Mark my words: Amit Trivedi is the next musical genius on the block. After A.R. Rahman, Trivedi is making his very own mark on Indian film music, soaring above the norm. He experiments with sounds as a regular thing, as a genre in itself. This may not make his music instantly likeable, but just like with some of Rahman’s best compositions, the true beauty of the music seeps in gradually, leaving you hooked. No, make that obsessed. He’s won the National Award for the music of Dev D, simply one of the best film albums to come out of India this decade, and has delivered consistently with Aamir, Udaan and Aisha. His latest album for Raj Kumar Gupta’s upcoming political thriller No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ), is six tracks of explosive music! This is an edgy album, both in terms of music and lyrics, by Amitabh Bhattacharya, and will leave you craving much more from Trivedi’s musical prowess.
The album kicks off with the current chartbuster, Dilli, sung with gusto by Tochi Raina, Shriram Iyer and Aditi Singh Sharma. It’s one of those crazy numbers that you can’t help but shaking your head to and then hitting the ‘repeat’ button. Dilli has a rock feel throughout, complete with heavy drums and electric guitar. The vocals, however, have a folk bent that make for an odd marriage of musical genres. Yet the result is explosive. This is an ode to a city like none other. Delhiites, be proud.
There is another version of the same song at the end of the album called Dilli (Hardcore). It sounds pretty much the same as the original, but if I have to listen to the song again, I’m not complaining.
The crazy continues with Aali Re, by far the most fun track in the album. Based on the promos, it is designed to describe the character played by Rani Mukherjee in the film – a gutsy, no-nonsense news reporter with a foul mouth. This song does complete justice to that, unapologetic in its lyrics, music and the energy of the singers. With an army of singers – Aditi Singh Sharma, Anushka Manchanda, Biswasjit Chakraborty, Raja Hassan, Shriram Iyer, Sonika Sharma, Sonu Kakar & Tochi Raina – Trivedi and Bhattacharya go all out on this number. I didn’t know there were so many words in the Hindi language that rhymed with “aali.” And Trivedi has his singers imitate certain musical sounds and instruments to add the tapori touch, with the “dhinchak dhinchak” that kicks off the track. This song could easily qualify under the official category of badass.
Next is Aitbaar, sung by Vishal Dadlani, Mame Khan and Robert Omulo. The song has a somber and mysterious feel, aided by the deep male vocals. The three singers bring in an odd fusion of rock, rap and folk, with the rap elements feeling out of place. The song could have easily done without the rap by Dadlani, even if he sounds very confident belting those out. However, the best part about this song is the raw lyrics, soaked in pure Hindi that your grandmother would be proud of, but turned fluidly into an edgy contemporary poem. With piercing lines such as “Jhulsi hui iss rooh ke, chithde padeh bikhre hue, udhdi hui ummeed hai…” (“The scattered fragments of a burnt soul, with hopes ripped apart…”), Bhattacharya fills the song with angst yet doesn’t make it depressing.
Of the entire album, Dua takes the longest to get used to. It starts off with a piano melody and sugary vocals by Meenal Jain. After hearing the raw, uninhibited voices in the other songs, Jain’s sweet and childlike voice throws you off. As the song progresses, it turns into an anthem of sorts with Joi Barua, Raman Mahadevan and Amitabh Bhattacharya bringing in an empowering chorus to a rock beat. It’s a good track, but comes off as ordinary in an album packed with such incredible music.
Yeh Pal is one of those experimental tracks for which Trivedi is quickly exhibiting a knack. The first half of the song is a melodious tune sung soulfully by Shilpa Rao. It’s an introspective song, questioning the condition of society today with very unobtrusive music providing musical backing. Then just after the halfway mark, the song takes a dramatic turn and transforms into an orchestral piece with no vocals. The pace quickens and with an ensemble of instruments, it becomes what I expect will be the theme tune of the film. The two halves could easily be separate tracks but Trivedi fuses them together seamlessly so the switch in tune and mood seems completely naturally.
I’ve had this album on loop ever since I first listened to it. Just like with Dev D, I initially had my favorite songs, which quickly turned into enjoying each and every song so much that I wouldn’t dare single out a track or two as the best. Amitabh Bhattacharya is adding a whole new dimension to film lyrics and I salute Amit Trivedi for daring to constantly push the envelope with his choice of singers, instrumentation and tunes. He is the future of Hindi film music.