Mid-tempo ballads, walls of guitars with some fat solos popping up in interludes, basic percussion, and easy-to-remember lyrics.
The 42-minute Kabir Singh soundtrack, created by five composers, follows the template to a T. Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, the June 21 release is the Hindi remake of his Telugu film Arjun Reddy. The story follows the downward spiral of a surgeon after he loses the love of his life.
A concern ahead of the soundtrack’s release was whether the five composers would maintain uniformity in the soundtrack for a song-heavy story the way the original composer, Radhan, did for the Telugu original. Thanks to the template, it’s hard to say which composition belongs to whom: Mithoon’s song could be Vishal Mishra’s, Sachet-Parampara’s track could be Amaal Mallik’s.
The credit goes to music producer T-Series, who have perfected the art of nurturing talent over time, getting composers to deliver market-friendly hits and packaging the tunes as a soundtrack, the way Marvel Studios has industrialised superhero filmmaking. With the Kabir Singh album, T-Series may have another Aashiqui 2 on its hands.
Sachet-Parampara’s Bekhayali starts with the electric guitar solo that is deemed necessary to convey both attitude and angst. The song is about pining for lost love. Bekhayali comes in two versions; one by Arijit Singh, and the other sung by one-half of the composers, Sachet Tandon, who sounds fresh compared to Singh.
Arijit Singh also croons the beautiful Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage for Mithoon, who gave him Tum Hi Ho in Aashiqui 2. However, the tune’s film version is by the most talented Jubin Nautiyal. Arijit Singh could actually have crooned all the songs since they overwhelmingly fall in the sad-ballad zone that he has conquered. The new voices lend the album some newness.
Kaise Hua, composed and sung by Vishal Mishra, is one of the strongest tracks. The hookline is based on a part of the tune of Emitemitemito from Arjun Reddy, which was used as a refrain in the background score. How did you become so important to me, lyricist Manoj Muntashir writes. The song, like others in the album, brings to mind how an entire crop of singers today have to channel their inner Arijit Singh to survive.
Composers Sachet-Parampara turn singers for Mere Sohneya. With dholaks and some shehnai in the end, Mere Sohneya offers a slightly different flavour. Irshad Kamil is the lyricist. But if the Punjabi hero’s inner monologue has been expressed through the other songs in Hindi, why is Mere Sohneya in Punjabi? Nobody knows.
T-Series honcho Bhushan Kumar’s sister Tulsi Kumar has been a fixture in the company’s albums for years. She finds place in Akhil Sachdeva-composed Tera Ban Jaunga. The duet sticks to the album’s template, but 30 minutes into the soundtrack, the sentimental overdose can get boring.
Shreya Ghoshal sings Yeh Aaina, the album’s only track by a solo female singer. Composer Amaal Mallik has his way with sweet ballads (Kaun Tujhe sung by Palak Muchhal comes to mind), and he is on point here as well. Thankfully, we get a respite from the incessant guitar riffs and faux-rock sound.
Vishal Mishra’s Pehla Pyaar is a breezy track about, well, first love, and it starts in a fun way. However, the guitar sandwich enters soon. Like Yeh Aaina, the song is low on dard. Armaan Malik aces the track, which at a different time would have gone to KK.
The Kabir Singh soundtrack has good tunes, but it plays safe to the point of being dull. The album’s sappy saccharine rock sound, perfected by Pritam with singers like KK and Atif Aslam in the mid-2000s, is now passe. But the brains behind the Kabir Singh soundtrack felt that this was the way to go. So be it.