Ever since he started out with ‘Zeher’, Mohit Suri’s films are known to carry popular music. Regardless of the fate of the film, a couple of songs from each of his films manage to strike a chord with the listeners. ‘Ek Villain’, the film which Suri and Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Films had collaborated on, had songs like “Galliyan”, “Banjaara” and “Awaari”, are popular till date. One has good expectations from the soundtrack of ‘Half Girlfriend’ as it is a romantic drama and the genre paves a way for the director to include at least half a dozen romantic tracks.
“Baarish” opens with the divine sound of santoor and then unravels itself in the form of a saccharine sweet melody wrapped in contemporary arrangements. Ash King’s slightly anglicised Hindi might not have been the best choice for the character Arjun Kapoor plays but the singer has come a long way from his “Dil Gira Dafatan” (‘Delhi 6’) days when his accent pulled the song down by a couple of notches. Having said that, it is a little difficult to imagine a boy from a rural part of the country to sing the way he does. This Tanishk Bagchi composition is instantly likeable and would not take a long time to grow on even the most discerning listener. Arafat Mehmood and Tanishk indulge in some nice wordplay using simple words.
“Thodi Der”, a rehashed version of singer-composer Farhan Saaed’s 2015 single “Tu Thori Dair”, has an old-world charm to it which has been wonderfully accentuated by the sound of sarangi. While the original only had Farhan singing in it, the film version also has a female vocalist in the form of Shreya Ghoshal. Also, the Punjabi song has been rewritten in Hindi by Kumaar. The song has a hummable, sing-along quality to it and the orchestral arrangement makes the tune sound better than it really is. The devotional quality in this love song helps you endear yourself to it. Both Farhan and Shreya bring out the subtle sense of pathos in the track effortlessly. Anushka Shahaney’s skilled but dispassionate singing pulls “Stay A Little Longer”, the English version down.
“Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga”, composed by Mithoon and written by Manoj Muntashir, reminds us of “Ijaazat” (‘One Night Stand’) in parts. The latter is a far superior track with Mithoon bringing some of the “Tum Hi Ho” (‘Aashiqui 2’) to it. Thankfully, instead of writing the lyrics himself, he gets a seasoned writer to do the job this time. Manoj Muntashir writes some heart-wrenching lines that compliment the sombre feel of the song very well. Like “Baarish”, “Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga” has a nice bit of santoor thrown in along with piano, flute and other instruments. Arijit Singh might sing a hundred songs this year but this will be one of his most remembered this year. Shasha Tirupati, despite limited presence, registers a solid impression. “Pal Bhar (Chahunga Reprise)” starts off on a sonorous note and is equally evocative as the original.
Over-simplistic lyrics, a dated Pakistani pop sound and unnecessarily stylised singing, one wonders when will filmmakers/music composers stop churning out such songs? Mohit Suri loves to have such songs in his films and this time, he gets newcomer Rahul Mishra to do the needful. To be fair, the song is far from being bad and can be given a comfortable singing. But, this is the kind of sound Bollywood should have dumped half a decade back. “Tu Hi Hai” starts off as a soft rock ballad and soon breaks into a qawalli-sque sound and then walks through a predictably monotonous terrain. Rahul Mishra, who presumably grew up on a heavy dose of Pakistani pop music, imitates the style of erstwhile Pakistani pop musicians.
Though “Lost Without You” has an English title and Anushka Shahaney renders a couple of lines in the beginning, as Ami Mishra comes behind the mic you realize it is yet another Pakistani pop inspired track. In fact, this one is a melange of a late 90s Hindi film sound and decade old Pakistani pop music. The English lines written by Anushka Shahaney are fairly good but the Hindi lyrics (Kunaal Verma) do not match up. Anushka enters into the song sporadically and that, to a certain extent, breaks the humdrum. Just like “Tu Hi Hai”, “Lost Without You” does not make you hit the forward button on your audio system but it comes across as a mediocre rehash of the kind of music one heard from musicians across the border a long time back.
After a bunch of romantic songs of different moods, some fun and energy comes along in the form of “Mere Dil Mein”, composed by Rishi Rich. With as many as five lyricists and a variety of genres mixed together to form this cocktail of a song, “Mere Dil Mein” takes a while to be comprehended and grow on the listener. Though it does not turn out to be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, the distance it will cover depends on the way it is picturised. Rishi Rich brings in a variety of styles like hip-hop, dubstep, funk and electronic music and props up the song with some good rendition by Yash Narvekar and Veronica Mehta but all these factors do not quite add up to make a track that will have longevity. The dialogue version has some funny dialogues mouthed by Arjun Kapoor that gel well with the song.
“Half Girlfriend (Love Theme)” is a stripped down, instrumental version of “Phir Bhi Tumko Chahunga” beautifully played out on piano, violins and a couple of other instruments. All the instruments lend to the intense drama that Mithoon tries to put across here. This music piece should be heard at a couple of important junctures in the film and will, undoubtedly, inflate the dramatic quotient in these sequences.
A couple of songs from the film have climbed the popularity charts and a few more are expected to follow suit in the days to come. However, one strongly feels Mohit Suri needs to introspect, break out of the rut and cultivate a slightly different taste in music. Half of the songs in the album come across as rehashed versions of hit songs from his earlier films. Like most of his films in the last five years, a couple of songs from the album leave a solid impression while the rest fail to make the cut.