What is Amit Trivedi’s secret of dishing out songs by the dozen for films every month? One of them had 14 tracks. (We are not counting the background score.) Trivedi has had six Hindi releases this year, with Helicopter Eela and the four southern remakes of Queen to follow and the biopic Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy in 2019.
Most of the songs in Sriram Raghavan’s Andhadhun feature the piano since the protagonist is a pianist, a fact that has a bearing on the story. The best offerings are the two piano pieces composed by Trivedi. The album could have only had piano-based instrumentals, but that’s wishful thinking. What we get instead are some passable songs from Trivedi and a lovely title track from rapper Raftaar and his co-composer Girish Nakod.
Starring Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana and Radhika Apte, the film will be released on October 5.
With its jubilant Nashik dhols, Raftaar dropping verses with attitude, and lyrics that reference the deadly cat-and-mouse games in the film, the title track is a winner. It also leaves its mark in an album where the rest of the songs are sedate.
Four out of five songs by Trivedi, and written by Jaideep Sahni, are about finding or losing love. The standout track among these is Woh Ladki, a melancholic composition with theatrical flourishes in the post-chorus section. Supported by the piano, accordion, keyboards and strings, the song begins on a brooding note and holds on to that emotion till the end. Arijit Singh unsurprisingly aces the song. The tune returns as the highlight of Andhadhun Theme 02, one of the soundtrack’s two piano pieces.
Trivedi sings two songs, Naina Da Kya Kasoor and Laila Laila. Aap Se Milkar comes in two versions; one sung by Abhijeet Shrivastava and Aakanksha Sharma and the other by Ayushmann Khurrana. These three are the other love songs in the album, all of which are syrupy-sweet and feature catchy hooklines. But they are also boring. Nonetheless, these songs demonstrate Trivedi’s knack of producing peppy music in the urban rom-com space, last explored by him thoroughly in Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu (2012).
Sahni, who isn’t as prolific as his peers, rarely gets to have fun as a lyricist as he did with Nashe Si Chadh Gayi (Befikre, 2016) where, among other things, he compared the intoxication of a romantic encounter with the feeling of having downloaded a Torrent file.
In O Bhai Re, sung by Shadab and Altamash Faridi, Sahni flexes his muscles with lines such as “Naina bharam ki kamaate hain / Kambakht dil ko khilaate hain” (The eyes live off deception and feed the wretched heart). O Bhai Re is one of those sardonic world-weary songs you find in Hindi thrillers, like the superb Ganda Hai, one of Sahni’s earliest songs of this kind.
Where Trivedi really shines – and seems to have sweated on – are the two piano pieces titled Andhadhun Theme 01 and Andhadhun Theme 02. Mumbai musician Jarvis Menezes plays the piano here. The protagonist is a “virtuoso”, as Trivedi said in an interview. Thus, his talents on the piano should show in these pieces, and they do. These pieces, with their shifts in tempo, multiple melodies and the transposition between them, evoke pleasantness one minute, dread in the next, and several other moods in between. Clocking in at seven minutes, both pieces sadly end too soon.