Director par excellence Shyam Benegal's films and music need no introduction to those seeking entertainment with a message. Ever since he started his own brand of cinema, now popularly termed as middle cinema, which is a masterly fusion of commercial and off beat cinema, the music of his films too have undergone a sea change.
From the music wizard A.R Rahman's super classy ZUBEIDAA and the iconic period music in BOSE – THE FORGOTTEN HERO, Shyam Babu has shifted his preference to Shantanu Moitra, the music director of PARINEETA, LAGE RAHO MUNNA BHAI and of course, now 3 IDIOTS. Their last venture, WELCOME TO SAJJANPUR, saw music composer, Shantanu, his ever faithful lyricist, the multi-faceted Swanand Kirkere, and also Ashok Mishra teaming up to give us the heartwarming music with quite a few hummable songs.
In his next venture, the master director once again calls upon his faithful commanders Shantanu Moitra, Swanand Kirkere and Ashok Mishra to regale us with their craft and entertain and enlighten us music buffs. So, lets get , set and go and see whether or not, its well done Shantanu, Swanand and Ashok!
The album commences on a note of celebration with a wedding song, 'Meri Banno Hoshiyar', based on Lata Mangeshkar's classic number 'Saiyyan Jhooton Ka Bada Sartaj Nikla' from V. Shantaram's iconic DO AANKHEIN BARAH HAATH and our childhood song, always a favourite with students, 'Teacher Aap Ki Kasam.'.
Well, this is no co-incidence, nor is the tune lifted. Point to be noted here is that in most cases wedding songs in quite a few parts of India, especially North, are based on popular old film numbers and words are substituted to fit in with the situation. The song is not a quintessential marriage composition, as the film being a satire on the system, the song itself is a satire and the lyrics, rather than praising the bride, seem to pull her legs more often than not, as suggested from words penned by Ila Arun herself – 'Meri banno hoshiyar, Cycle per sawar, Chali jaati cinema dekhne ko'.
The lyrics are hilarious and one is sure that this song being entirely situational will definitely provide loads of entertaining moments and will appeal to women folk in particular. The accomplished and experienced folk singer, Ila Arun(who also enacts an important character in the film) along with Daniel George, spices up the situation with her rustic, earthy and near perfect rendition. The Telugu words in the background add to the song their own subtle and unique charm and are well embedded with the narrative.
Shyam Babu's way of entertaining the public, along with putting forward a social message comes through the composition, 'Hum Toh Apni Bawdi Lenge..' The tune of the song itself may not be very catchy or original, but the musical addendums in the background certainly provide the right atmosphere, thus making the song effective, still not hard on the senses. Though the choice of singer puzzles, as its the prince of romantic numbers, Mohit Chauhan, who has been handed the microphone to render this situational number. And no doubt the versatile singer Mohit does the composer proud as he innovates and modulates his soft textured vocals endearingly to render a situational, semi-philosophical song, which is not entirely up his alley Supporting him in the endeavour is the lyricist of PARINEETA, MUNNA BHAI and 3 IDIOTS fame, Swanand Kirkere, who showcases his vocal prowess here, rather than his writing abilities, something that he has done well in previous movies too. The lyrics department here is handled by Ashok Mishra and the words that he chooses are apt and in demand with the script and dishes up a very relevant message that in a democracy like India, we should raise our voice and fight against any injustice and stand for our rights.
The lyricist Ashok Mishra can take a bow, the manner in which he has put forward the lead protagonists claim over something as commonplace as water ('bawdi' is a stepwell from which people of villages fetch water) is superb and shows that what may be common to one, may be priceless for another who is deprived of it – 'Jaan se pyara hind hamara, Democracy hai abaad, Phir bhi ladna kyon padta hai, Kyon karni padti faryaad, Sabun leker haath mein nikle, System ko hai dhona re.' What a simile! Talk about changing the system and cleansing it of corruption and its vices. After 3 IDIOTS Shantanu once again entertains and enlightens through some lovely, situational music that would definitely serve the director's purpose on screen.
It's hilarious yet eye opening how our babus function in the deep interiors. (It would be interesting to see how Benegal would portray our babus in the cities!). The film has you laughing your guts out at some scenes, which are so simply enacted with a powerful message. Armaan's journey becomes your journey. Armaan's fight for justice becomes your fight. Armaan's victory, your victory.
Boman Irani paints a different character this time as the God-fearing Muslim who is worried about his daughter. He knows he is being taken for a ride, yet the greed for Government help (which is genuine) is overwhelming. He is first-rate and the backbone of the film. As the concerned father, he brings forth an endearing image of a father-daughter relationship. Minissha Lamba and Samir Dattani both surprise. But then that is expected when you have a director of Benegal's caliber guiding you. The character who stands out for me is Salim Ghouse. Outstanding.
WELL DONE ABBA is one film you have to watch. For its simplicity. For its performances. And for its direction. It has content. It entertains. It educates. What more could one want in a film?
Rating – 4/5