Film: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo

Label: T-Series

Music: Himesh Reshammiya

Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

Salman Khan has now made it almost a tradition (like in so many older films and stars) of entering a film with a song. This time it is the energetic “Prem Leela,” sung by Aman Trikha (in high pitch) and Vineet Singh. In many ways, the song is reminiscent of the overall feel of Khan’s last “entry song” “Selfie Le Le Re,” and had we not known that it was composed earlier we would have felt that the “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” track had inspired the general tenor of the song.

The song is energetic and might hit it big as the album has released during the ‘dandiya’ season with its energetic percussion and wind instruments. The relentless desi rhythm and very Indian sound (complete with rousing chorus and whistles) make for a tantalizing beat-oriented product. The music is like a song in Himesh’s “Policegiri,” but the mounting is far bigger and Irshad Kamil’s pure Hindi lyrics are simple, vibrant and festive.

Palak Mucchal gives us a feel of Shreya Ghoshal in the latter’s many Himesh lovelies (“Banaras,” “Dangerous Ishhq”) apart from the many haunting Laxmikant-Pyarelal-Lata melodies as she begins the stunning title track. I liked the Irshad Kamil ploy of using all words rhyming with “Payo” in the repeated female choral refrain.

Though the essential feel of the song is very L-P (especially “Eeshwar”’s “Kaushalya Mein Teri”), one also gets a whiff of the folk-based sweetness of Kalyanji-Anandji’s compositions in the interludes. This is Palak’s “Hawa Hawaii” if one can compare such songs, in terms of its importance to a singer’s career.

A complete lyrical and musical stunner (the orchestral beats as a gap between the words “Prem Ratan” and “Dhan Paayo” is a killer concept that L-P would use time and again), it has Kamil’s magnificent line “Laaga rang jo tera / Hui main kamaal ki” that induces goose bumps as we ponder on the magnificence of the writer’s creativity.

A whiff of veteran Roshan in the prelude, and we move on to L-P ground again in “Jalte Diye.” I loved the relentless use of the vocal “Tha Tha Tha” as the rhythm that sets the base for this Vineet-Anwesshaa duet (additional vocals by Harshdeep Kaur and Shabab Sabri).

While spotlighting the fact that genuine composers (as opposed to mere music making techno-brats and the ilk) elicit the Kavita-Sadhana Sargam-Shreya levels from barely experienced vocalists like Anwesshaa (who shown in “Dangerous Ishhq” too under him), we must mention the unique layering and phrasing (“Bitaani tere saaye mein saaye mein /   Zindagani”): This is a classic melody in which the use of lower octaves in the interlude music takes the song to another dimension.

Of course, Vineet singing like Sonu Nigam is a downer, but he is still better than a fake Sonu-esque Javed Ali. The poetry is olde-worlde, showing a different ‘kabil’iyat (skill) from Kamil.

We next move to the oh-so-familiar “Aaj Unnse Milna Hai Hamein” (Shaan) with familiar Barjatya-like sentiments in the words. The food items mentioned throughout make us get a feel of the vegetarian and more melodious version of the “Chicken” song from “Bajrangi...”! Shaan also gives us a short version in “Murli Ki Taanon Si,” and there is a longer version from Shaan, Aishwarya Majumdar, Palak Muchhal as “Aaj Unnse Kehna Hai Hamein.”

Palak Muchhal gets the “chhed-chaad” quotient right in “Jab Tum Chaho” with Mohd, Irfan and Darshan Raval. The male singers are functional, but this lyrics-heavy number has Kamil again in great form. And we liked the laidback, placid composition.

Aman Trikha’s “Halo Re Halo Re” is a weak number, reminiscent again of a song in “Policegiri” in a more lavish and polished form. The Holi number is rescued by artlessly skilled verse (“Radha tora rang dhoop sa / Kisna ke mann ko bhaave re / Kaise koi hori ke din / Dhoop ko rang lagaave re”), which alludes to Radha as the bright sunshine that Kisna in love cannot possibly paint over with any other color.

In this score, completely made for the film and subject’s needs, the only concession to “modernity” is the word “Ouch!” used repeatedly in the “Tod Tadaiyya” track (Neeraj Shridhar-Neeti Mohan). This time there is a hark-back to the R.D. Burman style in composition, beats and orchestration, and the song is another weak point in the album, as it is an incongruous fit into the melodious ambience, like getting in a song from “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen” into “Amar Prem!”

After L-P, K-A, Roshan and R.D., it is Rajesh Roshan’s “Baton Baton Mein”-esque turn to be emulated in “Bachpan Kahaan” sung by Reshammiya himself. Again, Kamil’s pertinently moving lyrics (“Khushiyaan judi thi khilonon se apni / Khabar hi na thi kya hota hai gham”) cover up the heard-before feel and Himesh’s off-color, overdone rendition — this was an Abhijeet Bhattacharya or  KK song in today’s times.

Overall, this is a score that deserves hosannas for its courage of conviction in delivering deep and rich Indian melody, good poetry and thematic veracity against today’s depraved trends. It is so rare to hear songs composed for a film and its story, setting and characters, and the team must be congratulated for their vision and guts. We CERTAINLY do not miss the pseudo-Sufism, rank Punjabi-ness, puerile and crass words, frenetic Western beats, rap, Hip-Hop, Blues, and multiple music makers!

In fact, we wonder how a genius like Kamil, who has written such wonderfully evocative simple verse here, does such esoteric and incomprehensibly impressive (!) work in films like “Rockstar,” “Tamasha” and the likes. THIS is the Kamil we had loved in “Chameli,” “Socha Na Tha,” “Action Replayy” and others!

However, “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” could have done with a lot more originality, with richer, and in some songs, a better-balanced orchestration and sound. What registers are the earlier tracks in the album, and the remaining three compositions from the eight sound like somewhat weary fillers.

Sad indeed that a much-needed, possible revolution in music has been aborted: This could have been the “Pyar Jhukta Nahin”-meets-“Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak”-meets-“Maine Pyar Kiya” of the millennium!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars, which I suspect will reach 4/5 with Sooraj Barjatya’s vision for his situations, but this is for the audio value! 

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