Manish Tiwary’s made a sparkling debut with Dil, Dosti, Etc, with his second feature Issaq, he is tackling the Bard with an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. The film stars Prateik and newcomer Amyra Dastur, along with Ravi Kishan, Vineet Singh, Neena Gupta, Makrand Deshpande and others for this ambitious film that the key themes of Shakespeare’s play but to a rustic and volatile setting in Banaras. The album brings Sachin and Jigar, Krsna, and Sachiin Gupta on board to rustle up a few gems to fit with the gritty tone of the film. The album is a real treat in that it focuses more on the unique voices of its singers, with the music adding a more complementary tone to the great songs.
Issaq Tera has been making waves over the web and during airplay, and it’s certainly one of the most romantic numbers on the album. Mohit Chauhan takes the vocals, with Sachin and Jigar as composers, and it is a gorgeous combination. The arrangements are lilting with the brilliant flutist, Paras Nath, accompanying Chauhan in establishing a lovely melody that stays with you after the song is finished. Nath has worked with Hitesh Sonik on his Coke Studio segment and he was responsible for the lovely solo track on the Oh My God soundtrack. His addition in this track is perfect, with the minimalist arrangements of the acoustic guitar and drums in the back. Chauhan is ever-reliable and magical, making sure that Mayur Puri’s evocative lyrics stick with you. Keep this on repeat. The song also features a Duet Version, with Smita Jain joining Chauhan with a fantastic chemistry in their unlike voices. Jain’s huskier tones are such a welcome change from the usual higher pitches we hear from other singers, and I cannot wait to hear more from her. The song is much shorter, but the arrangements makes it worthwhile with the dramatic orchestral opening, which may be placed in an important juncture in the narrative. Give both a listen!
Next up is, Jheeni Re Jheeni, sung by Rashid Khan and Pratibha Bhagel is just magical. Sachin and Jigar again prove their versatility with this classical number that allows Khan and Bhagel space to hypnotize with Neelesh Mishra’s eloquent and beautiful lyrics. Khan’s deep-throated vocals make a nice contrast to Bhagel’s who more than holds her own, adding personality and character to this slow jam. While it is to write the song off based on its 7 minute length, but every strand and interlude is worth listening and keeps you hooked. The composers speed up the tempo with an addictive hook of the tablas and khan’s soaring vocals on the “Nadiya bairi bhayee” part. The use of the sarangi and Khan’s lovely alaaps is mellifluous and take this song to a hypnotic level. The song rests on the strengths of the innovative and versatile singers and the beautiful arrangements that show a different side to Sachin and Jigar’s work.
Sachin Gupta takes over composing duties with spirited, Bhole Chale that features Indian Ocean guitarist, Rahul Ram on the vocals. The song tells of Shiva’s and his entourage’s journey for his marriage to Parvati, but with an added dose of mischief and rollicking fun. The arrangements are great, with the twangy guitar, the drums, and fast tempo works in its favour to keep your head tapping along to the beats. Ram does get hoarse and loud by the end of the song, but it’s that off-key sound that fits with the mood of being lost in moment and having too much fun. Try this one.
Aag Ki Dariya is quite mish-mash rock number with no tonal consistency, in spite of starting so well with aggressive guitar hooks and screeching riffs to convey its grittiness. Ankit Tiwari is great here, with his grizzled voice conveying all that hurt and pain, but it’s the confusing softer moments where he seems a bit out of place. These slower moments are not seamless, and jar with the rest of the song. The Unplugged Version is much better with Sachin Gupta taking the vocals, with the melodic flute and piano accompanying Gupta’s heartfelt singing. The melody is charming here, unhurried by all the jarring elements that clouded the previous version and provides a fantastic jugalbandi between the flute and piano during the middle interlude. Give the latter a listen.
With Krsna taking over, you know you’re in for a treat with Enne Unne, with Mamta Sharma, Papon, Tarun Sagar, and Kirthi Sagathia presiding over the fun and establishing an energetic chemistry for the track. The arrangements are simple with the dholak, harmonium, and tabla as the main melody, but Krsna’s music has always poured more focus on the voices and this one is no different. Papon, Sagathia, and Sagar have a range of different tones and styles that come together wonderfully here. But the real surprise is Mamta Sharma who proves her mettle outside of item numbers. She has a naturally seductive and mischievous voice that works perfectly here with the rustic flavour of the song. But the song does get a tad repetitive so that may wear on your patience.
One of my favourites is another Krsna tune, Bhagan Ke Rekhan Ki, a bidaai song that equally feels hard to slot as it changes from one moment to the next. It begins with the sharp shehnaii, then Malini Awasthi chimes in and her huskier voice is beautiful as she captures the right emotions and makes sure the storytelling lyrics transcend their trappings. Raghubir Yadav comes in after, and it’s such a dream to listen to him collaborate with Awasthi. Krsna manages to keep the song slightly contemporary with the formal chorus chiming in and the unusual mandolins are an interesting element. Keep this on repeat.
Issaq is a good album that showcases the versatility of its 3 composers that certainly seems to fit with the mood and feel of the film. The emphasis is on the rapport and rustic voices of the singers, with the music complementing the flavour and moods of the songs. Give this album a chance.