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While director Anurag Basu and composer Pritam Chakraborty’s association began with the latter scoring the title track for many of the TV shows directed by the former, the first film the two of them worked on was ‘Gangster’ (2006). The gritty film had a very popular soundtrack which paved the way for many more collaborations in the future. The ‘Life In A Metro’ had a memorable rock-infused album by Pritam and a band of musicians (Band Metro) put together by him. Though there was a plan of the band performing together and doing gigs beyond the film, that did not happen as each of the member got busy with their individual commitments. Five years later, ‘Barfi’ happened. The soundtrack of that film remains one of the best works by Pritam. Awards had eluded Pritam for a while and this film help him win many. For ‘Jagga Jasoos’, a one-of-its-kind musical, Pritam put together an assortment of twenty-nine tracks which formed an integral part of the film. The album, though, consisted of only six original tracks, all of which were superlative in nature. With Basu and Chakraborty collaborating again for another film (‘Ludo’), one cannot help but have gigantic expectations from the music of the film.

The albums opens with “Aabad Barbaad”, a very likeable track that you find yourself humming in no time. On one hand, it is a playful and vividly colourful track that makes you tap your feet but when you hear it a couple of times, you realize how nicely Pritam and lyricist Sandeep Shrivastava have infused it with various emotions ranging from ecstasy to melancholy. Arijit Singh brings all these emotions to the fore with effortless ease. The dichotomy of emotions which the songs also comes alive in the way it has been orchestrated. The arrangements, laced with techno beats, electric guitar, violin and other instruments, is largely upbeat but you also get to hear a sarangi piece in between. Even a digitally produced sound (2:57-3:09) that resembles (but not) the continuum fingerboard has been played out very well.

Yeh li hai meri aankhon ne qasam hai aaj, rakhegi tujhe khwaab mein, hamesha hardum har pal har shab humdum humdum….” – the wordplay by Sayeed Quadri is one of the many things that catch your attention when you listen to “Hardum Humdum”. Just like “Aabad Barbaad”, this song also talks about longing for the one you love. The sense of melancholy, however, is far more prominent. There are a few more similarities especially with what Pritam has tried to do with the orchestral arrangements vis-à-vis the tune. Still, the two songs are distinctively different from each other.

The tune of “Hardum Humdum” rests on a soft classical base that is evident with the opening line itself. Pritam goes slightly more experimental with the ‘film version’ of the track wherein he brings in an electronic, lounge-ish sound to the proceedings. There is some more goodness in the offering what with Shilpa Rao singing another version that almost has a hypnotic effect on one primarily because of the beautiful way in which she sings the song. Shilpa brings her own distinctive style to the song and that is what makes it such an incredible track to listen to.

There is nothing quite as good as a film song which makes certain visuals, which complement the track, play out in your mind. As I listened to “Meri Tum Ho”, I started imagining sunshine, walking along with shadows of trees in the surrounding areas and beaches. The song has a wonderful sing-along quality to it and stays in your mind long after you have finished listening to it. A wonderful concoction of acoustic guitar, percussions and flute contribute further towards making this song the sonic delight it is. Though Ash King has been credited as one of the two vocalists on the original version, only Jubin’s voice is heard there. In the unplugged version, Ash’s voice can be heard along with Jubin.

Darshan Raval sounds so refreshingly different in “Dil Julaha” that you are almost tempted to check the credits to confirm whether it is indeed him behind the mic. But, checking the credit details to figure out the name of the lyricist is something a lot of people would not have to do. If you are familiar with Swanand Kirkire’s penchant for using some wonderful Hindi words that are not used/heard very often in film songs and his distinctive style of writing, you would be able to guess in no time as to whose pen the words have come out for this song. Pritam makes Darshan lets go of the anglicised-style rendition and sing this song very naturally. The song faintly reminds one of the title track of ‘Barfi’ which, incidentally, was put together by the same composer-lyricist team.

In the last couple of years, there have been very few instances wherein Pritam collaborated with multiple lyricists on an album. In ‘Ludo’, he works with four lyricists (Swanand Kirkire, Sandeep Shrivastava, Sayeed Quadri and Shloke Lal). Three of them had earlier worked with him on different films directed by Anurag Basu. While Sandeep Shrivastava had written “Baatein Kuch Ankahee Si” and “O Meri Jaan” for ‘Life In A Metro’, Swanand Kirkire had penned “Ala Barfi”, “Saawali Si Raat” and “Aashiyan” for ‘Barfi!’. Sayeed Quadri had written “Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai” and “Mujhe Mat Roko” for ‘Gangster’ and “Phir Le Aaya Dil” for ‘Barfi!’.

After the mammoth ‘Jagga Jasoos’, Pritam and Anurag Basu offer the listeners a fairly modest (in terms of the number of songs in the album) soundtrack in the form of ‘Ludo’. The album has just three four original tracks and three alternate versions of three of the songs. Quantity, of course, is not a yardstick you measure the worth of an album with. Each of the seven tracks in the album is of very high quality and ensures that this turns out to be yet another memorable album from the Anurag Basu – Pritam combination.