The album of Kabir Khan’s 2012 spy thriller Ek Tha Tiger was quite a hit, given chartbusters like the Arabic dance number ‘Mashallah‘, the globetrotting romantic number ‘Lapata‘ and the energetic ‘Banjara‘.
With the blockbuster’s sequel, Ali Abbas Zafar’s Tiger Zinda Hai, slated to release at the end of this month, the full album of the film has been released. Just like the first film, the sequel’s album also boasts of a mix of songs, ranging from romantic to sufi to dance.
While the Ek Tha Tiger album was composed by both Sajid-Wajid and Sohail Sen, the sequel’s music solely rests on the able shoulders of Vishal-Shekhar. This is their only album this year as their last release was yet another Yash Raj Films production in Aditya Chopra’s 2016 romantic comedy Befikre. Also, the lyrics of the entire album of Tiger Zinda Hai have been penned by Irshad Kamil, who gave the listeners the immensely memorable songs of Imtiaz Ali’s romantic comedy Jab Harry Met Sejal earlier this year.
The best song of Tiger Zinda Hai is undoubtedly the unplugged version of ‘Dil Diyan Galliyan‘. Neha Bhasin reunites with the music composer duo and the seasoned lyricist after delivering the award-winning number ‘Jag Ghoomeya – Unplugged Version‘ from Zafar’s last film Sultan in 2016.
While the main version of that song, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, gained more popularity, the unplugged version swept all the awards in the Best Playback Singer – Female category. This writer will not be surprised if Bhasin bags the award for the second year in a row as she ups her pop-folk game with the unplugged version of ‘Dil Diyan Galliyan‘, ably assisted by Vishal-Shekhar’s fine blend of folk, classical and western music.
The main version of ‘Dil Diyan Galliyan‘ is already soaring on the charts. Rendered by the mighty talented Atif Aslam, the soulful number is backed by a wide range of music instruments. However, the lyrics by Kamil in both the versions, are in Punjabi. This just adds to the Punjabification of Bollywood and risks alienating other Hindi cinema consuming audiences down south. But Kamil aces the rhythm which is why the song sounds better in the unplugged version.
Bhasin also collaborates with Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani and Kamil in what is unarguably the most popular song of the album yet. ‘Swag Se Karenge Sabka Swagat‘ is indeed catchy but most of its irresistible appeal is confined to the music that succeeds the hook line. Amidst allegations of plagiarism in that particular part, this writer can safely put his money on the theme music of Ek Tha Tiger, composed brilliantly by Julius Packiam, that has been peppered all over the song.
What comes as a disappointment though are the lyrics by Kamil. The words do not come across as coherent and seem forced in succession just to suit the rhythmic meter of the song. It seems like Kamil was merely given the hook line to work around and he could not do justice to the stanzas. This writer certainly expects much more from the genius who gave us ‘Safar‘ and ‘Hawayien‘ earlier this year.
The song that certainly scores higher on the swag meter is ‘Zinda Hai‘. Sung by Sukhwinder Singh, it seems like an apt title song except that its chorus is weaker than the stanzas which roar as loudly as a tiger would, thanks to Singh’s powerful voice. The chorus fares better lyrically as Kamil proves his prowess as a wordsmith.
Also, Raftaar contributes to the track through a rap sequence that fits perfectly in the flow and mood of the song, unlike the numerous rehashed versions of old romantic songs as has been the case this year. The rap sequence is both composed and written, keeping in mind the style and tone of the film and its central character.
As opposed to the first part, Tiger Zinda Hai offers equal space to both the male and female vocalists. The album consists of two more female voice songs, besides Bhasin’s remarkable unplugged track. Shreya Ghoshal brings her melodious and soothing voice to ‘Daata Tu‘, which is an invocation of the almighty during a crisis. The number may not be picked by school choirs as a prayer song, owing to average music and lyrics, but it is likely to work well in the context of the film.
The last song of the album, ‘Tera Noor‘ is a refreshing track as it is a sufi number sung by a female voice. Jyoti Nooran of the Nooran sisters, the duo popular for singing unplugged versions of well-known sufi numbers, renders her heavy yet unique voice to the song. The song oscillates from a hardcore sufi number to a soft rock song. Vishal-Shekhar also take the liberty to merge the two genres in order to give the listeners a hybrid mix, which they can both sway and bang their heads to.
Overall, the music of Tiger Zinda Hai offers more diversity than that of the first part but its best songs may not end up becoming the most popular of the year. Though the best need not always be the most heard, its music is likely to fare well as a tool to complement the film’s narrative rather than in the capacity of a standalone album.