MUSIC REVIEW: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag – A Slow And Steady Run

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What's the best thing about the new Farhan Akhtar film soundtrack? He's not on it!
What's the best thing about the new Farhan Akhtar film soundtrack? He's not on it!

What’s the best thing about the new Farhan Akhtar film soundtrack? He’s not on it!

You know the starting pistol that is fired to begin a race. Gurbani, sung by Daler Mehndi is that first smoky bang on the soundtrack of Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. At just over a minute and a half, its the warm-up for the flying sikh’s temple run.

Zinda tantalises from the very first chord. Siddharth Mahadevan fronting as lead vocalist, smoothly glides through this fire starter scorcher. One can see how its going to blaze on-screen. And Milkha takes off here. Stunning guitars, Siddharth’s gritty-meets-blues rendition and the chorus rouse up an athlete’s anthem. The song is what Shankar-Ehsan-Loy have in the past, with Rock On, introduced us to, a rock-pop number that’s both electric, and hummable. How many rock numbers can be hummed? Try the second stanza, ‘koyla kaala hai, chhatano ne paala hai, andar kaala, bahar kaala, par saccha hai saala.‘ Prasoon Joshi, lyricist sir, what illuminating philosophy, like a diamond, no? Sing along boys and girls.

Javed Bashir, of Mekaal Hasan Band sings Mera Yaar in an interesting blend of instruments – guitars, cello, beatbox chorus and claps, setting a stage for the singer to lead Coke Studio Pakistan to Hindustan. A sufi flavour of lyrics to the folksy rhythm, tempo in sync with the singer’s pitch, the song is atypical of the bonfire melody. What’s interesting is if you remove all percussion, the singer’s beautiful voice is the mystic baul’s elegy.

Maston Ka Jhund sung by Divya Kumar is a gorgeously arranged situational comic track comprising of some really funny beatbox sounds and a clowning chorus. The brief overture is highly reminiscent of Pinjre Wali Muniya (Teesri Kasam) and Jai Jai Shiv Shankar (Aap Ki Kasam) but this one is intricately mixed. Can’t see it lasting long.

Not one, but two pardesi singers on the soundtrack, Arif Lohar sings all the way from across the border, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. And he’s really meaning it in this loquacious spiel. It’s a lovely poem if you have the patience to listen through Arif’s booming voice, why is he in such a hurry to recite? A bit motormouth. Try keeping pace on this one. The rock version, sung by Siddharth Mahadevan is well, bunch up your laces, and run. Although this one is more likely to make you work on the treadmill than Arif’s shout-out.

Slow Motion Angreza is where SEL’s love of bagpipes return. Oh retro, for whatever its worth in the film, its quite the nonsense it should be. Hopefully the film will explain that.

O Rangrez is where Shreya Ghoshal’s presence amongst the barrage of male voices, is such a welcome change, and Sonam will get a cameo singing part in the film, in an all-male dominated soundtrack. Its that awkward presence of a woman’s sly company which embellishes the song with an almost ethereal beauty. The sarangi, tabla, harmonium accompaniment, with each instrument allowed to breathe, and blend makes this one exquisite to sit through the baithak.

It’s a quiet return, after a year-long gap for SEL. They’re not making a big, cymbal-clashing, ear-splitting show, and perhaps that’s what is needed for this film soundtrack. A slow start to a really long run.