Vishal-Shekhar never make boring music. They might make a mediocre tune or something that’s not immediately catchy. But within the ambit of Hindi film music, where freshness is hard to come by, they regularly try different genres and use unusual arrangements to squeeze something new out of the classic Hindi film song situation.

Two out of three songs in Vishal-Shekhar’s Khaali Peeli soundtrack demonstrate the composers’ zeal to innovate. Both Tehas Nehas and Shana Dil belong to the same groove: a criss-cross of blues, R&B, and loungy synths. In both songs, the lyrics and singing balance the gruffness of the vagrant with the confidence of a Don Juan.

This is best experienced in Shana Dil, where Divya Kumar, known for his rustic folksy style, sings like the very funky Benny Dayal. Does it work? Depends on the listener, but at least the composers tried something interesting. In Tehas Nehas, Shekhar Ravjiani, who has a smooth and elegant voice, aims for a non-singing effect that sounds like Sanjay Dutt.

Both songs are more fun to contemplate rather than revisit for listening pleasure.

Khali Peeli (2020) jukebox.

This leaves us with Duniya Sharma Jayegi, previously called Beyonce Sharma Jayegi. The lyrics “Tujhe dekh ke goriya Beyonce sharma jayegi” have been changed to “Tujhe dekh ke choriya duniya sharma jayegi”. The name change happened because of the implications of racism in the lyrics by Raj Shekhar and Kumaar, as well as the fact that Beyonce has trademarked her name.

The song being a Vishal-Shekhar dance standard comes with a typically catchy hook but is made cacophonous by the duo’s love for hyper-production. All in all, Khaali Peeli is a 10-minute Vishal-Shekhar album whose parts are often more interesting than the whole.

Duniya Sharma Jayegi, Khali Peeli (2020).