In Zoya Akhtar’s rap musical that was released in February, Tewari brought together rappers and music makers with outstanding results. In Made in Heaven, also by Akhtar in collaboration with Reema Kagti, Tewari does the job well as per the memo, but only a few songs stand out.
A possible reason is that Made in Heaven is not song-driven, and its premise has nothing to do with music. The series, which was premiered on March 8, follows two wedding planners who try to keep the show going despite personal and professional obstacles. Produced by Excel Entertainment and Tiger Baby, the show features Sobhita Dhulipala and Arjun Mathur in the lead alongside Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi.
There are close to 20 original songs in the series, by multiple musicians and songwriters handpicked by Tewari. The series follows a one-wedding-per-episode format. The bulk of the music appears in the pubs, which the protagonists visit after a long day of wedding mayhem, while the rest of the songs are played at wedding venues.
The club-set songs are a mix of rhythm and blues and jazz numbers. None of these appear in the series’s official soundtrack available on select streaming platforms. That has only six tracks, which prompts the question – why release an incomplete soundtrack for a web series?
The album does not even have the opening theme of the series, a combination of strings, flute and piano that lends a happy vibe to the candid wedding shots featured in the opening credits. The saccharine theme, by Tarana Marwah, who performs electronic music as Komorebi, gives no hint of the dark side of weddings that the show explores. A re-arranged version of the theme also features in the series. While not as striking as that of Sacred Games or Mirzapur, Marwah’s theme deserves to be in the official soundtrack.
Songs from the wedding portions oscillate between good, decent and forgettable. The pick of the album is the Kashmiri folk song Roshay, recreated by Dub Sharma with singer Vibha Saraf, who became something of a star last year when she sang the Kashmiri passages of the song Dilbaro from Raazi (2018). Roshay has a beautiful tune, is tastefully arranged and mixed, but winds up within two-and-a-half minutes. That’s the case with most original songs in the series, conceived as snippets of music to accompany scenes.
Dub Sharma also gives us the lovely Punjabi folk song Charpayee, sung by Mitika Kanwar, which appears in the fifth episode. After producing three hip-hop tracks for Gully Boy, one of which Sharma wrote and rapped, he delivers wildly different music for Made in Heaven. Sharma also wrote the lyrics of Charpayee. A solid electronic musician, rapper, lyricist, and now fitting snugly into the world of Bollywood and Indian web series, Sharma is an exciting talent to look out for.
The ever-dependable Sagar Desai (Ankhon Dekhi, A Death in the Gunj) delivers three songs that sound like poor versions of Amit Trivedi’s idea of a Punjabi wedding dance track, but they do their job of making the scenes sail along.
Among the better songs not present in the soundtrack is Your Love by Shillong-based blues rock band Soulmate. It’s an old-school rocker with crunchy guitar riffs and powerful vocals by Tipriti Kharbangar, and is used well in a revealing montage at the end of episode four. Then, there’s Bengaluru singer-songwriter L’nee Golay’s Somebody to Love, and Times We Had by Duke’s Quintet, a group featuring Mumbai singer-songwriter Tejas Menon. This is the kind of bluesy, jazzy stuff heard in the establishments frequented by Arjun Mathur’s Karan.
The eighth episode gives Rootha Yaar, where composer Gaurav Raina of Midival Punditz blends Sukanya Chattopadhyay’s Hindustani singing with fusion rock arrangements. Later, there’s Aazaad, a funky Nazia Hassan throwback from Pakistani singer-songwriter, Zoe Viccaji.
Two Amir Khusrao poems, Chaap Tilak and Aa Re Sakhi More Piya Ghar Aaye, are performed in the series. Chaap Tilak is arranged by Balkrishan Sharma with vocals by Hindustani singer Malini Awasthi. It is gorgeous, as is the rendition of Aa Re Sakhi More Piya Ghar Aaye by the Delhi group MS Nizami Brothers. The latter is in the soundtrack but the former isn’t. Balkrishan Sharma and Malini Awasthi also join hands for the classical song Kesariya Bagey Waala.
We are treated to only a few seconds of most of the tracks because the incomplete soundtrack does no justice to the assortment of sounds in the series. What fun a 20-song album could be for a Made In Heaven viewer wanting to relive the series, with a rock song coming after a jazzy one, a qawwali followed by a Hindustani song, a disco track with a romantic ballad in pursuit.
Throw the laughably bad Meant To Be into the mix, and you get a playlist that is truly eclectic. In episode eight, when the song is used by a bratty and dimwitted bride-to-be for her wedding music video, the music and accompanying visuals feel like a fun parody of all things Ananya Birla, that confident face of unimaginative commercial pop. Well, that’s because it’s actually an Ananya Birla song.