The first thing that strikes you about the soundtrack of Shoojit Sircar’s film Gulabo Sitabo is the consistent use of folk-fusion. From Baul to Rajasthani to Uttar Pradeshi, it’s been blended smoothly, as guitar, clarinet and mandolin mingle with dotara and khomok.
There are three music directors – Shantanu Moitra, Anuj Garg and Abhishek Arora. Yet, there’s a certain uniformity in sound and theme, and even if one doesn’t look at it as a film soundtrack, one can play it as separate folk album. Not many film music recordings offer that feeling.
To be sure, the songs may take a while to grow on you. After all, this isn’t your typical Bollywood bhel puri. But somewhere down the line, in all probability on the second or third listening, something may strike a chord.
The choice of singers is interesting too. The opening Garg song ‘Madari Ka Bandar’, blending Baul and pop, features Tochi Raina and is written by Dinesh Pant. The next two songs are penned by Puneet Sharma. The lesser-used talent Piyush Mishra sings ‘Jhootam Phenk’, composed by Arora. Mika Singh appears on the funnily-worded Moitra song ‘Kanjoos’ (“Chai mein makhi jo gire, makhi choos ke nikaale, chahe kisi aur ka ho chai re”).
If the first three songs are light, Vinod Dubey gets into more philosophical mood, writing and singing, “Kya leke aayo jag mein, kya leke jaayega, o bandhu?” It’s a typical folk number composed by Moitra and it’s catchy.
Garg and Pant are in great form on ‘Do Din Ka Yeh Mela’, which goes “Aana hai, jaana hai, jeevan chalte jaana hai”. The song comes in two versions, by Rahul Ram of Indian Ocean and by Tochi Raina, and has a neat electric guitar solo.
The two-part Garg song ‘Budhao’, which talks of the old man played by Amitabh Bachchan, has been sung in Rajasthani folk style by Bhanwari Devi and country-pop manner by Bobby Cash. Two instrumental themes by Moitra – the latter featurung Shirish Malhotra on clarinet – complete the album. Special mention must be made of Ankur Mukherjee, who’s played electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele and other string instruments.
The film, starring Bachchan and Ayushman Khurana, was meant to be released theatrically but is now being put out on Amazon Prime on June 12. It’s one of the best soundtracks over the past couple of years and one hopes that in these times, it gets the right exposure.
Film: Gulabo Sitabo
Music: Shantanu Moitra, Anuj Garg, Abhishek Arora
Genre: Hindi film music
Label: Zee Music Company
Rating: 8/ 10
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