Like with his last film, October (2018) director Shoojit Sircar once again entrusts the biggest share of songs from Gulabo Sitabo – four out of the ten – to his favourite composer, Shantanu Moitra. His first track, ‘Kanjoos’, seems to be a tongue-in-cheek ode to Amitabh Bachchan’s landlord character. Delivered by Mika Singh, the song features clever lyrics by Puneet Sharma, while Moitra’s arrangement is a sprightly folk-based one – a running theme through the album. The wacky assortment of instruments – khamak, dotara, morsing, vocal percussions et al (most of them played by Rathijit Bhattacharjee) only enhance its charm. ‘Kya Leke Aayo Jagme’, written and sung by Vinod Dubey, is a bit more pensive, and quite a fitting theme for present times. It’s reminiscent of something from Kabir Café (a band that adapts Kabir poetry). Moitra’s other two tracks are instrumental themes.
Then there’s the whimsical ‘Jootam Phenk’, composed by Abhishek Arora, who debuted seven years back. The man gets just one song here, but makes it totally count – the delightful swing piece sees Shirish Malhotra and guitarist Ankur Mukherjee running brilliantly amok in the backdrop, even as Piyush Mishra – a perfect choice – delivers a fine job behind the mic. The soundscape does seem reminiscent of Finding Fanny’s (2014) theme, but that’s not a bad thing at all.
These past few years, multiple talented musicians have enjoyed successful Bollywood debuts with Sircar (including the one who composed the previous song). In Gulabo Sitabo, one more is added to the list: Anuj Garg. The composer gets singer Tochi Raina for ‘Madari Ka Bandar’, a pleasantly soothing folk piece written by Dinesh Pant (who writes all of the composer’s songs for the album). The star of the song though is Ankur Mukherjee with his stellar job on an assortment of small strings (the rhythm on guitar is evocative of ‘Pari Hoon Main’). Most of Garg’s music for this soundtrack seamlessly blends indie and folk fusion themes. ‘Do Din Ka Ye Mela’ for instance, could fit into a Coke Studio or Indian Ocean set – incidentally the track is sung by Rahul Ram as well. Top class arrangement once again, especially when the vocals in the first verse segue into a fine classical guitar solo. An alternate version of the song, which differs only in the vocal aspect, is sung by Raina.
The final song, ‘Budhau’ (also a song about Bachchan’s character it would seem – really well written by Pant), also comes in two versions. The reprise variant is very earthy, and rendered earnestly by Bhanvari Devi whom you might remember from Ram Sampath’s Coke Studio India Season 3. The main version of the song, however, is a surprising take on the same lines, barring one verse that is slightly modified. Here, the composer takes a Western country music route. Surprisingly, it fits! Mukherjee is once again in top form here, alongside an equally wonderful Robin Fargose on the trumpet – and leading all of them is vocalist Bobby Cash.
Sircar and Ayushmann Khurrana are two names who almost always have great soundtracks attached to their films. But Gulabo Sitabo is possibly the best music on their respective resumes.