The Khuda Haafiz album is further proof of why Mithoon shouldn’t be locked into a multi-composer album. Get him to do all the songs and he will provide more variety across his dard-e-pop oeuvre than what we heard in the Kabir Singh soundtrack.
No one has assimilated within himself the combined musicality of ghazals, Nadeem-Shravan, and Pakistani sufi rock as well as Mithoon. No wonder his songs stand out in all of the multi-composer albums for the Bhatt brothers’ movies.
Mithoon has four original tunes in Faruk Kabir’s Khuda Haafiz, which will be out on Disney+ Hotstar on August 14. The film follows a man trying to locate his wife, who has gone missing in a foreign country. Each of the four original tracks is stellar; some of the best Hindi film tunes of 2020. Two songs have alternate versions, which add no value to the album.
Jaan Ban Gaye, featuring Mithoon’s lyrics, is carried entirely by Vishal Mishra. Mishra’s trembling, trepidatious voice signals a volcano of passion buried under reverence for the woman.
Mishra’s co-singer Asees Kaur, in comparison, seems unconvinced singing, “Aap hamari jaan ban gaye” (You have become my life). She also headlines a solo version, which only reveals her limitations as a singer. The idea here is to produce an ethereal effect, but that too is achieved by reverb. Rekha Bhardwaj or Kavita Seth would have been better for a tune this good.
After Mishra’s emotive crooning, Vishal Dadlani’s deep voice brings purpose to the proceedings. We will meet again, till then khuda haafiz (god be your guardian), writes Sayeed Quadri.
Javed Ali, an otherwise terrific singer, turns out to be a bad choice for an unplugged version. Gone is the Dadlani version’s masculine determination, as Ali turns the song into a screeching wail. The angst feels especially half-hearted when Ali hits the high notes.
The versatile and slowly improving Armaan Malik, who shepherded two of the best tunes in 99 Songs and Gunjan Saxena this year, is in top form in Mera Intezaar Karna. His boyish voice complements the vulnerability in Mithoon’s lyrics, which say, we will meet again so wait for me.
The tune is great, but this is also a song that keeps getting better every minute because of the production. Once the drums enter, the sonic effect is reminiscent of the early 2000s songs of the Pakistani band Strings. Malik’s falsetto over strings before the first interlude, and the shehnai in the end signalling wedding vows, are fabulous.
Lament is coded into every line in Aakhri Kadam Tak, in which Sonu Nigam sings, I am with you till my last breath. Death looms over his voice as well as in Mithoon’s lyrics. A moment in which Nigam’s breath is deliberately amplified, after he has just sung “doli me bitha ke dafan tak” (I’ll fulfill my duties of a husband till death), is yet another smart production decision.
Aakhri Kadam Tak also has the least production in an altogether minimalist album. This soundtrack is the sign of a composer who knows he has a good tune, and he doesn’t need to overcook them in the studio.
Another amazing aspect of the Khuda Haafiz album is that, despite its nature, Mithoon does not use Arijit Singh, the crown prince of weepy ballads and fervid torch songs. Perhaps Singh can now permanently move on to more challenging and interesting stuff like Binte Dil and Ghungroo.