.

By rounding off the line with the customary term of endearment “soniya”, the musicians ensure that the tune never strays from its target audience – Punjab, while also appealing to Hindi-speaking listeners across the country.

Composer-singer Rahul Mishra’s Tu Hi Hai blends grunge with the qawwali, where its all-too-familiar syncopated beats are reminiscent of songs such as Chand Sifarish (Fanaa, 2006) and Maula Mere (Anwar, 2007).

One of Anwar’s ensemble composers, Mithoon, appears on the Half Girlfriend soundtrack with three tracks, Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga, its reprise Pal Bhar, and the instrumental piece Half Girlfriend Love Theme. In the two vocal tracks written Manoj Muntashir, Mithoon uses the santoor, the flute, the piano, orchestral motifs and the voices of Arijit Singh and Shashaa Tirupati in a way that embodies the composer’s signature style – a glacially-paced tune soulfully expressing the absence of love with the potential of shooting straight to the top of the charts. Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga has shades of his previous stratospheric hit Tum Hi Ho (Aashiqui 2, 2013).

Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga from Half Girlfriend (2017).

Composer-singer Ami Mishra’s Hinglish track, Lost Without You, is an interesting mix of his vocals in Hindi and Anushka Shahaney’s vocals in English. Shahaney has co-written the song with Kunaal Vermaa. Mishra sings his portions with a distressed yearning and Shahaney’s voice radiates with a nonchalant spirit, mirroring the moods of the two lead characters. The tune is beautifully underscored with the sorrowful sounds of the Chinese stringed instrument erhu. Shahaney’s other solo, Stay A Little Longer, written and sung by her, has a mellow sound emphasised with a sarangi and a dramatic orchestral finish, composed by Saeed.

How many lyricists does it take to write a title song? Mere Dil Mein posits the problem of putting five musically-inclined minds to the rhyme scheme test. R Rekhi, Veronica Mehta, Yash Anand, Yash Narvekar, and Ishita Moitra Udhwani quite sensibly mono-rhyme “dent” with “repent” in the lyrics but they are not discussing the aftermath of rash driving. The lyrics are about the lacerations on the heart of a nervous lover trying to propose to a woman with a corny couplet, “Hua dil pe hai dent, aadhi de commitment, karegi na repent, banja meri half girlfriend.” (There is a dent on my heart, give me half of your commitment, you will not repent, be my half girlfriend)

Can any woman resist such charming verse? It doesn’t matter. The track is at the heart of what current pop music is all about – a pedestrian refrain that is easy to mimic and quickly forgotten once the next number is played.

London-based singer-composer Rishi Rich gets his funky sounds cracking on the frivolous lyrics in the two hip-hop tracks Mere Dil Mein and its reprise, sung by Veronica Mehta and Yash Narvekar. The tunes are excellently mixed with electronic beats and an addictive groove that will make any dance floor busy, girlfriend or no girlfriend.

Half Girlfriend jukebox.
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