Kesari music review: Akshay Kumar's film offers an unapologetically homogenous album of patriotic tracks

Pratishruti Ganguly

Mar 20, 2019 16:24:23 IST

They say that the soundtrack of a film forms its spine, an anchor that tethers in and encapsulates the nub of a narrative. One can hardly refute this statement when it comes to the music album of Kesari.

The upcoming big-budget historical war drama, with Akshay Kumar at its forefront, details the events of one of the most iconic battles fought in Indian history — the Battle of Saragarhi. It narrates how a group of 21 Sikhs, belonging to British Indian regiments who were in charge of protecting the forts of  Lockhart and Gulistan on Afghani borders, were faced in combat with 10,000 Afghan soldiers at Saragarhi. Sure enough, then, the soundtrack would be replete with songs that hail courage and valiance, feature rousing lyrics and stirring, pulsating melodies.

 Kesari music review: Akshay Kumars film offers an unapologetically homogenous album of patriotic tracks

Still from Kesari trailer. YouTube screengrab

The first song from the jukebox is 'Ek Onkaar', a hymn that is a central tenet in the Sikh religious philosophy. Almost sans any background music, the devotional number sets the tone for a film that honours the fortitude of the soldiers.

The second song is the only romantic number in the soundtrack, 'Mahi Ve.' Arijit Singh's fluid voice perfectly compliments the simple lyrics penned by Tanishk Bagchi. Bagchi here proves that he is not only good at rehashing '90s classics,  but also deliver a heartwarming composition on love and longing. Asees Kaur, who has a relatively smaller part in the song, effortlessly holds her own with her characteristically raspy voice.

'Teri Mitti' is arguably the best song of the lot. An ode to the motherland, 'Teri Mitti' stands out from a repository of Bollywood songs dedicated to the country. Its glacial rhythm lends it a contemplative tone. B Praak's restrained rendition is ably bolstered by Manoj Mushtashir's lyrics, an ode to the 'mitti' that one is born on, a prayer that the land it always is safeguarded against any possible threat by the blood of her children.

A still from Kesari song Sanu Kehndi. Youtube screengrab

A still from Kesari song Sanu Kehndi. Youtube screengrab

While Kesari is tonally consistent throughout with its theme of patriotic love looming large, 'Sanu Kehndistands out for its jubilant mood. Kumaar (lyricist) and Bagchi (composer) let their hair down for this one, letting their fun side take over. The percussion-heavy Punjabi folk number is vibrant and splashy. Of all the numbers, 'Sanu Kehndi' appears to have the most recall value because of  its catchy beats and devil-may-care temperament. Singers Romy and Brijesh Shandilya flex all their vocal muscles to deliver this amped-up dance number.

Still from Kesari song Ajj Singh Garjega. YouTube screengrab

Still from Kesari song Ajj Singh Garjega. YouTube screengrab

'Ajj Singh Garjega' is an unapologetic tribute to the mettle and bravado of the Sikh community. Much like Sukhwinder Singh's rendition of 'Chak De India' or Shankar Mahadevan's 'Kandho Se Milte Hain Kandhe' from Lakshya, Chirrantan Bhatt's composition is an impassioned battle cry. With powerful lyrics, it urges the custodians of the motherland to pick up their pikes, swords, sickles and armours to charge against a powerful enemy. Bhangra singer-songwriter Jazzy B's textured voice breezes through the expansive range that the song requires, with the aid of Kunwar Juneja's unflinching lyrics.

There are two versions of 'Dev Shiva' — one male and one female. The makers have masterfully delegated the task of composing the two versions to two different artistes, a move that has rendered the versions dramatically different from one another. The female version, composed and sung by Jasleen Royal, is a humble prayer to the almighty to bestow them with the strength to bear their maladies. The male version, on the other hand, is a fervid declaration to conquer all fears, fortify the spirits and confront the invaders. Sukhwinder has proved time and again that he can do inspirational songs like no other (Case in point: 'Kar Har Maidan Fateh' from Sanju, 'Jai Ho' from Slumdog Millionaire). But 'Dev Shiva' feels dull in a soundtrack that rests its heft in patriotic songs.

If one word could summarise the music of Kesari, it would be homogeneous. Barring one romantic song and a dance number, all the compositions have been made to comfortably fit into the fabric of the film, which is a self-admitted celebration of a battalion of 21 soldiers who dared to confront an army of 10,000. None of the songs jut edgily out of the album. They are what they are meant to be — rousing, evocative and powerful.

Updated Date: Mar 20, 2019 16:24:23 IST