Monday, June 11, 2012

Music of Wasseypur

Not an official poster but a minimal based on trailer by Abhinav Bhatt.  


Music: Sneha Khanwalkar, Piyush Mishra
Lyrics: Varun Grover

Disclaimer: Not a review. Not very much, atleast.

If you are active on any social media platforms, by now you must have been bombarded with each song of this raving album. Yes, it's a rage. Ask why. Simply one reason: it's not a typical Bollywood music. I've said this before, Sneha Khanwalkar's music is not suitable for everyone's taste. You need maturity to understand or like her well researched music and arrangements. Fortunately, there's an increase in the number of such kind of audience.



Anurag Kashyap's upcoming two part gangster based flick is based on the hinterlands of Wasseypur near Dhanbad, (in)famous for coal mafias. Kashyap has traversed various parts of North India to shoot this more than 5 hour long film. And so has Khanwalkar to record 25 songs for the movie. And not only North India but also beyond boundaries.

On a personal note, I hail from the same lands of North India. In fact, Kashyap has covered my very own nanihaar (Nani ka gaon) during the shoots: a place called Chunar near Varanasi. The bridge you see at 02: 10 of this trailer is over Ganga river near my home there, where I've made failed attempts of swimming during my childhood. Ok. Chalo kuch jyada hi personal bakwaas hui gawa. But enough reason why I find myself so connected with this album.

There are two kind of good albums: One which is made in heaven by God himself (A R Rahman's). Another which is made by folks. This.

Beginning this post with one of its own kind of music genre called Birha. It is mostly sung by Yadavs. The lyrics of Birhas are mostly derived from mythological stories especially sad ones where someone is separated or in praise of brave ones. And at the same time during the performance in a chaupal, there goes a silent dramatic representation of it. With only harmonium, dholak, chamach, thaal or ghanti, and few backing vocals (whose sur-taal are never bothered) makes the arrangement complete and powerful. The song with Birha kind of arrangement (with a bit of polishing) in this album is Bhoos. The lyrics in this case is almost a satire and hard-hitting. Meaning and lyrics here by @rohwit. Another Birha track from the album is Soona Kar Ke Gharwa Jabse. The lyrics here are about separation.

Now there is a kind of corrupted folk entertainment you'll find in any wedding party in the small towns or villages of North India. The singers/dancers (referred as launda) wear a shabby, flashy dress...yes, I'm talking about those Patna Ke Presley types. An image of such you can see in this song promo at 0:51. Or at 02:30 in the song I love to love you baby from Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster. Their songs hardly makes sense. They sing any famous tune with nonsensical lyrics or even gibberish sometimes. The epitome has been set in THIS song from Om Dar Badar. Tain Tain To To worked for me as this kind of song.

Such performers have now commercialized themselves to form Band Baaja Wale, Banjo Party, Brass Band party. One such party can be found in the album for Aey Jawano track: Ranjeet Baal Party. Street play kind of arrangement is used here which can be generally seen at the time of public addressing during elections (UP/Bihar's favorite game, i tell you).

The villages of North India are very caste biased and upper caste dominant. When it comes to entertainment, there is a divide: one who entertains, and the one who gets entertained. Former consists mainly of lower castes (Ahirs/Yadavs in case of Birhas, Chamaars when it comes to launde ka naach) and they are not seen in good light. Latter (Brahmins) "entertain" only when it is Ram Leela or bhajan-keertan.
There is yet another caste who is lower than the lowest. They don't have proper homes. They find their foods from the leftovers of upper caste homes. Jackpot for them when there is a function at such homes. They almost do an Olympics to find food then. And preserve such foods for days. If nothing, they strive on animals, even rodents. And that is how the name of this community has been derived: Musahar (Mus = mouse, ahar = to eat). You have read this name somewhere in the album, right? Bingo, Bhaiyya track! Sung by one such Musahar of Sundarpur. Yes, entertainment comes to them too. They sing on roads or anywhere. And even at that time no one understands their songs. Just like in this song. Hardly anything is understandable but a pat on the back, hats off, standing ovation to Khanwalkar and team for finding this! So a musahar has a credit on the Bollywood album.

