Despite delivering quality albums consistently, after being in the business for than two decades (as film composers), Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (SEL) are not as active on the film front as one would like them to be. One of the reasons is that they are one (or three) of the few composers who have stayed away from being a part of multi-composer soundtracks, which is almost the norm now. They bowed out of ‘Saaho’ (2019) when the music company (also the co-producer in this case) decided to have songs by multiple composers in the album. They did have one song (“Baby Won’t You Tell Me”) in the album as it was already shot. Earlier this year, they composed for ‘Manikarnika – The Queen Of Jhansi’ but the album failed to make much noise. Now, more than a year after ‘Raazi’, their last major hit, the trio is back with the music of ‘The Zoya Factor’, all the songs of which have been composed by them. The lyrics have been written by Amitabh Bhattacharya. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy had composed a couple of songs for director Abhishek Sharma’s first film ‘Tere Bin Laden’ (2010) and this is the first time they put together a full-fledged album for the director.
Classic SEL melody – that sums up “Kaash”, the first song on the album. Though the trio has proved their versatility and have composed a wide variety of songs over the year, this is the kind of sound you associate with them. Now, of course, a lot of younger composers have tried to replicate it but nobody does it better than them. The breezy tune seeps into your consciousness quickly and the feathery lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya compliment the dreamy vibe of the song very well. Arijit Singh does a good job as always and as you listen to Alyssa Mendonsa’s rendition, you wonder why one does not get to hear her wonderfully fresh voice more often. There is an unplugged version too where only Arijit’s voice is heard.
We get a unique combination of two dexterous artistes in the form of Raghuvir Yadav and Shankar Mahadevan in “Lucky Charm”. The song, in a way, enlightens one about the core theme of the film. What could have been a situational number makes for a good hear as a standalone audio track because of some smart wordplay courtesy Amitabh Bhattacharya, fantastic rendition by the two gentlemen and an upbeat rhythm section accentuated by the sound of banjo and mandolin played by Tapas Roy. One expects portions of this song to be played at different junctures throughout the film.
One wonders why the name of a popular soft drink brand has been used in the title of “Pepsi Ki Kasam” as you listen to the song. Perhaps, in the film, one would get to see Dulquer Salmaan, who plays a cricketer, endorsing the brand while this song plays in the background. The promotional video tells a different story though. The song has an upbeat rhythm and a catchy hook-line which make sure you have a good time while listening to it. Benny Dayal adds the right amount of spunk with his spirited rendition and Amitabh Bhattacharya impresses again with his smart alec writing. There was, definitely, an opportunity to put together a better tune here.
The soundtrack, thankfully, concludes on a high note with “Maheroo”, a song which has traces of both romance and elation in it. Just like “Kaash”, this one, too, is a classic SEL melody, the kind we have devoured and loved for so many years. Yasser Desai sounds so much like Arijit that you are compelled to check the credits a couple of times to make sure that it is Yasser behind the mic. Amitabh writes some inspiring lines that stay with you long after you have finished listening to the song. This is a song that should, ideally, arrive towards or right before the penultimate moments of the film.
Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy create a sufficiently engaging soundtrack for this romantic comedy. Given the genre and the kind of scope it offered them, one had expected songs of a higher quality here but what one gets is not bad either. “Kaash” and “Maheroo” are the best songs of the lot and the rest should make a better impression when one sees them in the film.