There seems to be no end to historicals, or soundtracks that sound just like each other: an abundance of dhols, dholaks, flute, sringas and chorus sections. Think of tracks such as Saahore Baahubali (Baahubali 2), Malhari (Bajirao Mastani), and Vijayi Bhava (Manikarnika), and you can guess what the soundtrack of Ashutosh Gowariker’s Panipat sounds like.
The December 6 release follows the 18th-century battle between the Marathas and the Afghans. The soundtrack comprises three tunes, which is surprising for an Ashutosh Gowariker film.
The tracks in Panipat feature the characteristic richness in acoustic orchestration that we have come to expect from hitmakers Ajay-Atul. The album begins with Mard Maratha. While this song about Maratha pride has the usual trappings of the period-movie sound, the song does come with a great hook and very impressive arrangements. The lyrics are by Javed Akhtar, who has always been proficient at writing for period films (Lagaan, Kisna: The Warrior Poet, Mangal Pandey: The Rising, Jodhaa Akbar).
Kunal Ganjawala, a star voice of the 2000s, hasn’t been around much in the past decade, but in Panipat, he can be heard in both Mard Maratha and Mann Mein Shiva. Ganjawala’s voice has a formidable presence. Mann Mein Shiva has the same kind of boisterous arrangement as Mard Maratha, but the only element that stands out is the catchy hook.
The soundtrack calms down with the third and final track, Sapna Hai Sach Hai. Few Indian film composers can weave such intricate acoustic arrangements into their melodies as Ajay-Atul, and that talent is on full display in this song. Abhay Jodhpurkar, who sang the amazing Mere Naam Tu for the composers in Zero, shares the mic with Shreya Ghoshal here, and they carry the slow tune with perfection.
There’s not much to hang on to in the soundtrack, which is a pity. There was a time when the Gowariker-AR Rahman combo gave stellar soundtracks (Mohenjo Daro being an exception). That’s all in the past, it now seems. The Panipat soundtrack is adequate enough to work as filler material in the movie.