Jiya Ho Bihar Ke Lala/Laal is an old famous phrase used for any young Bihari boy. Though Lala/Laal means son, Jiya Ho Bihar Ke Laalu is also a famous political satire phrase. This phrase has been used in the most thumping soundtrack of the album. Also, Oka boka teen tadoka laiyya laathi chandan maati, a playful poem sung by kids there, (and is the Bhojpuri version of Akad Bakad Bambbe Bo!) is incorporated in the lyrics by Varun Grover. Truly earthy.

Another folk genre which is sung while harvesting of farms and playing Holi has been used in this album with the Manmauji track. This folk is more prominent near Awadh region, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. With simplicity and minimal arrangements, this track rendered beautifully by Usri Banerjee has very vintage feel to it. I'm not sure but I heard gutar-gu sound of a kabootar during the end.

Minimal arrangement in the tracks is what makes this album very earthy, raw and rustic! Such another track is Humni Ke Chhodi Ke with an impactful meaning in its lyrics. Back to @rohwit's blog for meaning: here.

We are told by Kashyap that this place of Wasseypur is obsessed with Bollywood. We believe it more when we listen to a ladeej logan ka sangeet in a shaadi-byah atmosphere on a tune resembling to Meri Umar Ke Nau Jawano: The O Womaniya track where one dominating female (which you simply imagine as a fat aunty) makes fun of the groom, and a surili aunty accompanies her. Also, how well acoustic strings has been made to use to lift the mood! Live version works for me as an original while the Womaniya track as a remixed version. Listen it for superb mixing of shennai and guitar!

Bihari folk + Calypso = Chutney music. How many of you knew this equation before Sneha Khanwalkar embarked upon her journey to Trinidad & Tobago? Charan sparsh to her for venturing out on such extensive research and giving us a track like Hunter!

The song that competes with Bollywood genre (and still wins) is the only non-folksy Keh Ke Loonga. But. THESE THREE WORDS ARE CULT! Heavenly arranged with a pleasing climax, and dark, haunting lyrics, it is more intoxicating than any charas/ganja on the earth! Once you get addicted, your nights will be creepier than ever!

Aey Jawano and Keh Ke Loonga are amalgamated together to form a background score for chase sequence or rolling of end credits. Nicely done, the Loonga Loonga track. 

What happens when legends like Anurag Kashyap and Piyush Mishra work together? Something very musical. Something very lyrical. Something like Gulaal! And something like that has happened again. Ik Bagal reminds you of O Re Duniya, Sheher from Gulaal.. and you are asked to fall in love when the intricacies of flute kiss the baritone of Mishraji. Again, very rustic but not a folk this time!


With majorly North Indian folk songs in the album, it has enthralled not only North Indians but every music fanatics. Now that can be a lesson to learn for Bhojpuri film-makers. Your Bhojpuri. Your folk. It has amazed the whole country. So why are you making movies that are perceived as nothing but soft porn? Why such songs that makes someone ashamed of being a North Indian? 

At the end, thank you Anurag Kashyap, Sneha Khanwalkar, Piyush Mishra, Varun Grover for creating a music beyond the scope of any ordinary Bollywood composers and upbringing folk genre into mainstream.

As mentioned earlier, not a review. Yet if I am asked to rate this album, its definitely gonna be a 5 star rating!

(P.S.: I am not a music expert. I have written this post purely based on little knowledge I have of my native. I may be wrong. Correct me if you have any proper information regarding any thing which you feel is incorrect here.)




4 comments:

Abhinav said...

Oh man! This is one of the most detailed review I have read, rather than review, it is a research findings I say. Brilliantly done.

Heh, thanks for putting the disclaimers, I love those ;-)

My take on GOW's music is that it is raw and earthy. This kind of music is quite prevalent in the Hindi belt of Northern India. Mixing it with the perfect percussion and guitar makes it hummable! As you said, not all will relate to it but those who have listened something similar to it while growing up, will definitely feel nostalgic.

I liked the music! Though I cannot give any star :)

Anup Pandey said...

Thank you so much!
Yes, for the first time I have done away with the stars. :)

@Rohwit said...

Saxxx macha dia tumney

Now there is a kind of corrupted folk entertainment you'll find in any wedding party in the small towns or villages of North India

Not only north india...but such corrupted 'folk' is on the rise in bollywood as well...fajid dajid and what not names like these

Gajjab research dost. Awesome.

Anup Pandey said...

Bilkul..Yeh corrupted entertainment ke khilaaf hai hamare sipahi Khanwalkar, Mishra Ji..

Thank you hujoor!