Composer Anu Malik and production house, Vishesh Films, go a long way back. It was movies like ‘Jaanam’ (1993) and ‘Sir’ (1993) which gave a much needed platform for a then struggling Anu Malik to showcase a wide variety of tunes. The association was very fruitful till ‘Kalyug’ (2005). The flamboyant production house opted for multiple composers in the past decade and Anu Malik stayed at bay. ‘Begum Jaan’ reunites them, not in a massive way, but still. Supported by Kausar Munir (‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Dhoom 3’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ and ‘Dear Zindagi’) in the lyrics department, the plot is set in 1947. It is therefore imperative that the music reflects the past era.
The choice of Asha Bhosle was definitely right as the singer in “Prem Mein Tohre”, which can easily be categorized as a semi-classical number and it has Anu Malik stamp all over it. What works is the pace of the song, which steadily brings the assortment of musical instruments like tabla, sarod and sitar to elevate the track. The rendition by the legendary singer is exemplary. The sharp programming (Hitesh Modak) gives the number a unique feel and makes listeners feel the past era. The tune is neat and does not deviate too much.
“Prem Mein Tohre (Reprise)” by Kavita Seth has a twist to it as the voice of the singer makes it sound like simply another number. In her own style, she adds her own charm to it. The difference between the two voices actually is what separates the two numbers in distinction. This version sounds more suited for the visuals. The arrangements are similar to the original.
High pitched renditions are at rendez-vous in the long “Aazaadiyan”, which perfectly captures the main essence of the movie. With Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Sonu Nigam at the forefront of singing, they eventually bring the required gusto and emotions into a track, which are essentially needed and they do it well. The shehnai is heard predominately in the background and although the arrangements are well synched, the track would work mostly on screen, despite good performances and a situational tune.
Talking about situational tunes, “Holi Khelein” reunites Shreya Ghoshal with the composer after ages and the collaboration, along with his daughter Anmol Malik, produces a conventional Holi track. The veteran composer does not neglect both interludes while the flute is used aptly in the background. Although the piece does not contain all the commercial Bollywood ingredients to make it to the charts, it does have a good feel to it, with the help of talented Anmol Malik who puts some punch to the ‘mukhda’.
“O Re Kaharo” by Kalpana Patowary and Altamash Faridi follow the situational template, earlier created, but does not divert from the main plot. The ‘heard-before’ feeling is apparent at several places but this does not mean that Anu Malik did not invest efforts into creating a fresh tune. Both singers’ performances are above average and the track manages to bring listeners back in time.
“Woh Subah” (Bonus Track) by Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal is a simplified take on the Mukesh and Asha Bhosle’s evergreen number in ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ (1958). The arrangements are passable and the singing is routine.
Arijit Singh’s “Murshida” (Bonus Track) engages the listener from start to finish. It is a pleasing, melodious and soft number, which equates with brilliance and talent. The crisp arrangements and the high pitched rendition by the talented singer uplifts the tune to another level. The track is not ground-breaking but it immerses connoisseurs of music into the voice, tune and music. Written by Rahat Indori, it has an old Anu Malik charm to it. That’s enough for a feel-good factor!
‘Begum Jaan’ brings an Anu Malik which again shows talent at many places. While “Prem Mein Tohre” and “Aazaadiyan” show the depth of his tunes, the other songs fit the script. Should there have been more exposure to compose melodious numbers like “Murshida”, the veteran composer would have shown a larger repertoire but for the small-budget movie, the composer, along with lyricist Kausar Munir, they have managed to deliver songs which will mostly move the story ahead while satisfying fans of an era.