When an actor of Pankaj Kapur's caliber takes on the reins of director, you would at least be curious to see what he comes up with. With Mausam, Kapur brings together his son Shahid Kapur and Sonam Kapoor together for the first time in what is being promoted as "a love story for all seasons." This is no original claim from a mainstream Hindi film, but I guess we can let that go. Based on the trailer, the film looks like a romantic saga with a military backdrop. Again, nothing amazingly novel there. While we'll have to wait to see the Pankaj Kapur touch on this film, the soundtrack is already available for sampling. Composed by Pritam and lyrics by Irshad Kamil, the album bears a mature and rustic feel throughout. It has an intriguing lineup of singers and maintains Pritam's trademark peppy style but also feels a bit different from his usual fare.
The album starts with the obligatory mushy romantic ballad that a film of this genre must have. Rabba Main Toh Mar Gaya Oye, crooned by Shahid Mallya, is tinged with Punjabi lyrics and a rustic tune. Mallya delivers what is required from such a song - innocence, emotion and sincerity. Even though it isn't a wildly original love song, it works for the most part. The only off-putting element is the auto-tuned echo of Mallya's voice in the chorus. For a song meant to ground you to the simplicities of a small-town love story, auto-tuned voices shatter the illusion completely.
The same song - Rabba Main Toh Mar Gaya Oye - returns later in the album, but this time sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. It remains loyal to the original version with the exception of Khan's trademark vocals.
The next track epitomizes a Pritam wedding number. Sajh Dhaj Ke, by Mika Sing and Pankaj Kapur, reminds of 'Nagada Nagada' from another Pritam album, Jab We Met. It's a fun number and will likely become popular at weddings. The first of the remixes - the Desi Mix Tiger Style - adds more dhol and other percussion to make it a faster dance track. The second remix, however - Club Mix Tiger Style - falls flat. Pairing a song designed for a rural Punjabi wedding situation with a club tune creates a rather unpleasant mix. The tune seems forced and the lyrics just don't gel with the kind of musical backing they are given here.
Ik Tu Hi Tu Hi marks the return of Hans Raj Hans from a hiatus of sorts. It's a song about heartbreak and Hans brings in his seasoned sufi touch. The chanting chorus has a subtle yet entrancing quality to it that makes you want to listen again. Or you could just wait for the two other versions of the same song to return. The Reprise is handed to Shahid Mallya who uses his smoother and melodious voice to give the song a whole different feel. Being loyal to the conventions of a reprise, the pacing is slower, more relaxed but the chorus holds true. The third take of the song is arguably the best of the lot. This time, the Wadali Brothers take to the mic in the Mehfil Mix and they bring their stellar voices and passion to make the song a whole lot different. They even take over the chorus and, accompanied with a more percussion-based fusion tune, this version of the song shines.
Pankaj Kapur's classical allegiances become even more apparent with Poore Se Zara Sa Kam Hain. Crooned passionately by Rashid Khan, the song speaks about the feeling of incompleteness without a loved one. The music is intense and accompanies the solemn vocals with a great arrangement of traditional blended with western instrumentation. It's short and well done.
Karsan Das Sagathia gives his contribution with Aag Lage Us Aag Ko, a fast-paced Gujarati folk-based song colored with sorrow. In true Pankaj Kapur style, it's not your typical jolly folk song but intense and heartfelt about a lover who can't forget his loved one.
With the last track of the album, Pritam slips into his most typical and expected dance track routine. Mallo Malli, by Tochi Raina, is designed as a club track from the outset. The Second Version adds Lehmber Hussainpuri and Hard Kaur, a vocal collaboration that actually works better because of the distinctly opposite sounds both singers bring to the table. The Remix track is a rehash of Tochi Raina's original and is overdone, with auto-tuning and synthesizing taking over.
After a long while, Pritam delivers a genuinely honest album that paints a unique musical impression of an upcoming film. Pankaj Kapur's influence is evident throughout the album with the sufi and classically inflected songs and the accomplished lineup of raspy-voiced singers. Overall, a solid album that should catch on.
Listen to the full soundtrack here.