The prize for those who had been looking forward to Pataakha’s soundtrack and yet another Vishal Bhardwaj-Gulzar collaboration is the lovely Naina Banjare, sung by Arijit Singh. This song aside, the 18-minute soundtrack is unremarkable. There are a few fun bits in such songs as the wicked Balma and a half-spirited attempt to make a Namak me-too, Hello Hello. The title track, sung with verve and vigour by Vishal Bhardwaj, is more fun thinking about than listening to it.
Pataakha will be released on September 28.
Pataakha is the story of two warring sisters, Badki (Radhika Madan) and Chutki (Sanya Malhotra), whose verbal fisticuffs form the basis of Gulzar’s lyrics for Balma. After a long time, here is a song that brings back the spirit of back-and-forth banter superbly captured in Jaane Kyun by Javed Akhtar in Dil Chahta Hai (2001).
Backed by dholaks, Balma is a cheerful rustic song drawn from the folk music of the film’s Rajasthan setting. The scene is Badki’s wedding. Chutki simply has to create a ruckus. The song is made of couplets where the sisters, voiced by Sunidhi Chauhan and Rekha Bhardwaj, sing praises of their respective lovers while insulting the other’s. Among some juicy lines is this gem from Gulzar: “Paan Banaras ka mero balma / Chaand amaavas ka tero balma”.
The title track strives to be a fun, brisk affair with gibberish lyrics. Note Gulzar’s wordplay where he writes about encountering punches and kicks every day: “Aaj mukka laat se rozana mulakaat hoti hai.” Vishal Bhardwaj behind the mic here is a real hoot. Hear him stress on the “kh” in “Pataakha”, a word he spits as if he has discovered the right way to say it.
In Hello Hello, Rekha Bhardwaj, as the voice for item song queen Malaika Arora, yearns for someone to reach into her network and say hello at midnight. Hello Hello shares the same DNA as that of earlier sexually suggestive songs from the Gulzar-Vishal Bhardwaj combo, including Namak, Raat Ke Dhai Baje and Hamari Atariya. But Hello Hello lacks their power, both in composition and lyrics.
There’s nothing bad about Gali Gali, the film’s perfectly adequate Holi song sung by Sukhwinder Singh, but there’s also nothing interesting either.
Vishal Bhardwaj reserves the album’s best composition, Naina Banjare, for Arijit Singh. The ballad is the umpteenth time Gulzar has woven poetry around the power and mystique of the eyes. The arrangement is simple, led by an acoustic guitar and a synthetic beat. Singh sings of the wayward eyes that have finally settled (“Bhide re bhide naina, naina banjare). The sombre tune has the ability to slowly grow on the listener.
Among the recurring motifs in Gulzar’s lyrics is the parallel drawn between the stability of the river bed or the shore and the turbulence of the river. You heard it in O Majhi Re Apna Kinara from Khushboo (1975) and, more recently, Ek Nadi Thi Dono Kinare from Mirzya (2016). In Naina Banjare, the eyes become boats (“Akhiyon ke do bajre”), which upon crossing the river (“neeli neeli ek nadiya”) and reaching the shore (“Ghaat se bhidi naiya”), cause a welcome loss of the senses, which Gulzar expresses with the breaking of a wreath (“Bikhar gaye gajre”).