“Heady and Swingy”
Music: Amit Trivedi / Mikey McCleary
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
1. Aam Hindustani
A balmy piece of clarinet opens the 3 minute prelude to this 9 minute long track and soon progresses to be a part of fine swingy orchestra. Shefali Alvares walks in swiftly and keeps the ball in motion till the last minute coda with her top-notch rendition. As classy as it sounds, the lyrics complements the composition capturing the ethos of a common man in Prohibition-era Bombay (“pyaar mein thenga, bar mein thenga”).
2. Mohabbat Buri Bimari
Mohabbat Buri Bimari shares three versions. Version 1 is composed by Mikey McCleary in his trademark style and it largely plays on the brass band. Shalmali Kholgade is sensuously nasal and very likeable.
Version 2- the best of all, by Amit Trivedi- is lighter on brass section and incorporates jazz elements for this retro tune. Neeti Mohan with all her liveliness of a live club singer- heaving in breaths, hiccup, a playful cheer here, a casual laugh there- intoxicates the composition.
Version 3 is exactly same as Version 2 with Neeti Mohan replaced by Shefali Alvares who cuts out all the playfulness and carries herself on an elevated stage rather than being on floor for her performance. But once you’re addicted to the Mohan’s version, you’ll hardly fall back here.
3. Ka Kha Gha
Truthful to the jazz genre again, Ka Kha Gha exudes confidence as a composition telling passion of romance. Neeti Mohan gets to showcase her powerful range in this one.
4. Dhadam Dhadam
Dreamy violins welcome you into this opera-ish composition that paints a tragic picture of romance. Neeti Mohan again takes us by surprise with her emotional, expressive and evocative singing.
5. Naak Pe Gussa
Naak Pe Gussa beautifully transcends itself back and forth from joyful, celebratory mood to dreamy, flirtatious romance. And the orchestra keeps getting grander here. It’s Neeti Mohan doing her magic here yet again.
Staying in the confines of jazz, Sylvia follows retro tune of the 50s. Empathetically swearing the remorseful wife named Sylvia in the famous Nanavati Murder Trials (which was celebrated in pop-culture by Blitz magazine in the 60s- editor of which is played by Karan Johar in the movie), this dramatic composition is well accentuated by pauses and foot-tapping rhythms.
The jazz in Darbaan evokes a noir picture of the Bombay streets. Papon’s velvety voice remains the best choice for this one who finally gets to debut for Amit Trivedi here.
8. Shut Up
The exquisite Big Band swings in with full force in this one- adding to the esotericism of the soundtrack- with Shefali Alvares holding the mic and doing her part just right. As the title says, just shut up and listen!
Behroopia- the only not-outright jazz track- sounds like one of those songs from contemporary Bollywood albums. Its laidback feel due to the arrangements is assured more by Mohit Chauhan and Neeti Mohan’s vocals.
10. The Bombay Velvet Theme
This almost 5 minutes long instrumental starts as a piece accompanying tragic sense and mood but effortlessly shifts gears into being one suitable for a thrilling action.
Laden with heavy violins, it gets immersive till it lasts for its three and a half minute length, accompanied by a clarinet.
12. Tommy Gun
The Big Band behind the Shut Up track rolls out again for this short instrumental track named after the most flamboyant gun that Kashyap is boastfully showing-off in trailers.
13. Fifi (Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane)
Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane composed by O P Nayyar for CID (1956) gets a typical Mikey McCleary – Suman Sridhar treatment of disco-pop. Though it sounds fun, it gets overshadowed by the more imaginative and original tracks of the album.
Bombay Velvet is that one rare album in recent times where composition, vocals and lyrics complement each other so well that each evokes distinctive moods and remain true to its essence. You might not like one or two tracks, but you can’t take it out of the album. It’s like a set piece of ornaments where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Getting the music correct to recreate the heady world of Bombay in 50s, Anurag Kashyap’s job is half done.