Some director-composter partnerships just click perfectly, making you wonder why they don't always work together. One such partnership is of director Anurag Basu and composer Pritam. Their previous collaborations Gangster and Life in a Metro delivered very memorable albums, even if Pritam's track record has been riddled with accusations of plagiarism. The latest Anurag Basu-Pritam collaboration comes in the form of Barfi, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D'Cruz. This one hits the bullseye too.
For Basu, Barfi is also a desperately needed attempt at redemption after his previous release Kites, which bombed all around. Based on the promos and music of this one, he's on the right track so far.
The title song Barfi is sung by Mohit Chauhan as a goofy number, reminiscent of the antics of Kishore Kumar. The song is intended to be an introduction to the impish character played by Ranbir Kapoor, so it has dollops of random sounds and words combined with a happy-go-lucky tune. Fun to listen to once but not particularly memorable.
The second version of the song Ala Barfi is sung by Swanand Kirkire. This track is largely similar to the first one, if only a bit calmer. Not bad, but the tracks that follow are far better.
The next track, Main Kya Karoon, introduces one of the most croonilicious (yup, just made that up) voices in Hindi filmdom, which belongs to Nikhil Paul George. It's a song about helpless love, an unsettling feeling of the heart being out of control, and George brings to it just the right amount of innocence, playfulness, and romanticism. He has a voice that would work wonders with jazz music. The composition is simple, with plenty of accordion thrown in. The hummable theme of the album continues.
Kyon brings together Papon with Sunidhi Chauhan, which makes quite a potent duet of voices. Pritam gives it a very classic French sound blended beautifully with an old world charm that defined Hindi film music of the 1950s and 1960s. Papon leads in the track, carrying it smoothly throughout. Chauhan comes in briefly and gives it that extra lift. Definitely a track to play on loop.
The bouncy romantic number is followed by a more somber, yet just as melodious Phir Le Aya Dil. This track is sung by the soulful Rekha Bhardwaj. A song about lost love and mistakes, Bhardwaj injects the right mix of classical intonations with a ballad about heartbreak. The composition is mellow for the most part and lets the vocals shine. I only wish Bhardwaj sang much more for film albums. We simply don't get to hear her enough.
The song comes back as a Reprise, sung this time by Arijit Singh. This one is a bit slower and has more of a classical bent with a soothing piano interlude. However, Bhardwaj's version still stands out for the emotional depth her voice brings to the song.
In an album that's so consistently hummable, it's hard to have a favorite but Aashiyan might just be it. Led by Shreya Goshal and joined by Nikhil Paul George, this track is fun, cute, romantic, fluffy and cuddly all thrown into one, without getting overbearingly mushy. Goshal and George keep it lively with their vocals while the composition is foot-tappingly catchy. The adorable song promo might also have something to do with its effect.
The final song, Saawali Si Raat, is the slowest of the lot. Sung by Arijit Singh, it has the mood of a lullaby. However, Singh struggles with the high notes. It's a soothing song but doesn't have the same lasting impact as the other tracks in this album.
Barfi is a rare Pritam album that goes well beyond his usual fare. There's none of the club tracks, the frenetic Punjabi numbers, or the urban pop songs. It's a much welcome venture into a different mood and genre, and it works really well.
That being said, the team of singers here are the real life of the album. They all bring a range of voices and strengths to the songs. In an era of Hindi film music saturated with item songs being used to sell otherwise mediocre albums, Barfi is a pleasant surprise. It's consistent and is one of the very few albums out right now that you can listen to on loop in its entirety and not just obsess over one song. Enjoy this charming album!
Listen to the full album here.