hindi film music

‘Fanney Khan’ music review: An uninspired Amit Trivedi album with a few moments of beauty

How could a movie that revolves around music and has three characters who sing have such a bland soundtrack?

Amit Trivedi’s first soundtrack of 2018 was for Raid, which had two contributions from Tanishk Bagchi. His second release, Blackmail, included tracks by Badshah and Guru Randhawa. The promotional singles from a movie are considered to have the maximum potential to be instant hits. Since Trivedi had nothing to do with the early tracks from Raid and Blackmail, is it possible – or even thinkable – that a composer of his calibre isn’t being considered for churning out the hits?

Trivedi’s latest soundtrack is for Atul Manjrekar’s Fanney Khan. Once again, the lead single comes not from Trivedi, but from Bagchi. The film is an official remake of the Oscar-nominated Belgian comedy Everybody’s Famous! (2000), directed by Dominique Deruddere.

Fanney Khan is the story of a taxi driver in Mumbai (Anil Kapoor), who once aspired to be a singer. Bent on turning his daughter Lata (Pihu Sand), also an aspiring singer, into a sensation, Fanney kidnaps pop diva Baby Singh (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) with the help of Adhir (Rajkummar Rao). The movie will be released on August 3.

Mohabbat, composed by Bagchi, and sung by Sunidhi Chauhan, is the film’s lead single. It is an out-and-out superstar introduction song, filmed on Rai Bachchan. The result, however, is a loud and overproduced mess, with all the cliches associated with contemporary Hindi dance music.

The hookline is actually good but was meant to exist in a better song. The eagerness to be a dance club favourite is painfully evident – the backup singers abruptly go “Move to the beat, jump to the beat, groove to the beat”.

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Mohabbat, Fanney Khan.

Trivedi too has to deliver a superstar song for Bachchan, and he does a comparatively better job with Halka Halka. Unlike Mohabbat, Trivedi allows the vocals by Chauhan and Divya Kumar to breathe. He doesn’t thoughtlessly throw samples and beats into the tune. Halka Halka has its EDM affectations, but the good parts are not buried under layers of music. Kumar’s rustic voice and Chauhan’s huskiness make an interesting pair.

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Halka Halka, Fanney Khan.

The best song is Achche Din, composed and sung by Trivedi. Soft on the ears, Achche Din is a plea by Fanney to god for the good days, masked as a question: “Mere achche din kab aayenge?” (When will my good days come?) Achche Din is held together with a wonderfully mixed rhythm section consisting of synths, guitar, flute and a steady beat.

Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are exemplary right from the opening verse: “Khuda tumhein pranaam hai saadar / Par toone di bas ek hi chaadar / Kya odhein kya bichhayenge” (My heartiest greetings to you god / You have just provided one blanket / What do I sleep on, and what to drape over myself?).

The song’s best moment is the post-chorus section (“Main khali khali tha / Main khali khali hoon / Main khali khali khoya khoya sa” – I felt empty / I still feel empty / And I am a bit lost). The lyrics exemplify the desperate but wide-eyed spirit of the song, in which Trivedi’s voice reaches for those high notes.

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Achche Din, Fanney Khan.

Monali Thakur sings the two other songs in the album. Fu Bai Fu probably makes sense only in the context of the film. The lyrics and the tune for the hookline (“Fu bai fu fugdi fu”) is borrowed from the Marathi folk song, which has also inspired several variations in Marathi films.

The version in Fanney Khan features fresh lyrics and music from Kamil and Trivedi. The lyrics (“Sheela ki jawani se huyi be-aaraami / Munni ke shehar mein badi hai badnaami”) contain Hindi film references.

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Fu Bai Fu, Fanney Khan.

Brass instruments have been a signature element of Trivedi’s music over the years, and Tere Jaisa Tu Hai has a lot of them. Thakur alters her voice to sound like a younger person, possibly Fanney’s daughter Lata, and it works. The song is a cross between a rock ballad and a swooning rhythm-and-blues number, something that could have been in Secret Superstar.

Thakur’s operatic singing is first-rate here. Trivedi had earlier discovered a new side to her in Lootera’s Sawaar Loon. More recently, Shantanu Moitra used Thakur for a most unlike-Thakur song, Chal, in October. Thakur’s talent flourishes in the hands of imaginative composers willing to experiment. Near the end of the song, Thakur goes for the kill by singing on a very high pitch, and this part may appear screechy to some.

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Tere Jaisa Tu Hai, Fanney Khan.

As far as final impressions goes, the album is bland, with brief moments of beauty, most of which comes in Achche Din.

For a film about a pop star who is supposedly the queen of hit music, a failed crooner and an aspiring singer, the soundtrack is unremarkable. Trivedi’s music sounds uninspired, which could be a result of fatigue – he has 11 releases this year. The makers should feel thankful for Bagchi’s song. At least they got their party hit.

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Fanney Khan jukebox.
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