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From ‘Jab We Met’ (2007) to ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ (2017), director Imtiaz Ali, composer Pritam and lyricist Irshad Kamil have collaborated on three films together. Actually, four if you take ‘Cocktail’ (2012) into account which was co-written by Imtiaz. Then, there are films in which Imtiaz and Irshad have collaborated with other composers – Sandesh Shandilya (‘Socha Na Tha’) and A R Rahman (‘Rockstar’, ‘Highway’, ‘Tamasha’). Pritam, Imtiaz and Irshad have been a winning team and one is always excited when the three of them collaborate on a film together. ‘Love Aaj Kal’, a film which is in the same mould, as far as the theme is concerned, as the similarly named film (‘Love Aaj Kal’; 2009) which the three of them had earlier worked together on. This review is being written after watching the film as the album dropped the same day as which the film released. Hence, now one also has an idea of how the songs have been placed and used to take the narrative forward.

The album opens with “Shayad”, a song which depicts the feelings of a young man who has just experienced what it feels like to be in love. Irshad Kamil plays around with the word ‘shayad’, which is heard multiple times in the song, very nicely; he writes lines like “shayad mere khyaal mein tum ik din milo mujhe kahin pe gum shayad” to denote the small, little things one hope to achieve or expect from the other person while being in love. Though this song is not exactly in the same genre, the composition reminds one of the kind of romantic songs Pritam composed in his early days – soft rock ballads which became synonymous with him. Arijit Singh does very well as a vocalist and takes the song on another level as he renders the high note, “jo tum naa ho…”. The song marks a very good start to the album. I was a little surprised to hear Arijit’s voice in the ‘reprised’ version as while watching the film, I felt it was Jubin who had sung the alternate version.

“Twist” from ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2009) gets a new ‘twist’ in the form of “Haan Main Galat”. The way Arijit modulates his voice, it makes one difficult to realise that this is the same voice which rendered the romantic track one heard just before playing this track. Arijit’s spirited rendition is just one of the assets of this groovy which instantly urges you to tap your feet as you hear (or even sing) it along. In the original “Twist” number, the portion played on the ‘been’ was borrowed from (and duly credited to) the Hemant Kumar composed ‘Man Dole Tan Dole’ from the film ‘Nagin’ (1954). In this track, the same music piece acts as the bridge between the two songs. Apart from that, this is a purely original track that bears no other resemblance to the Neeraj Shridhar sung number from the 2009 film. In fact, it is only when this music piece arrives 0:49 minutes into the song that you realise the connection. Given the nature of this song and the video, one expected a female vocalist here along with Arijit.

“Mehrama”, perhaps, marks the first collaboration between Darshan Raval, a young singing star who rose to prominence with his appearance on a music reality a couple of years back, and Pritam. As the lines “o mehrama, kya milya yun judaa hoke bataa” suggest, the song has a melancholy feel to it. While Darshan does fairly well as a vocalist, it is Antara Mitra who brings out the pathos in the song more effectively with her expressive rendition and full-throated voice. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are simple and effective. Pritam’s composition is of a similar nature. The orchestral arrangements are nice; the subtly played tabla portions heard in the background adds a nice touch to the song. There is an ‘extended’ version of the song, also sung by Darshan, which is a minute and a half longer than the original.

Arijit Singh gets another song to his credit in the album in the form of “Rahogi Meri” which also happens to be one of the best tracks on the album. The song is a slow-burner, you like it when you hear it for the first time but then, it keeps growing on you as you listen it to it a couple of times and more and then, refuses to leave you. The song has just one ‘mukhara’ and one ‘antara’ and a large part of the track is layered with some wonderfully immersive pieces playing in the background. You cannot help but feel a lump in your throat as the chords change and Arijit sings “chaahe bolo tum ya naa bolo…”. There is also an alternate version in which Shilpa Rao joins Arijit behind the mic.

The best track on the album is also the least promoted one from the album. K K’s warmth-filled voice is heard in a film soundtrack after a while and it sounds so fresh that it is hard for one to believe that it is a voice one has been hearing this voice for more than two decades now. “Aur Tanha” is to ‘Love Aaj Kal’ is what “Ghar” was to ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal and “Main Kaun Hoon” was to ‘Love Aaj Kal’. The song has a ‘pahari’ feel to it wonderfully accentuated by the choral vocals. Now when one thinks of it, there have been quite a bunch of songs (“Yaara Rab” – ‘Socha Na Tha’, “Yeh Ishq Haaye” – ‘Jab We Met’, “Phir Se Ud Chala” – ‘Rockstar’) in Imtiaz’ films which have been set against the backdrop of mountains. “Naa main vaada karta hoon, naa main bhula karta, tu hai toh sab raston pe, main kya dhoondha karta” – Irshad’s lyrics play an important role in making this song memorable.

“Yeh Dooriyan”, one of the most popular songs from ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2009) is revisited here. The same team (Pritam – Irshad Kamil – Mohit Chauhan) comes together for this one. A particular music piece and the hook-line reminds one of the original track. Apart from that, as was the case with “Haan Main Galat”, a large part of the song boasts of an original tune and freshly written lines. It takes a while to get used to the tune but you do warm up to it eventually.  Just like K K, it is a delight to hear Mohit Chauhan’s voice after a long time. Good track but I prefer the original over this one.

“Parmeswara” and “Dhak Dhak” are fun tracks that engage you to a good extent as you listen to them but these are largely situational music pieces which were created while being within the boundaries of the particular situation/s in the script. Listen to “Sheher Mein” from ‘Rockstar’ and you will get a drift of what one is trying to say here. In both the songs, Irshad’s dexterity with words comes to the fore and the wordplay in both the tracks is one of those things that help you invest yourself as a listener in them.

‘Love Aaj Kal’, for me, turned out to be a more fulfilling soundtrack than the ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2009) album which, itself, was very good. While ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ remains the best album put together by the trio, this is definitely an album which Pritam, Irshad and Imtiaz would be proud of working on together as a team.