“Swagat to karo humara…” has become a famous catchphrase of a famous series of movies under the SKF banner Dabangg. Following the success of 1 & 2, 2019 sees the release of 3, the prequel before the sequel. Audiences will flock to watch the incredible and likely tragic love story that has made Dabangg the outlaw cop that is seen on-screen. Being directed by Prabhudeva, choreography by Shabina Khan and Salman as the undefeatable Chulbul Pandey, music directors Sajid-Wajid have a lot of work ahead to create an album that can not only do justice to the dancing talents around them, but also be an aid to a story that isn’t common even in 2019’s Bollywood.
Out of the gate is Hud Hud, a modern sufi with a quiet start that builds quickly. Heavy use of male chorus and electric guitar to give it a flourish, makes this an interesting opener to an album (if not the film), with its power rhythms giving the sufi an almost rock n roll spice. This is everything that is Salman Khan: the body, the muscles, the tight fitted clothing, the action just waiting to burst out. The problem with this song is effectively the length… at 4:24, its probably a minute too long as there’s no change up point to bring this song to a climax and thus even resolution. It just seems to meander out of its own existence.
Chulbul Pandey is nothing without his “super sexy Mrs” and Naina Lade is the song for the moment they are introduced together. Javed Ali is an excellent smooth-voiced singer with strength in technical singing. He is backed here by sarod, shehnai, violins and tabla, giving this song a local feel (certainly not to be shot in Germany). However, in all other aspects this could be out of mid-noughties SRK films, especially with the drop off in instrumentation during the verses leaving Javed Ali to sing over a mandolin. Also, the song fails to keep interest as once again there is no change at all in the piece throughout and being 4:49, it also could have lost a minute.
Salman has been very happy to take to the mic himself in recent ventures and this one is no different, as he joins up with Payal Dev for Yu Karke. This one is a fun song, feels like a love song at a festival… possibly the introduction or love scene for Saiee Manjrekar (prequel love interest). Salman is never likely to hold back, and the interesting use of synth mixed with earthen instruments, make him sound good in this piece. Payal Dev is reverbed over so listeners won’t get her authentic voice or sound but that is fine here as everything seems to be being tracked towards Salman to perform while others dance around him.
No 2019 film would be complete without a remake of some kind, so Sajid-Wajid called on Baadshah to bring his own interpretation of their previous series his ‘Munni Badnam Hui’. Taking the male perspective thus audiences will be treated to Munna Badnam Hua, most likely an ending piece to wrap up a likely entertainer. The song itself is not much different to the original, but Baadshah keeps making little interruptions to break up the sound and eventually launches into a decent rap break to really change things up. A lot of little synth sounds seem to follow him throughout the song, contributing to these constant small changes and some references to RD Burman hits are never something to complain about. Listen out for ending line “Salman Khan hua darling tere liye.”
And since the ending song of the film shows up in the middle of the album, the last two songs are the softly, softly, feelings songs. Awara is a classical love song, heavily influenced by sufi traditions, regional lyrics and earthen instrumentation. There is a lot of technical quality to the song but once again Sajid-Wajid have made the mistake of not mapping a path for the song to travel on, allowing it to drift into oblivion. Even the title of this song doesn’t come into play until the 3rd minute. This could have been a replacement for Chasni’ from Bharat but lacks its refinement.
Most last songs on a Bollywood album are meaningless numbers sung as fun or item numbers, with an eye to leaving a listener with good vibes about the film. The arrangement of this album goes in a completely different direction with the last song Habibi Ke Nain. Arabic sounding lyrics, overlapping guitars, overlapping Jubin Nautiyal and finally overlapped by Shreya Ghosal. This is by far the longest song of the entire album and does itself no favours in doing so, but since the singers are so strong, there is no boredom to be had. In a way this could be seen as the partner song to Naina from Dabangg 1, a sort of semi-sad pairing of a beautiful loving married couple.
In conclusion, the album has 6 good songs, 3 of which seem to be a minute over in each case. Different people, some previously unknown have been used for pieces to give them a different sound which can’t be a bad thing. As to supporting the story, depending on what order they are actually used in the film, they do make for an easy to follow narrative. But do any of these really stand out? Do any of them hit the mark as great songs to be added to a Greatest of All-Time style playlist? While some will add ‘Hud Hu’d for its racy beat, some will add ‘Munna Badnam Hua’ for Baadshah or even ‘Habibi Ke Nain’ to replace Naina from Dabangg 1, each of these songs really bring out why the songs they replaced were just better.