Music Review:Ishqiya(Vishal Bharadwaj)

by Srikanth Mantravadi

For a man who was yanked into public consciousness,Ishqiya is like going back to where it all began,to the roots,away from the glare of spotlight and all the talk about Tarantino,Guy Ritchie,The Coen brothers….It’s back to basics with a renewed vigour,a sated ego and lots of replenished ingenuity.For his listeners,it is back to the staple that many of us have come to love.

But wait! Vishal might keep his newfound popularity afloat,as well,with  the screwball of a song Ibn-e-Batuta.Personally though,the song felt frustrating and tiresome for me,mainly,because I couldn’t make out where exactly,the genial genius,Gulzar was leading me.He starts of on an impish note,exhuming the long forgotten Arabic traveller Ibn-e-Batuta which feels like rummaging through a bunch of Romila Thapar’s history books.And then equally bizarrely he juxtaposes ‘Bagal Mein Joota” after that.”Pehne To Karta Hai Churrrrrr” after that is ofcourse understandable.But thereafter he,again, queers the pitch as he beckons a bird with grain,a pigeon possibly or perhaps even Masakkali from Chandni Chowk,straight from Prasoon Joshi’s creative nest.Frankly,I found it impossible to stay in sync with that madhouse loop consisting of such a bunch of obfuscating,larky segues.

Funnily enough,I feel sad,as well,at my helpless inability to comprehend those lines,for somehow I have a hunch that I’m missing out on something truly memorable,something really kickass,something wildly Gulzarish.Hell, this isn’t even a David Dhawan leave-your-brains-behind gag to just smirk at and forget.As far as I know,even beneath this seemingly puzzling veneer,the man must have left a sane message that would,I hope,undoubtedly,foist itself upon repeated listening.It may not,as well.But atleast,in this case,I have the solace of not having understood *Gulzar* and not any good-for-a-giggle lyricist.In that case the manipulation would have felt like an insult.Here it is but a mere chastisement for,probably,not being,well,good enough. Anyway,all I can visualise at present is a blaze,through which I see Gulzar and Vishal having a hearty laugh and perhaps they are wallowing in all the guilty pleasure for having exquisitely hoodwinked,smothered and suffocated the listener with such unimaginably dense esotericity.I wonder whether they had the same joy when they were tuning Dhan Te Nan with all it’s gloriously zany “Samunder Bhi Pul Pe Chale“, “Aaja Ke Oneway Hai Yeh Zindagi Ki Gali Ek Hi Chance Hai” lines.There,atleast,we had an insanely catchy hook to hold on to,albeit sheepishly.But here,with no such aids and props to hang onto,one is exposed,rather shamelessly,to the vagaries of Gulzar’s,merely,whimsical  prose.And mind you he’s only having fun here!

Moving onto the next song….There was this comment on Dil To Baccha Hai Ji‘s page on youtube describing it’s beauty in a simply delicious manner.The comment stuck with me ever since.And I reproduce it here for all your benefit.It read oh so pithily-“Dil To Baccha Hai Ji….Accordion Kitna Accha Hai Ji“.My first reaction was to laugh at the cheekiness of the thought but after that,I realised,that I couldn’t remotely summon anything that would come close enough to describing it as perfectly,for the song itself has lots of good humoured cheek.Rahat lets his guard down and shrugs off the halo of senti that has come to surround him these days and sings with a spring in his step and probably a twinkle in his eye.Hail Oh! Hail,Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s nephew is having a good ol chuckle,enjoying himself visibly,in a song that seems to be enjoying itself,basking in the afterglow of Gulzar’s merry lyrics.

I must point out at this juncture that Vishal’s turning more and more listener unfriendly from his Satya days.See,we are no longer fed to the likes of Sapne Me Milti Hai or Kallu Mama.Leave alone that,we don’t even get a whippy Fatak here.But that is probably the sign of a man in control.He believes that what he likes to create would be liked by his audience.So no more consumer appeasement and mass pandering.That can wait until,maybe,another Kaminey!

Instead,and I’m not complaining,we get to hear in rapt attention to Rekha Bharadwaj who fluidly switches from vocalising to a danseuse to a distressed damsel,twice over,in the phlegmatic Ab Mujhe Koi and Badi Dheere Jali.Vishal treats them both with his usual classical influences,especially in the latter wherein he dusts off a tanpura and plucks furiously at a sitar,and also peppers them with a broad loung’ish flavour,a possibility emerging from neo-age technology and creative arrangers.Rekha,meanwhile,sounds just as silken and earthy and emits as much of a lazy elegance as we have come to expect of her while singing in an otherwise restrained pitch.These two songs make for two of the most exaltingly anguish ridden songs of the year.And,yes,we have barely begun.

The wisest thing to do with Vishal’s songs is to be patient with them.

My Picks-Ab Mujhe Koi,Badi Dheere Jali

My Rating-Three Cheers!!!