When the promotional campaign of a film begins with the launch of a song, you realize the makers have a lot of faith in the music and believe it will help the film gain good visibility. Much before the trailer of “Meenakshi Sundareshwar” came out, the audio and video of the song “Tu Yahin Hai” was released. This film, produced by Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment, marks the debut of Justin Prabhakaran, a composer who has scored popular music for many Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films. The lyrics have been written by Raj Shekhar who last wrote some excellent poetry for a film titled ‘Bamfaad’ that got a muted release on an OTT platform and for some reason, the full album (outside the film) was never released.
“Meenakshi Sundareshwar” is the story of a young couple who have to live apart from each other after marriage. From the promotional material of the film, one can gather that the film traces the journey of their courtship and the kind of challenges they face because of being in a ‘long-distance marriage’. With a theme like this, one expects the film to have a good scope for music.
The album opens with “Mann Kesar Kesar”, a romantic number sung by Shashwat Singh and Aanandi Joshi and Goldie Sohel. As you listen to the song, you almost imagine a young couple getting ready for their marriage and talking about their feelings to each other as the preparations for the big day are in full swing. The impact of this song is such that it creates an array of visuals in your mind as you listen to it. Justin Prabhakaran’s composition is layered and simple at the same time. Each and every phrase written by Raj Shekhar contribute towards making it a song that remains etched in your mind long after you have finished listening to it.
Shashwat and Aanandi’s voices are heard most prominently in the song. But, Goldie Sohel also leaves an impression with the lines (“saanwali saanwali teri aankh mein…..”) he get to sing at two different points in the song. A special mention must be made of the female choral vocalists who sing some of the best lines in the song effectively. The fact that the film is set in the south of India is accentuated by the presence of a few Tamil phrases and the touch of Carnatic music in the song.
“Vaada Machaney”, a peppy dance number, is in complete contrast to the sound and feel which the first song on the album had. Judging by what the song (and the trailer) conveys, it perhaps comes at a time when Sundareshwar (Abhimanyu Dassani) is soaking in the fun vibe of a party that he and his colleagues are a part of. The song, which is layered with electronic beats and boasts of a retro sound, is very catchy and benefits from Benny Dayal’s spirited rendition and the sound-based experiments Justin does here. The lyrics, written by Raj Shekhar, are not only quirky but also have a good ring to them.
“Tu Yahin Hai”, the song which kick-started the promotional activities of the film, is the third track to have been listed on the album. The prelude music itself gets you invested in this song as a listener and when Madhushree sings the first line, you know it is a saccharine romantic number that has been put together with a lot of thought and care. While it is a delight to hear Madhushree, who remains largely under-utilized in films, Abhay Jodhpurkar, too, sings the song with the kind of tenderness it required. The arrangements of the song are one of its major highlights. With lines like “Humein subah se iska intezaar hai ki jaldi jaldi sham ho, ki poore din ke kisse hum batayenge Taslliyon se raat ko”, Raj Shekhar beautifully encapsulates the feelings of a young married couple who are living apart from each other.
A percussion-driven sound dominates “Tittar Bittar”, a song that is supposed to be irreverent and comical. The song reminds one of a couple of songs you would have heard in different Tamil films in situations that are supposed to see the lead character/s or some other in a goofy avatar. While this is the kind of track that could be described as a ‘situational song’, Justin peppers it up with several interesting elements to ensure it leaves a mark as a standalone audio track. One of the strengths of the film is its unpredictability. When you fast-forward the song by, say a minute, you feel that you are listening to a different song altogether. Justin deserves brownie points for tying up all the different musical influences he uses here together in a seamless manner.
Unlike most of the other songs on the album, Justin opts for a minimalistic sound in “Ratti Ratti Reza Reza”. Perhaps, he did so to highlight the sense of melancholy in the song. “Kya karein ki jaldi-jaldi tujhe bhul jaayein ab, saath waali saari shaamein yaad phir naa aayein ab….”, Raj Shekhar’s lines contribute greatly in this aspect as well. Shreya Ghoshal and Abhay Jodhpurkar, who had earlier teamed up for the song “Sapna Hai Sach Hai” from ‘Panipat’, complement each other’s voices very well. The song takes a while to grow on you but after listening to it a couple of times, you appreciate the several nuances in it.
These days, a Hindi film soundtrack, apart from having vocal tracks, also contain several background pieces. ‘Pagglait’ and ‘Saina’ are some of the films whose released albums had a large number of instrumental/background tracks along with the vocal songs. This particular album has six such tracks. All of these are quite different from each other and very engaging. While “Down and Dirty” has a distinctive Caribbean sound to it, “First Kiss” has an interesting rhythm and vibrant arrangements led by flute and percussions. In “Meenakshi Sundareshwar Theme”, Sadhna Sargam and Vivek Soni, the director of the film, hum a beautifully composed tune through its 3:41 minutes duration.
‘Meenakshi Sundareshwaram’ is, perhaps, the best Hindi film soundtrack one has come across in the recent past. The soundtrack boasts of high-quality tunes and rich poetry and has the kind of songs that not only sound good but also remain faithful to the narrative and milieu of the film.