Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music is very much like his movies. Love it or hate it, but you can not deny that it is born out of arrogant conviction, that might be indulgent, but is intricate, imaginative, and interesting. His obsession with pure and classical art is apparent in the music he creates. It thus does not have an essentially popular appeal. But like his films, he doesn’t seem to be caring more about the audience than about his own creative energy, which is overtly saturated with melodramatic emotions. I consider him a flawed artist, but he is an artist anyway. That does not necessarily make him a good storyteller. But yes, that makes him a good musician. And that is the reason behind the difference between his music, that always works, and his movies.
I am not very fond of the music of his first film, but his collaborations with Ismail Durbar and Monty, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, ‘Devdas’, and ‘Saawariya’, apart from the only song from ‘Black’, have been phenomenal. During the past decade he has been the only filmmaker with such a consistent record of high-quality playback music. Personally, his music gives me the fulfillment that I expect from none. In fact, I wait for his music more eagerly than his movies.
I have to accept that the music of ‘Guzaarish’ does not match the standards of the three preceding movies. Just one ‘Daras Bina Nahi Chain’ from ‘Saawariya’ was better than all the ten tracks of this. Also, a major disappointment is the poetry, which has been deteriorating consistently with every movie of his. Bhansali is more interested in putting together ideas and words, rather than working within the conventions of lyric-writing. In fact, I joke that the lyrics have also been written by Bhansali himself. Interestingly, and perhaps suitably, the CD cover does not credit anyone for ‘lyrics’. It says: ‘Words by Turaz and Vibhu Puri.’ The lyrics are not bad, but very typical, at times outrageously so. It goes with our idea of Bhansali. But imagine what a wonder someone like Prasoon Joshi would have created on these tunes?
Ultimately, the best thing about Bhansali’s music is that it allows you a discussion on it, a long, never-ending discussion. You just need to find someone who understands the basics of music, and more importantly, loves these songs. My brother and I have been doing this for more than a decade now. During the first few hearings, all our energies are directed to ‘understand the structure’ of these free-flowing, apparently ‘formless’ songs. It is always a challenge to correctly hum the lines, in sur. The challenge that these songs provide you as a singer is the single most fascinating aspect of this music. I would love to sit with someone who could just correctly hum these lines: “Bas itni si tumse guzaarish hai… Ye jo baarish hai, us mein teri baahon mein mar jaaoon… Bas itni si, chhoti-si, ek khwahish hai…”
In this era of instant chartbuster music, here is one musician whose music, in spite of being an integral part of the films, is independent of them. ‘Saawariya’, the movie, came and failed, but its music still gives us the high that we have stopped expecting from Hindi film music. I am not expecting much from the movie releasing this Friday, being more than happy with the magic its music has created. Bravo, maestro! En core!