Soorma music review: After Raazi, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy reunite with Gulzar for another balanced album
The soundtrack of Soorma, Shaad Ali's upcoming biopic on celebrated hockey player Sandeep Singh, suffers from the same curse that struck Anshai Lal's Phillauri that released last year. Since the story is set in Punjab, the lyrics run the risk of alienating a pan-Indian audience, particularly avid filmgoers from the South who are not familiar with Punjabi. Though Punjabi beats have permeated Bollywood for years, Soorma being no exception, the language barrier still remains.
Gulzar, who has written the lyrics of the entire album, does not steer clear of the Punjabi overdose that the film inherently falls prey to. However, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's music comes unfailingly to the rescue. The soundtrack of Soorma is sort of Raazi in reverse, as in that film, the music composer trio used local Kashmiri instruments but Gulzar's simple, Hindi lyrics reached out to a pan-Indian audience.
The first song, interestingly titled 'Good Man Di Laaltain', has quirky lyrics but their meaning may not be conveyed to listeners across the length and breadth of India. The energetic beats of the track, however, may just eclipse the unfamiliar lyrics. Accompanied by the liberal use of dhol, the full-throttle vocals of Sunidhi Chauhan and Sukhwinder Singh power this catchy song.
Surprisingly however, the title track, titled the 'Soorma Anthem', is low on energy. That works well for the song despite the fact that most sports biopics are known for their gritty and inspiring tracks. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy mould the song in a way that the stanzas are low-beat but they lead up to a charged chorus, elevated by the legendary voice of Shankar Mahadevan. The singer's command over the track prevents it from going wrong, or ending up as unnecessarily upbeat, had it been rendered by a singer not involved in the composition. To his credit, Gulzar sticks to Hindi for most of the song's lyrics, positioning it as 'an anthem for all'. Though he does resort to Punjabi in the chorus, Mahadevan's vocals camouflage the same.
'Ishq Di Baajiyan' is easily the best song of the album. Diljit Dosanjh, who stars in the film as a resilient hockey player, takes to the mic and displays his softer side. He gets hold of the song right at the start and never lets go of it. Gulzar's lyrics also rely heavily on Punjabi but they are relatively more comprehensible in this romantic track. Once the listener does get to what the veteran poet is trying to convey, they realise he has turned to his treasure trove of unconventional metaphors in order to take this song's symbolism several notches higher. Also, as the name of the song suggests, the music is a smooth jugalbandi between Punjabi and Sufi music, with a lot of Bollywood sprinkled all over. The interludes comprise qawwalis, which may transport the listener to Phillauri's 'Sahiba'.
'Pardesiya' is another romantic track but it differs from 'Ishq Di Baajiyan' as there is an air of melancholy that surrounds it. Gulzar's lyrics also make it clear that the song depicts a longing heart, as the best phase of the romance is in the rear view mirror. That is why the song is named 'Pardesiya' as there seems to be a distance as much as that between two far-flung countries. There is also a devotional touch in the composition and lyrics — as if the longing heart has turned to Waahe Guru, praying for a reunion with the lost love. While the song is credited to a number of vocalists, Shankar exclusively told Firstpost that the main singer is Shehnaz Akhtar, a Rising Star contestant whom the music composer promised to rope in for a Bollywood song.
The final song of this five-track album is 'Flicker Singh', which was interestingly the film's working title. Had the makers retained the title, this would have been the title song. It is also a pep talk in the guise of a song but Gulzar and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy ensure it sounds different from the 'Soorma Anthem'. They give the song peppy music and quirky lyrics. This track is also credited to a host of singers but Daler Mehndi's resounding voice stands out.
Overall, the Punjabi-dominated lyrics of Soorma risk not being universal, but Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's mix of music elements saves the day. The album boasts of a fair share of sprightly songs but they are wisely balanced by a liberal dose of romantic tracks, upgraded by Gulzar's trademark symbolic lyrics. This diversity hints at the high possibility of Soorma being an account, a journey of a man who has several facets to his personality.
Listen to the entire album here.
Soorma also stars Taapsee Pannu, Angad Bedi and Vijay Raaz. It is co-produced by Sony Pictures Networks India and Chitrangda Singh. It is slated to release this Friday on 13 July.
Updated Date: Jul 11, 2018 17:23 PM