KARACHI: With all the matkas and dholaks hitting the right spots, Sahir Ali Bagga returns more convincingly with the soundtrack of Zinda Bhaag, after a rather lukewarm effort in the Ishq Khuda music album. He seems more focused and operates in his comfort zone of Punjabi folk garnished with club music and qawalli. The 34-minute album comprises seven songs, all composed by Sahir Ali Bagga, except for Pani Da Bulbula, a remix of a song originally written by Yaqub Atif Bulbula.
There are three dimensions to this album; in the first, Bagga persuasively reincarnates the brilliance of AR Rahman through the grand and uplifting treatment of Dekhein Ge. Not only that, Mohammad Hanif also provides a pertinent social commentary through his lyrics in Dekhein Ge. Bagga has also found our own parallel of Sukhwinder Singh in the voice of Jabar Abbas, whose treatment of scales is so similar to that of Singh’s, it’s difficult to differentiate between the two.
In the second dimension, Bagga tilts to the more Vishal Bharadwaj side of his influences. With all due respect to the quirkiness of the melody and colloquial lyrics, Kuri Yes Aai is one track you can’t help but compare to Bharadwaj’s recent hit Totay Urr Gaye from Ek Thi Dayyan. The interesting choice of instruments, such as a heavy base line topped with a pinching use of Shehnais, Kuri Yes Aai can be termed as a very catchy tribute to Bharadwaj by Bagga.
With the voices of artists such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Zinda Bhaag’s soundtrack is worth a listen. PHOTO: FILE
The third, and by far the most dynamic dimension of the album, is where Bagga serves us his own rendition of contemporary Punjabi music. The best sound track of the album is a high on adrenaline, but soothing qawalli called Pata Yaar Da, penned beautifully in Punjabi by Hasan Mujtaba, and rendered to perfection by none other than Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. After Garaj Baras in Coke Studio Season 1, this is perhaps the most effective use of Rahat in recent times. Rahat’s strength in qawalli has been eclipsed by the rather half-hearted use of his voice in the semi-classical and often pop melodies of Bollywood. For fans of Punjabi poetry, the use of metaphors in this song will give you goose bumps, and above all, a very different take on longing for your beloved. The second best is undeniably, the larger than life folk tune Paar Chanaa Dae, the grandeur of which will take you into another universe, due to the entrance of a deadly combination of flutes and matkas. Apart from picking one of the most underrated, but immersive pieces of folk poetry, Bagga brings forward the raw voice of Saleema Jawad, along with Arif Lohar.
Pani Da Bulbula is one Punjabi classic that has been reinvented by a number of different artists such as Yaqub Atif and Saira Naseem, to name a few. Every time it’s been revisited, it leaves an entirely different smile on your face. The composition remains the same, but Bagga has given it a more contemporary arrangement, while remaining in the realm of Pakistani film music.
Saari Saari Raat and Taariyan, however, don’t match the kind of innovation Bagga has put into the rest of the album.
To compile a music album for a film, especially in times when no one’s taking the medium seriously, means it’s essential for producers and composers to get the right people. The attention to detail is where Zinda Bhaag surpasses expectations. It’s been a while since we’ve seen genuine artists at work, and not the likes of Meesha Shafi, who for some odd reason has become the emblem of Punjabi folk in Pakistan. Be it the voices of Saleema Jawad or Jabar Abbas, or the piercing lyrics by Mohammad Hanif or Hasan Mujtaba, the choice of artists is what makes the album of Zinda Bhaag an entire constellation, and not just a star or two wandering somewhere in space.