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Contrary to popular belief, there is enough scope for music in sports dramas. Actually, it all depends on the nature of the story and the way the filmmaker chooses to present it on the screen. So, while a ‘Chak De! India’ was largely a song-less film, a ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ had a good number of songs of different themes and moods. Composer trio Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy and lyricist Javed Akhtar have worked together on several successful films and hit soundtracks together, so when one sees their name appearing on the credits of director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwary’s sports drama ‘Panga’, featuring Kangana Ranaut as the central protagonist, one cannot help but have good expectations from the music of the film.

The album opens with “Panga”, the title track. Every sports drama tends to have one or more songs which have an inspirational feel to them. These are the songs which play along with the visuals wherein we see the protagonist training to become the achiever we eventually see him or her becoming. There are three lead vocalists on the track and that brings in some good variety. Harshdeep Kaur, Siddharth Mahadevan are given almost equal space in the song and they complement each other’s voices well. The tune is very good and the percussive rhythm makes it all the more infectious.

One would have to use the term infectious to describe the second song on the album. “Dil Ne Kaha”, a romantic number, is present in two versions on the album. The original/film version has been sung by Shahid Mallya and Asees Kaur and has quite an Indian sound and feel to it. The song also beautifully metamorphosises into a qawalli at certain portions. The song goes on a high when the line “dekho dheere dheere…” comes along. The reprise version has a more contemporary sound than the original and benefits hugely from Jassi Gill’s vocals. One is not drawing a comparison between Mallya and Gill here but the earthiness in Jassi’s voice and the way he sings it works very well for the song.

“Bibby Song”, sung by Annu Kapoor and Sherry, is a song in which Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy, with their composition and Javed Akhtar, with his lyrics, infuse dollops of humour. The team manages to accomplish the task of bringing a smile on the listener’s face pretty well. Going by the lyrics, this song would probably arrive at a time when Jaya (Kangana Ranaut) is trying to get back to being fit and in the mould of the sportsperson she was. This is a largely situational song which cannot be expected to be a blockbuster. One does have fun listening to it and it should definitely create a more lasting impression with the visuals.

Along with “Dil Ne Kaha”, “Jugnu” qualifies to be one of the best songs on the album. The qawalli element remains common in both the tracks though it is far more prominent here. “Jugnu” is also an ‘inspirational’ track at the core of it but have a different soundscape than the title track. The song tries to convey the message that we must not stop chasing our dreams in the darkest of the times. Shankar Mahadevan is joined by newcomer Sunny, who has been garnering appreciation for his performance in a singing reality show and had recently lent his voice to the song “Rom Rom” (‘The Body’). “Aankhon ke pyaale khaali nahin, koi tamanna hogi kahin”,  Javed Akhtar’s verses add to the charm of the song.

Faasle kyon badhe dooriyan jab nahin, hai yaqeen aaj bhi par sukoon ab nahin…” – Javed Akhtar writes some wonderfully melancholic lines for a highly effective tune which Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy weave around for “Wahi Hain Raaste”. A sense of loss and longing is prevalent throughout the song. Interestingly, I found traces of Bengali folk music in the song. The film is set in North India but the elements of Bengali folk music saunter into the song seamlessly and make the melody even more enriching. Mohan Kannan and Asees Kaur sing the song very well – here are two singers who must come together to sing more often.

It has been less than a month since we dived into 2020 and Shankar – Ehsaan – Loy have delivered two sparkling albums. After the recently released ‘Chhapaak’, they deliver yet another winning album for ‘Panga’. Now, one looks forward to see whether they continue to churn out quality music with their upcoming films include ‘Toofan’ which reunites them with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra whom they had worked earlier on ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ and ‘Mirzya’.