Fanney Khan music review: Sunidhi Chauhan, Monali Thakur's sonorous voices power this Amit Trivedi album

Devansh Sharma

July 31, 2018 14:37:52 IST

After Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Raid, T-Series brings yet another solid album that fares better on the originality meter, despite borrowing its music and lyrics from not only classics but also election campaign catchphrases.

Amit Trivedi composed four songs out of the five-track Fanney Khan album. Given the as-good-as-new composition of 'Halka Halka', it is safe to recommend Trivedi for a masterclass in rehashes. At the trailer launch of The Remix, the Amazon Prime Video Original reality show he judged, he told this writer that he hates rehashing old songs though that is the order of the day. But he insisted that a talented composer can somehow manage to shape the old track into a completely new one, and even better it, since the classics are immensely ductile. Who better to sing the rehashed version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's classic ghazal 'Ye Jo Halka Halka' than Trivedi's fellow The Remix judge Sunidhi Chauhan?

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a still from 'Halka Halka'

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a still from 'Halka Halka'

After recreating Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ghazals like 'Mere Rashke Qamar' (Baadshaho) and 'Sanu Ik Pal' (Raid), T-Series was bound to commission another of ghazal maestro's gems to be painted in modern colours for Fanney Khan. But the combined genius of Trivedi and lyricist Irshad Kamil, and the powerhouse talent of vocalists Sunidhi Chauhan and Divya Kumar, make this rehash as fresh, if not more, original than its source material.

Trivedi not only adds EDM beats to Nusrat's ghazal but also works intelligently in tandem with Kamil to piece together a jugalbandi (jamming) that makes this rehash the best in recent memory. Divya, who rose to fame in Bollywood with his rendition of 'Chanchal Mann' from Shudh Desi Romance, pits his textured voice against Sunidhi's vocals, putting into place a unique romance between a House track and a good ol' ghazal.

Major credit for making 'Halka Halka' sound as good as the original must go to Kamil, who turns Nusrat's ghazal into its PG-version. Throughout the song, he never uses the word 'sharaab' (liquour), which was an integral part of the original rendition. But he manages to convey the essence nonetheless, through his poetic choice of words like 'pyaas' and 'do ghoonth'. He does mix a nasha of his own into the track, with an able assist from Trivedi's addictive beats.

Another song from the album, sung by Sunidhi and penned by Kamil, is 'Mohabbat'. Here, Tanishk Bagchi steps in place of Trivedi as the composer. Bagchi, known for his rehashes of popular '90s songs, has not been brought in as a guest composer to pull off another 'Halka Halka'. In fact, 'Mohabbat' borrows only one line from Noor Jehan and Suraiyya's evergreen melody 'Jawan Hai Mohabbat'. Bagchi turns the original piano piece into a concert song, by EDMising it and using ambient sounds like stiletto steps. He follows the steps at the start of the song with a mujra-like introduction, before allowing Sunidhi to let her hair down and elevate the auditory scale of the song with her sonorous voice.

Kamil once again strikes the right balance between hitting the correct emotion and exercising poetic restraint. He knows his audience well which is why he never lets his mischievous lyrics turn malicious. The words, though as seductive as an item song, are held back by the nazaakat (dignity) characteristic of a mujra.

The third song, 'Achhe Din', as the name suggests, can be interpreted as a political comment on the macro situation of the country. But never at any juncture of the song, does Kamil explicitly states that his words, about lack of unemployment, transcend the boundaries of the subject's personal capacity. He only paints a sad-but-hopeful picture of the character's struggles in an individual capacity.

Trivedi takes a smart call here by choosing to lend his voice to this zig-zag composition. While the stanzas and chorus are pretty straitjacketed, the interludes reek of a chaos similar to the one that plagues the character's daily life. This chaos, though restricted to only parts of the song, gets overbearing eventually, stealing the track of its simple melody.

Anil Kapoor in a still from Fanney Khan

Anil Kapoor in a still from Fanney Khan

'Tere Jaisa Tu Hai' is a 'coming-of-age' track laced with teenage existential angst. However, Kamil employs a tone that is more inclined towards resolution than victimisation. Also, Trivedi wisely ropes in Monali Thakur for this track, thus ensuring two distinct voices for two distinct genres — Sunidhi's for the 'event' tracks and Monali's for the more intimate musings. Monali is brilliant as the vocalist, displaying an unparalleled range within a singular song. But unlike Sunidhi, she still has to learn the art of surprising her audience through a harkat (vocal acrobatic) in the least unexpected of places.

Like 'Achhe Din', Trivedi resorts to a leitmotif of trumpet in 'Tere Jaisa Tu Hai' as well. However, here the trumpet does not sound as uncharacteristically melancholic as that in 'Achhe Din'. It rubs off on the energy of Monali and echoes her high notes with a sense of unfailing obedience. The trumpet, usually pigeonholed as a 'happy device' in mainstream Bollywood, has been used rather creatively by Trivedi in both the songs.

'Fu Bai Fu', the last song of the album, is probably the most underwhelming. Lyrically, it is a tribute to popular Bollywood item songs and iconic dialogues of Hindi cinema. But unlike Kamil, Trivedi does not seem to be in complete awe of his inspirations. His music sounds neither like an item song nor a track overpopulated with memorable dialogues. Having said that, the music falls short of the 'fun' element that other songs of the album boast of, despite an earnest attempt by Monali. Here, her range is limited by the song's peppiness though she leaves no stones unturned in conveying the childlike mood of this musical homage to the showreel.

Overall, Trivedi puts together a powerful album, with a much-needed nudge from Bagchi. The USP of the Fanney Khan album is in its powerful voices. Both Trivedi and Kamil set up an ideal platform for two of the best female vocalists in Bollywood today — Sunidhi Chauhan and Monali Thakur.

Listen to the entire album here.

Fanney Khan stars Anil Kapoor, Divya Dutta, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Rajkummar Rao. It is co-produced by Anil Kapoor Film and Communication Network, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures and T-Series. It is slated to release this Friday on 3 August.

All images from YouTube.

Updated Date: Jul 31, 2018 14:37 PM