Probably the most coherent album to emerge out of Bollywood (thematically, at least) this year, Ram-Leela, almost makes you believe that Sanjay Leela Bhansali (SLB) has thoroughly enjoyed creating the music.
Starting out with Ang Laga De, sung by Aditi Paul and Shail Hada, the track has a haunting quality that stays with you long after the song ends. Dhoop, sung by Shreya Ghoshal, is high on poetry with a tinge of pining. The playful Ishqyaun Dhishqyaun, sung by Aditya Narayan, feels like the 90s all over again, reminiscent of the campy chhed-chaad songs we used to hear back then. And one means that in a good way. There’s a rock-like interlude in between, before it reverts to the folksy. Aditya impresses but he has to be prepared for comparisons with his father, given that he sounds so much like Udit in parts.
Laal Ishq, sung by Arijit Singh, is one of those tracks that seem situational and moody, but has a for-all-times quality. The instrumentation on this one is top-notch. Lahu Munh Lag Gaya, sung by Shail Hada, is as Gujju as it gets, with the chorus getting us all nostalgic about Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’s Aankhon Ki Gustakhiyaan. The arrangement is decidedly different, but the essence still lingers.
Aditi Paul returns with Osman Mir, on Mor Bani Thanghat Kare, with words originally penned by Rabindranath Tagore. While it works for the most part, the instrumentation in the middle lets it down. Nagada Sang Dhol, sung by Shreya Ghoshal and Osman Mir, is a treat to listen to, but could well do without the hark-back to Dholi Taro…. Shail returns to solo singing duty with Poore Chand, and it’s easy to see why.
Another sentimental track, you have to be in the mood to listen to it. Ram Chahe Leela has Bhoomi Trivedi rip into a track that sees SLB at his least derivative. With lyrics (by Siddharth-Garima) like “inka funda toh simple, goli maare to panga, aankh maaro toh pyaar” it’s easy to not take it seriously, but it’s a powerful track that has to be listened to, to be believed.
Tattad Tattad, sung by Aditya Narayan, is a cracker of a track, far more contemporary than its companions on this soundtrack. With folk and classical influences and doses of the familiar and surprising.